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And the Valley Drinks: Bell’s HopSlam

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A Michigan legend.

Billy Gomila

One of the best developments of 2016 was Bell’s Brewing moving into the Louisiana market. The Michigan outfit truly has some of the best craft brews on the market, some of which I am still yet to properly detail.

But the legend, one that I have often had my midwestern friends discuss, was their limited release Hopslam Double IPA:

Starting with six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops, Bell's Hopslam Ale possesses the most complex hopping schedule in the Bell's repertoire.

Selected specifically because of their aromatic qualities, these Pacific Northwest varieties contribute a pungent blend of grapefruit, stone fruit and floral notes. A generous malt bill and a solid dollop of honey provide just enough body to keep the balance in check, resulting in a remarkably drinkable rendition of the Double India Pale Ale style.

On reputation, I suspected we’d see a fairly limited supply down here, but damn if I didn’t come upon a full display of it at the LeBlanc’s (now Rouses) on Drusilla Lane in Baton Rouge last weekend.

IPAs are kind of the frontier for folks that are getting into craft beer, and they have been for me as well. It’s taken some time, but there’s kind of a slippery slope to it. Once you find one that you enjoy, the rest kind of tie into that. And in the right weather, especially with seafood, the flavors really pop well.

I was kind of expecting a mega-hoppy IPA that was going to be bitter as hell, but Hopslam was a nice surprise.

Review

This has a bright orange color and a very citrusy bouquet, this beer can scare you off, but it’s remarkably well balanced. Overall, I’d say the dominant flavor is the malts, with a very consistent, hoppy backbone that stays with you but never overpowers. You say Double IPA and you think licking a pine cone, but that’s not the case here. A good comparison is NOLA’s imperial IPA Mecha, which we’ve reviewed in the past. There’s one trick to it — at 10 percent alcohol by volume, it WILL sneak up on you. Usually beers like that taste boozy and this one goes down smooth. 4.25 out of five stars.