Located in Mendocino, San Diego County Stone Brewing Co is the 10th largest craft brewery in the United States (as per annual volume). Stone is well known in the craft beer community for being one of the best and most original brewery and has received critical acclaim for many of their flagship and seasonal brews. In late 2014 Stone beer finally hits shelves in Alberta after being the most requested product during my tutelage at craft beer based off license stores. Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Beans (5.9% ABV) is a seasonal brew updated with vanilla beans from the flagship Smoked Porter. I have previously have the chance to try the Smoked Porter which was outstanding in my opinion. Lets hope this edition with Vanilla Beans lives up to my memory.
Pours out a dark burgundy hued brown with an opaque body and a full finger of creamy tan head. The aroma is strong and robust with a easily noted aroma of vanilla bean. Notes of roasted malt, licorice, coffee and soft, sultry smoke notes that work well cohesively. A bit of a sweet flavour profile in the middle with notes of coffee beans, vanilla and licorice hitting the palate before the smoke. Near the finish a light, soft smoky malt flavour lingers with a dense, earthen flavour. A nice finish with a lingering smoke flavour and a bit of bitterness that cuts through the finish. Overall, a nice winter brew with a stunning flavour profile and unique tastes. After a bit of deliberation I can conclude that the addition of vanilla is positive but I still enjoy the flagship Smoked Porter more. The best thing about this brew is the rich malty backbone that makes it perfect for a cold winter night. The vanilla is just an interesting additive that makes it a bit more dessert-esque.