Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stone's Ruination's 10th Anniversary IPA

Stone Brewing's Ruination double IPA is a near-perfect blend of bitter, citrus-flavored hops and just the right amount of sweet malts, which combine for a complex, outstanding beer.  Ruination was a pioneer double IPA, and is still one of the best double IPAs brewed.  It takes confidence, or dare I say arrogance, to brew a beer to commemorate such a great beer.  It would have been easier for Stone Brewing just to throw a celebratory party or two, or have a mini-festival to commemorate ten years of Ruination.  But no, Stone chose the risky option and decided to brew a tribute ale that had to at least match the excellence of Ruination, because anything less would have been an embarrassment.  Stone took a leap with its Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA, and succeeded in a big, big way.

Stone Brewing's 10th Anniversary Ruination IPA is brilliant; one of the best beers I have had in a long time.  Its floral aroma hit me as soon as I popped the top on the 22 oz bomber.   It poured a clear, deep copper color with a big white foam.  10th is one of the hoppiest beers I can remember tasting - a hop head's Nirvana.  I tried to decide whether the hop flavor leaned more towards pine or citrus, but couldn't make a clear distinction, and after a few sips I didn't care.   10th is just one massively hopped beer.  But extreme hoppiness alone doesn't make this beer standout.  It is balanced by a sweet, strong malt profile, which matches and complements the hop bitterness, gives the beer a delicious upfront flavor, and leads to a long, satisfying finish.  10th is not cloying at all, which is not only incredible for a double IPA this big, but is a credit to the brewer's skill.  10th's abv is a whopping 10.8%, but you wouldn't know it except for a small burn in the finish.

Drinking this beer immediately put me in a good mood.  I didn't develop taste bud fatigue or become overwhelmed by the beer's strength, which has been known to happen with double IPAs north of 10% abv.  It was enjoyable all the way through, and the bottle ended way too soon.

Brewers, no matter their experience, should grab and drink a few bottles of Ruination and Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA, to study and learn from them (or if they already make a good double IPA, at least have a fun night).  The double IPA has become a required beer for most breweries, and unfortunately, far too many double IPAs are marginal or worse, undrinkable.   To make a great, or even just a decent double IPA, takes more than just a heavy dose of hops and high alcohol, it needs attention to the malt, because if the hops aren't balanced with a proper dose of malts, the result will be too bitter, too sickly sweet, too alcoholic, or unpleasant combinations of booze and hops or booze and sweetness.   

It appears unlikely Stone will brew this Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA again, based on tweets I've read from Stone, so get this ephemeral ale soon.  Drink it, don't save it.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Future Double IPA Roundup

June is shaping up to be a big double IPA month.  Next week Stone Brewing is releasing its 10th Anniversary version of Ruination IPA, which if it's only half as good as regular Ruination will be quite a beer.  Alesmith recently released its Summer YuleSmith, a big double IPA.  I tweeted earlier in the week that I used to mark YuleSmith's annual release date on my calender.  I am embarrassed to write that its release slipped my mind this year until I saw an AleSmith email saying YuleSmith had been bottled.  To me, AleSmith seems to change or tweak the recipe for YuleSmith.  For several years it had become too sweet and syrupy for me, but last year AleSmith toned down sugars and it was once again a great double IPA.   I wonder what's in the bottle this year.  Ballast Point sent out a tweet yesterday morning saying that today it bottled its monster Dorado Double IPA for the first time since June 2009.  It's hard to believe it's been three years since this big beer has been on shelves.  I don't know what's going to explode first, my head with all these beers to find and try, or my liver.

Update:  Here is a video from Stone Brewing on its Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA:

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Recent Double IPA Round-Up

I encourage you to read this Hedonist Jive post on Green Flash's Palate Wrecker double IPA.  I had my Evernote notes ready to write a review, but after reading Jay's post I realized he captured the essence of this beer, and my thoughts would be redundant.  I would add that, like many of Green Flash's best beers, Palate Wrecker has an initial jolt that will shock the initiated and uninitiated alike, but after a few tastes you become acclimated to the aggressive flavors, and by time you work your way to the bottom of the bottle you don't want it to end.  I don't know how Green Flash masters this feat.

Pizza Port Ocean Beach has a new double IPA, Man-Baby.  It's a permenant addition to the Pizza Port Ocean Beach line-up.  As a double IPA it's hoppy, almost by definition.  I tried to decide whether its flavor was pine or citrus, but the description that kept coming to me was juicy, more so than pine or citrus.  It tasted like it had been freshly squeezed rather than brewed.  Man-Baby weighs in at a hefty 9.5% abv, which typically means the beer's going to be "hot" and sticky sweet.  But Man-Baby avoids this double IPA quicksand.  It is remarkably crisp, and is not overly sweet and doesn't coat your mouth with syrup.  The booze is a minor player in the flavor, which is trouble in such a big, approachable beer.  It has a long, smooth finish that doesn't move in strange taste tangents, a feature that ruins too many double IPAs.  You'll enjoy this beer long after you finish your glass.  Man-Baby is a delicious beer and one of the best new double IPAs I have had in a long time.

I had a bomber of Stone Brewing's Ruination double IPA this weekend in advance of Stone's release next week of a souped-up 10th Anniversary version of Ruination.  This is one of the great all-time double IPAs.  I think it's the best beer Stone brews.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Alpine Email - Have You Been A Bad Boy?

I received one of the far too infrequent emails from Alpine Beer Company this morning.  Here is the important beer information from the email:
From out of a black hole, miraculously escaping and arriving in exquisite condition, we are pleased to announce the re-release of “Barrel Aged Odin’s Raven” in 22 oz. bottles. This batch is 100% barrel aged, not blended, and has a more pronounced bourbon influence. Bottle limits of 4 in the brewery and no samples available there. As soon as we run out of “Token” in the pub we will put some “Barrel Aged Odin’s Raven” on for samples and tulips. We will run out of “Token” today, sometime.
The beer that has garnered the most phone calls lately has been “Bad Boy,” our other double IPA. When doors open today, Friday June 1st, you may purchase “Bad Boy” in growlers in the brewery, 6 max, and pints in the pub. Now there’s a reason to brave the elements and trek to outpost Alpine. Bring your mountain bike for before you drink this 9% bully.

Okay, so the “Bad Boy” was ready yesterday, but we didn’t want to subject you to yesterday’s harsh brewery conditions. We brewed “Good,” and incredible Barleywine, that requires 2 mash-ins and boils for 4 hours. The heat and humidity was too hot for mere mortals. The bulk of “Good” will be converted to “Great” once it transfers into bourbon barrels and sits for a year.

Another of our fine lineup of beers newly available is “New Millennium” an out of this world pale ale at 5% abv. We dry hop this light pale ale with Millennium and Galaxy hops for an out of this world flavor and aroma experience. Growlers readily available in the brewery and pints and pitchers in the pub.
Your weekend plans are now set.