Beer Review 0250: Stone Smoked Porter (with Chipotle Peppers)

This summer, Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, California) released a couple of variants on its Smoked Porter, the second oldest brew the company makes. Of course, I’ve reviewed the regular Smoked Porter, which scored 91 points on my rating scale. Recently, I sampled the first of two variants, Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean, and found it a little less impressive than the father beer, only scoring it 83 points.

Today, we conclude the series with what is Greg Koch’s (CEO and Stone Founder) favorite of the variants — Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers.

The idea to add chipotle peppers to Smoked Porter came about when Stone merchandise manager Chris Carroll suggested a special “South of the Border Stone Smoked Porter” for Cinco de Mayo.

Just like the other versions, this brew comes in at 5.9% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 53 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). The malt bill includes Pale Malt, Crystal 75, Chocolate Malt, and Peat-Smoked Malt; the hops used are Columbus and Mt. Hood.

Pouring made for a small and creamy head that had a nice combination of large and small bubbles but it faded quickly atop a ruby brown beer. When held out of the light, this beer looks black, but it’s not; it is opaque but further investigation shows a nearly perfect Porter shade. The body was clear of any particles or sediment, and lacing was good, leaving behind tight thin sheets that were even all the way down the glass.

You can tell there are roasted peppers in this beer right away by taking the nose, which is more heavily smoked than the regular version and certainly the vanilla bean variety, too. It’s a peaty smoke that is intensified by the fresh garden peppers; there’s also a good amount of licorice and a suggestion of coffee.

On the taste, there was peat smoke up front with some licorice, along with touches of coffee and chocolate. Then things got very smokey, when the Peat-Smoked malt combined with the smoked peppers. There’s a touch of heat at the start, and it grows the more you drink it, which compliments the finish very well; this beer concludes with notes of dark chocolate, and peaty/peppery smoke. The mouthfeel was medium bodied with a foamy feel, and soft carbonation.

I found this beer to be better than the vanilla bean variety, but it didn’t quite match the regular plain old Smoked Porter. I thought the smoked peppers added some bitterness to the brew, but I really enjoyed the heat. If you can find this one, it’s certainly worth a try. Hell, all three are, because this is a fine beer.

Stone Smoked Porter (with Chipotle Peppers), 87 points. Price: $3.29 for one twelve ounce bottle.

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