How do you take a great beer and make it even better? Just ask Stone Brewing of Escondido, California. They’ve managed to take a beer that I really love, Stone Smoked Porter, and kick it up a notch to a new and exciting level. Stone put some thought into this one, too. What would make an interesting addition to their smoked porter? Why chipotles, of course, which are smoked jalapenos, and an interesting ingredient for a smoked beer. Hence: Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers.
Stone is wise as well in that, beer geeks being fickle as they are, there’s nothing like the term “Limited Edition” to spur sales. That was the case here, as the first delivery of Stone Smoked Porter flew off the shelves of my local Total Wine store in less than a day. Luckily for me, however, I was there in time for the second shipment.
From the painted label bottle of Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers:
Sometimes, developing a prodigious new beer is as simple as looking at an existing, already reliably delicious brew from a different angle. After all, as they say, variety is the spice of life. 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.
Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers has an alcohol content of 5.9% by volume and 53 IBUs. Stone could have priced this one at some ridiculous level and got the price they asked, but they didn’t. I got a bottle for just $6.99. My bottle has no discernible freshness dating, but it does say “Drink fresh”. I consumed my bottle a few weeks after purchasing.
Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers Chipotle pours to a jet black (but not opaque) color with a thick creamy tan head formation and a chocolaty, slightly spicy pepper nose. Taking a sip, I get the usual Stone Smoked Porter deliciousness: chocolate and roasty coffee, hints of vanilla, soft phenolic smoke permeating the delightful roastiness, and at the last, the peppers hit: not overpowering, but with just enough peppery heat to let you know they're there.
The spicy peppers seemed subtle to me at first, but wait! They increase in presence as the beer warms (and it will with a 22 ounce bottle), and linger on the palate after you sip. Some minty grassy hops also add bitterness to the finish, and there is a bit of roast too. As I got towards the end of the bottle a very aggressive peppery finish had developed, a welcome emergence indeed. The peppery spice really danced over the tongue at the last, and I got green vegetal pepper flavor in addition to the spicy heat.
This is a great pepper beer for seven bucks, friends. I want peppery heat in my pepper beers, and this one does not disappoint. As for style, you could peg this as a smoked beer or a chili beer, but I think the pepper character is here in enough force to call this a chili beer by style. I expect that is what Stone was aiming for as well. Whatever you call it, it’s a great beer, and as this is also sold in kegs, one I would love to see at my local Taco Mac.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.