Even though the annual release of Bell’s Hopslam Ale was just two months ago, you’d be hard pressed to find a bottle of this extra hopped-up IPA anywhere at this point. In fact, it’s nearly impossible. Stores sell out of the stuff the day it hits the shelves. Many even have wait lists. And it’s all too common for bars to tap out a keg in less than an hour.
Which explains why I’ve had a few bottles of Hopslam lingering in the back of my fridge for the last five weeks – until last night. It’s not a beer to be wasted and I’d been rationing a six-pack since I tracked it down in late January. One a week, at most. And I wasn’t all too willing to share, either (you’re a lucky man @wesmorgan). Cause if you miss out or, even worse, waste it on some unappreciative sucker, it’ll be another year before you see it again.
I was lucky to even find a six-pack when I did. Hopslam had been sold out for nearly two weeks. But I had a hunch that one of my local liquor stores, which shall go unnamed, might still have it in stock. So I stopped by one night after work, hoping against hope that I’d find the prized Hopslam in the cooler. I looked in every cooler door twice. Nothing.
Head down, I started for the door. But I must have lingered long enough to catch the attention of the cashier (soon to be my best friend). When he asked if I needed any help, I reluctantly told him what I was looking for, assuming there was no way they’d have any left. If they did, it would be in the cooler. Hopslam sells for $25 a six-pack, why wouldn’t they have it on display?
He didn’t respond at first; he just stood there and sized me up. Then, almost in an attempt to make sure no one would hear, he quietly said he might have some in the back and told me to wait. A few minutes later he appeared at the register with said Hoplsam. He quickly bagged it up and processed my credit card as though he didn’t want anyone to see the transaction go down. It was thrilling. Kinda like scoring drugs in an alleyway. Well, at least that’s what I assume it would feel like if I actually hung out in alleyways to score drugs (and I’m not just saying that because my parents read my blog).
I hurried home with the goods in hand, eyes wide and a huge grin on my face. But I didn’t open a bottle that night. I couldn’t. Drinking it right away might ruin the reward. Didn’t I need to do more to earn it? So I waited. And then, one at a time over the last 5 weeks, I let myself indulge.
Needless to say, Hopslam is a beer to be savored and appreciated. At 10 percent alcohol, it’s not a beer to be underestimated either. I’ve been slow walking my last bottle for two hours. It’s a dream for hopheads. Right from the start, you know it’s going to be epic. The aromas are strong – as in standing four feet away strong – and hop heavy. It delivers big grapefruit flavors, stone fruit and a bit of spice. Honey notes help add a smoothness on the front that masks the alcohol. But then the alcohol comes in big and the hops linger for a nice long finish.
And now it’s gone. Probably not to be seen again until next year. But if you earn it, it’s worth it.