In 2012, Stone Brewing Co. celebrated the tenth anniversary of their brutally-bitter Ruination IPA with an amped-up version of that beer. Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA was brewed with twice as many hops as the original – a whopping 5 pounds per barrel – to achieve a tongue-scraping 110 IBU. The ABV was ramped up from 7.7% to 10.8%. This beer was a hops and booze fiend’s wet dream.
It was not my cup of tea. I don’t seem to have actually recorded any tasting notes anywhere. At least if I did I can’t find them now. However, I do recall having a social media back-and-forth with someone about the beer. I took the negative position. It was too much boozy bitter and not enough juicy hop flavors. I really didn’t like that beer.
Fast forward a year. Due to popular demand, Stone has re-brewed this monster. It was released in June as Ruin Ten IPA. I figured, “What the heck! I’ll give it another go.”
Sensory perception is so fungible. The experience of a beverage or food is subject to so many variables. What time of day is it? Who are you with and what are you doing? When and what did you last eat? What kind of mood are you in? All of these things and more come into play when tasting beer. What seems an abomination one day may be sublime the next. Or at least palatable.
Here’s my notes:
Aroma: Hops lead the way from start to finish with juicy tangerines, pineapples, and tropical fruits. Some light herbal notes are in there as well. It’s not all hops though. Some malty sweetness with tones of caramel lies underneath the fruit.
Appearance: Copper colored with reddish tint. Hazy on pouring, but cleared up to brilliant clarity as it warmed. Dense stand of persistent, off-white foam.
Flavor: Aggressively high bitterness lingers all the way through to the finish, but it isn’t an unbalanced beer. Ample caramel-tinged malt sweetness gives a sturdy counterpoint. Bitterness is the main hop characteristic, but hop flavors aren’t ignored; tropical fruit, oranges and lemons, herbs. Alcohol is also noticeable, but stops short of being boozy. The finish is long with caramel, bitterness and alcohol being the lingering notes.
Mouthfeel: Full body, but well attenuated. Medium to medium-high carbonation. Warming.
Overall Impression: At this particular time and place I really enjoyed this beer. Malt offers better balance in this version than in the smaller Ruination IPA on which it is based. It’s not just all about bitter. Nice citrus and fruit hop flavors as well.