Sierra Nevada: Torpedo Extra IPA


There’s something interesting, craft-y and just a bit different (naive, maybe?) about Sierra Nevada bottle designs. These designs are just not something that’d fly over here…I doubt it would make it past the Alastairs, Piers or Charlottes in the big brewery’s marketing departments…it’s just not aspirational, cool or “mates down the pub” enough.  I  do like them, however, because they’re honest-looking, devoid of style over content and aren’t relying on any gimmickery.

But I digress…

Straight from the bottle Torpedo pours a lovely copper-orange colour, and didn’t necessarily have the huge aroma that I’d expected – especially when you bear in mind why it’s called Torpedo.  The Sierra Nevada website informs:

Hop Torpedo
A new method we created to add hop aroma to beer, the “Hop Torpedo” is a stainless steel device packed with whole-cone hops. Fermenting beer is circulated out of a fermenter, through the column of whole-cone hops, and back into the fermentation tank. This new method has revolutionized how we dry hop our beers, adding intense hop flavor and aroma with no additional bitterness.

For the curious I managed to scrape a link to a picture of the famous torpedoes:

The aroma that is there is certainly hop heavy and fresh, fresher than fresh, piney and citrusy with a great warm alcohol and malt background.  I like a beer where you can detect the alcohol in the aroma, and at 7.2% ABV it’s no great surprise that I picked up on it.

Torpedo bears aloft a decent head; which -bearing all that I wrote above- seems to have a faintly greenish tinge to it from the dry hopping…but maybe that’s just unconscious wish fulfillment on my behalf!

The first sip unleashes a powerful tumult of piney, peppery, hoppiness that bends around and insinuates itself into nook and cranny of your mouth and tongue – this must be what it feels like having hops mainlined into your system; but wait there’s so much more to come: wave upon wave of gorgeous citrusy bitterness follows on and smashes against your reeling senses.  A comforting malt and alcohol backdrop provide the perfect foil for all this hop madness.

The after taste is long, pervasive and almost as good as the actual taste.  Piney citrus bittreness echoes and reverbs around your mouth like a departing storm.

This is how beer should be: An event. A thing to savour, explore and enjoy.  Single Malt Scotch has had the spotlight for far too long.  A bottle of Torpedo is more than equal in terms of complexity and ability to provide pleasure.

I now find myself hankering to try Sierra Nevada’s Big Foot Barley Wine, as that’s supposed to be just epic.

Surprisingly, I got my bottle from Tesco in Banbury for £2.05 – which I think is justified.  I also managed to persuade two dithering beer buyers that they needed to try it instead of some other old piss that they were contemplating.

Kudos to Tesco’s procurement department for stocking Torpedo.

We are just about to enter the era of the serious craft beer folks – hold on to your hats.  There’ll be a beer menu in every restaurant before the next two years are out…I’m willing to put a small amount of money on it.