Tonight’s brew review will be different. First off, the beer I purchased for this endeavor was obtained two weeks ago and the details of the visit are foggy. What I do remember was that it was that one visit to the beloved MBS that I pushed myself to experience greater and more diverse tastes in beer. It was the day I bought a sixpack of IPA for a review. Love it or hate it, I would write about my findings on a highly hopped beer that I once shunned and thought was basically undrinkable.
Slowly but surely, goaded by readers’ comments and my membership in the Homebrew Club, I began to feel my inhibitions melt and I became bolder as my own self-imposed beer rules relaxed themselves in my mind. I began tasting pale ales after my trip to the Schlafly Bottleworks last year. More pale ales started showing up in my reviews, many with very positive ratings. But I knew that one day, I’d have to bite the bullet, as it were, and offer up an opinion on an India Pale Ale, those beers that were hopped up in order to make the trip to India under sail.
My purchase at the MBS that day was a push beer, one that would push me over the deciding edge of love or hate. What I bought was a sixpack of Sierra Nevada Extra IPA. Not just a regular IPA, I had chosen an “extra” one. That’s like selecting a higher voltage for your electric chair execution… “No, not 280. Give me 440 volts.”
On a similar note, my buddy, Eric, gave me a souvenir bottle opener from Lake Geneva, Wisc. “I Fear No Beer.” Nice. I could only hope to live up to that statement. With my wife off visiting her aging mother, I was home alone; just me and the beer. But who knows what would happen. Steve Jobs or that Zuckerberg guy might stop by. Or not. Let’s get to the punishment or bliss with this Extra IPA beer I have decided to cut my throat with.
The beer poured up with an odd color, kind of a dark, orange/red and it was also a bit cloudy, a bit translucent. The head rose up majestically to about an inch and a quarter. Lots of bubbles of mixed sizes rose up to the top. The aroma had a nice, slightly sweet smell to it, quite enticing indeed.
The first sip was a jumbo surprise. Lots of malt and sweet flavors accompanied by a zip and a tang of sharp fruitiness made this first sip a real eyebrow raiser. Wow. What a complex taste it had. A sweetness in the front, lots of malt in the middle and a slap at the end. Almost like swallowing an open zipper.
Each mouthful was full of wonderful tastes each one different yet the same as the previous one. Judging from the taste of this beer, I’d say that the SN guys spared no expense or effort in concocting this delightful recipe. As an interesting side note, the head kept up all through the entire draining of the glass. Oh sure it diminished as time went on, but even the last sip had foam. Nice.
And… a spontaneous party has broken out right here in the Manly Garage. All my sons are here, the daughter-in-law, the grandson and the big door has been opened and now Ozzy’s belting out Crazy Train on the garage speakers as I struggle along with my words.
Back to the beer and about the hops. This Torpedo IPA is listed as having 65 IBUs on SN’s website and it’s obviously the driving force behind this beer. To me, the hops add a great aroma which is present in each sip. It’s also the zing at the tail end of the swallow. But what’s interesting is how well it blends in with the malts. It makes for quite the complex taste, the thickness and flavor of a malt and the citrus notes added to it by the hops. The beer is full of body and each sip is a 50¢ sip.
The zippiness of the hops reminded me just a little of grapefruit but not much. It blended so well in the overall taste that I virtually forgot about it. As each sip went down and I paused to type, the flavor lingered on the tongue, not bitter, but full of wonderfulness. This was where the 7.2% ABV manifested itself. The rich malts are responsible to be sure.
In my opinion, Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA is a go-to beer. It’s one that’s so good, that you should always have it within reach, whether it’s one or two orphans in the back of the fridge or just down the street at the beer store. When you’re tired of the stouts and wheats and wee-heavies, grab one of these and just maybe a spontaneous party will break out in your mouth.
I have it in my mind to re-review SN’s Celebration Ale, that one beer that etched itself in my memory banks forever. Then I can truly say that “I fear no beer.” But right now, I can honestly say that if offered an IPA, I’d drink it and render an honest opinion on it. But an IPA would have to be Extra Special for me to include it in my repertoire. Hmm. Dogfish Head 90-minute comes to mind. Thanks to the readers again.
Taste: A- > One part rich flavor, one part Velcro.
Smoothness: B+ > All the sips are connected and inseparable.
Drinkability: B+ > Give me another one of those mystery beers.
Bang for the buck: B+ > Less than 10 bucks for six squatty bottles packed full of taste.
Daughter-in-law’s opinion: Smells like beer. (grimace) (sip) Yeah that’s really bitter. (sip) I don’t get any fruit in that. I don’t know where you get fruit. I don’t like it. But I’m a girl. (With apologies. But what the hell. Some things are in the genes.)
I’d run a clever, pertinent video here, but there’s a party goin’ on.