The brewers at Stone Brewing Company do their own thing. They’re stubborn. They’re unapologetic. They have a beer called Arrogant Bastard (it’s tagline is “you’re not worthy”). So, it was with great curiosity that I approached their recently released, reformulated takes on two classics: Pale Ale and Ruination IPA. Stone’s willingness to update according to a current palate seemed out of character for the gargoyle of California brewing.
Stone sold their first keg of Stone Pale Ale nearly 20 years ago. The beer was hoppy as hell in 1996. These were the teething and toddling days of the West Coast IPA, years before a Pliny the Younger or Power Plant IPA showed us the meaning of Imperial IPA. In 2015, the beer lacked a little…depth, but Stone Pale Ale 2.0 updates the recipe by completely tossing out the old one. The re-made beer comes off a lot less malty than its predecessor with a hop-forward profile that stops just short of aggressive. Interestingly, Stone also added a bit of rye to the malt bill, which lends just a touch of toastiness to the finish.
Whereas Stone Pale Ale was a complete re-imagining, Stone Ruination 2.0 is more of a makeover. You know, trim the mullet, tweeze the brows, teach it how to apply a smoky eye—the usual. And the big reveal knocked my knee socks off. Ruination 2.0 reads a lot closer to some of the better releases from the Enjoy By series than the first version of Ruination, which is to say, this newly reformulated beer is a juicy citrus dream with pine forest notes and a hop tropical finish. I’m not really big on Double IPAs, but I could swim in a pool of Ruination 2.0 without getting sick of it. This is the best case scenario for a makeover (and it’s one that the subject can actually keep up. Don’t you wonder what ever happened to all those poor souls that ended up on What Not to Wear?).
The upshot: Stone made needed improvements that refresh two bullet-proof brands in a very 2015 fashion. Admitting it’s time for a change isn’t easy, and to make that change with flair certainly fits into the Stone philosophy. We are, indeed, not worthy.