About the time that I kegged up my Pompously Illegitimate Red Ale (PIRA for short), I picked up a bomber of Stone's Arrogant Bastard (AB for short) knowing that eventually I would like to compare the two beers. Of course if you are new to this blog (or were just not paying attention), you may not know that PIRA is the SheppyBrew Brewery's tribute brew to AB and the Brewing Network's "Can You Brew It" (CYBI) attempt to clone the beer. You can read a bunch about this on this blog by reading through the labels "Arrogant Bastard" and "Pompously Illegitimate".
Today, I popped open the bomber of AB and poured myself a glass of PIRA.
Visually, the two beers are similar, but AB is a shade or two darker than PIRA. Both had creamy tan thick head. AB had more with better head retention. PIRA does have great head and head retention. AB's is just amazing.
Aroma was very close between the two beers. AB has perhaps a more rich malty smell and PIRA might have a bit more citrus hop aroma, but those differences are probably subtle enough that I would not notice had I not been smelling them side-by-side.
The flavor also has similarities. Both have a caramely malt backbone. AB might have a bit more of the caramel. I'm thinking that the difference in the darker color and this slight increase of malt caramel flavor is just a matter of increasing the Special B malt in the recipe by a couple of ounces.
The hop flavor of the two beers is different. PIRA has more hop flavor. AB has more hop bitterness. You can certainly also taste the difference between my Citra hops in the PIRA and the (most likely) chinook in the AB. This was actually expected as I purposely chose to cut down the bitterness of my beer. I also purposely used citra hops when the CYBI recipe used chinook.
Both beers have an interesting fruity ester flavor from the yeast. I do think that CYBI picked the right yeast in their recipe (WLP 007 Dry English Ale).
I think mouth feel is pretty close. AB might be just a bit fuller bodied. Again, I think the couple more ounces of Special B needed to match the color and the caramel flavor would probably close that gap.
AB is 7.2% ABV. PIRA is calculated to 7%. Quite frankly, those numbers are close enough that my margin of measurement error could easily make the beer exact in ABV.
Overall, if you forced me to give you a preference, today I like PIRA better. I do think that depending on my mood, there would be days that I prefer AB. Of course PIRA is much less expensive for me to drink than AB, and it is my beer, so the decision goes to PIRA.
I think I'm going to keep the PIRA recipe as is. Next time, I may add a bit more special B malt to the recipe, but I think I am keeping the hop profile as is.
Please feel free to copy my PIRA recipe and/or the CYBI AB recipe. Please if you do, let me know what you think.