What is it about beer that makes the shenanigans of the week slowly wash away? I have been going back through my memory and I can’t remember ever having a miserable time with a beer in my hand. There’s something about it that is different from other boozerific drinks. It truly is the most utilitarian of adult beverages. Having a bad day? Have a beer. Celebrating? Grab a brewsky my friend. Catching up with an old friend? “Hey, let’s grab an appletini sometime!” somehow just sounds so…wrong. If you’re like me, you are 6’2”, named Aaron and enjoy a beer on a Friday night. Maybe just the last part.
As many of you know, beer has 4 main ingredients: water, yeast, malt and hops. Hops traditionally were not only used for flavoring but also as a preservative. In San Diego, hops became the name of the game. For some reason, California breweries, but especially those in San Diego, have just gone mental with the hops. They love it. That bitter, floral flavor just punching you in the face while you drink somehow became the norm.
This brewery has a special place in my heart because this was my hometown brewery when I was growing up. I never thought much about it and then somehow the craft beer scene exploded and Stone Brewing Company became the revered veteran of the movement. Arrogant Bastard Ale is a recipe they have been producing for quite some time but it never gets tiresome. For as hoppy as it is, and believe me it is, it still remains balanced by the rich malt flavor. I tend to lean toward a more floral hop profile rather than a bitter one but in this beer, the bitter hops are needed for balance. That bitter flavor has become Stone’s signature, at least for me. The malt, which is that lovely, whole-grain flavor in beer, comes through on the back end of the tasting with an appropriate amount of body to balance the beer, but is quiet enough to let the hops be the star of the show.
Don’t get me wrong; I love this beer, and pretty much every thing that Stone puts out for that matter. But these days, I really have to mentally prepare to drink something from Stone. I have to give myself a pep talk. “It’s ok, Aaron. We are going to get through this. They’re just hops. They can’t hurt you. Also, have you been working out? You are dead sexy!” I used to be all about huge, hoppy beers. The bigger the better. But now I generally tend to go for something a little more mellow. This is still a great beer to try even if you aren’t a hop-head. If you are into beer and somehow haven’t tried this, you’ll love it. Go get it. Now. If you aren’t into beer so much, still give it a try because maybe it will change your mind. It is an excellent example of a big, flavorful ale and indicative of the southern California style. Give it a whirl. See what you think. Even though the bottle says you’re not worthy, they don’t mean it. I promise.