Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA (2014)

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA (2014)

Brewed by: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Beer Classification and Specs

  • Style: IPA
  • Variation: Imperial (Double)
  • Limited: Yes
  • ABV: 10.4%
  • IBU: 100

Notes: Part of Sierra Nevada’s “High Altitude” series.

Brewer’s Notes and Ingredients

Hoptimum is a hurricane of whole-cone hop flavor. Hopped, dry hopped and torpedoed for incredible hop flavor and complexity, Hoptimum is the pinnacle of whole-cone hoppiness and the biggest Imperial IPA we have ever produced. It features resinous hop varieties: Magnum, Chinook, Simcoe and a new experimental hop variety exclusive to Sierra Nevada. With intense hop flavors and aromas of grapefruit rind, pine, herbs and tropical fruit, Hoptimum is an aggressive drinking experience. Originally created as part of our Beer Camp program, Hoptimum throws down the gauntlet to all other IPAs.

Hops: German Magnum, Chinook, Simcoe

Malts: Two-row Pale, Munich, Wheat

Additional: New experimental hop variety exclusive to Sierra Nevada.

More Hoptimum Imperial IPA Images

First Impressions

Artwork: An old Victorian style portrait of a hop head, framed in with hop vines.

Color: Copper to amber, somewhat opaque.

Aroma: Damp and malty, with substantial hop overtones. Primarily pine, with lesser sweet citrus notes.

The Tasting

Arrived in: 12 oz. Bottle

Served in: Official Sierra Nevada IPA glasses

“The ultimate whole-cone hop experience.”

Do you like piney IPAs? Citrus? Sweet? Hoptimum has it all, in heavily hopped doses of each, as evidenced in their very true marketing statement above.

Just as a disclaimer, this is our favorite beer (at the time of writing this post). We don’t know if any brewer could ever cram enough hops into an IPA for our liking, but Hoptimum comes the closest thus far.

One of Mike’s favorite beers is Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, and what we have learned is that Hoptimum’s a Celebration on steroids. It’s thicker, maltier, and obviously hoppier. But how do they create the increased level of hops?

Hoptimum is excessively hopped with three unique methods:

  1. Hopped.
  2. Then dry hopped, where whole-cone hops are added during fermentation.
  3. And then Hop Torpedoed, with Sierra Nevada’s proprietary hopping device.

Using our official Sierra Nevada IPA glasses, Hoptimum poured a majestic topper. It wasn’t wispy foam, but a very solid coat of bubbles, tightly uniform in size.

The head was powered by hyperactive effervescence, like an Alka Selzer was dropped into the glass. Surprisingly you don’t notice the carbonation when you drink, since the mouthfeel was a little more on the flat side, with only a bubbly tinge at the very end.

The retention on this beer might be the most impressive that we have ever seen, at least for an IPA. Once the foam finally died off, it looked like somebody frosted the side of the glass for a holiday window flocking. (see pic above)

Hoptimum is a dominant India Pale Ale on three fronts:

  1. Hearty, high ABV ale.
  2. Substantial malt presence.
  3. Overloaded with hops.

People like to throw the words “resinous” and “dank” around when describing IPAs, and most times the beer is not even hopped up enough to consider using those descriptions. But Hoptimum truly tastes like every last drop of oils and acids were squeezed out of the gooey hops to brew this beer.

The taste began with a sweet malty foundation, then the bitter hops kicked in for the rest of the way. Hoptimum featured a majority of pine flavor, with sweetened citrus in the finish. These were big and bold hops, not well refined – its quite heavy handed.

The pine was in fact resinous and dank, and the citrus very tangy. These hop flavor profiles were accentuated by the contrasting, yet complementary maltiness it began with. We have never seen an IPA use a malt backbone so effectively.

FYI: best served fresh, does not have a very long shelf life.

Final Score: 5/5

5 Stars

We are big fans of IPAs, and the hoppier the better. Hoptimum exceeded those expectations, with a massively hopped, pine and citrus all-out assault on your taste buds. The most delicious IPA we have ever had, making it a 5/5 +.

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