Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine and get 12 issues / year of fresh beer content delivered to your door each month.

Already subscribe? to manage your subscription.

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.

1,407 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,407
Hads: 6,004
rAvg: 4.1
pDev: 11.22%
Wants: 386
Gots: 981 | FT: 5
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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,407 | Hads: 6,004
Photo of Cylinsier
4.03/5  rDev -1.7%
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. (353 characters)

Photo of JEdmund
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%
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. (1,081 characters)

Photo of Buebie
3.94/5  rDev -3.9%
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! (719 characters)

Photo of uustal
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
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. (526 characters)

Photo of EgadBananas
3.02/5  rDev -26.3%
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. (578 characters)

Photo of DaveAnderson
4.14/5  rDev +1%
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. (421 characters)

Photo of r0nyn
4.25/5  rDev +3.7%
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! (1,917 characters)

Photo of DrStiffington
4.2/5  rDev +2.4%
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. (528 characters)

Photo of TCgoalie
4.2/5  rDev +2.4%
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. (860 characters)

Photo of Ipatsfans
4.25/5  rDev +3.7%
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. (993 characters)

Photo of GarthDanielson
4.42/5  rDev +7.8%
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. (994 characters)

Photo of gregshead
3.55/5  rDev -13.4%
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. (640 characters)

Photo of LtCracker20
4.27/5  rDev +4.1%
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! (1,433 characters)

Photo of Zundo
4.23/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Nice copper body with off-wite to tan two-finger head that laces very well. The head is a smooth frothy one.

Smell: Mostly citrus here...predominantly grapefruit with some orange.

Taste: Piney bite, then Grapefruit, with a buttery flavor and some orange. Very balanced.

Feel: Smooth and fairly carbonated. The finish is a touch oily and sticky.

Drink: This is near sessionable. The alcohol is barely present for such a high ABV.

Overall a really good beer. (477 characters)

Photo of kwakwhore
4.11/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful clear orange copper pour into a Sierra Nevada hop tulip pint glass with a thick off white head which has excellent retention. 

A bit of Bread Malt on the nose after the initial citrus hop blast. Hops continue all the way down the glass.
Serious hop presence in the first taste, a true west coast double IPA. Some malt presence, but this is a serious hop bomb with some juicy grapefruit accents 
Syrupy mouthfeel but not cloying . So far, pretty easy to drink and not hot at all considering the ABV.
Damn, this is a good beer. I wish they would release this year round. (581 characters)

Photo of prototypic
3.33/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Hoptimum pours a light copper color. It's very clear, and has nice orange highlights with backlighting. They almost look slightly crimson. An off-white head covers the top and stands about a finger and a half tall. It recedes to a surface covering quickly. Lacing was a little sticky, but light. Eh. Maybe a tad much on the alcohol?

The nose is weak and needs more strength. Up front it smells sweet and sugary. The malt base smells like a mix of light caramel and some other variety. The caramel isn't offensively strong, but it is awfully damn sweet smelling. The hops are easily noted and provide fruit notes of grapefruit, orange, and pineapple. Floral notes are in the mix as well. A light, toasted scent works its way in late. Alcohol is definitely in the mix. Pretty average.

The flavor is a little better than the nose. It's above average. It is very sweet and sugary up front. It's definitely a tad too sweet for me. The malt base is light caramel, a touch of toasted malt, and perhaps something else. It's sturdy enough, but just comes through too sweet. The hop flavor is primarily citric and features grapefruit, pineapple, and orange flavors. Floral hops are easily noted, and are nearly as strong. It definitely has a bitter bite to it, but the malts counter quite a bit of its bitterness. Alcohol is far too noticeable in flavor. It's a little too boozy. There's some alcohol warmth and tingling on the finish, in addition to a subtle bitter flavor.

Hoptimum has a nice medium body. Carbonation is very light, and it feels nice and smooth. This is probably its strongest asset. Drinkability, on the other hand, is rather average. The flavor's okay, but it's too boozy and sweet. Finishing off a 24 oz. bottle is a chore.

Hoptimum isn't a total disaster of a beer, but it is a little disappointing. With Sierra Nevada's history of impressive releases, I expected better. Its biggest problems are the overbearing sweetness and boozy alcohol flavor. Tweaking those two things would really get it going in the right direction. There's definitely something here to work with, it just needs to be dialed in. Here's hoping Sierra Nevada addresses these issues. (2,174 characters)

Photo of bfields4
3.92/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The classic clean filtered golden hue with a nice frothy off-white head.

Apricots, citrus, pineapple, grapefruit. Running the gambit of the piny citrus hop flavors. A bit of sweet honey malt to compliment.. def wouldn't say balance. Very exceptional smell.

They weren't lying about the IBUs floral herbal intense hop flavors blast the palate. The sweet grainy malts are present. A bit of the oily hoppyness too. A touch of cinnamon burn from the alcohol Taste is good. I don't know about quite up to the par of the aroma.

Good beer not quite great they absolutely nailed the aroma, but the bitterness overpowers a bit of the other flavors. There's a good creamy mouthfeel. I was a little let down, but still a solid offering. (729 characters)

Photo of cpone
4.27/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured into a duvel tulip - frothy head with minimal retention and no lacing. Clear, light caramel body.

