Thursday, June 3, 2010

Stone Smoked Porter Review

Brewery: Stone Brewing Co. | Beer: Smoked Porter
Style: American Porter | ABV: 5.9% | IBUs: 53
Serving Method: 22 oz. bottle poured into pint glass

Stone Smoked PorterAh, smoked beer (or Rauchbier in German), what a treat! Drying malt over an open flame goes back for millennia, though with kiln drying becoming the standard way to dry malt hundreds of years ago, smoked malt has become a bit of a specialty. Until recently, the only place still smoking malt on any sort of large scale was Bamberg, Germany, the last real stronghold of Rauchbiers.

As with many traditional styles nearly lost to the ages, smoked beers have enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in America with the craft beer renaissance. One of the best known examples of smoked American beer is Alaskan Smoked Porter, which has been in production since 1988 and on my "must try" for years. While that beer might not be on shelves here on Houston, Stone's Smoked Porter is.

In production since 1996, Stone's Smoked Porter was one of the company's first beers back in their first year of production. As for construction, it's hopped with Columbus and Mt. Hood varieties, though (as usual) Stone make no mention of the malt varieties used. Here's how they describe Smoked Porter:

This beer pours a gorgeous deep mahogany crowned by a creamy head. Dark, smooth, and complex, with rich chocolate and coffee flavors balanced by a subtle smokiness, this brew is equally delicious with meats or fine chocolates.
Unfortunately, I'm fresh out of meats and fine chocolates, so this baby is going to have to fly solo.

Appearance: A dark brown, very nearly black, body with only a handful of red highlights. Up top, a generous, tannish and creamy head that sticks around a good amount of time and leaves great lacing.

Aroma: Lot of smoke over chocolate and roasted malt. Simple, yet effective.

Taste: Much the same profile in the mouth: peaty smoke over a chocolaty, roasty, and somewhat bitter malt backbone. A subtle hop presence contributes to the bitterness, giving this beer great balance. I could definitely handle more smokiness, but what's here is great. The aftertaste is smokey and roasty.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with smooth carbonation and a dryish finish.

Drinkability: About what you'd expect from a nearly six percent Porter. No problems whatsoever polishing off the 22 oz. bomber.

Verdict: Without the smoke component this would still be a solid Porter, but with it in the mix this is a most satisfying brew. If you've never tried a smoked beer, this is a good place to start.

Grade: A-

1 comment:

Royce said...

I had this beer not too long ago. I totally agree with your tasting notes and the general flavor profile and mouthfeel. However, for me the different pieces never quite fit together too well. I thought this had some really interesting flavors but ultimately was somewhat disjointed. It left me dissatisfied, because I felt it had the potential to be really great but ended up missing the mark a bit. It hit the target but wasn't a bull's eye, if that makes sense.

I might also be a little tough on this beer cause smoked porter is a style I really enjoy. I respect that it's hard to nail it.