Sud Savant: Stone Ruination 10th Anniversary – Consider my Palate Ruined

As if Stone’s regular version of Ruination wasn’t aggressive enough, for their tenth anniversary of the brew they really upped the ante. The ABV jumps from 7.7% to 10.8% and they used TWICE an much hops in the brewing process (5 lbs/bbl). That number doesn’t even include the pound each of Citra and Centennial used in the drop hopping! This brings it up to a sadomasochistic 110 IBUs and undoubtedly intoxicating aroma. I figured this would be a good choice to review today as it should have no issues blasting through to my allergy laden sinuses. I also selected this brew as Stone is not the only one celebrating an anniversary. This week was my third wedding anniversary and like Stone’s, it will be bitter (just kidding, wife). My wife may have left town to go to Boston to see her sister and I will be giving her crap about that for the next 50 years even though she is well aware how flexible I am with dates typically reserved for celebration. All joking aside, I’m very excited to be cracking open this beer (and to be married to such a patient woman). Let’s pour!

Aroma 12/12: On a day where my sinuses seem bent on revolution and forming their own sovereign state, this beer speaks as sweetly to them as any ambassador. Immediately detectable are pineapple, lemon zest, grapefruit, and pine. Traveling behind those, in an appropriately viscous manner, is a slow-moving, dank resin and a gooey caramel/toffee combination. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. As the beer warms, mandarin oranges show up for the anniversary celebration as well as a hint of alcohol warmth.

Appearance 3/3: What an appropriate color for the newly-arrived fall months. A cloudy glowing gourd shade of orange fills the glass and exhibits a wonderfully-sized cream colored head. There’s a fair bit of lacing, even if it seems that the weight of the beer would prefer to pull it right back into the glass.

Flavor 20/20: Whoa! Where to start with this?! After a gentle wash of caramel sweetness on the tip of the tongue and a playful citrus preview, this beer becomes more bitter than a custody battle. Over septuplets. This beer while not defining unbalanced, definitely spoils the hops and lets them get away with murder. The bitter taste in the backbone of this beer is unlike anything I’ve ever drank. It simply permeates everything. I can’t say that the beer is unbalanced, since there are other malt elements at work here. However, the hops put their own tint on everything as if they were imitating Picasso’s Blue Period. What’s especially neat is that the other flavors DO remain detectable, but they are now a “bitter” version of themselves. Bitter caramel. Bitter oranges. Bitter pineapple. You name the flavor and this beer has transmutated it into something completely different. The finish is rather like a Wile. E Coyote cartoon, where it experiences an unusual hovering of sweetness before falling promptly into a unrelenting bitter (minus the tiny umbrellas and exclamatory signs). I should also mention that the bitter involved in all phases of this beer is akin to chewing on an ibuprofen tablet. It is sharp and commands attention. The aftertaste is equally unrelenting and the sticky nature of this beer allows it to linger longer than in-laws during the holidays. I mean, the bitter just goes on. And on. It dries the mouth insanely well and one’s common sense is challenged when taking another sip, knowing that it was the beer that caused the problem in the first place!

Mouthfeel 5/5: This beer will absolutely coat every surface your mouth like fresh stucco. You can’t get rid of it! This thick and sticky brew traps the bitter flavors in on your tongue and holds it hostage. The carbonation is wisely left in the shadows for this brew. It can be confused with alcohol heat and hop spice in initial sips, but ultimately it serves to add to a silky quality.

Overall Impression 9/10: I am only halfway through this brew and am already aware that this is going to be a battle. It is just such a strong brew! The aroma is powerful, the taste is Herculean, and the body is titanic. That said, this beer accepts no excuses, but I find myself wishing it were a bit more forgiving. There are some really beautiful flavors present in this beer, but they are shoved violently into the lockers as the hop bitter and alcohol make their way down the high school hallway of your palate. I certainly cannot fault this beer for not being flavorful enough. This beer is intense and only for those experienced in the ways of hops and craft beer.

Overall Impression 49/50: For what it is, this beer earns an appropriately high score. You want DIPA? You got DIPA. In fact, this supersedes DIPA and you could probably give it some new, confusing nomenclature (DIPA+, TRIPA?). However, when it comes down to it there are other factors at play in this beer and they definitely deserve their time in the spotlight. Yes, DIPAs and IIPAs need to be somewhat abrasive. After all, isn’t that why we buy them? While the answer should be yes, this beer makes that decision almost punitive. This brew is certainly a sipper and is sure to please even the most staunch of hop heads. It’s good for what it is, but I could use a intermission from all its unabashedness. This beer is a monster and I hate to say it, but it kicked my ass. Consider my palate ruined, Stone. You’ve done your job well.

Joel R. Kolander is the Cheif Blogger for Sud Savant, a beer-savoring blog for the rest of us. We’re not here to get plowed. We’re not here because we are world-famous beer critics. We’re here because we enjoy savoring a great beer with even better friends. Sharing great beer is just as amazing as finding it in the first place. Lets share!