Double Bastard

Stone Brewing: Double Bastard Ale (USA: American Strong Ale: 11.2% ABV)

Visual: Dark black cherry red. Reddened froth of a head with brown touches.

Nose: Toffee. Large amount of malt. Light hops. Caramel. Slight menthol. Malt biscuits. Grain whisky. Suet – Mince pies.

Body: Nice pineapple. Sweet golden syrup and bitter hops. Toffee and malt. Glacier cherries and raisins. Liquorice touch. Fruitcake and Madeira. Slight chilli seeds and paprika.

Finish: Hop dryness and bitterness. Grapefruit and raisins. Resin. Bitterness grows. Chilli seed warmth and light spice. Peppers.

Conclusion: Somehow I was expecting something very different from this. More hops and more IPA like character. I mean this is stone brewing, they are not known for their discretion in hop use.

Instead the aroma comes in quite mellow, now this could be an age thing, it is a 2012 edition of the beer so has already had a bit of time ageing. For whatever reason there is a comparatively simple and light aroma.

The body opens up with some hops, but the main part of it is quite sweet with fruitcake and golden syrup touches when cool. Warming up it is completely different beast though, the bitterness up, spicy and with the dark fruit elements from the fruitcake on show.

The bitterness expectations are met on the finish though with growling hops and bitterness. There is some extra flavour around but mainly you get that bitter growth in rising not kicking form.

So the question changes from “does it meet expectations?” to “is it any good”. Well, yes, but with reservations. The beer feels like it needs a middle point. When cool it lacks the bitterness, when warm you lose the subtleties to the spiciness. You need something between the two. Also, for all the abv rise, it doesn’t feel like it gives that much extra over the excellent oaked arrogant bastard ale. As a final flaw the hops can feel muggy in the finish. Strangely for a beer of this abv it works better in large mouthfuls, bringing more richness and flavour with it. Tasty, but dangerous for a beer this strong.

So, despite the flaws, it does have enough flavour and size that I enjoyed it despite those points, but overall it doesn’t add up to enough to be great. I’d say that from Stone their Belgium take on an IPA, their Sublimely Self Righteous ale and Oaked Arrogant Bastard, all stand tall over this. Stone have too many great beers to go with one that is just ok.

Background: Stone Brewing, their Sublimely Self Righteous Ale was one of my first USA Craft Beers that really caught my attention. Always loved the attitude, the fun write ups on the bottles and the insane amount of hops. Oddly despite having drunk it many a time, I have yet to get around to reviewing standard Arrogant Bastard ale. Really should do that some time. Anyway, as you may have guessed expectations were high going in. This is a 2012 edition of the beer, drunk mid 2013.