Monday, May 18, 2009
TBG Drinks: Alaskan Smoked Porter
Brewed By: Alaskan Brewing Company
Brewed In: Juneau, Alaska
Type: American Porter
What They Say: "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."
Website: The folks at Sundog Media have created a clean, sleek piece of web design for Alaskan Brewing. The breathtaking Alaskan landscape runs left-to-right, just above the center of the screen with links to the company's eight signature – including some seasonal – beers run just below. The individual beer "style", "history" and "ingredients" is a fascinating, albeit brief, read. And, HUGE props for the recipe page, which features about a bazillion free recipes featuring Alaskan Brewing's products. Smoked Porter Apple Crisp? Get back in the kitchen, Mrs. Bootleg!
Why I Picked It: I was this close to leaving my wife and running off with Stone Brewing's Smoked Porter, which earned the highest TBeerG rating in the short-lived history of this lightly-read blog. My review of that beer led to a handful of additional smoked porter recommendations from readers, with Alaskan's version coming up most often.
Presentation (5): For those of us who've ever wondered if ubiquitous Crayola color "burnt sienna" could ever find a home in a grown-up world, here ya go. I dunno…the caribou on a hillside at sunset (wait, they have sunsets in Alaska?) imagery seems cheesy and romanticized to me. Then, again, Alaskan Brewing already uses a bear, a canoe and a glacier on some of its other beers, so what other Alaskan icons are left? Oil derricks? Carlos Boozer? I think…hey, wait a tic. Carlos Boozer! That just came to me! Boozer! Pun intended! 2
Originality (5): According to their website, this beer was introduced in 1988 and "has been credited with helping inspire an American revival of smoked beers". Seeing as I was still in junior high school in '88, I'll have to take their word for it. Of course, back then, the most popular beer choice in America was "less filling" or "tastes great". Now, smoked porters are more prominent, but extra points for pioneering the whole thang. 4
Body (10): Not since the Exxon Valdez bled 11 gallons of black gold throughout Prince William Sound (too soon?) has the state of Alaska produced anything this dark and dense. The head, however, is surprisingly thin with a nearly nonexistent level of lacing. Personally, I prefer porters in which light cannot escape. 9
Taste (10): The smokiness of this beer overpowers every other trace flavor in its presence. Remember those cheesy Saturday morning PSAs about staying low to the ground in case of fire? This is smokier. There are hints of buttery malts and burnt chocolate, but those are choked out almost immediately. 6
Efficiency (10): This one isn't as heavy as some of the (few) other porters I've enjoyed and checks in at a reasonable ABV. Unfortunately, the char and ash flavors don't lend themselves towards much momentum during an evening of drinking. 5
Versatility (10): In the right setting – served with assorted grilled or barbecued members of the animal kingdom – this could fool your friends by masquerading as a "social" beer. I'll even give it some extra credit for its potential as a "cookin' beer". 5
Grade: 31 (out of 50) – Good beer
The above format has been lifted with permission from That Beer Snob Guy.