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.