How many of my fellow hop heads out there have had the misfortune of experiencing an IPA that is well past its “best by” date? Whether it’s just a little off or reached the level of “Whoa! What is going on in there?!” it’s not the crisp, fresh, bitter, mouthful of flavor that we have come to love and expect. Sometimes it can be hard to tell from the bottle or label alone if a beer is past it’s prime. Luckily for us, there are a few brands that make it obvious if it’s time to drink or time to pour down the sink.
One example is Stone’s Enjoy By Series. You’ve seen them out there, Enjoy BY 10.31, Enjoy By 01.01, Enjoy By 4.20. I was at a Beer Share lately and I’m not sure if my friend was trying to troll us or if he was just curious, but he opened a bottle of Enjoy By 4.20.15. I decided to play along but quickly regretted it. The former glory of what once existed had morphed into a flat, malty, sugar bomb. Now, four and a half years is a pretty drastic example but this is what happens when high hop beers aren’t enjoyed as fresh as possible. The lupulin found in hops is what imparts its flavor to our beloved brew. Lupulin is the resiny, sticky, aromatic, yellowish powder that can vary in flavor and aroma from grapefruit to pine sap. As awesome as lupulin is, it’s a finicky little substance that is such a diva it only allows its full essence to be enjoyed for a few months.
This brings us to Bell’s Hopslam. A beer so full of hoppy lupulin goodness that they want to protect the integrity of their prized imbibement so much they only brew it once per year.
Each year, at the end of January, Hop Heads rejoice and raise a pint of Bell’s Double IPA brewed with honey. This beer, brewed with six varieties of hops, is meant to be enjoyed as fresh as possible. John Mallett, Director of Operations for Bell’s Brewing Company was asked if you could cellar Hopslam. With a smirk on his face, he responded “Absolutely you can cellar Hopslam and here’s what I do for the first step. Take a black magic marker and cross out ‘Hopslam.’ That big hop character isn’t going to come through with cellaring. The beer is still decent, its good, but it’s a different style. You want to drink Hopslam fresh.”
Instead of being sad that we can only fully enjoy Hopslam three months each year, let’s raise a glass and cheers Bell’s for protecting us from the disappointment and resentment of Hopslam gone bad. It’s time to enjoy folks. Hopslam will be released this Monday, January 21, 2019. So, let’s drink up! Because the window of freshness is always closing.
Posted January 16, 2019, by Jessica Masterson
Liquor Barn’s lead beer buyer + brew lover