For my birthday last month I opened a 2005 vintage bottle of Stone Brewing‘s Double Bastard; this was one I had received a year or two prior and was saving for a special occasion. The beer is essentially a double version of Arrogant Bastard; it’s a monster for sure at 10% alcohol.
The review sites peg this as an American Strong Ale, but I’m on the fence, wanting to call this an American Barleywine instead. I suppose it’s because barleywines have more of a sweet malty character, while ASAs are more… hoppy? Extreme? "American"?
Therein lies the danger of over-analyzing. Whatever it is, it’s a damn fine beer.
Appearance: Hazy dark orange, almost a brown—an unfiltered cider (pumpkin puree?). Nice tan head with a similar orange tint to it.
Smell: Alcohol, oily woody scent, sugar sweet malts. There’s a hop presence, but it’s mild, almost undefinable under the oily alcohol strength.
Taste: Very strong, that woody character again—like it’s been aged in barrels—nice kicked-up malt sweetness but it’s offset by the dryness of the alcohol punch, which sucks the moisture right out of your mouth and leaves a film behind. Very aggressive—the sense that it’s highly hopped is there but you don’t notice over its strength.
Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, dry (an alcoholic dry), oily.
Overall: Wow. Aggressive and in-your-face… it’s truly a beer deserving of the "Bastard" label from Stone. Not something I could drink every day but… wow.