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The Beer Circle » Beer, Bell's Brewery, Imperial Amber Ale, Imperial IPA, Tastings, Tröegs Brewing Co., Vertical » Bell’s Hopslam Vertical, Nugget Nectar Vertical, and The Criticism

Bell’s Hopslam Vertical, Nugget Nectar Vertical, and The Criticism

Last year, my buddy Adam told me his plan to lay down a bottle each of Bell’s Hopslam and Troegs Nugget Nectar to analyze the effects that a year will have on each beer. At the time, I thought it was a little silly to not drink them fresh, but I saw the opportunity to learn a little bit more about these beers. Recently, he decided to bring the bottles over to my house since I had the ones and we could do the comparison.

Hopslam

Bell's Hopslam Vertical: 2012 (left) and 2011 (right)

The aged version of Hopslam did not stand up to the test of time very well. Its appearance became very murky, and there was almost no hop aroma left to it. Faint hints of tangerine remained, but caramel was the lone stand out on the nose. Moving on to the taste, it was very much the same story. Ancient remnants of bitterness were left in this dinosaur of a beer, while the fresh one just danced on the tongue with prevalent hop oils.

Nugget Nectar

While the aged version was still not a good tasting as fresh Nugget Nectar, I was surprised to see that some of the hops did remain and provided a bit of an accent in the beer. This was much more evident than the Hopslam. Appearance wise the beers didn’t look too much different, although the aged version was a little clearer, the opposite of Hopslam. On the nose, the hops had faded somewhat, but not enough to not be able to detect what beer was being imbibed. Again, nothing beats the fresh version of the beer, but it was extremely interesting to find out that Nugget Nectar will cling on to hops over time.

Nugget Nectar Vertical: 2012 (left) and 2011 (right)

Criticism

While doing this vertical tasting, I received some very negative feedback on Twitter. Ultimately the criticism sparked this post, as I never intended to review the beers or discuss any part of this vertical at the time I was doing it. The gist of the comments was that it was wasting good beer to age these hop monsters for so long. While I certainly recognize that it is common knowledge that IPAs and other hoppy beers do not age very well and hops are meant to be consumed at their freshest point, this was a wonderful opportunity to gain first hand knowledge of how a beer transforms.

Think back to high school physics. Sure, we all know gravity is out there and affects our daily lives, but didn’t we perform experiments with it, observe the effects, and write about it? How is analyzing the effects of age on hops any different. I competed in several science fairs in my grade school years, and all the experiments started with a hypothesis (hops will fade and the beer will not be as good), moved on to testing (drinking), and finally a conclusion about the hypothesis was formed (it was supported).

It is my personality to try and learn as much about things that I like as possible, from movies to music and, of course, beer. So sure, I could have just taken every Beer Advocate or Rate Beer poster’s opinion that hoppy beers do not last, but there’s no personal growth in doing so. And how do I know that the particular posted has first hand knowledge of faded hops? Is he or she simply repeating the opinions or experiences of others? That would never hold up in the court of law. I regularly receive questions from friends about beer, and I like being their go-to person for beer assistance. If I didn’t perform this experiment, I would feel like I was letting them down when I provided them with guidance about hoppy beer. Now, will I be aging more bottles of Hopslam and Nugget Nectar? Doubtful, but now I know exactly why and the more defined impacts to the beer that age has.

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Written by Jeff Kupko

Jeff is a traffic engineer that loves his beer, and especially loves trying new beer. As a student at the University of Pittsburgh, Yuengling was a staple and the beginnings of liking something better than fizzy yellow water. This has evolved into an entire hobby, with Jeff keeping a blog of all of the beers he tries. Vacations most certainly involve at least one brewery or bottle shop visit to gather a region’s coveted fruits. Now, Jeff has ventured into homebrewing, and there is probably no saving him from being engulfed entirely by beer. While Imperial Stouts and IPAs rank highest in Jeff’s eyes, sours are sneaking up on those styles, and Jeff loves to try all different styles. Find Jeff Kupko on Google Plus

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