The reason I knew this year’s batch of Bell’s fabled Hopslam was on its way to the local market wasn’t because I received a press release from the brewery, nor did I see “Coming Soon!” signs in my favorite liquor stores. Rather, I’ve been getting scads of search engine hits from waist-watching beer lovers wondering “how many calories are in Hopslam?”

A strange thing, if you ask me. When it comes to craft beer, people’s fascination with calories is a bit funny, like walking into The Olive Garden and asking for the low-carb menu. On the macro front, marketers in the U.S. have honed in on it as a point of differentiation for years, humorously beating each other up on the air waves to see who can produce the most metabolically inoffensive product possible. 

However, most people interested in flavorful, artisanal food selections probably wouldn’t dictate the bulk of their dining choices in that way. Similarly, there’s a reason Michelob Ultra exists…and it ain’t for people like me.  

But to address the apparently highly sought-after answer on Hopslam’s caloric content…I don’t know definitively*. However, based on this site, I’d safely put it in the 275 to 300 calorie neighborhood per 12 ounce bottle. Which compared to Bud Light’s paltry 95 calories, or even Guinness Draught — everyone’s oft-cited “meal in a can” — at only 125 calories, Hopslam certainly takes things to another level, and not just in its nutritional value.

Poured with a nice head of carbonation, rich amber coloring with great clarity.

Aroma is citrus and pine resin, maybe some flower like lavender and a hint of clove possibly from the honey they use in the brewing process, and a fair amount of alcohol.

Flavor is impressively bitter from start to finish, as expected with the style, but not enough malt sweetness to follow it up and balance things, at least for me. A little one dimensional from that perspective, with the alcohol cutting in to take a disproportionate amount of the spotlight. Very hot. I juxtapose this to beers like Dogfish Head 90 Minute, which masterfully finds a way to showcase the hops and malt in their own place. 

Mouthfeel is good, nice carbonation and a prickly, warming sensation from the hop/alcohol combo. The honey probably contributes to the somewhat dry finish and helps kick this beer up to the 10% ABV level. 

Doing my best to wipe away the palpable hype that drips from the bottle, and daring the ire of beer geeks far and wide, I recognize and enjoy the beer for what it is, a really aromatic and somewhat unbalanced double IPA. Truth in advertising, I suppose. Try it if you can, but I’m not a gushing fan.

Rating: B

Where I Bought It: The Cellars in Plymouth
Availability: Seasonal – available through February
Price: $15.49 a six pack

* Brewery representative Jason Gillum confirmed that Hopslam comes in at 280 calories per 12 ounce bottle.