And the Valley Drinks: Stone's Smoked Porter w/ Chipotle Peppers

Our offseason beer odyssey takes another turn for the spicy.

Yeah yeah, learning about IPAs and all that, but sometimes, especially when I stop into the Chimes, I just need to stick with what I know: good, dark, thick, comfort beers.

So after another recent trivia victory with zrau, we decided to celebrate with some brews across the street. And this specialty porter from Stone Brewing -- a craft outfit whose wares are not only easy to find, but rarely disappoint -- spoke to me.

Their Smoked Porter is always fairly easy to find, but this variation is a special edition they've put out since 2012. According to the brewery's blog, the main inspiration was the work they were already doing on some chile-infused beers for Cinco de Mayo. After some experimenting for a few years, they eventually moved to produce it on a larger scale:

In 2006, Chris Carroll, a longtime member of Team Stone, took that adage literally, proposing that we produce a one-off version of our venerable Stone Smoked Porter made spicy from the addition of chipotle peppers. We gave it a shot and found that those smoked jalapeños melded quite naturally with the smoldery peat-smoked malt that gives the beer its flavor and moniker, creating a deep, roasty quaff with a carefully restrained tingle of tasteful capsaicin heat in the finish. The marriage of ingredients was so nice that it has become an annual summertime staple, released each May in honor of Carroll's initial idea that Stone Smoked Porter w/Chipotle Peppers serve as an artisanal alternative to the industrialized adjunct-laden cerveza billed as the perfect fluid accompaniment to the sunny season. Cheers to variety and a quality alternative to mediocrity.

At 5.9% ABV, it's not too strong as not to be a session beer, although it is very thick and full-bodied. It's available on draught, obviously, and I've also spotted it in 22-oz bombers as well. I recommend 13-oz pours though, not a full imperial pint.

Review

Stone doesn't dick around when they call it a smoked beer. That aroma just comes right off of the head, with a note of that capsaicin oil that brings the whole chipotle image home quite vividly. It's almost like the peppers are being roasted right in front of you. The bouquet doesn't lie to you; that smoke flavor continues to permeate throughout the taste, opening to closing. There's the roasted malty sweetness of a porter that fades into the heat of the peppers as it slips down your throat. And the aftertaste is just malty enough to cut that capsaicin flavor a bit. Overall an excellent brew that would pair well with a hearty meal, especially grilled or smoked meats. I give it a strong 4.5 out of five stars.

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