Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
75 Blade Chainsaw
Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA is the brewery’s first highly anticipated year roundAmerican India Pale Ale offering. It is brewed with two-row Pale and Crystal Maltswith a beginning gravity of 17.3 degree Plato and an ending gravity of 4.2 degree Plato delivering a monstrous 236 Calories!
It’s hop profile consists of Magnumhops for bittering as well as finishing, in addition to Crystal hops to complete their finishing efforts. To bring the hop madness up a notch, Sierra Nevada used their own stainless steel Torpedo Dry Hopper to dry hop the brew with whole cone Magnum, Crystal & Citra hops for a well configured 65 International Bitterness Units. TheAle Yeast brings this concoction together for a rocket launched 7.2% ABV.
As an early craft beer pioneeropening its doors in California in 1980, it has always been a wonder that Sierra Nevadawas one of the few West Coastbreweries not to offer a year round IPA. But in 2009, they unveiled what had been years of work and experimentation, as well as the invention of their Torpedo dry hopper which they claim to deliver the most hop aroma they’ve ever experienced.
Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA was to be a big, bold and truly American representation of the style, utilizing all American ingredients as well as pure quality whole flower hops. In the end, they brought to market a bad ass beer with heavy crunch.
Nevertheless, I always found Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA overpriced. As beer prices have been continuously rising, I stayed away from their Extra IPA offering. There was a time not long ago when you could estimate the dollar amount to their ABV, 4 to 6 for $6.00, 7 from $7.00 and so on. Sierra Nevada Torpedo started high, and at around $10 is still high for 7.2% ABV, but is starting to look average as others come up in price. And I noticed it again at a local store, shopping around trying to find a great beer at a decent price. The Torpedo wasn’t a bargain, but aside from being a beer I wanted to try, it had a significant advantage over other craft beers: it was refrigerated!
Onto The Method
7.0/10 – The Classic
1.5 – Appearance – Pours a creamy green gold with lively carbonation and luscious head inspired to escape from the sides of the glass.
1.0 – Aroma – Subtle in both malt body as well as an undetectable hop aromas. It was necessary to hold my hand over the glass to capture any faint scents that might exist somewhere in the depths of this brew. Ultimately, very faint herbal hoppiness and almost no other distinguishable aromatic notes were present. I expected a bigger punch from the hops, but was surprised at its aromatic inertia.
2.0 – Taste – Immediately pleasantly bitter, a result of the highly complex hop composure and construction. Flavors of pine, soap, fruits and citrus leanings saturated the sense with exotic inclinations. The initial bitter bang and complex hop flavors were followed by additional bitter after flavors melding well with a clean and crisp malt backbone.
1.0 – Palate – Though the backbone is composed of clean Crystal and Pale malts, its body becomes too heavy for its offering – heavy on the palate, full in the belly, slightly oily on the bittering side. Well flavored but fat and obnoxious.
1.5 – Overall – Sierra Nevada Torpedo’s greatest offering is its highly complex and pleasurable flavor profile. It is exquisite in its layered hop complexity and truly a champion in that arena. I was surprised by the lack of aromatic activity given such artistry, and tried over the next several servings to capture its scents, and in multiple temperature settings with similar results. It’s negative is that it is just so heavy – fat, obnoxious and burdensome. But it tastes so good!
7.5/10 Blades – The Hammer – the booze – Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA makes a bold statement at 7.2% ABV and claims a high grade octane level when compared to Sierra Nevada’s already well strengthened brews.
2.0/10 Blades – The Knife – digestibility – With 236 calories and a whole mess of alpha acid oils and heavy malt backbone, the weight of this beer was clearly its biggest challenge. It sat in the belly as my body begged for dissolvement and rapid resolution. Blocked, sluggish and slow, it was an almost painful experience.
9.0/10 Blades – The Spider – the lift – And yet even with its spirit crushing heavy body, there was an immediate euphoric rise to the brain within the first beer, establishment in the second, and steady throughout the session.
10/10 Blades – The Motor –can you handle it? – Being such a heavy beer, I was surprised that any lift made it through that obnoxious nonsense. But when it did, it was pleasureable and chill. It brought a smile to my face that lasted nicely throughout the brew.
39.5/50 Blades – The Buzz – Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA had some extreme high points and low points. Without hesitation, its complex, layered and multi flavored hop composition and construction was exquisite and came together with its malt backbone to form an immediately flavorful elixir. Meanwhile, its fat, crushing, unwelcome heavy body forced me to deeply dislike the beer’s proud big and bold persona. But it was that persona that disarmed me into believing nothing could come of this brew; that it was destined to be yet another six pack to finish and be happy with whatever nothingness it offered. Instead, it presented a flavorful beer that produced some big smiles as my wife and I watched the season premier of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. As we watched and laughed and went on to catch Workaholics, my wishes of liquid dissolvement in my stomach came true and I simply enjoyed myself through the night.