Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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

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1,396 Reviews

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Reviews: 1,396
Hads: 5,949
rAvg: 4.1
pDev: 11.22%
Wants: 381
Gots: 946 | 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: 1,396 | Hads: 5,949
Photo of Someguy1989
4.14/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter.

A: Orange-Amber color with a decent white head

S: Like liquid sex. Smelt of the hop bomb it is, lots of fruit in the hops. Pineapple, grapefruit, piney, and a tad herbal. I can't think of many better smells on this earth.

T: Hoppy citrus flavors at first, an almost pineapple flavor at first.. As the beer warmed the hopiness became a little bit harsher and piney on the tongue.

M/D: Mouthfeel was thick and syrupy with a pleasant carbonation. However due to its heavy carbonation and palette nuking hoppiness, its not the most easy bomber to finish.

Overall a pretty damn good DIPA. not perfect but I'm glad I got to try it (654 characters)

Photo of eagles22
4.05/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: wonderful clear amber body with a nice white fluffy head

Smell: loads of pine and grapefruit and some pinapple in the background

Taste:all citrus and piney hops!! very little malt backbone, nice and bitter and nothing sweet at the finish like hopslam. this is a beast of double!!

Mouthfeel: very rich and oily

Drinkability:easily going to finish this bomber, but thats it.

its one hell of a double IPA (420 characters)

Photo of jdense
4.32/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Bitter Creek, Boise ID, $6 for 12 oz. pour, enjoyed with Poutine (w/turkey gravy) in preparation for epic Imperial Stout tasting at Inflatablechair's house, 1.22.11.

One finger white head, medium dissipation, above average lacing. Deep gold clear body, multiple streams of carbonation rising up sides of glass. Dank stinky crunk nose, big resiny hop hit up front, a bit of sweetness of balance in the middle, grapefruit and guava, resiny sticky finish. Mouthfeel is a bit on the full side, good effervescence, sticky mouthfeel. Good drinkability in small doses, but there is a significant alcohol heat present. Not sure where the line is between double and triple IPAs, I think this falls into the latter range. A must for all hopheads. (747 characters)

Photo of Mebuzzard
3.98/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A very nice drinking beer. I'm not quite sure what a whole flowers add to this beer, but it's good anyway.

Pours a bright orangey-yellow, perhaps golden color. A soapy, semi-dense head with solid lacing.

Floral and citrus aroma, light biscuit, some green twigs. Fairly strong.

I get a simple sweetness all through the sip, but doesn't seem malty. Kind of honeysuckle or sweet floral...maybe that's the whole cone? Anyway, not very piny, mostly soft citrus. Clean and crisp.
A tad light, but easy drinking. (509 characters)

Photo of leedorham
4.39/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours orange with a white head. Head is thick but disappears quickly to form a thin ring. Not much lacing.

S - Powerful bouquet of hops. Pine, oranges, grapefruit, some acidity. Beautiful and strong aroma.

T - Some booziness. Strong malt backbone with grapefruit hop flavor. Quite a bit of sweetness behind the hops and just a touch of caramel character.

M - Rather light and refreshing for a beer of this magnitude. Slightly viscous with a fairly high level of carbonation.

D - Overall a very refreshing beverage for what it is. Not being a sipper makes it a bit dangerous. (582 characters)

Photo of whoneeds8
4.53/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a maudite tulip glass a transparent burnt orange with a two finger white froathy head. Great lacing all the way down the glass. There is a presence of piney hops and carmel on the nose. The taste is masked by alcohol, but when I can get that out of the way I find a bitter hop taste that goes directly to a carmel flavor. The carbonation is very high that leaves a tingle long the inner cheeks of my mouth. Not too bad, nothing that takes away from the beer. The alcohol is blatently strong however, but that really should go with the style. (553 characters)

Photo of nas5755
3.66/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - A clear golden beer with deep amber hues, a nice head with good retention

N - Heavy navel orange citrus and a decent malt background

T - A heavy orange citrus punch with other citrus elements blended into the beer, a nice heavy malt background, a thick pine bitterness follows. Almost to much going on to detect the nuances of the hops. A pleasurable beer that I wish was drier and a bit cleaner on the malt note.

