1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

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.

5,600 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,600
Reviews: 1,347
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 11.48%
Wants: 320
Gots: 714 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA Alström Bros
Ratings: 5,600 | Reviews: 1,347 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.22/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 24oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a bright amber color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains piney hops, a lot of fruity citrus and caramelized malts.

T: The taste starts out with a very strong burst of floral hops bitterness that is quickly followed by a very fruity citrus sweetness. There's a significant alcohol sting that comes through at times. The malt character is hearty but not too heavy and creates some balance. The after-taste is slightly hoppy and slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down quite easily, not too filling, strong kick, very good representation of style, this a very solid 2IPA to drink for a long time but there are others in the style that I would choose first.

Photo of TheHoppiest
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 24 oz bottle into a tulip glass. Pours a honey-amber with a 1" sticky off-white head that slowly breaks down leaving nce lacing as you drink it down.

Has a fruity, leathery smell, with notes of creme, apricots, grapefruit, and some minor pine. Has a definite DIPA aroma to it.

Starts smooth and mildly bitter. Apricots, grapes, rose water, and resin start this out, with a decent hint of bitter across the middle and back of the tongue before finishing rather quiet. There's an underlying creamy/buttery taste that balances out the bitter.

Medium bodied, this is a smooth, creamy beer with a nice bitter finish.

The creaminess of this DIPA makes it somewhat unique, and worth hunting down if you can find it. I nabbed the last bottle I found at our local store, and other stores I've been to have been out a while.

Photo of beveritt
4.85/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Thanks go out to Doctor Dog for getting this one to me in my current beer drought. Poured from a 24 oz wide bomber into a standard pint glass. Label is predominantly green and shows a historic style portrait of a man in a high neck suit, but his head is a hop cone. Freshness date of 101721619; not sure what that translates to.

Appearance: Pours with just over 1 finger of light tan head. This settles very slowly, leaving behind amazing lace coverage now and at every sip. Beer itself is the color of bright, burnished copper. No sediment in bottle.

Smell: Strong aroma of spicy hops with hints of honey and floral against a backdrop of semi sweet caramel.

Taste: High tannins and enamel stripping hop precede a well bittered bready, caramel malt.

Mouthfeel: Average carbonation level with very good body.

Drinkability: While not the hophead that my wife is, I can appreciate a quality hop bomb and this my friends, is just that. Captures the possible flavor profiles of the hop cone well; from blindingly bitter to sweet and flower like. Good stuff.

Photo of mdaschaf
2.42/5  rDev -42.1%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Review from notes 3/11/11. Thanks to THECPJ for picking this one up.

A: Pours a clear orange with very little head formation or retention. Spotty bits of lacing, but nothing to write home about.

S: Not impressive at all. Was expecting an overwhelming hop aroma, but I get dirty feet and locker room. Very off putting.

T: Now, the flavor is bit more I expected. It pretty much tastes like liquid hops, in fact all three of us tasting it all used the term hop juice to describe it. The flavor was overwhelming and no malt backbone could be detected.

M: Medium bodied with low carbonation.

O: Extremely confusing and a let down. I had very high hopes, especially considering what SN puts out. The aroma made me not even want to give it a shot, and then the flavor like liquid hops...just confusing and hard to score.

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

from notes 1-28-11

A: pours clear copper with a nice off white finger and a half head. the head is just barely off white and settles to some large bubbles and a thin layer with nice lacing.
S: a grassy mix between pine , and grapefruit. but leans more toward pine and grass. some malt sweetness is noticed.
T: hops are tame yet very flavorful. grassy and piny hops, which have lighter grapefruit tones. malt lightly balances out the hops with a little bit of sweetness.
M: good bubbly carbonation, hops make for a long lasting flavor and overall feeling of the beer.
D: easily drinking the 25oz bomber on my own and glad im not splitting it with anyone.

Photo of Janderson91
3.09/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

On tap at Hopjacks in Pensacola, FL. Enjoyed on 03/15/11.

