1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

5,181 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,181
Reviews: 1,310
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 11.48%
Wants: 254
Gots: 527 | FT: 4
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:
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 added by: kaseydad on 02-07-2010)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA Alström Bros
Ratings: 5,181 | Reviews: 1,310 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of HipHop5


3.18/5  rDev -23.9%

Clean copper color with a two finger creamy head that retain quit some time.

Lacing is good on a tulip.

Yeasty bread like first sniff, than a caramel malt sweet cloud escape of the glass on second sniff. It's very different from any IIPA I had lately. I am guessing that few low AA hops have been boiled, but no dry hopping signs here.
I bit hot on first sip, but the caramel malt sweetness takes over very quickly here. Thick medium to full body for this style of beer. Oily in the back. Has very havy high AA in back bone .The bitterness of the hops can barely sink in my taste buds because the viscosity . I wish Sierra Nevada lost few ABV and decreased considerably the OG because it has a great potential. After a 22 OZ bomber hop flavor sinks in after taste.

The very low carbonation doesn't help much the overall sirupy mouth feel.

More for a cold evening around the fire place than a mild California night:) If I forget this is an IIPA, I could actually enjoy it better because I was probably expecting something hopier than this. I really hope Sierra Nevada does make this seasonal brew a few notch less sweet next year. I'll be trying the 2012 for sure.

02-25-2011 04:32:15 | More by HipHop5
Photo of MrMcGibblets


3.41/5  rDev -18.4%

A: light copper color, perfectly clear, nice white head and lacing. Served in a snifter.
S: caramel malts, pine, grapefruit, some tropical fruit.
T: big resiny bitterness and just over medium caramel malt sweetness. Hard to figure if this is on the malty or sweet side for a dipa.
M: med to full, well carbonated, bitterness lingers.
D: this reminded me of a slightly less sweet, slightly hoppier version of firestone double jack.
have had this since-the hops have that simcoe onion/garlic/rotting banana thing going on which i don't care for.

02-25-2011 03:49:05 | More by MrMcGibblets
Photo of cavedave

New York

3.78/5  rDev -9.6%

Nice pour, almost clear amber, shimmery look, a finger of off white head atop, and coriolis ejections of lace upon the Corsendonk tulip's curving interior.

I've smelled almost all the major league IIPA's, and most of the minor league affiliates, and the smell of this is not worthy of either league. A bit of neutral sweet, hints of citrus and pine, maybe an even lighter floral hint. Has all the aroma and dh faded? Not dry hopped at all?

Thankfully plenty of hop goodness in the taste. It is medium side of full flavor, starting with some syrupy sweet and assertive bitter, quickly joining with pine and sweet citrus to slide into a crescendo of deep herbal bitter, spicy warm alcohol, pine, and citrus pith. The sweet doesn't let up, it finishes juicy for style, but plenty dry enough to stimulate palate appropriately. As it warms caramel hints, and even some peach, enter the mix, giving it some nice complexity. Clean flavors, delicious.

Mouthfeel is very thick, low carb., highly resinous, a juicy/dry finish that is good but not epic.

Drinkability for this big beer is held back by the alcohol content. This is similar to M&M's, in that the alcohol melts your mind, not your mouth.

Impression: Through a fluke I got a bottle of this sold-out brew. Glad I tried this, but it doesn't live up to the hype. Gimme Torpedo for a much lower price.

02-24-2011 23:50:52 | More by cavedave
Photo of mattgreger


4.03/5  rDev -3.6%

Had on tap at Capones the night after the Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Event

This brew poured a golden amber color, with just a touch of a haziness. It has a nice cream, bubbly white head that had great retention. As the you drink, it left a great spiderweb like lace throughout glass.

The aroma on this brew is of course hop heavy, but not overkill. It has a nice strong pine hops aroma the the front. I does have a great hoppy flavor, but its not over abundant bitterness that you would expect with the name of the brew. It still has a nice profile that is nice and crisp smelling with a bit of a alcohol heat as well.

This brew has pretty good flavor. It has a nice citris hop character at the front, which was unexpected. It has a nice caramel malt profile that brings out the pine flavors too. As this brew warms, the malts and alcohol come forward more and give it a nice bite. I enjoyed it very much.

The mouth on this brew is a medium body. Not to heavy, with a nice carbonation level. Its a nice crisp, clean brew. The hop oils coat the mouth with a thick, stickiness.

