Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

1,460 Reviews
Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPASierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.40%

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.

Added by kaseydad on 02-07-2010

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Reviews: 1,460 | Ratings: 6,252
Photo of yourefragile
1.69/5  rDev -58.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

24 oz bottle shared by 321Jeff. Thanks, jerk.

Damn, this was a disappointment; a borderline sloppy mess. Appearance is a filtered golden amber with a frothy whitish head that quickly fades to a thing crown with little lacing. Extremely mild, boring aroma of dirt and biscuity malt, with trace amounts of grapefruit and citrus rind hops. A solventy, medicinal tinge is troubling. Onto the flavor. Oof! It get's worse with no balance or cohesion between strong solvent and alcohol, bitter grapefruit rind, sweet carmel malt and dry breadiness. Body is thick and well carbonated, but extremely hot and boozy. After a few ounces I poured this out, so I give this a White Birch trademarked 1.0 on drinkability. I'm probably being overly harsh on this, but we tried this against some hoppy beers from Three Floyds, Shorts and Lawsons tonight and this was the uncontested failure champion. Sorry Sierra Nevada, I need a SN Pale Ale to get this out of my mind.

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Photo of ELS
1.76/5  rDev -57.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

I was really disappointed in this beer. I like a hoppy beer and I'm a big fan of other SN beers lke Celebration Ale and Torpedo but this has absolutely no balance (I know, its supposed to be a hop bomb) and the varietals of hops they used completely missed for me. I drank about half the bottle and drain poured the rest. I know that other "hop heads" love this beer but it completely misses for me. I like other IPAs that are 100 IBU's so its not the degree of bitterness that offends me, I just think that it's either a poorly crafted beer or my taste buds just can't appreciate the flavors that other beer advocates seem to enjoy. I guess that's why we have these ratings in the first place.

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Photo of tattoopunk031
1.76/5  rDev -57.2%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Very disappointed! I heard good things about this beer, seems to be flying off the shelves in my area. Not sure if I received a bad bottle but it has a bad smell to it, tasted off. Ill give it another try if I come across it but it wont be something i seek out.

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Photo of corby112
1.89/5  rDev -54%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

On draft at London Grille.

Pours a clear golden yellowish orange color with pale golden yellow hues when held to a light source and a 1.5 finger frothy white head that slowly fades into a thin lasting ring. Sporadic spots of lacing left behind.

Earthy hop aroma with hints of pine as well as citrus and tropical fruit. There's also a prominent sweet alcohol aroma which takes away from the hops significantly and a nice biscuit/Graham cracker malt character. Subtle grapefruit and citrus peel but the nose is overpowered by an earthy/soil like and sweet alcohol presence.

Chewy body that's on the fuller end of the spectrum with a blast of earthy bitter hops up front that lingers throughout but fades toward the sweet, hot finish. Slick and oily feeling with a one dimensional hop profile. Very faint citrus/tropical fruit character and again, a way too powerful alcohol presence that kills the better qualities of this beer. Sweet pale malt backbone that lacks the graham cracker biscuit character that the aroma suggested. The ABV is well masked as far as heat is cncerned but there is a lot of alcohol flavor.

This beer is kind of a mess really. Not very hoppy, especially when the palate adjusts to the original earthy pine flavor. Half way through the glass it tastes like a mildly hoppy sweet phenolic failure. I'm a big fan of SN and I was really excited to try this one but it was a huge disappointment. I'm glad I didn't sprig for the bottles.

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Photo of BloodSoakedAleMug
1.93/5  rDev -53%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 1.75

L: Pours an orange color with a one finger beige head. Leaves almost no lacing.

S: Smells like Nyquil cough syrup, absolutely not what I was expecting. It has this very chalky, overtly sweet, cherry aroma.

If I really stick my nose deep down into the glass I can pick up notes of oranges, alcohol, and wet dog. It still sorta smells like a double IPA so I guess I won't take off too many points on the aroma but god damn, it's not what I would call appetizing.

T: The taste unfortunately follows the nose. Maybe my palate isn't advanced enough for this offering.

I'm just getting more of that acrid, chalky, terribly sweet cherry flavor. Maybe I can't get any other flavors because I'm drinking it slightly chilled? But no, even when it warms up, I'm still getting medicinal notes of cough syrup, but at least it's not as powerful as it is when the beer is ice cold.

F: A one and done beer in my opinion.

It's completely unsessionable. It's incredibly sweet, dry and chalky, not to mention high in ABV (although you can't feel it as you drink it) so at least the beer hides it's alcohol content well - but two or more of these and you'll definitely be borderline, if not completely drunk.

O: Thank you Sierra Nevada, but I'll have your Pale Ale over this any day. I'm glad I got a chance to at least give this a try, but this is no Stone Enjoy By or 90 minute.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
1.94/5  rDev -52.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

@ Gula Gula, Salem MA

Beautiful, pristinely clear amber color. Thin head quickly collars and fades away. Nice lace up top though.

Floral, super sweet malt aroma. Tastes really sweet with very little hop flavor. Hops come through more as pine sap and a lingering bitter. I'd like more hop resin. And hop aroma. And hop flavor.

