Turns out you can teach old dogs new tricks.
I’ve been a fan of Stone beers for a while, but I was very excited when I heard about a new spin on Stone’s classic(?) smoked porter. The brewery decided to spice things up a bit (literally) with a chipotle version of the porter as well as a vanilla bean conditioned version. Sadly, I didn’t find the pepper beer at my local shop, but I happily settle for the vanilla bean option, which was indeed a great addition to the Stone lineup. The vanilla bottle has an 89 on Beer Advocate.
As with all beers this dark and robust, I loved the midnight-black pour that also gave it an almost chewy mouthfeel. The characteristics of this beer were infectious. Stone used peat-smoked malt for this beer, which is a process you might often find with big, robust beers. Most commonly with Scottish ales or barleywines. Peat-smoking offers greater “smoky” flavor than what you might find with another kind of smoked malt like rauchmalt, which you can find in German smoked beers like – surprise – rauchbier. Peat smoke can come across more earthy and true to what you’d imagine smoke to be and rauchmalt would be milder.
Fittingly enough to the beer’s name, I immediately got whiffs of vanilla when I brought the glass up to my face. But that flavor quickly runs away and my nostrils are filled with a hearty smoke smell … and wouldn’t you know it, the two then combine into a perfect duo. It really reminded me of being in a local barbecue restaurant. A lot of people might complain about a beer like this being similar to bacon, but I think that’s just a psychological thing, placing the smokiness with something that’s easily relatable. While it wasn’t present in the beer, I couldn’t help but imagine bourbon being a part of this beer. It just felt like a missing piece of the puzzle.
The taste of the beer was more simplistic, but just as good. The roasted malt of the porter has a nice heft of mouthfeel giving off light notes of coffee with a smooth vanilla finish. If I held the beer in my mouth long enough it actually tasted like chocolate.
Hit the jump for my “Rate That Beer” sheet