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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.

5,575 Ratings

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Ratings: 5,575
Reviews: 1,345
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 11.48%
Wants: 305
Gots: 687 | 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: 5,575 | Reviews: 1,345 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Photo of ktrillionaire
3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Hoptomic. Pours a rich brassy amber hue and is capped with a big frothy head; looks par for the Sierra Nevada course, AKA good-lookin'. The nose is piney and cannabis-ike, with lesser notes of tangerine and pink grapefruit. The taste delivers a large amount of bitterness and alcohol, too much in each case. I do not object to the level of bitterness, I just don't find it to be dynamic enough. Still, it is an above-average DIPA, with a lot of tell-tale SN flavor. The feel is big and creamy, as most of the SN brews are. Overall, nice, but not any better than the average offering from this brewer.

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

Bottle to tulip. Bottled on 17 of Jan, so hopefully I didn't wait too long.

A - Deep, golden orange with a huge 3 finger head and thick lacing.

S - Pineapple, grapefruit, lots of pine.

T - Much sweeter than what I was expecting. Pineapple juice right away, with a crazy amount of sweetness coming through before you could truly appreciate the citrus. The sweetness stays all the way, with hop presence showing up right before taste goes away.

M - Incredibly smooth compared to other IIPAs. Good carbonation and body. Pretty sticky.

O - Pretty good. Next time, I'll try this as soon as I get it.

Photo of Sammy
3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Feels like a thousand IBU, a lot of sweet malt backing it up. The alcohol is huge and is well hidden by the taste. Huge foamy retained white head. Hoppy aromas. Citrus lime and lemon, a little grapefruit.Some palate shredding. Very drinkable.Bottle from Premiere.

Photo of Tschnab
4.27/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Opened this one after keeping it in the fridge forever. Hopefully I didn't sit on this one too long, it was in a brown paper bag and I just forgot!

A- Copper color, quite carbonated. Starts out with a rich head but dwindles to a smallish foam, bone white and clumpy. Moderate lacing.

S- lots of sticky hops, really piney. This smells like a hop bomb, so freshness doesn't appear to be an issue. Fruity too.

T- strong hop presence, but lots of booze as well. It is syrupy sweet and hot from the alcohol, followed by a fruitiness...naybe rasberry.

O- Good DIPA here, really hoppy, really boozy, and just really nice.

Photo of heterotopia
4.88/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Nothing exceptional about the over-all appearance. Translucent, medium amber.

S: Overwhelming redolence of hops. Intense and unforgettable, the scent is divine.

T: A bold amalgamation of hops that harmonizes efficaciously. Piney & orange peel oil: solid hop profile. Ghost of malt. As one would expect -- hoppy after-taste.

M: Medium body and surprisingly smooth for a double IPA. Slightly sticky. Solid carbonation.

O: One of the best double IPA I've had the pleasure of enjoying.

Photo of willjschmidt
4.1/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 24oz bottle into a Sierra Nevada hop tulip glass.

A: Pours a light copper color with a decent sized white head.

S: Lots of glorious hops! Piney and citrusy.

T: A hop bomb for sure. Pretty good balance for a such a huge DIPA. Lots of american hops balanced by a semi-sweet caramel and bready malt backbone.

M: Medium bodied.

O: A solid DIPA at a good price from my favorite brewery.

Photo of iPaleAle
4.82/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a 22 oz. hefewizen style glass...

A: Thick rich head.awesome amber/copper color. See through. Very clean looking brew.

S: The smell is good. Very hoppy smell. You can actually smell the whole-cone hops! Alcohol smelling. Really imperial like.

T: The taste is fruity to alcohol to hops. The hops is the finish like you would to finish an imperial IPA. Sour like a grapefruit.... awesome like a IPA

M: The Mouth-feel is light and crispy. Resonates on the Mouth lightly. The palate begs for More after a sip or two!

O: A very good style to an Imperial IPA. High Alcohol. Color. and sweet HOPS!!! If your a seasonal IPA drinking you cant avoid this HOP BOMB! worth checking out Maybe twice or three times!

Photo of jmeyers78
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Rich amber color with thick head. Left lots of nice lacing.

S-Beautiful strong hop bouquet.

T-A very nice DIPA. Citusy hops but balanced out with malt. I get a little bit of booze taste off this too but not so much that it ruins the beer.

M-Thick. Coats the mouth.

O-Good DIPA. Just about what I expected from SN when I heard about this beer. It didn't disappoint.

Photo of brstls4drmrs
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a nice copper color with a white foam head.

S - Some great fruit smells like pineapple and a little citrus. A good smell of hops and a little apple cider scent as well.

T - A wonderful mix of hops, citrus fruits, and good caramel sugars. Just a great taste all around.

M - Crisp and coats the tongue very well. The finish is quite wet leaving the taste linger around for a second after consuming. Not too bitter.

O - Don't drink this one too fast. Very nice imperial IPA.

Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.03/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Taken from notes on 3.13.11

24oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A - Pours a bright, clear orange with a nice orange-cream head.

S - Plants, pine, and oranges.

T - Totally different here. Bitter, but where are the flavors?

D - Bitter throughout and sticky sweet.

O - I was left disappointed.

Photo of sidetracked
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear deep amber with a good off-white head. Some lacing from the initial pour.

Smell is bitter citrus, grapefruit, orange, lemon. Some light caramel malt sweetness. More malt sweetness as it warms.

Taste upfront is aggressively bitter grapefruit hops. Moderate caramel/bready malt balances out the bitterness in the middle. Bitter grapefruit at the finish along with some resiny sweetness. Interesting mix of caramel, grapefruit, and bitter citrus. Bitterness lingers for a while.

