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 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 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.
OK, so I know that this opening quote is a little long. And maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “Self, I could have read that on the label of a bottle of Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale, why do I need to read a beer review to tell me this?” Of course you don’t, but let’s be clear here: it takes an arrogant brewery to tell you right off that their product is probably too good for you. But then it takes an arrogant brewery to make an arrogant beer, and Arrogant Bastard is surely that.
Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale is not the strongest of beers; at 7.2% alcohol by volume there are far more potent brews out there. It’s not the hoppiest nor the maltiest, either. Stone won’t say what malts and hop varieties it uses. Still, the magic of Arrogant Bastard lies in the way all these ingredients come together to produce a brew that’s so well balanced between all its elements.
Arrogant Bastard is well pedigreed, and comes from an entire family of bastards: Lucy Bastard, Oak Aged Arrogant Bastard, Double Bastard, just to name a few.
Let’s pour a glass and see, shall we?
Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale pours to a dark chestnut color with a thick, chunky consistency, a light creamy head and a sweet caramel-peppery hop nose. The palate is thick and chewy with a rich, full mouthfeel and lots of sticky, really caramelly malt. Candied fruit and chocolate makes an appearance as well. The hops are next up to bat, and they permeate the brew, emerging in all their piney glory until they explode in the finish and linger on the tongue with a long, dry, peppery, citrusy bitter bite. A gentle alcohol warmth is present at the last as well.
I like to age this one a year or so and watch the malt really take off. When you do, notes of fresh bread emerge, and the caramel really becomes a lot like a Sugar Daddy candy. The hops will mellow a little, though they'll still be very apparent in the finish. Stone calls this an old ale in style, and that will make much more sense when you age the beer as the malt more fully emerges.
Ignore what Stone says. This is an aggressive ale, a true classic, but chances are you’ll love it. Stone’s claims that “You’re not worthy” are just not true. You deserve this beer, and you know it. So what are you waiting for? Go grab a bottle, pop it open, and you too can be an Arrogant Bastard. Or at least drink like one.
Update 11/13/2014: So there I was at Costco several weeks ago, and you know they had this huge display of Arrogant Bastard Ale. At first I thought, you know, I'm not worthy, so I can't buy it. But then I saw the price tag: $3.69 for a bomber bottle. Hell, we're all worthy at that price! And so I bought some, and I popped my bottle tonight. It's a little different than in the past, more toasty malty really, but with luscious light fruity notes, piney and peppery, with a little caramel and that wonderfully peppery lightly citrusy and lightly grassy hops. The long dry bitterness is more apparent this time, but to be fair this time I'm drinking the beer much fresher. And at $3.69 this is one of the best beer bargains I've scored all year. Now I know you won't always get this one for $3.69, but it's equally worthy at twice that price. And so are you.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.