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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,461 | Ratings: 6,253
Photo of Jayli
3.41/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Consumed 1/29
Poured in to a pint glass

A: This beer pours a clear, golden color with a two finger of khaki head that leaves spotty sheets of lacing on the glass.

S: Nose is quite piney, oddly balanced citrusy hops, and a hint of cannibis.

T: Taste is very reminiscent of Gubna for me. Rich earthy, grassy, piney hop notes dominate the forefront. A hearty malt backbone fills out the middle with a bit of woodiness and a touch of alcohol. Finish has a rather grapefruit hop characteristic.

M: Medium body, medium carbonation, somewhat light on the tongue with an oily finish.

D: Goes down ok, somewhat tasty, not too filling, big kick, ok representation of style. Tastes were somewhat muted in some areas, and a touch off balance in others. Not a bad beer, but I would opt for others of the style.

 803 characters

Photo of wyattshotmaker
3.7/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip. Decent looking amber color, thin white head.

Herbal and pine hop aroma, slight citrus, bit of sweet mango and caramel. A bit of booze.

Big piney and citrus hop flavor, mango. Bit of caramel malt midway through, finishes with an assertive bitterness and an alcoholic note.

Fairly fullbodied, could be a little less. Overall this beer is decent. Worth trying.

 383 characters

Photo of aubuc1
4.02/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

24 oz bottle poured into a goblet.

Pours a clear orange with a thick off white head.

Huge smell of grapefruit and pine.

Big bitter taste with some booze and biscuit malt.

Mouthfeel is big and creamy.

Drinkability isn't quite where I had hoped.

A classic dipa. Not the best in the world, but certainly a noble beer.

 320 characters

Photo of infi
4.4/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber, shared with BAs brun and NYManc.

Poured into a nonic pint.

A translucent, rustic/gold, caramel color with a lush, foamy off-white head with little retention. Full of visual carbonation rising from the bottom to the top. Smell has a nice abundance of the fresh whole-cone hop aroma, but not too overwhelmingly so. Great floral aromatic wave of pine. Moderate amount of caramel malt along with its innate sweetness permeates the hop profile. Generous amount of fresh citrus can be found towards the back-end.

Taste is incredibly clean with great amounts of hop resin, with the oils just bleeding from the hop leaf. Beautifully fresh. Huge grapefruit citrus and bitter qualities, as well as clementine sweetness. Malt complex is just perfect by creating a nice foundation for the beer and not impacting too much on the flavor. Finishes off with a nice bitter hum on the palate. Amazing taste in this DIPA.

Mouthfeel is personally just about right for DIPAs. Medium-bodied, creamy with light carbonation and flows smoothly all over the tongue. Drinkability is phenomenal; one of my favorite DIPAs now. Such a solid and tasty beer. So glad I was able to get a couple bottles of this. Sierra Nevada is definitely gold with their IPAs.

 1,247 characters

Photo of Brez07
4.17/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

24oz bottle poured into a DFH snifter

A: Golden orange hue with a 1 finger head. Decent retention until the end of the glass. Got some thick lacing with the second pour

S: Lots of fruity hops at first. Pineapple, orange and grapefruit are prominent. There is some pine that comes out behind all this. Good amount of bready malt is present once the beer warms

T: Nice fruit sweetness upfront. Blends nicely with pine and hop bitterness. Some earthy flavors. The bitterness starts fairly strong and remains long after. Just a slight hint of alcohol in the finish

M: Full bodied with sharp carbonation. Fairly creamy once carbonation fades a little. Light bitter finish

D: A great offering from SN. Big hop flavor with good balance from the malt. Very easy drinking but you definitely feel the alcohol after half the bottle. Would like to see this again

 855 characters

Photo of BigBlacke
4.47/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hoptimum pours a light orange/amber color with a stick .75 inch head.

Massive grapefruit and pine hop scent with a slight sweetness.

Taste is a rush of citrus hops with a hint of sweetness that really comes together to make this beer perfectly balanced for the style IMO.

Mouthfeel is very sticky and hops leave a very strong aftertaste.

I find drinkability to be very high due to the quality of this one. This is a great DIPA!

 437 characters

Photo of JackieTH
3.61/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2011-label with date code 0351 [2010, Dec 17]

Appearance: Nice bottle artwork. Two-three fingers of off-white foam over a light amber/orange-colored beer, head forms when poured agressively. Looks inviting.

Smell: An fleeting sense of pineapple/tropical scent is noticeable at first whiff, but disappears as a muted layers of resinous, citric and grassy notes emerge, entangled with ethanol fumes. Not as big as expected. Just a bit of malt lurks here, too.

