FACEOFF: Bell’s Hopslam vs. Troegs Nugget Nectar

In Beer Reviews by The Guys

From time to time, the staff of Guys Drinking Beer feel it necessary to answer the burning questions of the day.  In this spirit we introduce the Faceoff – in a battle between two similar brews, which beer will win?  What’s the favorite?  What are the differences?

Today, we let two highly hopped ales battle it out within our innards to determine which one will reign supreme.  Bell’s Hopslam versus Troegs Nugget Nectar:  Who will win?  Read on:

Bell’s Hopslam vs Troegs Nugget Nectar
American IPA vs Red Ale
10% ABV vs 7.5% ABV

Karl: I have a feeling I’m going to love these face-offs.  So many eternal questions are ready to be answered.  I’ve always enjoyed Hopslam, with the yearly release of it quite possibly set to surpass my excitement of it becoming Oberon season.  But never having had the Nugget (or, at least, not having it stick out in my memory) I was looking forward to seeing how it stands up to one of my personal faves.

First up, the Hopslam.  Naturally hugely hopped, I had forgotten how syrupy it was.  In some instances, a thick syrupy hop monster can be too much – for those of us that have had a Dogfish Head 120 Minute, we all probably thought it was great, but are we rushing back for another one?  Probably not.

There’s a definite grapefruit presence to the Hopslam as well, which is prevalent in a lot of these IPA’s, like we noticed when we checked out the 3-year vertical of Old Guardian Barleywines.  However, for some reason this tastes…almost light?  Even with the syrup consistency?  Strangely, yes.  I don’t know how it works, but it does to me.  Hopslam also does a good job of hiding its booziness.  I felt like I could probably put back 2 or 3 of ’em, even though it’s probably not in your best interest.

You can tell it was early in the evening because my handwriting isn’t slurred.

As for the Nugget, this is a much more restrained offering.  Not being tremendously familiar with the Troegs output, I have to say that it’s a very well-balanced IPA (actually they call it a red ale, which…well, okay?) but it’s much drier, maltier and – dare I say it? – richer than the Hopslam.  No matter what you think you can do with this beer, you can’t slam this one.  It’s got a heavier feeling than the ‘Slam despite its lower ABV.

Strange, huh?  The brain-wrecking Hopslam feels better and more drinkable than the won’t-kill-you-too-quickly Nugget.  Who’d have thunk it?

MY VERDICT:  This one’s a matter of personal taste – do you appreciate the hugest beer or the balanced beer?  The standby or the interloper?  The big ol’ ABV or the restrained, drink-three-without-dying average ABV? It all really comes down to:  What beer would you rather drink?  Of course, there are different circumstances in every situation, but if you put these two beers in front of me again and put a gun to my head (because that’s how we party here at GDB) I’m taking…

The Hopslam.

Sorry, Troegs – better luck next time.

Andrew: I’ve long been a huge fan of Bell’s Hopslam, the ABV, the intense flavor…I love it all. In fact, most evenings that involve Hopslam end up with me forgetting large portions of the night. That said, I knew this versus challenge would be a slam dunk for Hopslam, right?  The Hopslam should dominate all challengers, right?

Wrong. I’ll say up front that in this versus, I prefer the Nugget Nectar over the Hopslam, and here’s why: while I thoroughly enjoy the bitterness of the Hopslam, the Nugget Nectar brought this wonderful combination of hops and sweetness that for whatever reason was a perfect balance for my palate. I wouldn’t consider the Hopslam to be a smooth beer, but the Nugget Nectar went down without a struggle, I could definitely polish off two or three of these in one sitting…not sure I could say the same about a Hopslam.

It pains me to say it but, POINT to the Nugget Nectar.

Ryan: What better beers to choose for our first “faceoff” than two of the most hyped beers of the winter, Bell’s Hopslam and Troegs Nugget Nectar.  There is a ton of buildup around the release of these two beers.  In fact, to build off that hype, for the last two years these hop bombs have been released at just about the same time.

Let’s start with the Hopslam.  I love the explosion of hops, citrus and grapefruit.  It’s like a truckload of fresh hops and grapefruit just barreled me over.  The honey is able to sneak in the back door and enough of it is present to not make this a one trick pony.  There is a certainly tingly crispness with Bell’s Hopslam that makes it very enjoyable to drink.  That, and the fact you can’t taste a bit of the 10% ABV.

On the other hand, the Nugget Nectar has a bit more balance to it.  Don’t get me wrong, you get plenty of piney and citrusy hops with this one.  But, you also get some malt sweetness to it.  Interestingly, I thought this was a little heavier than the Hopslam but not in a bad way.  Technically, this is not an IPA or a double IPA.  It is an imperial amber ale.  But my taste buds wouldn’t buy into that, especially because the IBU’s on this hop monster are in the 90’s.

Now, the question is, which one is better?  The hoppy, tingly, tongue-numbing Hopslam?  Or the piney, hoppy – but also malty – Nugget Nectar?

Before I render my verdict, a brief aside.  Seeing as how I am the deciding vote here and, in keeping theme with the Chicago Way, I tried to see if Andrew or Karl would be willing to persuade me to back their choice.  Andrew offered me a half-drank can of the new 7-11 beer, Gameday Light, and a couple of bottle caps he had in his pocket.  Karl, on the other hand, offered up his guacamole recipe. Or, at least I thought he did.  Instead he gave me an envelope containing a peeled off label to a Miller High Life, a napkin that had three played games of tic-tac-toe and old grocery list.  Needless to say my attempt failed.

So who won this faceoff in my eyes? Well, it was close. VERY close. But I have to give it to Nugget Nectar. The in-your-face hops combined with the malty smoothness made for very well-balanced IP…er…red ale.

So, there you have it.  The Guys say, in a head-to-head match, Troegs Nugget Nectar wins out over Bell’s Hopslam.  Agree with us?  Disagree?  Tell us below in the comments.

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Written by many, compiled by one, this is a collaborative post with contributions from at least two writers at Guys Drinking Beer.

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