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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.

5,593 Ratings

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Ratings: 5,593
Reviews: 1,347
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 11.48%
Wants: 319
Gots: 712 | 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:
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,593 | Reviews: 1,347 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of KidRagnarok
5/5  rDev +19.6%

Photo of lpotter
5/5  rDev +19.6%

Photo of Adamostella
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of rrryanc
5/5  rDev +19.6%

Photo of victory4me
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of Lawnboy33
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of Travisnin
5/5  rDev +19.6%

Photo of YaKnowBrady
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of Jspriest
5/5  rDev +19.6%

Photo of sbricker
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of branimal9
5/5  rDev +19.6%

Photo of andylipp
5/5  rDev +19.6%

Photo of avaldivia
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of BuckyFresh
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear, burnt orange/amber color with a one-finger head. Retention and lacing are both decent. Lots of big bubble pockets float about for some time on the surface. Moderation carbonation is visible.

Smell: Not super hop-forward, but a nice balance of malt and hops, with a citrus pine punch along with some floral notes. I didn't drink this at the peak of freshness, so perhaps there would have been a bit more in the hops department if I hadn't been so tardy in my consumption.

Taste: Quite a bit more hop bitterness in the flavor than the smell. Some alcohol and sweeter notes present, but the hops hold up to the high alcohol content well. Pretty resinous and piney as far as hop characteristics go; not so much of the tropical sweeter notes in this one.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and a good bitterness punch. Hides the ABV well and finishes fairly dry for a double.

Overall: Quite a tasty effort by Sierra Nevada. A good hop punch but balanced at the same time. Nothing super memorable about this beer, but I'll definitely pick it up again if I see it on the shelves.

Photo of chinchill
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 vintage bottle; a large (~22oz) bottle not in the Camp Beer series.

Pours a crystal clear amber with a towering, sticky, highly durable, frothy off-white head.

Powerful hop aroma with some underlying sweet malts and alcohol esters. Floral, pine and citrus notes in the aroma and the flavor. The taste carries a strong hop hit, partly tamed by the addition of a significant sweet malt component. Long lasting, bitter-sweet hop aftertaste. Tastes like a high gravity beer, but still the high ABV (I'm surprised to see how high) is rather well-hidden.

M - Medium body; good, light-medium carbonation; smooth but with a mild hop/alcohol bite.

O - Near extreme hoppiness without the full bitter accompaniment. Hop nectar for hop heads. An able substitute for Bells Hopslam.

Photo of far333
3.73/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear apricot colored with a low white frothy head. Aroma of tangerine and orange rind. Intense flavor upfront of sharp citrus, boozie, reminiscent of grand marnier, notes of red grapefruit and orange rind pith, a faint honey malt rides beneath, vapors rise up the back of the nose, definite warming of the cheeks, punctuated with a sharp bitter finish.

3.83/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

24 oz bottle to tulip. Sampled 1/27/11.

A: Kick-ass label. Three fingers of khaki colored head, creamy and long lasting. A lingering sudsy film and collar remain. A small amount of bubbles can be seen moving slowly towards the surface. The color is reminiscent of annealed copper, very bright with magnifying clarity. Lacing is fair.

S: Malts are big no doubt, they just can't compete with the enormous hop bill. New wood pine and resin dominate, but do allow some tropical/citrusy notes shine through. Fermented tangerine comes to mind. While there is a strong alcoholic presence, it doesn't come across so hot that it's solvent-like.

T: In addition to the fruits on the nose, peach, pineapple and grapefruit pith come through on the palate. Plus notes of weed and honey. And plenty of heat. Very sweet and heavily bitter.

M: Full bodied. Slick, alcoholic and finishes with an extreme mouth drying bitterness. An average level of carbonation can't quite clean up the slightly cloying texture.

D: No need to worry about a case purchase here ($86 at my distibutor), a single $10 bottle was more than enough. Definitely a bottle to be shared.

