There are IPAs,
and then, there is Stone Ruination IPA. This beer is proof positive
that you don't have to ramp up to an imperial IPA, or double IPA, or holy
IPA to make a really well balanced, super hoppy beer. You just have to use a
lot of hops, and the right hops at that, and balance them against the malt
in an honest to goodness American-style IPA. Like this one.
Stone uses two hop varieties here: Magnums (a German style that imparts the
herbal, grassy aroma and bitterness) and Centennial (an American Pacific
strain known for its citric spiciness). They use a lot of them, too, enough
to rack up an amazing 100 IBUs (international bitterness units). That number
might mean a lot, but to put it in perspective,
Budweiser has about 12 IBUs,
Samuel Adams Boston Lager and
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale around 35. And both those companies offer hop
monsters of their own, the latter with their
Bigfoot Barleywine (matching Ruination's 100 IBUs) and Samuel Adams with
Imperial Pilsner (taking the cake with a whopping 110 rating).
You can get double and imperial IPAs with that degree of hopping, but
generally with those beers the brewer is cranking up everything, including
the malt, which will balance off some of the extra hop bitterness but also
add more body and higher alcohol content. Ruination has a bit more alcohol
and body (7.7% by volume vs. 6.9%) than Stone IPA, Ruination's little
brother. But not so much that it's outside the parameters of American IPA
and into the bigger categories, which often start to taste a lot like
Why do they call this delightful brew "Ruination"? I'll let Stone explain.
"So called because of the immediate ruinous effect on your palate. The
moment after the first swallow, all other food and drink items suddenly
become substantially more bland than they were just seconds before. By the
time you develop a taste for this beer, you may find that you are
permanently ruined from being able to enjoy lesser brews. Good."
Of course, they exaggerate, but this is one heck of a fine brew.
Stone Ruination IPA pours to a brilliant golden orange color with a light
quarter inch head of foam and a very, very spicy hop nose. A thick layer of
Brussels lace clings to the side of my glass as the liquid descends. Taking
a sip, I'm getting a nice chewy caramel malt body washing over my tongue at
first, but as is usually the case with beers like this, it's soon
overwhelmed by the hops. Big time.
Look, a beer with the name "Ruination" ought to be really hoppy, and this
one just absolutely is. But what I really love about this wonderful brew is
not just that it's bitter (it is), but that it has hop character in so many
delightful dimensions. At first, the hops kind of creep up on you in an
herbal, aromatic, grassy way. But as they intensify into the finish, they
become very citric, with a bright citric orange character that segues into a
grapefruity and finally resiny pine aroma. Last, but not least, is the long,
dry, puckering, lingering, amazing bitterness that you can just sit back and
enjoy for minutes after sipping.
This is a very nicely done brew, a wonderful one, even, and a true hophead's
delight. Not for the timid, and not for those just starting their journey
into the world of craft beer. But if you like hops, then this is the beer
for you, not so much simply for its massive bitterness, but also for the
incredible complexity of hop flavors here. Well worth seeking out, even with the
hefty price tag (about $14 a six-pack or $5 for a 22 ounce bomber).
But be careful. Because Ruination IPA is so bloody good that becoming overly
fond of it could truly lead to your own, well, ruination.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For
reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.