Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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1,448 Reviews
Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPASierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA

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

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: 1,448 | Ratings: 6,215
Photo of budgood1
4.05/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours out of the 24oz. stubby bottle a clear looking copper and amber colour with a respectable off white frothy head. it has definite staying power with a good deal of chunky lace. huge nose on this one...tremendous piney hop aroma with herbal earthy notes and some backdoor citrus zest. some caramel maltiness comes through but it's all hops in the nose. slick caramel like maltiness comes through first in the flavour profile, quickly supplanted by a generous dose of resiny, earth and pine hop cones. this is followed by a tongue numbing, long and lingering back end bitterness. there is a good deal of alcohol present but it seems to interact quite well with the wallop of bitterness that never seems to fade away. definitely belly warming and subsequently mind altering. it certainly has a beefed up body...sweet and oily slick but maybe just short of being too cloying. therefore the mouthfeel has a nice balance between blisteringly bitter and mouthwatering malty. drinkability is about what one would expect from such a high ABV hop bomb. in other words, don't drink this one too quickly.

well...another big, brash and bold double IPA has passed my lips, warmed my belly, scorched my palate and skewed my mental function. i guess that's why they are brewed and this one did not disappoint. i don't know if this "the ultimate whole cone hop experience"....but it's got to be close. recommended.

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Photo of zachary80
3.71/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Nice thick, off-white frothy head. Tons of lacing. Orange hued body

S: Very nice strong hop aroma. Floral, somewhat one-dimensional though

T: Toasted oats, bready malt with a resinous very bitter hop taste. Decent malt backbone for a hop bomb. Super long lingering bitterness

M: Sticky. Pretty thick for the style

O: Not bad, was nice to try. Not worth the premium

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Photo of ne0m00re
3.19/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

02/27/11- Had this one on-tap at Studio 35 during the Oscars at $7 a pint.
A: Clear reddish amber, constant bubbles and a steady white head. Looks good.
S: Citrus and aged cheese, pineapple, caramel and honey sweetness, and some oranges. OK. This doens't really stand out at all.
T: Orange soda to pineapple and apple sweetness that lingers. There is some gin alcohol. OK. Again, it doesn't really stand out and I'm getting the impression that this is just a sweeter, less balanced version of their pale ale.
M: Moderately syrupy, with a somewhat spritzy carbonation you wouldn't expect from its appearance.
D: OK.

Relatively lame. I'd rather spend half the money on plain, old SNPA, and I don't even really like SNPA that much.

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

22oz bottle, thanks to my buddy Edgar for this

served in a Stone Levitation glass

A - pours with about an inch of slightly creamy, fluffy just off-white colored foam. falling and covering about half the glass with some wet sticky lace. the beer is clear, dark gold in color.

S - big punch of tropical fruity hops: pineapple, grapefruit and a bit of mango. strong, assertive malt base brings a heap of caramel along. hints of bubblegum near the end.

T - hops struggle against the massive grain bill. dont get me wrong, its a Double IPA all the way...but the flavors are muddles a bit against the rich caramel sweetness. not helping at all is a big boozy bite, which both distracts and then wipes everything clean.

M - rich, almost syrupy body. carbonation is maybe a touch or two above moderate. lingering bitterness competes again with a burning alcohol.

D - well, admittedly a bit disappointed by this one. a big, boozy mess and overly sweet as well. wish the hops had more of a chance to shine.

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Photo of tlazaroff
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Bright clear orange with visible carbonation and a white head.
S: Sweeter than one would expect, though maybe the fresh hops don't come through as well.
T: Sweet upfront with a bitter backend. I get oranges, big time citrusy character, and just the right amount of bitterness.
M: Moderate carbonation and a little sticky, but not overly so.
D: High drinkability, but I love IPAs

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Photo of n2185
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: pours a hazy golden orange with about half a finger of white head that recedes into a thin layer with some lacing.

S: sweet orange citrus up front with some pine notes on the finish.

