Young and Hungry

Is Hopslam Worth the Hype?

Bell's Hopslam As the much-hyped Bell's Hopslam double IPA was set to arrive in D.C. this week, any excitement I had for drinking it was tempered by the dread of staying up 24/7 to maintain the Beerspotter Twitter feed and let all you fiending drinkers know where and when to get this limited brew. Many breweries limit the production of their most vaunted beers, allowing them to inflate both their cult status and their price tags.

But of course, I was first in line to buy Hopslam. And revisiting it for the first time in 2010, I have to say it's ambrosia. Almost literally — in Greek mythology, ambrosia was the drink of the gods, often referred to as bearing resemblance to nectar and honey, teeming with fruit and flora. Hopslam is indeed hoppy, but it's a reminder that hops are more than bitterness; they're actually flowers, and in this case they bring an armload of fresh-picked strawberry and grapefruit and apricot aroma to each bottle. This beer is made with honey. It is sweet and godly, a paean to the hop flower.

A few years ago, when Bell's was just a good brewery and LeBron James was a prominent high school basketball player, you could get a six-pack of Hopslam for about $12. We called it "Four-Hearted," because it really tasted like a double version of Bell's Two-Hearted Ale, with it's overdrive hops mellowed by a honey sweetness. Today demand has driven the price up to about $25 for a six-pack, and while that does sound pretty outrageous, look at it this way: two of those bottles, or 24 oz., runs a little over $8. Meanwhile, very good breweries such as Stone and Southern Tier and Avery and countless Belgians charge $8, $10, even $14 for a single 24 oz. bottle without batting an eye. So while it's frustrating that we can't enjoy this beer year-round (and don't try hording them — the hop flavors will fade), I can't complain about the price. Just think about the wine $8 will buy you.

  • turtle
  • TheTim

    The other calculation I do to make me feel better about paying 25 bucks for a sixer is telling myself I'd be paying 4 dollars for some crap beer in a bar, so $4.17 for a Hopslam isn't so bad. Or $8 for a Rochfort 10.

    Beerspotter: have you seen any Victory Storm King Stout around? I've been craving it but can't find it anywhere.

  • Orr Shtuhl

    Tim, I don't remember seeing Victory Storm King recently in stores (even though it's a year-round beer), but CommonWealth in Columbia Heights is expecting to have it on cask by the end of this week.

  • TheTim

    Orr-
    Great tip! Thanks a lot.
    Tim

  • http://www.beltwaybeer.com Kathy

    Tim, Chevy Chase Wine carries it. They're out of stock right now, but it should only be temporary. You might give them a call and see when they expect it back.

  • http://moderndomestic.wordpress.com Jenna

    Eh, $8 will take you decently far in the Trader Joe's wine section.

  • Chris

    It's up to $25 a six-pack? Yikes. I was able to get it for $14 last year. Guess I'll be drinking Nugget Nectar.

  • B Tannen

    Still a rip off. There are plenty of other hoppy beers for better prices. This is just another case of a company getting popular and then taking advantage of the customer. Boycott Bell's beers!

  • mike

    boycott? please. drink natty ice if we are going to debate whether a beer is worth the price. hopslam is a good beer and the brewery should be compensated for what they think its worth. its like artwork, just cause buying a canvass and paint costs a picasso very little, doesn't mean his painting should be bought for cheap.

  • B Tannen

    Actually, I found out from Bell's that it is the retail who is driving up the prices. I agree that a brewery should get what good money for good beer, but this beer is not worth the price tag. There are plenty of other beer that taste just as good for way less money. As for art, it just beer.

  • http://www.adrauglis.com Art D.

    It is definitely worth the hype
    I paid $18 for a six-pack in NoVa - higher than I would normally go, but there were special circumstances. I was shocked to see that the P St. WF has it out for $24.That seemed like gouging by the retailer and/or distributor to me, so I passed.