The drinkability on this brew is pretty basic. With a brew that has such a high ABV, you expect a much heavier hop hit and bit more to the brew. I wanted more and it didn't produce in that sense. Its still a good brew, and I would go for it again, but with an ABV that big, I might reach for something else first. Still a decent brew.

02-24-2011 23:01:49 | More by mattgreger
Photo of Seanibus


4.35/5  rDev +4.1%

After all the buzz, I was extremely excited to try this and pleased to snag a rare bottle at Capones way out in the 'burbs. And the verdict is - it's pretty good.

Pours a very clear amber with a slight but sticky white head - pretty typical of Sierra Nevada. You'd easily mistake this for a regular SN Pale Ale in the glass. The aroma, however, gives it away - it is deep, tight, and extraordinarily hoppy, like a Pale Ale concentrate.

The flavor is even deeper and tighter and more intense - pure hop bomb, with intense, sticky piny and citrus hops. There is just enough grain to distinguish this from the Russian River Plineys, which are probably the closest existing parallel - Hoptimum is a little darker, both in taste and color than the RR lineup, but they are both intense hop explosions with the grain serving mostly as a carrier for the citrus intensity.

For all the hop flavor, the bitterness is surprisingly restrained - it is distinct and strong, to be sure, but not as overpowering and palate-destroying as it could be. In fact, on the back of the mouth, the bitterness is little more than one might expect from a pungent pale ale, though the sticky, bitter resin of the hops clings on the front of the tongue.

The mouthfeel is sticky and resiny, again almost like a concentrate of the classic pale ale.

But here is the amazing moment of the beer - it is north of 10 percent ABV. There is no way this feels like a 10 percent monster, making this a dangerous and seductively drinkable brew. The main problem, as with the Plineys, is the pure flavor intensity - it would be hard to down too many of these Hoptimums even without the over-the-moon ABV.

02-24-2011 20:59:17 | More by Seanibus
Photo of ritzkiss

Ontario (Canada)

3.83/5  rDev -8.4%

Big ol' 24oz bottle from Premier Gourmet in Buffalo. Pours a radiant crystal clear sunset orange with a couple fingers of tight head. Looks good.

Nose reveals hints of tropical fruits, a real caramel sweetness, pine and citrus.

Entry is sweet, notes of pineapple and citrus, caramel. Long, super bitter piney bitterness, aftertaste almost of Pine-Sol but I love the hop attack. Problem is that it's too sweet and slightly syrupy, especially evident in the middle. A little harsh and unbalanced overall, big beer and it shows.

02-24-2011 16:32:45 | More by ritzkiss
Photo of Slatetank


4.43/5  rDev +6%

24oz from Quick Six Mt Rose poured chilled into my willbecker

The color of deep amber w/ tangerine shade and great clarity with two fingers of pale ecru cap w/ slightly rocky topography. The bead is medium fine and lace clings in a film. Carbonation is visible in the liquid as it moves in a moderately fast pace. The smell is floral and tropical with mango scents and a hint of caramel/sugar w/ light grarpefruit/pine hop odors. There is a mainly pineapple like alcohol ester bringing some sweetness to the fruity smell. The feel is strong and bitter with semi-sweet malt w/ semi-strong alcoholic presence and moderately high carbonation w/ pretty dry and slightly juicy finish.

The taste is piney up front with subtle fruit which is a mix of mango and grapefruit w/ a splash of tropical juiciness maybe pineapple flavors w/ subtle pine that carries over into a slightly sugary and mildly alcoholic flavcr. The semidry taste and sticky residue on the palate comes off like a slightly stronger(3%) torpedo, but more citrus than tropical and noticeably sweeter w/ a moderate amount of alcohol in the taste. A good high gravity hoppy Imperial IPA, not too shabby but the sweetness and alcohol detract from the hop flavor w/ too much focus on bitterness + aroma -needs more flavor hops IMO but very good overall for the style

02-24-2011 12:37:11 | More by Slatetank
Photo of JamnesCameron


4.08/5  rDev -2.4%

Poured into a snifter during a release event at Bavarian Lodge. Pours a clear, golden hue with orange highlights, with a rocky light tan head. Good lacing.

Aroma is more restrained than I expected, with grapefruit, cedar, and floral notes.

Flavor was equally restrained, with sweet, sticky malt, grapefruit zest, cedar, and a light floral quality. Finish was long, with a light bitterness.

Mouthfeel is medium, with sticky malt and a resiny bitterness that coats the mouth.

Good drinkability, would go back for more. But this is much less aggressive than I was expecting.

