I've been stoking up my cellar a bit, firstly because I like a stash of beer. Secondly because I like a stash of beer.
My general opinion of keeping a well stocked larder is that you need enough in it so that when you hit it hard you'll have a job to get through the lot.
I do keep, or rather, collect beers for ageing as I've always been a collector of stuff and beer is much better than the other things I've collected in the past. These being coins, matches, beer mats, stickers, interestingly designed wrappers, bouncy balls, tickets, bottle tops, stones and at at one point in my life you could say I collected experiences.
So anyway I've got a crate going which has recently been full of beers I wish to drink without worrying about them getting better over time. It's full of hoppy beers then, it allows me to forget about the stuff that's ageing whilst still drinking good stuff at home. It got me to thinking about the massive amount of hoppiness going on at the moment in beer and how I've been a little disappointed by some beers that lack body.
Here's something for you brewers out there, IPA needs body and backbone, this is provided by malt and the subsequent sugar it produces in the brewing process. The more IPA becomes a dominant style in craft brewing the more I almost cringe as approach a new one. They get thinner and more bitter and in some cases blacker and I think that sometimes people are missing the point.
You need to balance a beer to make a truly great one and that means malt and hops together. The more bitterness the more sweetness is needed.
I'm drinking a beer right now that exemplifies this balance: Bell's Hopslam.
Donated to me by Michigan (Agent) Al, and I am drinking this in honour of the brief closure of the Beer Ritz bottle shop in Leeds. If you haven't gathered by now it's been closed and now it's open again! Yes shut, the world is a lesser place without it but as much as I mourn its semi passing I celebrate the amount Zak at al have contributed to the cause of beer in the UK and of course my drinking life. If I look at the top beer bloggers in the country I'd say the majority have been to beer ritz and many have been inspired to write by trips to Beer Ritz. I'd also like to add that something of this stature and someone of Zak's expertise will not be held back for long - something new and exciting will come from this no doubt.
Hopslam is more eloquently described my Mr Zak right here but in my opinion it is a tour du Force and rightly rated as one of the finest in the world.
You can smell the hops and honey all round before you even get to drinking. Heavy bitterness on the tongue at first is just chopped neatly down with every second that passes by in to candy sweet honey and pineapple, orange, mango and peach. It's as gluggable and easy to drink as I Hardcore You (which has not yet been beaten in this category for me) because it has that real deep malt and honey sweetness that exemplifies a proper backbone.