  • Rene V

    Its only 14.90$ here in milwaukee. Definately one of my favs. I Look forward to it every year. Its actually on tap at a bar called the Terminal. Only beer i like better is Double Crooked Tree by Dark Horse Brewery

  • Hot Carl

    $25 for a six pack is high- I think it's your store that is inflating the prices. I just bought a six pack at wine and more in Phoenix, AZ for $15.00. I thought that was high until I saw that this beer packs 10% alchohol by volume. drinking a six pack woukld be equivalent to drinking a case of light beer

  • OH_CQ

    Carl, that case would have to be 2.5%, I don't know too many light beers that even go that low, they'd be better off buying soda water! :-D

    Maybe a 15-pack would be a closer comparison (at 4% abv).

    But to the point, $22-25 is gouging, and it's a bad spot to be in if you live in an area with no competition to keep the prices reasonable. That's essentially just a step below Ebay methods and while it's easy to say 'just don't buy from those places', those comments generally are coming from people with plenty of purchase options or who don't like hoppy brews.

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  • Tad Salyards

    We'll see what a sixer is going for here in the Midwest. I'm hoping to find a pack or two after work today in Minneapolis. $25 a six pack is ludicrous, but it is the best DPA on the market hands down.

  • Steve

    Def worth the hype and cost. Lived in MPLS last year and was paying as low as 15.99 and as much as 17.99. Now out in DC and of course it's going to be more out here, EVERYTHING is. Still 19.99 isn't that bad. Way less supply out here and way more demand. At least it's a 6 pack and not a 4 like a lot of dipa's. Rene V, you are right though, double crooked tree is amazing. Wish that was around in DC...

  • Dan

    Living in Never-Never-Land northern Minnesota means $50 for a case, so I picked mine up today.

    To be fair, we pay crazy money for broadband so you guys are probably making out better in the long run.

  • http://vaburbia.com allan

    Saw it here in dc for $35 a 6pack!!!!! Still haven't had it but I'm not paying that much.

  • Jim

    I live in Asheville, NC and just picked up two six-packs from the local grocer for $17.99 + tax.

  • Jason Garton

    Anything over 16.99 and that is the store jacking up the price.... Not Bell's...

    Also, if you known anything about homebrewing you realize that hopslam is way more expensive to produce than say oberon which is a big money maker for Bell's. Hopslam is not that big of a driver of bell's revenue...

  • Jason Garton

    excuse me, I meant driver of Net Income

  • Drew

    Bell's General Store in Kalamazoo, MI - the brewery itself - sells it for $16.50. Anything more is just the retailers.

  • marcj

    FYI, Virginia Market, which is in DC at the corner of 18th & U/Florida, just got a shipment in tonight--they're selling for $21.99.

  • Steve

    you guys are getting so screwed....$12.99 at my store.....tell your retailers you are upset wwith pricing and thinking of shopping elsewhere....

  • Steve

    if my store can sell it for that....YOUR store can sell it for that....dont blame Bells....its not their fault.....

  • Aaron

    Just picked up a case for $56 ($14/6), not too bad!!

  • Fred

    I still have two heavily refrigerated cases left of the 2011 release. I just purchased 10 cases of the 2012 HopSlam for my personal use and for invited friends to my house. (Its good to have connections and at around $60.00 a case of 24, I am not complaining.)

    The 2012 is every bit as good as the 2011. Maybe a bit sweeter. Otherwise, when you open a fresh, cold bottle, the grapefruit smell fills the entire area around the bottle!! This is among the finest DIPA's ever crafted...No wonder it sells out so fast.

  • Randy

    Yea it's just 16.99 in MN and my store only got 5 cases.... any higher and it's just the retailer.

  • http://www.naturaltherapeuticspecialist.com Evan

    How to Play HopSlam (1) Buy a case of Hopslam (2) Compete in a knock out elimination slaming the Hopslam for best time against your competitors (3) Lose your memory and refer back to this post to play again.

  • Nova Nicoise

    Found some today at Wegman's in Fairfax. The moment I entered the beer section and started wondering if they'd have this mythic beer....it appeared! First time I've paid 19.99 for a six-pack.

  • Julian

    any way i can get a case of it anyone know where to go and how to get it shipped?

  • bobby

    michigan is the new beer capitol of the world, faggots.

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