M - Lots of hop resins, nice carbonation

D - A very big beer, too much malt and heat with the hops for my pleasure. A nice beer and I'm glad I got to try to it. Not quite a west dipa, but a dipa non-the-less with some serious balance for such an aggressive beer. (685 characters)

Photo of adrock7309
4.36/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Acquired a bottle from a local Liquor store.

Poured into a generic Bruges snifter from crate and barrel.

Lost of fluffy pale head which clung to the sides as it faded slowly.

Tons of citrus and piney hops on the nose and absolutely no hint of alcohol up front.

Taste was similar - very citrus and piney grassy hops. The beer was very sweet as well - not quite cloying but the sweetness was a bit too overpowering for my taste. At this ABV, I wasn't totally surprised by it however.

Mouthfeel was great, nice and full bodied and wasn't a beer you could gulp.

Overall, I am glad I was able to try it fresh but at 9.99 for the bomber, and with access to Surly and Hopslam, there are cheaper and IMHO, better choices out there. (730 characters)

Photo of loftisCT
3.23/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Big bottle served in a red wine glass. Bottled on 351 day of 2010 and drink Jan 25, 2011 so alittle over a month old

A: Pleasant amber color and crystal clear, not a huge head because of the wine glass but whats there stays around well, additionally lots of little bubble coming up, looks well carbonated

S: You definetly smells like a Sierra beer with that sharp caramel backdrop. I swear I can get some kinda dirty, yeasty flavors from most of the Sierra beers but its prolly my imagation. The hop aroma are not as pungent as I was expecting but still very nice. I get an aroma I would describe as musty that I am not used to, with a nice sweet cirtus and some tropical fruits. Pretty boozey with lots of esters, maybe a little too boozey.

T+M: A little muddled on the palate. Flavor starts off with the hop flavors apparent in the nose over a backdrop of caramel malt. The malt really comes in the middle though and the flavor takes on a very sweet sugary sweetness. Too sweet for my liking in an IPA. The alcohal adds some really sweet and fruity flavors as well before before a nice sharp bitterness comes and dries the flavor out. Love the sharpness of the bittering finish but the alcohal lingers in the aftertaste. The sweetness in the middle really gives this beer a full body. The carbonation I thought would be there is actually pretty light. These too together make this beer a little heavier on the palate than I generally like DIPAS.

D: A nice experience but my not favorite beer. The lingering alcohal and heaviness on the palate hurt the drinkability for me. I was hoping this beer would be a little more hop centered but glad I was able to try this. (1,670 characters)

Photo of Rhettroactive
3.93/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From bomber to pint glass 1/23/11

A: Clear amber in appearance. If I didn't know any better, I would think it was a Samuel Adams Boston Lager. A reasonable pour yields a massive and creamy 2+ finger head.

S: Alcohol esters are immediately introduced to my nostrils. Once it passes, I am able to detect a modest amount of hops.

T: Again, alcohol is the first to cross the finish line. It's is not well hidden or masked in any way. It's right there for all to taste. Minor malts hints poke their head out, as pine needles prick my tounge a bit as the alcohol passes. Not the citrusy kind I prefer, but rather a bitter hop oil that shivs your tounge on the finish, like a career criminal at Sing-Sing.

M: Certainly Hoptimum's strong point. When the creamline-style head hits my lips, and the beer is poured into my mouth, it feels like 1800 thread count Egyptian sheets on my tounge.

O: I had searched high and low for this one. I've heard it's pretty prevalent in a lot of places, but not around me apparently. So you can imagine my delight to find two bombers staring at me from the shelf of my local Whole Foods.

I would say that Hoptimum gets a thumb up from me, absolutely, though I do not consider it to be in the upper echelon of DIPA's. But without question it's rockin' a nice, upper-middle class lifestyle with 2.5 kids and a Beamer in the driveway. (1,362 characters)

Photo of myatomicpolygon
4.24/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- violent pour into my tulip resulted into nice billowing white head that eventually settled down to a finger or two. Great lacing throughout, copper amber color with golden highlights when held up in the light.

