If you’re at all familiar with Stone Brewing Co. out of Escondido, CA, then you probably also know that they don’t shy away from using generous amounts of hops in their brews. With popular bitter offerings like Ruination IPA and their current Enjoy By double IPA series, Stone has been a favorite amongst hop heads for years. So, when I saw that their winter seasonal beer of choice was a porter, a style of beer that typically is not very bitter, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to see just how well Stone is able to dial back the bitterness and nuance in some dark, roasty flavors.
A pour into my Hoppin’ Frog snifter yields about a finger of sticky, khaki colored head. An aroma of roasted malt, vanilla, and just a touch of smoke fills my nose before my first sip. This beer offers a very thin mouthfeel, along with a distinct charred flavor at the start. Following is a very smooth blend of smoke and vanilla. While the vanilla is a bit more prominent, there is just enough smoke to compliment it quite nicely. The finish is more charred bitterness, along with slight dryness that brings to mind the other Stone ales that I know so well.
Were this a summer offering, I’d suggest grabbing a few for your next barbecue or bonfire. However, since a majority of the country is suffering through the Polar Vortex, my best recommendation for this beer would be to crack this one open after dinner. Whether its along side dessert, or paired with your choice of cigar, this brew should please your palate. And clocking in at 5.9% abv, feel no guilt in going for a second glass. Cheers!