When Stone Brewing Company first released Arrogant Bastard Ale in 1997, they marketed the beer with the tag line "you probably won't like it." This kind of challenge, of course, appeals to the hearts and minds of craft beer fanatics. "It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth," the Arrogant Bastard tag line continues. It's a taunt to adventurous drinkers, and it's one that has opened the eyes of many to a world of bold, heavily-hopped beer that once seemed unimaginable.
To celebrate the 13th anniversary of Arrogant Bastard, Stone released a once-only beer called Lukcy Basartd Ale in November of 2010 (note that the spelling of both the name and the label description is intentionally jumbled). They hedged their bets on the one-time release by noting, "That is, ‘once only’ unless we decide to make it again.'" The third annual release of the beer is taking place this month,
Stone Lukcy Basartd Ale capitalizes on the success of the series and is a blend of Arrogant Bastard Ale, Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale and Double Bastard Ale. Each beer offers its own complexities and imparts unique flavors into the blend.
To get my bearings, I first sampled a bottle of Double Bastard Ale on a different night. This is a big, boozy beer of 11.2 percent ABV. The monster alcohol content is hard to miss, and somehow the massive hop profile (IBUs for the beer are listed as "classified") is balanced by a just as massive malt profile. On the heaviest end of the Arrogant Bastard series, this beer is where the extreme lies. It's not easy to drink this beer without the help of a friend.
I've had Arrogant Bastard Ale many times, and I've had the Oak Aged version several times. Oak aging mellows the extreme hoppiness of the beer, but of the series it's my least favorite. If you're going to hop it up, give it to me straight.
Lukcy Basartd Ale is a dry-hopped meeting of the Bastards and is described as a blend of the original, Double Bastard, and the essence of the oak aged version. Sold like the others in 22-ounce bottles, Lukcy Basartd is listed at 8.5 percent ABV.
The beer pours a dark chestnut with a thick off-white head. Bitter citrus wafts up from the glass, and you can smell the booze. For all the tough talk, this is a pretty beer.
Stone beers aren't delicate, and this one is no different. It's hop-forward. This is what your morning grapefruit would taste like if it was laced with grain alcohol. I also get biscuity malt and sweet, dark fruits. For all the bitter hops, this beer keeps the trademark Stone Malt profile and somehow finds a balance between being too bitter and too sweet. The oak aging is subtle and provides a nuanced vanilla note without turning this beer into a "typical" oak-aged beer. The beer finishes with a reminder of warming alcohol.
I love this beer. There's so much going on for a big beer, and the various individual components really can be tasted. It's worth seeking out, and it should be available now where Stone products are sold.