Beer Review 0194: Stone Smoked Porter

Pulling no punches, it is with great trepidation that I am reviewing this beer — the two reasons why I feel obligated to try and write about it are that I want to maintain an open mind about all things beer, and it’s produced by Stone Brewing Co., located in Escondido, California.

I’ve had a few ‘smoked’ beers in the past, and my experience with them hasn’t been great. I’ve never found one I liked and the smoke flavors tend to be artificial to my palate, almost like someone unleashed an entire bottle of liquid smoke on a beer. Color me unimpressed and slightly nauseous!

But Stone have proven time and time again to be winners; I rated their Double Bastard Ale a perfect 100 points, and recently rated their awesome Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA a stellar 98.

Stone’s Smoked Porter is an average size beer if you go by alcohol content, coming in at 5.9% ABV (alcohol by volume) and registers 53 IBU (International Bitterness Units). This Porter is hopped with Columbus and Mt. Hood, while the malt bill remains a secret. This is one of Stone’s older offerings, having been released in December 1996. You can find this year-round in bomber size bottles.

Smoked Porter pours a small and frothy head, with creamy edges and a lasting quality. The color of this beer is a tricky one; in the light, it is very clearly ruby and on the verge of being brown. Viewed in normal room lighting, this one is a deep brown with ruby edges, just as a Porter should be. In the light, I noticed no particles or sediment, and while being opaque, I believe the body to be clear. It’s just dark. The lacing was good, leaving several dense light tan patches.

I noticed the smokey aroma right from the crack of the crown; it’s a natural, woodsy type smoke, coupled with a nice layer of chocolate malt and some coffee. There’s a delicate hint of floral hop, and touches of licorice. A very nice aroma, and quite pungent.

On the taste, a big and wonderful flavor of chocolate blasts the palate before delivering a blanket coat of sweetness and then the smoke just as you swallow — it’s woodsy and peaty, and it never gets too out of control. And the best part is the smoke is natural tasting, not at all like the brewery dumped in a bunch of artificial flavorings on this drink. The finish is complex with equal notes of chocolate, coffee, and the smoke, with a touch of licorice. The mouthfeel was predictably thin and gritty, and this did dry the mouth out, leaving you wanting another taste.

This is a damn good beer and I highly recommend it — as someone who doesn’t typically enjoy smokey flavors, this is not at all off-putting and I found myself reaching the end of this bomber bottle well before I wanted to see the beer dry up. The price is right on this one, which makes it all the better. Deeply flavorful, this is just tasty and I don’t think you can go wrong here.

Haters of dark beer: try this one! I think this has transition qualities…

Stone Smoked Porter, 91 points. Price: $4.49 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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