Taste: Spicy resinous and citric, grapefruit-like hop oils permeate and penetrate the taste buds, driven home by a mild ethanol burn. There is a bit of discordant malty sweetness that surfaces briefly, but is buried under the tidal wave of spicy hot hop oils that become lodged in the palate, for a long, lingering grapefruit pith bitterness that remains long after swallowing the beer.

Mouthfeel is slick with a medium body.

Drinkability: The hops are present and accounted for, a fact that the bitter aftertaste, lingering ten minutes later, reminds me of. The overall presentation could be better. Yes, Hoptimum is a hop bomb, fully expected, no complaints. At the same time I'm looking for something with a little more polish.

 1,193 characters

Photo of grittybrews
4.35/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottle, consumed 01/2011.

Poured a dark but vivid orange-amber into a tulip with two fingers of eggshell head. Definite alcohol presence on the nose with some toffee, biscuit, and an abundance of pine with a hint of citrus.

Moderate to slightly high carbonation and a full, prickly mouthfeel that becomes quite sticky towards the finish. Sweet up front with lots of caramel, honey, and malt followed by intense pine and grapefruit and a long, bitter finish with some boozy warmth.

Although the higher alcohol was definitely present on the nose, it didn't limit the drinkability as much as I had expected. Pretty well-balanced with lots of big flavors.

 659 characters

Photo of bbb099
3.88/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared with mjyoung. Poured into a snifter.

A - Pours a bright copper color and a frothy light brown colored head that dissipated relatively quickly.

S - Inviting piny and grassy hop aroma.

T - Pretty strong piny and herbal hop flavor throughout. A little citrusy on the back end and goes down with some alcohol warmth. Quite tasty hoppy aftertaste, but I have had better.

M - Medium high carbonation. Medium bodied, quite malty for a DIPA.

D - Good drinkability, but nothing terribly exciting about this one in my opinion.

 529 characters

Photo of FosterJM
3.88/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

224th review on BA
bottle to tulip
bottle code: 035121549
1 pt. 8 oz bottle

App- A dark amber orange with some yellow highlights. Slight light tan one finger head. Had some lacing down the glass.

Smell- Hops of course, a little bit of the 10.4% booziness. Some not but not too much grapefruit. No other real scents.

Taste- A big hoppy bitter taste with the booze prevalant. It's a tasty beer with the hop spice as well.

Mouth- Medium Bodied with a medium carb level. A bit of a leaner towards the wetter oily side of the IPA levels.

Drink- In my opinion it was a good beer. Really did not need to be behind the counter and hidden away as it the case. Probably wont try to have this one again as it was a bit pricy for the taste I got.

 739 characters

Photo of perrymarcus
4.05/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

24oz bottler served in a snifter. 2011 vintage.

pours a bright copper with orange highlights. translucent. creamy beige head demonstrates solid retention, slowly lapsing into a thin cap/collar around the glass; beautiful sticky lacing.

nose is big and aromatic, dominated by pungent pine, maybe a touch of citrus in the background.

hops storm the palate from the first drop... pine, grapefruit, a bit grassy, quite bitter. very good. not much in the way of balancing malts, just an absolute hop monster. some discernible booze.

oily, medium bodied mouthfeel with medium carbonation. not a hophead, so this will definitely quench my hop thirst for the night. would defintely be up a revisit at some future point.

 715 characters

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

Pours a pale, slightlly reddish copper-orange. The head is emblematic of full hop cones.

Smells like pine, some grapefruit pith (surprisingly not much citrus), some grass, a bit of earthy dankiness, and ... alcohol? Huh. That's the first booze note I can ever remember from a Sierra Nevada beer. Also, of course, you can tell it's made from whole hop cones.

Taste is mostly pine and dank bitterness, a bit of earth, some booze, and a splash of lighter citrus. Also some general sweetness. Not sure what it's from. The whole hop cones are what really bring it to like.

Interesting. I like it, but won't repeat the purchase at that price point.

 646 characters

Photo of MetalHopHead6
4.4/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum has huge flavor and feel.

It poured bubbly pale copper with almost no head, but left perfect rings more than half way down the glass. The aroma was muted, primarily with hints of alcohol. The flavor was huge and earthy with a touch of sweetness, hints of grass and pine, but a massive salty roasted nut finish. The feel also was huge, filling the mouth with bready dryness, like eating salty soft pretzels. One glass had the feel of a meal.