T: taste is mostly of resiny pine at first, tingling the taste buds. There is a noticeable alcohol burn on the finish along with some resiny bitterness that doesn't linger too long.

M: medium body and carbonation that goes well with the bitterness and alcohol burn.

D: goes down fairly smooth, though the alcohol burn keeps it from being very drinkable.

Overall, a good but not great DIPA.

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Photo of schoolboy
4.88/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is very close to the most perfect brew I have ever had. I dinged it on smell because I could take more finishing hops, but there is nothing wrong with it.

If I had to find things wrong with it they would be about being "too" something. Too expensive, first off. If somebody can figure out how to make something like this and sell it cheap they can take over the beer dringking world. Too strong (but that's not a negative when it doesn't TASTE strong, and it's not Dogfish Head 120 either). Too clear (if that implied poor taste, which it doesn't).

It's just too good. I don't deserve it. You aren't worthy either, but if you have eight bucks, get yourself a bottle.

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Photo of IronCitySteve
3.97/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Fat Heads Pgh

A: Pours a bright orange color with some reddish hues. Provides a small film of white foam with some spotty lacing.

S: A nice amount of pine, citrus, grapefruit hops with some bread and caramel malt.

T: Starts off quite bitter with a big burst of citrus hops hitting the palate first. The malt character, mostly bread/biscuit and caramel comes through in the middle and provides a solid backbone. It finishes with a splash of pine hops.

M: Leaves a nice bitter pine flavor on the palate. A nice medium body

D: A nicely balanced DIPA. Lots of hop bitterness with a solid malt backbone. Despite the high ABV, it is hidden nicely for the most part.

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

Nose: Sweet fruit and a little boozy. Blueberries and grapefruit. Crisp malt aroma. Gentle pine, but a damn lot of citrus.

Appearance: Thin head, but a lovely copper-amber. Nice clarity and inviting color.

Taste: Grapefruit! A little boozy in the nose. Nice resiny, big bitterness. Excellent clean taste. Very earthy hoppiness that fills the mouth. Lively feel on the gums and smooth to the back.

Overall: Awesome. Hops hops hops hops.

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Photo of TexIndy
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 24oz bottle into a Duvel tulip glass. Bottled on date of Dec 17, 2010. Was a slightly hazy copper color with good carb streams. Had a large foamy, white head that settled into a good collar, foam center and film covering the rest. Great lacing with lots sticking.

The aroma was awesome with a good balance of piney and citric hops with a sweet, pale malt. Can smell the bitter. The taste was excellent. A great hop flavor with some good bitterness but not tongue shredding balanced with the sweet. Full mouthfeel with a bit of oily texture. Good carbonation and aftertaste. Can taste and feel the 10.4% ABV though.

Overall, an excellent ADIPA that I highly recommend. Great flavor and aroma with a good balance but enough of a bitter bite to let you know it's an ADIPA. Avail here in TX but hard to find. Shout out to Rick at LoneStar Beverages for hooking me up. Rotation - probably only shot at this one this year but would buy several if I could. [R;Y]

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Photo of sholland119
4.02/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours a crystal clear golden with a tinge of apricot with a generous, pillowy off white head. Huge sticky lacing.

S-Pine and apricot, nicely resiny with a good amount of sweetness. Sweetness is mostly the hops but some nice malt undertones as well.

T-Flavor is much more resiny than sweet and much boozier than I might have hoped. Very hot, tasty yes, but the boozy heat is very present.

M-Surprisingly light given the heaviness of the ABV and hop bite. Tongue coating and sllightly oily but somehow not wearying to drink.

D-A very enjoyable beer, but a bit too much of a sipper for the style.


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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 Sean9689
3.61/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle purchased at WLV Liquors, thanks Kristina! Poured from 22oz bomber into nonic.

A - Pours a copper orange color, off-white head, some nice lacing along the sides of the glass, and a thin cap on top and some bubbles here and there as well.

