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Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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1,452 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: 1,452 | Ratings: 6,234
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Photo of pokesbeerdude
3.9/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

24oz bottle from Arctic Liquors in Steamboat, CO. Around $8, into a DFH Signature glass.

A: Deep amber/orange in color with a white head, not quite half an inch thick that recedes down to an island of bubbles in the middle and a wall of lacing around the glass. Excellent clarity. Nice looking beer.

S: Decent amount of pine and grapefruit, and a ton of tropical fruit. Doesn't smell incredibly resinous, but still smells nice. Decent amount of caramel malt shines through as well. Fairly boozey too, it definitely isn't hiding.

T: Very flavorful, tons of caramel and pale malts, pretty sweet but has a great hoppy bitterness on the finish. Tons of pine and grapefruit, but also a significant amount of mango and pineapple in here as well. Definitely more of a balanced DIPA than I had expected, but pretty nice. Great notes of green tea linger in the mouth for quite some time after the swallow. Unrefined ethanol really hits hard at the finish, but it isn't too bad.

M: Very thick and creamy, light velvety carbonation, hot alcohol heat on the finish. Warms the whole way down. Bitterness aids in drying this out, but it definitely is a sweet beer.

D: Very well made and well done DIPA, just a little too harsh on the alcohol, which knocks it a bit in ease of drinking category, but still. Very enjoyable, but I don't think I could do a second bomber.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

24 ounce bottle, bottled on January 17th, 2011. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a clear orange/amber color with about an inch off-white head. Head retention is pretty good, with an average amount of lacing. Aroma is citrusy (tropical fruit, orange) and pine hops, along with some sweet malt. The brew tastes mostly like the aroma, it's pine and citrusy (grapefruit, pineapple) hops, sweet malt and a hint of floral hops. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's creamy and sticky, with moderate carbonation. Drinkability is pretty good, it's very smooth and goes down easy. I thought this was a good overall beer, hopefully Sierra Nevada will decide to make this again sometime in the future.

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Photo of webbcreative
4.18/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured bright, clean coppery color with 2 finger head that didn't hang around too long.

Aroma = the first thing that hit me was a huge smell of grapefruit. Then a sweetness from the malts, and a bit of pineapple smell as well.

Taste is citrus, sweet malt, and finishes dry but with a touch of sweetness. Has plenty of hops to go around but not extremely bitter, tons of aroma and flavor hops.

Drinkability is pretty good for a nearly 10.5% IPA, although it is just a little hot, its still pretty impressive. I drank this 24 oz bottle by myself - over about an 8 hour period of time.

Overall this is a really good DIPA - one of the best I have had, reminds me of Maharaja, which is a good thing, except I felt it might not have had quite the hop complexity. I would get this again...that is if it was possible, I paid around $7.50, so i wouldn't get it often though.

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Photo of misinformed
3.55/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

24 oz. bottled 12/17/10 reviewed 1/27/11. Tulip glass.

A- Completely clear, vibrant orange color. Poured with 2" of off-white rocky head that settled down to a consistent 1/8". Good lacing.

S- Faint tropical fruit overshadowed by pine and a touch of lemony citrus. All around light, but still a nice nose.

T- Pine, bitter grapefruit pith. The malt backbone does show up occasionally. Smooth bitterness all the way. Nice lasting finish. Very mild. Overall this feels very one dimensional to me.

M- Nice carbonation here. The body is almost light though. Not oily or particularly mouth-coating yet the bitterness does linger.

D- So so. Good mild and long lasting bitter taste and finish, but it really just seemed one dimensional to me. On the "whole hop cone experience" level I get it, but that doesn't mean I'd want to drink it all the time. If it weren't so expensive I'd probably try it once more though.

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Photo of gatornation
4.23/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

from a 24 0z bomber..$8.99

A-pours a mostly clear burnt orange color with light red highlight a nice fluffy just right head with sticky lacing on glass

S- is sweet citrus and tropical hops a caramel malt smell is followed by pine and grass and grapefruit

T- is a great floral/grapefruit hop hit with citrus,tropical,pine notes,,,very flavorful and not overwhelming,its offset with some sweet caramel notes

M- is nicely carbonated full of flavor the 10.4 shows up in the taste as it warms but by that time im almost done.the ABV is detracts from the total feel of this dipa

D- well done delicious dipa that is very smooth..you will feel this one.easy to drink the bomber..it is pricey at $9-$10 and hard to find wish the ABV was not so high..well worth the find..very recommended

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Photo of mroberts1204
4.21/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Stone World Bistro & Gardens

A - Pours yellowish amber, almost orange w/ a creamy one finger off-white head that never completely goes away. Nice lacing left on the glass. Clarity is perfect. 5.0

