Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hopslam Clone

Okay, so after much research and a couple of different versions, Cole and I have come up with what we hope is a close reproduction of Bell's Hopslam. In my last post I mentioned the thread that came up on the BrewBoard forum about a clone and how somebody mentioned using Vanguard, Hersbrucker, and a few others and that this person got the info straight from Bell's. We decided to disregard this information and go with the hops we can actually get our hands on that are really citrusy. The stuff tastes like grapefruit juice, right? The problem is, the suggestion of Simcoe that sounds right for this recipe is pretty tough to find, so we had to make do with what we could find:

Steeping grains:
  • 1/2 lb. honey malt
  • 1/2 lb. munich malt
  • 1/4 lb. caramel 10L
  • 1/4 lb. caramel 40L


  • 9 lbs Briess Pilsen DME
  • 1 lb. honey


  • 60 minutes: 1 oz Yakima Magnum
  • 30 minutes: 1/3 ounce Ahtanum, 1/3 ounce Amarillo, 1 ounce Cascade
  • 20 minutes: 1/3 ounce Ahtanum, 1/3 ounce Amarillo, 1 ounce Cascade
  • 10 minutes: 1/3 ounce Ahtanum, 1/3 ounce Amarillo, 1 ounce Cascade
  • Flameout: 2 ounces Centennial leaf hops

How does that look? According to the TastyBrew calculator we're looking at an OG of 1.091 and 101 IBUs, with the majority of the bittering coming from the late additions. We tried to balance out our desire for a big double IPA with the scarcity of hops and economic considerations. This is still going over 80 bucks! Does that sound like it might taste like Hopslam to you? We're hoping it gets close, if not, it will hopefully be a damn good beer anyway.

PS - I'll be brewing up my first dubbel with harvested Chimay red yeast this weekend. Woohoo!

EDIT: I just scored 3 ounces of Simcoe and 3 ounces of Columbus! Now it's back to the drawing board. Any suggestions?


brian.meier said...

I'm excited about this hopslam project your working on. Unfortunately you have to compromise with the hop variety, but I think overall, once you brew, you will have an extraodinarilly hoppy beer. I hope I get to have a glass or two.

I brewed the NB belgian dubble kit this last weekend. Even the hops in that kit were substituted, but it will turn out to be a great beer nonetheless. The yeast that shipped with it and froze in the mail did not make it. I bought a back up and even that pack did not swell up as previous packs have done. So I'm starting to think about cultivating yeast as you are RT. For this yeast the package instructed to ferment at temperatures between 70-75. So I ended up putting a space heater next to my carboy to raise the temp. Once it hit 68 it started to bubble and I shut it off. It's fermenting like crazy now. And the smell of beer in my office makes it hard to concentrate on thermodynamics homework.

I also finished the keg of phat tyre and am now switched over to the coffee stout. So far it has strong coffed aroma and flavor. In a few days it should be fully carbed and I'm stoked to give it another go tonight already.

This coming weekend i'm going to watch an all-grain process. It will be an IPA batch with 5 oz of whole hops. I'm excited to see that process.

good luck with the hopslam!

rich.tessler said...

Why don't you get your yeast from your local shop? I've heard that NB will subtract the cost of the yeast if you ask them.

As far as cultivation goes, I brewed my dubbel on Monday and I still don't have fermentation. I have never had a lag time like this! I put the space heater in the room to bump up the temp a little. If I'm not seeing anything by the time I go to bed I'm repitching (I bought a backup).

I am stoked about the hopslam. It's probably going to be brewed Saturday. I did actually get the Simcoe and Columbus, so now I've got Cascade, Ahtanum, Amarillo, Yakima Magnum, Simcoe, Columbus, and Glacier in my freezer. I'm tempted to not brew at all and just cut the bags open and smell them.

Speaking of kegs, could you do me a huge favor? Do you have a 5lb CO2 tank? If you do, could you measure the height of it from the bottom to the top of the regulator, and also the diameter? I just got the midwest supplies catalog and they have a dual keg system for 200 bucks and I'm trying to figure out if I could squeeze them both with the CO2 in my little fridge. I'm getting sick of bottling.

Hopmonster said...

You are god among men with a hopslam clone! I love that beer and I am going to make one alone those lines I would like to know how much yeast you used? I am looking to use 2 of the slap packs. Thanks and good Luck Matt

Jez said...

So, how did this turn out, and did you actually use the columbus and simcoe hops? Did you sub out others? Follow up, man!

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Erik said...

You're off to a good start. Hop slam actually has more hops than that. Shoot for 136 IBUs (by calculation) and a gravity of 1.086. They dry hop with Simcoe for the fruity aroma hop. Bittering with some Simcoe, lots of Glacier, Vanguard and Centennial. Of course, you're at a slight disadvantage using extract, but if you find a mash tun available, hit me up and I'll let you in on the grain bill and mashing schedule. Yeast strain and fermentation temps are also key. You'll need a big starter using a stir plate and a flask, and use a clean American ale yeast (US-05, WL001, etc.) and monitor the temps frequently. Should ferment around 68F for the first 10 days, then allowed to climb to 71 for 5 days in the secondary. Wait at least 3 months after bottling or kegging to drink. Patience will be rewarded.

Just the $0.02 of an experienced all grain brewer and long time Hopslam fan.

Brady said...

the Hops IBU's seem high. I only say so as this is a response from Bell's on the subject

Brady said...

Response from Bell's:

We don’t have any specific recipes scaled to the homebrew size, but I can offer a bit of guidance. The malt bill is relatively straightforward: stick with 2-row base malt and just a bit of caramel malts for color. Add a healthy dollop of honey. Aim for an OG of 21 Plato. You’ll want to set up your mash rests for moderate fermentability: the sugars from the honey will be largely consumed, so you need malt dextrins around to keep the beer from getting too dry.

Hopping is trickier, but I can tell you that we use a blend of modern American high-alpha aroma hops. A generous dry hop addition of Simcoe with a touch of Amarillo provides the signature aromatic punch. Bitterness is less than most people think, in the mid-to-upper 60 IBU range. Hopslam is all about hop flavor, not unrestrained bitterness.

You can culture yeast out of one of our bottles if you’re comfortable with that; it’s certainly the preferred option for a solid flavor match. The yeast in the Hopslam bottle is the yeast used for fermentation, but at 10% abv, the yeast that isn’t dead will be severely stressed. I would recommend culturing from a lower gravity beer such as Amber Ale, Best Brown Ale, etc.: the yeast is the same & likely to be in superior condition. Winter White Ale is a completely different strain, so don’t use that. Otherwise, the local homebrew supply shops have found that most people looking to clone one of our recipes lean towards the WLP001 strain from White Labs. From what I’ve seen of it, that seems like a reasonable selection, but anything with a straightforward ester profile & good attenuation will work.

I hope this answers your questions. Good luck with the brewing!


Gary S. Nicholas

Quality Assurance & Control

Bell's Brewery, Inc.

8938 Krum Avenue

Galesburg, MI 49053

Voice: 269/382-2338 x210

Fax: 269/382-3820