Didn't like it in the bottle and like it less on tap.

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Photo of 321jeff
2.1/5  rDev -48.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Pours a clear amber with very golden edges and about a finger or two of rocky white head. As it fades, a lot of lacing is left on the glass. Wierd, as I hold it up one way, it looks amber, and I move it and it looks gold. Almost like a holographic beer.

Aroma is very weak. Hints of piney hops, but very hard to pick out anything else.

Taste starts out sweet with some piney hop resins in the middle and a borderline medicinal finish. Not at all what I look for in a DIPA, no bitterness whatsoever and much like the aroma, the flavors that are detectable are very weak.

The mouthfeel is the only thing that is decent about this beer. Farily thick in body with a good bit of carbonation. Based on the high price point and weak aroma and flavors, I won't be trying this one again.

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Photo of Lucular
2.15/5  rDev -47.7%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2

Had on tap. Something must have gone wrong with the storage or serving of this beer since it smelled like manure. Straight-up, barnyard driving past the cows manure. The taste wasn't similarly tainted but it was overly sweet and not very good overall.

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Photo of somabeer
2.28/5  rDev -44.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Had on tap last weekend at Toronado SF

Poured into a pint glass. An amber colored with decent off white head. The beer smells like a lot of hops and some m=bready maltness. The taste definitely seemed off. There is lot of this German Bready maltness an intense hoppy bitterness and a lot of boozy alcohol flavor, there is no interplay between flavors, it just tastes like a boozy mess. Carbonation was fine. This beer tastes like a train wreck

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Photo of bbluemzbeer
2.31/5  rDev -43.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 2.5

Appearance : looks like pale ale

Smell:'nice pine , citrus smell to it.

Taste : taste start out with a strong pine , Curtis Tate with minimum malt sweetness. This beer for my taste is overall piney and citrus . I enjoy a more balance beer then this beer like Sierra Nevada pale ale or extra torpedo . I guess I am not a hop head but I see hop heads loving this beer . This beer is just not for me .

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Photo of mdaschaf
2.42/5  rDev -41.1%
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.

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Photo of Hellabeerguzzler
2.43/5  rDev -40.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Thanks to loftisCT for providing the dating convention for this beer.

Picked this up tonight (see review date) and I have to say for all the hype and all the other Sierra Nevada brews that I love so much like Torpedo, that I'm disappointed in this beer.

I got the pint bottle and poured into a sparkling snifter and saw that it looks fantastic. Mostly clear with nice visible carbonation, nice warm amber color and white head with serious lacing. The aroma is floral, citrusy, w alcohol. The alcohol dominates this beer heavily which doesn't totally ruin it for me but with the label depicting a black-tie gentleman with a hop bud for a head why, you'd expect to be bowled over with the hops, not the alcohol - you aren't. FWIW, this is a potent brew.

Anyone reading this review please tell me if there's a date on the bottle other than the 2011 on the neck label. Logically, that seems like the date but from the taste, this seems like a hop beer that's been allowed to sit too long.

EDIT: Having been told the convention of the bottle date and this one was perfectly fresh. I've adjusted my scores to remove all doubt (and charitable points). This was a boozy, under-hopped mess. Having poured the remainder of the bottle down the drain, I will continue to enjoy other IPAs.

EDIT for draft: I recently was able to try this on tap and my original review stands. Although this has the potential to be a tasty hoppy brew, it is ruined by the high ABV content. SN, you almost pulled it off but this is just too hot. The original malt is too far hidden and the booze is off the charts. I finished the glass but not happily - and my tongue was scorched. Use this to clean your counter tops.

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Photo of dasenebler
2.51/5  rDev -38.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

12oz. bottled 3/14/12.

Brilliantly clear, deep gold. Small head dissipates quickly. Spots of lacing on the glass.

Lots of Citra aroma, and the kind I don't really like. Grassy and borderline onion-like. Some fruit in there.

Plenty of IBUs and hop flavor, but the malt overcompensates. In fact, this beer is just too sweet and syrupy. Plenty of resinous and spicy hop flavor, but I want it to shine through even more. Alcohol is well-hidden, and the beer remains drinkable despite the sweetness. Good carbonation and weight.

Too sweet and malty. Not a good Double IPA in my book.

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Photo of GoldHorde
2.53/5  rDev -38.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured my first glass of SN's HOPTIMUM tonight. Cap popped revealed no aromatic nasal sting. I thought this surprising for a DOUBLE IPA and especially for one named HOPTIMUM. Who wouldn't expect DOUBLE IPA's to always 'slap the nostrils' when popped? The color of pale gold was fine enough but the flavor was well under that expected of even an IPA - much less "double". That is NOT to say that it is not an enjoyable beer - I could place it above a few commercial hop-kicked pilsners or lagers. I think Sierra Nevada has great beers - this beer is not bad - just low for this category (DOUBLE IPA).

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Photo of Gambelli
2.59/5  rDev -37%
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.

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Photo of Arbitrator
2.62/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 1 | overall: 3

On tap at Barclay's in Rockridge. Half-pint.