S - Not as potent as you would think. Subtle citrus and tropical fruits. Hoppy, resiny. 4.0

T - Not overly bitter for a DIPA. Its a touch boozy on the back end as fusel alcohols creep up the back of the throat...a nice reminder that this beer is enormous. This beer packs a punch with strong citrus and tropical flavors from the hops. Piney, resinous hops round out the hop bill. A solid malt background rounds out a fairly well-balanced DIPA. 4.5

M - Creamy carbonation. The carbonation level is medium-high but is offset by the thickness of the beer. A quick swirl of the glass reinvigorates a one finger head. 4.5

D - The thickness of the beer coupled with the stinging fusel alcohols makes this beer just average in the Drinkability department. 3.5

This is a fantastic DIPA...dare I say Triple IPA? Hoptimum holds its own compared to the usual suspects in this category (Younger, Maharaja...) but falls short in Drinkability. I really enjoyed this beer and will seek it out again.

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Photo of gwguest
3.63/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

2011 Vintage poured from a 22oz mega-stubby bottle into a Goose Island Imperial Pint.

Hoptimum pours a beautifuly orange/amber body with about 3/4 of an inch of slightly off-white foam. The foam holds nicely until I'm ready to dive in. The body is nearly brilliant clarity making for a picturesque beer.

Aroma is surprisingly sweet with a sharp caramel note running throughout a nice citrus, floral and pine hop bouquet. For the style, I was really expecting a bigger dose of hop aroma. It's pleasant and well-crafted, but not amazing.

There are no shortage of hops in the flavor. There is a strong bitterness from the front, middle and lingers long past when the beer is safely in your stomach. It's great to have a DIPA that isn't afraid to lean on the bitterness. Fortunately, it's not a sharp, unpleasant bitterness. It's more like a really heavy guy leaning on you to the point where you might almost fall over. If you're fit, you can handle it, but those who aren't properly trained will crumble under the bitterness.

Through the rest of the flavor is a firm caramel thread that balances the bitterness quite a bit. The hop flavors and resin are really well put together. The resinous quality is quite enjoyable. It's a much more unified and blended flavor that I've come to expect from the style. It's clearly not a single-hop beer, but it's not a kaleidoscope of flavors like most DIPA.

I rather enjoy the coating quality of the mouthfeel, but it is a bit heavy in the mouth along the way. It's just a little too dense to be exceptional.

Drinkability on this is surprisingly low. The carmel sweetness just adds up too quickly to the point that I simply don't want more. This 22oz bottle is going to be tough to get down. Recommended for sharing...maybe even three ways over a cheese course at the end of a meal.

[Edit: I had to knock the drinkability down on this one as I couldn't even finish 5oz without my stomach feeling like I'd been doing shots of syrup. The beer is tasty, but I couldn't even finish a serving.]

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

after much fanfare, and stalking the BevMo Manager I was able to locate a few bottles in the San Diego area. I enjoyed the taste tho not my fav DIPA. That would be HUB's.
A darker pour than expected. Almost amber in color. Smell not the strong fruity smell, rather a balanced one. On taste,...sweet is the first thing rolling off my tongue. Medium body, and actually got a bit of malt in the DIPA.Nice. Drinkable, tho with 10.5% ABV that must be considered. Overall, I would recommend this beer to any Hop Head. Above ave in all catagories but not at the Stone, Caldera, Ballast Point level.

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Photo of bsp77
4.61/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Clear amber-orange with billowing off-white head and loads of lacing. Sierra Nevada beers always look great.

Smell: Spicy and bitter aroma with orange, grapefruit, pineapple and pine. A light underlying sweetness provides balance. As opposed to the appearance (and taste), the aroma of this and many other Sierra Nevada beers tends to dwindle as it sits in the glass. Still smells very good while it lasts.

Taste: An onslaught of grapefruit, orange and pine upfront with a light pineapple-like sweetness underneath. While I am sure the malts provide some backbone, I don't taste much of them. This is a hop machine with a long lingering bitterness at the end.

Feel: Moderately low carbonation, fairly full and creamy body. Extremely dry finish but almost a little too warming and hot.

Drinkability: Other than being a titch too boozy (and a dwindling aroma), this is a fantastic DIPA. Something about it just tastes like Sierra Nevada, as (while I can definitely tell them apart) there is something similar about this beer, Celebration, Torpedo and Estate.

This really needs to be a little less limited next year, and a little less expensive as well. C'mon Sierra Nevada, make this a six-pack next year, even if you need to charge a Hopslam-like price, as that would still be a lot cheaper ounce for ounce. Edit: Thanks for the 4 packs!

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Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.11 out of 5 based on 6,234 ratings.
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