Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
Some commercial brewers are what we'd call "homebrewer friendly" and love to provide information about their beers. Sierra Nevada is one such brewery that has provided recipes of some of their beers to homebrewers. We love them for this because up here in Canada none of their products are available for purchase locally so we have to make our own. Their Torpedo Extra IPA is one of our favourites.
The beer gets its name for the unique dry-hopping technique of recirculating the finished beer through cylindrical torpedo-like vessels filled with hops for a period of 4 days.
Sierra Nevada’s hop torpedoes. Image (c) taptrail.com
The main reasons for doing this as told by Steve Dresler (their brewmaster) is to more effectively and efficiently extract the volatile hop oils. (It saves time). Prior to this using giant hop bags resulted in poor saturation and therefore slower extraction of hop oils. Longer contact time was needed with more hops.
At home, time is not as critical as in a commercial brewery where they're always looking to clear tanks for the next batch. Homebrewers can achieve the same results by simply dry hopping longer and without hop bags to provide increased contact. We typically dry hop in the fermenter after fermentation is almost complete and leave it for 5-7 days. Some intrepid homebrewers have even made their own torpedo-like devices using 5 gallon kegs, mesh filters, and a pump.
So what's the resulting beer taste like? To quote Sierra Nevada:
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.
This beer is all about the hops so hop substitutions are not recommended. You won't get the same beer. The combination of Magnum / Crystal / Citra as a dry hop is something we've never seen before. The use of Magnum as a late addition and dry hop is certainly different (it's typically only used as a bittering hop).
The grain bill is very typical of American style IPAs with a 19:1 domestic 2-row to crystal ratio. Just enough crystal malt to give it some legs to stand on against all the hop flavour. The yeast is neutral. Again, it's all about the hops!
For a variation on this recipe see our American IPA recipe (batch #127). (Though we prefer the original here).
Brew up a batch and let us know how you like it!
Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
Size: 12 US gallons (post-boil @ 68F)
Mash Efficiency: 95%
Calories: 228 kcal per 12 fl oz
Original Gravity: 1.069 (style range: 1.056 - 1.075)
Final Gravity: 1.014 (style range: 1.010 - 1.018)
Colour: 8.6 SRM (style range: 6 - 15)
Alcohol: 7.3% ABV (style range: 5.5% - 7.5%)
Bitterness: 58 IBU (style range: 40 - 70)
23 lb Domestic 2-row malt (1.8-2L) (95.3%)
1.13 lb Crystal malt (60L) (4.7%)
2 oz Magnum hops (14.4%) - added during boil, boiled 60 min [44.9 IBU]
1 Whirlfloc tablet (Irish moss) - added during boil, boiled 15 min
2.4 oz Magnum hops (14.4%) - added during boil, boiled 5 min [10.8 IBU]
2.4 oz Crystal hops (3.3%) - added during boil, boiled 5 min [2.4 IBU]
1.6 oz Magnum hops (14.4%) - added to fermenter near end of fermentation, steeped 3 days
1.6 oz Crystal hops (3.3%) - added to fermenter near end of fermentation, steeped 3 days
1.6 oz Citra hops (11.1%) - added to fermenter near end of fermentation, steeped 3 days
*If you prefer to use liquid yeast, Wyeast 1056 American Ale or White Labs WLP001 California Ale are excellent choices as they are the same clean fermenting Chico strain as US-05. You'll need ~764 billion cells (7-8 fresh packs) or an equivalent starter.
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Notes / Process
- Add 500mg potassium metabisulfite to 20 gallons water to remove chlorine / chloramine (if required).
- Water treated with brewing salts to our Hoppy flavour profile: Ca=110, Mg=18, Na=16, Cl=50, SO4=275 (Basically Randy Mosher's ideal Pale Ale numbers with slightly less sulfate). For more information on how to adjust your water, refer to our step by step Water Adjustment guide.
- 1.25 qt/lb mash thickness.
- Single infusion mash at 152F for 90 mins.
- Raise to 168F mashout temperature and hold for 10 mins.
- ~90 min fly sparge with ~5.6-5.8 pH water (measured at mash temperature).
- Whirlfloc and hops per schedule. Lid on at flameout, start chilling immediately. Boil for 90 minutes, adding
- Cool the wort quickly to 66F (we use a one-pass convoluted counterflow chiller to quickly lock in hop flavour and aroma) and transfer to fermenter.
- Oxygenate the chilled wort to a level of 14 ppm dissolved oxygen. For more information refer to our Aerating / Oxygenating Wort guide.
- Pitch yeast and ferment at 66-68F (wort temperature). We use modified stainless fermenting buckets in wine fridges.
- Add dry hops once fermentation is nearing completion (i.e. 5 points from final gravity) and raise the temperature to 70-72F. In our case we simply turn off the fermenting fridges and allow the beer to naturally rise to room temperature. Steep hops for 3 days while fermentation finishes. Assume fermentation is done if the gravity does not change over ~3 days.
- Before packaging you may optionally rack to a brite tank (we use 5 gallon glass carboys) that has been purged with CO2 to avoid oxygen pickup, add 1 tsp of unflavoured gelatin dissolved in a cup of hot distilled water per 5 gallons of beer, and allow to clear for 2-3 days. Gelatin may "round off" some hop flavour / aroma so we tend to skip this step with hop forward beers like this. As well, the less you handle the beer through racking and potentially expose it to oxygen, the better.
- Package as you would normally. We rack to kegs that have first been purged with CO2, and then carbonate on the low side (around 2 volumes of CO2) to minimize carbonic bite and let the hop and malt flavours shine through. We chill the kegs to near freezing while carbonating at the same time in a 6-keg conditioning fridge. After ~1-2 weeks at serving pressure the kegs will be carbonated and ready to serve. Like all hop forward beers this IPA is best consumed fresh so feel free to raise the CO2 pressure temporarily to 30-40 PSI to carbonate fast over a 24 period, and then turn back down to serving pressure. Some hop bits will have invariably made their way into the keg during transfer so we use a Hop Stopper Keg Edition filter to ensure that hops do not clog the dip tube and/or end up in the glass. Force carbonating at high pressure and using a Hop Stopper filter allows us to serve this beer 24 hours after kegging. There's no need to wait a few days for any hop bits that made their way into the keg to first settle out.
For detailed brewing instructions, see our Brew Day Step by Step guide.
Questions? Visit our Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA forum thread.
Pictures / Videos
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Ten years ago, we developed the Hop Torpedo, a revolutionary dry-hopping mechanism that imparts monster hop flavor without additional bitterness. And #Torpedo Extra IPA was born. Ten years later, the recipe is the same, and so is our obsession with huge hop flavor. Happy 10th Birthday, Torpedo. Never change. 🍻🍻🍻