Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sierra Nevada 2011 Hoptimum Whole-Cone Imperial IPA

by Alan

Hoptimum, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
For this beer, we really have to start with the label. Being new to home brewing, I picked up a copy of the Jan/Feb issue of Brew Your Own, and that's when I got my first glimpse at Hoptimum. The label just popped off the page, and I started keeping an eye out at local shops to see if I could get my hands on some of it. As soon as it was available I bought a couple bottles. I immediately drank one, and saved the second for a review.

Sierra Nevada's 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."

My tasting notes:
  • Appearance—Pours a clear golden amber with a foamy off white head. Great head retention
  • Smell—No surprise here, lots of hops up front. Grapefruit notes, nice and floral
  • Taste—Lots of hoppy bitterness, with a fantastic malty sweetness. Powerful hoppy flavor throughout with a clean dry finish. As you drink, the sweetness really shines and the floral notes come out more and more
  • Mouthfeel—Smooth and creamy, medium light carbonation with some heat from the alcohol content
  • Drinkability—This is a fantastic IPA for hopheads, not too cheap, and probably not too easy to find. If you can get your hands on some, I highly recommend it 

  • 24oz bottle, 9.49 at Whole Foods (prices may vary)
  • Bittering units: 100
  • ABV 10.4

I'm hoping Sierra Nevada makes this brew annually as a special release. They are doing some great things with their own proprietary hops, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. This was just an all around fun brew.

For a food pairing, you'll need something to be able to stand up to the bitterness. Any kind of spicy food would probably be the best although the hoppiness may enhance the heat a bit. Most BBQ beef would stand up great with this.

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