I am a man on a mission. I've moved too many times and been faced with too many colorful aisles of micro brews to choose from. I've decided to put an end to the madness...and try them all. My plan is to chronicle my journey for all of you, whether I encounter success or failure. So sit back and enjoy and if there's one or two brews that you would like to suggest...please feel free to let me know and I will hunt them down as if...I were a Man On A Mission. - Doug (on the road since 2011)
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA - The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company - Chico, CA
The West Coast...sometimes, I really miss it. I miss the Pacific Ocean, the Mountains, the music and the attitude. There's just something about the Left Coast that exudes a certain independence amongst those that call it home. Here on the East Coast...America began, but when those who wanted to just get away from it all and live by there own rules wanted a change...they headed West to cities like Seattle, Gig Harbor, Eugene, Solvang...and Chico. these were pioneers and mavericks...and I miss them. Fortunately for me, The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is available...pretty much everywhere. So if I want a taste of the West Coast variety...it's only a short walk to my local brew shop. Tonight, I'm reviewing their Torpedo...a brew that promises a heavy dose of hops, along with a taste that will set your spirit free. Here's what the website had to say:
Sierra Nevada Torpedo is a big American IPA; bold, assertive, and full of flavor highlighting the complex citrus, pine, and herbal character of whole-cone American hops.
Around here, we take hops pretty seriously, which is why we weren’t satisfied with the standard method of dry hopping for our first year-round IPA. We spent years tinkering; tasting, and tweaking ways to get the biggest and best hop flavors and aromas into our beer.
Our persistence has paid off. Our obsession with harnessing huge hop flavor led to the development of what we call the hop torpedo, a revolutionary method of dry-hopping designed, built, and debuted here at the brewery. Our torpedo is a sleek, stainless steel piece of hardware that delivers more pure hop aroma than any method of dry-hopping we’ve ever seen. Like all our beers, Torpedo Extra IPA uses only the best whole-cone hops possible making this delicious ale worth the wait.
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 7.2% BY VOLUME
YEAST: ALE YEAST
BEGINNING GRAVITY: 17.3 PLATO
BITTERING HOPS: MAGNUM
ENDING GRAVITY: 4.2 PLATO
FINISHING HOPS: MAGNUM & CRYSTAL
BITTERNESS UNITS: 65
DRY HOPPING: MAGNUM, CRYSTAL & CITRA
MALTS: TWO-ROW PALE, & CRYSTAL
In 1979, Ken Grossman began building a small brewery in the town of Chico, California. His goal: to brew exceptional ales and lagers. Today, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is considered the premier craft brewery in the United States. And the beer? Critics proclaim it “Among the best brewed anywhere in the world.”
Ken’s passion for brewing began when a friend showed him the basics of home brewing. Using homemade equipment, Ken began brewing five-gallon batches of beer on his own, and soon became a proficient home brewer.
In 1976, after studying chemistry and physics at Butte Community College and California State University at Chico, Ken opened his own store, The Home Brew Shop. There, he supplied Chico’s home-brewing community with equipment, materials, and advice, but dreamed of opening his own brewery.
Two years later, it was time to make the dream a reality. Ken and co-founder Paul Camusi cobbled a brewery together from dairy tanks, a soft-drink bottler, and equipment salvaged from defunct breweries. Though the equipment was secondhand, they created a first-rate microbrewery. The ingredients were premium, including the copious quantities of hops that would become the brewery’s trademark. An avid backpacker, Ken named the new company for his favorite hiking grounds—the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Finally, on November 15, 1980, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. brewed the first batch of what would soon become a landmark in American craft brewing: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
Word spread quickly, and over the next decade the demand for Sierra Nevada brews soon exceeded the brewery’s modest brewing capacity. Despite nearly constant additions to the brewery, Ken was soon back at the drawing board, planning a new brewery. In 1989, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. moved to its current site.
Ken traveled to Germany and brought back a traditional 100-barrel copper brew house, which became the heart of the new brewery. This met demand for a while, but the brewery soon needed to expand again. In 1997, Ken commissioned the original coppersmiths to match new kettles to the originals, bringing the brewery’s total capacity to almost eight hundred thousand barrels per year.
