Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale and Charlie’s Grind and Grill

Beer and burgers go together as well as anything. Korean-American Chef Sang Yoon recommends Stone’s Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale with the burgers he’s known for at of Father’s Office, his restaurant and pub in California. Luckily, here in the Philippines, the Bastard is available at a number of burger joints, including what for me was the best burger in the metro, Charlie’s Grind and Grill. Before the food though, a word (well, more) on the Bastard:
The bottle text of this beast provides the following:
This is an aggressive beer. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory — maybe something with a multi-million dollar ad campaign aimed at convincing you it’s made in a little brewery, or one that implies that their tasteless fizzy yellow beer will give you more sex appeal. Perhaps you think multi-million dollar ad campaigns make a beer taste better. Perhaps you’re mouthing your words as you read this.Too many strive towards complacency as a goal. We grow up thinking that the ability to become complacent is the equivalence of success in life. True Arrogant Bastards know that this could not be further from the truth. The real beauty, richness and depth in life can only be found if the journey through life itself is looked upon as a constant chance to learn, live and find life’s passion. Passion threatens the complacent, and fills them with fear. Fear of the new, the deep and the different. We, on the other hand, seek it out. Endlessly, joyously…and aggressively. To this end we bring you the “OAKED Arrogant Bastard Ale.” Another reward for those seeking new sources of passion, and another point of dissension for those who are not.

Clearly, this is not a beer for the faint-hearted. This was actually the first Stone beer I’ve tried, this along with their Ruination, is what really got me into the world of craft beer. I love bold, intense, aggressive flavors, and Stone Brewing is the perfect example. My journey into beer was marked by a big leap into IPAs and Strong Ales, when most newcomers tend to prefer the sweeter amber ales or the more refreshing hefeweizens. For me, it was hops, hops, hops.
The Bastard, an American strong ale living up to its name and style, doesn’t give much head when poured. It pours a rusty reddish brown and its hoppy, boozy nose make one think of steel mills and construction workers. Caramel malts give way to a nuanced “oakiness” which barely holds back the prominent alcohol taste. Finally, the hops come in, and they do take their sweet (or should I say bitter?) time before leaving. This unique balance of both aggressive malts and hops is something I find quite refreshing, but that may just be me. Because of this, I find the Bastard not only enjoyable, but easy to drink.

I was introduced to Charlie’s as a freshman in law school, and now, in my senior year and living literally three blocks away, I’ve been patronizing their original Kapitolyo branch more frequently. This entry has actually bobbed around my drafts for months, and it was only after another visit that I decided to finally get to writing everything down.

The first time I tried their Black Angus burger, I felt like Jason Segel’s Marshall Eriksen in How I Met Your Mother – I had discovered the perfect burger, and after that, no other will do. Sadly, however, there has been a bit of a drop off in terms of the quality of Charlie’s burger, but I’d still rate it as one of the best, especially for its price.

What used to be an over-sized patty overflowing with juices seems to have shrunk. The bun was tough and chewy, perhaps from absorbing too much of the meat’s juice. Nevertheless, this still was a satisfying burger. I ordered a side of fries with black truffle oil, black truffle salt and chicken liver. Again, this was disappointing, as the livers were overcooked – tough, bitter and nowhere near as creamy and rich as I would prefer. The hints of truffle were definitely overwhelmed by the liver.

Luckily, the Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale was there for the rescue. It’s aggressive combination of caramel malts immediately followed by bracing hop bitterness was truly palate cleansing. I’m sure this wasn’t the dynamic Sang Yoon had in mind when recommending this pairing, but in this case, the in-your-face flavors that Stone Brewing is known for were very much welcome. I may have been worthy for the Bastard, but it appears that the truffle fries and the burger were not.

A much better pairing was one I sampled much earlier. I was supposed to write this back when this blog was still in its infancy, but I just never got around to doing it. The Bastard fared much better with Charlie’s sliders and their regular, thick-cut fries. Sliders are a distinct portion of the burger family. Some even argue that they technically aren’t burgers in the first place, and especially not mere mini-burgers. Sliders are ideally steamed with cheese and sauteed onions on the griddle. I don’t know if this was the exact method Charlie’s used, but the end result is pretty damn good.

The toast potato bun was pillowy-soft and squishy – ideal for a greasy burger. I do wish there was a slightly more substantial patty and more onions, but otherwise, this was perfect. The beer also fared much better with the sliders as the combination of strong flavors was more complimentary than contrasting. I’ve learned my lesson now. Having the choice between a regular burger and three sliders, I’ll always go for the latter.

For those looking to try the Arrogant Bastard, or better yet, it’s badass older brother, the Double Bastard, the latter beer will be released in a few weeks time by Global Beer Exchange here in the Philippines. Add them on Facebook to find out when.

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