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Review: Arrogant Bastard Ale

Arrogant Bastard | Stone Brewing Co.

Today, America is the front-line in the battle for great beer. With craft breweries opening daily in the land of the free,  more and more people are saying no to the beerhemoths of brewing, Budweiser, Miller, and Coors. Instead, the American public are choosing quality beer from small local breweries. A beer revolution is in full swing, and heading the fight are San Diego brewers, Stone Brewing Co. Today we will be reviewing one of their most famous beers, Arrogant Bastard Ale.

Firstly, a few facts. Arrogant bastard is a 7.2% ABV Strong Ale. First sold in 1997, the blurb on the side of the bottle reads, “This is an aggressive beer. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth.” Arrogant, indeed.Arrogant Bastard Ale


The beer pours a deep caramel red with a tan head which is retained for the entirety of the drink. Large bubbles of co2 and a good bright pour.


Very sweet aroma, deep notes of blackcurrant and cherry which give way to fresh hops and a hint of alcohol harshness.


It’s certainly an aggressive beer as the label and name suggest. A panoply of complex flavours assault your taste buds, the usual dark berry, black chocolate and coffee notes are accompanied by charcoal and molasses flavours.  With my first sip I realised that this was a beer unlike anything I’d tasted before – it was challenging and raw, every time I tried to pin down a flavour it would evolve and change, confusing my unrefined palate. The beer has a certain earthy and feral taste, it’s a flavour I’ve experienced before with other dark american beers; I can best describe it as an earthy almost peaty taste which personally I dislike. Despite it’s high alcohol content of 7.2% there was very little alcohol bite to it.


There’s a lot of hype surrounding Arrogant Bastard Ale, it’s widely praised and has many many hardcore fans, but for me it just didn’t live up to my expectations. Perhaps my expectations were too high, if they were, that had something to do with the boasts of supreme quality and complexity printed on the label. For me, this beer just wasn’t the ‘unprecedented and uncompromising celebration of intensity’ which the blurb promised. I look forward to trying Stone’s more humble offerings, and will be taking a holiday to San Diego in September to visit their brewery (My girlfriend thinks it’s a beach holiday, don’t tell her!)…