S - Huge dank hoppy syrupy sweetness, huge sugary malts, juicy grapefruits, slight citrus. Bottom line, tons of juicy hops and malty sweetness mixed in with lots of dankness.

T - Lip-puckering bitterness, slight sweetness, huge hoppy notes, my tastebuds are turned inside out...holy crap! The alcohol is evident from the very start, 10.4% right in your face, no doubt about it.

M - Medium, syrupy feel, good carbonation.

D - Wow, this is a hop/alcohol bomb...pretty sure I wouldn't be able to finish an entire bomber myself. Luckily, I'm splitting it. The alcohol is a little too evident and the syrupy notes are kind of off-putting as well. Good, not great.

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

Enjoyed from the tap at Tops, in a tasting snifter.

Pours a pale tarnished gold with absolutely perfect clarity, topped with a dense and creamy one-finger head of sandy tan. It collapses only very slowly, leaving an incredibly thick and sticky ring clinging to the sides, along with lots of large-bubbled lace.

Smells sweeter and maltier than I usually get with Sierra Nevada. Lots of caramel soaked grapefruit, pine, honey, bready malt, some grainy alcohol, maybe some mango. There's an enticing sweetness here playing off the hops, and it creates a nice balance.

The increased maltiness continues. It tastes almost like an aged DIPA wherein the malt has been allowed to develop. Complex honey and sweet orange liqueur with grapefruit, rose petals and grass. It's richly malty and also very boozy, searing the nostrils.

Rather heavy and syrupy, as expected. Medium-full body, viscous and liqueur-like in mouthfeel. Lightly fizzy. A striking alcohol burns the nose, though it's well-masked in the flavor.

Hoptimum is not the most drinkable DIPA due to its heaviness of feel and booze. It is very flavorful, however, and is worth one or two return visits. Or three.

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Photo of jeffjeff1
4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My wife picked this up for me.

Appearance- Appearance is a clear coppery color with a pretty good size head.

Smell- Smell is mainly piney hops.

Taste- Piney hops. Hops are mainly all I got which I like. Good Hop bite

Mouthfeel- medium bodied

Drinkability- I thought this was very good. Good hop bite. Wish I could get more

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Photo of TCHopCraver
4.38/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes scrawled on 2/9/11.

Hoptimum (how long will it be until all possibilities for hop-named beers are exhausted?) appears a gorgeous amber-gold with about one finger of head after I empty about half of the 24 ouncer. The carbonation bubbles move quickly up my snifter. The lacing is quite, well, lacy and racy.

Very resiny pine is the biggest impression on my nostrils, with dry grapefruit right behind. Earthy and grassy hops make their presence know for good measure. A little bit of malt sweetness is evident, but hops are THE STAR of this particular beer show.

A bit sweeter of a taste than the smell had led me to believe touches down on my palate. Don't get me wrong, dry pine resin, and grapefruit hops still rock and roll, but a sweet caramel malt presence fills in the middle of the taste between bursts of hops. The finish is a very back-of-the-palate resiny sizzler, while the aftertaste is very vividly green grassy.

The mouthfeel is quite biting throughout from the copious hops, but that bite is juxtaposed by a hearty, medium to full body for an Imperial IPA. This is right in my wheelhouse for the MF of a big hop bomb brew. The finish on my palate is dry resin.

Maybe it's just me right now, but I do not detect much booze in this guy. I find it drinkable on both counts; it goes down easily and is very titillating to my palate. I love hops and these are just what I was looking for- grassy, earthy, citrus-y, pine-y, and resiny. One big YUM from me.

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Photo of Vineyardselite
4.57/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear, rust-copper color with a thick, off-white head. Head retention is excellent!Aroma is fully of hops, hops and more hops! Very floral, earthy and spicy smelling. Big hop taste. Again, very floral and almost medicinal. Malts are there but not over powering. Finishes with a lingering bitterness.

