A Long Week

Friday, February 16, 2007

Deserves to end in beer!

Let me again express my utmost joy that an intelligent and fine distributor in Michigan has finally started carrying Stone Brewing Company. So thrilled in fact, that I will again review another of Stone's fine selections: Ruination.
This is a beautifully-crafted American Double IPA from what has become one of my favorite breweries.

Normally, an American IPA, which is a more accurate throwback to original IPAs than what British IPAs currently taste like, give you such great hop character that one would think a Double- or Triple-IPA would taste like nothing but tin cans from the bitterness. Not so. The brewer has to very delicately balance the additional hops with enough male to bring harmony but not be cloying.

Stone does this consistently well.

Ruination? Certainly. You need tough tastebuds for the 100 IBUs this beer carries.

This is simply a magnificent looking beer; a pale sunset orange color, just a touch of cloudiness (expected as this is unfiltered), and topped with a patchy, frothy, pure-white foam head. Great thick lacing down the glass.

The smell is amazing. Perfumy-sweet hop oils with a big citrusy scent on top, with a bit of pine and...tobacco? Some alcoholic esters, soft toasted malt, almost bready, and a pleasant fruitiness makes for a very aromatic brew with a great diversity of aroma.

The taste is surprisingly smooth for such a hefty, bitter beer style. The malt flavor is both bready and toasty up-front with a lucious, velvety, creamy mouthfeel. The tongue then begins to discover all of the different hops used to make this beer as complex as it is. At first there is an initial rush of floral hops, soft but evident. Next is the barrage: piney, citrus rind and leafy / woody. But interestingly, it's all about the malt and alcohol with this beer. The hops bash like a battering ram against a door, but get qualled and smoothed into the overall sweet malt character. The hops are still extremely flavourful with woody, herbs and flowers and a tangy citric edge, which all melts in with the prickly alcohol. And the alcohol is persistent and very warming.

The finish is a tad dry, with some toasty flavors in it, and a bit yeasty (again, it's unfiltered, so not surprising). Great, creamy mouthfeel.

This is truly an amazing and challenging beer. But don't try to taste anything after this beer; not another beer, not food you really like, not anything. Your tastebuds will be either too tired or too shocked. But it's such an amazing beer, so well-balanced and not over-hopped despite the label as a Double-IPA, that it really doesn't matter that your poor tongue will need a break.


Mike 1:24 PM  

Wow, sounds great. I was worried it'd be way too hoppy. Arrogant Bastard is just a barrage of hoppyness, I can't get to the malt at all.

But here, with a double IPA of all things, they seem to have balanced it. I'll have to try it if I find some.

Smitty 1:31 PM  

They do balance it. The only way to quell a massive hop attack like a DIPA is to add bready, very sweet malts. Makes the beer a bit syrupy. Also, since you have to add so much malt to a DIPA (and a TIPA) it really boosts the booze content of the beer.

What's nice about Ruination is that the sweetness isn't cloying.

Mike 10:59 AM  

since you have to add so much malt to a DIPA (and a TIPA) it really boosts the booze content of the beer.

I know what you mean. I never thought I'd bitch about high ABV (this is a man with a SIX PACK of Brooklyn Black Chocolate in the fridge), but some of the DIPAs & TIPAs are just ridiculous. I had one of the Dogfish Head 2x or 3x a month ago. Just not very good. Nice hop bitterness, but that's it. Bitterness and alcohol with that syrupy sweetness sorta lingering in the background.

It's just not good beer, IMNSHO.

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