890: Arrogant Bastard Ale

Name: Arrogant Bastard Ale
Brewery: Stone Brewing Company
Country of Origin: United States
City & State: Escondido, California
Style: American Strong Ale
Alcohol Content (ABV): 7.2%
First Brewed: 1997
Price: $4.39

Tasting Notes
Rich dark fruits in the aroma matched with piney hops. More of the same in the mouth: fruit blending with caramel sweetness always balanced by hop bitterness and flavor.

Ricky’s Thoughts

I have had this beer before, but I don’t remember what it tastes like. After reading how this beer got started, I can’t wait to drink it. I LOVE a good hoppy beer, and while this one was once thought too hoppy, I am glad they decided to bottle it. I also like the story behind it… with one co-founder thinking it was horrible and the other thinking it was the best beer he had ever had. It was also fun to learn that this beer is the most sold in 22 ounce bottles. It must be good!

In the Glass: It is darker than I expected. I guess reading about how hoppy it is, I expected it to be the color of a typical IPA. I guess with the label and the name, it is anything but typical. I am a big fan of Stone, and pretty much every beer they make is loaded with aroma and flavor and always satisfies.

Nose: Imagine taking a bag of wet hops, letting them set outside, and then thrown into a bottle. Holy crap, this beer smells amazing. It doesn’t smell like hops, rather wet, dirty, rotten hops. But that’s OK. I like hops regardless of the aroma. On a second sniff I am getting more dark fruit notes and a little fig at the finish.

Flavor: Holy hops. This beer is LOADED with those same dirty wet hops you were smelling. They are deep and darker on the palate, too. The punch of hops that you expect from a big IPA isn’t there until the swallow. I am not sure why I keep calling this an IPA. It’s not. It’s a strong ale. But they have similar characteristics. When taking a second sip, I quickly realize why this beer is such a good seller. It’s smooth, extremely complex as it slides across the palate, and the aftertaste (which we will get to) is big and lasting.

Mouthfeel: A lot of beer doesn’t do much on the tongue. This one changes shape three or four times on the palate. At first it’s smooth and weak, then those hops start punching you along the way. Then the wet dirty flavors that I mentioned hit, and hops run wild. When you swallow, the bitterness kicks up and you are waiting for an impressive (and it is) aftertaste. It is everything I expected this large beer to be.

Aftertaste: The aftertaste is big. It starts off with a load of hops, then quickly finishes into a dry and bitter flavor. The dryness sticks around, too. The ABV isn’t outrageous, but big enough that one or two of these bottles by yourself could do some damage. The beer is also extremely affordable, so ordering a couple of these might be possible if you can find the right spot. They have a few other versions of this, one that is aged in oak barrels. Haven’t had that one next to this one to compare, but man… Arrogant Bastard Ale is amazing.

I was VERY impressed with this beer. The label might scare you, focused on a devil drinking beer… but as you drink this, imagine what beers of old used to taste like. I can see this beer being shared in a foreign land toasted by a bonfire telling stories of a younger day. No more daydreaming here… let’s drink. Bottoms up, people!

Arrogant Bastard Ale – The bottle says: “arr-ro-gance (air’s gas) n. – The act or quality of being arrogant; haughty; undue assumption; overbearing conceit.

“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 a safer and more familiar terrify – 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.

“At Stone Brewing, we believe that pandering to the lower common denominator represents the height of tyranny – a virtual form of keeping the consumer barefoot and stupid. Bastard Ale openly challenged the tyrannical overlords in the shackles of poor taste. As the progenitor of its style, Arrogant Bastard Ale has reveled in its unprecedented and uncompromising celebration of intensity. There have been many nods to Arrogant Bastard Ale… even outright attempts to copy it… but only one can ever embody the true nature of liquid Arrogance!

“Ingredients: Nothing but the finest barley, most aggressive hops, clearest water, our proprietary yeast strain and abundant arrogance.”

Rating: 5/5

Sheryl’s Thoughts

Ricky brought me the beer tonight in a really big glass.  It looks good, though.  It kind of looks and smells like a barleywine.  It’s kind of a dark reddish-brown color in the glass.  There’s not much head to it.  It looks very thick, though.  The smell is kind of spicy and rich smelling.  From looks and smell, I should really like this beer.

There’s a very strong taste when you take a swig of this one.  It does taste a little bit like a barleywine, but less fruity and hoppier.  The aftertaste of barleywines isn’t usually quite like this.  This one leaves more of the hoppy aftertaste of an IPA.  At any rate, it’s pretty good!  This one just seems expensive, though.  I might look for it again on a shelf if I was celebrating or just in the mood for a bit richer of a beer.

Sorry the post is so short, I’m just not sure what else to say!  I know this beer is from Stone, and they tend to make pretty good ones.  I’m a big fan of the Vertical Epic, which is a beer they have released every year on the day and month of that year.  Confused?  Here’s an example: last year’s was the 11.11.11 – released on November 11.  And this year’s will be 12.12.12.  At any rate, the 11.11.11 was good, and I’ve come to expect no less than good things from Stone.  This beer is no exception.

Rating: 4/5

889 bottles of beer on the wall…

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