Smell- I absolutely love the smell of this...grapefruit rind, pine, and floral characteristics with a sweet malty undertone

Taste- As expected nice and bitter with the pine and grapefruit rind really dominating the profile with a good balance with the sweeter malts and a great dry finish. Good taste but I definitely prefer the smell.

Mouthfeel- crisp dry and refreshing with a medium body and a slick mouthfeel due to the hop resins

Drinkability- I drank the whole bomber without any problem. For the hop lover this one should be easy to drink but the price, high abv, and limited availability certainly makes this one a special occasion beer (872 characters)

Photo of trevorjn06
4.38/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear copper/golden color with a fluffy white head that stands for awhile, then recedes and leaves thick lacing on the glass.

Aroma is pine, grapefruit, citrus, grass and fruit... with more pine... Very complex hop aromas. A bit of toasty/bready malts pokes through.

Taste is smooth for the 100 IBUs and 10% ABV, quite impressive. Starts withcitrus and toasted/bready malts on the tongue then transitions into smooth malt flavors mingling with strong hop flavors of grapefruit, lemon, grass, pine and a mild pungent element. Towards the finish the hop bitterness really steps in and brings floral and earthy elements with it. The finish leaves biscuity, toasty malts and wonderful hop flavors on the tongue with a hint of alcoholic heat.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium/low carbonation and a smooth feel to it.

Overall this is a wonderful IIPA, very well balanced. I need to go look for more so I can drink this more than once in my life. (957 characters)

Photo of oline73
4.35/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Judge's Bench in Elicott City.

Appearance: This pours a very clear amber with an inch of fluffy white head. Head dissipates quickly but some remains throughout.

Smell: Starts off with sweet with hints of pine and tangerine. Smells amazing!

Taste: This one is initially quite sweet. Bitter pine hops and tangerine as well as quite a bit of alcohol. Sweet bitterness clings to the tongue throughout.

Mouthfeel: This one is fairly thick and sticky. It coats the mouth completely. The Carbonation is lower than average but that seems appropriate.

Drinkability: Perhaps there is a bit too much alcohol compared to the hops, but it is still very good. I would definitely drink this one again. (705 characters)

Photo of gford217
3.86/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

24oz bottle.

Pours a deep, crystal clear amber with lots of bubbles sream to the top and feeding an impressive thick head that shows excellent retention and lacing. Great looking pour.

Aroma is heavily hopped and full of citrus and pine but also with the distinctive citra aroma which is a combination of herbs and white wine.

The taste is more of the same with white grapes, juicy pineapple and pine coming through. The finish is hoppy and astringent with the alcohol being felt pretty heavily. There is also that interesting floral earthy character that I'm noticed in other citra-hopped beers.

The mouthfeel is excellent, close to full bodied, with sticky hops leaving a seriously astringent, bitter finish.

Overall, it's a solid effort from SN and really heavy on the hop astringency and alcohol burn which limits the drinkability a bit. Getting through a full bottle of this is no small feat. (903 characters)

Photo of ArrogantB
3.75/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

24oz bottle $7.99. I was excited to try this beer but the price tag was a little higher than I would expect from Sierra Nevada. Orange color, decent head and lacing. The smell is hoppy but nothing spectacular. The taste was disappointing, lots of bitterness and lots of alcohol. The mouthfeel was far too astringent. This was probably the first Sierra beer that really disappointed me, I wontbe buying another. This was like an amped up torpedo, not impressed.

update 03-9-2012

Picked up a four pack and I liked it much more this year. Nice juicy and hoppy aroma. Flavor was thick with hops and a little astringent but It was well worth the $10 I paid. Need more. (665 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeOne
4.1/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 24 oz. bottle into a Nonic pint glass an amber color with a significant white head that held for a long time and left a thick lacing down the glass.

Smells like earthy and citrus hops and alcohol. There's some ripe fruit in there plus some sweet malt. Quite complex in aroma.

