Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA (review)

Founded in 1979, making it an early entry into the craft beer movement, Sierra Nevada is now the seventh largest brewer in the United States. But this is a rare instance when sales should not count against a brewer. With production under 1 million barrels a year, Sierra Nevada's output is still a drop in the bucket compared to the "big three." And while far bigger than most craft brewers, Sierra Nevada has mostly managed to maintain a high quality product even as it upscale its recipes and production processes.

Part of me doesn't want to like Sierra Nevada. Are they still artisans, or a cleverly disguised corporate juggernaut like Sam Adams, only playing at craft brewery?

With ubiquitous marketing, Coors and Miller can bottle piss and ship it by the truckload. But I've never once in my life seen a commercial for Sierra Nevada. Ultimately what it comes down to is the beer. And the beer is good.

I previously reviewed Sierra Nevada's Celebration Fresh Hop and Hop Hunter IPA's. Both were fantastic, and rank among my favorite IPA's to-date. Torpedo Extra IPA falls just a bit short of these other two outstanding Hop-bombs, but is itself a another rock solid member of the Sierra Nevada IPA lineup.

Torpedo Extra IPA's namesake is the Hop Torpedo, a device that circulates the fermenting beer through fresh hop cones during the fermentation process, helping to distribute the hop oils evenly through out the entire batch.  Exposure time, temperature and varieties of hops can also be adjusted to further dial in the results.

The result is, in this case, is a beer with big aroma but with smooth, dialed back hop bitterness (65IBU). Amber in color, big pine and grapefruit aromas. Taste: Pine, grapefruit, considerable malty caramel notes. Compared to Celebration and Hop Hunter IPA's, the hops here come off as less fresh, for an overall less "bright" flavor tone.

Celebration Fresh Hop IPA
Hop Hunter IPA

Musical Pairing: Ghost Division by Sabaton. War music for Torpedo IPA

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