How did the Hopslam Hype begin?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Budinetz, Feb 24, 2013.

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  1. Budinetz

    Budinetz Defender (639) Dec 29, 2010 Pennsylvania

    I live in Bethlehem, PA about an hour north of Philly and I have always been able to get all Bell's beers without a problem. Within the last year, Bell's popularity has quadrupled! It's just strange to me I suppose because Bell's has always been readily available, including Hopslam. Hell, I couldn't even burn through kegs of Two-Hearted (another great Bell's beer) at the last bar I worked at as fast as I would have liked, because people didn't really know what Bell's was all about perhaps. Now you are limited to one case at disributors and bottle shops even less. This brewery has been around for quite a while and Hopslam is by no means a new beer to the market. So my question is, where did this all come from? Has Bell's expanded their distribution rights to more states? I was talking to a rep for my local distributor and we were talking about how crazy it has been last year and this year with people hunting down Bell's. On one occasion a guy drove down from Maine just for one case!!! My predicition is when Oberon comes out this season it will be gone very quickly. Perhaps it is just the hop head craze that has taken this industry by storm and that is why Hopslam, because it is chalk full of hop flavor and very delicious, is so heavily on demand...Thoughts?
  2. AceMaster

    AceMaster Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2012 Iowa

    pass it up this year not up to the hype bought one sixer and looked past many cases
    dujayhawk and visualmartyr like this.
  3. beercanman

    beercanman Initiate (0) Dec 17, 2012 Ohio

    dujayhawk, visualmartyr and AceMaster like this.
  4. Holsie

    Holsie Initiate (0) Jun 27, 2012 South Carolina

    There is a limited release craze everywhere. There also appears to be this backlash brewing among long time crafters against certain successes like Hopslam. If it was around 365 days, it would soon join the ranks of solid regulars beside other DIPAs.
    Bell's makes good stuff.

    I also think that as the craft beer following expands, some of these regular offerings will be first to be embraced and then even higher demand for the really tough stuff. Fortunately a lot a quality stuff is being put out. You think KBS is tough now? I knew about it a while but stouts weren't my thing a few years back. You could walk into the store and pick one or two up. Now? Lines and favors.
  5. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Meyvn (1,167) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    How any hype starts.

    Beer is brewed > people like the beer > people go and talk about the beer > other people inflate their own expectations > people get tired of the talk, feel it is discussed more than it deserves > beer is labeled as hyped.

    It is a good beer, people like it and will seek it out. For better or worse, people who have not had it develop huge expectations based off of others opinions and seek it out even more and it becomes a big deal when they find it. Hype is really a pejorative in most cases, popularity is a much better term, in my opinion.
  6. Jfriz25

    Jfriz25 Initiate (150) Jun 8, 2012 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    Doubt there is going to be an Oberon rush this summer, it is a sour, BA stout, IIPA thing. I put Hopslam in the same category as SN Celebration in that the praise far outweighs product. Both are good beers but no longer the standouts they were when they were the only show in town.

    I would rather drink a Two Heared for half the price.
    Budinetz, Ford, visualmartyr and 3 others like this.
  7. chcfan

    chcfan Devotee (466) Oct 29, 2008 California

    I can't speak for the Lehigh Valley, but I can tell you that this is not a new phenomenon in Philadelphia, where we get our Bell's from the LV. When I moved here in 2008, I asked a Matt at the Beer Yard about HopSlam after it was gone for the year and he said that tons of people ask about it each year but only a handful of cases. Look up the Shangy's threads for more info on that whole situation as I don't have time to get into it.

