The Brew from the Center

Bell's HOPSLAM!

10.0% ABV!!!

4/18/2011

If there were ever to be an ‘American Maibock’ style – or maybe, a better definition would be ‘US Doppelbock’ – a traditional spring offering with a lighter color and a load of US of Ale flavor, I’m going to nominate balanced hop-mad beers like this behemoth – it’s a monster with ballet toes. It’s listed on Bell’s site as a seasonal brewed in winter, and the early spring arrival of this Kalamazoo-based brewer’s expression of this Double (or Imperial) IPA has rabid fans aplenty, and with good reason.
 
Lovely color, a deep-honey-amber similar to a fossil that might’ve trapped an ant several million years ago for a modern paleontologist. Sudsy head, consistent and persistent, and the foam leaves a bountiful lace. The insect would’ve died happy. A:2.4
 
Ever-so-slightly sour citrus smell, hops, honey, and…is that ginger? (I changed glasses – still got a vague pickled nose.) Weird, but tantalizing. N: 2.2
 
AGGRESSIVE hop character at the first quaff – immediately tempered by the honey in the mix. The hell with ‘reinheitsgebot’; the addition of the sweetener in just the proper ratio keeps the thing from other brewer’s hop-bombers; you don’t feel like you’re chewing on the actual plant. Marvelous – can I pick out the six hops in the vat and the dry-hop added at the end? Maybe – nahhh. Just enjoy it. The initial wallop of hops settles into a terrific drinkability as one progresses through the glass. The mouthfeel borders on a Belgian of the finest caliber. T: 2.5
 
A lingering, bitter finish, a trace of honey on the tongue, which is exactly what I’d want and expect from this bottle. Now that I’m done – wow, lest ye forget - the ABV IS 10%. Don’t stand up too quickly. F:2.4
 
Ed’s score: 9.5 out of 10.
 
P.S. – Dropped by the Upland Tasting Room on College Ave this past weekend, alas, without pen and paper. Don’t know if the Upland folks have tweaked their recipes a tad or if there’s a more rigorous approach toward monitoring ingredients, but I really think this is a craft brewery that’s about to make the leap from ‘good’ to ‘great’. You’ll hear much more about their brews here shortly. Meantime, stop by the Room and taste a flight of their six varieties NOW. The current offerings are all splendid.
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Ed Wenck

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