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Beer Reviews

Double Bastard

Stone Brewing Co.
Escondido, CA
USA
http://www.stonebrew.com

Style: American Strong Ale
ABV: 10.5%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (World class.)


Comments:
Pair With:
Double your pleasure, double your fun, double your Bastard …

As an American, Nigel believes that finding shortcuts is one of the most important aspects of life. Be it that alternate route that saves a whopping 30 seconds on the morning commute, the video game cheat code that allows you to bypass that really difficult section, or illegally taping your opponent’s offensive signals to avoid extra time in the film room à la the New England Patriots, Americans have come to realize that short is good, but shorter is better.

With that in mind, Nigel is here to give you a little shortcut when trying to locate that uber-beer at the local craft beer retailer: beer is good, but a “double” or “triple” beer is usually better. Granted, this scientific formula doesn’t always hold up under the microscope, but more often than not it’s a good indication that you’ve stumbled upon a beer that has amped up the original formula with the hopes of knocking your socks off. (In the case of many “doubles” and “triples,” it may literally knock your socks and every other article of clothing off. I, uh … may not know this from personal experience, but I’ve heard stories …) Are you like Nigel and like to make nightly love to the sexiest of harlots, the hop cone? Great … try a double or triple IPA and that standard IPA you used to love will taste like bitter water. Love you some malt? Try a Russian imperial stout and that standard stout or porter will look like the homely girl down the street standing next to Marisa Miller.

If you need proof that all things Nigel says are true, let’s use suburban San Diego’s Stone Brewing Co. as an example. Stone, one of Nigel’s favorite non-Midwest brewers, makes a phenomenal American strong ale in both flavor and name, Arrogant Bastard. Nigel has enjoyed many Arrogant Bastard’s since Stone’s entrance into the Wisconsin market this summer, as bombers sell for a reasonable four bucks and my favorite neighborhood pub serves both Stone IPA and Arrogant Bastard. Arrogant Bastard is a wonderful brew, with a great sugary malt profile with a hop backdrop that goes down smooth but still packs a punch at 7.2 percent ABV. What could be better? How about the 2008 version of Double Bastard, a 10.5 percent monster that cranks up all of the things Nigel loves about Arrogant Bastard, including those wonderful hops.

In my opinion, Arrogant Bastard is a high four-mugger, bordering on a five mugger (after a bomber, it’s easily a five-mugger as I’m usually feeling more generous than I was before indulging). As for Double Bastard? There’s no debate … this is a five-mugger, thus proving my point once and for all, at least in this particular instance at this particular time (the election may be over, but the waffling and sideways talk will always remain).

Double Bastard pours with a surprisingly aggressive tan head of just over an inch that quickly settles into a nominal creamy lace throughout the drink, with some stickiness on the sides. A translucent coppery hue, it loses much of its initial carbonation but maintains a cloudy glow throughout. The aroma is similar to Arrogant Bastard in all but one regard: this one has hops up the ying-yang. The sweet, sugary malt that often typifies an American strong ale is replaced in Double Bastard by the undeniable aroma of fresh Cascade hops. Sure, there’s a nice malty aroma buried somewhere under there, but Double Bastard smells of hops through and through. Sweet citrus combine with a touch of bitterness and the smell of freshly cut evergreen to make an aromatic sensation that’s topped off with a touch of caramel, toffee, and molasses. While I may be biased as a hophead extraordinaire, I must say this aroma has quickly cemented itself as one of my all-time favorites.

The taste emulates the aroma in many ways, though the malt is able to break through much more than it did prior to first sip. Initial flavors are a toss-up between American hops and sweet malt. A touch of fig hits at the outset, followed by the bitter, piney notes that make hops ever so tasty, as well as syrupy malt notes of caramel, toffee, molasses, and dark brown sugar. The plethora of flavors play well together, making Double Bastard equal parts sweet, syrupy, bitter, zesty, and earthy. While alcohol is certainly present, it’s more of a warming presence rather than an overwhelming bite that causes one to cringe. I’m not terribly familiar with past versions of Double Bastard, so I cannot confirm the wide reports that this version is less hoppy than in years past. It wouldn’t surprise me, however, as I was expecting a bit more in the way of hops after my initial whiff, but was instead met with a surprisingly balanced brew heavy on sugar and fruit. Even if 2008’s version is less hoppy, it has no effect on my overall opinion: this beer looks and tastes fantastic, and I’m planning on getting my dirty lil’ paws on another bottle or two this year before it disappears. Full bodied but fairly smooth on the palate, Double Bastard is a taste sensation that leaves a mild aftertaste.

Once again, Nigel’s tried and true shortcut proved accurate: Double Bastard isn’t as good as the brilliant Arrogant Bastard, it’s better. With a title that grabs your attention and a brew that punches you in the face, it isn’t for the faint of heart. But, if you’re a true beer connoisseur and appreciate a fine, powerful ale, be sure to double your Bastard.

Cheers!

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on December 10, 2008.
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