APPEARANCE: Very dark brown, nearly black but with enough amber highlights around the edge of the glass to reveal its true nature
HEAD: Tan-colored, big, frothy, and steadfast
LACING: Strong to quite strong
NOSE: Chocolate, coffee, and well-roasted malt. A very, very faint hint of grapefruit and tangerine from the hops. And a mild and very pleasant aroma of smoked hickory. If your nose blinks, you might even miss the latter.
TASTE: Stone suffers from a terrible case of Misnomer Syndrome. The Arrogant Bastard is far more accessible and smooth than the name implies. Ruination is remarkably hoppy, but hardly the palate-crusher Stone would like you to believe. And while the Smoked Porter certainly has a touch of smoked character, it’s really just the faintest hint in the background. In this case, the misnomer is a good thing. I’m not a Rauchbier fanatic. They’re interesting, but I find most of them to be novelty beers. Give me a beer like the Smoked Porter with a whiff of smokey goodness rather than a full-on bacon-brew any day of the week (and twice on Sunday). The Smoked Porter starts off with nice, dark chocolate and molasses up front that fades into a clean, bitter, and surprisingly citric finish. Throughout the drink there’s that backdrop of smokiness and charcoal. It accentuates the other flavors without overwhelming them. Like having a good sear on a steak that doesn’t compromise the flavor of the meat.
MOUTHFEEL: Full-bodied and creamy, but not heavy or overly filling. Just right for a porter.
DRINKABILITY: I knock Stone a lot (I think they’re a touch over-rated), but this is a solid, highly drinkable porter with great character and balance.
RATING: 3.5 Hops