Just 24-hours after the local release of Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum, Hampton Roads was once again ablaze with Twitter and Facebook updates proclaiming the limited availability of Bell’s ultra-rare HopSlam, the 3rd-ranked American Double / Imperial IPA in the world (Beer Advocate). The news came late in the afternoon and admittedly I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get my hands on some before stockpiles were depleted. Thankfully, Lucien came through in the clutch with a 6-pack from our home-away-from-home, T-Dub. With the Hoptimum review fresh in our minds, the stage was set for yet another collab critique of this much-celebrated brew…
Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a snifter.
A - Golden in color; semi-clear with slight haziness; a vibrant white, one-finger head; head is thick and frothy; beer appears to be well-carbonated. Looks good.
S - Wow! Popped the cap on the bottle and got hit with hops right away (bottle was about two feet away) - freakin’ awesome! Hyper hoppy Simcoe on the nose; a bit spicy; floral hints.
T - More hops, but less pungent than on the nose; very well-balanced; piney and floral with hints of grapefruit; smooth bitterness on the finish; little-to-no linger; no heat despite ABV. Wow, this is a super smooth drink!
M - Medium-bodied; minimal head, but retains well; foamy head has great mouthfeel; mild carbonation (despite initial appearance).
D - Very drinkable despite availability; not sessionable due to ABV; overall very smooth and well-balanced.
A- / 4.2
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 4.5
There’s a reason why HopSlam is so widely regarded amongst Hop Heads the world over. It’s a veritable atomic explosion of hops in your face and needless to say we absolutely felt hopslammed during and after our review. But, for me, the hyper pungent aromatics simply overpowered the other subtle nuances of the beer. Afterwards, I couldn’t help but feel like the Hoptimum allowed for my palate to pick up on more of what was going on within the beer itself. Despite this, HopSlam still received high scores from Lucien and myself. Very fun, very smooth and highly recommended.
P.S. Later this week I’ll be doing a bottle-to-bottle, side-by-side Battle Royal Review of Hoptimum and HopSlam, so stay tuned for that. I would also like to thank Kevin at G&G for holding a 6-pack of HopSlam for me overnight! Thanks, dude!
I will post my Beer Advocate review below (along with final score), but I just want to preface this post by saying that this beer was an absolute treat. Definitely make the trip to G&G (or The Birch when they get it) before it’s sold out; it was the equivalent of opening gifts on Christmas Day — surprise after surprise.
Served from a 22oz. bottle into a snifter.
A — Beautiful! Super clear, like a Kristall Hefeweizen; cloudless amber; very minimal, fingernail-width light-brown head; appears to be slightly carbonated; little-to-no lacing throughout the drink.
S — More hoppy than malty, but hops still very subdued; Simcoe hops not as profound on the nose as would expect; slightly taken aback because of; intrigued!
T — Wow, there’s that whole-cone! Decent amount of carbonation for a Double IPA — a pleasant surprise! Explosion of bitter hops (Magnum) on the finish; sweetness that segues into hints of pine, earth and evergreen; pinch of caramel; very profound linger with little-to-no heat.
M — Medium bodied; slightly-syrupy, coats your mouth; more carbonation than would expect in an IPA, tingles in your mouth / beard - fun! Resonates with a very subdued, sweet tartness.
D — Full points for drinkablility, despite limited availability.
A / 4.55
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 5
So there you have it, a rock-solid rating for a damn good Imperial IPA — and I’m very critical in my reviews! From the moment I poured this into my snifter, I was taken aback time and time again by this super fun, complex brew. Gratz to Sierra Nevada; it’s clear to me that they had a fun time building this recipe. Fully recommend this beer.
Imagine the streets of Lambert’s Point in West Ghent busy with the traffic of local pedestrians, cyclists and grain supply trucks. Across the block, two brewers on break are enjoying a sandwich while sitting on a loading dock full of empty kegs, debating whether they should meet up for beers and karaoke at Cruzers after work. One of them throws a big thumbs-up to a bartender hurrying to clock-in at Tortilla West. A couple would-be tourists on the bike path pedal up to a ‘Beer Town’ sign and wander into The Birch. Somewhere off in the distance is the distinct sound of Van Morrison’s “And It Stoned Me” playing at a local home brew club’s monthly picnic. This would be a regular scene in my vision of Norfolk’s Little Beer Town.
Currently, the Lambert’s Point area serves little more then a spare parking lot for a few select shipping companies and overflow from the neighboring shipyard. And, to me, that’s part of the allure. I’ve always appreciated its secluded charm, its ‘take a chance’ location and its overall authenticity. It’s a desolate area that has attracted more then a few exceedingly passionate entrepreneurs. If businesses can survive there, then surely they must be worth supporting.
My vision of Norfolk’s Little Beer Town came to fruition with the recent addition of The Birch, a bar whole-heartedly dedicated to the craft beer movement. It just so happens that next door is another locally-owned bar that supports beer culture - Tortilla West. Both showcase an undeniable draft and bottle selection and together have serendipitously planted a seed.
Now, what if a home brew supply shop opened next to a specialty bottle shop? What if the Hampton Roads Brewing And Tasting Society rented out permanent space to teach home brewing classes? What if a new beverage distributor opened to serve the expanding brewery district better? Folks like us would have block party events; spring and fall brew release festivals on parking lots that have been replaced by grass and pavilions. I can see us opening Ox Strong right next door to The Birch with towers of hop plants growing on our rooftop and a steady flow of tasting patrons. We’d be right at home.
With one or two more beer-oriented businesses, the Lambert’s Point area of West Ghent will become a beer town. A place where people go to to experience beer culture. The concept of functional districts is amazing and very possible. The culmination of Norfolk’s craft beer culture could come to life in this glorious hodgepodge of industrial shipping, brewing and craft beer appreciation.
This all starts with Ox Strong’s mission to develop an open and inclusive local beer culture. We’re trying to create and inspire a vision for what we see as Norfolk’s Little Beer Town. We want beer to be a conversation, a business, a building, a destination, a vibe, a culture. We’re not just brewers, we’re here to help build a beer community.
— Lucien Frelin, Ox Strong Brewing Company