    I'm skeptical about any recent explosion of popularity of their beers with the exception of Black Note. Maybe just a general increase in interest with Bell's due to HopSlam fever? Two Hearted is always pretty easy to find and Oberon all over the place for at least the first two months that it's in season.
  8. jcreegan

    jcreegan Disciple (304) Aug 12, 2010 Florida
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    People love to hype seasonal release beers- particularly ipa and big stouts. I will try all of them at least once- I mean its all beer right?
    ressling likes this.
  9. JamesShoemaker

    JamesShoemaker Initiate (0) Sep 21, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, and they make an outrageous amount of Oberon too....and it's not very good [hides from kzoobrew].
    hinemk76 likes this.
  10. Hanzo

    Hanzo Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2012 Virginia

    I keep reading over the original post and I keep missing the part where he asks what people think about the beer and whether he or others should buy it.
    Budinetz, Docrock, ubenumber2 and 7 others like this.
  11. JamesShoemaker

    JamesShoemaker Initiate (0) Sep 21, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    I followed AceMaster as he was passing all of those cases and I just picked them right up from behind him.
    Budinetz, x37x, hwy395 and 3 others like this.
  12. JamesShoemaker

    JamesShoemaker Initiate (0) Sep 21, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    This is very much assisting the hype.
  13. jar72404

    jar72404 Initiate (137) May 31, 2009 Florida

    Hopslam has been hard to get for years and probably always will be. Oberon has never been hard to get and probably won't ever be.
    BottleCaps80 likes this.
  14. jwjon1

    jwjon1 Disciple (324) Jan 14, 2007 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Maybe I should take a trip up to Bethleham! Just south of you, for the past three years at least, Hopslam has been not so easy to acquire and occasionally required making a drive to Emmaus for a one case per car limit to scratch the itch.

    It's a limited release, extremely highly rated beer with a large number of reviews (on both major ratings websites) from a very well regarded brewery during a time when interest in craft beer is expanding by folks who grew up with the internet.

    Kzoobrew pretty much nailed it. Though, at the beginning of a beer's life cycle--valid or not--I can understand why the term hype is often thrown around. And those that have been around for a while have seen real examples of hype for small batch, small bottle runs, brewery only releases with a goal of increasing the beer's trade value. Hopslam never fit that category.
    Ernest_Hooper likes this.
  15. Ernest_Hooper

    Ernest_Hooper Initiate (0) Apr 23, 2012 Michigan

    I think another part of it is that it sits in a special zone of distribution and availability that is high enough that its 'hype' can begin to invade opinion on a massive scale (I read an article on CNN about Hopslam this year), yet is limited enough that people have to put the effort in to obtain it. Basically, if it were any harder or easier to get it would probably receive less attention.
    Ranbot likes this.
  16. Dirty25

    Dirty25 Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2012 Germany

    I never saw Hopslam on any shelfs around here. I had to get the local bottle shop lady to hold me a 6 pack. Two of the local bars had cases of it last year and its not anywhere this year.

    I really just want some of their porter, haven't seen a beer store or bar with it and I have visited a few lately.
  17. bradcochran1234

    bradcochran1234 Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2011 Georgia

    This thread just made next years allocation one bottle per store. THANKS A LOT!
    Budinetz, BKBassist and ressling like this.
  18. Ernest_Hooper

    Ernest_Hooper Initiate (0) Apr 23, 2012 Michigan

    I'm beginning to think that the average Beer Advocate is going to end up going insane with the paradox that they can't talk about the beer that they love without ruining their ability to get it. I see many people on here ending up as homebrewing hermits within the next twenty years.
  19. bradcochran1234

    bradcochran1234 Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2011 Georgia

    I have 2 full carboys right now.
    JulianB and Ernest_Hooper like this.
  20. frazbri

    frazbri Crusader (740) Oct 29, 2003 Ohio

    Hopslam sells out much quicker than it did a few years ago. The First couple years it was bottled it was still on the shelves months after it's release around here. Not any more.
  21. starrdogg

    starrdogg Champion (825) Jun 21, 2010 District of Columbia
    Beer Trader

    Like many have said, this is nothing new. I first noticed the Hopslam hype go nuts in 2011, when it was near-impossible to find it in DC right after it was released. The year before, it just sat on the shelves everywhere. I think more and more people have just become aware of this beer's existence. It certainly goes beyond just us BA beer nerds with this one.
  22. SourAddict

    SourAddict Disciple (350) Jun 18, 2012 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    Cases of it at all the grocery stores around me for 13.99 a sixer. Crazy nobody seems to be buying it.
  23. jar72404

    jar72404 Initiate (137) May 31, 2009 Florida

    I don't deny that it sells out quicker now than it did a few years ago. My point was that it's been hard to find for years. Two years ago, it was described as being "snatched up so quickly, many beer seekers are left out to dry."

