Happiest Hour 

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum

Optimum hops: I've always enjoyed me some Sierra Nevada. So a few weeks ago, when the server at Sapore said a keg of Hoptimum, a limited offering from the Chico, Calif.-based brewery, had just arrived, I didn't hesitate. She poured a friend and me the first two pints from the freshly tapped keg. And the third and fourth pints. And so on.

Whoa: Which might have been a mistake, especially after having had a couple Blackfoot IPAs, because Hoptimum weighs in at an eye-glazing 10.4 percent ABV. A week later, my friend returned to Sapore and asked for more Hoptimum. Fresh out. Funny thing, though, the waiter said: Sapore had served the mighty brew in pint glasses, when they should have been pouring eight-ounce snifters. Ha!

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

What it tastes like: Hoptimum is a whole-cone hop Imperial IPA, a 100 IBU "hurricane of flavor," says Sierra Nevada. Its website continues: "The flavor follows the aroma with layers of aggressive hoppiness, featuring notes of grapefruit rind, rose, lilac, cedar and tropical fruitall culminating in a dry and lasting finish." I can't say I remember enough from the evening to dispute that. I concur that the beer is very good.

Where to find it: Last I checked, Sapore was still out. Worden's first shipment of four-packs was plucked from the shelves in a couple days, but the downtown grocer has since restocked.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, email editor@missoulanews.com.

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