Hopslam: Bell’s Brewery’s Cult Classic

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bell's breweryFor many beer drinkers this is a great time of year. The weather makes it a good time to enjoy your dark ambers and milk stouts, but it’s also time for one certain special cult classic — Bell’s Hopslam Ale.

BrewhouseVerticalWhen we spoke with Laura Bell, the marketing director for Bell’s Brewery, and the daughter of Founder Larry Bell, she wouldn’t even hint at the amount of Hopslam the brewery distributes each January. “We are able to make about the same amount every year, but what I don’t want to have happen is if we say how much, then people … I don’t know,” she said. “There is a limited amount we can make every year and that’s what we do.”

Hopslam has been in creation since 2006, but has developed its cult following all on its own. “Over the last eight years or so it has grown into something that was totally unexpected for us,” explained Bell. “The level of enthusiasm of our customers was something that was really incredible. We have not done any marketing behind the beer, other than sort of having Hopslam nights at different retail partners, but we don’t really advertise for it and we haven’t really put a ton behind it.”

All the hype that has accompanied each Hopslam release has been on the shoulders of the consumers that take it down one pint at a time. “It’s something that’s really special and appreciated,” said Bell. “There’s a huge level of enthusiasm that was sort of organic.”

Hopslam’s growth isn’t unexpected for the person that has tasted its hoppy flavor. “I think it’s something about the fact that it’s super, big hoppy, but it’s not so bitter,” said Bell. “It’s definitely got a level of bitterness, but you get to experience a lot of other qualities of the hops, as opposed to just bitter. So, it’s citrus, it’s floral, it’s fruity, it’s tropical fruit, it smells kind of piney, and you get to taste the hops more than just experiencing bitterness. It makes it super drinkable. It’s 10 percent alcohol, and you would never know. There’s just a smoothness to it that makes it a little scary sometimes, I guess, because it’s so easy to drink.

“We also add a portion of Michigan honey to the recipe that helps dry it out, and sort of contributes to that sort of smoothness. The smoothness I guess when you’re drinking it to hide the alcohol.”

bells brewery Although a lot of the recipes are Bell’s fathers, but today brewing isn’t all on her father’s shoulders. She said it takes the entire team to develop beers with such a cult following, but she described her father’s feelings towards brewing today. “He’s sort of the aging rock star who’s put out a lot of good albums, but now it’s time to let the younger folks be able to put out their stuff,” she explained. “It’s really a collaborative effort around here.”

Hopslam is released towards the middle to end of January, and can be found throughout the entire month of February. If you can’t find it locally, demand that you do.

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