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.