Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Hoptimum Imperial IPA
Last year was the debut of Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum, a whole-cone imperial IPA clocking in at 100 IBUs and hopped to the high heavens. It was a much-hyped and sought after beer.
And for me, it’s was met with a resounding “meh.”
For a beer that screams “hop” - from the name to the color of the label to the fact there’s some freaky Silent Hill looking dude on the label with a hop cone for a head - I was quite underwhelmed. It wasn’t bad so much as it was just a major disappointment.
I’m guessing they went back to the drawing board with Hoptimum, because this year’s batch is simply astounding. First, a tribute to the hopping process:
First, the beer is brewed with German Magnum and Simcoe as well as some secret proprietary hop variety. Following that, it’s dry hopped with more Simcoe and proprietary hops, and then “torpedo hopped” with Citra and Chinook. Torpedo hopping is described as an “espresso machine for beer,” releasing the resin and essential oils without imparting any additional bitterness.
Anyway, on to the beer.
Hoptimum pours a crystal-clear brownish orange color. There’s a good two fingers worth of a bubbly rocky head, but it dissipates very quickly. (This is a 10% beer, after all.) Some really nice alcohol legs.
The Simcoe hits you on the nose to start. You get those wet pine and resin characteristics. There are hints of sweet fruits, oranges and peaches. There’s some astringency and a little malt note but otherwise just a really sweet, juicy smelling beer.
There’s a muted bitterness on the front of the tongue, but it just explodes in the middle of the mouth. A real nice bouquet of pine, bitterness and sweeter fruits take over the palate. The grapefruit really comes through on the back. There’s a slight maltiness that works well balancing out the hops and kind of a sweet finish, but the bitterness masks it slightly. It does have a nice bitter dry finish to it, an interesting end to an otherwise rich and flavorful beer.
Kudos to the folks at Sierra Nevada. This year’s batch is a vast improvement over last year, and I like the break from 22 oz. bombers for 12 oz. 4-packs. Makes an already drinkable yet ass-kicking beer a bit more accessible.