Arrogant Bastard Ale from Stone Brewing out in California is one of those beers that have established itself as a craft beer icon. Everybody’s heard of it, and most people seemed to have tried it. Except me. Until recently, anyway!
Strangely enough, Arrogant Bastard Ale is only the second beer that I’ve tried from them! The other Stone beer I had was the Stone Pale Ale, and looking back, I did enjoy that beer quite a bit.
I know its almost stupid, but I did enjoy reading the tongue-in-cheek copy on the Arrogant Bastard Ale label. From the Stone website, here it is for your chuckling too, and take your time reading it in case you need to mouth the words. 😉
“This is an aggressive ale. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory–maybe something with a multi-million dollar ad campaign aimed at convincing you it’s made in a little brewery, or one that implies that their tasteless fizzy yellow beverage will give you more sex appeal. Perhaps you think multi-million dollar ad campaigns make things taste better. Perhaps you’re mouthing your words as you read this.”
OK, I get it. Its like motivating your kid to read more challenging material by telling them its “too hard” and its intended for kids several years older then they are. “Oh yeah? Watch me!”
Clever. I guess?
OK, so lets put the package aside, and see if this 7.2% ABV American Strong Ale is as good as everyone seems to think.
This beer poured a nice, dark amber color into my pint glass. Mostly clear, it created a decently foamy head that had very good retention. I’ll jump ahead a bit and say that the lacing that this beer left on the glass was amazing. Lacing all the way to the bitter end!
Aroma was big-time floral hops for me. (I almost said it was aggressive, but aggressive and floral don’t seem to jive.)
Taste. What can I say? This is a bitter beer! Not being overly familiar with the “Strong American Ale” style, I don’t know if this is how the beer is supposed to taste, but to me it was almost like a strong, sourish kind of grapefruit flavor that came to the front. Yikes! There was SOME malt to pull it back a little, but whatever the bitterness is from is the main feature here.
Going back to the 7.2% ABV, this beer does not come across as boozy. I think that the bitterness of the hops actually kills off any alcohol flavors!
I enjoyed the mouthfeel, it was a little slick feeling, even in the aftertaste which was nice too.
So what did I think of Stone Arrogant Bastard? Well, it was an experience indeed, and I am glad I got to try it finally. That said, I think you really need to be in a mood to drink a beer like this on a regular basis. I think if Arrogant Basterd was your go-to beer, your taste-buds and palate would be destroyed and you probably wouldn’t be able to taste or appreciate more ‘normaler’ beers. Like the Stone Pale Ale for example!
I’d say its worth trying, especially if you are looking to expand your beer flavor universe. It certainly delivers a beer education! Still, its hard for me to say if this beer deserves the accolades it often gets only because I don’t have much to compare it to! (Maybe there isn’t any comparison?) The only other American Strong Ale I’ve seemed to try is Lagunita’s The Hairy Eyeball, which, from what I recall, was nothing like this.
That said, I’ll give it a respectable 3.5 stars. A very good beer, but perhaps a little bit out of my league. What about you? Did you try Arrogant Bastard Ale? Were you worthy?
Scott – TheBrewClub