Saturday, 28 January 2012

HEAD-TO-HEAD #1: Ruination IPA (Stone Brewing Co.) vs. Empire IPA (Burton Bridge Brewery)


Ruination IPA is an all-American style of ale known as a double IPA (aka: Imperial IPA, aka: American IPA (APA), aka: West Coast IPA or Cali IPA !!). It is seriously bitter. However I cannot say it is the bitterest beer I've ever tried as BrewDog's Hardcore IPA @ 150 IBU (!) almost certainly wins that distinction. Ruination is classed as >100 IBU but from the taste I doubt it reaches 150. As for the taste, the delicious resinous, piney, grapefruit-like hops were fully evident. The APA is a vehicle and showcase for hops and this one does not disappoint in that respect. Where it was lacking a little, I felt, was in the body, which was on the thin side. Most APAs are deliberately unbalanced in favour of the hop as it would take an amazingly strong malt backbone to stand up to any beer over 100 IBU.

Burton Bridge Brewery (who are unashamedly one of my favourite micro-breweries in the UK) have a real stunner in their Empire IPA. Its probably one of the most historically accurate English IPAs on the market, being strong enough in alcohol (7.5%) to withstand those long sea voyages to the Orient. Its very well hopped yet features a densely malty character to attenuate the spright bitterness.

The hop profile of both beers is very different: Empire IPA uses Challenger and Styrian Goldings, typical old world hop varieties (imparting earthy, marmalade-like, citrus and toffee flavours) whereas Ruination uses Centennial and Columbus (newer-bred, new world hop varieties imparting very strong citrussy, woody, resinous flavours attributed to greater levels of alpha-acids such as humulone).

  • MALTS: STONE = pale, crystal (?) / BBB = PALE
  • IBU: STONE = >100 / BBB = ~ 50-60
  • ABV: STONE = 7.7% / BBB= 7.5%


  1. Nice to read about the BBB, since we obviously don't get that in my part of the States. It's hard to find a good English IPA that is true to the style. Sounds like you've got a real good one according to the strong malt presence. Cheers!

  2. Glad you picked this one and not GK IPA!

    1. Haha, I'm not so into Greene King's beers or their business ethics. Although saying that their Strong Suffolk is an excellent beer (a blend of ales no longer sold seperately)... And Morland's beers have remained pretty good since the takeover. I tend to leave Abbott Ale and their IPA well alone though...


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