I have been familiar with Bell’s Brewery’s wonderful beers for a few years now, but they weren’t available in Western New York until late 2013. Beer drinkers from Michigan have long known about Bell’s for decades, and it wasn’t long before they developed quite a reputation with craft beer drinkers across the entire east coast.
The particular Bell’s offering that caught my eye for this review was Bell’s Hopslam Ale. Bell’s Hopslam Ale is classified as an American Double / Imperial IPA (10%) brewed with honey. This beer sounded like a clear-cut choice to help combat the chest congestion I’ve been chasing off. I did hesitate, however, because a 6-pack of Hopslam Ale is quite expensive ($18/6-pack). But the mere possible medicinal value alone swayed my decision and I purchased a 6-pack.
Then I thought more about the price for a 6-pack of Hopslam Ale. Inevitably, anyone who purchases this beer has to be wondering is this beer is really worth the cost. But let’s consider a few variables. Bell’s Hopslam Ale is sold as a 6-pack. How many other companies have downsized their stronger beers to a 4-pack? Pretty much every other brewery sells their strong ABV beers as a 4-pack. If Hopslam Ale was sold as a 4-pack for $12, would that sound more reasonable? Also, the beer is packed with hops and honey. Those ingredients certainly help justify the price of of Hopslam Ale at $3/bottle. I could easily see myself spending $8 or $9 for a similar size pint of Hopslam Ale at a brew pub. So the more I considered the price of this Hopslam Ale, the more I realized that $18/6-pack probably isn’t all that unreasonable. But the ultimate justification for this price must reside in the quality of the beer.
Below is a picture of my Bell’s Hopslam Ale:
Bell’s Hopslam Ale pours an amber color with a relatively small head. The aroma is sugary sweet and hoppy, and yet with ample citrus. The honey definitely comes out in the taste of Hopslam Ale, but not as much as I would have expected. The alcohol flavor is present and biting. But after a few sips (of course) the alcohol yields way to more complex hop and floral flavors. The mouthfeel is quite unique and sugary. You can almost taste the honey on your lips after a full sip.
Overall, Hopslam Ale is sweet, strong, and well-blended. There is an unmistakeable sugar flavor that must not be overlooked and brings balance to the 10% alcohol in Hopslam Ale. For me, it’s this subtle sweetness that distinguishes Hopslam Ale from other hop-laden double IPAs. I recommend this beer for any hophead, strong ale,or barleywine drinker. I purchased my Hopslam Ale at Consumer’s Beverages.