Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

1,461 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: 1,461 | Ratings: 6,253
Photo of ColForbinBC
4.13/5  rDev +0.5%
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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Photo of CooperEllis
3.5/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz from trodersark into .3l

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

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

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

It's solid average.


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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 mntlover
4.12/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of meatyard
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of Chickenhawk9932
4.37/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a light amber with a tan head.

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

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

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fullish body, mildly bitter finish. Super duper beautiful.

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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 bobhits
3.69/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of Snow81
4.97/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Looks rich unfiltered hazy copper orange

Smell: Big citric and floral notes screams in the nose

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

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

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

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


second tasting

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

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Photo of Dreadnaught33
3.08/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of racer2k
4.82/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured the contents of my bomber into a brandy snifter glass

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.45/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Pours a vibrant, deep amber color with thin white lacing and very minor carbonation. I would like to see more head on this but then again, I poured it too carefully and perhaps there was some soap film left on the glass? The color is a sight to behold!

S - Some nice pungent citrus fruit consisting of tangerines & pineapple, along with some nice pine notes. Malt is present in the form of light, sweet caramel to compliment the fruity aroma. As the beer warms, the aroma has an increased level of spice, oak, and effervescent booze and the tropical fruit becomes more ripe and juicy in the nose.

T - Absolutely outstanding fruit hop presence that hits the tongue immediately with a huge burst of tangerine, pineapples, papaya, ruby red overripe grapefruit, followed by a rush of pepper before migrating to a piney, sweet hoppy finish. There's a very obvious warming in the throat from the alcohol and Hoptimum is not shy in that department, it let's you know right away.

M - Velvet on the tongue with a big body and a little thick for an IPA. Finishes semi-dry and with some lip smacking lupulin sweetness.

D - Exceptional.

I like alot of Sierra's beers but in my opinion, this is the finest beer they've ever released. I hope they do this one again and I'm getting more than one bottle of this stuff. This is a high gravity beer that can hold it's own with the rest of the Imperial IPA "Big Boys". Very well done!

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Photo of Radiodred
3.95/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Not Bad, but not that great. I am a huge fan of Double IPAs and this is not a stand out. It is better than most. The first look is an eye catching pillow of foamy goodness, the color is amber like. I wanted to be ingulfed by hops on the aroma but was more like a little caramel and nobel-like, not the typical west coast citrus pungency. Mouth feel was mellow with me craving more bite. Its drinkable and true to its class, but here in so cal we have been spoiled by the abundence of IPAs

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Photo of birderbeerer
4.12/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Golden amber with a white, two-finger, frothy head. Gorgeous frothy head. Decent lacing.

Piney and grapefruity aroma; pungent hops. Floral too. Very sweet smell of strong hops. Bit of apple in there too.

Taste is unique. Backing up the hops is a peaty/earthy taste that really is almost as prominent as the hops. Smoky, mesquite. The pine lingers throughout.

Chewy and sticky and the froth swirls around in your mouth. Deceptively big.

Very good. Fun to drink.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bomber (no date) into a pint glass. Pours orange/apricot hue with a thin to medium soapy lace that quickly receded to a thin layer of froth. Nose picks up citrusy/fruit hops, pine, and some of that sugary crystal malt that I like in good DIPAs. Good carbonation and some decent head. Flavors are carry-forward from the aroma - toasted malts, piney hops, tangerine citrus. Mint leaf still comes in with a sweetish finish. Hops also turn bitter to balance the malts. The palate is creamy, a little astringent to the touch. Body is medium to full along with adequate carbonation throughout the drinking session. Overall, sweet, minty, woody, bitter, and a delicious DIPA from Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of jjayjaye
4.55/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Hoptimum.
IMO this is a classic Imperial IPA. Right up there with Southern Tier, Three Floyd's and Russian River. I like welldigger888's analogy to 'honey'..i'll call it honey amber. Very nice..and it poured with better than a two finger stiff wheat-white collar with tons of hang time. Nice Belgian lacing (4.75). The aroma is intense and well balanced..big sweet-hoppiness. A tropical tangerine-pineapple that is enjoyed just short of arm's length (4.75). The flavor is spot on too and matches up to the nose quite nicely (4.75...i've got to round up here pretty soon). I especially like the mouth feel on this one. It steps up quickly..medium-heavy body, that supports the big nose and flavors really well. Smooth and creamy yet very substantial...a bold statement that there's a ton of quality ingredients in this one!! That all being to me about "Drinkability". I'm really fortunate to have had the opportunity to consider this one. A seriously 'easy drinker'..but at 10.4's best enjoyed in a time and place where you're in no hurry to get somewhere else.
Really nice effort. Wouldn't hesitate to snag a couple more to enjoy with friends.

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Photo of welldigger888
4.52/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured from growler into the hop etched imp pint, honey gold with some garnet hue and an ample just off white head with outragous lacing.
Strong aromas of tropical paradise rise to greet the nostrils,mango pineapple and the ever present piney resonious goodness that really makes american beer great!
Enamel stripping hop goodness,Citrus bursts first than quickly to the ever intoxicating piney resony hop heaven.A strong malt character is there, for support and a touch of sweet malt but that is all.Alcohol seems present but well in it's place.
Wow, spot on carbonation here. The palate asks for more.
The only draw back I can find, The ABV makes having the amount I want unobtainable. Half way down the pint, lace is still from lip to level on glass!!!

