Monday, October 19, 2009

111. Alaskan Brewing Company Smoked Porter (2008)

Our first beer from Alaskan Brewing Company in Juneau, AK. Ah, the great white North. Or is that Canada?

Starting with a roasted, smoky, and chocolaty nose that has strong wood notes, Alaskan Smoked Porter gets smokier and more rauch-bier smelling as it warms. The color is a deep chocolate brown (it is almost coffee colored) that is nearly opaque with some red highlights and a creamy tan head that laces the glass. Alaskan Smoked Porter opens with a soft roasted malt front with a nice smoke presence that balances well with the malt, and moves into chocolate and darker flavors—either light burnt notes or coffee flavors—before finishing dry with some smoke and roastiness lingering on the palate. It has a rich, thick mouthfeel and creamy characteristics that balance nicely with the smoke to build a dry finish. A well balanced beer between the smoke and malt—both accentuate and build the beer collectively. As Elli informed me, “this is pretty good for a porter. Actually, it’s very good. I’d give it honorary Top 10 Best status. Not real Top 10 Best status, because it’s still a porter.”

From the bottle: “We applied the Alaskan tradition of alder-smoking to the malts of this rich, intensely flavored porter, a recognized leader among the world’s smoked beers. Enjoy it now or age it for several years.”

From the Alaskan Brewing Company website: “Smoked Beer. Known as ‘rauchbier’ in Germany, smoke-flavored beers were virtually unknown in the U.S. until Alaskan Smoked Porter was developed in 1988. The dark, robust body and pronounced smoky flavor of this limited edition beer make it an adventuresome taste experience. Alaskan Smoked Porter is produced in limited ‘vintages’ each year and unlike most beers, may be aged in the bottle much like fine wine. Water, five types of malt, 2 varieties of hops and yeast with no adjuncts, no preservatives and no pasteurization. Our glacier-fed water originates in the 1,500 square-mile Juneau Ice Field. Prior to brewing, selected malts are smoked in small batches under carefully controlled conditions in a commercial food smoker using local alder wood.

Vertical Tastings of Vintage Alaskan Smoked Porter: A unique aspect to smoked beers that we have found at the Alaskan Brewing Company is that the smoke acts as a preservative even in beer. The smoke combined with the yeast left in the bottle allows the beers flavor and aroma to evolve over time. We have been known to hold vertical tastings with a variety of vintage years of Alaskan Smoked Porter. As it ages, the smoke becomes more of a subtle background note. Around the third and fourth years the beer's other flavors such as sherry, currant, raisin, and toffee-like nuances come forward. The fifth year sees the reemergence of the smoky character to the forefront.”

ABV: 6.5%
IBU: 45
OG: 1.068


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