Surprisingly full in the mouth.

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Photo of bishopdc0
4.18/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful head forms very golden amber color very transparent

The nose is hops light but nice citrus grass and spice little of everything

The taste ups the hops. But it is mostly spicy hop flavor it start with a slight malt but becomes all hops spicy and ends bitter but light nice

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Photo of HipHop5
3.18/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Clean copper color with a two finger creamy head that retain quit some time.

Lacing is good on a tulip.

Yeasty bread like first sniff, than a caramel malt sweet cloud escape of the glass on second sniff. It's very different from any IIPA I had lately. I am guessing that few low AA hops have been boiled, but no dry hopping signs here.
I bit hot on first sip, but the caramel malt sweetness takes over very quickly here. Thick medium to full body for this style of beer. Oily in the back. Has very havy high AA in back bone .The bitterness of the hops can barely sink in my taste buds because the viscosity . I wish Sierra Nevada lost few ABV and decreased considerably the OG because it has a great potential. After a 22 OZ bomber hop flavor sinks in after taste.

The very low carbonation doesn't help much the overall sirupy mouth feel.

More for a cold evening around the fire place than a mild California night:) If I forget this is an IIPA, I could actually enjoy it better because I was probably expecting something hopier than this. I really hope Sierra Nevada does make this seasonal brew a few notch less sweet next year. I'll be trying the 2012 for sure.

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Photo of MrMcGibblets
3.4/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: light copper color, perfectly clear, nice white head and lacing. Served in a snifter.
S: caramel malts, pine, grapefruit, some tropical fruit.
T: big resiny bitterness and just over medium caramel malt sweetness. Hard to figure if this is on the malty or sweet side for a dipa.
M: med to full, well carbonated, bitterness lingers.
D: this reminded me of a slightly less sweet, slightly hoppier version of firestone double jack.
have had this since-the hops have that simcoe onion/garlic/rotting banana thing going on which i don't care for.

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Photo of cavedave
3.69/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice pour, almost clear amber, shimmery look, a finger of off white head atop, and coriolis ejections of lace upon the Corsendonk tulip's curving interior.

I've smelled almost all the major league IIPA's, and most of the minor league affiliates, and the smell of this is not worthy of either league. A bit of neutral sweet, hints of citrus and pine, maybe an even lighter floral hint. Has all the aroma and dh faded? Not dry hopped at all?

Thankfully plenty of hop goodness in the taste. It is medium side of full flavor, starting with some syrupy sweet and assertive bitter, quickly joining with pine and sweet citrus to slide into a crescendo of deep herbal bitter, spicy warm alcohol, pine, and citrus pith. The sweet doesn't let up, it finishes juicy for style, but plenty dry enough to stimulate palate appropriately. As it warms caramel hints, and even some peach, enter the mix, giving it some nice complexity. Clean flavors, delicious.

Mouthfeel is very thick, low carb., highly resinous, a juicy/dry finish that is good but not epic.

Drinkability for this big beer is held back by the alcohol content. This is similar to M&M's, in that the alcohol melts your mind, not your mouth.

Impression: Through a fluke I got a bottle of this sold-out brew. Glad I tried this, but it doesn't live up to the hype. Gimme Torpedo for a much lower price.

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Photo of mattgreger
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had on tap at Capones the night after the Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Event

This brew poured a golden amber color, with just a touch of a haziness. It has a nice cream, bubbly white head that had great retention. As the you drink, it left a great spiderweb like lace throughout glass.

The aroma on this brew is of course hop heavy, but not overkill. It has a nice strong pine hops aroma the the front. I does have a great hoppy flavor, but its not over abundant bitterness that you would expect with the name of the brew. It still has a nice profile that is nice and crisp smelling with a bit of a alcohol heat as well.

This brew has pretty good flavor. It has a nice citris hop character at the front, which was unexpected. It has a nice caramel malt profile that brings out the pine flavors too. As this brew warms, the malts and alcohol come forward more and give it a nice bite. I enjoyed it very much.