    Hopslam flying off the shelves isn't anything new.
  24. frazbri

    frazbri Crusader (740) Oct 29, 2003 Ohio

    I think it's a big change in demand for many special releases. Three years ago I didn't need to know the release date to have a chance to find Hopslam (and several other special beers). Now, you have to show up the day it hits the shelves or be on a reserve list. That's a huge difference.
    Danmullens1 likes this.
  25. omniscientcause

    omniscientcause Initiate (0) Jun 4, 2010 District of Columbia

    The guy from maine should have drove north and or west to pick up some better IPAs...
    Budinetz likes this.
  26. Snowrs

    Snowrs Initiate (0) Oct 10, 2009 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    Canada the home of Awesome IPA, what Canadian IPA is better than Hopslam?

    Yes I know you probably meant HF.
  27. omniscientcause

    omniscientcause Initiate (0) Jun 4, 2010 District of Columbia

    You got it jobin.
  28. slacker79

    slacker79 Aspirant (264) Mar 27, 2011 Ohio

    If you missed out on Hopslam, get yourself some Great Lakes Alchemy Hour. Just as good in my book.
    Shagator, nUgZ and MIA4IPA like this.
  29. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Zealot (519) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    It's Bell's. Larry mastered the beer hype thing long before this current trend came along, and he's probably one of the early initiators of said beer hype trend. Note the batch series. This is how much we made. You miss it. Try to find it next year.
    He managed quite well to create years of hype with Two Hearted when it wasn't a year round by messing with it's release schedule. Was it a summer release or was it a winter release? Some places with less discerning drinkers had back stock for months. Others with more discerning drinkers had long since sold out. As we now all know, its drinkability handled both really well. Also. It's not for nothing he yanked distribution for his biggest market when the BMC network cheesed him off. You can bet the hype that created guaranteed his place and whatever he did was going to be followed, and closely. Plus. It's big and it's currently still a seasonal and if you like Two Hearted like the go to beer it rightfully deserves to be. Hopslam is "special." It's a big IPA made by one of the brewers who was at the forefront of big IPA's.
    Oberon is a go to summer beer for craft brew novices, how can you not want to drink that goofy looking sun with that blue background when it's hot out? It's like a money printer for Bells, kind of like Gumball Head is for 3FFF. Oberon is not going to be hard to find and hasn't been for years cos any store that has a "craft beer" section carries it.
    Tchfunkta and Ernest_Hooper like this.
  30. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,316) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    He did not like the way things are done with the distributors in Chicago. He pulled out for a year so he could say where to account was going. Any hype was secondary.

    For years Oberon was 1/2 or more of Bells sales. I think 2-hearted has gained on it, so less than half now.
  31. MisterGrizz

    MisterGrizz Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2011 Texas

    I traded with a good friend for 3 x 6 packs of Hopslam this year. I really enjoyed it last year, and only had two bottles, which I was thankful for. However, I didn't get all three for me; I kept one and spread the other two out to friends who would have never gotten to try it otherwise. I've only had one Hopslam this year, and find that my local IPA's are much more enticing - whether that's my palate changing or I just want to spread the wealth. If anyone would like some who's never gotten to try it, let me know.
    Hermthegerm likes this.
  32. Ranbot

    Ranbot Devotee (468) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Exactly. A lot of Hopslam hits the market compared to many other one-time releases. Hopslam is really not that hard to get, which means a lot people try it, then talk about it, which drives up demand. Hopslam has sort of hit this critical tipping point of market exposure, but still being limited/rare.

    I also agree with some of the other statements above that if Hopslam was year-round available people wouldn't be so crazy for it.