A: Pours on the lighter side for an IPA; it's a clear orange-amber with short-lived off-white head. Some lace.

S: A very organic aroma: wet pine needles and moss, grapefruit pith, and sugar cookie. I also smell some solvent.

T: Tastes much like the above: a really powerful hop delivery vehicle, with pine needles and grapefruit defining the profile. They're counterbalanced by an aggressive sugar cookie backbone, which tries and fails to cover up a substantial booze quotient.

M: Thick, chewy, sticky body. Boozy. Boozy boozy boozy.

D: Needs some work, but I'd have it again. Sierra Nevada can make this one great.

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Photo of gpatt55
2.62/5  rDev -36.3%
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.

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Photo of Reagan1984
2.63/5  rDev -36%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

So much potential. So disappointing.

Things started well as this had all the physical attributes of a beautiful Sierra Nevada beer. Thick creamy head with lots of structure and great retention. Great clarity and bright amber color. Only a touch of lacing. Very light for a Sierra Nevada product. (Lacing)

Aroma was more balanced than I had expected. Some toasty malt notes with a first hint at the alcohol flavor to come. More pine vs. citrus, but a slight sense of grapefruit.

This is where things went south quickly. Sometimes in reviews we comment that the ABV is well hidden. This is the exact opposite. For a 10% abv this is WAY too boozy and it really takes away from the beer. Below this is actually a pretty decent beer, but the hot alcohol flavor stands in the way. Flavor is more grapefruit focused vs. the aroma. Aggressive bitterness and juicy hop flavor and feel.

Big and hot in your mouth.

Sadly, I had no interest in finishing the entire bottle. Probably my most disappointing Sierra Nevada product ever.

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Photo of KJH
2.64/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

This beer looks great in the glass but the aroma does not have the normal hop notes that i expect from a double IPA.

This beer is HOT! The 10% ABV is present in every part of the taste. Reasonably bitter with some malt presence. My impression is that this is more like an imperial Amber with some extra hops.

And did I mention the hot alcohol tones! That really made this beer almost undrinkable. And certainly not enjoyable.

Save your money and buy 2 bottles of Hop Stoopid or your other favorite double IPA.

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Photo of jpmclaug
2.65/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Bottle poured into my Duvel tulip

Orange amber body with a white head on top, plenty of lacing. Smells citrusy and piney with a hint of sweetness. Piney hops dominate the flavor, an offputting booziness is present as well. Citrusy notes present as well but wow is this thing sweet and boozy. medium to heavy body, really syrupy.

Meh overall I'm kinda disappointed in this. Way too boozy for my liking. I'm also a fan of less piney DIPA's. Oh well worth trying! I wish I was drinking a Southern Hemisphere instead.

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Photo of PintOh1759
2.68/5  rDev -34.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.75

Had on draft. Expected wayyy more from all the hype around this beer. I'm a hop head and this sint my cup to tea. The alcohol overwhelms this beer from first smell to the last sip that's virtually all you taste other then piney notes.

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Photo of Chazari99
2.7/5  rDev -34.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

This beer was incredibly bitter and very disappointing. I am a IPA and double IPA lover and this beer was difficult to even sip. I suspect that it was the hop character that was just off base, but I'm candidly not sure why it has received so many accolades.

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Photo of 4000qtrap
2.73/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Source/Serving: Draft

Smell: Earthy, musky, woody, and (unexpectedly) a little horsy (or something like it) around the edges.

Taste: More traditional pine/citrus flavors than the nose has. Moderately juicy. Quite balanced malts and bitterness, but slightly on the sweet side overall. In the middle fresh pine flavor really shines through which is nice. Malts are inconspicuous but lay a nice foundation which come through as it warms. Mouthfeel is light. Finish is short, semi-bitter, orange, and lingers for a while.

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Photo of brystmar
2.75/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

This bottle just hit the NYC shelves last week; split with blatantdream.

Copper/orange body, nice head, better-than-average retention. Fresh, piney aroma holds tons of hops that smell slightly different than I'm used to in IPAs/DIPAs. A result of the whole-cone hops perhaps?

Taste: a hop bomb that ranks up there with the craziest of them. Unquestionably of the West Coast style. Doesn't taste anything like most DIPAs; very imbalanced with no perceptible malt character. This brew embodies everything I dislike about IPAs.

If you like hop bombs with zero malt, this one's for you.

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Photo of largadeer
2.76/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Draft at Toronado, served in a pint glass. Clear, bright and caramel-colored in the glass, dark for the style, topped by a small white cap. The aroma is solventy, lightly citrusy and heavy on the crystal malt. Pine and citrus-like dry hops are evident but overwhelmed by the alcohol. The taste is similarly harsh, very strong solventy alcohol matched by resiny hop bitterness and substantial caramel malt. While it's not especially sweet, the malt backbone is heavy and cumbersome, too syrupy for a DIPA and lacking finesse. It finishes bitter, heavy and sharply alcoholic. This is OK stuff and signature Sierra Nevada; heavy on the crystal malt and bittering hops but not particularly delicate. Can't say I would drink this again.

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Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.11 out of 5 based on 6,252 ratings.
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