Imbibe Hour

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Slamming and chasing beer, and trying to understand the sheep mentality.

I was looking for some beer of late to imbibe on and spending some time on BeerAdvocate.com as I usually do, just to get ideas of what was going on in the halls of beerdom (my reviews are under the username "smakawhat" in case you are curious). One day there was a thread titled Hopslam in DC in the Atlantic forum. I was confused by this, was this about getting beer and throwing/slamming them into townhouses in upper NW? or was this something else entirely? Well reading more it was obvious someone was wondering about the availability of a beer called HopSlam from Bell's brewery a seasonal release from Comstock Michigan and when/where to get it in DC.

HopSlam is an American Double Imperial Pale Ale or what many people refer to as DIPAs, big on hops and usually big on abv. Many people who are a fan of this style are refered to as "hopheads". Soon reading a couple messages it became obvious that this beer has a bit of a "cult" following, and people were posting messages about where is this? When is it coming? And then shortly afterwords with our hero checking and finding it quite often in the DC area, discovering the ridiculous price for this six pack of beer averaging about $23 dollars (our hero paid $25).

Well I am always up for trying something that people are raving about, but as a working man and having a cellar growing with beer that is hard to contain, forking over that much money for another 6 beers makes me start to wonder about my sanity.

It also poses a dilemma for me. When is a beer too much money? For some people this is an easy question, they might live in an area of low choice and availability, but with a lower standard of living and smaller prices (unlike DC). I had to pinch myself when I drove out this weekend to rural VA, pulled up some craft beer on tap (that was very good by the way) and only paying $4 bucks for it.

The thing about beer, is that ever since the craft movement began and took off, we've now got beers that are jumping up in price because of demand. When I picked up the hopslam beer I actually didn't see it on the shelves where I normally go. I asked someone who worked there if they had it, to which they replied "Oh yeah of course we got some in yesterday, we only allow one pack per customer, you just have to ask for it." The young woman who normally works in the wine section then went behind a door, and I felt like I was doing an illegal clandestine transaction... jesus I am just buying beer.

The young woman came back with a pack, and I remarked about the oddness about this. There was though a reason for this behavior. She told me, "people who come here know the beer and will ask for it, then we will go get it for them but limit the amount." Then she remarked one thing to me which sort of made wonder about the feelings about the human race. She then said that if they put all of the packs out someone will come in and buy ALL OF IT.

I don't know about you, but I love drink, and beer, but I particularly look at beer, even craft beer, as a great emancipator of the human condition. Everyone drinks beer (or at least I think they should drink good beer), and it belongs to everyone. It levels the playing field, you get together with people shell out a few small bucks and have camaraderie and anyone can join. It's communal, to some degree blue collar and should be good but also free of thoughts about superiority. When you jack up the price suddenly it makes me think you have to belong to some elitist super club such as trying to buy 97+ point rated wines...

So I had a lot of mixed emotions about taking this green pack home with me, and also forking over alot of money for another DIPA from Three Floyds Brewery in Munster Indiana for comparison. I've heard a lot about Three Floyds, and I actually almost like them just for their intricate bottle art alone. So once again I forked the wallet over and bought some Dreadnaught to taste along side Hopslam.

The results of how this went are all below: Cheers!

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