Hopslam arrives in D.C. this week (Updated)

January 25, 2013
Keep an eye out for the green Hopslam tap at local beer bars. (Courtesy of Bell's Brewing)
Keep an eye out for the green Hopslam tap at local beer bars. (Courtesy of Bell's Brewing)

UPDATE: Churchkey announced late on Friday that they will tap their keg of Hopslam on Monday, Jan. 28, at 4 p.m.

Hopslam is on its way to Washington. We're just not sure when it will get to your local bar.

Bell's Brewery announced earlier this month that the sought-after double IPA would ship to the East Coast, including Virginia and D.C., "the week of Jan.21." That time has come, and local distributors Hop and Wine expect an unknown number of kegs and cases to arrive in its warehouse at some point next week, at which time the beer will be allocated to local bars. Translation: You might see Hopslam in bars next weekend. Maybe.

"Bell's is being really hush-hush about it," says Greg Engert, the beer director for ChurchKey and Rustico, who doesn't know when he'll get his hands on kegs for his bars. Sam Fitz, the beer director for Meridian Pint and Smoke and Barrel, says that he's not guaranteed a supply of Hopslam, but he received some last year, and he's anxious to put it on again. (That will likely be with a few days notice, so keep an eye on Meridian Pint's Twitter account.)

Whenever bars do announce that they have Hopslam, expect crowds to be deep, as beer lovers descend for the small-batch double IPA, made with six different hops and a generous amount of honey. It invariably runs out before everyone gets a glass, so arrive early.

One place that we know you'll find it for sure: ChurchKey, which will receive the area's only cask-conditioned version of Hopslam, Engert says, and they'll be tapping it on February 18, as part of a special night with "a bunch of other rarities." (Side note: I tried it last year on cask at ChurchKey, and found that version played up the honey more than just the simcoe hops.)

A tip: Hopslam is allocated based on sales of Bell's beers, not just to beer bars, so it shows up randomly at places that do good business with Bell's Brown. The Black Cat and Bar Pilar both received Hopslam last year, so keep on eye on those bars, not just the Big Hunt or the Black Squirrel.

Then again, some people try to ignore the Hopslam hype. Greg Jasgur, the beer director for the three Pizzeria Paradiso restaurants, got one keg of Hopslam last year, and he put it on tap for happy hour at Georgetown's basement Birreria Paradiso. "We sold it for, like, $4 just to get rid of it," he says. "It's a good beer, sure. But is it worth all this hype? I don't know."

Fritz Hahn has written about bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. A product of Prince George's County public schools, Fritz majored in journalism at the University of Maryland and lives in the District.
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