Stone Brewing Co.
San Diego, CA
Smoked Porter (w/ Vanilla Bean and w/ Chipotle Peppers)
I’m quick to pick up anything new that Stone puts out. I’m usually at the store the week something new comes out to pick it up, and it doesn’t usually last long in my fridge. And when it comes to their year-round slate, I’ve had everything before, and multiple times at that.
Except for one: their 5.9% Smoked Porter.
It was always one of those beers I’d see and think, “Maybe I should pick it up this time,” but I never did. I wasn’t against trying it - I love porters and smoked beer - but I just never bothered to grab a bottle. Of course, now that Stone’s gone and made two new variations of the beer, it was the perfect time to finally pick it up.
The names of the beers speak for themselves. The brewery took the base of Smoked Porter and added fresh vanilla beans in one batch and chipotle peppers in the other. Both variations have been available on tap and cask at the brewery for a while, but this is the first time they’ve bottled them.
The pour on all three is the same: A very deep, dark brown verging on a black, with a finger of a bubbly head that dissipates quickly, along with some mild lacing and nice alcohol legs.
On the original, the nose has a big campfire smoke with a little bit of bacon and smoked meats to. There’s sort of a very dull sweetness on the back, like a really dark chocolate or cocoa. The vanilla bean on that variation hits strong. There’s more smoke at first but the vanilla really shines as it warms. Same with the chipotle. It’s really smokey at first but there’s a lot more heat as it warms up.
The smoke absolutely explodes on the tongue on the original. There’s a huge lingering smoked wood taste. It’s verging on a rauch beer but slightly more subdued. Dark chocolate is present on the back as well as a definite espresso or dark coffee too. At just under 6%, it’s a much lighter and easy drinking porter.
On the vanilla bean variation, that same smokiness is what’s present at first, but the fresh vanilla bean just explodes on the back end. It lingers for a good long while, too. It’s a good clean vanilla tasty, not overly sweet or artificial. Same with the chipotle. The smoke and the peppers blend together perfectly. The heat is very present, but not overpowering, and it becomes a lot more prevalent as it warms.
The consensus among reviews that I’ve seen is that the vanilla bean variation is the better of the two, but I lean a little more toward the chipotle version. I generally hate chipotle beers, but the smoke and the heat on this one was perfect and extremely enjoyable. The vanilla bean was definitely great as well, and the sweetness of the beans mixed with the smoke was a great idea.
If you’re like me and haven’t picked up the original yet, now is the perfect time to try it.