With beers like Arrogant Bastard and Russian Imperial Stout, SoCal's Stone Brewery has become a national treasure for beer drinkers, and they haven't shied away from messing with perfection. Case in point, the newly bottled Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers, a spin on its award-winning Smoked Porter that augments its 5.9% chocolate-tinged classic by kicking it up with hot peppers.
But is it too hot? And how does it pair with actual Chipotle? We found out.
At first sip, there's not a huge difference between this and Stone's regular Smoked Porter. That's a good thing -- there was a slight fear the chipotle would overpower the deliciousness of the smoothly balanced roasted coffee and chocolate flavors, making it taste like somebody dumped hot sauce in the beer while I was in the bathroom, or like a Tijuana Girl Scout Cookie. There's just a slight hint of pepper flavor that kicks in at the back of the throat. It's delicious.
Chili beers walk a fine line between overpowering and subtle, and this one is in the latter category. It's making my lips tingle a little, and the back of my throat is heated, but it's not really dropping me to my knees (full disclosure: spicy stuff usually kills me). But that's when sipping. I just took a big-ass gulp, and now I've got the fire in my chest. And my burps feel like I'm spitting fire. My eyes are watering. I feel alive! And kind of groggy. Best lunch break ever.
Stone's literature recommends pairing it with bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers ("Kermit Fingers", as I call them), baby-back ribs, and apple pie. But we all know that the best test of a chipotle porter is an actual Chipotle burrito, and this went really well with a carnitas cannon on the side. Not surprisingly, the beer has more spice than the burrito, and works like a palate cleanser between bites. That means each bite is like brand new, and each sip is like tasting it for the first time. I see a business partnership in the future.
This is a great intro to chili beers for people looking to diversify their drinking without running for the Pepto, though drinking multiple might cause slight heartburn and red ears in spice-averse wusses. But the flavor's spot-on and balanced rather than gimmicky, making for a great variation on Stone's non-chili classic. It's also a fantastic decongestant.
Andy Kryza is a senior editor on Thrillist's national food and drink team, and might have added extra carbonation to this beer by dropping Alka-Seltzer in it. Follow him to his next esophagoscopy via @apkryza.