To celebrate the impending apocalypse (Game of Thrones is over, so there's no real reason to stick around anyway) Fantagraphics have made a strange alliance with fellow Seattleites, Elysian Brewery, to release a series of 12 speciality beers with label art by Charles Burns. The beers are being released at a rate of one per month, with this month's brew being “Ruin” (as in "Mother's") which is an IPA made with rosemary and agave.
After a few disappointments with this brewing experiment (it seems to be following the pattern of the Star Trek movies, with every other release being a success) Ruin was a pleasing return to the style and quality we've come to expect from Elysian.
As its poured, the beer has the appearance of orange soda -- bright orange colouring and a pleasingly frothy, creamy head. With the sun finally re-emerging in the Northwest, this feels like a real summer brew -- bright, cheerful and full of optimism...about as far from its apocalyptic origins as you'd expect. Even the scent of the beer reflects the season; it's light, refreshing and herbal, like the aroma of a flourishing garden. This does what many seasonal brews fail to do and actually capture the essence of its origin.
On the tongue, the taste is strange, but easy-going, which is a welcome relief in this series. Too many have been over-powering with their flavour, leaving a muddled mess on the taste buds. Ruin is subtle, and allowed to express itself. It has the lightness of a lager, and not the overly-hoppy bitterness that American IPAs over suffer from, and for what seems like the first time in this series, actually tastes like an Elysian brew. That flavourful, aromatic quality that's such a hallmark of their Jasmine and Avatar, and even their pumpkin ales, is in full-effect here. Like an old friend, the familiar qualities allow you to relax and soak in what they have to offer.
The blend of agave and rosemary works well, and the twist of citrus in the mix gives the flavour an added tang that makes it so refreshing. As a partner to barbecued meats or Mexican food, this is perfect and lets you soak up these long, summer nights, when the impending end of the world doesn't seem quite so close.
-- Gavin Lees