I have had all the titled IIPAs within the past week, often two at the same time in separate glasses (for science). Thought I would post my thoughts…
If I could compare a more commonly available IIPA to the Pliny, I would definitely compare it to Ruination. Ruination and Pliny are absolutely equal in quality and hoppyness. Really, the only noticeable difference between the two is the hop choice – Ruination is more towards Centennial, whereas Pliny is more varied in its hops, a combination of west-coast hoppyness.
Heady Topper is more of a raw IPA. It has the most hop aroma out of the four, out of any IPA I’ve ever had for that matter, but it is un refined due to the lack of a clarification process. It’s cloudy, like can’t see your finger on the other side of the glass cloudy. This leads to more hop character, but it also leads to a gritty texture, raw hop flavor, and poor head retention. But Heady Topper is more balanced and the easiest to drink out of the four. That fact amazes me, the beer has so little biterness and astringency. If they do something about the clarification and refine the beer, but still retain its balance and drinkability, it would be the best IIPA in the world.
Hop Stoopid, and other IPAs from Laganitus, are hoppy in aroma and flavor, but less so than the others. They also seem to suffer from too much hop astringency.
Given that, I’d put the four in this order:
#1) Pliny & Ruination
#2) Heady Topper
#3) Hop Stoopid