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Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPASierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,420 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,420
Hads: 6,048
Avg: 4.11
pDev: 24.09%
Wants: 393
Gots: 1,015 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  10.40% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: kaseydad on 02-07-2010

A group of hop-heads and publicans challenged our Beer Camp brewers to push the extremes of whole-cone hop brewing. The result is this: a 100 IBU, whole-cone hurricane of flavor. Simply put —Hoptimum: the biggest whole-cone IPA we have ever produced. Aggressively hopped, dry-hopped, AND torpedoed with our exclusive new hop varieties for ultra-intense flavors and aromas.

Resinous "new-school" and exclusive hop varieties carry the bold and aromatic nose. The flavor follows the aroma with layers of aggressive hoppiness, featuring notes of grapefruit rind, rose, lilac, cedar, and tropical fruit—all culminating in a dry and lasting finish.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,420 | Hads: 6,048
Photo of alkemy
4.9/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

24oz. "stubby" bottle 2011

A - Deep golden orange, pretty clear. The off white head is big, frothy, and eventually leaves lacing all down the glass.

S - Yeah, this is all hops...and it's great. Mostly pine. The citrus is most definitely in the background. Aroma is a bit earthy and there's something that gets me thinking of a Belgian with the occasional whiff. I don't smell alcohol.

T - The piney hops smacks you right in the face. There are glimpses of grapefruity citrus, but they are kind of fleeting. I also taste a bit of vanilla coming from somewhere.
The resinous pine dominates and it is wonderful.

M - Feels oily and resinous. The alcohol is faintly warm in the mouth and then more noticeable in the stomach after a swallow.

D - The only thing that holds this beer back a little is the hotness of the alcohol. I'm a fan of the big IIPA, this one really does it for me.

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Photo of LittleDon
3.88/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Visually stunning with a clear red-amber hue, plentiful off-white head and lace, and carbonation bubbles that seem to be in slow motion as they rise to the surface. The head retention is long and the ability to easily recreate it with a few swirls is remarkable for a bottled beer. The aroma is what you'd expect from a top notch IIPA: resinous pine and sweet caramel, all with a touch of vanilla and melon. Light touch up front with just enough carbonation. Things unravel in the middle, though. There is a noticeable amount of sugar, and while the alcohol is well hidden (some is apparent in the finish), the sweetness overshadows the finishing hops. This is not to say that the hops disappear, just that the balance could have been better. Medium to medium heavy body.

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Photo of salvo
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours clear orange-brown with a half inch of foamy head. Head subsides in minutes, leaving a soapy ring that etches the glass. Tiny bubbles continue to feed islands of soapy foam.

Nose is far less hoppy than expected: faint citrus notes and hints of pine, but dominant smell is towards honey-sweet biscuit maltiness and astringency of black tea.

Bitterness unfurls in the first cold sip, smacking the palate. Unmistakable, strong bitterness: beyond dIPA, neither traditional British bittering or west-coast citrus hop-bombing, I feel the bitterness radiating from my chest like radiation, or swallowing lit sterno. Interesting thing: it's not unpleasant.

The beer has been warming as I began writing my notes. Now the pepperiness of the alcohol is more pronounced, but the bitterness is, if anything, increasing and becoming yet more prominent. Sour and biting across the back of the mouth and throat, I almost feel like I'm exhaling smoke. Again, none of this is bad; just intense.

There's something high in the roof of my mouth, the top of the palate, that I just can't quite place: it's a smokiness without smoke, almost like menthol, eucalyptus sensation, but without the specific flavor of either smoke or eucalyptus. Oddly satisfying, I'm getting a kind of chili-like buzz but from hops bitterness and not capsaicin.

Mouthfeel is big; intense and biting, bracing. Warming spreads from the front to the back. After swallowing, my mouth and palate feel raw, as if stripped of anything that had been there. Finish is sour and astringent, drying--parching. Drinkability is tough to say on this one. I'm enjoying it, but I've been looking forward to it and am prepared. But it is extreme and cannot be confused with a session or everyday beer.

