Friday, August 6, 2010

Review: Stone Ruination IPA.

After nine hours driving a van full of High School and Junior High students I figured I’d earned it. Tacos and an imperial pint. The tacos were great, because they were tacos. Oh how I miss Tucson, (See previous). The pint was Stone Ruination IPA.

Stone is well known for “arrogantly” crafted beers and this is no exception. The label claims 7.7 percent alcohol by volume, but as I write this after finishing my pint, I wonder if that is a conservative calculation. For I am positively swimming.

Hoppy beers seem to be very much du-jour, and this is in the class of new, hoppy beers. It is an IPA, and it is a “west coast IPA. Perhaps, the standard of that sub-genre. But unlike many of the Johnny-come-lately uber-hopped beers, of which this is the best I’ve had, it is more complex. The hops are definitely the theme here, but Stone did not throw all other beer elements out the window. On the first sip, hops are overwhelming. But as one gets into the pint a subtle sweetness is detected. It complemented my tacos (and lots of hot salsa) very well. I appreciated how light the beer felt despite such a complex flavor. It added to my meal, without, (as the label claims) overpowering it.

Stone Ruination IPA is another beer of which I don’t think I would enjoy a whole six pack. It is a special occasion beer. (Especially given the price). Wait until you’ve done something particularly taxing, then treat yourself to one. It’ll be worth your toil.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Albondigas Soup and 1554.

It has been while since I posted. The last year has brought a career change, fatherhood, and the abandonment of my birth city to a new, overwhelming metropolis. Alas my new porch is hardly big enough for a barbecue, but there is a barbecue out there, so have a seat.

I had put in some good work at the job on Thursday and so I figured I'd earned it. I had a 22oz 1554 by New Belgium in the refrigerator. The weather had been kind of gloomy It's something the natives call "June Gloom" around here. So I made a big pot of Albondigas soup for dinner. I lacked some of the proper ingredients to make the soup taste as authentic as I wanted it to, but it was tasty enough The recipe I used is a simple one found here. It requires some spicing up, but it's a good place to start.

I will argue with any food snob that a rich dark beer goes best with a light, spicy meal. I discovered this years ago, when dinner one night consisted of an imperial pint of Guiness, and chips and salsa. The weather was perfect for the soup, and the soup was perfect for 1554. The label says the inspiration for 1554 Enlightened Black Ale, was found in a "crumbling Belgian library book," dating back to the year 1554. I'll take the good people at New Belgium's word for it. New Belgium is most well known for it's Fat Tire, which is a wonderful, everyday beer.

1554 is thick and black, it pours like milk and looks like coke. Drinkers will know they have a unique beer the instant it hits their mouth. A rich caramel sweetness dominates the first taste. Fans of Guiness will be surprised by the amount of fizz in the beer. A feature that really sets this beer apart from most other heavy darks. The hops arrive with the aftertaste, but they are subtle, and don't overpower the unique characteristics 1554 brings to the table.

I had another last night, after some Pizza and I didn't enjoy it as much. I think the lightness of the albondigas soup, combined with the spice provided a perfect contrast to the heavy sweet beer. 1554 is not a beer for every occasion, but on the right occasion can be wonderful. I suggest buying it in the 22oz bottle and splitting one with a friend. Sometimes, in the winter I'll buy a six pack and have one every night for a week, but I only enjoy a few of them. There are some foods that are so good, you don't eat them all the time, for fear they might lose some of their charm. 1554 is like these foods. Best enjoyed rarely, and only when the occasion is just right.