Medium to full bodied, syrupy and sticky. Medium carbonation helps cut the syrupyness.

I really enjoyed Hoptimum. Before it warmed the hops dominated, providing a uniquely enjoyable bitter flavor and aroma. Malts provide a nice balance at first, but become a little too present towards the end. I'd purchase this again.


Photo of dfillius
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Aggressive pour yields 2 fingers of creamy cream colored head with stellar retention. Crystal clear copper liquid.

S: Perfect blend of bold PNW hops and sweet tropical fruit esters! Man Candy! Slight bread beneath it all. Mango, pineapple, tangerine, Mmmmm!

T: Bitter right away with strong bread base; like a cracker with a hop topping. Ghostly breath of alcohol. A tad boozy/green banana for me, though it gets better with time.

M: Nicely bitter though not a palate wrecker. Full and a tad hot.

D: Nice. I'd definitely order another and buy again.

Update on 9/17/12
A lot hotter in 2012 vintage. Uncomfortably boozy and not nearly as hoppy as I noted above. Disinclined to buy again now.

Photo of Zimbo
3.58/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Psst! Passt!! (Whispering) Let me tell you a secret. The reason why this beer gets such high scores is because we all (justifiably) love Sierra Nevada. And they very rarely get it wrong.

When poured between a Duvel tulip and a tall high tumbler this looked like two very different beers.
The tulip showed the beer to have a relatively loose head but with a beautiful deep orangy copper colour while the tall high tumbler was noticably paler in colour but yeilded a bigger tighter rocky head.
Both gave off a deep nose curling rubber bitterness and some grapefruit and pine .
Taste was, well- huge but the structure played a rather strange almost desperate wobbly jig in trying to balance this roidfest. This made for a rather certain messy taste profile which seems to (again) promote the rubbery quality which pile drives your tongue into submission. And don't forget all that supersaturating booze.

It big. Its musculey. Its brutal. Its confused.
Its Bertil Fox. Its not for me.

Photo of JayS2629
4.29/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured a nice hazy copper color with a fizzy thin white head that faded fast but had sticky lace. The smell was a hop bomb of floral, citrus, pineapple, apricot and pine. Very fruity with a malt background of pale malt, and caramel. The taste was citrus, orange, pineapple, apricot, peach, and lemon with peppery, herbal, and floral notes on a caramel and honey backbone. This was like a Sierra Nevada pale ale on steroids. Sticky, resiny, crips and creamy. Very well balanced and drinkable DIPA.

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

A: Very clear amber with great head well carbonated. +++

S: Slighty malt with citrus aroma. ++

T: Caramel flavors with a hop bomb! Woah! I think this might be one of the hoppier beers I have ever tasted! +

M: Medium body crisp considering abv ++

O: This is one intense hoppy beer! The abv is masked by the hops but still a slow drinker. Reminds me of Ruination but not as bitter but way more hop flavor.

Photo of srandycarter
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Almost clear copper, wispy lace around an off white small head that leaves fast.

S - Mostly malt. Sweet malt. Light hoppiness at finish. Gets hoppier as it warms up.

T - Yum. Big malt wrapped in sufficient hops. CA hopheads probably won't like the malt and hop levels; it's more East Coast. I dig it.

M - Good carb, medium body, could be a little more bitter at the end.

D - Deceptively easy to drink. Alcohol hidden well and flavors not overpowering. I like it.

Photo of TheBrewo
3.92/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

We pour a richly colored brew of deep golden-orange. It holds a one finger head of variously sized bubbles. This recedes at a medium pace to leave thick lacing and massive bubble islands around the top of the drink. The carbonation looks standard, but the streams rise slowly, suggesting a thick and syrupy brew. The last dregs from the bottle produce tiny bits of sediment. The aroma explodes with huge grapefruit hoppiness. There is an additional fruitiness, of apricot and tart nectarines. Flowery sweetness and notes of honey also float about the nostrils. Malts are there for the balance, but are otherwise only lightly contributory. As it warms the booze beings to seep out. As we sip, as in the nose, the first thing to pop is the hops. They are both bittering and souring and, here, overpower most other flavors. The grapefruit from the nose is muted a bit in the taste, as the hops flourish with deeper earthy notes, with floral tones. There are syrupy notes of raw honey up front as well. Moving to the middle brings more bittering hops and clean malts. This peaks and we move towards the finish, and into the cleanest component of the taste. The hops, again, are floral, but not as muddled and earthy as in the start. The final wash is a tidal wave of fusel alcohols, leaving a sting to each sip. The aftertaste breathes evenly, split between huge bittering hops and booze. The body is medium to full and the carbonation is light. There is a thick syrupy creaminess to each sip, and a nice froth builds up. The mouth is left a little dried, but mostly puckered by the bittering hops. The abv is up there and heavily warming, but appropriate.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this brew was the strong highlighting of fruit in the nose. The hops lent a gorgeous citrus grapefruit character, and the inclusions of other, lighter fruits put another angle on the beer entirely. There was a unique tartness lent by these additions. Where we lost points was in the bittering hops, which by the end became quite intense, especially as the beer warmed.

Photo of lazjuarez
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Note: Taken from notes at a previous tasting.

A: Pours an amber clear color with an off white 1 finger thick head. Dissipates to a fine ring, leaving some very sticky lacing behind.

S: Nose is floral, very piney, with some phenol/medicinal notes. As it warms the bouquet becomes more tropical.

T: Taste is hoppy as expected, but I was expecting more. Grapefruit notes, as well as some small malts.

M: Mouth feel is a bit viscous/syrupy. Some carbonation. Overall a good bear, but not great. I was expecting a bigger nose, as well as a bigger hop bite.

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 5,575 ratings.