I got to the beer store immediately after the shipment of Hoptimum and could have had as many as I wanted. I played it safe and bought two. After trying it, I wish I bought a case. I found myself involuntarily saying "wow" while I drank it, because the flavor and feel was so bold.

 748 characters

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

Pours a dark golden body with a white head and nice lacing.

Citrus dominated aroma with floral accents. Fresh, juicy hop resins and virtually no malt.

Grapefruit pith, hop oils, and pine resine flow uninterupted from one end of the palate to the other. An impressive amount of flavor packed into that first small sip. Don't think you could call it balanced, there is a vague malty sweetness, but citrusy hops own this beer. Bitterness is very high, with just a little astgringency on the finish.

Mothfeel is sticky with a full body and moderate carbonation.

Doesn't add much to the DIPA conversation, not much seperates this from a dozen other beers, but that is more of a statement on market saturation and the talent with which American brewers use hops than a knock on this specific beer. Hoptimum is the sort of well crafted beer you expect from a brewery like Sierra Nevada. It is an outstanding IPA that showcases the full power of American hops in all their brash glory. I just want to know if/when SN will brew it again. Hopefully they send more cases to Colorado next time, we didn't get nearly enough!

 1,115 characters

Photo of alli4051
3.95/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 24oz bottle into a pint.

Pours a bright, almost glowing, burnt orange with an off white head. Head is big and frothy, never really recedes completely, and leaves a thick wall of lacing down the sides of the glass. Scent is a pungent hop aroma, mostly citrus with some pine notes. Taste, as expected, is a big hop punch up front, same profile as the nose lots of citrus with some pine notes. A seemingly faint malt backbone is present to level things out a bit. Theres a strong alcohol bite to the finish that actually merges well with everything else and really kind of compliments things instead of taking away. Thoroughly medium bodied with a sticky bitterness to the finish. Split this bomber with a buddy and wish I could have finished it by myself. Solid brew with a definite kick to it; however, not the complete hop bomb some might expect.

 861 characters

Photo of Cyberkedi
4.69/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Aroma is quite strong and very hoppy with an undertone of grapefruit and a hint of honey sweetness. It pours an attractive clear amber with a fairly thick, if not persistent, head. Flavor is seriously hoppy and just a little bitter, with grassy, woody, grapefruit and malt hints and just a touch of honey. It is very lip-smacking, and the hoppy component is quite complex and enjoyable. Texture is fairly smooth with a strong and lingering tingle. Finish is hoppy, minimally bitter and fizzy. This is one of the best IPAs I have ever had, and I strongly recommend it to all "hop heads."

 586 characters

Photo of GJ40
4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled from a 24oz bottle purchased at Weaver Street Market in Carrboro, NC.

A - Golden with good clarity and a small white head.

S - Mostly piney and somewhat earthy hops. Not much of the citrus and floral I expected.

T - Rich, piney hop oils with some citrus. There's a heat from the alcohol but it blends in pretty well. It's not especially bitter and has a good malt backbone with a touch of caramel. It's very bold at first but my taste buds adjusted pretty quickly.

M - Oily but very light. It almost seems to evaporate before you swallow.

D - A bit too much focus on the hop oils and alcohol for me to have too much of but interesting and very well made.

 667 characters

Photo of ms11781
3.98/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottled on 12/17/2010. Reviewed on 01/23/2011. 24oz bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Pours a deep, dark, clear orange with a huge, foamy, off white head. Thick, foamy lacing left covering the entire glass from top to bottom.

Huge hop aromas dominate the nose. Grapefruit and citrus lead the way with hints of pine in the mix as well. There is the slightest hint of a sweet malt scent but not much at all.

The taste is intense hop flavor all the way through. A quick hit of grapefruit and citrus give way to a hugely bitter, piny, resinous finish. The bitterness seems to linger forever. It sticks on the tongue well after each sip. A good alcohol burn at the finish as well.

Mouthfeel is very oily and slick. Medium body with a low/medium carbonation. Piny, resiny hops stick on the tongue for a good amount of time. A bit harsh at first but smooths out nicely as it warms.

Drinkability turned out to be good. As mentioned before, it was a bit harsh on the finish at first, but smoothed out as it warmed. At over 10% ABV 24oz was more than enough but was also very enjoyable.

 1,083 characters

Photo of Halcyondays
2.81/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours a light amber with a soft white head, good retention and lace, looks the part.

S: Piney hop notes, light tropicality, some booze, not wowing me.

T: Fairly mild malt profile with standard white grapefruit and pine hop characteristics that aren't really in DIPA territory. Noticable ethanol.

