At the center of the Craft Beer Movement™ is the argument about hops. Ask a group of beer enthusiasts about how hoppy they like their beer and you will get a mixed bag of answers. The Dogfish Head IPAs are a microcosm of this discussion and gives you a sense of the landscape. The 60-Minute IPA is the entry-level, moderately-hopped India pale ale. Next is the 90-Minute IPA, a stronger beer with a higher ABV and a stronger malt balance. By the time you get to the 120-Minute IPA, you’re facing down a 15 to 20 percent alcohol beer with a 120+ IBU score.
Me? I’m torn. I don’t mind a hoppy beer but at the same time, I don’t like a beer that is full of hops for the sake of being full of hops. Double IPAs are fine with me, when they are well made. My favorite style of beer is the pale ale, but that can be hit and miss. Take Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale, for instance. Even though the IBU only scores somewhere in the high 30s, it’s flavor profile is dank and resinous. Firestone Walker’s Pale 31 has the same bitterness rating but a smoother flavor.
Stone Brewing Company does not brew IPAs that step up in hop character. The plurality of Stone’s beers are hop-forward, starting with its flagship IPA and extending to the Ruination Ale, its double IPA re-released in Spring 2015 with a version 2.0 tag. Ruination had been Stone’s double or imperial IPA label for 20 years, winning widespread acclaim among hopheads and hardcore beer drinkers. It was the first time a brewery had bottled an imperial IPA all year round.
The Ruination 2.0 is a massively hopped beer. There is a rich, pine and tropical fruit flavor combination that lasts from start to finish, thanks to the blend of six hops: Magnum, Nugget, Centennial, Simcoe, Citra, and Azacca. It’s a big, bold beer that gets in your mouth and let’s you know that it is in charge. It’s exceedingly hoppy and bitter with an IBU rating of 100+, according to Stone’s website.
It truly is an excellent beer. And, in a part of the country that does not get Russian River, Alchemist, or Three Floyds beers, this is quite possible the best damn double IPA you can buy in Upstate New York.
Brewer: Stone Brewing Company
Beer: Ruination Ale 2.0
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.5% IBU: 100+
Container: 22 oz. bottle
Price: $7.49 Point of Purchase: Brilbecks, Syracuse, N.Y.
To The Eye: Clear and a cross between amber and golden. Fluffy head spreads out into a nice lacing that hangs out during the entire session.
To The Nose: Piney. Reviewers on other sites say that they picked up mango and fruit, but this was like a Christmas tree farm.
To The Palate: Grapefruit upfront that faded into tropical fruit. Pine creeps into the middle.
Aftertaste: Dry and resiny, though the “ahh” has hints of grapefruit again.
Boozy Factor: Significant but not overwhelming.
On a Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as highest: 9.0