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Photo of Frosty80
4.51/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Color: pours clear, pale gold. sits clear copper with a BIG, fluffy off-white head.

Smell: big piny, citrusy hop presence that is rather subdued. its not as intense as i was expecting but because its a whole-cone IPA there is a lot more leafiness from the extra plant material. a hint of woodiness and pepper is also present, as well as a clean maltiness

Taste: underneath the unassuming aura of fragrance is bomb of an IPA! intense citrus and pine with a sharp bite of bitterness that lingers through and through. in good sierra nevada fashion they compliment the hoppiness/bitterness with delicious caramely malt. finish is intensely bitter with hint of citrus fruit and pine and a tinge of malt sweetness

Mouthfeel: medium body with medium carbonation

Notes: bite is definitely a lot bigger than its bark. the aroma was relatively mellow and in no way prepares you for the explosion of hops and bitterness that enslaves the buds. delicious IPA

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Photo of metter98
4.02/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is clear orange in color and has a thin ring of off white bubbles encircling the edges of the glass. No carbonation is visible in the form of rising bubbles.
S: There are moderate aromas of floral hops in the nose--this beer almost smells like a marigold.
T: The taste is rather hoppy and like the smell tastes very similar to marigold flowers. The hops contribute a moderate amount of bitterness.
M: It feels medium-bodied and crisp on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
D: The beer is rather easy to drink despite the hoppy flavors and bitterness because they do not overpower your palate.

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Photo of jwinship83
3.58/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

on tap at the bavarian lodge. i was excited to find this after not being able to get a bottle. served in a house snifter. review from notes.

A- its brought to me in a 10oz snifter. a translucent and very bright copper colored body with a small bright white head on top. small rings of lacing get left behind.

S- the first thing i can pick up in the nose are the hops. good. lots of resiny pine and grapefruit. after that i get some floral and lemony notes. finally, theres a decently strong caramel malt presence which adds a definite sweetness.

T- the taste starts out with sweet caramel malts and then moves onto the hops. lots of the floral notes i could smell come to the front. lesser amounts of the grapefruit and pine. the strong malt adds a level of balance and sweetness to this.

M- medium bodied and well carbonated. nice and bitter. the aftertaste could be a little drier.

D- this beer isnt what i thought it was going to be. it showed more balance than i would have liked from a west coast style DIPA. it was still easy to finish my glass though.

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Photo of ThreeDimesDown
3.85/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes:

Pours a slightly hazy golden color with a white head that left some lacing. (poor pour with little room for a head from the bartender...)

Aromas of citrus hops (grapefruit) and malts (light caramel).

Taste was nicely balanced with big hops and a strong, but not overbearing malt presence. Grass notes and toffee sweetness detected.

Mouthfeel was medium, slightly sticky, a bit dry. ABV % was well hidden. Tiny bubble carbonation fit well with the brew.

Overall, I enjoyed the brew. Was expecting a "hop bomb" but was pleasantly surprised by the balance and subtlety of the flavors.

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Photo of tchenery
4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Excellent deep straw color with a great slightly off white head that is already lacing.

Smells of spicy, piney hops. Pretty much what you would expect but not too much. It's almost minty in smell because they're so earthy and cutting.

Bitter bitter bitter. It's a warm one too due to the alcohol content. It's not too thick, but it's definitely resiny and sticky. A must for hopheads.

The great thing about this beer is it doesn't weigh too heavy on the palate. It's a 10 percenter, but you wouldn't know it right off. It's definitely balanced for what it is and probably the smoothest of these crazy Imperieal IPA's these days. It's the least barleywine-like one I've had so far and that's a good thing.

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Photo of capeannbass36
3.83/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Poured from 2011 24 oz. bottle into a Duvel tulip glass. Amber, orange color. Clear. 1 inch cream colored head that faded with 5 minutes. A little lacing left behind.

S- Citrus, hops

T- Citrus, a little malt, slightly bitter.
Almost an aspirin aftertaste...almost, but not as bad as a Weyerbacher Double Simcoe.

M- Slight to medium carbonation. Smooth.

D- fairly strong and potent. Wouldn't drink more than 2 at one sitting. enjoyable change for my palate after a long winter of mostly imperial stouts.

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Photo of avalon07
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a growler to a tulip glass. Had an amber color and a slightly hazy texture. There was an inch of fairly long-lasting head. Very good lacing.

S: A surprisingly subtle smell of hops, malt, and citrus.

T: Tasted of hops (predictably, but also had a huge dose of malt - more than you usually see in a DIPA. There was also a bit of citrus mixed in for good measure. Alcohol content is occasionally noticeable.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a smooth finish. Medium-bodied.

D: A solidly made, drinkable, slightly different DIPA.

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Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.11 out of 5 based on 6,253 ratings.
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