: Bell's Brewery,Inc.
: Imperial IPA
: 10 percent
Not to get you guys all excited, but Bell's, the best damn brewers in all of Kalamazoo County, posted this on their blog last week:
"Hopslam will start shipping to areas in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio the week of Jan. 7. It will begin shipping to Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Missouri and Arizona the week of Jan. 14. It will then start shipping to Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC, Kentucky and Pennsylvania the week of Jan. 21."
Catch that? By the time you read this, cases and kegs of Hopslam -- Bell's Brewery's much-hyped imperial IPA made with Michigan wildflower honey -- will be on their way to our fair city. HUZZAH!
To get you ready, let's talk about the beer. Hopslam has appeared in this space before, around this time last year -- funny how that works. You can get all the in-depth tasting info your little hearts desire in this little article, but here's the Cliff Notes version if you're lazy:
Appearance: dark, slightly hazy tangerine. Aroma: stone fruit, orange peel, mango, honey, pine. Flavor: Juicyfruit, mango, pineapple, mint, grapefruit, sugar cookies. Overall Impression: Awesomesauce-covered awesomeness.
All of which you may have known already. But here's a story you may not: the origin of Hopslam. According to the Washington Post, the beer's creation can be credited to Dave Alexander, onetime owner of The Brickseller, a Washington, D.C. bar that Guinness credited with the world's largest beer selection. In 2004, Alexander organized a contest called the Lupulin Slam that would forever answer the question of whether East Coast IPAs are better than those made on the West Coast. For the contest, three brewers from each side would bring beer to Alexander's second Washington bar, R.F.D., for a combative, audience-decided taste-test. Alexander asked Bell's to represent the East, and the brewery obliged, cooking up a special batch of brew just for the occasion.
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But on the way to the event, Bell's owner Larry Bell was caught in an ice storm and forced to head home. Not wanting his beer to go to waste, he put the undelivered kegs on tap at the Bell's bar in Kalamazoo, and People. Went. Nuts. Bell's has been forced to give the hop junkies their fix every year since, and the number of addicts has only grown.
Look for Hopslam to start appearing on shelves and on tap early next week, but be sure to call ahead -- this stuff is limited and goes fast.
Zach Fowle is a Certified Cicerone, an accredited guide to beer. He works at World of Beer in Tempe.