Ruination, Stone Brewing Co., California. About $16 for 6 (12-ounce) bottles.
You'll find Stone Brewing at or near the top of most Best Brewer lists, including one from the beer nerds at Beer Advocate, who rated it “No. 1 in the U.S.” earlier this decade. Beginning Thursday, you'll also find Stone's fine brews in Charlotte, thanks to a contract with Tryon Distributing. Six Stone staples (along with special releases) will be on our shelves – Pale Ale, IPA, Ruination, Smoked Porter, Arrogant Bastard Ale and Oaked Arrogant Bastard. Our favorite is Ruination, a Double IPA that's both aggressively hopped and surprisingly drinkable. You'll notice the abundant piney hops immediately, but its dense bitterness is balanced nicely with sweet malts. Ruination's alcohol-by-volume, 7.7 percent, is low for a Double IPA – but that makes this brew a pleasure, not a challenge.