ESCONDIDO, CA—Some things are just too good to deprive the world of. That ideal is the impetus for Stone Brewing Co. re-releasing its delicious and wildly popular Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean. Previously bottled only once in 2012 as a 12-ounce special edition bottle run, the beer was an instant hit with Stone fans, many of whom voiced their fervent adoration and positive feedback via social media, inspiring Stone to re-brew this smoky, semi-sweet wonder a year and a half later (hey, we’ve been busy). Beginning today, it will be available in 22-ounce bottles as well as on draft at select retailers, restaurants and bars nationwide.
Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean was first brewed in late 2006. As has been the case with many Stone beers, it all stemmed from a case of “What-If,” when Stone Small Batch Brewer Laura Ulrich found herself intensely inspired after pouring Stone Smoked Porter over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This visceral experience led Ulrich to wonder: What if we were to brew our classic year-round version of Stone Smoked Porter with the addition of whole Madagascar vanilla beans?
Since Ulrich’s epiphany, the beer has become a cult favorite, due in no small part to flavor combinations that taste as though they were specifically made for each other. The natural flavor of the vanilla beans marries seamlessly with the chocolate, malt and coffee-like overtones of Stone Smoked Porter. The result is a beer that, even with its hints of savory peat-borne smoke, comes across as something of a liquid dessert. Pour it over a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and it’s easy to see why Ulrich—as well as Stone’s brew crew and fans—became so instantly enamored with this special brew.
This is the first of three specialty versions of Stone Smoked Porter that will be released throughout the upcoming year. The next to debut will be Stone Smoked Porter w/Chipotle Peppers in May, followed by Stone Smoked Porter – Harvest Addition Edition, incorporating myriad botanicals, that’s aptly scheduled for autumn.
Until last year’s limited release, the vanilla delight had only been available on draft at a small number of venues, special events and for occasional growler fills. Now, thanks to the positive outcry and demand from fans, winter is about to get a little sweeter and, ironically, a lot less vanilla.
Stone Smoked Imperial Porter with Vanilla Bean Facts
Name: Stone Smoked Porter w/Vanilla Bean
Stats: 5.9% ABV, 53 IBUs
Availability: Limited 22-ounce bottles and draft, beginning December 2
Hops Bill: Magnum and Mt. Hood
Distribution: AK, AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, and WA
Tasting Notes by Stone Brewmaster Mitch Steele
Appearance: Pours deep brown with a rich tan head.
Aroma: A nice blend of vanilla and cocoa, with hints of yeast esters, coffee and smoke. As it warms, the roast character increases.
Taste: Vanilla starts off, and then mid-palate the cocoa and smoke come in. The finish has a slight vanilla astringency and a malty fullness.
Palate: Incredibly balanced and complex; smooth with a slightly dry finish.
Overall: Ever since Brewer Laura Ulrich suggested making a cask of Stone Smoked Porter with added Vanilla Beans back in 2006, this beer has been both a fan favorite and a Team Stone favorite. We’ve brewed many small batches of it over the years, and we’re always happy to make more!
Suggested pairings, provided by Stone Craft Beer Ambassador “Dr.” Bill Sysak
Appetizers: Bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with cream cheese, coconut shrimp, sugar-glazed pecans
Entrées: Butternut squash soup, New England clam chowder, espresso-rubbed filet mignon, scallops over vanilla mascarpone mash, sesame-honey tempeh
Cheeses: Aged Gouda, Lake’s Edge (Vermont Goat), Constant Bliss, Pleasant Ridge Reserve
Desserts: Maple-walnut cake, chocolate chip cookies, profiteroles, pumpkin pie
Cigars: Paradigm 262, Gurkha Evil, Alonso Menendez
(Any cigar with a Brazilian wrapper will impart nice chocolate notes perfect for this beer.)