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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Whole-Cone Imperial IPA

Day six of the California beers brings me back to Chico and the always prolific line of beers brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. with Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Whole-Cone Imperial IPA.  Touted as being Sierra Nevada's biggest, hoppiest ale ever by way of five different hop varietals, a combination of three hopping methods, and a three digit IBU, this ale seemed like a challenge any IPA lover would have to take on.

Poured in the glass, Hoptimum was a golden caramel color; see-through but slightly hazy with a somewhat cloudy head, slightly thick and little to no carbonation.  The smell was surprisingly sweet and orange-scented for all the mention of hops, citrus and sugar with some alcohol burn to it.

The first few sips of Hoptimum were surprising, with a dominant sweet honey and woody front competing with the floral and citrus notes of the hops.  The ale was sticky in the mouth as the opening faded and a grapefruit rind and alcohol fumes lingered. Oddly, a couple of minutes being opened seemed to round out the ale, with the hops taking lead with a sweet strawberry (rhubarb?) flavor and the finish cleaning up quite a bit.  Even for a double-digit ABV, Hoptimum was surprisingly warm in my belly; both physically pleasant and complimentary to the earthy undertones.

If I hadn't had Crystal drinking with me and reporting a similar experience, I would have assumed my mind had been playing tricks on me. I'm unsure if the transformation was the result of the beer truly "opening up" or a little palette conditioning being needed to bring out what Hoptimum is all about, but I'm happy to say what started as a somewhat confusing and disappointing taste quickly became very enjoyable.  22oz of the ale, however, is about as much as I could see enjoying in an evening, so I'll be moving on to a lighter ale for the rest of the evening and keep that second bottle to kick off another evening...

1 comment:

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