Arrogant Bastard

Friday, January 05, 2007

Coming up with clever, pop culture-related titles is a difficult business at best. But in this case, for this particular beer, the very name of the beer seemed to suit just fine.

Today, we talk about a real snob. A true self-centered prick. Stone Brewing Company's Arrogant Bastard Ale. All the bravado and elitism of your favorite Hollywood diva or div....o.

The beer is encased in a large 22oz. brown "bomber" with a silk-screen painted label of the famous (at least to us beer geeks) Stone Brewing "Gargoyle." Gargoyles ward-off evil spirits from cathedrals, so I imagine their ugly mascot wards off impurities that would otherwise make evil of such a heavenly beer from the brewing world's true cathedral. The bottle itself proclaims "You're Not Worthy" as if understanding that my own lesser, sinful nature is not good enough for this holy elixir.

The beer is a deep ruby with russet highlights. It carries a delicious, thickoff-white head and lace. It is a thick, almost cloud-like froth, like those lovely clouds that it looks like you could walk on. It dares you to get beyond simply staring at its heavenly beauty. You don't want to drink it, it's so pretty. And it knows.

The first smell is a citrus-and-floral hop slam that says "indeed, you are afraid of this beer, weakling." This is followed by the right amounts of enticement of toasted grains, fruity, citrusy esters and a deep alcohol burn. This must be what the Garden of Eden smelled like, and as a lowly humn, wrapped in Original Sin, I am truly not worthy of the beer. But like Adam and Eve to the apple, away I will drink, for I am boastful and sinful.

Oh my. I must be sinning by drinking this beer. I should not be allowed to let it pass my lips. The beer is syrup-sweet from the malts, with hints of chocolate and caramel (but scant hints..the arrogant bastard has caramel and chocolate, he's just not sharing all of them with you). Oh, there's that lovely little alcohol burn that is immediately smacked-down by the hop attack. "No," this jerk says, "this is my alcohol. You can't have it all." Like a truly arrogant bastard, the beer is raw, prickly and over-assertive. But like that same arrogant bastard, we in drooling Fan Land are strangely drawn to its every move, as if my life is somehow better for knowing every step of its life.

Arrogant Bastard is medium bodied, yet rich, powerful and complex. Smooth, especially as it warms up a bit from fridge temperature. Sure, he's a cold-hearted bastard, but so smooth wealthy that we worship. And he knows.

The back of the bottle says that there is no way you're good enough to appreciate this beer and that you'd be better off drinking safe, yellow fizz. But we want more. We want what the arrogant prima-dons have so much that we're willing to stretch ourselves to attain it. And thus, this beer.

Drink it, if you dare. 9/10.


Mike 11:53 AM  

There's no way, obviously, I can say anothing "bad" about a beer this good.

That said, it's got that overwhelming hops & alcohol attack that's beginning to take too large a place in American craft brewing, IMNSHO.

I prefer Stone's Smoked Porter, if given the choice. But the Bastard's APV has a funny way of calling out to me on Friday evenings, that Smoked Porter's 5.8 can't measure up to.

Smitty 1:29 PM  

Mike, that Smoked Porter from Stone is one of the few beers I would beat somebody up for. The Stone Imperial Stout? I would actually kill someone for that stout.

I pretty much like anything from that brewery, though the Double Bastard is a bit much.

I hear you on the "hop and booze" attack prevalent in craft brewing. It's interesting to watch how craft brewing goes through trends. The trend right now appears to be big, huge, high-gravity beers. I see the next trend starting as "putting weird shit in your beer."

Relatedly, homebrewing trends, in terms of numbers of a few specific types of entries in competitions, seem to follow close behind the craft brewery trends. Right now, the stuff that keeps winning MI homebrew competitions are hop bombs.

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