Beer Review: Sierra Nevada Torpedo

Sierra Nevada Torpedo

I am a HUGE fan of hops.  Anytime I catch a glimpse of a beer that pushes it’s hop bite as a main selling point, I’m all over it like Madonna at a third-world orphanage.   Obviosuly, being an avowed hophead means that I often find myself in the comfort of IPAs.  Some of my favourites, like Amnesiac (Phillips) and Arrogant Bastard (Stone Brewing) bill themselves as double IPAs.  You take a sip and there’s such a rush of bite and bitterness that it makes you pucker and almost wince.  I think it’s a lovely sensation.  However,  mere mortal would spit these beers  right out and spend the next 5 minutes pouring cold water on their wounded tongue.   Super hoppy beers are most definitely an acquired taste.

When I was in the liquor store the other day, I stopped to check out the latest offering from the good people at Sierra Nevada.  I have fond associations with most of their beers.  Sierra Nevada pale ale takes me back to my days as a 19 year old counselor at a summer camp, when my older and very attractive co-counselor tried to win my heart with a six pack.  It was my first boutique beer.  And as I remember, she was a pretty good kisser, but I digress.

In among the familiar Sierra Nevada labels, I saw one I didn’t recognize.  Torpedo?  Hmmm.  I slid one out of its carton and immediately noticed Extra IPA on the label.  Sold!  No need for hemming and hawing here.  I paid the clerk and literally ran to my car, so excited was I to get home and taste the goodness.  When I got through the front door, I ripped the cap off and poured the first bottle lovingly into my favourite beer glass.  I took a deep sniff.  Surprisingly malty, some light caramel notes, and present but not bold hop aroma.  I took note of the alcohol content printed on the bottle (7.2%), took a deep breath and eased the first sip over my eager taste buds.

As the aroma indicated, it was surprisingly malty for an IPA.  As I swirled that first sip around my mouth, I waited with great anticipation for the hop bite.  Instead, what I got was somewhat closer to a nibble.  Wow, really?  I took another sip, and was similarly disappointed.  Not only was there remarkably little bitterness, but even the sharpness that a high abv imparts on a beer seemed to be missing. Most good West Coast IPAs also have a tangy, piney aftertaste from the very distinctive Cascade hops commonly used on the Left Coast.  That was missing as well.   Follow-up sips confirmed the beefy, malty body, but not a whole lot else.  It made me wonder, is Arrogant Bastard just as malty but the sharp, piney hops override the body?

I eventually finished the glass, and over a week’s time I finished the sixer.  It was by no means a bad beer.  But I found it lacking in what it advertised, even when compared to just the basic Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which has way more hops than any other pale ale you’ll ever encounter.  I don’t know what I would classify this Torpedo as, but extra IPA would not be my first choice.  Maybe it would be better renamed to something like “Malt Monster (with a dash of hops).”

Overall, I’d give it a B.  It was tasty, once expectations and preconceived notions were stripped away.  But it’s not what the label would have you believe, and it’s hard to reward false advertising.

~ by schlippo on April 27, 2010.

2 Responses to “Beer Review: Sierra Nevada Torpedo”

  1. I dunno if I have asked before, but have you heard of O’Dell Brewing out of Fort Collins, CO? I’ve heard from more than one person that their IPA ( is one of the best, wondering if you had a chance to try it. If not, I could shoot you off a sixer sometime to try it out.

  2. I’ll look for it. We’ve got a HUUUUGE mondo liquor store about 15 minutes away that has just about everything I’ve ever looked for. I’ll have to hit them up and see if I can find this O’Dell stuff. Thanks for the recommendation!

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