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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.

5,611 Ratings

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Ratings: 5,611
Reviews: 1,349
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 11.48%
Wants: 335
Gots: 726 | 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: 5,611 | Reviews: 1,349
Photo of Beertracker
4.07/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sierra Nevada's Hoptimum pours up with a lively effervescence that creates a frothy tannish-white head that craggily tops the slightly hazy, orangish-tawny golden body. Very good-excellent head retention, but the clarity suffers from some permanent hop/chill haze. OK per style. The aroma reveals a resinous spicy character (pine cone/tar) from both the Chinook & Simcoe hops, as well as some unique earthy (cedar) & grassy/floral + citrusy notes reminiscant of dried apricots, mangoes, and tangerines that eventually gives way to a dominate toasted maltiness with a bit of alcoholic strength. The flavor starts off rather cloying from the caramel maltiness which is complimented by a jammy fruitiness (apricot and/or orange preserves) and supplimented by a sweet toasty (ginger snaps, shortbread cookies, vanilla wafer) almost bready character with some nuttiness (cocoa powdered almonds) which layers into the overall complexity. There's a marked amount of underlying bitterness that creates a bittersweet, fruitcake-like finish that's a bit unbalanced. Hoptimum may benefit from being cellared a bit longer? Here's to being a "cone head" called Hoptimum!

CHEERS! Beertracker

Photo of thain709
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A big thanks to Deuane and Carolyn for sharing this one.

A - The body was a clear, copper color with a white, one finger head...the head settled into a thin, wispy cap...it showed some retention and left some lacing

S - Citrus and pine hops are very aggressive...I picked up a lot of pineapple and tropical fruits...the piney hops provide a bitter smell...the malts were kept to a minimal

T - Again, all about the hops...they are aggressive in the flavor as well...the citrus hops are sweet up front with the pineapple and other citrus fruits leading the way...minimal malt to back anything up...piney hops finish in a big way leaving an oily, bitter feel on the palate

M - Medium bodied...oily resin...the bitterness is there and it's big, but it's gone quickly

O - This is a IIPA that is all about the hops...the malts were kept to a minimum and the balance of citrus and pine was very nice...I was happy with my serving size as I think a whole one of these would have been enough for me

Photo of ryan1788a5
3.54/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

24oz bottle poured into a New Belgium globe.

A: Pours a clear, light golden-orange with a huge white head. Retention is good, and rings of thick lacing firmly fix themselves to the glass.

S: Pine and floral hops with some underlying tropical fruit scents of melon and orange. Grainy malt base comes through more than just a bit. Lacks the intensity I expected; a disappointment.

T: Wow. Very aggressive oily, leafy, and resinous hop bitterness slams the palate with brute force. Soap. Pine tar. Dankness. All of the extreme hop flavors are here. A bit of a tropical melon and orange taste comes out, but barely. Malt is nowhere to be found. Spicy alcohol comes out toward the finish. Aggressive bitterness is relentless and remains constant even into the finish.

M: Moderately thick, slick, and creamy. Hop oils add a light astringency seem to rake at the teeth and tongue.

O: Insanely hoppy, but not much else to it.

Notes: Not quite the effort I expected from Sierra Nevada. With their gratuitous hop usage they succeed in creating a massive hop bomb, which I suppose is the name of the game when it comes to the West Coast DIPA pissing contest. But it could do with a little more subtlety. I believe the style is at its best when it retains a high level of bitterness, yet lets those nice tropical fruit flavors come through. There is also a huge disparity between the taste and smell of this beer. I think they need to tweak the aroma hops.

Photo of Dan3279
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I picked up a single 24oz bottle and looking back I wish I picked up more when I had the chance. Being on a huge IPA kick lately I am surprised I waited nearly two months to drink this.

Poured the bottle into a pint glass to find a nice copper colored body. The white head was only about an inch think and left a nice lacing.

The aroma hit you strong with hops & grapefruit. The flavor hits your pallet hard & fast and completely dominates your pallet. The hops, grapefruit & bitterness just hit your senses and before you know it, it mellows out and leaves you wanting more. As you drink the beer your mouth adjusts to whats going on and this beer becomes easier to drink. Even with the high ABV the beer became more and more enjoyable to drink.

Overall this is an excellent beer and next year I am going to get a few to enjoy and one to sit on to see how it ages.

Photo of BrewerB
4.23/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared a big bomber with a couple buddies. Our average scores and combined comments are listed below.

