Smoked Porter - Vanilla Bean
Stone Brewing

Smoked Porter - Vanilla BeanSmoked Porter - Vanilla Bean
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Porter - Smoked
3.91 | pDev: 12.28%
Stone Brewing
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Smoked Porter - Vanilla BeanSmoked Porter - Vanilla Bean
Notes: In 2006, almost exactly 10 years after we first released Stone Smoked Porter, Stone Small Batch Brewer Laura Ulrich had a brilliant idea: What if she added whole Madagascar vanilla beans to a small batch of the finished beer? And voilà, Stone Smoked Porter w/Vanilla Bean was born! It was an instant hit, as the resulting flavor combinations—rich vanilla melding with the malty, chocolaty, coffee-like characteristics of the beer—were practically made for each other. Originally available only as an occasional growler fill or on tap all-too-briefly at special events or in our restaurant, this exquisite creation was released in a single bottle run for the first time in 2012, much to the delight of its many fans…who instantly began clamoring for more.
Reviews: 541 | Ratings: 2,361 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of GuyFawkes
GuyFawkes from Illinois

3/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From old, undated notes; had this on draft.

Acorn brown hue.

Khaki head; thick lace.

A mild nose of cream soda, vanilla & a hint of smoke.

Medium thick, chalk-y mouthfeel.

Vanilla & cream soda up front; an unappealing hop/smoke/dry finish.

The flavor profiles don't match up & make this a bit tough to finish. A disappointment.

Sep 28, 2019
Photo of RyanK252
RyanK252 from California

4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Vintage bottle poured into a Stone Imperial Russian Stout globe glass

A: Pours dark brown with a slight ruby tone and a frothy tan head that settles to a light layer and leaves some nice lacing.

S: Roasted malt, lots of milk chocolate and vanilla, a little smoke, slight earthy herbal notes, and toffee sweetness.

T: Roasted malt, coffee, dark bitter chocolate, burnt toast, and a pleasant touch of smoke, vanilla, slight herbal earthy notes, and a little toffee sweetness.

M: A touch on the lighter side of medium body, moderate carbonation.

O: Snagged this bottle at a liquor store, apparently the owner put away a case to cellar and decided it was time to bring it back out. Somehow I missed this variant back in the day so I had to grab a bottle. It's held up quite nicely

Jan 07, 2019
Photo of LeRose
LeRose from Massachusetts

3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a 2014 bottle into tumblers for me and the missus. Pours very clear, dark coffee brown with an inch of rich, foamy head that persist, minimal cling.

The smell is boozy vanilla with mild smoke that was probably more intense when the beer was younger. Nice malts with the smoky thing going on, but even considering the age the aroma is subdued. Pleasant, though.

Taste is chocolatey coffee with smoke. Vanilla emerges as the beer warms and lends sweetness. The sweetness is at that just right point, being present but not sticky. A little bitterness keeps things clean. Nicely flavored, only mildly boozy versus the nose.

Feel is smooth, medium, and mildly carbonated. Clean, minimal lngering smoke and vanilla.

Overall, this is an excellent beer that I wish we had opened fresh. As it s, with three years on it, it is still drinkng fabulously.

Oct 14, 2017
Photo of woodychandler
woodychandler from Pennsylvania

3.89/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

One of my drinking buddies is the only other person in our circle of friends who really digs smoked beers. On T, 18 July 2017, we got together on my front porch for smoked everything - beer, meats, cheeses, oysters. It was a great excuse to run through some bottles that I had been saving for just such an occasion.

Having Pop!ped the cap, I employed a gentle pour for each of us. An in-glass swirl raised a finger of foamy, deep-tan head with decent retention. Color was Dark Brown to Very Dark Brown (SRM = > 27, < 34) with NE-quality clarity. Nose held a LOT of vanilla, underlain by a sweet smokiness, like peat, perhaps? Mouthfeel was medium. The taste was more sweet than smoky with an emphasis on the vanilla, reinforced by whichever smoked malt had been used in the beer's production. Finish continued with a pronounced vanilla flavor underlain by that same sweet smokiness which reminded me of locally produced Sweet Lebanon Bologna. Very nice!

Jul 24, 2017
Photo of rodbeermunch
rodbeermunch from Nevada

3.91/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown, almost black just like the base version, 1/2" cream colored head. Excellent retention on this one. Aroma was still mostly roast.

