Thursday, March 19, 2009

Stone Ruination IPA Review

Brewery: Stone Brewing Co. | Beer: Ruination IPA
Style: American Double India Pale Ale | ABV: 7.7%
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into tulip glass

Stone Ruination IPAStone Brewing Company, best known for their beer Arrogant Bastard, have become one of the big players in the American craft brew scene. Based out of the San Diego area, they've developed a reputation for uncompromising big beers, usually with a healthy dose of hops. Gargoyles are featured prominently on most packaging, a perfect fit for the playfully arrogant voice of most of their marketing materials. Stone is independent and has built a reputation for being eco-friendly, both very important things to me.

While they produce a normal IPA (named simply Stone IPA), they also produce a year-round Double IPA by the name of Ruination, billed as a "liquid poem to the glory of the hop!" Stone say they chose the moniker Ruination because they believe that this is such an extreme and great tasting beer, that your palate will be ruined for anything lesser. The beer better be pretty damn good with that kind of marketing.

Appearance: Somewhat hazy, rich amber-orange body with a two solid fingers of sticky, off-white head. Good lacing.

Aroma: Pungent, floral, citrusy, and piney hops are the focus here. There is booze and caramel malt underneath, but they're very much subservient to the hop onslaught. This smells damn good.

Taste: Aggressively bitter hops take charge of your mouth from the second they hit the palate, not letting go until they say so. Not just bitter, the hops are still grassy, floral, and citrusy. It's not all one-sided though, with enough caramel malt to keep it from being an absolute blowout. The alcohol is kept in check well. There is a terrifically long bitter aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body that coats the mouth, allowing the aftertaste to linger for minutes. Moderate carbonation and a dry finish.

Drinkability: A little above average for the style, that is to say a relatively fast sipper. There are a lot of hops to contend with, but the alcohol is hidden rather well.

Verdict: Ruination is simply a massive beer. Stone have pulled off something masterful here, by keeping a beer so absolutely drenched in hop oil still somewhat balanced. This is a must try for all hopheads, and one of the best beers I've tried yet. Arrogant bastards Stone may be, but their products walk the walk.

Grade: A+

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