Steve Wagner and Greg Koch know a thing or two about beer. Before they started Stone Brewing in San Diego County, they'd already combined to visit 140 breweries across the United States and Europe and had attended some 30 different beer festivals. So when they teamed Wagner's brewing skills and Koch's business expertise to form a new company, they had a pretty clear picture of what they wanted to create. Using only the finest ingredients, they unleashed their Ruination IPA and Arrogant Bastard Ale on an unsuspecting public.
In a marketing ploy that might be deemed risky by some, Wagner and Koch let potential customers know that they were "not worthy" to drink their offerings. With tongue placed firmly in cheek, they warned that most lacked the sophistication or the taste to appreciate Stone's ales, advising people to stick with their "tasteless fizzy yellow beer" backed by million dollar ad campaigns. Enough beer lovers ignored the warning to make Stone Brewing an unqualified success.
The brewery has marked every anniversary with the release of a special bottling and Tenth Anniversary IPA has finally hit Boise. If you're a fan of Stone's IPA, but give a begrudging nod to their malt-driven Arrogant Bastard Ale, if you're a bigger fan of the Bastard, you still owe it to yourself to give this special release a try. It strikes a nice medium between the peel-the-taste-buds-off-your-tongue hop profile of the Ruination, and the sweet caramelized malt of the Arrogant Bastard. Pineapple flavors come through along with a lightly sweet mocha quality. An outstanding effort.
This year marks the ninth release of what Stone calls "excessive excessiveness," the Double Bastard Ale. Imagine the rich and malty flavors of the regular Bastard, but with enough hops crammed into the mix to give their Ruination a run for its money. A bit much on its own, but that aggressive hop profile is tamed when paired with food. Try it with spicy Thai or Indian cuisine.
A couple of years back Stone Brewing introduced an oaked version of the Arrogant Bastard. The oak takes a bit of the edge off resulting in a more mellow mouthful of malt. It also adds an interesting touch of smoky toast that come through especially on the finish. This year you can score the brew in a 12-ounce format, but be warned, as with all these special releases, supplies are limited.