Stone Brewing has always had aggressively hopped beers at the forefront of their beer catalog. The description of their Arrogant Bastard Ale begins with these words: “This is an agressive ale. You probably won’t like it.” Stone claims (and I agree) that “Fizzy yellow beer is for wussies.” So they took Arrogant Bastard a step further by aging it in Kentucky bourbon barrels, and had some interesting prose to describe it:
I awake from a slumber that’s been anything but peaceful. I don’t take kindly to idling and I am anything but neutral. Life has nothing to do with killing time, and the knowledge that months have passed since the onset of my sequestering in this pitch-black oaken tomb (albeit a barrel flush with brilliant aromas of vanilla and char) does not sit well. But then comes a tingle followed by rejuvenating warmth, signs that something is different…something has changed…and for the better.
I feel stronger yet somehow more nimble and refined. I feel even more self-assured, and my vision for what is good and right, honest and true, is as laser-sharp as the brawny, bawdy, liquid Arrogance that shall further advance my battle against all things mediocre and geared toward the lowest common denominator. I have been born anew and, in the process, anointed with vibrant, inspiring, previously unexperienced character, all while maintaining everything I am and have always been—bold, bullish, unadulterated, and yes, Arrogant.
Are you Worthy of quaffing a beverage of this intensity, irreverence and quality craftsmanship? Not likely, but for those who “get it,” I know my time in this bourbon barrel has not been wasted. Cheers to you, enlightened imbiber. On second thought, cheers to me!
Arrogant Bastard was the first Stone beer I ever tried. It is definitely an aggressive beer. It’s got a bitter finish to go along with a malty kick, and it straddles the line between IPA and strong ale. So, I was curious how the barrel aging would affect it. In short, I’m not worthy. Or it’s just not my style.
The BBA Arrogant Bastard weighs in at 8.1% ABV, putting it nearly a full percentage point higher in ABV than the original. The hop varieties and IBUs are a closely guarded secret by Stone, which is odd because they generally are very open about what hops are used in their beers. This version pours a deep ruby color with an off-white head that fades rather quickly. There is a smorgasbord of aromas, including vanilla, some oak, caramel, piney hops and some bready notes. The bourbon barrel notes are not big and in your face as with some beers, but actually very subdued. It does help to mellow out the beer a bit, but there’s still a big bitter finish to go along with a hefty mouthfeel. This beer just isn’t for me. I prefer big hop aroma and a clean finish in my hoppy beers and I enjoy the oak and vanilla notes coupled with a barrel aged imperial stout. This beer provides neither. But just because it’s not my style, doesn’t mean it’s not yours. I’d advise grabbing a single 12-ounce bottle to try before committing to an entire 6-pack. I’m certainly glad I did that.