I’d had a 2005 vintage Alaskan Smoked Porter for awhile and decided it was time to try it. Overall I’ve found Smoked Porter in the past to be an excellent beer, and I wasn’t disappointed with this one. I really need to start buying one of these each year and keep notes to see how they stack up. Alaskan’s site even has a bit about this in regards to vertical tastings:
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.
That’s interesting, because it did seem to me to be less overtly smoky than previous bottles I’ve had—the difference being this was a two-year-old bottle and the others weren’t aged. At any rate, this is truly a sipping beer—not for its strength (only 6.5% ABV), but for the character.
Appearance: Dark brown, almost black. Opaque. Brown head. Almost looks like it should be a stout.
Smell: Subtly smoky, oily, deliciously of smoked food… dark coffee, some sweet malt.
Taste: Smoked coffee and grains… blackened but not burnt. Espresso. A hint of bitter cocoa. Roasted malts. A hint of caramel/molasses sweetness, well balanced by smoke. Lots of subtle flavors on the "dark" end of the spectrum.
Mouthfeel: Chewy, thick and a bit oily and astringent. Well done, smooth and creamy too.
Overall: A masterpiece of a beer, the smoke is well balanced with the chocolate, malty flavors, and not at all overpowering.