Stone Ruination IPA

Aggressively hoppy, this beer is profound for its well hopped bitterness and yet there is more to it than just its overwhelming hops.

Stone Ruination IPA

Stone advertises this beer as follows.

So called because of the “ruinous” effect on your palate! This massive hop monster has a wonderfully delicious and intensely bitter flavor on a refreshing malt base. One taste and you can easily see why we call this brew “a liquid poem to the glory of the hop!” Those who seek, crave and rejoice in beers with big, bold, bitter character will find true nirvana in Stone Ruination IPA!

This is certainly not an everyday beer. The hop experience is extreme (with a 100+ IBU), but anyone who loves hop bitterness (as I do) should enjoy this beverage.

Chill and pour gently to avoid stirring in the yeast sediment that results from being bottled unfiltered. Pouring with such care yields a glass full of clear medium amber coloured ale and a modest off-white foamy head, very pleasant on the eye.

The nose is greeted with strong hops full of the perfume of citrusy bitterness, almost floral, but also some nicely balanced malty sweetness. That malty sweetness is still detected at the front of the palate, but is overwhelmed by a blast of hops mid-palate resolving to a dry pleasantly bitter finish. Enjoying this medium bodied ale slowly allows for the beverage to reveal more of the malt at the front of the palate over time. From beginning to end, however, there is a dry hoppy finish that lingers long.

This IPA weighs in at 7.7% ABV and an estimated 240 calories for 12 ounces — a good strong ale, but not over the top. Given the hype, I seriously expected it to be less enjoyable than it was. There’s no question that this is designed for the hop-headed IPA lover, but Stone did a fine job of keeping it near the edges of the realm of reasonability. Recommended.

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Steelhead Double India Pale Ale

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Produced by the Mad River Brewing Company and weighing in at 8.6% ABV, this ale appears to include a bottle aging. I observed settled sediment in the bottom of the bottle when putting it in the refrigerator to cool. The label doesn’t mention bottle aging and so many tasters poured the sediment into the glass and found that to be (not surprisingly) an unpleasant addition. I carefully poured this ale with the aim of avoiding the sediment and was successful in doing so. This yielded a beautiful light copper amber coloured ale with a creamy white head that lasted for quite a while but did not lace the glass as the beverage was being enjoyed.

The aroma is tart with the citrus smell of hops but includes a solid and pleasant malty foundation. The mouthfeel is smooth and medium bodied. This Double IPA begins with a mellow malt sweetness that is immediately checked by the aggressive hops. Lots of grapefruit and orange peel flavour almost overwhelms the maltiness all the way across the palate through to a dry finish. As the beverage warms, however, the malts are given more emphasis and the combination results in a sweeter fruitiness on the palate. Still, the deliciously strong hop backbone remains. There is an enjoyably long finish that initially emphasises the dry tartness in the back of the mouth but grows to give a full balanced expression to the malt in the middle of the palate as the beverage warms.

The Mad River Brewing Company of Blue Lake, California, has exhibited great craftsmanship in this ale. They describe it as follows.

Maltier, hoppier and stronger than regular IPAs, Double IPA is dry hopped with Amarillo hops for a fresh citrus flavor and aroma. Goes great with red meats and life in general. Does not go well with driving or machinery.

It is a worthy and enjoyable high gravity IPA — recommended.

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