Spring Beer Taste-Test

Pliny the Younger, Hopslam, and Nugget Nectar: Which is worth the hype?

The Face-Off

It’s hard to pick a favorite among these three. Each has its own distinct flavor and personality, and one can’t really replace another. Each brewery provides something a little different with each of these, and it’s not a true apple-to-apple comparison. But if you want to compare, here are some key points of each:

Pliny the Younger
Pliny is the biggest, coming in at 10.5 percent ABV. One of the things I’ve always found is that for as big as this is, it’s still very drinkable; however, it’s not a beer that I’d drink all day, even if I could get more than one or two pours off the sixtel. Russian River takes a regular IPA and adds almost the triple amounts of hops. Even with this, it’s very well balanced — starting off sweet and ending bitter — and not overly tasting of alcohol, all of which makes it so damn good!

Hopslam Ale
Hopslam is the most aggressively hopped beer in Bell’s repertoire — starting with six different varietals in the kettle and finishing with a dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops — and it comes through in the taste. In addition to grapefruit, pine, and resin you get a nice flavor of the honey they use to help keep everything in balance. This is a really smooth, extremely enjoyable double IPA. I could easily drink this all day, although the 10 percent ABV does a pretty good job (usually) of limiting me to just one or two.

Nugget Nectar
Nugget Nectar is the baby of the bunch, coming in at just 7.5 percent ABV. Troegs uses their Hopback Amber Ale as the base for this hoppy revelation, adding Nugget, Warrior, and Tomahawk hops to create a taste sensation. Not surprisingly, this is incredibly drinkable and truly delicious.

So there they are — three of the most sought-after beers of our time. Big, beautiful, and balanced, these are three brews that deserve a spot on your "bucket list."

— Helene Golombek, The Drink Nation


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