Photo of thagr81us
4.05/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served from bottle into a Bell's tulip. Poured red-orange with a three finger off-white head that subsided to one and a half finger very slowly. Maintained phenomenal lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, citrus, grapefruit, citrus hop, alcohol, and pine. The flavor was of sweet malt, citrus, pine resin, pine hop, citrus hop, alcohol, and grapefruit. It had a medium feel on the palate with medium-high carbonation. Overall this was a pretty good brew. I was really pleased that this one didn't have the usual Sierra Nevada pine tree aspect going on here. It was pretty nicely balanced with the citrus notes they put in place. The alcohol in this one however makes itself known without a doubt and makes it a little harder to drink. Worth trying if you get the opportunity.

Photo of Gueuzedude
4.05/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on tap at 1702; March 2011
This beer arrives from the tap with a pale head and a copper-gold hue that shows quite clear in the light. The nose smells of tangelo, lychee, lots of floral bright citrus and peach aromatics from the ample hop character. A cracker like malt character is joined by a hint of biscuit like maltiness; as the beer warms up the malt backbone becomes a bit more noticeable in the nose.

The beer tastes of super fruit hops as it first hits my tongue; this accentuates a sweetness, though this beer finishes dry with a biting bitterness that is not to overly aggressive. There are lots of floral hop flavors here that boost and accentuate an ample hop fruitiness; tropical fruit definitely, lychee, super ribe tangelo zest, amp’d up floral peach and even some mango notes are all contributed by the hops. This is all anchored by a menthol and herbal hop character, big lingering pine like notes and a bitterness that is always prevalent. The body has a certain fullness to it , but it is not cloying, but it is a touch heavier than I would absolutely prefer in a Double IPA.

This is quite nice and really enjoyable as I can always use a good hop fix. I wish it was a touch lighter in the body, though this is certainly not heavy when compared to many a Double IPA out there.

Photo of mynie
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

How can you tell if a gigantic double IPA is great or simply strong? I mean, we all want to be tough, right? We can't, like, go giving middling scores to beers that have a shitload of hops in them, no matter how badly brewed they may be. That's what sissies do, right? So that's why anything with the word "double" or "imperial" in its name gets an automatic 4.0 here at Beeradvocate, cus we ain't sissies.

So, like I said, how can we tell if a big beer is any good, seeing how bigness and goodness have become inseparable? For something like that, you need a purer means of perception than what's afforded to you by the aggregate. A perception purer, even, than that of your own mouth. You gotta go straight-up Kantian and find the most disinterested person you know, someone who doesn't give two shits about whether the beer community thinks them a sissy.

That person was my ladyfriend. She who claims Blue Moon as her favorite beer. Go ahead and dismiss her opinion because of that, but do so at your peril. Expert opinions have led us to into steeltrap jaws of giant beers, beers as strong as gasoline, barrel aged for no real reason, costing 20 friggin' dollars a bomber.

Know what she said? She who--I scoffed- dismissed a local brewpub's IPA as being not very good. (It's not, I realize, only I was pretending it was because it was hoppy and that's just what I'm supposed to do, as a proper BA). She who's never drank an imperial anything in her whole life? She said "wow, that's amazing" and kept drinking. Because, yeah, it is.

I admire brewers who do what Sierra Nevada does. They've been around long enough and they know the community well enough to realize that, really, you don't need to try anymore. Just stick some extreme-sounding slogan on a bottle, coat the top in wax, charge 15 bucks a pop and, bingo, watch as the high reviews come rolling in. They keep pushing things forward, even though they really don't have to.

Photo of tdm168
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From notes January, 2011

On tap at Busy Bee Cafe in Raleigh

Pours a perfect golden yellow. Smells of fruit and flowers; very inviting. Taste is also fruity and floral; for the ABV the alcohol is well masked. Mouthfeel is full bodied and warm; the warmth is only thing that makes the alcohol evident. This DIPA is delicious and incredibly drinkable. One of the best IPAs, DIPA or otherwise, that I have ever had.

Photo of StJamesGate
3.97/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Glowing ruby amber with a slim off white head that fades fast with sparse trailers and thick sheets. Lots of resin and orange Swedish fish on the nose.
Gooey Crystal malts, papaya maybe, and honeycomb, then orange peel, tropical fruit and a touch of pine needle with aspirin hop hit. Ginger bark finish and astringent linger. Medium, chewy and sticky, some burn.

