Beer Review 0185: Stone Ruination IPA

Now here’s another beer I probably should have reviewed a long time ago, but I have a good excuse for why I haven’t. Stone’s Ruination India Pale Ale is widely acclaimed across the beer drinking world; released in June 2002, this beer is readily available. But the reason why I haven’t reviewed it yet is because here in North Carolina, which is on the other side of the country from Stone (Escondido, California), I’ve never seen really fresh bottles of this. Usually, you’ll pick up a bottle of Ruination and it will only be two or three weeks from expiring.

On my last bottle shop visit, the distributor for Stone happened to be in the shop. He was stocking Ruination, lo and behold, bottles that were very fresh for this area. So I scooped one up for review.

Ruination IPA is hopped with Columbus and Centennial, to a whopping 100+ IBUs (International Bitterness Units, Stone doesn’t give an exact number). This beer is an Imperial IPA, coming in at 7.7% ABV (alcohol by volume), even though the name might suggest a single IPA. Like nearly all of the Stone bottles, this one has a wordy description about the beer — some see this as pretentious, but I just think it shows their passion for craft beer. As a company, Stone puts out a rough, gruff exterior, but they have their hearts in the right places.

Stone says this is a “liquid poem to the glory of the hop.” Let’s see…

The pour gave an average size head with dense, medium-sized bubbles, frothy and lasting. The beer was a beautiful solid golden color, with lots of carbonation bubbles zooming to the surface. The body was clear, free of particles and sediment, and the lacing was sparse, hardly leaving anything stuck to the glass as I sipped.

While not advertised as a complex bill of hops, the poem of the hop is apparent on the nose, delivering the big, classic, California aromas of grapefruit and pine, quite resinous and sticky. This hop profile is backed up by pineapple and oranges, and you can almost smell the bitterness that’s waiting on your palate. And don’t think this isn’t well balanced; the malts are alive and in force, too — Ruination is bready and has sweet scents of caramel, along with some general roasted notes. The aroma is pleasant and makes you want a sip.

You wanted bold hops, you got them — again, grapefruit and pine are aggressively up front, presenting a beverage that hits your teeth astringent and gritty. There are a few nice citrus notes in the middle of the taste, leading to a sharp acidic hop finish that presents some delicate caramel and bread-like flavors, before socking you with a heavy bitterness that goes on and on, nearly turning medicinal, but staying tolerable.

I didn’t think the complexity in the nose matched the complexity in flavor — the aromas seemed to have more to offer. But, Ruination is an incredible beer, especially considering how drinkable this is being moderately high ABV and the heavy bitterness. Liquid poem to the glory of the hop? Check. Ruinous to the palate? Yes, so you might not want this to be the first beer of the night.

Stone Ruination IPA, 93 points. Price: $6.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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