Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum

I sought out Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum after catching a fellow reviewer’s take on the beer a couple weeks back. As a bit of a hop-head, I was very excited to give it a try – I couldn’t remember having the beer and it carries a good reputation. It’s currently got a 91 on Beer Advocate.

What I will say about this beer is that Sierra Nevada is not messing around. I love their torpedo system, which they use to dry hop the beer by running it through a cylindrical tube filled with hops. It allows the beer to take in even more oils and resins from alpha acids that increase the smell and flavor of the beer. With that in mind, this was my initial thought:

We’re off to an alright start.

Hoptimum is very much an American IPA – the hops are center stage. The first smell fills up your nose with lots of grapefruit and citrus (hello, simcoe). I love it when the hop flavor is so intense, it’s almost sweet. Lots of resins and oils. It reminded me a lot of Hopslam.

However, this is where the comparison to my favorite IPA ends. The biggest difference between Hoptimum and other big IPAs I’ve had is the contrast between smell and taste. While the nose of the beer is large and sweet, the taste is very bitter – it’s worth noting that at 100 IBUs, this beer is pretty much at the very maximum of the bitterness spectrum.

The initial taste is a very smooth, American style hop profile – lots of citrus and a little pine. Hops galore. But to me, it quickly transitioned to a middle of bitterness and then a crash at the end that made my tongue jump a bit. It didn’t reek havoc on my taste buds, but it definitely woke them up. Over the course of drinking the beer, I didn’t mind the bitterness, but it can get to be a bit much. At least enough to prevent me from having two of these in a row. At 10.4 percent ABV, that’s probably a good idea.

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