Written by John King
It was the winter of 2006. A Friday, we’ll go ahead and assume. I had trekked all the way from my graduate school shack near Iroquois Park to Whole Foods, because at the time, it was the only place I knew of to get fancy beer. I still considered myself a beer virgin at the time, often dabbling in Raisin D’Etre and many other Dogfish Head offerings. After eating as many free samples as I could find, I found myself staring at the brightly colored cardboard canvases and Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale caught my eye. I assumed that this beer had to be full of Christmas spices and cheer based on the logo and packaging. I went home, poured in it a pint glass, and those remaining five beers sat in the fridge for months to come.
I had lost my hop-ginity to Celebration Ale. Things got awkward. Really awkward. What the crap is this? Like Manti Teo, I was fooled by a fake mistress of seduction. Her promises of sugar and spice were nothing but bitterness and neglect.
Should I hold the glass or give it its space? I gave it a few more tries and then dumped the bottle. It just sat in the fridge reminding me of the poor choice I had made that cold winter night. The moment I was anticipating the most, resulted only in a few seconds of disgust and embarrassment. It wasn’t until winter 2009 when I realized I had made a big mistake and needed to re-connect with my lost lupulin lover.
I was really starting to get into craft beer and a friend from Colorado had recommended Avery Maharaja Double IPA. Not bad, I thought. Crisp, kind of sweet. Then I started cruising beer websites and dabbled with the idea of homebrewing. At the time, people were going nuts over a beer called Dreadnaught Double IPA by 3 Floyds brewery. After a few sips, I was hooked on hops.
I soon found out Beer Geeks were amped about the upcoming release of a beer called Bells Hopslam. Impulsively, I bought a six-pack at what I thought was an astonishing price for the amount of beer. After a few bottles, I viewed the beer as the second coming of Christ descending on my palate. I was smitten.
Fast forward three years later. Hopslam comes out in Louisville yesterday. People hype it up as usual and often buy cases at a time. My palate is coming off recent IPA offerings from Russian River and several cans of the Alchemist’s Heady Topper. Too say the least, I’ve been spoiled with IPAs lately and folks, if you’ve never had a Heady Topper…it’s hyped for a very good reason. Instead of the usual six-pack, I buy two bottles. I pour one while making dinner last night, try to get as much congestion out of my stuffed head as possible and sniff away. I keep waiting for the aroma. I blame my congestion. I take a few sips and wait. Nothing.
Isn’t my tongue supposed to be slammed with citrus and piney notes? Is the beer off? Is the beer not as good as I remember it being or is it just overhyped? Am I spoiled by the IPA staples I have made a part of my beer drinking repertoire? Or have other breweries been making just as good IPAs and DIPAs that I once held Hopslam in high regard too?
Don’t get me wrong, Hopslam is a good beer. A great beer actually, but it just doesn’t do it for me anymore. Last night I felt like I was turning my back on the beer that led me to the promise land of good beer. I felt like I’ve been there and I’ve done that and there are many other beers being made as I type this that may become the next Hopslam. As my buddy Steve says, “Exploring the latest innovations is one of the most exciting and gratifying aspects in the often diluted world of craft beer.”
Cheers my friends.