Beer in Review: Sierra Nevada Torpedo

torpedoContinuing on from yesterday, I will be taking a look at Sierra Nevada’s latest creation: Torpedo.  Sierra Nevada markets Torpedo as an Extra IPA, which basically means that it’s an IPA (Imperial India Pale Ale). To put things into context, your typical IPA is a showcase for hops; big on hop aroma, flavor and bitterness and higher in alcohol than your typical pale ale. According to the BJCP style guidelines, your typical IPA has a IBU (International Bittering Units) range between 40 – 70 and an ABV between 5.5% – 7.5%. Budweiser by comparison has an IBU range between 8 – 15 and and ABV range between 4.2% – 5.3%. While not a fair comparison by any means (apples to oranges), I’m just trying to put things into some sort of context.

Torpedo Extra IPA, Sierra Nevada, 7.2% ABV

glassGood “hiss” when I popped the bottle. Nearly brilliantly clear, copper colored beer with an off-white head. The hop aroma of this beer is floral in nature, slightly fruity and perfumy in nature. Flavor is assertively bitter but it’s not a harsh or clingy bitter. It hits you up front and subsides relatively quickly. The malt flavor is sweet but allows the hops to dominate and take center stage. Torpedo has a medium-high/high carbonation level and is medium/medium-high in body.

I don’t know why I should be surprised but Torpedo is a good, good beer. For an IPA, it’s very easy drinking, flavorful yet restrained. For a while, it seemed like the trend in West Coast breweries was to see who could make the hoppiest, most bitter beer but it’s great to be able to have an IPA that’s balanced (for the style) and adequately bitter without beating up your palette.

Torpedo is made with two-row pale, carapils and crystal malts. Magnum is used for bittering. Magnum is once again used for finishing along with Crystal hops. Dry hopping uses Magnum, Crystal and the new Citra hop. Citra hop has a tropical fruit characteristics and a high Alpha Acid level. Here’s more information pulled from a Beer Advocate discussion as provided by what I am led to believe is a Sierra Nevada employee:

As far as we know Torpedo will be the first bottled beer EVER to include Citra hops, widely available or otherwise.

We are using Citra in the torpedo because it is not only a really unique flavored hop but also has a ton of alpha-acid…I think 12% don’t quote me though. The flavor os somewhere in between the crazy-tropical mango flavor I described, but if used too much, Citra can crank out an intense “catty” flavor… Like Simcoe on steroids.

As the previous poster stated, with a late hop addition, the hops are still subjected to hot wort, therefore, extracting some bitterness. That is, not necissarily why we’re not using there, though. i think I mentioned earlier, that there ar only about 3 acres of this hop anywhere in the world. There just isn’t that much of it to go around. I was in our hop freezer this aftyernoon, and we have a solid 250lb bale. I think that’s it. Total. End of story.

We are using citra in a way to get the most bang for the buck, so to speak, and blending it in with many different hop varieties in the Torpedo for added hop complexity. – SierraNevadaBill

xgfAren’t the Intertubes great? All this information at your fingertips at the prompting of just a few keystrokes. In any event, I would highly recommend picking up and trying Torpedo for yourself. It’s a great tasting and balanced beer using the rare andnew hop Citra. Tonight, no such distractions as last night.

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10 Responses to Beer in Review: Sierra Nevada Torpedo

  1. Jason says:

    I don’t know if the Torpedo I tried was bad but it tasted like fertilizer, the manure variety. I tried to like it and wanted to like it but couldn’t! Thoughts?

  2. Rob says:

    You mean “India Pale Ale”, right? Not “Imperial Pale Ale”?

  3. Interesting beer… smells wonderful, and of the two bottles I have tried one was tasty, and just like your description … the other had a faint background character that was a little bit vomit-like. Not “catty” — which I kind of like — but buteric acid if I remember correctly what that flavor comes from. Very faint but it damped my enthusiasm. Wonder if that had to do with the hops? It shouldn’t be detected in a commercial beer. Two bottles from the same case of beer, treated exactly the same way, so far as I know.

    Pretty odd. Maybe it was something I ate one of those times and not the other.
    I like that Sierra finally did their coastal style IPA after all these years.

    By the way, the special beer they tapped during SF beer week, the smoked Imperial Porter, was awesome. They do some nice work in these “kick it up a notch” projects!

  4. Ethan says:

    Jason: It sure sounds like you got a bad one, but that’s incredibly rare these days. Some folks have an aversion to the flavors of plants in the Hop family (notably Cilantro). Do you like other strong IPAs?

    I love the Torpedo — I’m glad to see at least someone else does! It seems to be a getting a pretty ho-hum reaction in my circles. I’m really excited that there will be a standby strong IPA that I can get year-round. Alongside Stone’s offerings, this will probably become a regular addition to my fridge.

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  6. Robert Sands says:

    First of all – use a spell checker or proof read your copy. We deserve that much.

    ( there I go – I’ll probably have a typo now in my post) lol

    But more importantly, Torpedo is a super great beer and will win awards like crazy.
    Complex, soooo well balanced, crisp, very drinkable perfection. Not a hop bomb but will delight the hop lovers that understand balance and sophistication. The brewer who concocted this treat is a master! The alcohol is really there but totally hidden. Just a delicious EPIC ale!

  7. Andyh says:

    I love their pale ale so I saw this and picked i up. I’ve bought a 6 pack twice since and am pleased with the flavor of this beer. I’m not usually a big fan of many IPA’s, but this one is really good. Hoping to find it somewhere on tap soon.

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  9. Jet Jennings says:

    The only reason I feel a need to comment is to call Robert Sands a DEUCE-BAG!! This is a beer blog, not an English class. Peter- great write up! I recently got addicted to Torpedo. It really is a top notch IPA, balanced well with equal amounts of malt and hop kick, and the buzz from it is incredible!

    • Peter says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Jet, I appreciate it! Torpedo is a great tasting beer and one of the better offerings to come out of Sierra Nevada. I do my best to make sure these posts are error free but a few typos slip out here and there. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment!

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