Taste has a much obvious vanilla sweetness to it that tempers the roasty notes. The base is also well hopped, so much of that bitterness is also tempered by the vanilla bean addition. Alcohol remains out of the way taste and mouth feel wise. Coffee from the malt feels.

This is a real good base porter and they even improve on it by adding vanilla. Very good, I really like the 12oz bottles because they cost so much less than the 22oz bottles in a price per oz analysis.

Feb 02, 2017
Photo of Jadjunk
Jadjunk from Georgia

3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

In 2006, almost exactly 10 years after we first released Stone Smoked Porter, Stone Small Batch Brewer Laura Ulrich had a brilliant idea: What if she added whole Madagascar vanilla beans to a small batch of the finished beer? And voilà, Stone Smoked Porter w/Vanilla Bean was born! It was an instant hit, as the resulting flavor combinations—rich vanilla melding with the malty, chocolaty, coffee-like characteristics of the beer—were practically made for each other. Originally available only as an occasional growler fill or on tap all-too-briefly at special events or in our restaurant, this exquisite creation was released in a single bottle run for the first time in 2012, much to the delight of its many fans…who instantly began clamoring for more. Your voices have been heard." Brewed in the style of a Smoked Porter ale with vanilla beans added. Available in 22 oz. bottles and on limited draft. 2013 & 2014 bottled releases with comparative notes.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle to a snifter glass.

(Appearance) Pours a creamy frothed head of a pale tan complexion over a deep caramel brown body with abundant carbonation. Retention is good and lacing is light and spotty. 3.75

(Smell) Caramel and pale malts, soft chocolate malts, faded vanilla, delicate smoked grain. Still nicely balanced aroma despite a limited depth of aroma, with a solid balance of malt to specialty character. Potency is moderate. 3.75

(Taste) Chocolate and smokey grains forward, with a soft residual sweetness and some light vanilla backbone with more flavor and less filling sweetness, nicely presented and highly drinkable with a solid specialty grain depth, nonetheless not particularly memorable flavor. 3.75

(Mouthfeel) Texture is slick, lightly residual, softly chewy, smoky and medium dry. Carbonation is medium, generating a medium frothiness and a modestly crisp finish. Body is medium+ for the style, medium+ overall. Balance is nearly even sweet to smokey grain and specialty malt character. Alcohol presence is light and there are no off characters. 3.5

(Overall) Despite being significantly past the suggested peak of enjoyability, this 2014 bottle of Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean retains a great smokey character and the essence of vanilla without bringing saccharine sweetness to ruin the balance of flavors. It is surprisingly much better than I anticipated. 3.75

Vertical Notes:

2013 (3 years aged): Pours a crisp, foamy head of a medium tan tone over an equally dense body with lively carbonation, slightly more clarity, but superior retention to the fresher batch. The aroma was significantly more stale, with cardboard and musty vanilla cream, less smoke character and more residual sweetness, nonetheless serves more resemblance, despite its flaws, to what I anticipate of a Vanilla bean-infused porter. The flavor largely follows the aroma, with significantly more perceived sweetness, less smoked malt character, and a shallow chocolate body, yet retains most of its lightness, and the vanilla, largely due to the absence of specialty grains, is more evident in this vintage than the fresher beer. Texture is slick, softly syrupy, more smooth. Carbonation is a touch lighter, with more creaminess and a softer crisp finish. Body remains the same, while balance brings slightly more sweetness to the mix over specialty grain character, with the creaminess and almost lactose vanilla bean sugars throwing balance off somewhat. In the end, this beer marks a crossroads between a well-built beer just going old to a bad fresh beer going soft and thus, turning somewhat enjoyable as some of the more fragile adjuncts mellow out. Nonetheless, I prefer the retained smokiness of the fresher batch with the vanilla bean a delicate afterthought, but think that a beer that retains the best of both vintages would be outstanding. There was no doubt some recipe tweaking (or dialing back of the vanilla in particular) between years evidenced here.

Recommended Vintage: Fresh (And don't do this experiment... take it from me.)

Stone Brewing's
Smoked Porter With Vanilla Bean

Nov 05, 2016
Photo of StoutElk_92
StoutElk_92 from Massachusetts

4.38/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark mahogany with a creamy tan head. Smells like toasted marshmallow, vanilla, caramel, almost bourbony, toffee, sweet dark fruit, roasted malts, heavy chocolate, mild coffee, and grassy pine. Tastes like chocolate cereal, marshmallow vanilla bean, dark roasted malt, caramel, mildly smoky dark roast coffee, dark fruits, toffee, with mild piney earthy woody grass. Feels light bodied, creamy with moderate carbonation. Overall a really enjoyable smoked porter with vanilla bean.

