Review: Stone Bourbon Barrel-Aged Arrogant Bastard

Review of Bourbon Barrel-Aged Arrogant Bastard from Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, CA.

Beer Type: American Strong Ale  ABV: 8.1%  IBUs: 100  Tried from bottle.

Their Description: “I awake from a slumber that’s been anything but peaceful. I feel stronger yet somehow more nimble and refined. 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!”

The Reality: This beer pours a deep reddish-brown color and has a scent of oaky bourbon and hops. The first taste brings a nice bitter piney flavor that is bolstered by smooth woody bourbon caramel tones, and the more you drink it the more the dichotomy between these two flavors becomes harmonious. This beer has a firm level of carbonation, yet still finishes velvety. It is a hearty, well-balanced beer with a mildly sweet aftertaste.

Final Verdict: Their description is an interesting narrative, but does makes some good points. This beer is bold and bullish, and its time in the bourbon barrel has given it more character. Saying that it is a “previously unexperienced character” might be overstating it a bit, especially with the amount of bourbon barrel-aged beers on the market these days, but they are proud of what they made so I’ll give them some latitude. The complexity of this beer is what kept bringing me back for more, that balance of bitter, oaky and sweet. Stone claims that most are unworthy of this beer unless you “get it”, which makes you an enlightened imbiber (This is a great phrase that I’ll probably steal from them in the future). I have to say that sounds eerily similar to the Apple Jacks cereal campaign of the mid-90s, where the parents just didn’t “get it”.