Part of Snomageddon '11 tasting.

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Photo of JoeBloe
4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours almost clear orange/amber with a tight 1 finger head, which fades to a foam filled ring, leaving heavy sticky lacing down the glass - grass, pine, grapefruit, and herbal notes in the nose, which becomes more prominent as the beer warms - an oily, hoppy bite on the first sip, coating the tongue along with zesty citrus and fizz from the carbonation with a not too sweet malt finish - just sticky enough on the tongue and palate - i really can't detect alcohol taste, but my throat is heating up a little towards the end of this bomber - and a substantial buzz, which is to be expected at this abv - i guess they call this 'dangerously drinkable'.

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Photo of pezfiend
3.99/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

24 ounce bottle poured into an oversize Sam Adams sensory glass. I'm so glad i have this thing, thank you tTGI Fridays for not noticing it in my pocket as i walked out }:-)

A - amber and slightly hazy, probably because of the whole leaf hops used. A nice 1 inch head that turned into a lacing that lasted all the way to the bottom of the glass the bubbles from the bottom have not stopped

S - Citrusy and sweet, very strong scent of pine and no scent of alcohol surprisingly

T - Very hoppy, the taste of pine and citrus/ grape fruit comes in, well balanced with the amount of malt used

M - Sticky, full, and creamy is the best way to describe this.

D - Good drinkability, not a session beer however due to the strong alcohol content and the wicked amount of hops used. I actually bought 2 bottles on the suggestion of the retailer because he said they're hard to find so I'll be letting that age for a year or so, or at least until they bring this back.

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Photo of BranfordBound
3.83/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

24 oz bottle into a Delirium tulip. Brewed at the end of December 2010 according to the lengthy and confusing bottling code on the label.

Pours a murky copper color with a one finger head. Leaves great lacing and has minimal carbonation. Some very small floaties spotted, unfiltered? Most likely.

Smells of potent hops. Very resinous and piney, touch of sweetness.

Yes, lots of hops here. Pine is the dominant characteristic. Not too much fruit or grapefruit, however. Malts also play a role, surprisingly. Very sweet and thick from the malts.

Heavy and thick, hard to work off the bomber. Alcohol hits you about halfway through.

Well, it's a good beer, but I am not blown away. I drove about 30 minutes to pick the last bottle off the shelf for 9 bucks and I've had better IIPA's. I'd rather get a four pack of Gandhi-Bot for 12 and drink 2 cans like water.

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Photo of DoctorDog
3.95/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 1 pint 8 oz. bottle into a nonic.

A- Copper / amber, and strikingly clear. 2+ fingers of off white head, which fades very slowly to a thin cap, leaving loads of lacing.

S- Piney and herbaceous hopiness...a hint of citrus/grapefruit. Hints of malty sweetness.

T- Strong pine and herbal hops notes provide a strong bitter kick. Solid caramel malt keeps the sturdy bitterness in check. Really excellent.

M- Moderate carbonation, medium feel. Slightly too thin. Touch of alcohol warming.

D- Good. Solid and easy to drink in spite of it's hefty 10+% ABV.

Future outlook: Good but not great beer. Happy to have tried it, but at the premium price tag, certainly no need to get again.

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Photo of flannelman808
3.55/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Very good looking clear and carbonated pale amber yellow colored beer. This one Is topped with an off-white head which has little trouble retaining its somewhat large bubbles and lacing is sticking all over the glass.

S: Citrus all over the place, this smells really good. Lemon peel, grapefruit, tangerine. Not too much else but thats good with me.

T: Disappointingly sweet right off the bat for this user... However It's not all bad. Big bitterness and from what seems like both a citric and herbal charge (tea leaf like bitterness) is welcomed. Sticky caramel malt and brown sugar like sweetness overarches the deal and makes this more of a barley wine/Ipa hybrid (like so many "imperial IPA's before it). Worth trying I suppose but NOT worth the $10.50 a bomber price.

