Stone Ruination IPA (#112)
‘Ka-blam’ is one way of describing it. ‘Kaboom’ would work too, as would ‘wow’, ‘whoa’, or ‘f*ck’. This is a true hop explosion. But with a name like Ruination (the act of ruining or the condition of being ruined – politely written on the rear label) this comes as no surprise. Granted a name like this might be off putting for some of the fresher faced folk in the beer world, but for hop heads like myself, this name calls like a siren song.
After drinking about half of the bottle, I realised something – ruination wasn’t occurring. It’s actually the words at the bottom of the front label, describing the beer as ‘a liquid poem to the glory of the hop’, that better described what I was experiencing. Citrusy, piney, herbal, perfume sweetness, bitterness…whatever you love about the hop, you’ll find in this beer. A true classic
Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale (#113)
The words at the bottom of this label are less poetic – “You’re not worthy”. The rear label has a spiel that outlines this quote, basically telling you to go and have a Budweiser instead, because this ale isn’t for you (and I laughed at the ‘QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS’ section at the bottom…well played). I was confident that this label wasn’t written for me, so I cracked on.
This is a much darker brew than the Ruination, and doesn’t have the same lively hop characteristics. What it does have is bitterness, and lots of it. There’s a certain malty/alcohol sweetness to appreciate during each mouthful, but the bitter aftertaste is king. Drinking this is akin to enjoying a fine cigar, only instead of smoke it’s the bitterness that envelopes your olfactory cavity with flavour and aroma. If you’re not a fan of bitter beers, then heed the labels advice and walk away. But if you’re hard enough to try it, then you might just be one of the few who loves it.
Great Divide Brewing Hercules Double IPA (#114)
Yet another labelled warning off lesser beer drinkers…I’m noticing a pattern here. This ale is only fit for the gods, and there’s a silhouette of Hercules (or is it Arnold in his prime?) in a muscular pose, I’m assuming after having consumed this beer.
The malt has more clout here, to the point where the aroma is more about the sweet caramel cashew nut rather than any typical hop aromas. This is why it’s such a shock to the palate when the malt disappears, leaving only an intense citrus like bitterness that had been hiding there the whole time, mixed with a big alcohol kick for good measure. It feels more aggressive than the two stone beers, even though I don’t think it really is. But while the Ruination and the Arrogant Bastard were intense from the get go, this beer teases you with a malty backbone that gets pulled out from under you by the bitterness. It’s still tasty though. And hefty…
AleSmith IPA (#115)
This is the first bottle that doesn’t have a label declaring war on my taste buds. Instead, the first line on the rear label reads “It’s pretty awesome.” If that won’t sell a beer, I don’t know what will. This beer smells awesome, so fresh and tropical that it reminds me of home. This follows in the taste, with a light biscuity malt propping up the fruit-salad like hop flavours, before finishing with a dry, restrained bitterness. After the previous three brews, this one seems like something for a session. And if I could drink these all day while looking out over the US west coast, I’d be a happy man.