Building the new brewery afforded Sierra Nevada the opportunity to create two stunning showcases, both featuring exceptional dining, live music, and its award-winning beers. The elegant Sierra Nevada Taproom and Restaurant has become a destination in its own right. With mouthwatering lunch and dinner menus, an impressive dining room, and a large outdoor dining patio, it offers distinctive, contemporary cuisine as well as an opportunity to sample the brewery’s entire line of premium ales and lagers, including hard-to-find specialty drafts. The 350-seat Big Room—a beautifully designed live music and multi-purpose room—was constructed on the west end of the brewery to feature live music events for all ages and is a perfect facility for weddings, reunions, and business conferences.
To this day, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. remains true to its roots. Ken is still personally involved in every aspect of brewery operation. Most importantly, the Sierra Nevada commitment to quality remains the same. Premium ingredients and time-honored brewing techniques make Sierra Nevada ales and lagers truly exceptional beers.
THE GREENER SIDE OF THINGS
Energy Generation – Solar Power
In December 2008, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. completed what is now one of the largest privately owned solar installations in the country. Our solar system consists of two layouts– a carport array and a roof top array. The carport array was commissioned in September 2007. It includes 2,288 Sunpower photovoltaic panels, each with a 225-watt capacity, and a total potential electricity output of 503 kW DC. A single axis sun tracking system allows the panels to follow the sun throughout the day, making the system 30% more efficient than a stationary system.
Installation of the roof top array began almost immediately after the carport system. It was completed in two phases and commissioned in December 2008. The system includes 7,688 Mitsubishi, 185-watt photovoltaic panels. The system is capable of providing an additional 1.42 Megawatts of DC electricity to the facility. Solar panels have also been installed on our onsite daycare facility and rail facility. The daycare has a 28 panel system with a 5.18 kW DC capacity that provided 100% of the center’s electricity in 2010. The rail spur has 76 panels with a 14 kW DC capacity that will produce more than 100% of the rail spur’s electricity needs.
The roof of a new cold storage warehouse, completed in late 2010, is slated to be covered with solar panels in 2011, adding an additional 110 kW of solar power.
Altogether, Sierra Nevada’s solar systems are currently capable of producing 1.94 Megawatts DC and include over 10,000 individual photovoltaic panels. In 2010, they produced 2,635,869 kWh, or 19% of our total electricity needs—roughly equivalent to powering 265 average American households.
Energy Generation – Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology
In 2005, Sierra Nevada became the first brewing operation in the United States to install hydrogen fuel cells. The onsite facility consists of four 300 kW Fuel Cell Energy units that together are capable of generating 1.2 Megawatts of DC electricity. The fuel cells run on natural gas and have the potential to be more efficient by using the biogas generated at our onsite water treatment facility; we are currently exploring the infrastructure needed to make this happen. To enhance the fuel cell’s efficiency, we added heat recovery units that recover the 750°F exhaust leaving the units and produce steam that is recycled back into the brewing process. The heat recovery units add 15% efficiency to the installation. In 2010, the fuel cells produced 6,639,821 kWh or 48% of our electricity needs—roughly equivalent to powering 665 average American households.
Energy From Recovered Biogas
Our waste water treatment process, described in detail in the next section, includes an anaerobic digester that breaks down organic materials in an oxygen-deprived environment and produces a methane-rich biogas. A recovery system captures this gas and sends it to fuel our boilers to offset the natural gas needed to run the system. This lowers our natural gas utility consumption and cost while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
I love beer! I really do love it. I love when complex flavors tease my taste buds, and when beer is so much more than something to sip on while the hockey game is on. I particularly like a good IPA. I love the hopped up attitude that tickles the senses and promises a bold, not to be taken lightly finish. When I cracked open The Torpedo and it's promise of an EXTRA IPA...I was prepared for the boldest of the bold. Unfortunately, what I got was a pretty average IPA. This is not say that it wasn't good. In fact, it was really good. The pour was crisp, producing a strong, stable head. The coloring was dark and inviting, giving away hints of pine, with an earthy feel to it. The only downside was that it wasn't as bold as I expected...almost as if it was an IPA...for the masses. Now Sierra Nevada is widely distributed, with a large fan base out there...so I guess I shouldn't be surprised by its mainstream attitude. The taste was pure IPA...done really well. It was bold, and finished very well...it just wasn't what you might call an "EXTRA" IPA.