Howdy. If you're like me, you're not too happy with the end of Michigan's tournament hopes in not one but two sports. You probably spent most of this morning and last weekend shaking your fists at the sky and asking whoever it is you believe in "Why?" in a rather angry voice.
I hear you. Two inexplicable losses in single-elimination tournaments does that to a man (or woman). It hurts. It's that maddening sort of sports pain - the one made worse by the fact that your rivals didn't lose. Luckily, MSU bit the dust as well in both sports (albeit farther in basketball) so we at least don't need to hear about that. But one more graphic about the "state of Ohio" on CBS and I'm going to drink myself into oblivion.
On that note, I took the chance to finally try out four beers I've always wanted to drink together - the "Four Bastards," as I have dubbed them. I started off with Founders' Dirty Bastard (being the "lightest" of the three and not being made by Stone) then moved to Stone Brewing Company's three-headed monster of a lineup, headlined by the well-known Arrogant Bastard Ale. I then tried the Oaked version, and closed out my journey with the strongest ale I've had in a while - the Double Bastard. I sadly couldn't find the Lucky Bastard Ale - but I'll keep my eye out for it.
Founders' offering to my efforts at purging Michigan losses was a Scotch-style ale, which is one of my personal favorite kinds of ale. I love browns of all kinds - the darker the better - and this was the perfect style of beer for me. A note for the casual beer fan - all four of these suckers are dark and heavy - so it's not quite the spring-style beer I'll be looking at in the future. Let's call this winter's last hurrah. The Scotch-style ale is brewed slightly longer than regular ales or even Scottish ales, boiled usually about 30-50% longer than a normal ale. This gives it a much darker color and caramel-ish flavor.
I know the lighting isn't ideal, but this sucker is dark. Maybe not Guinness dark, but pretty damn dark for an ale. This, as you might expect, translates to the flavor. It ain't sweet. It's got a caramel hint, but not exactly a sweet one. I really like this beer because I like Scotch ales - but I'm probably in the minority in this respect. Proceed with caution, lager and pils lovers - if you aren't prepared for something dark, this is a rough'un.
Next up - I'm a big fan of Stone (having tried their Ruination IPA last time it was released) - the company has just the right amount of snark about them, and it translates into their beer. The Arrogant Bastard Ale is, as labeled on the bottle, "aggressive." It's probably my least favorite of their Bastard Ales, but still worth a taste - all its flavors are right up front as you drink it. Some beers have aftertastes that are almost completely different from the initial taste - this is not one of those beers. It punches you in the mouth with a full hoppy taste and a dark caramel swirl and finishes the same way. I do like how it isn't carbonated much - it lets you focus on the beer, not the head or the bubbles. Goes well with spicy food.
My curiousity piqued (and the sting of some Michigan losses beginning to fade) I went for the amped-up version of Arrogant Bastard, the Oaked Arrogant Bastard. It's brewed very similarly to AB - with plenty of hops and a long boil - but the fact that it's oaked means it has a much more mellow taste than the others. Basically, the hoppy aroma is much more clear this time, making the beer seem lighter to the taste, which I also liked. That said, this is still a wallop of a beer, but I was able to detect some citrus in the finish this time, which I thought unusual for a darker beer.
You can't really tell from the pictures here, but the color is significantly different - dark but not quite opaque. I can't stress enough how different this beer tasted compared to its simpler brother, and in this case, change is good, because it ends up with a much more complex taste and doesn't make you wince on the finish. Not that any beer would make me wince on the finish, right?
Lastly, I stepped up with the big daddy of the evening - the Double Bastard. This sucker, at 10.5%, comes close to matching the alcohol content of the Fat Bastard chardonnay my female companion for the evening was drinking - with a much stronger alcohol taste. Try this one just for the ridiculous, ridiculous note on the back of the bottle - I haven't felt eviscerated by anyone quite like that in quite some time. The Double Bastard is much maltier than its compatriots, and has a much creamier head and finish than the other Bastards. Kind of like a Guinness on crack. That's how I'd describe it - skinner, more aggressive, and flat out meaner. The alcohol taste is a kick in the teeth - this is not a smooth ale. I could brush my teeth with Corona after this, because I'm sure it would taste like water.
Anyway, that's it for me this week. Kind of a rough sports week, so I thought I'd treat myself to some uncommon beers. You should do the same - do yourself a favor and go for the Oaked Ale. Cheers, Michigan Faithful!