[Available in stores across the USA as of late February. None of it is available on draft yet.]
(Chico, CA) – There were some rumblings on Beer Advocate recently resulting in a quick thread lock down with respect to one apparently controversial beer: Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA. There seems to be conflicting info between the RateBeer description and what was mentioned by people in the BA thread. The (and I use the term loosely) “controversy” is whether this Torpedo is actually a new beer, whether it is another version of Sierra Nevada Celebration, etc. Bill Manley, Sierra Nevada Communications Coordinator, has always been forthcoming with information about their beers so I thought that he would be a good one to clear up any confusion with this. So here is the scoop straight from him:
“Yes, Sierra Nevada will be releasing Torpedo Extra IPA as a new addition to our year-round staple of beers. The tentative release date is January 15. This is the first change in our year-round lineup since we started back in 1980. The beer will be available in 6-packs, with the same distribution as all of our other year-round and seasonal beers.
About the beer:
Contrary to popular belief Torpedo Ale is not a different version of Celebration. The confusion stems from the device itself. The name Torpedo stems from an invention that Ken Grossman and the brewers came up with several years ago. The Hop Torpedo is a cylindrical stainless steel vessel that was developed to harness the essential oils and resins in hops, without extracting bitterness. The device essentially works like an espresso machine. A stainless filter basket is packed full of whole cone hops loaded into the vessel and sealed against pressure. The device is then placed in the fermentation cellars where beer from the cylindroconical fermenters is pushed down from the tanks, through the pressurized column of hops and back into the fermenting tank. The flow of beer out of the tanks, into the Torpedo and back into the fermenter can be controlled to extract different levels of flavor, aroma and bitterness. Essentially, it is a new way of dry-hopping that extracts all of the oily resin without the residual bitterness of the traditional method.
The confusion with Celebration came about because Celebration has ALWAYS been copiously dry-hopped. The idea came about because dry-hopping is both difficult, time consuming and wasteful. Also, dealing with dry hopping bags in a 400-600 bbls. Fermenters is an engineering nightmare. (those things are tall!) So, back to the point, the Torpedo was developed to use with Celebration. After years of experimentation, we decided to stick with the traditional method of dry-hopping for Celebration and are using the Hop Torpedo for other inventions.
There is also confusion, because Torpedo has been available for a few years as part of our limited draft selection program. We do a limited draft program as a way to have fun and experiment, while producing beers that are not really viable options for year-round packages. The legalities, and consistency from year to year are not as stringent as with bottled packages. The recipe for Torpedo has varied in the past over a big variable. Essentially we have been polishing the beer and testing the reactions for years! In the forthcoming Torpedo package, we are not only using the new Hop Torpedo method, but also debuting a new variety of hop. We are using a new varietal called the Citra hop. Sierra Nevada ( and two other breweries) funded the research and development of this variety and we own most of the acreage available in the world, (which is something like 3 acres). This hop has a crazy strange flavor profile, leaning toward pineapple, mango, papaya and other tropical fruit flavors and aromas. As always, we use only whole cone hops.
Torpedo is in a grey area, somewhere between an IPA and a Double IPA…We are calling it Extra IPA…
7.4% ABV – IBU’s in the high 70’s to 80’s
Bittering hops: with Magnum
Finishing hops: Magnum, Crystal, Chinook.
Torpedo: Magnum, Chinook, Citra
For those wondering what the deal is with the Citra hop, there is a little info at the Barthaas Group (major hop producer) website (
as pdf | as html)