    Don't misconstrue this to mean that I think Hopslam isn't that is definitely still a good, maybe even great, beer. It just has some other factors in it's favor driving up demand. But, Bell's is a great brewery and they deserve it, in my humble opinion.
    Ernest_Hooper likes this.
  33. EJLinneman

    EJLinneman Aspirant (221) Mar 2, 2009 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    The availability issues aren't just a case with Hop Slam, it's a case with most good, well known seasonal releases (Nugget Nectar, KBS etc). Back 4-5 years ago, I'd be able to find KBS, Nugget Nectar and Hop Slam on the shelves without a problem. I remember going to a local store and finding a 4pack of KBS on the shelf next to Breakfast Stout. Heck, a friend of mine would be able to grab Nugget Nectar kegs for his house. Although known as great beers, there wasn't such a frenzy behind them because the demand wasn't as great.

    When there is a tremendous increase in demand without an increase in supply, it creates a shortage. For people who are more seasoned to craft beer, not getting these releases can be frustrating, but not the end of the world because there are substitutes. But for people new to it, the idea of grabbing a 6-pack of Hop Slam is something way more important. The high ratings and limited availability make it more appealing and help spawn the hype. As more options have become available, and these beers have become harder to get, I find myself drinking other stuff unless these are readily available by trade or local store.
    LynnHomeBrewer, x37x and frazbri like this.
  34. MLucky

    MLucky Aspirant (286) Jul 31, 2010 California

    I think this is just another example of the changes that have come with the mainstreaming of what they now call craft beer. (I remember when they called it microbrew. But I digress.)

    I live in Northern California, so we don't get Bell's here, but we've seen the same thing happen with Pliny. In the relatively small town where I live, there used to be one bar/grill that always had it on tap, one liquor store that always had it, and three grocery stores that usually had it. Even four years ago, it would sit on the shelves in all of these places just waiting to be picked up, and I could get it any time I wanted. No limits. In the last year or so, things changed completely. All of these places still get it, but it runs out almost immediately. You pretty much have to know when a shipment is coming in to be able to get a bottle. Some of the places that stock it no longer put it on the shelves--you have to ask, and if they have some, it's a two bottle limit. Or take Abyss: two years ago there were cases of it at the local supermarket, just sitting there for weeks, no limits on purchases. This year, I happened to be in my favorite bottle shop the day it came in and got one bottle, which was the limit. Never saw another one.

    I don't know what to say about it. It's just a completely new world. I distinctly recall, about four years ago, taking a sixer of Lagunitas IPA with me to a party, and people didn't know what it was. "It's what, indian beer?" Those who tried it couldn't believe how bitter it was. Now some of those same people are asking me if I know where they can try Pliny the Younger. I'm glad there's so much more knowledge and appreciation of beer, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't sometimes long for the olden days when beers like Pliny were easy to get for those who knew about them.
  35. DanzBorin

    DanzBorin Initiate (0) Apr 11, 2012 Texas


    I would probably never buy it by the case, but I'd blow through 2 sixers if I could get it... :grinning:
  36. kdb150

    kdb150 Devotee (485) Mar 8, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    It's painfully simple.

    Good beer + limited availability = Great beer.

    Sure beats the previous system:

    Phase 1: Make beer.
    Phase 2: ???
    Phase 3: Profit!
    zac16125 and ericj551 like this.
  37. SomethingClever

    SomethingClever Poo-Bah (2,358) Feb 22, 2013 Ohio

    I got caught up in the hype of Hopslam myself saw it for sale and thought I better buy 2 6 packs as great as everyone says this is, well I still have a 6 er left and love to trade it but too new to the site. However, I'm super excited by the news of Alchemy Hour being great I love me some Great Lakes ecspecially Commodore Perry that is my go to drink in the summer rarely get sick of drinking it.
  38. rails

    rails Initiate (145) Nov 8, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    It should be called hop lay up not hot slam

    boozy & malty = hop slam 2013
  39. DanzBorin

    DanzBorin Initiate (0) Apr 11, 2012 Texas

    It will get more hoppy as it ages. Well, to a point of course.
  40. bradcochran1234

    bradcochran1234 Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2011 Georgia

    Do explain how this will happen?
    Tchfunkta and RobertColianni like this.
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