A - Nice dark gold color, clear with a good two finger white head. Leaves sticky lacing. Great looking beer.

S - Piney, resin hops and that trademark Sierra Nevada yeast. Toasted malts and alcohol present as well. Smells good, just somewhat muted.

T - Very bitter and piney up front then transitions to a very sweet stickiness. Aftertaste has somewhat of a cola character that I don't enjoy. This beer has to be pretty dated by now, maybe it was better fresh.

M/D - Mouthfeel is great for a DIPA. Medium to full bodied with good carbonation. Drinkability is low, high alcohol and overly sweet.

Far from my favorite from Sierra Nevada.

Photo of mlazzaro
4.56/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer pours an ultra clear amber to reddish color. with a white head. Smells of oranges and other citrus fruits. Hops and yeast esters producing those flavors and aroma. Taste is very refreshing. I am very picky with American IPAs, and this is just totally delicious and satisfying. Not one of those Barleywine-esk double IPAs, this is true to IPA flavor with surprising ABV of 10.4%. I actually compare it to a Maharajah of Avery brewing Co. Which is quite a compliment. I assume they efficiently used some adjunct sugar to get such flavors, ABV, and color. But if I can't taste it, it's successful to me. No objections, this beer is great.

Photo of ssuggs01
3.85/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear amber with two fingers of white head that leaves bits of scattered lace. The smell is a very nice floral aroma of citrus and some hints of pine. Sweet malts balance this out at the end of your inhale. The taste starts with the citrus and quickly forms a dose of bitterness. Sweet malts then take conrol and your left with a dose of sweetness at the end.
Mouthfeel is medium, Hoptimum is little too syrupy in my opinion and could use a little more carbonation. This is not a hop bomb like a lot of other DIPAs that were released around the same time. Hoptimum is a great choice for those who are looking for a sweeter DIPA.

Photo of JizackFH
4.61/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - This beer pours a nice clear orange copper colors. It has a good 3-finger slightly off-white head. The head leaves behind some sticky lacing. Also, there are some small rising carbonation bubbles present.

S - The first thing I smell is definitely the hops. There is a nice sticky piney grapefruity hop presence. Also, there are floral notes as well as lemon and citrus. And finally, I am getting a small hint of sweet caramel malt.

T - This is a hop-bomb right out of the gate. Right away there is a beautiful big explosion of juicy piney hops. There is a nice caramel malt background that adds some balance to this beast. also, there are some notes of grapefruit and citrus. The finish has a lingering hop bitterness. The alcohol is very well hidden in this beer, especially for being almost 10.5%.

M - It has a medium body and moderate carbonation. There is a big hoppy bitterness that tingles the taste buds and puckers the mouth. It coats the mouth nicely, and goes down quite easily.

D - I find this beer to be highly drinkable. I mean, I just can't get enough of this stuff. It looks and smells awesome, and it tastes even better. I just love the huge hoppy bite this has. The nice caramel background that pokes through, and gives this some balance is perfect. I thought I missed out on this beer. I finally found a bottle of it yesterday, and boy am I glad! I highly recommend picking up a few bottles of this if you love hops. You will not be disappointed. Great Great stuff.

Photo of vfgccp
4.37/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

- Tasted at Split Thy Skull 2011 at Mugs Alehouse -

A - A beautiful clear orange amber. Light head with nice lace.

S - Orange, grapefruit. Nice floral quality. Touch of fresh cut grass.

T - Smack of bitter pine. Soft malt into tangerine. Nice bread and woody (oak?) character on the back end.

M - Strong rolling bitterness with a medium-light body.

D - The bitterness is delicious but can really slow you down.

Photo of homebrewhawk
3.82/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

24oz. bottle served in a Duvel tulip. Poured a clear gold with a finger of fine bubbled head. Plenty of carbonation. Very fragrant with lots of pineapple. Medium bodied. Aggressive bitterness. Some caramel malt, but the hops predominate. Drying finish on the palate from the hops. Could have used a little more balance. A 12oz. bottle would have been better. If you are a hop head, this will be right up your alley.

