You gotta love the California-based Stone Brewing Company. They’re out of control, push the envelope, crazy-ass dudes… and they make some of the finest ales on the planet. Perhaps nothing typifies their overall attitude like their Arrogant Bastard Ale. According to the Stone Brewing Company website, when it comes to Arrogant Bastard Ale, “You probably won’t like it. It’s quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth.” Do I smell a challenge?
Arrogant Bastard Ale is brewed in the style of American strong ales. Well, it’s not really a recognized style, but more of a catch-all for those beers and brewers that don’t follow convention and that basically like to give the big middle finger salute to style guidelines. In the case of Arrogant Bastard Ale, it’s dark, its hopped to the hilt, and it packs a malt punch.
The 22-oz bottle is intimidating on its own. Sporting a winged demon with a devilishly knowing grin; it dares you to pop the top. The beer pours a slightly thick deep amber color with just a touch of haze. The head is thick and eggshell white in color and hangs on for dear life as it laces the sides of the glass throughout the drink. The aromas from this complex brew are all over the map and defy convention. Think a darkened pub in the English countryside filled with the smells of earth, fire, and roasted fruits. The floral and spice notes contributed by this highly-hopped drink are very present and don’t hide around the corner.
The first sip lets you know you are in for one hell of a ride. The initial sweetness of the high-malt content coats the tongue, gently lulling you into complacency before the roundhouse kick of a high hops bill belts you in the teeth. This is a beer that does not suffer fools well. But as is so often the case with Stone’s brews, this one has the balance of a Romanian gymnast. Perfect weighting of hops and malt don’t allow either one to play favorites. There is also a woody spice flavor that blends well with the piney hops lending a well-worn comfortable feeling to the taste.
The mouthfeel of the Arrogant Bastard Ale is slick and thick. It envelops your taste buds in woolly blankets that don’t contain the typical oily nature of beers heavy on the lupuline i.e. Imperial IPAs and the like. Being slightly high in the ABV compartment at 7.2% gives this one a bit of a warming feel as well. This could be a nice comfort on a cold winter’s night.
Stone Brewing Company’s Arrogant Bastard Ale is one of my favorite beers. It’s available year-round in 22-oz bottles and on tap at your finer drinking establishments. It’s recipe is a highly-guarded trade secret and could find you at the business end of a baseball bat should you try to uncover its particulars. It is complex, hoppy, malty, and doesn’t care who it offends. I love the way the no-holds-barred attitudes of the purveyors come through in every sip and I agree with the beers motto, “You’re Not Worthy.” You can’t go wrong if you are looking for a beer that will challenge your tastes and give you something to talk about the next time you see your friends slurping on some tasteless yellow swill.
$6.50 – 20-oz Bottle