Friday, October 19, 2007
Stone Brewing Co: Arrogant Bastard Ale
I considered letting someone else write about this, since I know most of us have had it before, but then I decided that none of you could possibly do it justice.
Stone is, after Sierra Nevada, probably the best known of California microbrews. And like most West Coast breweries, their specialties are ales. And they make a point of big ales: big on flavor, big on volume, and big on alcohol content. And while their flagship beer is probably their IPA, their Arrogant Bastard Ale is probably the best known and most widely available high-alcohol ale in the U.S.
Arrogant Bastard's taste is a little bit complicated. It has bite to it, but for the most part that isn't hops you're tasting--its alcohol. The beer is mildly hoppy, but in terms of actual beer flavor what you are tasting is is malt. The maltiness actually gives the beer a bit of a sweeter flavor, similar to what you might taste in a belgian ale, but then the alcohol comes in and wipes out your palette. The beer actually gets a little better once you have a mild buzz. Once that kicks in it dulls a little bit of the alcohol kick and you can taste the malts coming through more strongly.
I like to think that Arrogant Bastard is what beer snobs start off their nights with when it's going to be a drinking night. It's definitely a quality brew, but there's no way I'd climb behind the wheel after polishing one off. It's a quality beer that's guaranteed to give you a buzz after you've finished the first bottle. Assuming, of course, you don't wuss out and take an hour and a half to drink it.
So if you know it's gonna be a big night, but you don't want to have to choke through 5 nattie lights before you're tastebuds are sufficiently dulled, have yourself an Arrogant Bastard. That is, if you can handle it.