Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bell's Hopslam: 2011 vs 2012

Around last July, I visited DC and stopped in a random bottle shop near my friend's house and found an old bottle of Bell's Hopslam. Rather than drink it at 6 months old, I decided to hold on to it for another six months until I could get a fresh bottle for comparison. Well, the release finally happened and I got four bottles of fresh Hopslam and drank the first one side by side the old bottle.
On the left is the 2011 and the right is the 2012.

My main thought about the 2011 is that it just felt kind of dead. There were some citrus notes but they were very dull making the base sweetness the main point. Thick mouthfeel. Again, more malt sweetness than anything else with a just a hint of the old citrus. It's not like the year old version was bad, it just didn't grab me like a fresh bottle.

The 2012, however, was how I remembered it from last year. Really bright nose, very clean, basically like orange juice. Slightly thinner body than the 2011 but still thicker than a lot of IPAs. Way hoppier start than the 2011 with some citrus, some bitterness and then an orange citrus finish. Dryer than I expected too. With the brighter hops, the sweetness was toned down quite a bit making it way more enjoyable.

The number one rule to cellaring is don't cellar IPAs and the main reason is the hops die leaving nothing much behind. Even at 10%, the Hopslam can't hold up to age because without the hops the flavors just don't hold together. The sweetness just isn't built to stand on its own. You may ask why American Barleywines work (they are the hoppier version of barleywines) and it's really just because the base of the beer is built differently than IPAs and the hops don't exist to cover that flavor but to complement it. So take my advice and don't cellar IPAs, even super strong ones, and you'll be happier with your beer drinking experiences.

No comments:

Post a Comment