Apr 23, 2016
Photo of q33jeff
q33jeff from New Jersey

3.83/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Nice; Vanilla is apparent. Smoke. Vanilla, caramel, bacon?, Wood.Cola Black with Small White Head.Different flavors. Taste not as attractive as aroma. OK Overall, only above average.

Mar 27, 2016
Photo of bwood06
bwood06 from Wisconsin

3.98/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle into a tulip glass

A - Beer pours pitch black in color with minuscule hints of red around the edges of the glass. No carbonation is visible clinging to the edges of the glass and due to the hue of the beer no carbonation is visible in the liquid. Head is 1 finger in height and a light tan color. The head is well retained and dissipates to a thin lacing by the end. 4.25/5

S - Vanilla bean, cocoa powder, espresso, and a light smokiness make up the initial part of the tasting. This transitions to a brown sugar and caramel sweetness that complements, without overpowering, the vanilla bean. Not as smoky as expected based on this being a smoked porter. 3.75/5

T - Dark chocolatey sweetness that runs parallel to a very light smokiness makes up the front of the beer. Earthy, espresso bitterness comes in fairly quickly alongside the vanilla bean with this transitioning to an earthy hoppiness by the end. A bit woody and oakey throughout the profile as well. 4/5

M - Medium heavy body with a slight carbonation tickle. Not overly heavy and has a lingering creaminess to the back of the palate upon swallowing. Somewhat drying at times but mainly creamy. 4.25/5

O - For this being a smoked porter it is not overly smoky. Rather than smoke, the main focus is on vanilla bean and it's accompanying/balancing sweetness that keeps the bitterness in check. Very nice combination of flavors and aromas makes for a complex profile and enjoyable tasting experience. 4/5

Jan 02, 2016
Photo of Chris_Huston
Chris_Huston from Texas

4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Smoke is at a perfect level both on the nose and in the taste. Didn't get any vanilla from it, but so much better than the regular Smoked Porter I had (which tasted and smelt like burnt manure -- just a bad bottle, I'm guessing). I guess it's technically a failure as the vanilla version, but certainly a success as a straight smoked porter.

Nov 01, 2015
Photo of Buschyfor3
Buschyfor3 from Kentucky

3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber, split with two friends; served in a standard pint glass

A: Tawny chestnut with amber highlights; thin head w/ little retention.

S: Definitely smoky/ashy; light charcoal; some caramel/toffee notes; light roast; yeasty bread; sadly, not picking up any vanilla notes.

T: Scorched toffee sweetness followed up by a thick smoky note; slightly yeasty bready note through the middle; growing nutty flavor on the finish; vanilla seems absent until the end of the bottle - faint creamy sweetness, but not much to be honest.

M: Slightly dry, slightly ashy on the palate.

O: Nice smoky quality from the underlying porter, but the vanilla bean component is very muted, which is disappointing. Simply put, I think there are better vanilla-themed porters/stouts to be had.

Sep 06, 2015
Photo of moonboogie_n8
moonboogie_n8 from Michigan

4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very nice rendition of a smoked porter, as american as it is...
looks like it should, dark, small tan foam ring in a snifter.
smells of smoke and vanilla, naturally.
taste is smoke up front (not too much though), smooth raisin sweetness along with the vanilla.
not allot of hard hitting flavors, but I would expect that.
thin on the mouthfeel, but still give it a medium body.
no reason NOT to get the vanilla bean version over the regular smoked porter, which is OK in it's own right.

Aug 27, 2015
Photo of fishyakLA
fishyakLA from California

4.46/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Nice foamy head when poured into a tall Waterford crystal glass. Hint of the vanilla and smoke in the nose. Thinner body than I was expecting but that does not impair its drinkability. No single element overwhelms in this beer. There is a lasting, pleasant aftertaste. I paired this beer with, of all things, grilled boar chops and blood sausage. Heavy fare. That is good food territory for this beer. Elk or venison would pair well. Make some chili and add a bottle to your chili and drink a 2nd bottle. I was not surprised to like this beer because it is a close flavor neighbor to one of my personal favorites, Ballast Point's Victory at Sea. I give BP the win on a comparison (and would love to compare them side by side) but BP does not run away with the race.