Photo of washburnkid
3.98/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was looking all over for this bottle and a friend of mine finally sent one from CA. I have some amazing people in my life! And I love this bottle art.

One finger light beige creamy head. Lightly hazed amber hues and the head dissipates quickly. Aromas are citrus, resinous, a little hot. Juicy and malts. Much more balanced on the mouth than I expected. Toasty malts, pine, heavy bitterness. Earthy, toasted, and some caramel. Bitterness coats the entire mouth. This one is a sipper. I have to admit that I think I hyped it up in my head too much before I finally had it, but it was definitely good and I am looking forward to a future batch!

Photo of alleykatking
3.93/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap...what what!

A- Pours a orange color with a nice clearness. Two finger beige head shows medium retention. Some sticky lace in the form of sheety lace on the sides of the glass.

S- There is a nice balance I thought between the malts and the hops in the aroma. Starts off with a bitter hops which turns into a caramel malt base. Citrus hops with a hint of something odd..well not odd but kind of like wood. Caramel malts end up the aroma. Hints of fusel alcohol tingle the nose.

T- Bitter hops in the front of the beer to start this one off. Caramel malts come in. This seems to be the same base malts that Sierra Nevada uses for a lot of their beers. The citrus hops come through next with once again the caramel malts balancing it off quickly. Hints of lemon in the ending with the fusel alcohol taste as well.

M- Medium-heavy mouthfeel. Carbonation is good for the beer. Caramel malts with hints of piney hops left on the palate. Fusel alcohol, caramel malts, citrus hops make up the aftertaste. Flavors were extremely well balanced for the style. No real off flavors but the alcohol does get in the way at times. High drying on the palate from the alcohol.

D- The ABV in this beer is high limiting the drinkability to this. I ended up having three of these and I caught a pretty good buzz while destroying my palate. A nice beer that might be just a little too balanced for the style.

Photo of ColForbinBC
4.13/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

24oz bomber poured into a snifter

Pours a pretty shade of orange with good clarity. A huge, beige colored cap rises to fill the snifter and falls slowly, leaving chunks of lace all along the glass.

Floral hops, grapefruit, lemon, sticky caramel and an underlying woody/earthiness that adds a nice layer of complexity.

Sweet sticky caramel SN signature malt profile with bright hops layered on top. Perfumey flowers, grapefruit, and lemon peel. The hops definitely win out, leaving a pleasant bitterness that lingers with each sip.

Big, chewy, sticky caramel give the body a good amount of heft. Medium to full, good carbonation, nice bitter finish.

The drinkabilty on this one was near perfect. The hop profile is well articulated and can satisfy any cravings one might have.

Photo of CooperEllis
3.5/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz from trodersark into .3l

Nice pour initially with a billowy head that is gone way to fast. There is minimal lacing left.

For a 'hoptimum' I suppose I was expecting something with a full hop flavor that is well rounded. This is very bitter and actually a bit malty. There is a very noticable booze presence as well.

The mouthfeel is very light, the booze is a highlight and the very noticable bitterness is constant and even still there in the aftertaste.

It's solid average.


Photo of Gambelli
2.59/5  rDev -38%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance- Deep copper, clear, with a finger head clinging to the side of the glass all the way down.

Smell- Not a lot here, alcohol ,a bit of pine, a bit of citrus.

Taste- Whoa! Bitter to the bone, heavy pine, warming alcohol and a tiny bit of malt to balance out the enormous hop presence.

Mouthfeel- Resinous, thick, with the heavy pine sap feel clinging to cheeks, tongue and even the teeth.

Drinkability- Not here with this one. A sipper for sure. Could not finish the last few ounces of the 24 oz. bomber.

A hop bomb? For sure! The ultimate whole cone hop experience? Probably. A drinkable, balanced, enjoyable offering? Not for me. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale is one of my top three brews, but this one is over the top on hops. Seems as if they were trying to out hop the competition, and succeeded, but gave up something in the process.

