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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.

1,409 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,409
Hads: 6,013
rAvg: 4.1
pDev: 11.22%
Wants: 390
Gots: 992 | 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: 1,409 | Hads: 6,013
Photo of GilGarp
3.88/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

24oz bottle served cool into a pint glass.

Hoptimum is a golden amber color with surprisingly good clarity for such a hoppy style. The head settles fairly quickly but leaves some nice lace behind.

Aroma is very hoppy with tons of grapefruit and other citrus.

Flavor is much the same - extremely bitter with a huge grapefruit presence. You could be forgiven for thinking they might have actually used grapefruit juice to make it. Other elements of the flavor, which are subtle by comparison are very similar to those found in other Sierra Nevada beers like their Celebration. Much of that may be the yeast.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and completely lacking in balance. This is a double IPA gone mad. Alcohol is strong and you can sense it in the mouth. Not quite hot but not far off.

Overall a huge DIPA and one that grapefruit fans will probably love. For me, it's just a bit one-dimensional. (897 characters)

Photo of snaotheus
4.27/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

24oz bottle poured into a pint glass

Pours a pretty coppery color, clear with no visible sediment, nice big pale head that fades and leaves a lot of thick lacing. Smell is powerful. I haven't even brought it close to my face and I can smell the hops, and it smells enticing. I smell pine and spice, lots of flowers. Loaded with hops.

Taste is dominated by hops bitterness, the malty sweetness cannot keep up. Perhaps about halfway through, I'll get more accustomed to the hops and it will seem a little better balanced. The flavors are good.

Mouthfeel is thick and sticky, drinkability is greatly enhanced by the dry bitterness.


This time in a 12 ounce bottle. This is still very good. (705 characters)

Photo of pmccallum86
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a golden amber color with a thick bubbly head.

Smell is awesome, full of citrus and pine aromas. Awesome smelling DIPA.

Taste is bitter up front but fades into an awesome orchestra of hops. The malts take a back seat, the way a DIPA should be.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with a medium level of carbonation, very nice.

Overall an excellent beer, I would love to see this more widely available. (406 characters)

Photo of corby112
1.89/5  rDev -53.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

On draft at London Grille.

Pours a clear golden yellowish orange color with pale golden yellow hues when held to a light source and a 1.5 finger frothy white head that slowly fades into a thin lasting ring. Sporadic spots of lacing left behind.

Earthy hop aroma with hints of pine as well as citrus and tropical fruit. There's also a prominent sweet alcohol aroma which takes away from the hops significantly and a nice biscuit/Graham cracker malt character. Subtle grapefruit and citrus peel but the nose is overpowered by an earthy/soil like and sweet alcohol presence.

Chewy body that's on the fuller end of the spectrum with a blast of earthy bitter hops up front that lingers throughout but fades toward the sweet, hot finish. Slick and oily feeling with a one dimensional hop profile. Very faint citrus/tropical fruit character and again, a way too powerful alcohol presence that kills the better qualities of this beer. Sweet pale malt backbone that lacks the graham cracker biscuit character that the aroma suggested. The ABV is well masked as far as heat is cncerned but there is a lot of alcohol flavor.

This beer is kind of a mess really. Not very hoppy, especially when the palate adjusts to the original earthy pine flavor. Half way through the glass it tastes like a mildly hoppy sweet phenolic failure. I'm a big fan of SN and I was really excited to try this one but it was a huge disappointment. I'm glad I didn't sprig for the bottles. (1,457 characters)

Photo of bohemiandonut
4.68/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The sheer amount of recon work one has to do in San Diego to find a reliable beer store makes it near impossible to leave. Tonight, while getting my hands on some Firestone Double Jack, I stumble on... Hoptimum? Dude no way!

The pour is crystal clear and brilliant reddish orange. Head is dense, white, and there to stay. Indeed, even the look of this beer screams "Hop Masterpiece."

Others will no doubt dissect this grand aroma much better than myself, but I'm getting Simcoe loud and clear before the traditional Sierra Nevada blend. I say Simcoe anytime I mean "tropical, mango-ey, Sculpin-like" flavors, for the record. Those are definitely present here, and I'm loving it, especially rounded out by SN's expert use of malt. (Dat grass.) Alcohol is in the room but relatively sedate, showing up once or twice in the delicately chewy mouthfeel and spicy finish.

I can't wait to share a pitcher of this asap and must commend Sierra on successfully establishing itself among the DIPA elite. I knew they had it in 'em. (1,023 characters)

Photo of mdfb79
3.7/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From 01/21/11 notes.

a - Pours an orange color with one inch of white head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of citrus hops, fruity malts, caramel malts, and light pine.

t - Tastes of citrus hops, pine hops, and fruity malts. A bit bitter.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

d - A pretty nice DIPA. Lots of citrus in the nose, would try again. (363 characters)

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

It's about time that Sierra Nevada brings out the big guns with their take on the fastest growing style of beer- Imperial IPA.

Bright golden with copper highlights, the beer carries a froathy off-white head that eventually falters with the immense alcohol stresses. No lace with only moderate retention. Light legging clings to the glass with a gentle swirl.

Moderately strong aromas of caramel and grapefruit sing the praises of a big IPA. Citrus piths (as revealed on the label) is fused with orange zest, fresh-cut grass, and gentle pine notes for a rounded, juicy aroma. The scent is balanced with maltiness that reminds me of caramel/barley malt.

