Stone Brewing Co – Smoked Porter w/ Chipotle Peppers

Having taken yet another week off from blogging, I thought I had better start this week with a little something good.  Although I felt like I needed to relax a bit on the everyday posting, I also realized I need to post a few times a week to keep my readers interested.  Don’t worry, I have a few post ideas ready to go this week.  Last week I was also gone most of the time on a little vacation to Rehoboth beach right before we head back for another school year.

Anyway, as I love to do, I’m reviewing a beer that has a close relation to the beer I’m currently brewing.  If you missed my update a few weeks ago, I’m currently brewing a honey chipotle porter.  Having never used honey or peppers in my brewing before, I decided to confront my readers with some questions about what I should do in undertaking this beer.  Ultimately the biggest quantity of ideas were supplied on my Facebook.  I’ll end up sharing how those suggestions altered my original idea as the beer gets closer to ready; however, I was really happy to see Stone put out this smoked porter using chipotle peppers right at the same time I’m using the peppers.

Stone may be the most reviewed brewery on this site, but it’s because they are always doing something interesting.  I still haven’t even reviewed every special release I’ve gotten from them over the past year.  I didn’t review their TBA, More Brown than Black IPA, and La Citrueille Celeste.  I don’t want this site to become all about Stone brewery; although, I have a feeling it wouldn’t be too hard.  Anyway, Stone already makes a really good smoked porter.  Having produced the porter for years now, why not make some alterations to it to produce a beer that would get everyone interested.  Here Stone used their original porter recipe and produced both a chipotle and vanilla batch.  We’ll see if I review the vanilla version, since I do have it; however, I popped this chipotle version right into the fridge for immediate review.

The beer isn’t all that surprising on the pour.  It’s a porter and pours and appears just like a porter should appear.  The beer is a super dark black color that resembles black coffee or even oil.  There is a nice rich tan head that develops on top of the glass as well.  The lacing is fairly hefty; however, you really don’t get a whole lot of sticky residue to go along with that.  The beer is obviously too dark to give you a good idea of the clarity or carbonation; however, you can see a lot of activity around the edges of the beer when you agitate it in the glass.

The smell was where I thought the beer would first start to separate itself out from their typical porter, which it does; however, it really isn’t by much.  You get a lot of the sweet malts that create the backbone for the brew.  Combining with the sweetness is a significant amount of both coffee and chocolate aromas.  Of course, the name suggests that there has to be a smokey aspect to this beer, which you get in combination with the dominant coffee aromas.  The beer also carries a type of oaky woody smell too.  The peppers are probably the least dominant thing in the aroma.  Of course, this may not be a terrible thing, but I certainly thought I would get a lot more of the spice on the nose than I did.  Although I didn’t want the beer to be overwhelmed by the spice, I was really hopping I would get a little more of it on the taste than I did on the scent.

The beer, once again, isn’t all that surprising when it comes to the big porter taste.  It’s pretty  much what you would expect in many ways from a big bold smoked porter. It kicks off with the nice sweet malts.  These are very helpful for the foundation on which the rest of the beer is built.  From there, the beer moves into some sweet chocolate flavors that transition from the sweetness to the big roasted flavors of the coffee notes.  The coffee notes give a certain bitter quality that leads to a nice hit of the 53 IBUs the hops are hiding in here.  Ultimately, it is the hops that then help the beer transition from the sweet and roasted flavors to the subtle spice flavors.  The chipotle peppers are still really mild and only hint at the hidden spice they add to the beer; however, they add a nice bit of light burn to the end of an already great beer.  The flavors all seem to build on top of each other, which I would say shows a ton of skill that I’m sure I will be lacking in my beer.  One can dream though!

The mouthfeel shows a perfect balance between the syrup, the carbonation, the hops, and the pepper burn.  The beer starts with a little light syrup; however, the carbonation is ample enough to keep it drinkable.  As the carbonation diminishes, the hops and peppers come in to give the beer that still fresh feel.  Once again, it shows the skill I’m sure I’ll be lacking.  Interestingly, the burn from the peppers only becomes more noticeable as you continue to drink.  Skill that is once again to be envied!

If you couldn’t tell from some of my comments, I’m becoming a little concerned that my beer will be a little unbalanced by the chipotle peppers.  I have a few different reasons for believing this, but I’ll save those thoughts for another post.  In the meantime, you can enjoy one of the better examples of a beer that uses chipotles if you can find this one from Stone.  It’s a limited edition, so it may already be gone, but it’s a great beer you should pick up if you can find it.

Teacher Grade: A

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2 Comments

  1. I was really excited when I heard about these two variations on the already excellent Stone Smoked Porter, but unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to really track them down yet. I love the standard issue Smoked Porter and put it on par with the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter. Such a good beer. The Chipotle version sounds like a tasty diversion. I’ll have to track it down!

    Great review! Oodles of detail.

    Cheers!
    G-LO

  2. I love the taste of chipotle… I’ll have to track down this beer.

    Thanks for sharing.


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