02-24-2011 12:32:55 | More by JamnesCameron
Photo of iLovehops23


4.13/5  rDev -1.2%

big ups to john at dennis brothers for the hook on this one. to cut to the chase and be very blunt, i hold this beer in very close esteem to pliney and hopslam. very clean, pungent hop aroma that is backed up by its mouth feel, nose and taste. at 10.4% abv this dipa is little on the dangerous side but well worth grabbing a sixer or at least a bomber or two.

masterful hop flavor, very well blanced, enjoyed it and cant wait to have it again soon.

02-24-2011 06:03:34 | More by iLovehops23
Photo of kwjd

Ontario (Canada)

4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Bottle purchased a couple days ago in Buffalo. Pours a bright orange colour with huge white head. Lots of lacing on the glass. Smells of huge citrus hops and more hops. Basically this smells like hops. Tastes of refreshing hoppy bitterness. Still has a lot of balance to it, but certainly the hoppiest beer from Sierra Nevada I've had. I really didn't realize this beer was over 10% alcohol, flavour is quite smooth and not boozy at all.

02-24-2011 05:06:48 | More by kwjd
Photo of Gmann

New York

3.73/5  rDev -10.8%

Pours a crystal clear golden amber color with a smallish off-white head that disipated into a sparse cap with some light lacing.

The aroma is sweet from the malt, some honey. There are some faint pineapple and peppery hops. Some grassy and lime hop notes as well. The aroma is ok but I expected more hops.

Ok, hops were found in the flavor. Things start off with a huge piney blast and strong resin. Some very light pepper and pineapple. I must say it is a bit rough on the palate. There is a light honey and berry sweetness from the malt but it has a difficult overcoming the bitter hops. Kind of has a solvent flavor to it.

Moderate body with tingly carbonation. Starts off ok but quickly transitions into a bitter bomb with some solvent issues.

The unbalanced bitterness and high abv limit the drinkability of this beer. Definitely quite hoppy but is in desperate need of some malt balance.

02-24-2011 04:27:19 | More by Gmann
Photo of kiddwhiz


3.85/5  rDev -7.9%

Cheers to jmkratt for hooking me up with this bottle of Hoptimum!

Bright orange-amber pour with two fingers of lacy, white head. Rich smells of citrus, hops and earthy greens. Initial taste is big, chewy, citrus hops but still not completely as expected. It has a resilient, dense and almost thick mouthfeel. The mouthfeel sticks around and lingers like a child not eating his dinner.

More character than I would have anticipated and definitely enjoyed. Cheers!

02-24-2011 03:51:09 | More by kiddwhiz
Photo of david18

New York

3.38/5  rDev -19.1%

I'm a big Sierra Nevada fan and love the pale ale, porter, stout and other offerings but this one is a little over the top for me. The IPA is great but the double ipa, the first one I've tried from them, is a little too much of everything.

The color is somewhat light for a double IPA but certainly within range. The carbonation died very fast, which was somewhat disappointing. Aroma and flavor was too strong and alcoholly and quite unbalanced. I really wanted to like this beer, and I may becoming more sensitive to this style, but I didn't really love it...and I had a few of them.

02-23-2011 23:18:38 | More by david18
Photo of jhtipton


4.72/5  rDev +12.9%

Thank you BK for getting me one of these in Spain. Wonderful appearance; it is a deep gold color wiith mild head and mild lacing in my tasting glass. Smell is a citrus, pine, extreme grassy aroma that I want to smell. Not sure where the carbonation is for an ABV of over 10! Taste-hops-hops-and hops. Never knew there were so many options of hops but they are here. Why can't other countries figure this out. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation. Wish it could bubble more. Probably the weight of the hops. Drinkability is great but should take it slow. Would not complain about a cigar accompaniment. Cheers - make more please!

02-23-2011 21:15:25 | More by jhtipton
Photo of amccormi


3.55/5  rDev -15.1%

Poured from 24oz bottle to a pint glass.

Looks nice with a rich gold to amber color and a fluffy head that has good retention and lacing.

The aroma is lacking, even after warming for about 30 minutes, it still only has a very weak hop aroma with a bit of bready malt. I really expected much more hop aroma.

Taste is where I would like to see it. Starts with a touch of sweetness, becomes a bit fruity, then finishes with a firm bitterness that is nice and drying. There is a touch of heat from the alcohol in the back of the throat.

A solid Imperial IPA with a good malt/hop balance and enough punch to make you drink it slowly. I reall think there shold have been a bigger hop aroma though, maybe I just couldn't pick it up.

