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.