Day Five - Alaskan Smoked Porter (USA, 6.5%)
I've been patient about opening this 2012 vintage Alaskan Smoked Porter, but in truth, it was already fairly mature when I picked up from the bottle shop shelf. Beers of this strength don't always age well, but Alaskan actively encourage this practice on the label, giving an ambitious best-before date of '26/12/2026 (and counting)'.
Obviously enough, the initial noseful brings a lot of smoke along with some rich malt aromas, a slightly uneasy mix of golden syrup and that processed smoked cheese I'm fond of. The smoke hits first on the first gulp, tasting something like the blackened exterior of char-grilled food, and this is followed by some more traditional malty porter flavours of dried fruit and coffee. A different kind of smoke jumps out in the finish, this time more acrid and ashy. However, my palate adjusted to the barbeque vibe fairly quickly - less than halfway down the glass and I was barely noticing the smoke, save for the odd flash here and there. Luckily, there's a solid porter underneath, bringing chocolate and cola fruitiness. The finish, once that ashy flavour fails to register, is largely acidic with some liquorice bitterness, too. It's light of body, and the mouthfeel actually recalls a dark lager, which just makes it easier to drink and doesn't detract from the experience whatsoever.
It's a classic, and a beer I'm glad to have sampled. I'd love to try a younger bottle - might it have a more assertive smoky character? But for now, my thoughts are on the big day tomorrow...