A big, quality, high IBU DIPA, but not "the ultimate whole cone experience" like the label says. Given how SN hop everything and don't have a regular DIPA, that's kind of a disappointment. Better off getting a Maharajah.

2nd tasting, 9.Aug.13, btl dated 7.jun.13: Looking this time for big Simtra flavors, which I've found is a great combo. And there is some good grapefruit peel and skunky resin with orange jellies up front. But there's not enough aroma somehow - too much balancing caramel malts? - and the booze kills the head retention, which doesn't help the aroma, either. Still falls short of admittedly lofty expectations.

Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.07/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 24-ounce stubby bomber into a Saranac pint glass.

A: Deep, golden orange amber beneath a three-finger head of dense, creamy, off-white carbonation bubbles. Slight chilled haze but still great clarity with that trademark SN cleanliness.

S: Bitter, fruity and floral esters of whole-cone hops throw everything from mint and lemongrass to grapefruits, orange peels and pine needles.

T: Smooth, rich toffee-like malts sweeten up the palate a bit before the whole-cone hop madness commences. Leafy and bitterly resinous hop oils attack the tongue, leaving a slick trail of orange, grapefruit, lemon, cloves, pine and herbal, piny bitterness in its wake. Bittersweet and sticky finish brings back a touch of roasted caramel to try and level the IBU onslaught, but has little success.

M: Full-bodied, slick, coating and prickly with alcohol esters and hop resins. An experience indeed!

O: Very rich, flavorful and not for the malty brew fans out there. This celebration of whole cone hops is an experience that will be lost on all but some of the biggest hopheads out there. Very fresh, very tasty and quite boozy at nearly 10.5% ABV. Watch out, but enjoy the ride.

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.42/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum

Appearance: 24oz stubby bottle depicting a "hop head". Decanted into a simply huge mug. Bright orangish copper with a huge pillowy froth. Rings of lacing down the mug.

Smell: Lovely aroma of strong pine like a Christmas tree, some orange rind and pith. Resinous hop oils. Sweet caramel and bready malts underneath.

Taste: Bright hoppy flavors, yet earthy at the same time. Hops come off as leafy, faintly grapefruit like and just a bit spicy on the tip of the tongue. After the initial wave of bitterness that we like to call a "hop bite" there is some caramel malt doing a minor job balancing all the hops. A hop forward, yet surprisingly balanced ale with muted fruit notes and solid bitterness. The 10% is not apparent until the buzz.

Mouthfeel: On the light side of medium bodied, well carbonated, finishes clean with a small hop aftertaste.

Overall: I really enjoyed this offering. Puts Sierra Nevada on the map in Double/Imperial IPA land. If this beer was a place on Earth, I would consider living there. Excellent beer.

Photo of zac16125
4.43/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

24oz bottle poured into a pint glass
2011 Series; I had been meaning to try this since this year’s version came out, but never got around to picking one up. I just grabbed this one in the “Vintage Beer” (aka out dated) section of my local liquor store where it was the last one.

A: Pours a translucent, light amber with a huge 3 fingers width of sea foam white head, which is very slow to dissipate and leaves all kinds of heady lacing.

S: Straight up hops on the nose, mostly of the citrus variety, specifically grapefruit and orange but with some piney hops in there as well. There is also a very subtle sweet aroma to it, with hints of pineapple. Very good scent, but not as strong as most of the other DIPAs I’ve had. It makes you work to bring out the aromas and you really have to take deep whiffs to appreciate the scent.

T: The taste is much sweeter than I expected, especially considering the scent which was mostly a bitter hop bomb on the nose. There are flavors of pineapple, mango, and orange. The hop bitterness is certainly present, but it is more on the back end, after a fruity malt sweetness up front. From the aroma I was expecting more of a straight up hop bitterness throughout. This beer does a very good job of bringing an intense hop presence but still maintaining a balance flavor profile. Very well done.

M/D: Incredibly smooth, particularly for the style. Medium bodied with just the right amount of carbonation. The double digit ABV is completely unnoticeable. This beer is way too easy to drink.

O: Generally I really enjoy Sierra Nevada offerings, and this is by far my favorite one. Lots of great hop bitterness but it is contained and balanced very well. I will definitely keep my eye out for this next year when the 2012 version is released.

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 5,593 ratings.