Country: United States of America
Beer: Hoptimum from Sierra Nevada
About a month ago I put in an order for a mixed dozen through the awesome Melbourne shop Slowbeer (man, that place is dangerous for my credit card). One of the beers in that dozen was Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum and it’s been sitting in the box ever since, just waiting for the Beer Olympics to begin.
And I can tell you that was a tricky thing to do. I had to go so far as to hide the box so I wouldn’t see it every damn day. So that’s why the US is the second country represented; not out of any deference to their Olympic domination but just because I wanted to drink the damn beer.
According to the Sierra Nevada website, they made this beer to answer a challenge from US hopheads and publicans to make an intense whole hop beer. Because, you know, US IPAs aren’t already intense enough.
What is it with American brewers wanting to make every beer the equivalent of a slap in the face? While they can be fun to try – you really only need to drink them once to say you’ve had them. They’re seldom the sort of beer I’ll treat as a sessionable beer because, frankly, they’re a little exhausting.
Anyway, Sierra Nevada says this beer has been aggressively hopped, dry-hopped and torpedoed (how do you torpedo hop?) to create something that’s 100IBU. That’s a face-slapping load of bitterness.
Or actually a head-blowing load of bitterness. There are some nice caramel notes in the aroma (sounds much better than saying “smell”), much less than expected – though I do have a cold so my nose isn’t too good when it comes to aroma.
The first taste is fine, definitely robust on the hop front, but not stupidly so. That happens later, when the hop flavour keeps building and pretty much blows the top of my head clean off.
But, as is the case with ridiculously-hopped beers, once your taste buds get used to it, the beer becomes more drinkable. Not to the extent that it’s a sessionable beer – nothing coming in at 10.4% can ever be called sessionable by anyone other than an alcoholic – but it no longer blows your head off.
But that could be because you’ve only got one head and it can’t really be blown off twice.
Anyway, after a while the hop bitterness stops dominating and you can get the citrus and tropical flavours you’d expect.
Would I drink it again?: It’s got a “2012” printed on the collar label, which implies that this will be an annual beer, so maybe I’ll try one each year. But not any more than that. It’s one of those beers that you drink for the experience of having drunk it.