Poured a bright copper color with a thin off-white head. Good retention and lacing. Hops first and foremost in the aroma with pineapple, "like punch, fruit punch, with orange", and a slight graininess. Hops again take charge in the flavor and linger on, with more of the citrus/fruit punch character. A touch of oak. Medium bodied and moderately carbonated but as noted by a taster "lasting astringency".

Overall, an IIPA I could drink all night. Though all night at this intensity would likely just be a couple pints. Astringency a big detractor for one of our tasters.

Photo of Knapp85
4.47/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had heard about this coming out and I kept my eyes peeled for it at my local shop. They got a small shipment in so I grabbed 2 bottles right away.

I put one in the freezer to chill it faster right when I got home. The suspense was killing me! I poured As much as I could into a rather large glass to took a big nose full of it aroma. It smells fantastic! An incredible hoppy aroma just bursting out of the bottle and glass. So many hops on the tongue with every sip you take. It actually has a stinging sensation in the aftertaste. The color was very nice like a light copper shade. Such a great DIPA!

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

11 bucks a 24oz bottle at my local liquor store.

Dated 2011

Poured ice cold into a frosty pint glass this beer produces 1 pinky finger of icy white and amber colored head.

The aroma is that of a thick bready malt floating in a pond of freshly trimmed pine cones, hops, and spice.

The taste is strong & hoppy but not overpowering... Very thick, oily and bitter...with a clean but lingering after taste.

The hops bitterness clearly masks the taste (but not the effects) of the alcohol.

Pinecones and premium cannabis flavor throughout.

Make no mistake this is a strong beer... an exceptionally balanced beer but a high octane hop bomb none the less.

Think Torpedo on Steroids.

Sierra Nevada knocks it out of the park with this one. With 10.4% ABV Hoptimum should be optimum for cellar storage.
Imagine serving honored guests a 2011 Hoptimum/2007 Smoked Alaskan Porter "Black N Tan."

Photo of woosterbill
3.76/5  rDev -10%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

24oz bottle into a Weyerbacher tulip.

A: Pours a clear, bright copper body with an inch of fine, creamy tan foam. Great retention, light lace. Gorgeous.

S: Intensely bitter aroma of pine, resins, and pithy grapefruit. Very hoppy indeed, but nothing all that special.

T: Fruity hops peek through momentarily, but are quickly outweighed by super piney hops and an overwhelming wave of bitterness + alcohol. Some caramel malts show up toward the tail end as well, but are subsumed in the bitter/boozy finish. A little over the top.

M: Sticky, lively medium body. Nice.

O: As much as I love big, hoppy DIPAs, this one really didn't do the job for me. Too unbalanced, too alcoholic, too bitter, too rough. Anyone can dump a boatload of hops in a kettle; while I still enjoy the results, I expected more from Sierra. They should have mass-produced Ghidorah.


Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Re-review. Original review on 03-28-2011 of the 2011 Vintage. Bottle from original review was fairly old (about 3 months); replacing review with review of fresh 2012 bottle.

2012 Vintage dated 204821059 (Feb 17/12)

A - Medium orange with some darker amber around the edges. Half a finger of bubbly off-white head formed with good retention. Very light lacing.

S - Grapefruit and pine up front with a fairly assertive bitterness present. Some sweet caramel malts in the background but overall fairly hop-forward.

T - A huge op punch up front with grapefruit, pine and orange zest flavours. Just enough of a malt backbone to be noticeable while providing a touch of of caramel flavour. The bitterness returns in the finish, which is dry and lingers considerably. The alcohol is slightly noticeable but is well masked overall considering the ABV.

M - Medium body with light carbonation. Loads of hop oils coat the tongue. Fresh and juicy.

Photo of bum732
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

S: Piney, resiny, some grapefruit, some dank, some citrus.

L: Clear orangish yellow with white head. Great lacing.

T: Resiny piney hoppiness with a solid sweetness. Medium-high bitterness, somewhat biting. Solid dryness with some hop resin in the finish.

M: Medium mouthfeel, medium carbonation.

Decent DIPA, nothing eye popping. My bottle was a little older, so that probably didnt help.

Photo of TheWhiskerReview
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a brilliant amber with a dense, off-white head leaving lace through most of the drink and smells a wonderful mix of tropical fruits and pine forest notes, with very pleasant hints of sugared orange wedge and green tea. The palate is very rich with caramel and pineapple notes ushering in the gigantic hop explosion. The bitterness shines beautifully and carries the finish long past the 3 minute mark to a very pleasant, bitter orange peel-fueled end.

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.

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Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 5,611 ratings.