Double Bastard Ale by Stone Brewing Company
It’s no secret that I am an unapologetic fan of Stone Brewing Company. Since 1996 this brewery has consistently delivered brilliant beers. Indeed, some of their libations pass as currency. About a month ago, I was fortunate enough to be acquainted with a Baltimore Ravens fan and when his team was set to battle my beloved New England Patriots he foolishly wagered a six-pack of Stone’s Ruination IPA on the outcome of that gridiron mêlée. It is suffice to state that all my wagers should result in such delicious victory.
Nevertheless, I digress from the topic at hand, Stone’s Double Bastard Ale. In addition to their outstanding regularly produced beer, Stone also releases limited runs that are released annually or in the case of our ale today, seasonally. Stone’s Double Bastard is released in November and has done so annually since 1997.
This is not an ale for the faint of heart and the bottle duly warns those who may be faint of palate. From the bottle:
Warning: Double Bastard is not to be wasted on the tentative or weak. Only the worthy are invited and then only enter at your own risk. If you have any modicum of hesitation DO NOT buy this bottle. Instead leave it for a worthy soul who has already matriculated to the sublime ecstasy of what those in the know refer to as “Liquid Arrogance”
If you have never had any of the Stone beers, prepare yourself. Stone truly makes extreme beers and for that I am exceptionally grateful. The regularly available Arrogant Bastard Ale is above 100 IBUs.
The IBU is a take on the European Bitterness Unit (EBU). Quantifying the bitterness in a beer was once a less than perfect science. However, IBU and EBUs are measured through the use of spectrophotometry. Yet, even this can yield results that will not necessarily equate to the experience on one’s palate. While a spectrophotometer can accurately measure the bittering units in a beer it doesn’t take into account the other components of the beer, specifically the malts. An English Special Bitter will have a lower IBU than an Imperial Stout, yet to anyone’s palate the ESB will clearly taste more bitter than the ESB. 21st Amendment’s Back in Black labels itself as 65 IBUs, but its aggressive malts masks much of the hops
The 2010 Double Bastard Ale is an American strong ale. It is an aggressively hopped ale, but is brilliantly balanced with malt. It pours an enticing amber mahogany. There is minimal lacing in my brandy snifter, but the viscous barley wine style pour style still imparts a beautifully sweet and bitter nose. There are wonderful subtle floral notes that linger on the peripheries of warm brown sugar, dark fruit, and ripe banana, but they are wonderfully cut with brawny interjection of bright citrus and pine.
Photo Courtesy of Kitchen Treats
With the ‘Bastard’ moniker, I expected a stark bitter bite. Instead, I was treated to a well balanced ale that has the full mouth richness of a barley wine that exhibits flavor components of molasses, fig, and pineapple that is rounded with baking spices and a touch of pine. The minimal carbonation contributes to the richness of the ale. There is only the tiniest hint of heat form the 11% ABV of the ale and it only serves to accent the luxuriousness of the ale.
I fully imagine this ale will age exceptionally ale. While I can only speculate, the robust molasses will enhance the fruit flavors as they blossom with age. If you decide to cellar this ale, Stone recommends that this ale be cellared at 55 degrees, which should be right in line with other ales and wines in your cellar.
Once again, Stone serves up a winner with its 2010 vintage. Find one and enjoy.