Beer Review 0186: Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA

Two Stone reviews in a row? Indeed! I normally try not to do back-to-back reviews from the same brewery, but this is a special occasion. Yesterday, I reviewed Stone’s Ruination IPA, an Imperial India Pale Ale that is highly regarded in the craft beer world; with bold hops that delivered classic California flavors of grapefruit and pine, I awarded this beer 93 points, or outstanding on my rating scale.

In June, Stone marked the 10th anniversary of Ruination, and they did so by brewing a beer to celebrate with — Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA. This is an amped-up version of the regular Ruination, brewed with more malt to bring the ABV (alcohol by volume) from 7.7% to 10.8%, making this a pretty big beer. And hops? Oh hell yes, they REALLY turned up the volume here: regular Ruination uses 2.5 pounds of hops per barrel, while this beer doubles that, using FIVE POUNDS of hops per barrel!

Technical details: the malt bill uses only two grains, Crystal 15, and Pale Malt. The hops used are Columbus and Centennial, with dry hopping courtesy of Citra and Centennial. The IBUs (International Bitterness Units) on this beer come in at 110.

Stone created Ruination in 2002, putting together a blend of their Anniversary Ales. The company just couldn’t resist giving hop heads a killer beer 365 days a year, so the blend was added to the year-round rotation of beers. Stone Ruination became one of the first Imperial IPAs to be bottled year-round in the craft beer industry, and I can’t wait to crack open the Tenth Anniversary bottle.

Pouring let loose a deep golden beer, almost amber in color, topped by an average size, creamy head that lasted atop the drink the entire time I sampled. The body of the beer was quite hazy at first, but it did clear up to only slightly hazy as it warmed, indicating a chill haze. There were no particles or sediment in the beer, and the lacing was fair, leaving behind a few spots of lacing. For an Imperial IPA, this is one of the nicest ones I have seen; the color and head retention were beautiful.

On the nose…holy crap! Ruination Tenth Anniversary is a tropical fruit BOMB — mango, papaya, pineapple, big and bold and up front. The complexity of the hops rolls on with supporting stars of grapefruit, peach, and orange. There’s a slight cattiness here, too; and the overall scent is astringent — you can almost smell the bitterness. There’s sweet malt in here, too, but nothing too specific. The balance is totally hop-forward, but damn, is it ever incredible. I wrote in my notes that this might be the best aromatics on an IPA I have ever smelled, even better than Bell’s Hopslam (100 points).

The awesomeness continues on the taste, where those tropical fruits explode on your palate — mango and pineapple, delivered by a thick and creamy beer that reminds you of fruit juice concentrate. All of these great fruits dominate the start of the taste, leading to a finish that is minty and presents flavors of onion as a nice intense bitterness begins at the back of the tongue and fills the mouth with a drying sensation, readying it for another sip. The alcohol is never present in taste, but I did feel my body begin to warm after about six ounces of the beer. There’s a nice sweetness here, too; but the bitterness wins out, remaining on the tongue long after the beer is gone.

Folks, Stone’s celebration of their Ruination IPA is damn sure a winner. It’s not as bitter as classic Ruination, but it takes hops to another level of flavor, and shows how great an intense hop bill can be. I struggled with my score on this beer — honestly, I like Bell’s Hopslam just a shade better, because I enjoy the touch of sweetness it has a bit more so than the intensely bitter side this Stone beer leaves you with. But here’s the thing: if you can find this beer, buy all you can. I’m telling you, this is one of the best beers I have ever had; I will be dreaming about this one tomorrow, and thankful that I have a couple of bottles remaining…

If you can find this, take it home and chill it quickly. Freshness matters here, and the bottle I had was less than a month old (quite a feat considering shipment by truck from Escondido, California to North Carolina!)

This is what happens when beer is stretched to an extreme limit…craft beer at its finest!

Stone Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA, 98 points. Price: $7.49 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.


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