Thursday, March 6, 2008

Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale review

Stone Arrogant Bastard AleYes, we're all so unworthy - as the label says. Today's brew review is in a new category of beer that I haven't touched upon yet. This brew is classified as a Strong American Ale. The mere sound of that makes me think of two things: lot of hops and higher alcohol content. I'm talking about none other than Arrogant Bastard Ale from Stone Brewing Company of Escondido California.

I really love Stone Brewing's labeling. They simply say up front that you probably won't like this beer because you lack the taste and sophistication to appreciate it. In other words, they dare you not to like this and have you believe that you'd better like this beer if you know anything about beer. Heh. OK, I'll bite. I'm going to give this a fair test. Given the fact that I prefer the darker side of beers, this dark golden with red overtone ale was going to get a thorough review by yours truly. I felt up to the task.

Appearance: The beer poured dark with a nice 2 finger yellowish tan head that lingered for quite some time after pouring. The beer was very clear in appearance with no visible haze. It kept up a nice 10 bubble deep bead throughout the entire sampling of the 22 oz bottle. This beer was drank at winter basement temperature with the bottle cool to the touch but not cold enough for the bottle to sweat.

Aroma: The aroma was hard for me to narrow down. It had a distinct citrusy smell, something like grapefruit with a definite hop overtone. I had to smell it several times in order to identify the full aroma. Swirling the beer in the glass definitely helps. The aroma got stronger the longer the beer stayed open to the air.

Taste: The first taste was definitely different from other beers I've tried lately. You could sense some nice hoppiness here but it wasn't real big like an IPA. It had a low key maltiness and filled your mouth with flavor. The beer went down with a slight alcohol bite and dryness to it. I felt that it had a nice balance of hops and caramel malts to it. I got a nice slight warmness from the 7.2% ABV alcohol.

Reading the label just makes you laugh. Stone Brewing did a great job in hyping this beer and giving it a great label design. I'd love to get a poster or a t-shirt of their smirking gargoyle holding a brew mug. If you're going to drink this beer, I'd recommend you eat something with it as it might be a tad too dry to drink by itself. I happened to eat a few slices of Colby cheese with crackers with this beer and it complimented the brew well.

If you believe all of the hype, you'll be convinced ahead of time that this is a beer to seek out. Don't get me wrong, it is a finely crafted Strong American Ale and is worthy of praise. Ratebeer gave this beer a 98th percentile. Beer Advocate reviewers graced this beer with an A- rating. Could it be that we are just riding the wave of popularity that Stone Brewing has right now? Time will tell.

While I enjoyed this beer and appreciate others opinion of the beer, it's still not one of my favorite styles (yet). Lots of hops are all well and good if that's your thing. I'm going to remember this beer and revisit it again later.

Overall: I took my sweet time finishing this beer and found myself wanting to cleanse the bitterness often with food between sips. Good as it may be, I'm going to give this beer a cautious thumbs up. I'm glad I finally got to try one of Stone's beers and will seek out their other offerings in the future.

I know you strong beer lovers will enjoy this beer. You'll certainly get the full range of experience trying this beer. The real test will be is if you will want to drink more of this the next night. It was an eye opening tasting and I look forward to comparing it to others of it's style in the future. It may not have converted me to a Strong Ale fan just yet, but in time I'll probably come to appreciate it more.

Related articles:
- Stone Smoked Porter review.
- Stone Levitation Ale review.
- Stone Imperial Russian Stout review.

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