Wednesday, January 10, 2007

THEY’RE NOT WORTHY

At first I thought it was me. All the hype on the Beer Advocate message boards and on the beer blogs was about these rare & amazing STONE BREWING elixirs that were coming out over the holidays, and oh man oh man you gotta rush out and buy them immediately if not sooner, jesus christ these beers are amazing! Being a guy who likes a good beer, I complied, and went out and purchased bottles of the much-touted DOUBLE BASTARD ALE, the STONE 10TH ANNIVERSARY ALE, and the OAKED ARROGANT BASTARD ALE. I chortled at the whole “you’re not worthy” ad copy on the bottles themselves – preposterous pablum that positioned these beers as Satanic grog only fit for the manliest of men, and proceeded to drink away. As recounted in this forum, I thought the first two were pretty lame – “extreme” beers that crossed a precipice of taste and went into something totally experimental and moderately undrinkable. Now we can add OAKED ARROGANT BASTARD to the hall of shame. This is a version of the eminently drinkable (and then some) ARROGANT BASTARD ALE that’s been seeped in oak chips and aged like bourbon. It was unleashed in late 2006 and bottled into exorbitantly-priced 6-packs.

Of course the chorus of hosannas from the beer cognoscenti has been predictable – “it whipped my ass”, “oh, beat me, Stone, beat me” – that sort of thing. Now I see what this is all about. This is the same sort of dynamic that goes on in all subcultures, where the more “out” and “wild” you try to be, the more gullible believers you tend to pull in with you. Beat it into their heads enough that they are too weak to understand you, the more folks you get who want to prove how strong they are. Think free jazz. Think Thomas Pynchon. Think improvised noise music. Think Stone Brewing’s seasonals. Oaked AB is a dark, malty, heavy clove/toffee-ish beer that reeks of alcohol and your dad’s backyard deck after a heavy rain. It’s drinkable in the sense that I finished it – that’s it. It has a market that is limited only to those who pretend that it’s something it’s not, and would be classified as mediocre by even certain microbrew drinkers, and as swill by just about everyone else. I give it a 4.5/10, and plan to stick with the brewery’s winning main line-up from now on.

7 comments:

Steve said...

I can definitely understand how people form negative views of Arrogant Bastard. When I had my first I didn't know what to make of it. I could barely finish it because I hated the aftertaste. I had it again and have since learned to enjoy it for what it is, an aggressive beer- not for any time consumption (not for me anyway), but good when I feel like having an extremely bitter, fresh hop assault on my taste buds.

That said, I had a fresh pint of OAKED Arrogant Bastard poured for me down at the Stone World Bistro & Gardens a couple weeks ago, and it blew me away with how good it was. To me, the oakiness pulled all the flavors together, hops, malt, bitterness, into a much more rounded and smoother beer, so much easier to drink than regular AB.

I'm sure people who don't like regular AB won't like the oaked version anyway, so that is noted, but for those who do like AB, I think the Oak really enhances this beer overall.

Lee said...

You're right -- some beers with that high of an ABV level let their flavor get overwhelmed by the alcohol taste. Or they just try too many crazy things with flavor. I recently tried Avery's Czar Imperial Stout, which seemed okay for about the first half of the bottle, but toward the end it was almost triggering my gag reflex. But it's beer-by-beer: I also tried Live Oak's Tree Hugger (13.7%!) and thought it was pretty good. (Then again, I was already much too drunk when I tried it -- perhaps a sober palate would judge differently.)

Kyle said...

I had a dogfish Head 120 minute IPA this weekend. Didn't taste too bad for its 22% alcohol rating. But I'd rather have a 60 or 90 minute, they taste better. I like Arrogant Bastard, now I have to wonder about the Oaked one. But perhaps this is a draft vs. bottle issue??

EVAN said...

I'm going to go ahead and break my New Beers Resolution to stop talking about Stone (www.laalternative.com/hotknives) but I gotta weigh in.

My co-beer blogger and I have done a lot of cooking and review-swilling of Stone beers and I gotta say that although the in-your-face attitude is a little much with some of the special releases and bragging rights beers, it only makes their regular line stand out more. While I can only take so much of the Ruination ale, their normal IPA is amazing. While Double Bastard this year was too much to deal with, the regular AB, the Levitation ale and even their Pale Ale are great for converting new beer dude(ette)s.

Not to mention their Imperial Chocolate Stout and Barleywine, which are both fairly tame and awesome. Say what you will about their anniversary brews, but they make run-of-the-mill brews taste amazingly not run-of-the-mill.

Anonymous said...

Chalk it up to personal opinion. If you thought you were required to love it just because 100 members of an opinion driven beer site told you so...well then...mind already made up before the first sip.

BTW...I don't think Stone will lose sleep if EVERYONE doesn't love every beer they make.

Cheers!
Loren

Seanrude said...

I love their regular IPA and think the ruination IPA is ok as an after dinner drink. Arrogant Bastard didn't do much for me, but I'll try it again. I haven't seen the other varieties mentioned, but Monmouth County NJ is sort of barren when it comes to beer.

Wörtwurst said...

They put a lock on that sewer water for a reason.