Beer Squared #3: IPA’s Special Hopslam Edition Pt. 1

Posted: February 14, 2011 in Beer Squared, Beer: IPA
Tags: , , , , ,

The considered.

As many of us know, it’s Hoplsam season! For the past two months, on all the forums I visit, when beer comes up, the inevitable question is when is St. Louis getting Hopslam? Why is St. Louis late getting Hopslam? Where can I get Hopslam? So, with that in mind, we’re doing a four part series in honor of Hopslam.

We are comparing other IPAs to Bell’s Hopslam.  When we went down to the beer fridge to grab some IPAs, we discovered there were far too many to drink all in one go, so we’ve decided to make this into a series. If we taste 10 IPAs in one go…what will we remember???

This will be a slightly altered and more defined direction for this column. We’ll compare IPA’s to IPA’s and such…at least the majority of the time and today, we’re comparing two IPAs to the vaunted Bell’s Hopslam: Abita’s Jockamo and Lagunita’s Hop Stoopid. How did they all fare?

Hopslam by Bell’s Brewing

Angels are singing in heaven...Hopslam.

Nik: This beer is among the holy ales, even more so than Monty Python’s Holy Ale. For the last month, all I’ve seen in beer discussions on the internet is when do we get Hopslam?! In St. Louis, we got ours late, and we were all thirsty and raring to go.

Hopslam has a 10% ABV. What’s really surprising to me about this is that it’s a very smooth beer. It’ s not the least bit heavy like most beers of this ABV. It’s also very bitter, but in a very pleasing manner which also doesn’t take away from the smoothness of this beer. It’s brewed with six kinds of hops and some honey which takes a little bit of the edge off and making it one of the best beers in the world right now. With its 10% ABV and great smoothness, it’s a very dangerous beer and I think it’s good that it’s only once a year. Bottom line, it’s worth the high premium.

Bob: Hopslam (tasted first this time): I first had Hopslam on draft, about two years ago, as the last of several dozen beers I tasted at a major tasting event representing dozens of breweries and over a hundred different brews. Hopslam was far and away my favorite. It is only brewed and available once a year, however, and over a very short winter season. Having missed it in 2010 I was determined to secure some in 2011, and managed to obtain one precious six-pack, hoping that it would taste as good from the bottle as I remembered it from the tap. I’m pleased to say that it did.

Hopslam poured to a beautiful light golden color of great clarity, with a nice head. In the glass it has a strong floral grapefruit aroma that is very pleasant. I understand that Bell uses six different varieties of hops to make this beer. However they do it, the result is a true taste bomb. It is very bitter, yet eminently drinkable with a long, complex and satisfying aftertaste (up to ten minutes for me–even tastes good if you belch it up!) Even more amazing is that alcohol content is 10% (into the wine range), but the taste is so smooth and balanced that you don’t even notice it. All in all, a most wonderful beer. It’s a pity that Bell doesn’t make it available year round, for it sells out in less than a week here in St. Louis, even at the premium price of $15-20 a six-pack (and well worth it!)

Jockamo by Abita


Nik: Here we have another very bitter IPA, but it lacks the smoothness of the Hopslam. With it’s 6.5% ABV it also lacks the punch of Hopslam. It also misses out on the very fruity finish of the Bell’s liquid gold. What I found to be very interesting about the Jockamo is that the flavor improved as I drank it. the first sip wasn’t as flavorful as the last sip.

Bob: Because I consider Hopslam the ultimate IPA, we chose to use it as our yardstick for comparing several other IPAs, two of which we sampled on this date. The first was a relatively new offering from the Louisiana brewer Abita. It’s called Jockamo. I have a few six-packs on hand because I find it an easy-drinking beer that doesn’t have too high an alcohol content for everyday use. Upon opening and pouring it doesn’t have much of a noticeable aroma, and color and head are just OK. Bittering is decent, however, and the taste, while not exceptional on the first sip, continues to grow on me favorably as I continue through a glass. Aftertaste OK, but doesn’t linger especially long. This isn’t a very complex beer, but it’s certainly drinkable enough at the right price (which for me is a dollar a bottle or less.)

Hop Stoopid by Lagunitas

Hop Stoopid.

Nik: This beer was brewed to be an alternative to Hopslam. The best part of that is that it’s brewed all year round. It has a slightly lower ABV of 8% and has a very smooth, hoppy flavor with a floral and fruity finish. My first thought when I tasted this one is that it does compare favorably to Hopslam. It lacks the honey, which I think is a big part of the distinctive flavor of the Hopslam.

Bob: Hop Stoopid was recommended to me last year when I was searching (in vain) for some Hopslam. The liquor store guy said it was pretty close, so I bought a (large) bottle then and found it was pretty good. The current bottle was bought more recently for this tasting. Upon pouring it had a good head and great golden color, but a little cloudier than that of Hopslam. Has a terrific, enticing floral aroma comparable to Hopslam. The differences were more noticeable upon drinking. HopStoopid is bitter, but not quite as much as Hopslam, and overall has a somewhat sweeter taste. It is also not quite as smooth, and the aftertaste doesn’t last as long. Still a great beer, though, and it is available year round for 30-50% less than Hopslam.

  1. Mark says:

    You guys need to try a couple of others from Lagunitas like the undercover shutdown ale. Additionally, if you like the hop, and you can get it in Missouri, Surly from MN and the Red Horizon Ale from Summit are right up your alley. You should also try the Brutal Bitter from Rogue and the Captain Sig’s Northwestern Ale.

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