The flavor is a big hit of herbal, citrus, and pine hops and alcohol. This is hot. I got the hops very much up front, followed by a layer of caramel and biscuit from the malt, with a strong kick of alcohol in the back. Finishes quite dry.

The mouthfeel is heavy and oily with an alcohol burn. The 10.4% is apparent, not hidden at all. A good amount of carbonation to hold up such a blast of hops, malt, and alcohol. A well-crafted, bold DIPA. Well done Sierra Nevada. I expected nothing less.

The significant presence of alcohol distracts from its drinkability. I got alcohol flavor and burn and the buzz from less than the whole bottle.

EDIT: I've had this on tap several times since the bottle review. I definitely did not get the boozy burn on tap that I got from the several bottles that I had. If re-reviewing from the tap, I would increase the overall score upward. (1,166 characters)

Photo of frognot
3.45/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Clear golden orange with a finger and a half of cream head with sticky lattice lacing

Smell: Lots of citrus, mostly oranges and pineapple.

Taste: Crisp with a pronounced bitterness but was a bit surprised that it registered 100 IBU. It's got a bite but not that much bite. The frontal hop assault prevented me from tasting the malt until half-way thru the glass then it kicked in (or maybe it was a little hop fatigue).

Mouthfeel: Medium with good carbonation.

Drinkability: The ABV is 10.4% but hidden. The malty sweetness combined with the sweet citrus hops was a palate burner and prevents the desire for a second glass. (639 characters)

Photo of HopDiggityDawg
4.38/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dry hops
Pine and citrus
Oily, alcohol is present but it is 10.4% abv
Nice head
Very nice lacing
Finish is dry but not too dry

I am a west coast hop head but to me this brew is not too bitter
This brew is true to what Sierra Nevada is, if you like SN you'll love this, if Hop Bombs are not your thing then you will not like this.

This is a great next step after torpedo.

Malt is minimal but does a nice job of providing balance. (446 characters)

Photo of vtfan77
3.93/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Very nice deep gold with a good inch of head that sticks around for a couple minutes.

S- Intensely piney hops with a good candy-like malt backing.

T- Huge hop flavor upfront that all but overwhelms the palate. The bitterness doesn't wait until the finish to manifest itself; it's there from the start. A little malt comes through at times with a buttery cracker character that balances out the pine sap of the hops and adds some richness. Finishes quite bitter and dry.

M- Medium-bodied with a good level of prickly carbonation.

D- The alcohol is pretty well-hidden, but the bitterness, the richness, and the overall strength of flavor limit the drinkability a bit. It's still very good and I'll have no problem finishing the bottle.

This is a very good IPA and a good choice for those looking for a major hop fix. It's very Sierra Nevada in character; if you don't like the hop profiles of SN's beers, then this one is not for you. If you do, however, then I highly recommend this beer. (996 characters)

Photo of Gushue3
4.08/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- pours light orange with light head that goes away. Not much lacing. Looks good.

Smell- sweet, piney and citrus. Nice smell not too overpowering.

Taste- hops. Pine and flowers. Nice bitter lingering that's stays around well after the sip is gone.

Mouthfeel- smooth with little carbonation. Sweet on the tongue and goes down nicely

Drinkability- very drinkable, not tooheavy with a great strong ipa taste. (420 characters)

Photo of the1DarkLord
4.06/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Described as: "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."

Does it live up to the name? I have always loved Celebration and Torpedo IPA for being two beers out there that know how to showcase hops and let the malty sweetness take the backseat.

So let's see how this goes here...

Almost clear goldenrod with a slightly honey-tinted head that lasts and blesses the glass with lots of lacing.

On the nose, is a nice mixture of earthy, spicy, pine needle dusted forest floor along with some bright tropical fruit like mangoes, papaya and even a hint of pineapple.

I always fear that a new IPA will not be unique enough to stand out with so many great IPA and IIPA options nowadays. This one is not so. What I find interesting about this one is that the malty sweetness that typically balances out the hop flavors comes right up front, then the flavor turns to resiny hoppy goodness.

