Beer Review 0163: Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale
I can’t believe it has taken me 163 reviews to get to Arrogant Bastard Ale, but it has.
Produced by Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, California, Arrogant Bastard arguably has to be their flagship beer. So, look… this beer might be moreso about marketing than anything. I mean, the general public are certain to love a beer called “Arrogant Bastard,” which is packaged in a bottle that proudly says “YOU’RE NOT WORTHY.” But there’s more to Stone than just that; Stone’s love and advocacy for craft beer are unparalleled, and this website fully subscribes to their philosophy. Their mascot is a gargoyle that serves to ward off modern day evil spirits like chemical preservatives, additives, and adjuncts, for heaven’s sake!
And we feel like we must reprint this one paragraph from the back of the Arrogant Bastard bottle, which takes a tongue-in-cheek look at popular beer (like, say… mass-marketed macro lager):
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.
Oh. Hell. Yes.
Released in November 1997, everything about this beer is classified, from the hops used to the IBUs (International Bitterness Units). This is technically an American Strong Ale, coming in at 7.2% ABV (alcohol by volume). Full disclosure: I’ve drank many bottles of this in my beer career, so I’ve had this one multiple times before the writing of this review.
Pouring from the bomber bottle delivered a large and lasting head, soapy in texture. The beer was quite hazy but had no particles or sediment floating in suspension, and the color was a deep amber (almost brown) with orange highlights. There was a sparse amount of lacing although the head stuck around thickly for a long time.
The most disappointing part of Arrogant Bastard were the aromatics — they were just so subdued, and they didn’t seem to deliver when allowed to warm, either. There’s an herbal hoppiness up front, with a touch of citrus (orange) and a note of pine. Then there’s a nice balance of malt with caramel, and a general sweetness that is much like honey. There’s a hint of pepper spice that verges on rye bread, but other than that, this one is on the down low. For an Arrogant Bastard, sort of a let down.
But it more than makes up for it on the palate — this one tricks you with a lulling caramel sweetness as it greets the taste buds, then it hits you with a slam of bitter hops that are like extremely minty peppermint chewing gum with a Christmas tree pine blast. But the story isn’t done here; this one again turns sweet on the finish, delivering more caramel, sweet bread, and finally a black coffee note that once again turns things bitter and dry, fading off the palate gradually and making you want another sip for the rollercoaster ride. Mouthfeel was fairly thick, foamy, and somewhat gritty.
End result of the Arrogant Bastard is a finely balanced beer that sucker punches you a couple of different times — and you’ve got to love it. This is one beer I would personally never turn down, as it always delivers. So go be a little arrogant and try one, you’re most certainly worthy.
And yeah, for a beer that has a little marketing play involved, this one delivers on the important levels: flavor and value.
Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale, 91 points. Price: $4.99 for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.