Hopslam 2016 vs. Hopslam 2015

IMG_6330So I was lucky enough to brave the crowds and actually get Hopslam the last two years, which was no small feat.  I almost missed out this year as I chased it around by going to all of my favorite beer stores just missing it by frustrating small amounts of time.  Employing social media is both a blessing and a curse.  The problem is everyone uses it and as soon as a store or bar reports having it on Twitter, Facebook or one of the beer specific ones like BeerMenus or Tap Hunter, the locusts descend and scoop it all up in seconds.  This time I got the notification from BeerMenus that my local World of Beer had some and I made a date with my wife to go. The trouble was I got the notification on Saturday morning and we couldn’t get there until Saturday evening.  When we finally got there, sidled up to the bar and got the bartender’s attention, he told us he had just poured the last one and gave it to the couple next to us.  However, as it turns out, they were very neighborly and felt bad that they got the last of it and offered that they just bought some at a butcher shop not far away and that it seemed like they still had some.  I hatched a plan to go the next day.  I went to the butcher shop the next day with great anticipation.  My heart sank slightly when I entered the store and saw only a small selection of beer and I didn’t see the Hopslam.  No one else was in the store, so the guy behind the counter asked if I needed help.  Rather then reveal that I was looking for Hopslam, I just asked where the beer is.  He pointed to cooler separate from where I’d looked and the Angel’s harps began to play when I saw the last six pack sitting there.  I grabbed it quickly and headed to the counter.  At $22.99, it’s a little pricey for a six pack of beer, but I still felt elated at successfully reaching the end of a long and difficult quest.  Anyway, on to the comparison.  One thing I noticed right away is that the two beers are very similar.  Now, maybe that’s not a surprise considering it’s the same name beer, made by the same brewery.  Still, that’s not always the case.  I’ve done vertical reviews on other beers like Dogfish Head Punkin Ale that have been different each year.  These two both poured a medium copper color with a thin white head that dissipated quickly.  The 2015 version was just a shade darker.  Both had a similar aroma of both floral and earthy hops.  The hop flavor came through similarly in both as well.  There was a light chamomile -like flavor along with a more herbal hop flavor that do a little twist together on your tongue.  However, the one noticeable difference was that the 2015 version had a marked bready or biscuity flavor to it and, thus, also a slighter higher malt profile.  The 2016 version was more balanced, though the honey was a little more distinguishable in the 2016 version.  I would say both versions were very good.  I’m not sure I can say one was better than the other because the differences were minor.  You really have to be looking for them.  I rate them both five out of five proper pints.