Words By Mitchell West, Photos By Morgan H. West
Every year in late January/early February the hype begins for the release of Bell’s Hopslam. It’s an awesome beer, no doubt, but it can be very hard to find, and if you’re lucky enough to find a six-pack, you’ll pay about $25 for it.
It is a Double IPA that Bell’s describes as “A biting, bitter, tongue bruiser of an ale,” and they’re not lying. From the moment you pop the cap, you’re treated to a beautifully flowery bouquet of hop aromas. The beer is extremely hoppy with just the right amount of sweetness to make it unbelievably drinkable, especially when you consider that it’s 10% ABV. There are traces of heat from the alcohol, but the beer is mainly a vessel for intense grapefruit hop flavors. Definitely worthy of the hype it’s gotten over the years, but in 2015 we have so many hugely hoppy Double IPAs that Hopslam is not as mind (and palate) exploding as it used to be. If you weren’t able to get your hands on a sixer this year, here are a few beers that will satisfy even the biggest hophead:
This beer from Brooklyn’s Sixpoint Brewery is much more aggressive than Hopslam. It is strongly bitter with lots of piney and resinous aromas and flavors. Not too much sweetness going on, and it has more of a “slam.” I can’t do much more than one of these.
While not technically an IPA, Nugget Nectar from Pennsylvania’s Troegs Brewing Company has more than enough hops to compete with Hopslam. The brewery calls it an Imperial Amber ale, and it’s far darker than other beers listed here, with a lot of caramel malt sweetness. The darker, sweeter backbone of this beer provides a great contrast to the massive dose of Nugget hops. Juicy citrus notes dominate the hop character with a little bit of grass in the finish; this is a perfect beer for those searching for something hop-heavy that also showcases the malts.
Sculpin is one of the quintessential West Coast IPAs. It’s full of tropical fruit hoppy aromas with little to no bitterness. The malts are barely noticeable among the onslaught of mango, pineapple, and peach aromas. At 7% abv, it’s not as big of a beer as Hopslam, but it packs a hop punch for sure.