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Beer Man: Flavorful Hopslam sings with hops, honey

10:56 AM, Feb. 14, 2013  |  Comments
Hopslam beer from Bell's Brewery, Kalamazoo, Mich. is 10 percent ABV.
Hopslam beer from Bell's Brewery, Kalamazoo, Mich. is 10 percent ABV.
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Most of my experience with the beers from Bell's Brewery has been with its fine portfolio of stouts. Two-Hearted Ale is the only hoppy beer I've had from the brewery, but Hopslam certainly took my taste buds on a wild ride.

This double India pale ale is described on its back label as a "biting, bitter, tongue bruiser of an ale."

This statement turned out to be a bit of puffery because Hopslam has much more going for it than just another overhopped American ale, of which there are hundreds choking the store shelves.

For starters, it uses six different hops that give the ale more flavor complexity. Instead of just a huge dose of pine and grapefruit, there are grassy, herbal overtones. There also is dry hopping used during aging, which imparts more hop flavor than bitterness. I don't need all the bitterness from hops, but I do expect to taste them.

Another positive feature is the use of honey. While not a prominent flavor, it is noticeable upon the first sip and leaves a pleasant coating and taste that meshes nicely when the hop flavors kick in. It works just as honey does with herbal teas.

The honey also helps lessen the impact when the bitterness and harshness make their presence known. I normally am not a fan of beers that leave a harsh taste in the mouth; however, I didn't mind it in Hopslam because the honey kept it from lingering.

The hops pretty much overpower the malt flavor, yet hints of caramel peek out and there must be a good amount of malt to bring the alcohol level up to 10 percent. Despite this, Hopslam is not a heavy or thick beer and the medium carbonation gives it a quenchable character.

Bell's beers are available in about 18 states, mostly in the Midwest, East and Southeast, and also Arizona. Its online Beer Locator is located at www.bellsbeer.com/brands/brand-finder.

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