There’s nothing quite like a crackling campfire. Nobody ever objects to lighting one and they are more versatile than baking soda. Whether it’s a chilly summer night, a fall gathering that could use a little warmth, or a winter frost that needs thawing, the campfire is the only solution; even Einstein would agree. Additionally, there’s something about a roaring campfire that is unassuming and nonprejudicial. Rich or poor, black or white, republican or democrat – a campfire brings people together. Nobody embraces wood fires like the 49th state. The good people of Alaskan Brewing Co. channel the power of a smokey fire and transfer it to their award winning brew, Alaskan Smoked Porter. In fact, this beer has been awarded the most metals of any brew at the Great American Beer Festival since its conception. Using mainly Alderwood smoked malt, they whip up a creation that would pair well with a fire extinguisher. I need to get into this… let’s run the numbers.
Appearance: This is one of the darker porters I’ve drank. Black with just barely a light tan head that vanished quicker than daylight in Alaska during the winter. Not much lacing as I drank, however the liquid got a little lighter looking down to it when you raised it to your mouth.
Smell: Imagine smoked salmon, hold the salmon. This brew is smokey like an outdoor fire and makes you reminisce of those crazy bonfire parties you went to in high school. I’d like to say that I got a little of the roasted grain in there, but this baby is a smoke bomb.
Taste: Surprise, surprise… this brew is smoke filled. The first sip is intensely smokey; this beer tastes as if the people at Alaskan Brewing just bottled smoke and shipped it off to the lower 48. After your eyes stop to water after being exposed to that much smoke, the brew begins to open up a little. The flavors are still dominated by fire, but you get more body from the beer as you sip. The malts coat the tongue and impart a sweet, yet roasty flavor all across the palate, which gets used to the smoke assault in time. Even the smell becomes less potent when you continue to drink.
This beer has some body, but could be a touch thicker to make it a little more robust. I was also surprised to see that it was filled with 6.5% ABV – if feels like a bigger beer than that. The ABV didn’t hit you, but the flavors in here would suggest that it’d be pushing 8/9%.
Overall: Certainly not the most complex beer I’ve had, but it’s damn good for what it’s designed to do. I’ve had smoked porters in the past (notably Stone’s) where I was left scratching my head wondering if they bottled the wrong beer. Unlike that Californian beer, this brew screams Alaska. The smoke flavor is so prominent, and when push comes to shove, it gets an A-. I like this beer, wish it was a little bit more balanced. Best enjoyed with good company around a campfire.