It’s been a helluva week for me, what with only 1 day off last week and Erin and my own birthday celebrations to get through, I simply haven’t had that much time to write. Here I am now, at the end of my weekend, finally getting something out the door! Now, as I had planned earlier, I wanted to crack open a few good bottles from my cellar in order to share and review them on the site. That didn’t happen, unfortunately, as there was more than enough liquor to go around during our birthday potluck that I just couldn’t get into more, especially if my senses were going to be fairly “off”. That being said, I did get a chance to try a beer I picked up recently in Washington (Elizabeth Station, to be precise…killer beer store!): Stone’s “Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale”. I’ve had a couple of Stone’s beers just recently (such as the “10th Anniversary Ruination IPA”), but I haven’t had the flagship Arrogant Bastard before. I got a little too impatient to try and wait to pick up a bottle so I could compare the two, and cracked the oaked version this evening. Here’s my take on it…
I poured straight into my glass, and almost overflowed it with foam. A little too overzealous, I guess, but I let it settle down a bit before putting the rest in. When it was all over, I was left with a wonderfully thick head, measuring about 2 fingers width, the general “standard”. It stuck around for a while, too, which was nice to have while sipping to give a creamier effect. The colour is a sort of dark cherry red, with some sediment floating around here and there. Other than the sediment, a very attractive-looking beer.
Behind the initial woodiness you get right away, you smell the malt a split second later. It smells like the barrel, which is pretty comforting (to me, at least!). If you wait long enough and keep at it, you can pick up some currant behind it all…
When you get around to tasting a bunch of barrel-aged beers (my first ever was the Phillips Double Barrel Scotch Ale, but there are tons of examples out there…), you will be able to pick up on the wood flavour right away. This was pretty prominent, though I can’t say I specifically tasted oak, as I don’t know what oak tastes like from memory (something to work on?). The other dominating flavour was caramel, in addition to tons of malt, but really not much more going on beyond that.
I’m not sure if it was the wood, but this beer stung the back of my tongue like no other beer. Super bitter! It starts out right at the tip of your tongue, but doesn’t hit nearly as hard as it does in the back. I wouldn’t say that ruined this beer, because I got used to it, but it was a bit of a shock at first.
I really enjoy getting into barrel-aged beers, they make me yearn for the fall months, and sitting around a campfire. They add a depth and complexity, though I would love to know what the standalone Arrogant Bastard tastes like, so I could understand just how much. Wouldn’t mind finding out if the original also has that incredibly bitter finish, or if it was the wood that made it so.
Unfortunately Stone’s offerings aren’t available up here in Canada, but they have a fairly wide distribution in the US, so no matter where you go across the border, it shouldn’t be too hard to locate. This particular beer is now offered in 4 packs, along with a few other specific beers from their lineup. I’d recommend picking up the oaked version of the Arrogant Bastard only if you’ve had the original, as that’s my only real regret. Nice beer overall, and if I came across it again I would consider ageing it for 6 months or so to see what happens.