Beer Review 0104: Stone Double Bastard Ale

Stone Brewing Co. out of Escondido, California, really doesn’t need an introduction. They are just Stone — brash yet benevolent, arrogant but somewhat modest, and pretty much always damn good.

Double Bastard Ale is a huge beer, with a rather large missive written on the side of the bottle. In fact, they call it a diatribe. In summary, this beer is something you’re not worthy of, and if you’re a fizzy yellow lager drinker, you might not want to even take an attempt at this. Stone says “it is unequivocally certain that your feeble palate is grossly inadequate and thus undeserving of this liquid glory,” and later calls the holder of the bottle a “slackjawed gaping gobemouche!”

All jokes aside, Stone is a great brewery and their arrogance is only part of the marketing. This is an American Strong Ale, which is kind of a vague style considering so many beers can fall within this category. I’m going in this one not knowing what to expect, so let’s jump in.

A careful pour delivered an average size head, leaning more toward the small end of the scale. I could have been more aggressive with the pour. What a gorgeous beer Double Bastard is — this stuff is an amber red color, glowing in the light. The body of the beer was hazy with a light amount of sediment floating throughout. This one makes great lacing, puffy sheets all the way down my glass, and it leaves behind alcohol legs (10.5% alcohol by volume).

Right off on the aromatics, I noticed a faint alcohol note. As far as balance between hop and malt, this one is perfect — there’s an even citrus hop note to an even caramel and toffee malt scent. Then you have the dark fruits — raisin, prune, fig — all of these creep in somewhere within the background, combined with an earthy odor that makes for a complex and heady nose. Very nice.

And on the taste, wow. This one starts cracking with a sharp bitterness, hits of grapefruit and pine, then transitions into a sweet middle with some of the caramel and toffee found in the aroma coming out. The finish rides a strong bitterness coupled with all of those dark fruits mentioned above, producing almost a fruit cake sensation, and some fresh tobacco. As the beer warms, all of these flavors just get more vivid, and each taste reveals something more than the one before it.

I say this without hesitation: this is an amazing beer, and not a beer for the faint of heart. You might want to take heed to the scrawl on the label, garrulous caitiff! (Just kidding.) The bitterness levels here are off the chart, but the flavors more than welcome it. Double Bastard is thick and creamy, and has an almost nutritious quality to it. If you’re one who loves to pick apart layer upon layer of flavor, do yourself a favor and seek out a bottle of this. And look at the price! What a bargain.

I couldn’t find a single thing wrong with this brew. So, Stone’s Double Bastard Ale becomes the fourth beer to be rated a perfect 100 points. I honestly didn’t see it coming.

Stone Double Bastard Ale, 100 points. Price: an UNBELIEVABLE $6.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber bottle.

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