Sierra Nevada Torpedo, Sierra Nevada
Added: Tuesday, January 3rd 2012
Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
Sierra Nevada of California is regarded as one of the finest – if not the finest -- craft breweries in the United States that has built its reputation on the quality of its ales and lager along with a passion for using generous levels of hops in its brews. Already highly regarded for its Pale Ale and IPA, it has now brought even greater hop character to its strong and mightily bitter Torpedo.
The brewery is based in the university town of Chico and dates from 1980. It was founded by Ken Grossman, a keen home brewer who ran a homebrew supply shop. He joined forces with Paul Camusi as both had a mission to bring taste and character back to American beer. Their first plant was built from old dairy vessels and tanks from defunct breweries.
The success of their beers enabled them by 1989 to import a custom-built copper brewhouse from Germany. Seven years later additional vessels were built by the same German company, allowing Sierra Nevada to increase production to 800,000 barrels a year. Today the site includes a tap room and restaurant and facilities for tours of the brewery.
Torpedo Extra IPA blends the historic style of India Pale Ale first brewed in England in the late 18th and 19th centuries with the modern American devotion to heavily-hopped interpretations of the style. The 7.2% beer has a massive 65 units of bitterness and is brewed with Magnum as the main bittering hop, followed by Crystal and Magnum at the end of the boil in the kettle. Following fermentation, the beer is run into a stainless steel vessel called the torpedo where it lies on a bed of Citra, Crystal and Magnum for “dry hopping”, which adds additional bitterness and aroma. The hops are used as whole flowers and are all American varieties.
The beer that emerges from this exhaustive process is a burnished bronze colour with a big citrus fruit nose of lemon jelly and grapefruit, with spicy hop resins and a “fresh bread” malt note. The beer is shatteringly bitter in the mouth but the bitterness is softened by bittersweet fruit and chewy, sappy malt. Fruit – lemon, grapefruit, passion fruit and even a hint of lime marmalade – dominate the finish, with continuing contributions from spicy and bitter hops and lightly toasted malt.
The beer is available in 222 branches of Waitrose at £2.19 for a 350ml bottle.
Malt: medium. Fruit: high. Hops: high.