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

Pours a orange side of amber with a nice fluffy cream colored head that falls to ring of bubbles. Leaves behind some nice sheet lace behind.

Aroma is fresh hops pleasant citrus, flowery plus some pine needles sprinkled in for good measure with hints of tobacco. Some light caramel malt base sneaks through to balance it out.

Taste is not as soft and pleasant as the aroma, big hops flavors slam you grapefruit rinds, orange peels, pine resin all linger with big bitterness on your tongue. Huge hops riding on light malt base that is hard pressed to hold them all. I don't mind lots of hops in a Double IPA, just didn't smell like it.

Mouthfeel is medium with good level of carbonation. Goes well with this brew.

Drinkability is good a big dose of hops to scare your taste buds, might not be to balanced but still good.

Photo of meatyard
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, medium amber with a 2-finger white head that leaves bits of splotchy, wet lace.

The smell is a very nice floral aroma of citrus and less so of pine. At the end of a deep inhale some sweet malt tries to balance things, but doesn't quite.

The taste starts with the citrus and quickly forms a dose of bitterness. Some sweet malt follows and the taste ends on the sweet and balanced side.

Mouthfeel is medium, a little syrupy with low to moderate carbonation.

Drinkability: This is no hop bomb. It's very nicely drinkable if you like a strong bit of hops & bitterness that is balanced by some malty sweetness.

Photo of Chickenhawk9932
4.37/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a light amber with a tan head.

Floral, ruby red grapefruit (bitter & sweet) some malt. A wonderful bouquet.

Sweet malt up front gives way to sweet grapefruit, which quickly turns to bitter grapefruit, then finishes dry. The chewy malt body is hidden by the bitterness which tantalizes the taste buds. Dry woody flavor, some bread notes the flavor keeps popping.

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

Hoptimum. Sierra Nevada. Whole Cone Imperial IPA. The Ultimate Whole Cone Hop Experience. ...and that's it, amazingly nothing else about where it was grown, or why, or how or the awesomeness of it. Just...hey, it's gonna be great, thanks for the $9.49. I guess. Okay, I'm ready for my Hoptimum.

Clear, coppery-amber coloration, solid, pillowy beige head above. Fits the basic look of an IPA. Yeah, mmm-hmmm.

Aroma: Pleasant, perfumey, leafy, grassy. Little bits of citrus, lemon, lime. Nice, nice.

Taste: Big fat bitterness, huge-ass hoppiness, great grit on the palate, nice ...wait, "Hoptimum"...that's like "Optimum", but with "Hop" in it! How did no one get at that yet? Why is that the final, last, exactly ultimate hop-based pun? I don't believe it, someone must've had this one first, and got bought out.

Let's go back to taste...pretty smooth for a highly hopped IPA, big citrus, fat bitterness...but not tongue punishing. Just enough sweet malt keeping everything in balance. Balance, such a nice word, a credo, a code which I feel Sierra Nevada will never betray. I can't imagine them ever doing a Maharaja, a Dreadnaught, a Pliny the younger, name your favorite carazy-over-the-top super-hoppy, palate-ripping double IPA. They'll never do it. Which means that Hoptimum will remain their very cute and delightful name for something that will never be what it is.

Despite that, it's damned delicious, super-hoppy, tangibly tasty, remarkably bitter, but not, no, never overwhelmingly so. It's never going to be the Optimum of Hops. They can keep the obviously cute name.

It's an essentially smooth, tasty, but hoppy, and very drinkable ale, despite the, what the!!!, 10.4% a.b.v??? Okay, it's big, but balanced, and lovely.

Fullish body, mildly bitter finish. Super duper beautiful.

Photo of gpatt55
2.62/5  rDev -37.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

2011 Release

Surprisingly light pale orange copper color. Pours fairly clean and clear with a thin head with good retention. Nose is sweet and floral with nice West Coast hop character. Yikes, this is pretty thick and boozy on the palate. Very sticky, 10.4% ABV shows every last percentage point. This is just too big and out of balance to be very drinkable. Despite the copious amount of whole cone hops they must've dumped into this it's just overpowered by the huge gravity of this beast. Almost barleywine in style. A 10oz pour would be more than enough so make sure you share this bottle.

