Stone Immaculate

I just wanted to start out with a quick shout out to Beachmont Liquors in Revere MA by the Beachmont T stop. They’re a little hole in the wall liquor store, but the only place in the East Boston area I found that had not only Stone brews, but also Dogfish Head.

Stone Smoked Porter (22oz. bottle)- American Porter- Stone Brewing Company, CA, USA
Grade: A BREW OF THE BLOG!
     Man alive this is some tasty beer! (I guess I need to give you a bit more info than that, but really that should be all you need.)
     During the pour you can smell the smoke coming up from the dark tarn forming in your glass. It’s an amazingly dense brown/black color that when held to the light shows through reddish mahogany that is as rich as its flavor, which Stone Smoked Porter has in spades. Leading the charge to the tastebuds are dark chocolate, coffee, and a malty sweetness that all get their edges rounded nicely by the smoke and mild hops to keep the flavor from going to the syrupy side. The more you drink and take in the complexities of this porter the more little flavors peek out at you- a bit of caramel here, some spice there, something herbal lurking at the back of the palate- allowing this brew to be continually pleasurable. It’s as if it’s single-handedly trying to make up for all the tasteless beer that has ever passed through your gullet.
     This porter isn’t a super high octane beer (only 5.9% ABV) but you know the alcohol is in there, giving the Smoked Porter a bit of a slick finish that can build up in the mouth. That’s only a problem if you find yourself working your way through a second or third double-deuce bottle. Knock back some ice water between rounds and you’ll be fine.
     I’m a big fan of porters to begin with so maybe that skews this review a bit, but there’s no denying the excellence in this bottle. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Stone Brewing. Hell, even the stuff of theirs I don’t like is better than most of what’s out there. The Smoked Porter is the first beer in quite a while that I’ve found myself blathering about to every beer drinker I come in contact with trying to bring them over to the dark side.

Find it, worship it.

Stone 11th Anniversary Ale (22oz. bottle)- American Strong Ale/”Black” IPA- Stone Brewing Company, CA, USA
Grade: A-/B+
     Luckily I didn’t read the back of the bottle or else I would have seen that this was an IPA (of sorts) and probably passed on it. I’m not a hophead and do not worship at it’s altar like so many beer geeks out there, which is why I’m surprised by how much I liked this. Technically according to Stone Brewery this isn’t exactly a straight up IPA. Stone calls it a black IPA or “India Black Ale/IBA”. Black is a slight misnomer compared to a porter or stout, but compared to most IPAs this stuff is pretty much black. The Stone website mentions roasted malt which would explain a very faint smokiness to the flavor to some degree. For the most part the 11th Anniversary has the hopped up punch one expects from a Stone pale ale, but there is a nice sweet caramel undertone that cuts off the sharper hop notes and gives the Anniversary Ale surprising drinkability to a non-hopster like myself. It made me think of Sea Hag IPA a bit, but this is far more robust and demanding. There’s a lot of push and pull to this beer making it something to be poured into a snifter and kicked back with. There is savoring and mulling to be done with the 11th Anniversary. Plus at 8.7% ABV you probably should take your time with it.
     The 11th Anniversary Ale is a limited release so if you find it buy 2 bottles. You can try one now and cellar the other. More than likely if you try it now and find it to be a little too aggressive it might have mellowed out 6 months or a year from now.

Find it, savor it.

Cheers! -John

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Bananas for Long Trail Hefeweizen?

Long Trail Hefeweizen (bottle)- American Pale Wheat Ale/Hefeweizen- Long Trail Brewing Company, VT, USA
Grade: B+ 
     The first thing that hits you is the incongruous fruity smell wafting from Long Trail Hefeweizen. As you pour there is the unmistakable smell of ripe bananas which your brain refuses to accept. Alas it is the truth: Long Trail’s hefe just happens to smell a lot like bananas with a tang of lemony citrus and earthy yeast underneath. Of course smell and taste being so closely intertwined the banana is still there in the front when you take your first few sips confusing the taste buds, but that’s not to say it is overpowering. No, it’s just out of the norm so your brain keeps coming back to it, but by the time you are through the first quarter of your beer everything settles down into balance and you will find the notes you expect from an American wheat/hefes: hints of clove, lemony zest, and yeast with a nice bit of crispness at the finish. 
     There’s solid flavor to the Long Trail though it does lack complexity and its mouth feel is a bit on the thin side. Those minor slights aside, this would be a nice session beer (I envision this being my go-to grilling beer come summer), but those slips keep the Long Trail Hefeweizen from the “Duuuude, you’ve gotta try this!” category.
     Overall, I’m thankful I stumbled onto Long Trail’s hefe in the cooler at Woody’s. It won’t steal any thunder from the upper echelon wheat/hefes, but it’s a solid brew that in my ranking I’d put in the second tier just ahead of Blue Moon and Harpoon’s UFO.

Find it, try it.

Cheers! -John