02-23-2011 18:44:44 | More by amccormi
Photo of ShogoKawada

Rhode Island

4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Big bottle into mini-snifter. From cell phone notes:

I really really really liked this beer. Pour was a fantastic copper with a big snow white head. Nose was amazing- very hoppy, tropical fruit, floral aromas, and some new-growth pine. These hops explode on the tongue, very fruity and some heat in the finish. Honey and oranges come to mind, as does white pepper. Big and bold, with a hefty ABV, not for the faint of heart. You can taste the alcohol but it compliments the zesty hops. Whatever new hop varieties are in this beer, I want more of. The big bottle is a bit much even for me.. my head was buzzing when I was through.

This beer is a winner, one I will continue to buy as long as it's on the shelf. Sierra Nevada, please make more, and put 'em in 12oz bottles. This beer is too good to be a one-off.

02-23-2011 18:16:14 | More by ShogoKawada
Photo of VWBuggirl

South Carolina

3.5/5  rDev -16.3%

This pours a clear copper color with a creamy fluffy head.

The initial scent when I opened the bottle was sweetness, which was very heavy. But, after pouring it into my tulip glass the sweetness dissipated a little and I get a hint of pine, but not the floral scent that makes me love this style and very faint hop characteristics.

The taste was really nothing special. It is quite bitter with nothing to mellow it or add to it. This just fell flat for me. I wish other flavors came across to compliment the hoppy bitterness.

It is pretty easy to drink and a perfect amount of carbonation.

02-23-2011 05:20:53 | More by VWBuggirl
Photo of tavernjef


4.3/5  rDev +2.9%

Brightly coppered orange with light sided amber highlights at the bottom. Gorgeous crown of medium thick off-white foam that sits like cake frosting on top. Hardly moving, very slowly leaking off some its might to keep a big skim always present and lots of melted ice cream lacing.

Aroma has a nice leafy fresh, woody hop tone to it with a smallish bready malt backing and some slight peached and darker orange tones of citrus.

Taste is extravagantly woven with a tapestry of hoppy stuff that's all very leveled off and easy to take in. Tamingly bready and dryish, with a honey butter glaze in its sweeter side that gets it started. Nothing over the top here, balanced well with a mild citrusy girth that grows pretty big as it sinks into the finish with lots of dark orangey bitterness. Notes to pith and peel, rind and pits, of lemon, peach, and white grapefruit. Also some bits of wood and floral leafyness emerge late in the bittering trails.

Well balanced sweetness at the front in a bold, crisp, nearly full body then birthing a good amount of hoppy bitterness as it delivers its spanking of hops on the palate.

A very solid Impy IPA that SN has unleashed here. I like 'em a little sweeter then this, but this is still nice to savor. But given the higher price tag of $9 for a strange 1 pint 8 oz stubby looking bomber bottle, it is something to savor and take your time with, which isn't hard given the 10.4% sits in quickly.

02-22-2011 23:33:07 | More by tavernjef
Photo of nhindian


3.2/5  rDev -23.4%

24oz bottle split with russwbeck and poured into a Dogfish Head Signature glass.

A - Pours a nice golden amber, a bit hazy but not too cloudy with sediment. About 2-finger's worth of creamy, soapy head with pretty good retention. Good lacing spackles the glass with many little bubbles.

S - The smell is strong pine notes, abundant amount of Simcoe hops, but honestly a little bit faint. Not incredibly hop heavy or bitter smelling despite the name. Actually some strong malts here, lots of caramel. Strong alcohol heat is coming through as well.

T - The taste is... again, really faint and underwhelming. The only noticeable hops are the slight Simcoe characteristics but lots of malts. Alcohol heat comes through way too strongly here, very astringent. Not too easy to drink. Finish lingers a long time, unfortunately for this beer.

M - Mouthfeel is medium-bodied with moderate carbonation. Coats the mouth thickly.

D - Drinkability is moderate. Honestly this beer is underwhelming. Not overly bitter, and everything just seems a bit faint and weak. Disappointing.

02-22-2011 05:20:18 | More by nhindian
Photo of Ryan011235


3.25/5  rDev -22.2%

Poured into an E&J Cask & Cream glass on 2/10/11

Light tobacco-brown color; dull & clear. A billowy three finger cap of foam, porous & uneven, slowly dwindles to a thin layer. Some crackly clumps of lace remain but not as much as there could have been (better on the second pour).

