Ruination IPA is another classic that I’m not quite sure how I’ve managed to miss reviewing over these last few years. I’ve certainly drunk enough of it, one would have thought that I’d have managed to review it, but apparently not. Well, late is better than never, so here goes. Ruination IPA is an Imperial (or Double) IPA so named because it “ruins your palate.” And so it does. This is not a great beer to drink with a meal, because the intense bitterness will utterly overpower the flavors of any food you might be pairing it with. Even hot wings. Not regular hot wings, but the ones with names like “Fire” or “Inferno” or “Atomic.” Sure, you’ll still have the pain from the high concentration of Capsaicin, but you won’t be able to discern the flavor of the delivery device. It might have been a chicken wing, or pig’s foot, or the fist of a cop who’s shoved his pepper spray canister directly into your mouth. This beer will numb your taste buds like no other I’ve ever experienced. So does that mean it’s not good? No, by no means. In fact, it’s fantastic. This is the epitome of a West Coast Style Double IPA, bar none. This is the standard by which they should be measured. The nose is actually slightly sweet and floral. It reminds me of honeysuckle. The middle is bursting with citrus in the form of grapefruit and orange, the sugary sweet juice is there, but overpowered by the bitter rind. The finish is bready with hints of pine and a tiny bit of booziness. The body is fairly heavy, and the alcohol level is a strong but moderate 8.2% ABV. I don’t drink this beer with meals any longer, but it is one of my all time favorite brews.
I give it a 4.8 out of 5.
Palate Wrecker is a big West Coast style IPA that was originally brewed for Hamilton’s Tavern and has clearly been influenced by Stone’s Ruination. (So called because it “ruins” your palate.) It’s an Imperial IPA, so big on flavor, body, and alcohol. The head is creamy and the nose has a ton of grapefruit, grass, and some pine. The middle is heavy and sits on your tongue, imparting flavors of grapefruit, lemon, and honey. The finish explodes with pine, a bit of grapefruit rind, and some booziness from the alcohol. (9.5% ABV) This may be the purest Imperial variant of the West Coast style IPA that I’ve had, and for all the marketing around the 100+ IBU score for this beer, it isn’t anywhere near as strongly and ruinously bitter as Ruination is. I love the west coast style and to me, this is a truly outstanding beer.
I give it a 4.8 out of 5.
duganA is an American Double (or Imperial) IPA released annually in September by the Avery Brewing Company of Boulder, Colorado. It’s in the more traditional style of American IPAs without the heavy pine of the west-coast IPAs. The nose is super citrusy, with lots of grapefruit and lemon. The middle has some lemon rind, some spiciness, and is quite buttery, which lends well to Avery’s food pairing suggestion, which is to match this ale with creamy, cheesy dishes. The finish has a bit of vanilla, more butter, and is quite dry. The body is medium to heavy and the ABV is a reasonable 8.5%. This is a good effort by Avery and overall it’s quite decent, but there’s too much butter in here for me.
I give it a 3.5 out of 5.
Tonight I’m enjoying Hop Stoopid, an American Imperial IPA from the Lagunitas Brewing Company and I’m enjoying it in one of my new Dogfish Head (lightly) branded Spiegelau IPA glasses, which I love. It proclaims on the bottle “102 I.B.U. 4 U.” and they ain’t lyin’. The nose is grassy, and piney, and a little citrusy with some pineapple notes to boot. The middle is a heavy hop bomb of the bitter, west-coast style that I so dearly love. The body lives up to the imperial billing, as this is a medium to heavy weight beer. There is tons of citrus, primarily grapefruit and orange, with loads of bitter rind in the forefront, fading to some sweet orange sugars in the finish. I also taste a touch of vanilla throughout, mellowing it a bit. The alcohol in this beer is a healthy, but not huge 8.0% ABV, and it really stays in the background pretty nicely. This is a really outstanding, complex beer, and a unique twist on the super hoppy west coast IPA style.
I give it a 4.7 out of 5.
Tonight I’m sampling another fine example of the Colorado craft beer tradition in New Belgium’s Rampant Imperial IPA. This is a big, bitter American double IPA, that’s a bit lighter in color than I’m used to seeing, which might be a hint to the fact that the flavor is heavily tilted towards the hop side, with the malt well in the background. The nose is citrus and pine with some floral notes mixing it up. The middle is strongly bitter, with pine and orange rind the predominant flavors. The bitterness mellows in the finish…The rind carries through but it’s softened by some sugary orange and a hint of maple. The alcohol content is moderate for a double IPA at 8.5% ABV, and a medium body means this isn’t big heavy beer, but it’s got enough weight to justify the imperial moniker. A nice solid example of the style.
I give it a 4.0 out of 5.
Hoptimum is an Imperial IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. There’s a thick meringue-like head and the nose is earthy with the faint scent of pine needles. The flavor is balanced with piney bitterness offset by sweet grapefruit and caramel. It’s another really big beer at 10.4% ABV, but the alcohol really only makes its presence known right at the finish, along with sweet grapefruit and light vanilla. This beer is really well balanced all the way through, but the levels are high, so to speak.
I give it a 4.5 out of 5.