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.

5,544 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,544
Reviews: 1,337
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 11.48%
Wants: 286
Gots: 668 | FT: 6
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:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA Alström Bros
Ratings: 5,544 | Reviews: 1,337 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of kiddwhiz
3.85/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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!

Photo of david18
3.38/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

Photo of jhtipton
4.72/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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!

Photo of amccormi
3.55/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

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

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.

Photo of VWBuggirl
3.5/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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

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.

Photo of nhindian
3.2/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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.

Photo of Ryan011235
3.25/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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.

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

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.

Photo of fastsrt
3.25/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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.

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

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.

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


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.

Photo of JEdmund
4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of Buebie
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Finally getting around to drinking this. Snowing hard, its an inside all day type of day.

Pour produces an inch of off white head, thick sudz, leaving a solid cap of retention. thick lace clings the glass. Pale copper color, transparent.
Aroma is a little disappointing though, mild caramel malt and also mild sweet candied hops and herbal spice.

Taste delivers and then some! Is Holy Shit a proper term to describe a beer? This is Holy Shit! flavor.
Starting out quite sweet, mixing with malt explosion and hops that bring bitters, herbal, slight mint and mango deliciousness. No flavor indications that this is over 10% either.
Feel is slick and full with a wisp of creaminess and carbonation balance.
Love it!

Photo of uustal
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a reddish amber with a nice two-finger white head. Good head retention and lacing. Citrus hops and of course, pine aroma. A bit of booze and sweetness in the scent as well. Nice bittering pine hops to start. A very good pine hop, not too in your face and very tasty. A little grapefruit as well before a nice sweet, but subtle malt background which features some honey and floral notes. Some additional pine bittering at the finish as well as some alcohol notes as it warms. Well balanced and flavorful pine driven DIPA.

Photo of EgadBananas
2.95/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

Light coppery color, light tan head, solid clarity, lots of bubbles.

Lots of pine cones, juicy citrus, sweetness and bitterness and nice balancing caramel maltiness.

The bitterness is puckering; very citrusy, caramel, and really super sweet. Nearly cloying...

The feel is awful...it's syrupy, and sickly sweet, and thick. I just can't shake it.

Drinkability suffers. It's completely unbalanced. The bitterness is intense, but the malt sticky sweetness is awful and not worth revisiting.

I'm glad I traded for this and that Louisiana got the shaft on this brew. Good call.

Photo of DaveAnderson
4.13/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I shared this 24oz bottle with 5 people, but would have been happy to drink it all myself. This is a fun DIPA with a ton of aromatics and a clean finish.

Pours a straw yellow, with good clarity and moderate head/lacing. As you might expect, hops are dominant, but this is pretty well balanced, with good body and just enough sweetness to tame the hops. Too many DIPAs go overboard with malt, but this is not one of them.

Photo of r0nyn
4.28/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into my La Fin du Monde tulip.

Pours the color of pure amber into the glass, transparent enough to read through. There's a big frothy head that billows up and recedes gradually, leaving sheets of soapy lacing clinging to the inside of the glass. Some mild carbonation can be seen floating to the top. Smell is full of that characteristic hoppiness that defines Imperial IPAs. This one has a little extra oomph to it, and I assume that's from the advertised whole-cone hop extraction. Floral notes mask a subdued sweetness from the malts, with mild caramel and crisp fruity nuances making themselves known. I quite like how this smells!

A huge hoppy punch in the mouth right off the bat. It's like I'm actually chewing a mouthful of hops, wow. So much pine and resin flavoring with a generous amount of bitterness. Amazingly enough though, the bitter taste isn't overpowering by any means, allowing me to fully experience the entire flavor profile. Slight floral notes follow that up, along with some citrusy grapefruit. There's a definite malt backbone that is sweet enough to counterbalance the hops, but stays subtle and unobtrusive, allowing the titular hops to shine through and really make this beer a great drink. Light bitterness rides into the aftertaste that doesn't linger too long, leaving you wanting more. Mouthfeel is medium-bodied, but there's a good amount of oomph to it that glides onto and off the tongue so well. Finishes dry and crisp, with just the right amount of carbonation peppering your tastebuds.

Drinkability is really quite good. It's got some ABV heft behind it, so you've got to pace yourself, which, I'll admit, wasn't easy for me because this brew is just so tasty. IPAs usually aren't my bag, but this is definitely a winner. Sierra Nevada needs to brew more of this right away. It might just win me over to the hop side of the Force if I drink enough of it!

Photo of DrStiffington
4.22/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have been looking forward to trying this one, and luckily, my usual beer place had only one left when I asked for it today. It pours a reddish color, with a large, foamy head. The smell is fairly strong but not overpowering citrus. The bitter hops really stand out with this double IPA. The mouthfeel is moderately creamy. The bitterness lingers nicely with the aftertaste. I really enjoy Sierra Nevada as a brewery. This is not my favorite II IPA but I'm glad that I got the chance to enjoy this on a relaxing Saturday night.

