How could an admitted beer snob resist the appeal of a beer named “Arrogant Bastard”? While the beauty companies tell us we’re worth it, Stone turns around and prints on the front of their bottle, “You’re not worthy.” It’s hard to tell from the outside of a bottle whether or not a brewery knows their hops from their mash, but one thing you can tell about California’s Stone Brewery from the bottle is that they are great marketers and have a wicked sense of humor.
The good news is that this beer (unlike so many others) lives up to the marketing. It pours a gorgeous ruby shade, with a cream colored light head that leaves minimal lace. The nose is malty, almost to the point of sweetness. The flavor is initially balanced, with strong hops and equally strong malts. The lingering finish is much hoppier than expected; many beers start hoppy and finish malty. Not surprisingly, the brewers at Stone decided they knew better, and went in the opposite direction. Arrogant Bastard has a tremendous amount of complex flavor and regardless of your degree of how knowledge or experience in beer tasting, it will keep you guessing all the way through the bottle.
There is absolutely no sneaking around the fact that this is an 7.2 ABV ale; the alcohol doesn’t dominate the flavor, but it doesn’t hide either. However, if the bitter hoppy finish doesn’t invite you sip and savor at a reasonable pace, the amusing reading material on the bottle itself will probably distract you into drinking it slowly.
I paused while savoring the hops in an attempt to identify them (don’t bother trying; the different types blend perfectly, and Stone’s website stubbornly refuses to help) to reading the bottle some more. There is a mocking those who believe that “tasteless fizzy yellow beer will give you more sex appeal” which reminded me of an ad for one of those fizzy yellow beers that congratulated its drinkers on avoiding “bitter beer face.” I realized I was making some sort of face at that moment, so I raced to the mirror to see what real bitter beer face is. The true bitter beer face is not the screwed up mouth, wide eyed face of the ads. The true bitter beer face, the one made in the process of savoring a quality bitter looks absolutely, perfectly arrogant. Maybe Stone is right; maybe being an Arrogant Bastard is actually a good thing!