Sunday, January 25, 2009

Not Quite a Slam Dunk

We went to Flying Saucer on Friday night, the objective being to get some food and a pint or two of Bells' new Hopslam Imperial IPA

I love Bell's Brewing. Their stouts are great, Two Hearted is a wonderful IPA, their Old Ale is delicious, their Winter White is always a favorite... but the Hopslam was honestly a bit disappointing. The citrusy-grapefruity flavor was nice, but overall it was just way too sweet. Lots of honeysuckle and fruit flavor overwhelmed the predominance of the hops, likely an effort to balance the beer. I had a hard time finishing my one goblet, and that's saying something given how much I love an over-the-top IPA. I just don't like drinking hop syrup. 

Most of the reviewers on, however, love the beer.  If you tend to find yourself agreeing with them, you'll probably like it. My own preferences lean more toward the less sweet imperials, such as Rogue's I2PA or Avery's Maharaja (or, if we could get them out here, Dogfish Head's 90 minute, Stone's Ruination, or Moylan's Moylander).  Hopslam reminded me of a slightly less intense Dogfish Head 120 minute. 

It's worth trying, and Flying Saucer gives you an opportunity to do so without having to commit to an entire six-pack. Gomers in Midtown & Royal do not have Hopslam (as of 1/23) but Lukas off 135th does. Due to the limited availability of the beer, they're only allowing purchase of one 6-pack per customer. At $16 each, I'm not sure it's worth picking up more than that. I may pick one up just to compare to my experience of it on tap - and perhaps to keep a bottle or two to compare to next year's batch.


  1. I think your experience reflects mine when it comes to Imperial or Double IPA's. Read my recent review of Breckenridge's 471 dIPA for a similar experience. I haven't had TONS of dIPA's, but they all tend to be sweet and not as hoppy as I would have expected. I think the extra malt that goes into imperial styles really knocks down the hop flavor and bitterness. In my mind I think "Oh, DOUBLE IPA... this is going to be a wonderful bitter bomb" and instead it turns out to be a glass of hop-flavored Kool-Aid, if that makes sense! I think I actually prefer a regular IPA over the imperials because I look for and want a good amount of bitterness in my IPA's... I like the bitter flavor, so the more balanced, sweeter dIPA that uses the extra hops simply to offset the extra malt doesn't do much for me. This is one style where I don't think the "extra stuff" in the imperial style does anything for it compared to the original beer.

    When I lived in Michigan I did enjoy Stoudt's double IPA several times, and found it pretty complex and worth drinking, but I had to drink it at around 62° or so to get anything out of it. I have found that drinking dIPA's much below the 60-65 degree range will pretty much kill it altogether for me.

  2. Some of the West Coast DIPAs are much better. Pliny the Elder is very dry, no crystal malt and I think like 5-10% sugar.

    Unfortunately, we get very little of this stuff out here and I happen to think what we do get isn't at it's best because hoppy beers are inherently unstable.

    I have high hopes for Torpedo and the Pliny The Elder clone in the Sam Adams Longshot pack.

    FWIW, I liked the Hopslam. I think it has 70 IBUs and an OG of 1.096 and I'm really looking for the reverse (96 IBUs, 1.070 OG). I think Bell's 2 Hearted is great though. Nearly as bitter as the Hopslam, certain a bit less hop flavor and aroma but much less alcohol, malt, and sweetness.

    I also had the Arcadia Hopmouth which is absurdly sweet and alcoholic (this one actually reminds me a lot of DFH 120) to the point that I think it is quite clearly closer to a barleywine than any sort of IPA.


Tasting Notes