Name: Alaskan Smoked Porter
Brewery: Alaskan Brewing Company
Country of Origin: United States
City & State: Juneau, Alaska
Style: American Porter
Alcohol Content (ABV): 6.5%
First Brewed: 1988
Pungent smoke arrives with the first whiff and remains through the flavor and finish. Oily texture adds to chocolate richness on the tongue, playing against char flavors of dark burned fruits.
Smoked beers are fickle for me. Some are good… some are GREAT. But some just plain suck. For instance, Rogue makes a smoked beer that is basically breakfast in a glass. It doesn’t taste smoked at all. Doesn’t taste like breakfast, either. Then Stone released an oak smoked Old Guardian, their delicious barleywine, a few weeks ago. It tastes like the inside of a barrel. SO good. Alaskan has never impressed me, so I am curious to see what this bomber tastes like. I was lucky when shopping at Total Wine & More a few weeks ago. They had a bottle of 2011 sitting on the shelf. Should be prime right now! Oh, and this beer comes from Juneau, Alaska. I used to tell a joke about Juneau. I would tell it here, but I would have to explain it. Wouldn’t be funny if I have to explain it!
In the Glass: Looks like a porter. The head is a bit thin, and while we are drinking this cold, I expected a thicker head than this. Not writing this one off, but that is a bad first impression. Not much lace, either. They used the word “oily” in the tasting notes. I can see that from the lace.
Nose: Wow… that smells smokey! Good. I was hoping there would be at least a hint of smoke with a beer called Smoked Porter! I would love to visit a brewing company and watch them actually smoke a beer. Some breweries use chips that are already smoked and some use malts that taste like smoke. That’s faking it, I say! I can already tell you this beer is too cold, so I am going to let this sit for a few minutes before I drink. Be right back!
Flavor: OK, I am back. By the way, the aroma is really starting to open up. Let’s see what it tastes like. This is my favorite part, by the way. The smoke really carries over. It’s not overwhelming, but this is REALLY smokey. There is a TON of unexpected carbonation, that I will talk about next, but the flavor is really nice. It is still a bit too cold, but I am impressed with the amount of smoke coming through here. Now I really want to go and see them brew this! I swished the second sip around in my mouth, and the bubbles were intense. However, the flavor didn’t really change. It almost settled as I did that. Not a typical experience when doing this. Anyway, great flavor.
Mouthfeel: I expected this beer to be thick. Especially when they called it “oily” in the tasting notes. Not thick at all, and there are WAY too many bubbles going on here. I am going to let my second half get to room temperature because I bet this really opens up as it heats up. We just drank a bottle of Parabola, and it was only good warm. If I get my hands on another bottle, I won’t chill it at all! I will say the mouthfeel does leave an almost residue going on here.
Aftertaste: For as much flavor I am getting, I expected the smoke to continue. It does, but it quickly fades. The smoke does linger… I almost want them to age this in some bourbon barrels. Imagine that flavor. This beer, according to the label, is an award winner. While I believe that, it’s not going to win any awards in my book. There are better flavors for smoked beers on the market.
It’s OK Alaskan, you did your best. You did a great job getting smoke on the nose and on the palate… but there are just better longer lasting smoked beers on the market. However, I like it. I would like to see this with double the ABV, a little thicker, and a tad less carbonated. Past that, bottoms up!
Alaskan Smoked Porter – The bottle says: “We’ve applied the Alaskan tradition of alder-smoking to the malts of this rich, intensely flavored porter, a recognized leader among the world’s smoked beers. Enjoy it now or age it for several years.”
Ricky gave me three options of a beer today, since apparently those are the only ones we have left right now. They were one called Beer Lao (which I believe is Asian and sounds boring), one from Russian River (and I have yet to be all that impressed with any of their beers even though everyone says they are great and Blind Pig and Pliny the Elder are very reputable), and the one I picked – Alaskan Smoked Porter. I mean, you know my affinity for porters and stouts – of course I picked this one!
The beer (like our beer yesterday as well) is very dark, typical of a porter. It’s pretty much black, and there’s definitely no seeing through the glass. Mine didn’t have much head even when it was poured out. It smells very smoky. But that’s ok – I like smoky beers, usually. There’s one that Fate Brewing makes sometimes, a smoky porter as well, and so far it’s the favorite of theirs that I’ve gotten to try (although I’ve heard that there are a few good ones they’ve had lately that I haven’t been able to try). So I hope this one is comparable to the one by Fate. This one smells so smoky, I can almost imagine that I’m sitting by a bonfire.
First taste… yep, there’s definitely a lot of smoke going on here. This one does remind me a lot of the smoked porter at Fate, but I would have to compare them to determine which one is better. I want to say the one at Fate has a bit more flavor to it, and even a bit more smokiness, but maybe this one is just too cold at the moment. It does taste pretty good, and I like the smoke flavor a lot, but compared to other smoky dark beers I’ve had, it almost seems a little dull… like there’s just not as much flavor going on somehow. I can’t quite place it. I like the taste of the beer, I like the smokiness… maybe it’s the aftertaste where it doesn’t quite measure up to the others. Regardless, this is definitely a good beer. And yes, I think I am starting to get a bit more flavor as it heats up – I can tell that with the drink I just took. I think this is one I would buy again for sure.