Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ales from the Crypt: Stone IPA, Arrogant Bastard Ale


So this is the title I've chosen for my microbrew review column. Readers in the UK will say that I've stolen it from the beer festival in Liverpool that is held in an actual crypt, but this column is about American craft brews, and not a bunch of soused Liverpudlians staggering about in a mausoleum. Hey, there's only so many ale-related puns out there, so let's move on.

Ales will be graded based on the following criteria, on a scale of one to five:



Flavor/Mouth Feel


Hangover Factor

Our first ales to be graded come from the Stone Brewing Company in San Diego, California (, a fine craft brewer that makes a nice variety of "big character" beers. Aside from their use of Satan as their corporate mascot, I'm a big fan. Beer is a gift from God, don't you know, but of course, one too many and ol' Scratch rears his ugly head. But I digress.

Leading off is Stone's version of my favorite style: India Pale Ale.


Appearance: A golden orange color with a decent head, moderate lacing. I'll give it a 4.

Aroma: A promise of spice, with citrus overtones, and an earthy hop smell that'll defoliate your nostril hairs: 3.

Flavor/Mouth Feel: Hokey smokes, Bullwinkle! This IPA is dry-hopped beyond the pale, which is a quality I usually covet. My producer, Derrek D., would call it "dank." Unfortunately, it goes past the realm of dankness into total unpalatability. One reviewer on The Beer Advocate site wrote, "Malt and fruit suggested by the nose get totally overwhelmed by a pronounced flavor of Band-Aids. Extremely unpleasant, and somewhat greasy on the palate." That said, and since a pantload of hops gave their lives to make this, I'll score it a 2 instead of a 1.

Buzz: At 6.9% ABV, whatever qualms one might have about the flavor are soon overtaken by the alcohol's warming glow. Not that you'll want another, but 6.9 is a solid ABV from where I'm standing. 4.5.

Hangover Factor: Given that having another is out of the question, chances are that you won't have enough to feel it the next day. Despite being otherwise quite filthy, it burns clean. 4.



From the label: "This is an aggressive beer. You probably won't like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. We suggest that stick to safer and more familiar territory -- maybe something with a multi-million dollar ad campaign to convince you that it's made in a little brewery, or one that implies that its tasteless fizzy yellow beer will give you more sex appeal. Perhaps you think that mulit-million dollar ad campaigns make a beer taste better. Perhaps you are mouthing the words as you read this."

Appearance: A reddish dark amber color with a lusty, creamy brownish head, alpine lacing. A full-on 5.

Aroma: Ambrosia! Floral, yeasty, and hoppy to the max, oaken, yadda yadda. Let's get on with it: 5.

Flavor/Mouth Feel: Beergasm! Delicious, complex, up front maltiness with chocolate and figgy flavors and just the right amount of hop bitterness. Please, sir, can I have some more? 5.

Buzz: 7.2% ABV, which in my book, is about perfect. Most buzz-worthy, the awesome drinkability of this ale will most likely result in drunkenness. 5.

Hangover Factor: Maybe I went to the well once too often, but I had a bit of lethargy and a mild headache the next day. Still, not too bad considering the strength of the brew. 3.

Overall: 4.6


JM Dobies said...

That was a part of that Arrogant Bastard review that was oddly prescient. Actually not so odd, if'n you knows me.

Todd Lucas said...

So a brew that tastes like band-aids still earns a 3.75? You're a kind man, JM.

JM Dobies said...

Too true. But I do likes 'em hoppy. However, I amended both scores, because I was too kind, and the second go-round with the Arrogant Bastard led to a painful and queasy morning after.