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TPF¡Those Bastards!  Every freakin’ year, these two ill-tempered bastards show up to screw with my holidays! Here I am, thinking I’m gonna sail on into the Holidays with some hearty Fall/Winter seasonals, take a break from the 10-month grind of Endless IPA Immersion, and indulge my Malt Mania and these…creatures slither in and mess with my head! It’s…it’s just not right!

But if lovin’ these is wrong…I don’t wanna be right

0835b3aeb6a02f04b4acf57eb7392268In The Beginning, there was Stone IPA, and the world was unformed and Wild Things did not yet roam the Earth…So, the Stone Crew said, “Huh. We can fix that, right quick!“…and then there was Stone IPA and the Lord looked upon it (and maybe even tasted it. Who knows? He’s the freakin’ LORD, after all, and He’s one tight-lipped Supreme Being and He doesn’t owe the likes of you and me any explanations!) and said, “WTF?“…and then IPA begat Arrogant Bastard…and Arrogant Bastard begat OAKED Arrogant Bastard…and OAKED Arrogant Bastard begat Stone Double Bastard…and Stone Double Bastard begat Stone Lukcy Basartd…there’s quite a bit of begattin’ goin’ on, down there at Stone World Headquarters, isn’t there? And I strongly suspect that they’re nowhere near finished thinking of exquisite new tortures for the world’s hops supply.

lba But…over the years, these two surly bastards have (I suppose inevitably) become a bit, a hint, a scosch more…uh, civilized. Having happened to taste the two within a few days of each other, I was startled to find some definite similarities between Stone Lukcy Basartd and Lagunitas Brown Sugga, both beers I would cheerfully strong-arm an elderly person to obtain. Fortunately, as I am getting elderly fast, I now just strong-arm myself, but the big difference is, I can find Lukcy. (Good flippin’ luck finding Brown Sugga.) And Lukcy would, if Stone chose to be so mundane, make a pretty darned good Winter Warmer, so it doesn’t knock me all that far out of my Holiday frame, anyway. Lukcy is almost shockingly malty and rich and…gasp!…non-confrontational, for one of Stone’s brutal HopBombs. Yes, it absolutely is bitter as a spurned Alabama debutante but it’s immaculately balanced and textured. It has heft on the palate and is stuffed to its luminous bronze rafters with dark caramels, roasted nuts, grilled bread, treacle, white pepper, figs, subtle spices, and Rainier cherries, all gilded edgily with forceful resins. Big citrus and spruce tips and wild herbs lurk in the background and give the beer a definite bite…without which, well, it just wouldn’t say “Stone“.

Stone Double Bastard…that’s a whole Other Animal.

dbDB is Brutal. Genuinely and, well, arrogantly bitter. Even in this age of The Great Hops Scare, Double Bastard is still one of those beers that we all think we know but which surprises us all over again, each time it’s released. In wStone Brewing,atched a local Seattle beer shop pull the first pints off a brand new keg of the 2013 edition and saw eye brows pop up like window shades as supposedly-unflappable beer geeks tasted it. Like Dogfish 90, Double has been around long enough, by now, that HopHeads think they know what to expect, while Stone’s main thing is foiling expectations. DB lays on  resins with a shovel. It is aggressively and starkly bitter, with a huge herbal wallop that’s only slightly relieved by its citrus component. The malts are, and always have been, surprisingly present and flavors of caramel, yellow apple, pear butter, almonds, baking spices, and Fig Newtons do their level best to stick their heads up out of the Hop Patch and usually succeed. But make no mistake about it: this is an ale about Hops and thus ever shall it be. The worst thing I can say about Double B is that it does create some problems with craft beer newbies who, hearing the name “Stone!” mentioned in reverential tones, run out and buy a Double for their first Stone Experience…and quickly discover that They’re Not Worthy. Maybe “not worthy” is harsh; more like “Not Ready“, but if you’re a veteran Stone fan, handing your new-to-craft pal a bottle of Double Bastard for his or her first exposure to the Stone Aesthetic is the exact equivalent of chuckin’ a non-swimmer out of a boat in the middle of the lake. Be Kind. Double Bastard is not for the faint of heart.

Three Other Bastards: Stone's Steve Wagner, Greg Koch, and brewmaster Mitch Steele.

Three Other Bastards: Stone’s Steve Wagner, Greg Koch, and brewmaster Mitch Steele.

This simultaneous release of two titanic Bastards is always an Event and having it come as October passes the limp baton over to November is just the sort of spirit-lifter a beer geek needs – especially here in the Soggy Corner – as we face the grim prospect of nine solid months of grey. If you’re a seasoned craft beer fan, this is one of your annual Red Letter Weeks. Run out to your local Suds Purveyor and grab a bunch. But if you’re new to craft beer and have never experienced Stone…Walk Softly, Sport, and Beware!

Double Bastard  98 Points

Lukcy Basartd   98 Points

 

Speak yer piece, Pilgrim.

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