Way back in February of last year I posted the following plea on Beer Advocate:
I'm a long time drinker, but I'm new to the wide world of good beer. I used to be almost strictly a bourbon guy with the occasional gin and tonic on a warm summer night or rum when traveling to the southern U.S. or Latin America.
Anyhow, point is, I have completely fallen in love with American Craft beer - particularly our west coast IPAs. Early on in my beer exploration phase I experimented with some Belgian and other European beers, but nothing has even come close, in my opinion to what we're doing with hops here.
Furthermore, aside from bourbon, it seems that beer is the only thing we're making better than the rest of the world, so I truly feel a strong desire to preach the good word about the amazing craft breweries in this country.
That said, my recent dive into the world of great beer has left me somewhat unsatisfied - I still have not found that one, perfect beer.
I have come close, but it hasn't ever really happened and I think the B.A. community is much better equipped than I am to help me find it.
Sure, I have soaked up every bit of information I possibly could from B.A., from bottle labels, from my distributors at work (I'm a bartender) and from other beer nuts, but so far it hasn't led me to that one beer that I feel like I've been looking for since the day I was reborn as a drinker - a good beer drinker.
Here's what I want - hops. I don't want anything else - no sweet malty flavor, no floral, no citrus, no sugary flavor, I just want bitter, hoppy deliciousness. I understand that most IPAs are going to have some malty, fruity and floral flavors, but there has to be something out there that assaults my taste buds without making me feel like I'm eating a candy bar - and I'm hoping you guys know what it is.
So all of you more experienced and wise beer advocates out there please help me out. Help me find that beer I am looking for - tons of hops, tons of bitter - nothing else. My initial thoughts were that I would find this beer in the IPA/Double IPA category, but I am realizing that many doubles are just overwhelmingly sweet. What should I do? Where should I go to find a straight hoppy, bitter delight?
Thanks in advance for the advice B.A.!
My post ended up with hundreds of page views and dozens of replies. The BA community was very happy to help out a newbie and I got a ton of good advice. One thing that kept coming up, however, was Stone Ruination. According to one commenter “Ruination is your beer.”
At the time, we were a little more than a month away from having access to any Stone products here in Chicago, so I had to wait. Even once Stone finally arrived I was initially unable to find Ruination and then just forgot to get around to it. Eventually I found a glass on draft, but I was in a social situation where pulling out the iPhone to review a beer would have been totally inappropriate. I remember liking it, but not being able to pay close attention.
In the mean time, as I have developed my palate by trying every IPA/DIPA I can get my hands on, I have come around to being able to enjoy some of the sweeter tasting beers. In fact, beers like Hopslam, Lagunitas Maximus and Ska’s Decadent DIPA are among my all-time favorites now…and they are all pretty sweet. That said, there is still this lingering desire to find that perfectly bitter, hoppy beer that I know must exist out there somewhere. Well, the Stone Ruination IPA certainly comes close to being that beer, but to find out how close it came to perfection you’ll have to bookmark this page and check back tomorrow for the full review.