I have a slightly shameful thing to admit, thus far I have not been a fan of Stone beers. My first encounter with them, with Arrogant Bastard in fact, had been when I was still relatively new to the big wide world of craft beer. We were out at an early lunch on a Sunday and I saw this beer I’d never heard of before, Stone Arrogant Bastard, and I figured I’d give it a go. Yeah… not a good lunch beer. I didn’t take any notes like I would do now but I remember finding it very over aggressive. I also recall having the IPA, the Sublimely Self-Righteous, and the Ruination before… never caring much for any of them.
When I was at the Beer Bloggers Conference Randy Clemens the “Social Media Linchpin” (great job title) at Stone took part in a panel about networking with breweries. During the panel he mentioned how he will send beer to bloggers and never see anything from it. As soon as the panel was over I hoped up and introduced myself and first told him the above about my history with Stone, I then told him any beer he sent me would get a fair review and a post on the site. Stone is a far away brewery that actually has a big presence in Ohio (coughWhereYouAtNewBelgiumcough) and I know a lot of people around here really like Stone. He said to email him and he’d see what he could do. I forgot about it and didn’t think of it again till I got this weird email from UPS that someone was shipping me something, well that something arrived today and it was this:
FULL DISCLOSURE: This beer was sent to me for free by Stone. To our readers, and any breweries interested in sending me stuff, giving me free beer impacts the review in only 1 way. That way is that I WILL review the beer and I WILL write a blog post about it. Giving me free beer does not guarantee you a favorable review or that I will tell everyone to go buy it or anything like that. I strongly appreciate getting free beer because thus far it’s the only thing I’ve gotten from writing these posts (besides feeling good about myself when I get lots of page views), also who doesn’t love free beer! Especially when it’s craft beer!! But it’s important to me that our readers know I’m not just handing out good reviews for bad beer because it was free or anything like that.
As said above, I promise to give each of these beers a full review in turn. Tonight I’m starting with the Oaked Arrogant Bastard. I can’t find much info on the “Oaked” part of this beer but what I can find suggests that it was aged with oak wood chips in it, or something like that. Anyway, enough typing more drinking!
Beer: Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale
Style: American Strong Ale
Alcohol by volume: 7.2%
Fills the glass with a dark mahogany brown with amber hues, that is almost kind of purple looking in the right light. Topped off with a thick off-white/light brown head that slowly dissipates.
As soon as I opened the bottle I got a whiff of the hops. After it was in the glass and I got a close whiff I could tell there was a serious oily hop smell as well as a strong presence of those oak chips. The oak chips bring both a wood and a vanilla flavoring to the whole experience, the help mellow out the hops.
The taste is nothing like I remember the Arrogant Bastard being. This is a smooth, delicious, and sufficiently strong beer. The flavor kicks off with that vanilla/wood flavor from the oak chips. Next up is a bit of hop bitterness that comes in with some of those piney earth tones. It’s a rather mild bitterness though, nothing aggressive… or arrogant about this.
Like I said before this is smooth and that is the best way to describe how it feels in the mouth, just smooth.
My enjoyment of this beer raises a question for me: Has my palate/opinion/taste changed since I had Arrogant Bastard or does the oak make that big a difference? I’m adding the original Arrogant Bastard to the top of my hit list for once I make room in the fridge so we’ll find out soon.
As a slightly unrelated rant I abhor the style of “american strong ale” BJCP doesn’t recognize this at all and BeerAdvocate basically describes it as anything made in American, above 7%, that doesn’t fit anywhere else. That’s not a beer style or category, it’s a lack of style or category.