Monday, March 29, 2010

272. Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale

Our fifth beer from Stone (well, if we count the Stone/Maui/ Schmidt “collabo,” which I guess we will—and yes, I like saying the word “collabo”)—we’ve previously sampled their Pale Ale, the Vertical Epic 09.09.09, the above mentioned “collabo” with Maui Brewing and Ken Schmidt, and the IRS ’05-’09 vertical tasting. My goal is to say “collabo” at least 10 more times during the course of this review.

Arrogant Bastard pours a rich caramel copper with a thick tan head. The nose is hoppy and malty, with some dry biscuit. The front is sweet but dry—sort of a dry caramel malt taste—before moving into a bitter and hoppy middle accompanied by brown sugar sweetness. The finish is where the bitterness really comes across—there is a good burst as the beer rounds out, leaving a lingering bite on the palate that also carries with it some hop flavored tang. Arrogant Bastard has a medium to heavy body with plenty of drying on the palate from both the malt and the hops, along with a bit of tongue curling. The carbonation is medium, with a decent bite to round and lighten the body. The overall balance is pretty good on this beer—it’s a malt and hoppy “collabo” project that works seamlessly; some of the dry caramel malt tastes are not our personal favorite, but are done well here. A good beer, and one that Stone has used to help craft its overall larger image, but they do make much better beers than this one (like the IRS).

From the bottle: “ar*ro*gance (ar’o gans) n. The act or quality of being arrogant; haughty; undue assumption; overbearing conceit.

Arrogant Bastard Ale: This is an aggressive beer. 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 beer will give you more sex appeal. Perhaps you think multi-million dollar ad campaigns make your beer taste better. Perhaps you’re mouthing your words as you read this.

The Brewery: Located in North County San Diego, we are a small, honest, brewery with unrealistically high, yet cantankerously unwavering, standards. We concentrate on creating the most satisfying, big character ales imaginable, by using only the finest natural ingredients. And lots of ’em! It’s an approach that leaves many bewildered, but it works for us Arrogant Bastards, and we’re the only ones that are worth satisfying.”

Oh, I get it. You’re talking down to me so I’ll like your beer more. So do tell me—how is this strategy, as one that is designed to brand and sell your beer, really any different that the “multi-million dollar ad campaigns” you mock, besides the volume of dollars put into the process? Or is smaller scale advertising somehow more virtuous than large scale advertising?

Also from the bottle: “Warning: Some materials used in the colored decorations on this product contain cadmium a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

That’s kind of a downer on my beer. Where’s all that self-righteous virtue now, Stone? Why don’t you try making me some beer labels that won’t deform newborns? Sure, I’m in Ohio and all, but just because I’m not in California doesn’t mean I don’t want pretty babies. Or maybe your approach to sex appeal-based advertising is in making my wanger fall off. First brewer’s droop, and now this...

ABV: 7.2%


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