Beer Review 0273: Stone Lucky Bastard Ale

Before I get into the review, let me state that the name of this beer is actually Stone Lukcy Basartd Ale — I’m spelling it correctly so you can search for it easier.

Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, California) produced a special anniversary ale on the 13th year of their Arrogant Bastard beer — imagine that — because Stone are big on anniversaries. Originally meant to be brewed one time (unless they decide to do it again, which they have), this brew was a blend of Stone’s regular Arrogant Bastard, their Oaked Arrogant Bastard, and Double Bastard.

I have reviewed all of these beers before:

Stone Arrogant Bastard, 91 points
Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard, 79 points
Stone Double Bastard, 100 points

First brewed in 2010, this beer is making a reappearance here in 2012. I don’t know what the exact blend is between the beers, but the ABV (alcohol by volume) is 8.5% and it falls under the catch-all category of ‘American Strong Ale.’ I do know that after the blend, they dry-hop this beer with a ton of hops. As for what those hops are…well, Stone is a bit secretive with their ingredients; hell, they won’t even tell you the IBU (International Bitterness Units) level.

Lucky Bastard pours an average size head, creamy in texture and lasting atop a brilliantly clear dark amber (nearly brown) colored beer. There were no particles or sediment present; in fact, I was surprised how clear this one actually was. Lacing was just as brilliant, leaving behind a nice, even coating down my glass.

The aromatics featured a hop blast up front, tons of grapefruit and pine, along with a balancing malty sweetness that was similar to caramel. There was also a toasted note, almost to the point of burnt toasty bread, and a middle layer of some citrus (orange and lime). While Stone doesn’t disclose the malts used, this one sure does have a whiff of rye in it — a subtle, spicy note. I thought the overall aromatic picture reminded me most of an ultra-fresh bottle of the regular Arrogant Bastard.

This is a slow starter on the palate, offering up soft, fruity hops at first before opening up to give away layers of pine and fleshy grapefruit. The malt character comes on with a moderate amount of sweetness — some caramel and toasty notes, a hint of oak, and then a punch of grapefruit bitterness on the swallow that gets even more bitter as it unwinds. Lucky Bastard is full-bodied and has a medium, creamy mouthfeel.

For a self righteous tribute to itself, Lucky Bastard is everything Stone’s Bastard series of beers markets itself to be: complex and challenging to the palate. This is especially true for newcomers who might be lured in by the self-congratulatory slogans on all of these Bastard bottles. But for the seasoned drinker, this is just a very good beer that does bitter very well; it’s not too bitter, but it can leave your jaw agape if you let it. That gargoyle bastard turns into a friendly old beast, if you welcome him in with open arms.

Stone Lucky Bastard Ale, 93 points. Price: $6.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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