Saturday, May 29, 2010

Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale, Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale, Double Bastard Ale (2010)


Henry and Ernie join me to review the three different versions of Stone's flagship beer: Arrogant Bastard Ale. It also comes in an oak-aged version and a "double" version (although the bottles themselves don't specify how they're different from the original version.

STONE ARROGANT BASTARD ALE:

4.2
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
Chad9976 (773) - Albany, New York, USA - APR 30, 2010
You have to have a lot of respect for a beer that flatly states on the bottle “You’re not worthy” and “You probably won’t like it.” As someone who has be ensconced into the craft beer scene over the last year I understand where Arrogant Bastard Ale by the Stone Brewing Company, is coming from. It is indeed a strong beer for discriminating tastes and if you can appreciate good beer you’re bond to love it.

POUR, COLOR AND AROMA

Since this is only available in 22oz bomber bottles, the beer pours rather rough with plenty of kickback. It forms a beautiful shade of clear but dark maroon with little carbonation noticeable. It’s complimented by a thick, frothy, tan head which lasts throughout the life of the beer and leaves generous amounts of lacing on the glass. The aroma is surprisingly subdued with hints of a strong hop presence with some floral notes but also a distinct maltiness as well.

TASTE

I have never experienced a beer with such a continually-changing flavor as I have with Arrogant Bastard Ale. Upon my first swig I noticed a taste of deep sweetness like caramel and chocolate – reminiscent of a doppelbock. However, on the finish I noticed a distinct hop bite with a mild citrus and pine flavor. This was very unusual and pleasantly surprising since it seemed to be a combination of the best of both worlds: sweet malts and bitter hops.

This beer is classified as an “American Strong Ale,” which I suppose would make it an American take on the Belgian strong ale style. Whatever the case may be I definitely enjoyed it since there was a strong presence of everything here – malts, hops, sweetness, bitterness and more.

Although, the more I drank the more I noticed the beer began to take on the qualities of an India Pale Ale with a strong citrusy taste and a wicked bitter bite. As something of a “hop head” myself I really enjoyed this, but couldn’t help but wonder what happened to that rich caramel sweetness from the beginning.

FINISH

With a name like Arrogant Bastard Ale, you might assume this is going to be a difficult beer to drink, but nothing could be further from the truth. With a very soft, gentle mouthfeel and a rather thick composition, this is actually a very easy-drinking beer. The only caveat is the strong, dry, chalky aftertaste not unlike flour.

BODY

This is a heft beer to be sure. At 7.2% ABV and a slogan that tells you that you’re not worthy, it’s no surprise that Arrogant Bastard Ale packs a punch. I drank my bomber after dinner and still felt its effects. This is definitely not a beer for lightweights.

FINAL THOUGHTS

While I wouldn’t consider Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale one of my all-time favorites, or even among the best of the best, it definitely does live up to its name and reputation. As an amateur connoisseur I could definitely appreciate the craftsmanship that went into this brew as well as the strong, complex, and delicious palate. In fact, I might even take some pride in knowing how much I really like this beer. Perhaps the name is meant to describe those who like it more than the beer itself.

Grade: 8/10

STONE OAKED ARROGANT BASTARD ALE:

3.7
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (773) - Albany, New York, USA - JUL 16, 2011
Stone is a brewery known for brewing from the hip. Their famous Arrogant Bastard Ale single-handedly coined the derogatory term "fizzy yellow beer." That beer lived up to its name by being aggressively hopped, but still quite drinkable. But what happens when you mellow the bastard out? Well you get Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale - which is the original beer aged with American oak chips. I think this somewhat defeats the purpose of the original beer as the barrel-aging takes the edge off the hops and makes it a smoother, softer, but less robust beer. Still, it’s tasty and I guess that’s what really matters.

I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Extremely dark maroon, essentially opaque consistency although I can tell the body is actually very hazy. It forms a two-finger beige/yellow head frothy head which retains very well and laces the glass nicely.

Smell: Surprisingly mild for this beer, even if it is oak-aged. There is some piney hops and notes of sticky syrup-like sweetness like caramel.

Taste: I’m all for oak-aging if it’s going to improve or transcend the original beer, but in this case I think all it did was arbitrarialy mellow out the original brew and make it milder and flatter. The first swigs are indeed full of hop bitterness, piney resin and a dark chocolate-like finish. However, as I drink on the hops fade away and the beer becomes less overtly bitter and more like a sandy dryness. The beer begins to taste sweet with the caramel and dark chocolate notes growing stronger. There’s still a bit of a hop bite on the finish, but nothing that would identify this brew as being aggressively hoppy.

Drinkability: The one thing Oaked Arrogant Bastard has over its original recipe is the drinkability. While the beer does start out strong, it eventually recedes to something more drinker-friendly. The palate isn’t nearly as bitter or dry as it could be, and the mouthfeel itself is only medium-bodied, flat, and goes down smooth. The 7.2% ABV seems a little high, as this doesn’t have the density of most intensely-hopped beers of the sort.

Overall, Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale is a good beer, but nothing more than that. I would recommend it for those who don’t like and/or can’t handle the hop bomb this beer is based on. 
Grade: 7/10