How does one tinker with perfection? I suppose the argument may be made that nothing is ever truly perfect, but find a beverage that suits your sensibilities, meets and then exceeds its requirements for style while satisfying both palate and thirst… well, you’re about as close to perfection as allowable by law.
So when the 10th anniversary of Stone Brewing’s Ruination Ale was coming up, they wisely decided to celebrate the occasion by giving their beer the old “Rocky” routine. This is where a beloved fighter goes into training to become even better than he was; running down the beach with Carl Lewis whilst wearing short shorts that should have been highly illegal, punching gummy sides of bloody beef in a meat locker, growing a beard that’d make a hipster jealous and then running up the side of a Russian mountain.
The folks at Stone probably did none of the above (although the brewery’s CEO, Greg Koch, is rocking the “I’m gonna take down Ivan Drago for my dead friend” facial hair), but the “taking things to the next level” spirit of Rocky Balboa is all over their anniversary edition of Ruination.
Ruination Ale was already one of the first double IPA on the market. Call it double, extra or Imperial, the general consensus is that for an IPA to qualify it must exceed 7% alcohol by volume. For ale to do so, sugar content must be higher in the original wort. To up the sugar would be to have a malt-forward beer that cancels out the hop presence and the entire point of India Pale Ale is to have a higher than average hop content. Therefore, double IPA, especially so with Ruination, are ridiculously hoppy.
Everything about Ruination 10th Anniversary is pumped up, oiled, brawny and ready to win the heavyweight belt. Cue the “Eye of the Tiger” on the stereo and pour some of this gorgeous brassy-gold beer into a tulip glass. Watch as a massive head of snow-white foam slowly recedes and leaves very sticky lacing behind. Enormous scents pull a three-punch-combination on your nose with resinous pine, grapefruit rind and tropical fruits. Turning up the alcohol from 7.7% to 10.8% runs the risk of being out of balance flavor-wise. Absolutely not so here. This beer is perfectly balanced between chewy pineapple, tangerine and piney hops with a sweet malt backbone keeping the bitterness from spiraling out of control; an amazing feat considering the International Bitterness Units on this one weigh in at a head-imploding 110.
Happy anniversary, Stone! Keep re-defining what it is to have perfect ale, please. I’ll be back in another ten years to see what you guys have up your sleeves.