BELL'S HOPSLAM - VINTAGE 2011
There is massive debate over whether or not IPAs should be cellared. Hop heads and purists insist that these beers be consumed as fresh as possible. Others believe in the time-tried reason for putting hops into beer in the first place, to withstand time.
Just having the new release of Bell's Hopslam, it seemed fitting to break out an older vintage to check up on its progress. Fresh, this imperial IPA is crisp, hopped up and bitter to no end with a following of pure sweetness and residual sugars and alcohol.
Having this beer now 3 years old, it has changed quite a bit. At the 2 year mark it had a bit of wet cardboard smearing the flavor, but given another year, the taste has made a return. The smell is more malt forward with the hops still present with a bit of the citrus fruit smell lingering in the back. The brightness in the nose has faded but it's not something to turn away from.
The taste is sweet with a mix of sticky malt and honey. Figuring the honey would have been long gone, the hops almost help preserve the golden sugar and help give it a boost in the later years. The hops are present but not as front and center. There is a fair amount of bitterness but is less than the fresh, sharp piney grapefruit that you get when the beer is new. The brightness and crisp mouthfeel have mellowed leaving you with a medium bodied ale that drinks more like a mild barleywine.
Given 2 year, this beer had seen better days. It took a surprising turn after 3 years and still drinks like an old IPA, but gives you a completely changed brew that taps into an English-style barleywine type of brew that I found enjoyable and intriguing.
Weighing in at 10% ABV, this beer can easily be stored for a good amount of time if cellared properly. This particular bottle had been kept in a refrigerator at 44 degrees since the time of purchase.
WHAT IS CELLARED?
Our CELLARED series aims to explore the world of aging beer and sharing the effects of time in the bottle. Bottles have been kept away from light and at temperatures between 44-60 degrees. Individual experiences may vary depending on storage environments.