The mouth on this brew is a medium body. Not to heavy, with a nice carbonation level. Its a nice crisp, clean brew. The hop oils coat the mouth with a thick, stickiness.

The drinkability on this brew is pretty basic. With a brew that has such a high ABV, you expect a much heavier hop hit and bit more to the brew. I wanted more and it didn't produce in that sense. Its still a good brew, and I would go for it again, but with an ABV that big, I might reach for something else first. Still a decent brew.

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Photo of Seanibus
4.34/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

After all the buzz, I was extremely excited to try this and pleased to snag a rare bottle at Capones way out in the 'burbs. And the verdict is - it's pretty good.

Pours a very clear amber with a slight but sticky white head - pretty typical of Sierra Nevada. You'd easily mistake this for a regular SN Pale Ale in the glass. The aroma, however, gives it away - it is deep, tight, and extraordinarily hoppy, like a Pale Ale concentrate.

The flavor is even deeper and tighter and more intense - pure hop bomb, with intense, sticky piny and citrus hops. There is just enough grain to distinguish this from the Russian River Plineys, which are probably the closest existing parallel - Hoptimum is a little darker, both in taste and color than the RR lineup, but they are both intense hop explosions with the grain serving mostly as a carrier for the citrus intensity.

For all the hop flavor, the bitterness is surprisingly restrained - it is distinct and strong, to be sure, but not as overpowering and palate-destroying as it could be. In fact, on the back of the mouth, the bitterness is little more than one might expect from a pungent pale ale, though the sticky, bitter resin of the hops clings on the front of the tongue.

The mouthfeel is sticky and resiny, again almost like a concentrate of the classic pale ale.

But here is the amazing moment of the beer - it is north of 10 percent ABV. There is no way this feels like a 10 percent monster, making this a dangerous and seductively drinkable brew. The main problem, as with the Plineys, is the pure flavor intensity - it would be hard to down too many of these Hoptimums even without the over-the-moon ABV.

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Photo of ritzkiss
3.83/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Big ol' 24oz bottle from Premier Gourmet in Buffalo. Pours a radiant crystal clear sunset orange with a couple fingers of tight head. Looks good.

Nose reveals hints of tropical fruits, a real caramel sweetness, pine and citrus.

Entry is sweet, notes of pineapple and citrus, caramel. Long, super bitter piney bitterness, aftertaste almost of Pine-Sol but I love the hop attack. Problem is that it's too sweet and slightly syrupy, especially evident in the middle. A little harsh and unbalanced overall, big beer and it shows.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.42/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

24oz from Quick Six Mt Rose poured chilled into my willbecker

The color of deep amber w/ tangerine shade and great clarity with two fingers of pale ecru cap w/ slightly rocky topography. The bead is medium fine and lace clings in a film. Carbonation is visible in the liquid as it moves in a moderately fast pace. The smell is floral and tropical with mango scents and a hint of caramel/sugar w/ light grarpefruit/pine hop odors. There is a mainly pineapple like alcohol ester bringing some sweetness to the fruity smell. The feel is strong and bitter with semi-sweet malt w/ semi-strong alcoholic presence and moderately high carbonation w/ pretty dry and slightly juicy finish.

The taste is piney up front with subtle fruit which is a mix of mango and grapefruit w/ a splash of tropical juiciness maybe pineapple flavors w/ subtle pine that carries over into a slightly sugary and mildly alcoholic flavcr. The semidry taste and sticky residue on the palate comes off like a slightly stronger(3%) torpedo, but more citrus than tropical and noticeably sweeter w/ a moderate amount of alcohol in the taste. A good high gravity hoppy Imperial IPA, not too shabby but the sweetness and alcohol detract from the hop flavor w/ too much focus on bitterness + aroma -needs more flavor hops IMO but very good overall for the style

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Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 1,448 ratings.
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