Photo of bobhits
3.69/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Rusted copper color, good head with nice lacing. That said the head vanishes rather quickly and the beer in the glass is fairly flat. Rather common with big high abv double IPAs.

Has a soapy smell mixed with hops and a berry like aroma.

Dry piny hops, mixed with a fruity almost berry like malt. Normally this would come off as an extremely hop forward beer, but the malt contrasts very well with the hops making it really stand out while not being over powering. Burns on the tongue but it is hard to tell if the alcohol is a factor if it's all just hops.

Dry, burns, and yet the burn lingers on the tongue. Makes for one of the best sipping IPA's I've yet. Doesn't make for an amazing beer to drink large amounts of.

The mouth is thick yet the lack of carbonation leaves it rather thin feeling.

It has been a while since I got an IPA this fresh and this hoppy. Add in how hop forward this is and how long the hops burn and this is a hop heads dream. I think the malt could work better and it could certainly have more carbonation.

Photo of Snow81
4.97/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Looks rich unfiltered hazy copper orange

Smell: Big citric and floral notes screams in the nose

Head: nice rich thick head that lasts the life of the beer

Taste: High citrus with some honey and some floral like flower petals, bitterness sets in the cheeks

Weight: medium body but the medium to high carbonation brings the body a bit more maltyness to it

Finish: love this beer, the honey and the hops stick all over the mouth cheeks palate going nuts if you need another flavor of this beer take a rip off your palate with your teeth. I like to call this little beer hop slam light, (from bell's brew)


second tasting

Aged for 120 days: bit of pine and bitter citrus, when the heat sets in the flavers fade fast. Not for ageing!

Photo of Dreadnaught33
3.08/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Was not overly impressed with this one, though I wasn't surprised I didn't like it as I seem to not understand the draw to their beers.

A: Pours a clear amber to copper color with small white head and pretty nice lacing around the glass that clings nicely.

S: I get a mix of citrus rind with large fruity malts for the most part. Lots of grassy notes and biscuit dry wheat smells. Not an overly open hop smell, but good.

T: Super sweet sugary front with bitter grassy pine yet alcohol soaked hops. Super bitter citrus dry back. Tangerine, alcohol confections, dry biscuit malts. A little confused and unfocused, seems like a big jumble of sweetness, hop and bitters.

M: Bitter back and sweet front, ok feel and carbo. Wicked dry, way too dry and sweet up front.

D: Hard to drink. I drained it, and my girl hated it...and I'm a hop man. Hm, surprised at the good reviews this seems totally unbalanced and uninspired.

Photo of racer2k
4.82/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured the contents of my bomber into a brandy snifter glass

A - Beer pours a shiny deep amber color which creates some thin white lacing that quickly dissolves in and around the sides of the glass. The color is vibrant in this beer and is accentuated by the large snifter.

S - Very forward citrus presence with strong aromas of grapefruit, pineapple, mango and sweet tangerine. There is also a strong pine earthy tone to the beer. There is a hint of sweet toasted malt but this is not the main event. Slight boozy smell but it is very well hidden.

T - Fantastic fruity hop presence that is quite tangy to the tongue and mouth. This beer just explodes in your mouth with a burst of fruity hops which transition to a pine and earthy finish. There is an interesting sweet grapefruity flavor to this beer which is excellent. You definitely have a back end warming alcohol sensation with the 10.40% abv but the fantastic taste of this beer hides it well.

M - Moderate body with a slight resiny feel consistent with an Imperial IPA. The beer starts off like fizzy pop rocks but finishes very clean and dry at the end. There is quite a transition with this monster.

D - Fantastic beer. I have had nearly every commercially released Sierra Nevada beer in the portfolio and this is in the top 2-3 of all time. I only got my hands on (2) bombers but if given an opportunity I would have paid $100+ for a case of bombers. Outstanding beer!
D - Exceptional.

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 5,600 ratings.