As if to purposefully slate my previous post, in which I was calling for us to consider sacking off importing hoppy beers from the States altogether as they’re never really fresh when they arrive, something extraordinary has just turned up on Irish shores.
Yes, conspiring against me is a just-off-the-boat batch of Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA which is just over 8 weeks old. Jesus, that’s fresher than a lot of the Irish bottled beers that are on our shelves, when you consider that many local brewers still send tanks of their beer to the UK to avail of cheaper bottling rates!
Hoptimum is the Big-Daddy of those Gods of craft brewing at Sierra Nevada’s range – it’s their Spring/Summer seasonal, brewed with the freshest of whole cone Pacific Northwest hops and finishing up at the frankly mammoth 10.4% ABV.
This beast pours a shade of dark orange with a solid white head. The aroma bashes you right in the chops with an assault of thick pine character: think oily resin, fresh spruce, and a kick of almost-menthol car air freshener. As well as the pine-blast, there’s bits of grapefruit and some woody, earthy spice. The taste is (unsurprisingly) another piney blitzkrieg – those resinous hop oils literally coat your entire mouth – but with added blood orange, grapefruit, fresh sprucey stuff, and woodiness. This is by no means a 1D hop bomb though, as there’s plenty of substantial cakey and sweet biscuit maltiness backing up the pine assault. It’s pretty full bodied – this is an adult’s beer, do not be giving this to the nipper. As it warms, there’s a hint of that substantial booze content: a bit of a rough alcohol note as it goes down, but it’s a pleasant warmth nevertheless. In terms of the aftertaste, it’s pure pine resin – delicious and seemingly everlasting. This is one serious experience.
As I said, the batch of Hoptimum we’ve got here in Ireland at the moment is fresh. And you can bloody well taste it. It retails around at around the fiver mark for a 35cl bottle – if you’re into your hops, then it’s money seriously well spent. I tell you what, if we get more imports of this calibre and in this cracking condition then we’re in for a right treat in the coming months.