I'll give you the bad news up front: the citra hop character is detectable but not particularly prominent in this beer. Hopefully, given the hype, Sierra Nevada will have enough of this hop in future years to really highlight it in this or another beer.
The good news is that this is the new beer of the year, in my opinion. Despite the name of my blog, I drink a lot of different beer styles and I am not saying this just because Torpedo is an IPA.
On to the details...
As per my last post, Sierra Nevada has adopted the novel approach of recirculating fermenting beer through a container of hops which they call a torpedo. Interestingly, there has been a lot of interest in recirculating fermenting beer for a couple of decades for the purpose of inexpensive temperature control via heat exchangers or to mix the beer to avoid non-homogenous fermentation in tall tanks. As far as I know, this particular application is unique to Sierra Nevada.
The beer pours a light copper color with an off white head. The aroma is citrus, resiny pine, herbal and spicy with a hint of soft fruit (pineapple, mango, peach). This latter aroma is what we were told to expect of the citra hop, but it is definitely in the background.
The flavor is a spicy, resinous bitterness balanced by a distinct dark caramel malt character with a hint of raisin. The flavor evolves into herbal hop and soft fruit on the back of the palette.
The mouth feel is full and smooth. In typical Sierra Nevada fashion, the beer features a skillful combination of solid body and caramel malt character with a finish dry and crisp enough to allow the hops to take center stage.
Despite the relatively high gravity and alcohol content, Torpedo is highly drinkable. This beer has a definite West Coast IPA pedigree without being so hop balanced as to offend your sensitive Plains States palettes (I tease because I like you!). Best of all, if you get this soon it is going to be the rare example of a bottled West Coast IPA in excellent condition in the KC area.
On a side note, while I wish Ken Grossman at Sierra Nevada would do my bidding and sell his beer in cans, long time Sierra Nevada drinkers will notice that the screw caps were replaced with standard pry-off caps around a year ago. This is a definite improvement and I wish Boulevard would follow suit. While I believe cans superior to bottles, I can understand the argument from tradition for bottles. There is no excuse for a "craft" brewery to be using screw-off caps.
The bottom line is that Torpedo is a strong and well-balanced California IPA. The citra hop character is unique and I only wish there were more of it. Hurry to Gomers in Midtown and try this because, while it is going to be available year round, this is the last time you will know that you are getting it in excellent condition.