7.2% ABV on draught
Batch thinks I’m a Stone “homer” and he’s absolutely right. I’m the motherfucking Harry Caray of Stone Brewery except I’m a cheerleader for a line of beers that is always world-class while the Cubbies have been pretty much futile for going on a full century. Having said that, the Oaked Arrogant Bastard was the rare Stone beer I hadn’t loved the previous, and only time, I’d had it before. Which is weird because I’m a huge regular Arrogant Bastard fan and “oaking” a beer without question usually makes it even better. What is an oaked beer you might ask? Pretty much just what it sounds like. You take a strong ale (or other high ABV beer) and throw it in a oaked barrel–usually, but not always, one that previously stored bourbon, Scotch, or wine–and let the brew further age and mature. In fact, many of my favorite all-time beers are oaked, brews such as Old Yeti imperial stout and countless beers from the magnificent Allagash brewery. Oaking a beer pretty much elevates it to a higher class of drink as it becomes infused with hints of wood and whiskey (among other things) that simply can’t be imparted in the standard beermaking process.
So why didn’t I like the somewhat rare Oaked Arrogant Bastard the first time I had it but absolutely loved it this time? Let’s get to that question in a moment, but first I want to discuss the beer. Stone beers are famous for their power and potency (heck, they put “You are not worthy” on their caps) and with the exact same ABV as the un-oaked Arrogant Bastard this one is no exception. However, the wood chips seem to mute the alcoholic, whiskey taste on the tongue that the un-oaked version provides. I’m not sure it’s that great of thing for pure taste reasons as I love a very alcoholic-flavored beer, but it surely does make the Oaked more palatable, drinkable, refreshing, and well-rounded. This beer also feels less hoppy, but it still has a ton of taste so that’s a minor quibble. Caramel maltiness, sweet with vanilla hints, and just a tad bitter. Georgeous.
I will definitely be drinking Oaked more in the future than the standard Arrogant Bastard as it is a bit more unique and complex. But I truly adore them both, what can I say, I am the Harry Carey of Stone, Holy Cow!
So going back to my earlier question–why did I find the Oaked on tap to be a near masterpiece after having not been too pleased with the bottled version? Could it simply have been a bad batch the first time or was it something completely different?
Maybe it is that draught beer is superior to bottled? Who knows but personally I do prefer draught all things being even. There is in fact a huge debate amongst beer snobs as to whether draught or bottled beer is better. Actually, there’s not much of a debate as most everyone agrees that tap beer is better. The debate is over why it is better. Even connesseurs aren’t 100 percent sure. Many claim it could even just be a psychological thing! You’ll see all the “experts” throw out numerous reasons for draught’s superiority with the most common thoughts being that it:
*is fresher, closer to being straight from the brewery’s tanks.
*is more rounded with less bite.
*has less chance of being exposed to ruinous sunlight.
*has less chance of coming into contact with the elements making up the beer’s container. Ever noticed that most crappy canned beer tastes metallic?
*has less CO2 to screw up taste and add bitterness, as compared to the massive CO2 added upon bottling.
*not pasteurized or filtered as opposed to most bottled beers (bottle-conditioned brews excepted of course).
*is better “handled” in transportation. I mean, have you ever seen the kinds of roughnecks that transport beer across this fine country?
I’m not sure if I agree with any of those reasons over any other, but I agree with all of them to a certain extent. The key thing is that draught beer has less chance of having something go wrong with it that could fuck up the beer’s flavor while bottled beers have about a zillion things that could go wrong with them from the list above. But, don’t be confused, my majority of beer consumption is from bottles. It simply has to be if one wants to drink beers from not just this entire country but from this entire world. I’m not trying to say that bottled beer is bad, just that it is usually a hair worse than it’s draught counterpart. But, it’s still beer and if you are drinking a quality one it will still be delicious poured straight from the bottle into a nice piece of glassware.
I’ll end the debate by saying I hope to have another Oaked Arrogant Bastard bottle soon and see what I think. I’ll report my findings. Drinking numerous Stone beers as part of a draught vs. bottle science fair experiment ain’t exactly a tough life!