Review: Stone Smoked Porter w/ Vanilla Bean

This beer isn’t a collaboration, but it follows the idea of combining disparate ideas to make something new, different and exciting. Vanilla porters are somewhat common. Smoke beers are less rare than they have been. The combination still intrigued me enough to pick up a 12oz bottle.

This beer evokes to me the phrase that has lead to many innovations in brewing and elsewhere, “Why the hell not?” Stone had a perfectly successful beer in their Smoked Porter. Then… according to Stone:

Stone brewer Laura Ulrich had a stroke of brilliance… what if she introduced whole Madagascar vanilla beans into a small batch?

If I see Laura (unlikely), I’m going to buy here a drink, because this is exactly what I love about personally about homebrewing and as a consumer about  craft brewing. Take a risk, go out on a limb, don’t be afraid to fail. Stone has been doing that for a long time.

Stone Smoked Porter w/ Vanilla Bean

Stone Smoked Porter w/ Vanilla Bean 5.9%


Appearance: The beer pours a translucent copper with a creamy tan head that recedes quickly to a thin film on top of the beer. There are hints of dark ruby where the light hits the glass.

Aroma: The aroma is incredibly rich with notes rough, smoky chocolate with a heavy, smooth vanilla note taking over at the end. A classic, rauchbier style smoke aroma isn’t there. It’s more a acrid, kilned malt smokiness.

Taste: The taste starts off with a somewhat thin, very dark porter. Lots of dark, kilned malts giving an acrid, burnt flavor. There’s a hint of bitterness as well, but nothing close to overpowering the malt. The flavor ends with a very well rounded, lush vanilla flavor the helps to clear the acridity from the palate. There is a lingering maltiness, but that dissipates after a few seconds.

Mouthfeel: It starts off feeling a little thin, but I’m not sure if it’s a unfermentable sugar in the beer or just an effect of the vanilla flavor, but the end of the sip feel rich and smooth.There’s a light carbonation, the keeps the beer lively without overwhelming any of the flavors.

Overall: I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect here. I know I’ve had the Stone Smoked Porter before. It seemed more like a standard, dark, acrid porter than a rauchbier. This seems more along the lines of Breckenridge Vanilla Porter, but much, much drier. It’s an enjoyable beer, and the flavors work quite well together. I’m interested in trying the smoked porter with chipotle, but I doubt it will be as aggressive as our Pepper Porter or the 440 Pepper Smoker from Original Gravity.

Review: O’Fallon’s Smoke Porter

When Michigan (finally) instituted its indoor smoking ban, Ashley’s–a consistently smoky bar–had a smoked beer festival. I hadn’t really had many smoked beer before then, but on that day I tried the 440 Pepper Smoker from Original Gravity, and I was hooked. Smoke beers are definitely a weird creation. Malt that has been smoked over hardwood picks up a savory, almost meat-like flavor along with the predictable smokiness.

I can see them not necessarily being for everyone. They could trend too far from what beer should taste like, but personally, I like seeing people push the boundaries of beer and coming up with different and interesting flavors. Also, I drank one of these beers along with a Diavolo sandwich from L’Appetito. The mix of the smoked, cured meats, spicy mustard and smokey beer was absolutely amazing.

Tasting Notes

O'Fallons Smoked Porter

O'Fallons Smoked Porter

Appearance: Dark brown with hints of copper shining through when held up to the light. It poured with a creamy, 2 finger thick tan head that dissipated somewhat quickly and without much lacing.

Aroma: Savory, woody and smoky. It’s like a campfire in a good, aromatic way. I’ve had beers that have crossed the line into cigarette butt, but this stays well away from that.

Taste: The taste comes in a few waves. It begins with a nice, acrid smokiness, which is quickly followed with roasted, malty sweetness. The aftertaste is a lingering, but not unpleasant acridity.

Mouthfeel: This beer has a medium carbonation. I think it could be just a bit a lower, actually. That might help it feel a bit richer. As it is, it’s a bit too thin.

Overall: I don’t know why, but I had been craving a smoked beer. This hits all the spots. I don’t regret picking up a six-pack.