Sierra Nevada Hoptimum: Its a Big Boy Beer

Jim can play with his toy submarines, I prefer the big bold flavors associated with a masterfully crafted IPA, and Sierra Nevada’s newest, Hoptimum.  Hoptimum uses a variety of whole cone hops in this imperial IPA which blows up the flavor wheel and sends my taste buds reeling with delight.

I have to believe this is the kind of intense hop bitterness and flavor that Jim experienced when he talked about Old Schoolhouse Brewing’s Imperial  IPA.    This is an intense, in your face IPA that, quite frankly, I thought that Sierra Nevada forgot how to brew.

Hoptimum came about when they asked a group of brewers that had come to their Beer Camp to play around with whole cone hopping of their brews.  They pushed the extremes and came up with this 10.4% ABV, 100 IBU, Imperial IPA that uses 7 different kinds of whole cone hops, some that are proprietary so we don’t even know what they are called!  They talk about it here.

As you can see this beer poured a clear orange color with about a one inch white head that held up throughout.  Very creamy mouthfeel and a clean and bitter finish.  This beer speaks my language.

Though this beer has a relatively high ABV at 10.4% its booziness doesn’t overtake the flavor of the beer like is wont to happen in some Imperial IPAs.  The flavor was a pleasing mix of all a hop has to offer.  It was slightly fruity with a grapefruit peel thing happening, quite resinous, and a lot of bitter, with a hint of floral tossed in for good measure.  I know it sounds like it is all over the map, but trust me it really works!

Somewhat surprisingly with all that is happening on the hop side of this brew, it has a very strong malt backbone that really balances it out.  This beer has character and that is exactly what I want in my IPAs.  I want them to impress me, and this one does. I guess that is why I never really got the message that Torpedo was sending, not like Jim.  See if I want a mellow IPA that has a thirst quenching aspect to it, I have a lot of options out here.  But the in your face approach of Hoptimum is an explosion of flavor and sensations that delivers on every level.  It isn’t a daily drinker, but the good news is that they do sell it in 12 oz bottles, so it isn’t a huge commitment to crack one open.  And at $3 a bottle, I can afford to drink this brew throughout the season.

I’m really glad Sierra Nevada decided to do something over the top like this.  I was beginning to think they would never get out of the middle of the road!



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23 Comments on “Sierra Nevada Hoptimum: Its a Big Boy Beer”

  1. May 29, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    Yes, but can it shoot underwater projectiles?

    • Don
      May 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

      No, Jim. You don’t play with this beer in the bath tub. Don’t wanna end up like Whitney Houston…too soon? 😦

      • May 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

        No, you coulda used that one while there were still bubbles coming up…

  2. May 29, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    I really like this beer, I think it’s the best SN makes right now. It took me two bottles though to fully appreciate the hops, the first sips were almost too citrusy for me. It’s definitely one of those that gets better as it warms up.

    • Don
      May 29, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

      I agree Will, it is the best beer they produce currently. I love it when I find it on tap somewhere. It is so flavorful. It does improve from ice cold, but I did find out that if it warms too much the booziness really can overpower other flavors. It is best around 50 degrees I’d say.

      • May 29, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

        Ya, it has a pronounced ‘Goldilocks’ temp range. But even at a little warmer than 50 degrees, I was still tasting something different from all of the hops in it, although overall it tastes better lower like you say. I didn’t get the booziness like you did, but I’m sure that’s just me. 🙂

  3. May 29, 2012 at 3:49 pm #


  4. Kyle
    May 29, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    This is a great balanced brew and doesn’t have the overwhelmingly sweet characteristic some IIPAs have. I’m glad SN is finally paying homage to their microbrew roots. I do think Jim could counter with Oskar Blues Gubna because IMHO these two beer play in the same league…. of course, maybe he “Torpedoed” that beer too?

    • Don
      May 29, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

      Actually, Jim doesn’t like Gubna, says it’s way out of balance. I say, what more could you want out of a hop bomb! That said, I’m pretty sure Jim would like this beer quite a lot.

      • Kyle
        May 30, 2012 at 11:06 am #

        That’s right, Jim is a malt head.

  5. May 30, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    Indeed. Best beer they make. Hopefully it’s in market a bit longer than last year though. Maybe I just missed it when it initially came out, but it didn’t seem to be on the shelf for very long. 😦

    • Don
      May 30, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

      I might have to pick up a few more so I have some to get deeper into the summer before it is gone for the year. Really wish they would consider making this a year round beer, but given that they use whole cone hops, that probably will never be the case.

      • Jeff
        May 30, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

        I’d totally drink it year round…not a bad price for a 4-pack either…love it.

  6. Jeff
    May 30, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    I’m with Jim on the Torpedo…great, inexpensive go-to IPA for me. Hoptimum, however, is absolutely fantastic.

    • Don
      May 30, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

      I guess I have access year round to some fantastic alternatives like Ninkasi Total Domination, and Joe’s Pilsner, so I would choose those 10 out of 10 times instead of the Torpedo. But on the Hoptimum we can agree…it is fantastic!

  7. Johnny
    May 30, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

    This is a great beer. It actually kinda reminds me of Bell’s Hopslam. The hops are intense and the floral and fruit flavors balance so well with the bitterness. This and Bigfoot are the two best beers that Sierra Nevada makes currently.

    • Don
      May 30, 2012 at 11:03 pm #

      Agreed. Big foot isn’t my favorite, but the Hoptimum is outstanding.

  8. Ken
    May 30, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    This is a great brew; distributor told me that it should be available through August. My go to double IPA until it dries up…and @ $7.99 a 4-pack, who wouldn’t?

    • Don
      May 30, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

      Wish I could find it for that! $12 in these parts. Don’t know why, perhaps taxes or a larger distributor mark up?

      • Ken
        May 31, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

        IDK…Northwest IN FTW

        • Jeff
          May 31, 2012 at 10:56 pm #

          Awesome…that’s where I’m moving in the fall…Lake County.

  9. Gus.
    June 26, 2012 at 9:55 am #

    Interesting review. I found Hoptimum a little one note on the hop side. Didn’t get much of the fruity, grassy things I like in IPAs. Jut got bitter. Not a bad beer, just a bit of a disappointment.

  10. pat
    July 4, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    Big Boy beer..
    ..54 female that likes to chew her beer, can’t get it in MI, have to fly to CA

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