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The Beer Circle » Beer, Budget, Imperial IPA, IPA, Stone Brewing Co. » Budget/Nonbudget Showdown: Stone IPA vs. Stone Ruination IPA

Budget/Nonbudget Showdown: Stone IPA vs. Stone Ruination IPA

I’m known for my, well, “inexpensive” tastes in beer.  One of the greatest rewards in my craft beer quest is finding those special brews that offer taste competitive with the big and rare beers, for a fraction of the price.  In the interest of furthering this pursuit, an interesting idea popped into my head while browsing the aisles of Total Wine & More Chantilly.

As I passed a Stone Brewing Company display, I noticed sixers of both Stone IPA and Stone Ruination IPA sitting side-by-side. While these are certainly different beers, at vastly different levels of intensity, they share the same root style (IPA), and the same brewery (Stone).  Based on this, despite their differences, I should be able to draw an interesting comparison between them, particularly given the differences in price.  I was able to pick up the Stone IPA six-pack for $8.99 (not even $1.50/12-oz bottle), and the Stone Ruination IPA sixer for $15.99 (~$2.67/12-oz bottle).  Based on my previous musings, I believe this would firmly place the Stone IPA into “budget” territory for me, while Ruination finds itself outside of that range.

Stone IPA is widely considered by many to be one of the standard inexpensive, quintessential IPA offerings, along the lines of Sierra Nevada or Dogfish Head’s offerings.  Inexpensive and easily found, it should be accessible to nearly anyone, and would serve as a good introduction to the style..  Stone Ruination derives its name from its effect on your palate; at 100+ IBUs, there’s not going to be much left of it after this.  However, when the gloves are off, and Stone’s budget offering takes on its much more robust sibling, who comes out on top?

Stone IPA
Pours amber-yellowish, somewhat transparent. A thick, fluffy head immediately forms, isn't too eager to go away, and laces well on its way down. As a side note on appearance, I love Stone's painted bottles.
Citrusy hops dominate the nose here, with just the right amount of sweetness to the aroma. Nothing amazing, but it definitely lets you know what you're about to drink.
Exceptionally hoppy. Just the right amount of malty sweetness to balance it out, and just a touch of booze drops by to say hello at the end. Altogether, it means business - and I like that.
Somewhat light-bodied, and the booze isn't too prevalent, which goes a long way for this beer's drinkability. I'd almost call this sessionable, if it weren't for the 6.9% ABV.
At not even $9 for a six-pack, this is a truly great selection for the price.
A great IPA! You'd be hard-pressed to find a better beer for the price that you can get Stone's IPA for. This is one that deserves to be kept in your refrigerator as a go-to IPA.

Beer Stats
Style: American IPA
Serving: Bottle
Size: 12oz
ABV: 6.90%
BA Score: 95
RB Score: 100


Stone Ruination IPA
Distinctly darker, cloudier than the Stone IPA above. Very orange hue and nice head forms, though it dissipates quickly. Something about this makes me feel like I'm in for a treat.
BOOM. These hops are here, predominantly pine, with just a bit of citrusy fruit. Their intimidating presence on the nose, even moreso than the Stone IPA gives a hint as to what you're in for.
Begins sweet and bright, with a sharp spike in hop character shortly thereafter. Very bitter and piney hops, and hangs around quite awhile after the sip is taken. It earns its name, that's for sure.
Well-carbonated - a beer like this needs to be. Beyond that, a beer this big would be difficult to put down quite a few of.
Considerably more expensive than the Stone IPA, at over a dollar more per 12 oz bottle. While this might be worth it if you're particularly in the mood for a very big IPA, it's certainly not a value offering.
While this does offer the big hop character that its name implies, and it's certainly a big DIPA, there are other selections I'd turn to first. Worth checking out, but I don't think I'll make it a point to keep returning to this one.

Beer Stats
Style: Double/Imperial IPA
Serving: Bottle
Size: 12oz
ABV: 7.70%
BA Score: 95
RB Score: 100


These are both great beers.  Their impression on me was nothing but great, and communities such as BeerAdvocate seem to agree, their scores earning them both “World-Class” status. All in all, while Stone IPA is an extremely solid choice for the price, to get that extra kick in the head from hops (which I crave sometimes), you have to be prepared to pony up a little extra cash.  My suggestion?  Buy both. Reach for the Stone IPA for your general sessioning any day of the week.  And when the thirst for adventure and a bit more punishment for your palate comes from within, you’ve got the potential to lay some serious Ruination down.

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Written by Garrett Miller

Garrett brings a somewhat different perspective on beer to the table. While always thrilled to try any new, exotic brew that finds itself his way, Garrett finds that he's often quite satisfied with reliable, common craft choices. As such, Garrett is a fan of trying and reviewing these (admittedly less expensive) beers, and using them to introduce the exciting, flavorful world of craft beer to those not-yet-acquainted. Garrett’s favorite styles are IPAs and bourbon stouts, but won’t turn his nose up at anything. Find Garrett Miller on Google Plus

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