For our next group tasting, we wanted to go big. Since winter is winding down, and the weather is starting to hint at spring, we decided on flowers. Well really more floral, but you get the drift.
And with that, I give you the Imperial IPA flight: Bell’s Hopslam, Lagunitas Sucks, and New Belgium Rampant.
The serving order was decided by their starting temperature. I wanted each of these at cellar temp (55 degrees). The Hopslam came straight from the cellar, and was at 55 right from the bottle. The Rampant and Sucks came out of the fridge and needed some time to warm up.
Bell’s Hopslam – 10% abv, Bottled 1/15/2013
Tom: The nose was slightly floral, with some fruity notes. My first comment was that I wish we had done this comparison a month ago when the hopslam was much fresher. Once on the palate, it tasted bitter up front with a slight sweetness from the added honey. The finish trailed off in intensity quite quickly. Overall the balance was very good, and I think it would’ve showed better had it been fresher. (8.6/10)
Mike: The nose was very faint to me, but I did get hints of fruit. The name hopslam of course lives up to it’s name on the first taste and takes a moment or two for the palate to really separate the flavors. The floral taste is of course dominant, but the fruity taste does balance it pretty well and the taste of figs comes to mind. Tom pointed out that it probably would have been better to this a month ago, but as of this writing I have had another one that I had stored away and honestly it was by far the best one I have had so far. The floral and fruit flavors mixed perfectly and really was quite a delight. (8.5/10)
New Belgium Rampant – 8.5% abv, Bottled 2/20/2013
Tom: Very floral nose with swirling bitter notes. Medium bodied with nice fruit notes. Well balanced with a noticeable but not overwhelming bitterness. Solid finish. (8.5/10)
Mike: This new offering from New Belgium has a very mild and floral nose to start off. On the first taste it was mild and and almost in a way…cool. Once I starte tasting flavors the floral notes were mild and I really detected a rose type of flavor (rose water). It’s finish wasn’t very strong, but all and all this was a very smooth beer and I would gladly enjoy this again. (8.6/10)
Lagunitas Sucks (no they don’t) – 7.85% abv, Bottled ??/??/????
Tom: Extremely dank nose, big big hops. Full bodied with an overwhelming bitterness. After a while some fruitiness arrives. The finish is big and long, and this definitely qualifies as a palate wrecker. (9.0/10)
Mike: The nose to me was a great mixture or both fruit and floral (floral slightly winning out) but a nice mix. I agree with Tom with the bitterness, but I could taste the fruit throughout and strawberry rang through my mind the whole time. It finishes up nice and hoppy and again I agree with Tom in both that this is wrecker and on the final rating. (9.0/10)
So as it turned out, the tasting order worked out perfectly in terms of escalating bitterness. Had we started with the Sucks, I don’t think we would have tasted much of the rest. Overall, 3 great beers, 2 (Hopslam and Sucks) that I had known to look forward too, and 1 new one (Rampant) that is new to the beer world. You may find some Hopslam lingering as bars continue to put it on draught. The Sucks is still somewhat available in our market with most retailers getting a pretty good sized shipment in a couple of weeks ago. The Rampant just shipped not long ago as well, so it will hopefully be available for a while. Cheers.