Last weekend provided me with a very spiritual experience.  I’ve been a beer snob since probably late 1997.  It was then that I discovered a whole subculture where quality was more important than quantity.  It’s probably a small part of the reason why I’m still here, as the mass produced stuff was going down far too easily back then.  I’ve slowly switched over to preferring one hearty porter or flavorful pale ale over to the self destructive behavior of my youth.  Not that relapses haven’t occurred.

For years, Rogue has been my favorite brewery.  Their Dead Guy Ale or Left Hand Brewing Company’s Black Jack Porter have been the beers I’d count as my favorite.  As years passed, I’ve probably moved more to the hop loving side of the spectrum as opposed to the more malty beers.  Pennsylvian high hop beers became the beers I’d haul back from my frequent treks to Pittsburgh.

But the weekend before last, I found the one true beer to rule them all.  I was so utterly blown away by the perfectness of this beer, I can’t even give it a proper review.  You have to experience it.  As most can probably tell, I’ve become a big fanboy of Bell’s Brewery since moving north of the border.  I’ve not tried one of their beers that I wouldn’t have again.  So it happened last Saturday that I saw two new selections at Flick’s that I hadn’t tried yet.  The Hopslam Ale and the Third Coast Old Ale.  Being the hophead that I am, the Hopslam was the obvious choice.

And it’s changed my world.  The smell of those sweet hops fills your nose and begins filling your now floating head with an explosion of endorphins.  It really is almost enough to just sit there with your nose in the glass.  Once you realize that you’ve had this stupid grin on your face and your nose nearly touching the golden liquid for the last five minutes, you decide it’s time to actually taste it.

That’s when there’s no turning back.  The hops explode all over your tongue.  The grin turns into a big smile.  The eyes close.  And you know what a viking in Valhalla must feel like.  The flavor takes an IPA and moves beyond it.  I’ve had the 60/90/120 minute versions of Dogfish Head IPA.  The 120 goes over the reasonable limit of what extreme hops should be and becomes too sweet.  The 90 is probably close and the 60 isn’t as far.  While those are all good, the Hopslam achieves utter hop perfection.  I found myself not wanting to have another sip each time because I didn’t want to finish it.  I wanted it to sit and maintain this perfection forever.  But of course I continued.  I find myself with this same feeling when thinking of drinking one of the six pack I picked up this weekend.  That feeling of not wanting a good thing to end.

But this good thing will end.  Soon.  Checking out their site, I found that this is one of their seasonal specialty beers.  It’s only available in January and part of February.  If this stuff was available year round, I’d probably never give another beer review here again (which would probably make most of you happy).  There would be no reason to ever buy a different brew again.

So once it’s gone, and the depression passes, the quest for a substitute to tied me over until next January will begin.  But in the mean time, this beer gets a rating of Meddle – Echoes.  This is the highest honor I can bestow in my scale.

Word of warning:
This is a potent piece of liquid bread.  The alcohol by volume (ABV) in HopSlam is 10%.  I realized this after getting about halfway through that first bottle.  It was quite a surprise to be feeling something so soon.  So keep this in mind.  Carve out a lot of time and don’t drink too many.


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