Tuesday, February 15, 2011

456. Sierra Nevada Hoptimum 2011

Let’s just start by observing that the Presidential portrait on the label where the head is replaced by a hop cone is brilliant. Rather than using the name to drive the image, Sierra Nevada uses the language of portraiture to develop their image. Nice. Well played. Classy, even. One might be tempted to point out that Sierra Nevada is revealing a different face for their brand, what with the new labels provided for beers like Hoptimum and Homegrown Estate Ale. Saucy indeed. Me likey. Anyway, we’ve seen Sierra Nevada before around these parts, with that whole 30th Anniversary and all—including our previous experiences with 30th Anniversary Jack & Ken’s Black Barleywine, 30th Anniversary Our Brewers Reserve Grand Cru, Homegrown Estate Ale, 30th Anniversary Charlie, Fred, & Ken’s Imperial Helles Bock, Southern Hemisphere Harvest, Bigfoot, 30th Anniversary Fritz and Ken’s Ale, Kellerweis, Celebration, Torpedo Extra IPA, Anniversary Ale 2009 and Harvest Wet Hop Ale 2008, Hoptimum makes lucky number thirteen. Straight outta Chico.

Described on the bottle as a “whole cone Imperial IPA” and “the ultimate whole-cone hop experience,” Hoptimum pours a clear orange copper with a light white head that fades to a ring. The nose, unsurprisingly, is a massive hop bomb that pretty much combines everything: citrus, herbal, pine, tangerine, grapefruit flavors, along with a slightly metallic and almost medicinal aroma via the sheer hop volume. Flavors begin with a light malt sweetness before quickly giving way to hop bitterness in the middle, with a slight mineral flavor and pine, resin, and spicy hops flavors combined with a metallic and light medicinal grassiness. Hoptimum’s finish has lingering bitterness with slight warmth from the alcohol; overall, a rather clean, dry finish for the size of the beer. If there is any sweet or stickiness in the palate, it is abundantly covered by the sheer scorching hop volume—and I mean that in all of the good ways, of course. The carbonation is rather balanced, as is most of the beer, which is something of a phenomenal result for this big of a beer. An excellent beer across the board; it is big, but a well executed big beer that has character and depth. We were both more than pleasantly surprised with this beer—I only wish we could find more. Top 10 Best all the way.

From the Sierra Nevada website: “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.”

ABV: 10.4%
IBU: 100
Malts: 2-row Pale, Golden Promise, Munich, & Wheat
Bittering Hops: German Magnum
Aroma Hops: Simcoe & New Proprietary Variety
Dry Hops: Simcoe & New Proprietary Variety
Torpedo Hops: Citra & Chinook


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