S: Smells very fresh. Very floral hop aroma with strong mango and some sweet fruit candy and grapefruit in the nose. Exceptionally inviting.

T: Very smooth and delicate to start. Bitterness builds in a linear trend that is well balanced against the high malt bill. Alcohol is masked quite well.

M: Medium to strong body. This is where the alcohol makes its presence known.

D: For over 10% abv, extremely drinkable. Even more dangerous than PtE. (557 characters)

Photo of HOPPYKC
4.43/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at the flying saucer in downtown KC.

A- a great amber. Clear to see through. Nice solid head. Lacing galore.

S- bitter hops and citrus. Pine and honey.

T- hops hard and up front. Mellowed with Bit of malt and the alcohol is hid well.

M&d- full flavored and smooth down the throat. (299 characters)

Photo of Retsinis
3.9/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Review from notes

Shared with friends and Poured from a 24oz. bottle (per the label, but looks like a bomber to me) into a Bruery tulip glass. I got probably 8 oz.

The beer pours a clear golden amber color with a good white colored inch to two inch head that faded a little, but retained for the most part. Farily heavy lacing on the glass.

The Aroma's are full of pine, citrus, grapefruit and even some toffee and caramel backing that up. Great scents whiffing off of this DIPA.

The flavors in the taste bite up front with huger bitterness, citrus, pine, fresh cut grass, cedar in the middle, backed by a caramel sweetness on the finish.

The mouth feel is medium to high. Clean, creamy & consistent carbonation that coats the tongue and mouth.

This beer is dangerous, it goes down very smooth, and one has to remind themselves how high the ABV actually is at 10.4%

Overall, a great DIPA from Sierra Nevada, wish they made more of this, and less of some of their other seasonal, as it's quality shows, as it has flown off the shelves, and some of their others, summer fest, Kellerweis, Torpedo, just to name a few that are still sitting on shelves at a lot of shops I frequent. (1,189 characters)

Photo of lackenhauser
4.07/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pale, somewhat of an orangey/bronze color. Nice small off white head. Somewhat piney and grapefruit like aroma. I was expecting more of a total hop bomb here. Very malty and sweet flavor upfront. Mild toasted grain. Big hop flavors and bitterness but the malty sweetness is right there with it. Long, lingering hop bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is sweet and fades to a dryness with the lingering hop presence. Just a faint alcohol burn. While fairly standard as far as SN goes this is downright quaffable. I could see an easy night of this. (546 characters)

Photo of DNICE555
3.98/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Split one of these bad boys with R Moe Nay on his birthday at the Cask Republic and picked up another one from the local packy Willowbrook.

Appearance: Pours a honey glazed copper with a healthy white head. Nice lacing throughout

Smell: Floral hops, grapefruit, some pine.

Taste: Similar to the nose but a lot sweeter. Alcohol is warming but pleasant. Nothing special but fairly solid.

Mouthfeel: A Dipa is expected to be on the sweeter side but this is a bit too sweet for me.

Drinkability: Bold, very drikable. I couldn't put the glass down. It didn't have the best mouthfeel or taste... but there was something about it. 10.4% has never gone down so easily. (668 characters)

Photo of OakedCanuck
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Large format bottle into tulip. From notes

A - Deep yellow with a good sized rocky white head. Lacing was minor and the head didn't stay around to see everything go down.

S - Huge pine and grass hops. Some lemon and orange citrus hidden in there and almost no malt sweetness from what I could tell

T - A solid hop bomb. Very bitter grasses and pine. A touch of rye and pepper in the back. Minor caramel malt.

M - Very dry, slightly biting carbonation, ABV hidden well

D - I liked this one from Sierra and would definitely pick another one up, if I could find one! (569 characters)

Photo of Cresant
3.48/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Served this 24 oz. brown bottle in a Sam Adams glass. 2011 vintage. The body was a clear, rich copper and bright. The head was a frothy stiff foam that left a lattice of lace.

The smell was big pine. Spicy hops. And some more leafy hops oils.

The taste was sweet up front with a slow burning bitterness. Pineapples. Some floweriness which was overwhelmed by the oily hops. This one definitely got boozy as it warmed. The alcohol overshadowed the other flavors near the end.

The mouthfeel was pretty creamy and oily. A good amount of scrubbing carbonation helped clear the palate for the next sip. (600 characters)

Photo of RootedFool
4.32/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful translucent amber, minimal head and lacing. The nose packs a punch, with class and complexity: Big pine resin notes, fresh cut grass on a hot summer day, candied apricot, big and full. Taste opens with an immediate sharp zip of hops across the tip of my tongue, a little harsh toward the middle but I find it pretty enjoyable -- definitely a test of the range of my palate -- and the aftertaste lingers on and on. This is one steep and curvy hop ride. Mouthfeel: Perfect weight, not too heavy, not too light and just the right amount of carbonation.

Hoptimum is well worth the trip, but don't start a session with a small glass of this, because your tongue will be down for the count. (703 characters)

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 1,407 ratings.