M: sticky

D: low-medium

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Photo of Brad007
4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice golden color with a fluffy two-finger head into my glass. Very good presentation here.

Aroma is a mix of grassy/floral hops, though it's somewhat muted.

Whoa! Intense citrus essences from the hops bombard my tongue, leaving a "hot" feel on the tongue from the alcohol. Definitely a hop monster!

Mouthfeel is full of lingering grassy/citrus essences from the hops. Again, somewhat muted but no less hoppy.

Very nice example of the style. I can't say that it's the best but I certainly don't regret picking it up. Try it!

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Photo of Jayli
3.41/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Consumed 1/29
Poured in to a pint glass

A: This beer pours a clear, golden color with a two finger of khaki head that leaves spotty sheets of lacing on the glass.

S: Nose is quite piney, oddly balanced citrusy hops, and a hint of cannibis.

T: Taste is very reminiscent of Gubna for me. Rich earthy, grassy, piney hop notes dominate the forefront. A hearty malt backbone fills out the middle with a bit of woodiness and a touch of alcohol. Finish has a rather grapefruit hop characteristic.

M: Medium body, medium carbonation, somewhat light on the tongue with an oily finish.

D: Goes down ok, somewhat tasty, not too filling, big kick, ok representation of style. Tastes were somewhat muted in some areas, and a touch off balance in others. Not a bad beer, but I would opt for others of the style.

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Photo of wyattshotmaker
3.7/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip. Decent looking amber color, thin white head.

Herbal and pine hop aroma, slight citrus, bit of sweet mango and caramel. A bit of booze.

Big piney and citrus hop flavor, mango. Bit of caramel malt midway through, finishes with an assertive bitterness and an alcoholic note.

Fairly fullbodied, could be a little less. Overall this beer is decent. Worth trying.

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Photo of aubuc1
4.02/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

24 oz bottle poured into a goblet.

Pours a clear orange with a thick off white head.

Huge smell of grapefruit and pine.

Big bitter taste with some booze and biscuit malt.

Mouthfeel is big and creamy.

Drinkability isn't quite where I had hoped.

A classic dipa. Not the best in the world, but certainly a noble beer.

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Photo of infi
4.4/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber, shared with BAs brun and NYManc.

Poured into a nonic pint.

A translucent, rustic/gold, caramel color with a lush, foamy off-white head with little retention. Full of visual carbonation rising from the bottom to the top. Smell has a nice abundance of the fresh whole-cone hop aroma, but not too overwhelmingly so. Great floral aromatic wave of pine. Moderate amount of caramel malt along with its innate sweetness permeates the hop profile. Generous amount of fresh citrus can be found towards the back-end.

Taste is incredibly clean with great amounts of hop resin, with the oils just bleeding from the hop leaf. Beautifully fresh. Huge grapefruit citrus and bitter qualities, as well as clementine sweetness. Malt complex is just perfect by creating a nice foundation for the beer and not impacting too much on the flavor. Finishes off with a nice bitter hum on the palate. Amazing taste in this DIPA.

Mouthfeel is personally just about right for DIPAs. Medium-bodied, creamy with light carbonation and flows smoothly all over the tongue. Drinkability is phenomenal; one of my favorite DIPAs now. Such a solid and tasty beer. So glad I was able to get a couple bottles of this. Sierra Nevada is definitely gold with their IPAs.

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Photo of Brez07
4.17/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

24oz bottle poured into a DFH snifter

A: Golden orange hue with a 1 finger head. Decent retention until the end of the glass. Got some thick lacing with the second pour

S: Lots of fruity hops at first. Pineapple, orange and grapefruit are prominent. There is some pine that comes out behind all this. Good amount of bready malt is present once the beer warms

T: Nice fruit sweetness upfront. Blends nicely with pine and hop bitterness. Some earthy flavors. The bitterness starts fairly strong and remains long after. Just a slight hint of alcohol in the finish

M: Full bodied with sharp carbonation. Fairly creamy once carbonation fades a little. Light bitter finish

D: A great offering from SN. Big hop flavor with good balance from the malt. Very easy drinking but you definitely feel the alcohol after half the bottle. Would like to see this again

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Photo of BigBlacke
4.47/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hoptimum pours a light orange/amber color with a stick .75 inch head.