M: Medium-bodied, boozy, resiny, OK here.

D: Has its bright points, but a boozy mess at other points. After the first few sips I got pretty disinterested. Not one of SN's better efforts IMO. I'm glad I didn't pop the $10 for the bomber.

 565 characters

Photo of pjs234
4.37/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Very clear, golden copper color, mildly carbonated, and a small off-white head. There was some lacing as the beer was consumed

S - Beautiful pungent hop aroma with lots of grapefruit and citrus smells.

T - Taste starts of a little sweet and citrusy, then turns a little more bitter as a grapefruit flavor takes over. Overall, it had a very nice hop presence. The alcohol remains well disguised. This is one tasty brew.

M - Love the mouthfeel of this beer. It is very smooth and creamy.

D - The only thing that takes away from the drinkability of this beer is the ABV. At 10.4, this is a sipper.

 602 characters

Photo of argock
4.16/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 24oz brown bottle into a Duvel tulip. Dec 17, 2010 bottleing date per SN code on label. Purchased at Wine Wahrehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $8.49.

A: Clear golden-amber with copious 2-finger off-white head with good retention and prodigious layers of lacing all down the glass.

S: Herbal, earthy aromas are most grabbing with a touch of sweet caramel malt. The alcohol is pretty substantial and mutes the overall hops aroma.

T: The flavor is not muted at all by the alcohol. This is definitely a DIPA for those that like balance as the hops presence, which boasts grassy, haylike, herbal flavors most but also floral, pine resin, orange citrus, and some tropical fruitiness, is cut substantially by pale and caramel sweetness. There is big bitterness in the finish, which is lively and not flat or puckering.

M: A very easy-going mouthfeel with low carbonation, slick and coating with a medium-full body which is less that expected with the big ABV.

D: The ABV is a bit of a drawback overall, but the balance of this brew is amazing.

 1,054 characters

Photo of dedrinker
3.87/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep golden color with brassy hues and a creamy-foamy off-white head.

The aromas come in successive waves of grapefruit, b.o., pine, leafy green flora, grapefruit and b.o. again, then wood sap and grapefruit/ tangerine peels. The b.o. angle is an impression I sometimes get when local tap water gets an extra dose of chlorine.

The flavor is first citrus, then pine, some raw leafy green-ness, aspirin and alcohol, with a citrus peel bitterness on the finish that mostly covers what would otherwise be an almost cloying sticky malt sweetness. Medium-full body.

I am very glad that Sierra Nevada decided to do this, even though I did not find the beer to be anything amazing at all. There are still better examples out there that are not seasonal or limited varieties, but year 'round offerings at admirable prices. This was 7.99 and I thought fairly priced, even though I have had more satisfaction for less.

I would have liked to see less alcohol and more hops.

 965 characters

Photo of hdog09
4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

When I first sampled this beer it was back at the GABF. When I heard it was coming to stores for a limited time I was dying to get my hands on some. Out of the bottle this beer a whole rang of smells, most noticeable are the grapefruit and pine aromas. It's got a nice solid burnt orange color to it and pours a nice white head. As far as taste goes this beer throws a lot at you. A can taste the variety of hops and malt. The only downside to the taste I can think of id you can taste the alcohol other than that this beer is superb and I highly recommend. Having said that this beer is certainly not for everyone.

 615 characters

Photo of WesWes
4.67/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a beautiful dark gold/amber color with a thick frothy off-white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great! It has a wonderful fresh hop scent; bitter and citrusy. The malt bill provides a solid base aroma; pale and Munich malts. The taste is f%cking awesome! Wow, this is perfection! Sweet, malty, yet bitter as hell with tons of citrus hops. It goes down easy with a resinating bitterness; almost 120 minute IPA-like. The mouthfeel is outstanding. It's a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn fine DIPA. It's well balanced with awesome hop character. Great Job

 611 characters

Photo of mafiasentinel21
4.28/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This one's golden looking, nice. Very good lacing.

I smell a lot of grapefruit, then there's an oily hop smell with a slight bready background.

This is one of the most distinctive Sierra Nevada beers that I've had. It is very rich in taste and mouthfeel, and the tropical fruit undertone you get from their pale ale seems to have come full fledged and in your face here. Definite grapefruit and the rind flavor hangs around for quite a bit!

I am enjoying this a lot. The drinkability of any imperial IPA is never extremely high, but I would certainly drink it again.

Very well done Sierra Nevada. These guys always seem to do justice to the hop. This beer is certainly no exception.

 687 characters

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

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.