863: Stone Smoked Porter

Name: Stone Smoked Porter
Brewery: Stone Brewing Company
Country of Origin: United States
City & State: Escondido, California
Style: American Porter
Alcohol Content (ABV): 5.9%
First Brewed: 1996
Price: $3.99

Tasting Notes
Pours reddish brown in the glass, leaving a trail of white foam. On the nose, there is smokiness at the outset, which complements rich, coffeelike notes. There is more smoke on the palate, intermingling with chocolate flavors, a harmony and bonnet that ultimately ties the beer together.

Ricky’s Thoughts

When deciding what beer we wanted to taste today, Sheryl said, “Try something dark.” So I grabbed a porter. It’s dark! Plus, I have been on a porter kick lately. Last month I was hooked on reds and the month before that IPAs. Next month, maybe I will switch to Belgian beers! Speaking of Stone, we were just in San Diego for Thanksgiving and visited the brewery. I couldn’t be that close and not visit. The brewery was nice, but it wasn’t as big as I thought. I did get to see some of the 12/12/12, and the 11/11/11 that has been aged in red wine barrels. I would rather try that one than the 12/12/12. At any rate, today we are drinking the Stone Smoked Porter. I had the Alaskan Smoked Porter a few weeks ago for the first time. Beer bloggers are raving about the Alaskan Smoked Porter. Not sure why… it was just OK. But the way people talk about this beer, it will be better. Let’s drink, people!

In the Glass: This beer is pitch black in the glass. It has a really nice head, too. A white head that leaves a gorgeous lace on the glass. For a beer that is only $3.99 a bomber, regardless of the ABV, it is worth buying to see/experience this head. I haven’t even tasted it yet and it was worth 4 bucks. Let’s see what it smells like.

Nose: Before I smell this, know that I had a smoked porter last night at Fate Brewing Company here in Scottsdale. They are producing some incredible beers, and their smoked porter is excellent. As it gets close to room temperature, the smokiness really comes out and leaves an aftertaste like I just smoked a cigarette. It is lovely! So the Stone has some tough competition here… and it smells OK. It has more chocolate aroma than it does smokey notes. But that’s OK. I like chocolate, too. I might be picking up some burnt caramel/vanilla notes toward the end there.

Flavor: The flavor is not as big as I expected. Granted, if you look at the price, it fits. But the expectation that I get from Stone is that their beers are “epic” and loaded with flavor. This one is not. It’s decent, don’t get me wrong. But it is not something worth writing home about. The best part of this beer is the aftertaste. Not really getting much smoke on the palate. If I am getting anything, it is dark chocolate notes.

Mouthfeel: What mouthfeel? It sort of just slides across the tongue and is gone. There is not much going on in the mouth here. I expected something thick, fluffy, and something that would have me excited to take a second sip. But this beer, in regards to the mouthfeel, is pretty boring.

Aftertaste: Here we go. The aftertaste. What makes the Fate smoked porter good is the aftertaste. That is what makes this one tolerable. The ABV is pretty low on this, under 6%. But as a porter, I expect something a little thicker with a little more flavor. The aftertaste is where you get the smoke flavors. Still not much flavor, but the aftertaste is still here a few minutes after I swallowed. This is good, but not the best offering from Stone. Sorry guys, but Fate Brewing has you beat on the smoked porter.

Stone Smoked Porter – The bottle says: “Stone Smoked Porter: So you want something dark, do you? We’ve got you pegged. You are the type who saddles up to the bar, scanning the tap handles for something beyond the pale, fizzy pabulum whose all too familiar neon advertisements garishly adorn the windows of the taverns and bottle shops across the land. Or perchance you are one of those forlorn souls who think they don’t like dark beer. Either way, prepare to be enchanted. Deep mahogany around the edges and approaching pitch black in the center, Stone Smoked Porter is mysterious, smoky and verging on utterly decadent. Connivingly complex, this polished ebony gem is excellent with BBQ’d meats; amazing with fine chocolates, cheesecake and other rich desserts; and even pretty damn good with a well-crafted PB&J sandwich. With each sip you’ll discover a seamless meld of subtle chocolate overtones, subdued coffee and light smoky undertones. Delve a layer deeper and you’ll discover hints of licorice, dark fruit, roastiness and perhaps even caramel.”

“Our Philosophy: We at Stone Brewing Co. price ourselves in creating ales of world-class distinction and innovative character. We feel that every beer we make should reflect honest, integrity and craftsmanship with which we joyfully approach our work. We also feel that it’s OK to brew styles of beer that not everyone appreciates – yet that some people absolutely LOVE – because if you make it your goal to please all of the people all of the time, you’ve got a sure-fire formula for ordinariness and mediocrity. That’s not who we are. Oh, and for all you devoted lovers of Stone Smoked Porter, don’t worry if you turn somebody new onto this beer. We’ll keep brewing enough to fit. After all, WE love it too.”

“*Sourdough or square bread, chunky-style all-natural peanut butter and blackberry preserves makes the best combo!”

Rating: 2/5

Sheryl’s Thoughts

Ricky says that I start every review off by saying that I don’t know what beer we’re having.  Well, today… I know!  It’s the Stone Smoked Porter.  I’ve had this beer before, and if I remember correctly, it’s a good one.  Stone is a great brewery.  We actually were able to visit them a few weeks ago in San Diego, which was a fun experience.  They have a very cool place there.

I was expecting this beer to have a smokier nose to it, but I don’t really smell the smoke much.  Overall, I like smoky beers.  One of my favorites was Sam Adams Bonfire Rauchbier.  You could get it only in their fall seasonal pack, and this year it wasn’t even available in that.  I loved that beer and bought more than one seasonal pack just for it!  I’m sad that it looks like it’s no more.

Anyway, on to the Stone Smoked Porter.  I was expecting to get a very smoky nose with it, but honestly – I can’t smell the smoke much at all.  There is a little bit of smoke there, that wet beer smell, and the smell of a porter.  But there’s just really not a strong smell to this beer.  It looks very obviously like a porter in the glass, thick and very dark, basically black.

Let’s take a sip.  The flavor really doesn’t seem to be overly smoky, at least not as much as I expected.  It is definitely a porter, and tastes very much like one.  It’s got that thick flavor as you drink through the foam on top (which there was quite a bit of, by the way).  This beer delivers on what it promises – it is definitely a “smoked porter”.  And actually, I’m starting to warm up to it as it warms up in the glass.  The smoke taste gets stronger the warmer the beer is.  But I’m not sure how often it would be the porter I would pick to purchase.  It just wasn’t quite the flavor I was hoping for.

Rating: 3/5

862 bottles of beer on the wall…

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