Mar. 22, 2011
Sometimes when I say tomorrow, I really mean next week, especially when I forget to factor in the fact that it is the week of St. Patrick’s Day and I work at a large Irish Pub in Chicago and that I had a major project due the day before St. Patty’s at my other job.
Anyhow, as promised in last week’s preview, here’s the full review of the Stone Ruination IPA. Let’s start with the basics:
Brewery Location: Escondido, California
Style: American Double/Imperial India Pale Ale
Average Beer Advocate Rating: A/4.29 - Outstanding
My Beer Advocate Rating: A+/4.68 – World Class
Current Number of Reviews/Rank in the Top 20 on Beer Advocate: 2,384/2nd
Brewery Description: Stone Ruination IPA
Bottled On: NA
APPEARANCE: (3.5 out of 5) The Stone Ruination IPA has an odd color for a Double IPA, most are more copper in color, but the Ruination pours a pale yellow. A bubbly and light head rests on top of it and, as if its name were Rover, it sits and stays…and stays. The excellent head retention, however, only results in minimal lacing, which is a big disappointment.
SMELL: (4 out of 5) In general, I prefer a very strong and in your face aroma, but the smell wafting up from the glass of Ruination is more like a subtle warning to the palate. It smells like a hop bomb that is going to rip the taste buds apart, but again, in a subtle way. The aroma is not overpowering, rather it is just enough to whet the appetite and cause trembles in the hands of those who fear the hops.
TASTE: (5 out of 5) The Stone Ruination certainly delivers on its promise to have “ruinous effect” on the palate. As the bottle explains, all other flavors become bland after sipping it. This beer does not taste like hops, it is hops. This is what hops were designed to do and to taste like. On one hand this beer seems very simple; it is just beer being itself, bitter, hoppy and delicious. On the other hand, it is clear that the Ruination is a finely crafted product made with love and care. Somehow Stone managed to make this beer both subtle and extraordinarily aggressive at the same time. That combo could not possibly be obtained without a lot of thought and effort.
MOUTHFEEL: (4.5 out of 5) Unlike many other bitter beers, the Ruination goes down very smooth and while it is dry and taste bud-ripping to a certain extent, it seems to allow your tongue to recover after each sip and doesn’t completely dismantle the palate like the Moylan’s Hopsickle did. Instead, the bitterness just builds in a delightful way that is bound to make any hop head happy.
OVERALL: (5 out of 5) The Stone Ruination IPA is an amazing beer. As I have mentioned on the site before, I have always enjoyed very strong flavors. Blue cheese, bourbon, spicy food, BBQ, bring it all on. I love to have my palate pushed to the edge so it comes as no surprise that the Stone Ruination pleased my palate. What made it more interesting to me was that just as spicy food often hurts, but simultaneously makes me crave it even more with each bite, the bitterness built throughout the glass and made me crave more with each sip. One of the only drawbacks is that it made me want to push the 100+ IBUs even further.
DRAWBACKS: If the Stone Ruination IPA were interviewing for a job, I am certain that it would knock at least one question out of the park. If it were asked what its weaknesses were, I think it would have to answer that it has two. One, it would have to say that it is so good and focused on doing its job well (which is just simply being what a beer should be, a hoppy masterpiece) that some people often see it as pretentious, aloof and arrogant even though it is not trying to be any of the above. Additionally, and maybe more impressive, it would say that those who do actually understand it are so impressed that they are left wanting more, and most of those people do not understand that to give just an inch more would be to go too far, to go over the edge and ruin everything. “Why can’t you push just a tiny bit farther? Why can’t you be just a little more bitter?” they ask. For those that are truly enlightened, however, the Ruination understands that to be excited and left feeling the desire for a little more is far better than to have crossed over the edge and regretted it.
SOUND: As I sipped this bold and delicious masterpiece I thought about how this beer would sound and I came to the conclusion that the music for this beer would have to be something with a strong, driving beat, something that sounded almost noble, but also aggressive. The song that kept popping into my head was “Elements of Style” by All Natural, a group from right here in Chicago, Hyde Park to be exact.