Since yesterday was IPA Day, I decided to celebrate it last night with the biggest, baddest IPA around. Stone’s RuinTen is an “extreme” version of their already insane Runation IPA which is an Imperial IPA designed to “ruin your palate” with over-the-top intensely bitter hops. So yeah, an extreme version of that. True to its billing, this is a big version of Ruination. I wouldn’t say that it’s any more bitter, however. It generally has the same flavor profile and intensity, but with a heavier body and more alcohol. They’ve cranked up the quantity of ingredients to get here, of course, but if any of it shows through, it’s a bit more citrus sweetness from heavy orange and grapefruit notes in the middle and finish than any additional bitterness. So overall there is a ton of pine, and a ton of grapefruit and orange, both bitter and sweet. The body is heavy, and the alcohol level is a relatively high 10.8% ABV. This is still a big, over-the-top bitter west-coast style Imperial IPA like Ruination, but if anything it’s slightly more well rounded and an excellent, excellent beer.
I give it a 4.9 out of 5.
Trust the Canadians to come up with an excellent pun for the name of an Imperial IPA of the American style. In this case, it’s the Canadians of Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company of British Columbia. The nose has faint citrus and pine, and is predominantly malty, reminding me of maple syrup. The middle packs a bitter punch of citrus rind and pine. The strong bitterness is reminiscent of Stone’s Ruination or Green Flash’s Palate Wrecker. The finish is well rounded citrus flavors with some sweet grapefruit and orange to temper the bitterness. The body is medium to heavy and the alcohol is 8.0% ABV which is about what you’d expect for a big Imperial IPA. This is a big, tasty, bitter beer, and more proof that the Canadians know how to brew a beer properly.
I give it a 4.4 out of 5.
Anchor Brewing of San Francisco, CA, best known for Anchor Steam, their California Common Beer, also offers an IPA, much like every other ale brewery in the United States at this juncture in time. This is a west-coast style offering and the nose has grapefruit and orange and is slightly floral. The middle has more grapefruit and a bit of grain and pine. The finish is lemony. It’s a nice offering, flavorful and medium bodied with an alcohol content of 6.5% ABV.
I give it a 4.0 out of 5.
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.
A slam it’s called, and a slam it is. Stone Brewing Co. from San Diego, California is the brainchild behind the Stochasticity Project and its inaugural beer, Grapefruit Slam IPA, and that isn’t terribly surprising because this beer is crazy. Stone’s known for their bitter west coast style IPAs, sometimes taken to extremes in beers like Ruination, and one thing west-coast style IPAs are known for is a large helping of grapefruit flavors. So, the fine folks at Stone though something along these lines: “Hey, what would happen if we took a big west-coast IPA, and added about a trillion metric tons of grapefruit zest to it?” The answer, as you might suspect, is Grapefruit Slam IPA. They don’t specify exactly how much grapefruit zest they add…Just that it’s a lot. The bottle is non-specific in its note that added is “an immense dosing of grapefruit peel.” Now on to the specifics. The coloration is a bright golden amber, slightly cloudy. The head is dense and sticky. The nose smells like a bag of grapefruits dragged through pine resin. The middle is bitter, the grapefruit rinds ensure that, but this is not a one note beer. All the typical imperial west-coast IPA flavors are here. Not only the bitterness of the rind, but tons of sweet grapefruit sugars reminding me of a Texas ruby red, as well as a bit of pine that’s fairly muted, not by its absence but by the sheer volume of the other flavors at play here. The pine comes more to the fore in a very dry finish, along with plenty of additional grapefruit rind and some warming alcohol. The body is medium-heavy and the alcohol is a big but manageable 8.2% ABV. If you’re not a fan of bitter IPAs, you’re not going to like this beer, I can promise you. I, however, do, and I have a particularly fondness for grapefruit, and I think that it’s absolutely fantastic. Crazy, perhaps, and out of mainstream for certain, but wonderful.
I give it a 4.7 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.