Beer Review : Stone Ruination IPA, a liquid poem to the glory of the hop

After being poured, the brilliant golden orange body upholds a two finger head that leaves a fair amount of lacing on the sides of a snifter glass.

The radiant body is laden with a multitude of hop aromas -- pine cones, citrus, green apples, fresh flowers, and cannabis. The 7.7% ABV is mildly detectable in the nose, although it is the probably the lightest scent in this brew's bouquet.

The first sip initiates a mouth-puckering fury of bittering hops intensity. Flavors of grapefruit mix with a pine acidity that coats the tongue and completely pummels every part of the mouth responsible for the sense of taste. Ample carbonation adds to the eruption of mouth activity, while subduing a slight malty sweetness that presents itself right before the long and delightfully harsh finish. For me, this brew is a sipper. The blend of hops flavors is much too complex to rush through. I like to stretch the liquid poem to the glory of the hop into an epic tale of palate destruction.

This brew truly separates the men from the boys, the true hopheads from people who like IPA.

Although I find Ruination plenty drinkable, some people prefer the friendlier Stone IPA; it's a step down in intensity with all the same quintessential flavors of acidic hops. Both are available on draught or in bottles at better beer bars throughout the bay area.

Quality of life for insatiable hopheads living in Florida has improved substantially within the last few months. A colossal beer from San Diego's Stone Brewing has entered the local market, leaving a mass of traumatized taste buds in its wake. Stone's website describes Ruination IPA as "a liquid poem to the glory of the hop, so called because of the ruinous effect on your palate." And let me assure you, this is not a clever marketing statement; it's the honest truth.

Hops are female flowers from the plant Humulus lupulus, which are used in brewing to add aroma and bitterness. Alpha acids in resin secreted by the hops are mostly responsible for the bitter taste and subsequent IBU (International Bitterness Units) rating. On average, most brews rate between 15 and 45 IBUs. Stone Ruination has over 100 IBUs. To achieve this catastrophic bitterness, Ruination IPA is brewed with high alpha acid Columbus and Centennial hops and then finished with a hearty Centennial dry hopping to enhance the brew's Humulus lupulus smells and add another layer of aggression to the brew's overall flavor.

Now, let's talk IPA (India Pale Ale): Back in the day when Britain was flexing authority over other parts of the globe, hops were used as a natural preservative, ensuring ales brewed at home would reach the final destination in colonial India without becoming spoiled. This act of beer preservation gave rise to the India Pale Ale style, which was later adopted by American breweries — like Stone — and produced in mutant batches of bitter delight. These extra strength IPAs are labeled Double IPA or Imperial IPA. With its massive dose of hops, Stone Ruination definitely receives the big, bad Double/Imperial rating.

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