Massive grapefruit and pine hop scent with a slight sweetness.

Taste is a rush of citrus hops with a hint of sweetness that really comes together to make this beer perfectly balanced for the style IMO.

Mouthfeel is very sticky and hops leave a very strong aftertaste.

I find drinkability to be very high due to the quality of this one. This is a great DIPA!

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Photo of JackieTH
3.61/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2011-label with date code 0351 [2010, Dec 17]

Appearance: Nice bottle artwork. Two-three fingers of off-white foam over a light amber/orange-colored beer, head forms when poured agressively. Looks inviting.

Smell: An fleeting sense of pineapple/tropical scent is noticeable at first whiff, but disappears as a muted layers of resinous, citric and grassy notes emerge, entangled with ethanol fumes. Not as big as expected. Just a bit of malt lurks here, too.

Taste: Spicy resinous and citric, grapefruit-like hop oils permeate and penetrate the taste buds, driven home by a mild ethanol burn. There is a bit of discordant malty sweetness that surfaces briefly, but is buried under the tidal wave of spicy hot hop oils that become lodged in the palate, for a long, lingering grapefruit pith bitterness that remains long after swallowing the beer.

Mouthfeel is slick with a medium body.

Drinkability: The hops are present and accounted for, a fact that the bitter aftertaste, lingering ten minutes later, reminds me of. The overall presentation could be better. Yes, Hoptimum is a hop bomb, fully expected, no complaints. At the same time I'm looking for something with a little more polish.

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Photo of grittybrews
4.35/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottle, consumed 01/2011.

Poured a dark but vivid orange-amber into a tulip with two fingers of eggshell head. Definite alcohol presence on the nose with some toffee, biscuit, and an abundance of pine with a hint of citrus.

Moderate to slightly high carbonation and a full, prickly mouthfeel that becomes quite sticky towards the finish. Sweet up front with lots of caramel, honey, and malt followed by intense pine and grapefruit and a long, bitter finish with some boozy warmth.

Although the higher alcohol was definitely present on the nose, it didn't limit the drinkability as much as I had expected. Pretty well-balanced with lots of big flavors.

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Photo of bbb099
3.88/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared with mjyoung. Poured into a snifter.

A - Pours a bright copper color and a frothy light brown colored head that dissipated relatively quickly.

S - Inviting piny and grassy hop aroma.

T - Pretty strong piny and herbal hop flavor throughout. A little citrusy on the back end and goes down with some alcohol warmth. Quite tasty hoppy aftertaste, but I have had better.

M - Medium high carbonation. Medium bodied, quite malty for a DIPA.

D - Good drinkability, but nothing terribly exciting about this one in my opinion.

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Photo of FosterJM
3.88/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

224th review on BA
bottle to tulip
bottle code: 035121549
1 pt. 8 oz bottle

App- A dark amber orange with some yellow highlights. Slight light tan one finger head. Had some lacing down the glass.

Smell- Hops of course, a little bit of the 10.4% booziness. Some not but not too much grapefruit. No other real scents.

Taste- A big hoppy bitter taste with the booze prevalant. It's a tasty beer with the hop spice as well.

Mouth- Medium Bodied with a medium carb level. A bit of a leaner towards the wetter oily side of the IPA levels.

Drink- In my opinion it was a good beer. Really did not need to be behind the counter and hidden away as it the case. Probably wont try to have this one again as it was a bit pricy for the taste I got.

