Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum

Happy Belated 4th of July! Craig "The Beeraholic" actually recommended this one and wanted to Skype review it with me but that didn't happen. Anyway, you know I tend to enjoy big West Coast IPAs and this certainly is a big one from Sierra Nevada at 10.4% ABV.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (687) - Albany, New York, USA - JUL 4, 2012
I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Dark, hazy, burnt umber/orange marmalade hue. Forms an off-white, creamy head which dissipates rather quickly, but not completely, and leaves nice lacing on the glass.

Smell: Intense pine sap and resin with a hint of tropical fruit syrup or extract sweetness.

Taste: If I had drank Sierra Nevada Hoptimum blind I might assume it’s an East Coast beer. Usually west coast brews of the style tend to be very citrusy and flowery, but this one is more in the dank style of pure pine sap, sticky resin, and an underlying earthy/astringent component. It’s a very bitter beer for sure (it should be considering its 100 IBUs), but there’s no hop bite per se, as it’s simply pure bitter energy from beginning to end.

There’s a sweetness throughout as well, but not in the usual style of fruit juice concentrate or liquefied flowers. It’s closer to a confectionary extract or syrup: vanilla, toffee, or maybe even molasses. The rustic, almost dirty taste of tree bark is also present - especially in the aftertaste. This can probably be attributed to the fact it’s brewed with whole cone hops (but not necessarily wet hops - which would also contribute to such a palate). It’s very delectable and intensely flavored, but I think this is something only hopheads would really enjoy. West Coasters might be a little disappointed by the fact it’s actually a really well-balanced brew, although those who prefer sweetness to earthiness might also take issue with it. I think it’s impressive for it is.

Drinkability: With a thick, sticky, almost chewy mouthfeel and a lingering resiny, bitter aftertaste, you’d think Sierra Nevada Hoptimum would be in that barleywine/extreme beer sipper category but you’d be wrong. I was delightfully surprised by the comfortable, lightly carbonated mouthfeel and extremely smooth finish. The hops definitely linger, though, so there’s a significant bitter resiny aftertaste. Yet you’d never know it’s 10.4% ABV since there’s no alcohol taste or warmth at all. Not exactly a dessert beer, but something every beer nerd can fit in their schedule somehow.

Grade: 8/10

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