If you've ever wandered down a beer isle, you probably know the bottle. Even if you've never had a taste, its reputation exceeds the 30 states it retails in. Arrogant Bastard Ale has been assaulting our ego for almost fifteen years and Stone Brewing Co. of Escondido, California is to thank.
Since their opening in 1996, Stone has been producing an ever expanding line up of well-crafted and often in-your-face beers and interesting collaborations. Stone's gargoyle mascot watches over each of these beers, attempting to draw in their ideal consumer and to scare off the Keystone-swilling undergrad that stumbled into the display. Don't let it intimidate you.
This American strong ale has its own website that comes with a short but aggressively witty list of warnings you agree to upon entrance, such as imagery of "full frontal" arrogance. Despite the playful caution of the website, we brave on with our tasting. The mahogany hue in our glass brings to mind cherry cola, with a good sized yellow head and super-fine carbonation. Initially we smell toffee and malt sweetness, undercut by bright floral hops. The flavor is full of hops too. And it remains surprisingly balanced. And though it's not as aggressive as its name, bottle and website suggest, we can see why this became well-known at the start of the craft beer revolution.
This Belgian-style IPA mash-up has a straw-colored haze with a clean white head. Under the hop aroma the scent of orange peel, mango, and passion fruit is nestled. The crisp mixture of tropical fruit notes, along with a good deal of fresh hops somehow makes us crave a Cremesicle upon drinking. Love at first sip.
This smug ale appeared thick, almost syrupy, with a Dr. Pepper color and a head of dark, cascading foam. The fragrance was full of dark chocolate, coffee, roast malt, and molasses, as well as a hint of orange peel that lingered in the background. The taste was evocative of burnt coffee and Irish soda bread, with noticeable residual sugar. We're not sure if this brew has the right to be quite so egotistical, but the satisfying taste means we'll let it slide.
Now, this is a good looking beer. There are cascading bubbles throughout the root beer coloring, and it is ice cream float foamy with a full, tan head. Milk chocolate, coffee, cola, star anise, and roasted barley can all be detected in the aroma. The taste is more blatantly of smoke, with hint of cloves and spice, which gave way to hop bitterness. It's lighter in body, and would work well on a nitrogen tap. We're thinking you could enjoy this beer with some peanut butter toast... or a cigar... or both if you're into that kind of thing.