Photo of TCgoalie
4.22/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Happy to try this as I've heard it is tasty. Pours a reddish gold color which is quite nice. A gathering of bubbly head appears on the top of the beer adding to the anticipation. Lacing is sporadic bubble splotches throughout the drink.

Scents of pine hope heaven along with sweet honey headline the smell. Pine resin really sticks to the nose as the smell lingers.

This is a really tasty DIPA. Plenty of sweet malts blend with bittering pine. The surrounding flavors are honey flower hops with an anchor of pine hops. The aftertaste is quite resin filled with a dry, clean finish.

The mouthfeel is medium to full with a smooth character. The bitter aftertaste lingers with a good deal of drying.

At 10%+ this is drinkable. It is fun to drink as each sip is interesting. A solid offering from SN that comes close to the upper levels of DIPA's everywhere.

Photo of Ipatsfans
4.28/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

No date on the bottle, but the label prominently says "2011" on it.

Poured from a bomber into a Bart & Yeti's pint glass.

A - Golden brown, light but rich color. A finger of head that dissipates to leave only a dusting of white on top of the beer, which remains throughout.

S - lots of citrus, less hop smell than I am expecting based on the name. Very grapefruity.

T - Big flavor, tastes like it smells from a citrus perspective, and here are the hops I was looking for. Slight sweet malt taste at the very end. Delicious, I really like the taste.

M - I am a fan of carbonation in an IPA, and this is really knocking it out of the park for me. I find many IIPA or DIPA are missing carbonation, but this beer has the perfect amount.

D - I could drink another bomber for sure based on taste, but at 10.4% ABV two would be the end of it. I don't mind the high ABV at all, and if it was less I could probably drink 3 bombers.

Overall I really like this beer. I hope I can find more.

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

2011 release. Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. The beer is a vibrant, crystal clear orange-gold coloring with an immense, foamy, light head that starts about two fingers and slowly recedes as you drink. The head retention is impressive for an IPA. Nose is heavy hops, both dry and fresh aromas, flowery, and with a slight citrus hint underneath it all. The beer has a spicy hop flavor that hits mid-tongue at first, and then you get an all-over the tongue hoppy flavor. Other flavors include a slightly sour citrus/grapefruit note, as well as some peppery highlights. The beer is creamy and robust in mouth, and the body does a great job of carrying all the strong flavors. This beer is heavy, and extremely tasty. The aftertaste (prepare for a shocker) is all hops, with some of the citrus sneaking in there, too. The finish lingers, with the bitterness giving a slight pucker to the tip of the tongue, and the hops continue bouncing around in mouth while you contemplate another drink.

Photo of gregshead
3.58/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours an orangish copper color with a thick finger of head that dissipates but a nice foam film remains.

S: Not much on the nose of this one. some grapefruit/citrusy smell.

T: A lot more malty sweet than I was expecting. That being said, the sugary malts hit first and fade into the background as the hops punch you in the mouth every so subtly at the end. This it has a second kick with some astringency.

M: That's some nice carbonation. Pretty nice feel and thickness/thinness level.

D: Easy to drink and enjoyable but I prefer Sierra Nevada Ghidorah. Still, it holds its own in a very difficult to brew, complex category of DIPAs.

Photo of LtCracker20
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Taken from notes. Poured into a DFH shaped pint glass.

A- Pours a clear gold body with 2-fingers of soft white head that shows great retention and lace.

S- Not too strong at all. Grassy and piney hop aromas are there, but not too much. A little solvent smell as well..

T- Grassy and floral hop flavor. Good bitterness in the the finish, but also followed by sweetness. Not as hoppy as I had hoped for. Not saying it was a bad beer, but not was not what I expected out of a DIPA from Sierra Nevada.

MF/D- Medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation. The ABV is hidden very well. Scary drinkable.

Notes. Glad I got to try it, but would not seek it out if it was released again.
A-4/S-3.5/T-3.5/MF-4.5/ O-4.5
OK, I lied. I saw this in 4-packs and decided to give it another shot. Scores are based on the new findings.

A- Pours the same clear golden/orange body with a 2-finger off white head that last a little while before falling to a nice cap leaving some good lacing.

S- Wow. Like I stuck my nose in a bag of assorted hops! Pine, citrus, grassy, little musty. Very nice! Much better this time around.

T- Again, much better this time. Piney and citrusy hops dominate the flavor, with a slight maltiness and good bitter backbone.

MF- Still a very good medium bodied feel, with a oiliness that coats the palate.

O- I'm very glad I tried this again. Seems that they tweaked it a little bit, and I really like this one!

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 5,544 ratings.