I like this. Alot.

What starts out almost chewy and caramel-like quickly fades to an explosion of diverse hop flavors. it goes from piney and earthy, to oily citrus, to resiny and tropical. The aftertaste lingers on the bright tropical note which helps to make this beer extremely drinkable.

This is one great IIPA, and I would gladly buy this quite frequently... If it wasn't $10. I understand the elevated cost of ingredients and such that went into a beer like this... However, the end product [for me at least] is not any better than some of the other great IPAs I love (Pliny, Just Outstanding, Pure Hoppiness, Sculpin, etc... for less $$ as well).

Thumbs up Sierra Nevada! (1,763 characters)

Photo of Pipmeister
4.03/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared this beer last night with a friend and roomie Peprsprayoface after picking it up from Total Wine in Tustin.

The look of the beer is pretty awesome with a nice orange golden hue, good clarity and decent head with a good amount of lacing as you sip.
The smell right away is a mixture of citrus, pine and cat piss.

The first sip and you are made well aware of the mouthfeel. It has a very thick mouthfeel to it that makes it very pleasing but also making one glass good enough as seems to get thicker as it warms.

The taste is very well balanced with a good upfront malt sweetness that slowly turns into a stong bitterness as you sip.

Overall a good beer to share, but one is enough for a night. (705 characters)

Photo of hosehead83
3.66/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber bottle that resembles a bigger, fatter version of SN's standard "stubby" bottle, into a standard pint glass.
Clear, copper/gold in color, with a moderate head of foam.
Aroma-A bit underpowered, subtle, grassy, citrussy hops.
Taste-Sweet toasted malt,citrus peel, definite hop bitterness. A bit unbalanced towards the bitter side of things one sip, and the next a bit of the malty sweetness. Flavors seemingly exist seperately rather than melding together for balance. Still, a decent effort, but better DIPA's are certainly out there. (555 characters)

Photo of Donnie2112
3.88/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured into a Brooklyn Imperial Pint glass

Appearance: Good looking Double IPA. The beer is amber in color with nice cascading carbonation and huge fluffy white head and nice lacing as it's drunk. Could only be slightly better if the lacing were more even and the head was retained better.

Smells: ALL citrus, Mandarin oranges, lemon, lime, grapefruit. The nose is a bit lacking, I just want MORE of the good hop aromas

Tastes: Very nice flavors, some crystal malt but not a lot, mostly a dry hop focused beer. Huge citrus hop sourness, lots of notes of lemon and grapefruit. Delicious stuff, I would prefer a little raunchier hop flavor, but I'm a Simcoe guy

Mouthfeel: Highly astringent, oily, medium-heavy body and medium low carbonation.

So good, I mean the hops could be a little dirtier but this is just a delicious citrus bomb. The malts are fine if you ask me, the bitterness is appropriate, but it just needs more aroma and flavor hops.

EDIT: I came in and changed a bunch of stuff because upon second look I was much less impressed. (1,050 characters)

Photo of veinless
4.12/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a beautiful clear amber with a one finger off-white head that retained not too well and left a bit of lacing on the glass and in the beer.

Smell is intense, even when I popped the cap off this one pine and citrus was immediately recognizable. In the glass, pineapple is the strongest fruit, with some mango in there too, combined they kind of form that jackfruit smell which I find quite distinct. Piny hops are also really strong here, and while there is a bit of a caramel malt in the background, this basically is hops through and through, with pine present throughout.

A bitter rush pervades the mouth upon first sip, with citrus of mango and pineapple really strong, along with a bit of peach. Malt comes in late, with some honey sweetness to balance the hops, but really this beer is all about the hops and pine.

Finishes a bit more bitter than other DIPAs of similar strength, but is plenty clean and VERY drinkable for the 10.4% abv. Get this while you can.

UPDATE: after having the whole bomber (my roommate didn't find it to his taste) at the very end it was like having pinesol, it was so piny. Gotta downgrade the drinkability, but then again, who the hell is going to have a whole bomber of this anyways. (1,230 characters)

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 1,396 ratings.