Stong hop flavors of those citrus, grass, and pine character carry over to taste. But the malt influence is felt much more than the aroma suggests. Caramel maltiness make the hops flavors seem as if they are candy-coated citrus fruits. Definately closer to balance than most hop-forward Imperial IPA's. Alcohol flavor comes in just before the finish with the characteristic of nail polish remover and though it helps to dry the beer and crispen up the malt influence, it does provide a harsher, solventy finish and aftertaste.

Robust sweetness to the feel because of the malt creaminess and gentle carbonation. And with a full mid-palate, the malts begin to fade as the hop bitterness and dryness play more boldly on the finish. But the beer holds onto a bit more sweetness and maltiness even in the drying finish than is generally prefered in a big IPA's. Growing alcohol sensations eventually numb the palate as the solvent flavors intergect.

This is a very good Imperial IPA that, surprisingly carries a heafty malty-sweet maouthfeel, despite Sierra being known for their malty-dry, effortlessly clean, and error-free beers. The beer gets closer to 90 Minute and Maharaja than it does Dreadnaught or Pliny. (1,866 characters)

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

Copper with a redish hue, and unfortunately filtered. Large carbonation bubbles make there way to the two inch frothy head resting above the liquid. Patchy lacing crawls behind.

Piney, resinous hop aromas with some toffee and biscuity malt aspects. A bit of stonefruit also.

Nice, good prickly carbonation, a bit hot in the mouth, well balanced. Herbal, grassy, piney, stonefruit in your face hops on the finish. A tad a floral and citrus in there but on the back end. Cereal type grainy middle with hints of toffee. Big alcohol hurts drinkability. (550 characters)

Photo of imagese
3.43/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On tap @ Pizza Port

A- pours a clear dark orange with no head, but leaves an impressive lacing trail

S- sweet earthy malt up front with a faint citric hop at the end. I was expecting a ton of hops

T- big pine assault with a bitter rind linger and a bready malt sweetness. Pretty heavy booze kick

M- a little on the thick side with low carbonation. A little unbalanced, but not bad at all

D- pretty decent. Not something I'd like to drink a ton of, and honestly I probably won't buy this again. For the cost, I feel this is an over hyped beer. There's plenty of stellar DIPA's out there, and living in SoCal, the pickin' is a plenty!!! (639 characters)

Photo of emagana
3.9/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured in my Sierra Nevada pint glass.
Light. Copper orange with a half inch of white head.
Floral pint dominates the smell. Not as inticing as I would like but very balanced.
Starts of bitter right off the bat and coats every inch of the palate with hops. Grassy and piney all around. Finishes with some alcohol bite. The bitterness warns the mouth of the dangerous alcohol. Sierra Nevada did a great job with this and a definite winner. I wish they would sell in sixer for the future. (489 characters)

Photo of SpdKilz
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours into my SA Perfect Pint with a dark orange/amber color. About two fingers of slight tan head is achieved with a decent pour, that dissipates at a moderate pace leaving nice looking lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell - Heavy grapefruit rind, floral/grass notes, citrus, pine, and heavy hops. A slight malty backbone is present.

Taste - Rather smooth considering what this is supposed to be, though there is a definite bitter sting up front and a lingering bitterness at the end. In between there is a heavy hop/piney resin flavor mixed with bitter grapefruit rind, lemon, floral/grass notes. There is also alcohol in the taste.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, creamy, medium to lower carbonation, finishes dry.

Drinkability - While the ABV is hidden relatively well, I can still taste it and feel it as I sip on this. The beer is, I don't know...somewhat average to be honest. At almost eleven dollars for a bomber of this, I will not be picking it up in the future. Good thing I have a Pliny in the refrigerator waiting for me. (1,050 characters)

Photo of nickhiller
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: blood orange colored, dense, mellow carbonation with a little dash of head that all but vanishes in the first 20 seconds, nice lacing.

S: hops hops hops, mostly of the citrus variety, grapefruit and lemon zest, melon.

T: so sweet, so bitter, so spicy it's almost overwhelming--scratch that, it IS overwhelming! But being overwhelmed never felt so good. Bittersweet was never more aptly applied to a flavor profile. I am left with the same impression as if I chewed up a hop flower, bit into a lemon and washed it down with a glass of simple syrup. Really it's like a mildly carbonated hop syrup.

M: thick and syrupy, low carbonation but not exactly flat, nice alcohol warmth.

D: I once ate a fresh Citra hop flower and I tasted pretty much exactly like this beer. It scorched my tongue, it caused my throat to seize up and resist, and it coated my entire mouth with the spicy, resiny, garlic-y, citrus-y hop oils. This is pretty much a distillation of that. And I like it. (981 characters)

Photo of TKEbeerman
4.28/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured into my pint glass, this brew pours a golden yellow with a giant fluffy tan head. This great looking IPA is just about spot on for a world class brew.

S: The aroma is similar to Celebration, but much more beefed up. Notes of grapefruit and citrus take over with a piny background.

T: The flavor profile is definitely the best thing Sierra Nevada has ever done with hops. The usual SN piny resin is there, but with a fresh hop citrus and sweetness backed up from the malt.

MF: Mouthfeel is spot on, medium full and with a pleasant hop after taste.

D: Drink is great, this brew is big, and alcohol is well hidden. (626 characters)

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)

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 1,409 ratings.