Arrogant Bastard is perhaps the best known beer from Stone Brewing Co. In many ways it exemplifies what the brewery is all about. The label copy arrogantly proclaims its bellicose nature. “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.” From the forceful bitterness to the huge malt and hop flavors it is an unabashedly aggressive beer.
It has been a couple of years since I last deemed myself worthy of tackling this beast. I took the challenge last night. Here’s my notes:
Aroma: Toast and bread crust lead off, with some caramel sweetness and dark fruits. Raisin. Hints of chocolate. Pine resin hop aroma is subdued. A touch of alcohol.
Appearance: Dark brown with ruby highlights. Full, creamy, ivory-colored head that is very persistent.
Flavor: Balance of rich, bready/toasty malt and pine-resin hops. Aggressively bitter. The bitterness hangs around long after swallowing. Malt flavors are a complex mix of toast, bread and raisins. Touches of tootsie-roll chocolate and coffee-flavored roast amplify the hop bitterness. Hops are mostly piney with some traces of grapefruit pith and earth. Alcohol notes increase as the beer warms. The finish is dry with lingering coffee and bitterness.
Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. A bit astringent. Medium carbonation.
Overall Impression: What is this beer? Ratebeer and Beer Advocate both call it an “American Strong Ale” – whatever that means. I’d call it big and bitter brown. Does it really matter? Whatever it is, it’s good. Ferociously bitter, but somehow still balanced. It would go great with a grilled steak; charred on the outside and raw in the middle.