The aroma seems sort of tame; perhaps "kept in check" is more appropriate. In any case, there is a decent showing of tropical hops (even if a little muddled): pineapple, tangerine, mango & orange. Hints of pine. The hops are offset by notions of biscuit & some malt sweetness.

Hoptimum doesn't taste all that great. It's a scatter-shot of disassociation. Clustered citrus is less apparent. In its place, pine presence is ramped up with nice bitterness; the unfortunate thing being an hop flavor nearing astringent aspirin territory that kills the enjoyment. The hops are pretty dense. Some toasty bread & caramel way in the back.

Dense, resinous feel with a penchant for alcohol slickness. This is a pretty hot beer for a DIPA; apparently little concern was given to mask the abv. Carbonation is quite low, which is the best attribute this beer has. Bitterness & some boozy heat linger.

I like it more as it warms & opens up but I imagine that's a result of acclimating to the boozy aspects & desensitization of the old palate. While not bad, I was hoping for better. I was happy to find a bottle; didn't think I would get to try it.

02-22-2011 01:34:20 | More by Ryan011235
Photo of dstc


4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

Pours a clear, rust-copper color with a thick, off-white head. Head retention is excellent, falling slow and leaving a thin, airy lace.

Aroma is obviously of hops. Very floral and spicy smelling.

Big hop taste. Again, very floral and almost medicinal. Malts are there too which is nice but pales to the propionate hop flavor. Finishes with a lingering bitterness.

Surprisingly full in the mouth. Oily hops coat the palate and give a slight bite.

Good stuff. Fairly easy drinking and quite fun. Would love to try this fresh on tap but alas a fresh bottle will have to do.

02-21-2011 15:52:25 | More by dstc
Photo of fastsrt

New York

3.25/5  rDev -22.2%

24 ounce bottle in a wine glass

A: amber, off white head,

S: floral, pine, hops, malt is there to

T: bitter hops, the malts are there to mellow things out, over all its decent,

M: average carbonation, double ipa hop snap.

D: one bottle went down slow not a fan I was excited to try this beer I feel as if i over paid @ 9.95 for the money there are far superior beers out there.

02-21-2011 13:41:10 | More by fastsrt
Photo of plfahey


4.05/5  rDev -3.1%

24 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance-Amber in color, moderately clear, moderate off-white head with decent retention and nice lacing.

Aroma-Hoppy-piney, grapefruit, citrus, and a bit of resin. Light, biscuity caramel malts show in the background.

Flavor-Bready, biscuity, and light caramel malt flavors lay down a nice foundation. Hop flavors are piney and grapefruity. Hop bitterness is huge and bracing. Some alcohol flavor lingers along with the enormous hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel-Moderately full body, and chewy from the huge hop content. Carbonation is moderately high. Bitterness is quite drying, but not astringent.

Tasty, and with a solid aroma, but the hop bitterness is a bit much. Intensely biting, but pretty manageable if paired with something sweet (I'm enjoying it with carrot cake right now). Yum.

02-21-2011 02:39:03 | More by plfahey
Photo of Cylinsier


4.03/5  rDev -3.6%


Pours a deep honey gold with a white head.

Smells of strong floral hops and maybe mild spices and grains.

The taste is very hoppy but not too bitter and also surprisingly sweet like honey.

Feels moderate to full with tingly carbonation.

A delicious strong IPA, good unique flavors mixed with the expected floral hops. IPA fans will adore this.

02-21-2011 01:31:00 | More by Cylinsier
Photo of JEdmund


4.15/5  rDev -0.7%

Garnet and clear, smallish head but normal for the high ABV.

Smell is nice but seems to be on par with Torpedo. Not quite as big of an aroma as Hercules or Maharaja. Still, it's clear that this is one big, hoppy beer in the glass!

Taste & Body
Taste is really good. Quite drinkable for such a strong beer. Thick sweet malts coat the tongue and provide a firm base for all the hops. Malts play a part throughout the spectrum. Hops are an amalgam of floral, citrus, spice, and pine. Alcohol heat comes in at the finish (can't really knock it; you've got to expect it with a DIPA!). Finishes really balanced actually. Just huge amounts of malt and hops. It's a big beer. Mouthfeel is good--thick and velvety smooth with just enough carbonation prickle.

A well done DIPA by true master brewers. I didn't expect anything less. It's just as big as Bigfoot, and Bigfoot is one hoppy barley wine, yet this still manages to come off as the hoppier beer. Fun to try, but I find their harvest ales much more enjoyable when I'm jonesing for an abundance of hops.

02-20-2011 22:45:50 | More by JEdmund
Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 5,181 ratings.