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Stone Brewing Co.’s Stone Smoker Porter with Vanilla Beans is a beer I’ve wanted to try ever since hearing about it over a year ago. But being a limited release brewery only beer I didn’t get a chance to try it until recently. When I noticed it on the tap list while dining at the Stone Bistro a few days ago it was the first beer I tried to order, sadly I was told the keg had run dry. Lucky for me they had it available for growler fills in the store, so I picked one up on the way out. And since I came home with 2 liters, rather than just enjoying a pint at the restaurant, I’m happy to say it’s damn good.

Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Beans is the creation of Stone brewer Laura Ulrich. It pours a dark brown, it looks opaque until you hold it up to the light and can see that it’s more of a ruby-tinged brown as it lets the light through. The thick tan head dissipated fairly quickly as I let the beer sit in the glass and warm up a bit. From the smell alone I was a little worried, I don’t have a regular Stone Smoked Porter here to compare it to, but the smell tells nothing of the vanilla beans. There might be a hint of something sweet in the aroma, but I wouldn’t guess vanilla, and it could easily be the power of suggestion, it’s that mellow.

The lack of vanilla changes immediately with the first sip. A rich taste of vanilla is the first thing I tasted. A slight smoky bitterness comes in, followed by more vanilla and a slightly bitter aftertaste. There isn’t much hop flavor or bitterness, which is perfect in a beer like this as it allows the vanilla to stand out.

The regular Stone Smoked Porter is 5.9% ABV and I don’t expect this would differ too much. It’s easy to drink and the rich vanilla isn’t overpowering although I stopped after drinking one pint. It seems like an excellent beer to pair with dessert.

Stone blogged about the origins of this beer a while back on their blog, click here to read that post.