I have officially succumbed to Christmas music. I’ve been listening to my last.fm radio most of the day and I decided to play the Christmas/holiday channel, so here I am hanging out with Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Johnny Mathis, Sarah McLachlan, Bright Eyes and Elvis. And Run-DMC? Where’d you come from? I know it’s not December yet, though it should be according to the weather down here in the southwest – ignoring the fact that it finally peaked at about 60º today, it was below 30º for most of the morning. The morning we had to do a walk-through of our new house. I love the elusive smell of new cars, but the rare smell of a brand new house, freshly painted with real wood cupboards and marble counters…it’s something magical I had no idea I was missing out on. The best part was walking through and getting to point out any flaws we found and having the builder and his men fix it on the spot so we don’t have to fill out a work order and wait three weeks for a response once we’re moved in. Where else could you get that kind of service without putting up a fight? Not at a car dealership, that’s for darn sure. Our biggest issue with the house is that we have to make it livable for seven people in three short weeks once we officially move in. I need more strong friends to help us move furniture. I’ll supply the beer and maybe bake something delicious!
After walking through our house and finding out that we may be able to move in as early as next week, we went to get some breakfast to take home. Sitting inside Brunchie’s, waiting for my to-go order, I noticed a cop speed past and screech to a halt right at the corner of the block. Lights flashing and sirens blaring, five other police cars and an officer on a motorcycle surrounded a 20-something guy who was sprinting down the sidewalk. One of the dozen or so officers jumped out and tackled him to the ground, quickly cuffing him, rolling him over and pulling everything out of his pockets and loose clothing. I was so into the whole endeavor, having never really seen anything like this before (what? I’m sheltered), that I started announcing what was going on to my fiance, another couple who had walked in after us, and the hostess like it was a sports game. The boy just chuckled at me, surprised at how excited I was getting about it, while the couple, just as interested as I was, completely missed the hostess trying to lead them to their seats and she had to come back to retrieve them once she realized they weren’t following her. I am not normally this easily entertained, but it was pretty interesting to watch twelve cops meander around trying to look busy when the job really only asked for one or two officers. The guy didn’t even fight, he was completely complacent even as they shoved him into the back of a car and sped off. The whole ordeal couldn’t have taken more than ten minutes, but because it happened right around the corner from the police station, well, it must have been a slow morning as two more police SUVs rolled by to chat on their way to patrol. It was a very exciting morning, to say the least.
I’m not even going to attempt a proper segue here, because Stone’s Ruination IPA really has nothing to do with anything I just said above, other than its ridiculously crazy hops setting my mouth on fire – which was just as exciting as the breakfast arrest, and I don’t know if anyone really wants to read another 1800 word post (or do you? I’ll do it! Don’t tempt me!), so I’ll just cut to the chase this time. 200 words ahead of yesterday…
I have become, or discovered that I am, a huge hop-head since delving into the world of craft beer two months ago. I came into it writing hops off as gross and bitter and not-so-tasty-aftertasty. Now I prefer a beer to have more hops than malt and the more bitter, the better. So when I come across an Imperial IPA, it’s gotta happen. And when it looks as delicious as this one, which has been heralded as one of the more perfect IIPAs/DIPAs, one that all other IIPAs should strive to be (apparently), there comes a time when resisting popping open the bottle becomes futile. Giving in was one of my best decisions all day.
It poured a hazy burnt golden-orange that was randomly scattered with tiny streams of carbonation. It held a gorgeous two-finger thick, creamy, milky white head shaded with buttery hues that lasted quite a while thanks to its excellent retention, and left lovely sticky lace in sheets along the glass. A nice collar formed around the edge as the foam dissipated and the liquid beneath cleared of the initial haze to a glassy orange amber as it warmed.
The nose was very pungent with lots of pink grapefruit juice and crushed pine needle hops that threatened to sting my nose, but at the same time seemed softly floral (thanks to the Centennial hops), keeping it perfectly balanced. Once my senses were wide awake, which took only one or two whiffs, there were some very mild sweet malts that presented themselves in the background. Hints of light lemon zest and maybe something pineappley, dried grass and hay spyhopped their way through the strong grapefruit and pine somewhere along the line, too, though more so as the beer warmed. Throughout the time I took just holding my nose over my snifter, the aroma never lost any of its spice or zest and remained hop central til the very end. Blissful and sinus clearing!
My first sip was taken gingerly, as I usually have an odd hell-bent proclivity to just throw my whole mouth to the sharks when I finally get to the tasting stage of reviewing, and it never fails to come back and bite me somewhere in the tenderest areas of said mouth. Brutal and not so pleasant, so to practice my patience and professionalism…ahem…I took it slow and made it sensual. I started a relationship with Ruination and while the passion-filled riptide of extreme hops immediately overwhelmed me, it slowed down as the first sip reached my stomach, leaving a long-lasting piney bitterness holding onto my taste buds for dear life. Each sip afterward was continuously filled with dramatic pine needles and grapefruit rind hops and never left me disappointed (until I finished the beer, of course). Undertones of sweet pale malts rolled out from under all the hops for the briefest moments right at the end, forming an arching backbone just looking for a good, quick scratch before being washed over by a final wave of lemon peel and herbal resin. The mouthfeel was consistently medium, especially with the rich flavors, and was rather silky and creamy even with the good amount of spicy carbonation. It wasn’t exactly smooth, but it was easy to drink and really quite delicious. Also, because I’m STILL rocking out to Christmas tunes, I want to make it clear that this is not a good winter beer, save it for when you’re not caroling along recklessly with all the holiday cheer…unless you like Christmas in July, in which case – I fully support your cause. One month is not enough time to celebrate such a fantastic holiday. Spread the cheer year round, I say! With good craft beer! Hear, hear!