>Sierra Nevada Hoptimum
…And we round off the weekend with a ridiculously-named offering from perennial favourites Sierra Nevada. Although SN can’t do much wrong in my eyes, Hoptimum’s (10.4%bv) a puzzling one. Awesome label artwork aside (Reminiscent of Kevin O’Neill’s artwork), the name of the beer precedes it; you know what’s coming. Hops – and lots of them. Pouring that usual cracking SN shade of Amber, you bring Hoptimum to your nose and get….well, not a lot. A touch of Pine, some florals and that all-too-familiar Grapefruity fruity note. Oh well. Then the sip – Bang! A smack of hops, coming stealthily after some smooth, sweet caramel notes, but it’s the massive, high bitterness that catches you off – guard with this one; high, green and bitter. Really Bitter.
Don’t get me wrong – I like the concept of Hoptimum. The US market, and in some ways the UK, demand more hops these days – but there’s something about Hoptimum that doesn’t sit right. It’s a smooth beer – and as sweet as you’d expect, having to outweigh that formidable hop attack – but the finish is all jumbled up, and I can’t really pick out one hop aspect above all other. Simcoe, perhaps – as it’s Piney as hell -but aside from that, it’s just really, really bitter.
Maybe the size of the bottle helps this overwhelming feeling – a half, perhaps, served in good nick, would reduce Hoptimum to ‘An interesting Drop’. But when I look at the depth of hop freshness SN achieve with their Harvest series, I wonder whether Hoptimum is just a little too much. And to stress the O’Neill artwork link, Hoptimum, for me remains much like Alan Moore’s excellent comics – a strange Curio.