Grab A Beer: Alaskan Smoked Porter 2009 & 1998

February 1st, 2010 · 7 Comments · Beer Reviews

Alaskan Smoked Porter – 2009 and 1998 vintages
Alcohol by Volume: 6.5%

Intro: Alaskan was one of the first US breweries to make a commercial smoked beer in 1988, and theirs is still one of the benchmarks for the style. It’s amazing by itself, but it is even better paired with food. Alaskan uses local alder wood to smoke their own malt for this gem. This has been one of my favorite beers since I moved out to the Northwest, and I never get tired of it. I’ve had these bottles of the 2009 and 1998 vintages sitting in my fridge for a while now, and I figured it was about time I break them open.

2009: Pours black with medium head that sticks around. Big smoke in the aroma. Smooth chocolate porter mixes with moderate smoke. Finishes with plenty of balancing bitterness. Very smooth and the smoke really is not overpowering at all. Before you know it, you’ll finish off a 22oz bottle of this by yourself with no problem.

1998 (6.1% ABV): Pours black with medium head that goes away quickly. Plenty of carbonation still left after 11 years. Slight cola aroma comes through with the smoke on this older batch. Some dark fruit and sherry flavors come through from oxidation, but the base beer continues to stand up well. The smoke is still pretty forward, but it has definitely faded quite a bit compared to the new bottle. No bitterness left at all, but it’s still very balanced. This is drinking very nicely after all this time, but I prefer the newer batch. I’d love to do a full vertical of everything in between these 11 years.

Verdict: Find at All Costs
Availability: The 2009 vintage was released in 22oz bottles in November, but it can still be found on shelves at select places around Seattle. I recently spotted it at Whole Foods in Bellevue to be exact.

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Commercial Description/Press Release:

Introduced in 1988, Alaskan Smoked Porter has been credited with helping inspire an American revival of smoked beers. Alaskan Smoked Porter is one of the most award-winning beers in the history of the Great American Beer Festival and a perennial winner at the World Beer Cup.

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.

In the interest of full disclosure to satisfy the FTC’s law, this review was of a sample bottle received from the brewery.

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7 Comments so far ↓

  • Dean Ruffner

    A great beer to drink if you want to combine your cigarette and your beer and you’re pressed for time.

    Seriously, this one blows the doors off of the Stone Smoked Porter I had on Friday.

  • Geoff

    Hey Geoff,

    If you can make it down to Portland, we are doing a four year vertical of Alaskan Smoked Porter on draft (2006-2009), February 23rd.

    Bailey’s Taproom

  • Tim Nichols

    Probably one of the best American smoked beers around. I always have a bottle in my fridge, as it’s great for cooking. Drink half, and use the other half in a bunch of different recipes.

  • Mephisto

    I personally love Missoula Brewings Bong Water Porter.

    Truly deliscious!!!

  • Koozies

    Beer , I love beer . I often dink beer in meal with my family in summer and in all parties with friends.

  • Cooking With Beer: Alaskan Smoked Porter Braised Short Ribs

    […] After the amazing short ribs we had at the Corson Building Belgianfest beer dinner, I knew that I had to try and recreate that dish myself. Thanks to a comment from Tim Nichols over at the Seattle Beer Pairing Examiner, it was brought to my attention that the Alaskan Smoked Porter would be a perfect beer to use for braising some short ribs. I used his suggestion, and then loosely followed a recipe on Phoo-D which they adapted from All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking. The result could not have turned out much more to my liking, and I’d like to think my ribs were pretty darn close to as good as what we had at Corson Building. Best of all, this was not hard to do. Time is the toughest ingredient. I opted to try my hand at making some homemade gnocchi to go along with it, and those were a perfect accompaniment to the ribs. One thing I might change for next time is to add more vegetables into the braise. The carrots tasted wonderful after braising in beer for almost 4 hours. If you missed my review of the Alaskan Smoked Porter yesterday, check it out. […]

  • Bar Guy

    Alaskan’s Smoked Porter is truly delicious. I’m pretty Ken’s Market on Queen Anne still has it in stock!

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