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Photo of perrymarcus
4.05/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

24oz bottler served in a snifter. 2011 vintage.

pours a bright copper with orange highlights. translucent. creamy beige head demonstrates solid retention, slowly lapsing into a thin cap/collar around the glass; beautiful sticky lacing.

nose is big and aromatic, dominated by pungent pine, maybe a touch of citrus in the background.

hops storm the palate from the first drop... pine, grapefruit, a bit grassy, quite bitter. very good. not much in the way of balancing malts, just an absolute hop monster. some discernible booze.

oily, medium bodied mouthfeel with medium carbonation. not a hophead, so this will definitely quench my hop thirst for the night. would defintely be up a revisit at some future point.

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Photo of Overlord
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a pale, slightlly reddish copper-orange. The head is emblematic of full hop cones.

Smells like pine, some grapefruit pith (surprisingly not much citrus), some grass, a bit of earthy dankiness, and ... alcohol? Huh. That's the first booze note I can ever remember from a Sierra Nevada beer. Also, of course, you can tell it's made from whole hop cones.

Taste is mostly pine and dank bitterness, a bit of earth, some booze, and a splash of lighter citrus. Also some general sweetness. Not sure what it's from. The whole hop cones are what really bring it to like.

Interesting. I like it, but won't repeat the purchase at that price point.

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Photo of MetalHopHead6
4.4/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum has huge flavor and feel.

It poured bubbly pale copper with almost no head, but left perfect rings more than half way down the glass. The aroma was muted, primarily with hints of alcohol. The flavor was huge and earthy with a touch of sweetness, hints of grass and pine, but a massive salty roasted nut finish. The feel also was huge, filling the mouth with bready dryness, like eating salty soft pretzels. One glass had the feel of a meal.

I got to the beer store immediately after the shipment of Hoptimum and could have had as many as I wanted. I played it safe and bought two. After trying it, I wish I bought a case. I found myself involuntarily saying "wow" while I drank it, because the flavor and feel was so bold.

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Photo of BradLikesBrew
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark golden body with a white head and nice lacing.

Citrus dominated aroma with floral accents. Fresh, juicy hop resins and virtually no malt.

Grapefruit pith, hop oils, and pine resine flow uninterupted from one end of the palate to the other. An impressive amount of flavor packed into that first small sip. Don't think you could call it balanced, there is a vague malty sweetness, but citrusy hops own this beer. Bitterness is very high, with just a little astgringency on the finish.

Mothfeel is sticky with a full body and moderate carbonation.

Doesn't add much to the DIPA conversation, not much seperates this from a dozen other beers, but that is more of a statement on market saturation and the talent with which American brewers use hops than a knock on this specific beer. Hoptimum is the sort of well crafted beer you expect from a brewery like Sierra Nevada. It is an outstanding IPA that showcases the full power of American hops in all their brash glory. I just want to know if/when SN will brew it again. Hopefully they send more cases to Colorado next time, we didn't get nearly enough!

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Photo of alli4051
3.95/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 24oz bottle into a pint.

Pours a bright, almost glowing, burnt orange with an off white head. Head is big and frothy, never really recedes completely, and leaves a thick wall of lacing down the sides of the glass. Scent is a pungent hop aroma, mostly citrus with some pine notes. Taste, as expected, is a big hop punch up front, same profile as the nose lots of citrus with some pine notes. A seemingly faint malt backbone is present to level things out a bit. Theres a strong alcohol bite to the finish that actually merges well with everything else and really kind of compliments things instead of taking away. Thoroughly medium bodied with a sticky bitterness to the finish. Split this bomber with a buddy and wish I could have finished it by myself. Solid brew with a definite kick to it; however, not the complete hop bomb some might expect.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.69/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Aroma is quite strong and very hoppy with an undertone of grapefruit and a hint of honey sweetness. It pours an attractive clear amber with a fairly thick, if not persistent, head. Flavor is seriously hoppy and just a little bitter, with grassy, woody, grapefruit and malt hints and just a touch of honey. It is very lip-smacking, and the hoppy component is quite complex and enjoyable. Texture is fairly smooth with a strong and lingering tingle. Finish is hoppy, minimally bitter and fizzy. This is one of the best IPAs I have ever had, and I strongly recommend it to all "hop heads."

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Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 1,420 ratings.