Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Beans

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. 

Grade: 87/100


Parallel 49 Lost Souls Chocolate Pumpkin Porter


East Vancouver’s newest and best craft brewery has been releasing some of British Columbia’s most inventive craft beers. Last fall they released the spixed pumpkin ale Schadenfreude to many accolades. A stronger big bottle version which includes chocolate malt was made available in Alberta this paat week. Lost Souls is a 6.8% ABV stronger porter classified as a spice or vegetable ale.

Pouring out a nearly opaque black with a thin beige head that settles quickly to nothing. The body has a slick almost syrupy appearance in the glass. Leaning in for a first smell I notice a mild pumpkin and spice combo of ginger, cloves and cinnamon.  Beautiful roasted malts, toasted nuts and toffee balance out the spice in the aroma. The mid palate is sweet and syrup-like with moderately bitter roasted malts and an overlying vegetable like flavor.  The finish is mildly bitter with a heavy spice and pumpkin taste that fades with the bitter finish. Overall Lost Souls is a good brew that exhibits an interesting new side of pumpkin beers.

Grade: 83/100
Price: $8.39

Ballast Point Black Marlin Porter

Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits in San Diego, California was started in 1996 by avid home brewers who operated a home brew shop in San Diego. The brewery has grown tremendously in recent years and has rather wide American distribution but no Canadian distribution as of yet. Ballast Point is known for their heavy handed hoppy beers as well as their nautical and fishing themed bottle art. I have previously had the Ballast Point Sculpin Double IPA, Big Eye IPA and Calico Amber.

Black Marlin Porter is a 6% and the 45 IBU porter brewed in the traditional English style. According to the Ballast Point website, Black Marlin is poured with a nitro cask at the brewery. From the bottle, Black Marlin pours out a deeply opaque black with a creamy and fluffed up beige head. The nose is rich and well roasted with massive coffee and velvety milk chocolate notes. A dark and earthy roasted malt persists with a hint of subtle vanilla and perhaps a small bit of hops are present. A bit sweet upon the mid palate with milky and dark chocolate notes. A robust roasted malt note proceeds into the finish and leaves a luscious dessert like chocolate richness. Full bodied and heavy with a smooth creamy dessert like palate. Overall, a great porter stylistically a bit askew of the traditional London Porter.

Grade: 86/100. Price: $4.29