Brewery – Alaskan Brewing Company
Beer – Smoked Porter
Style – Porter
ABV – 6.5%
IBU – 45
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.
Alaskan Brewing Company Smoked Porter has a big story behind it, and that’s before you even dive in and taste the beer at all.
First brewed in 1988, this beer is not just a smoked porter… it might actually be the smoked porter if you’re looking to trace the style back in the United States. The beer was thought up of not to mimic the smoked beers of Bamburg, Germany – but instead to play homage to the state in which it’s from.
Founder of Alaskan Brewing Company, Geoff Larson, would meet with some friends every week. One of these friends had a fish smoking operation across the street from the brewery, and naturally the idea of creating a beer that combined the two ideas together came up. Geoff wanted to use something that would pay homage to the history of Alaska at the same time.
Using smoked malt only made sense, after all… Alaska during the turn of the century was a smoky place. Heat, cooking, malting…it was all done by burning wood, so the smell of Alder smoke was most likely in everything a little bit at that time, even the beer. The dark roasty malts that make up a porter were also the most popular back then… the recipe almost creates itself.
Making a smoke beer, though, isn’t as easy as you’d think – the smoke requires a delicate balance to not overwhelm the other flavors. It’s certainly a prime flavor…but doesn’t taste like the beer relies on it for anything.
One unexpected quality of this beer was (and is) it’s uncanny ability to age nearly flawlessly. It’s hard to say if it’s because of the smoke… or what makes it work so well – but you can stash a bottle of this beer in your cellar for as long as anyone has been able to do and it will still drink great.
My Tasting Notes
The beer pours into my glass dark brown with a big, thick tan head on top. Aromas are all smoke at first, big billowy smoke. As you start to adjust to the smoke, though, you start to get a ton of big roasty aromas and some lingering chocolate too.
Sipping the beer will unlock a lot more roastiness, some coffee and sweet chocolate flavors, all punctuated by a massive smokiness that pulls it all together. Easy drinking with only 6.5% ABV – this is thinner bodied and doesn’t fill you up like you’d expect a porter to sometimes. Really delicous beer… worth seeking out if you can get it wherever you live.