Aug 01, 2015
Photo of Phyl21ca
Phyl21ca from Canada

3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle: Poured a clear light black color porter with a large light brown foamy head. Aroma of light chocolate notes with light smoky note notes with some vanilla undertones are pleasant. Taste is a mix between chocolate malt notes offset by some vanilla with discreet smoky flavors. Body is thinner then I was hoping for with good carbonation. Well brewed and easy to drinking but lacks some depth and body to be truly great.

Jun 19, 2015
Photo of drunkenmess
drunkenmess from Michigan

3.43/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Love vanilla porters. Loved their smoked porter. Decided to try this. Pours dark dark amber with a dark crimson glow. Ultimate khaki head. Lacing is tremendous thru out. The head diminishes later but still lingers around. Smells of sugar sweetness. Taste is surprisingly light bodied. Full of flavor tho. Upfront blast of all around vanilla with after tastes of smokiness and light burntness. Also hints of cocoa as well. Veeery niiice

Jun 05, 2015
Photo of dmgeng
dmgeng from Indiana

4.45/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My buddy really wanted to try it and we split it.

A - Nice dark brown, black color with a light brown head and light lacing.

S - Soft but rich aroma with the vanilla really coming upfront and then the smooth smoked malt, light roast, dark chocolate and sweet coffee tones. The smoked character is there but it seems to be behind the real vanilla bean character.

T - The sweet malt and french vanilla are first to the tongue. The middle opens up into more of the depth that is Stone's smoked porter with caramel, light roasted coffee, chocolate, and the perfect amount of smoked character to add depth. The finish is where the roasted character really takes shape allowing some contrast to the sweet porter base. Very smooth and much richer than I would have anticipate at less than 6% ABV!

M - Moderate to high mouth-feel. low to moderate carbonation. I was surprised at the significant amount of mouth-feel that you could get from this beer. Enough to coat the palate on the sip and accentuate the flavors but still light enough not to linger.

Overall, this is a very delicious version of the smoked porter. It really blends the base beer with the vanilla very well and has a much more natural place than some of the vanilla beers I've had. The same goes for the amount of smoke with just enough to compliment but not be predominant. I really liked this beer and if you like porters I would strongly recommend this one since it is flavorful and easy to drink.

Glass- Snifter

May 29, 2015
Photo of JamesBondGA
JamesBondGA from Georgia

4.21/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

dark cherry wood in color. Aroma has some Vanilla notes. But the Vanilla is not overly prevalent when tasting the brew. It's there in the background, but you get more coffee taste.

May 13, 2015
Photo of MetalMatt

4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

I'm not a big fan of Stone as a whole, but this is one of the best porters I've had since Sockeye powerhouse porter. It has a sweet toasty vanilla flavor that finishes thick and chewy in a delightful way.

May 11, 2015
Photo of stevoj
stevoj from Idaho

3.77/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

nitially taken by the way the vanilla rounds the porter bitterness. An all around pleasant drinking experience. Only knock against this is a slightly metallic finish. Pours out a nice dark brown, with a medium airy, frothy beige head. Aroma of vanilla somehow tricks the mind into thinking chocolate. taste has the vanilla rounding out the roast grains, mild sweetness with bitterness lingering in the background. Overall nice presentation.

May 07, 2015
Photo of Trentt2
Trentt2 from Alaska

4.04/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

An outstanding version of an American porter. The look is incredible and everything complements well. Feel is a touch of a let down but even it's not bad. I'd get it again.

Apr 20, 2015
Photo of beerthulhu
beerthulhu from New Jersey

3.77/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Fast paced effervesce races up the vessel walls within a black licorice sheen colored body is topped off by a light walnut toned, frumpy foam head. Healthy retention at 1.5 inches is stubborn and lasting leaving heavy patches of foam lace behind for lacing.

S: Decent level of smokiness, smoked cherrywood, with a hint of fresh coffee roast and creamer.

T: Roasty flavor, hearty, oily coffee, freshly grounded, dry vanilla backed by a good level of smokiness. Dry chocolate, black cherries, black tea, that finishes off with a bit of smoky charred woodiness and spent coffee ground bitterness.

M: Oily mouthful medium bodied, smoky, milky depth, with an alkaline like feel.

O: Good flavor, decent level of smokiness and malt depth for 5.9%. Good start of smokiness, but maybe weens off a bit mid-drink, maybe due to getting used to or having the bruery's smoking wood earlier in the week.

Apr 12, 2015
Photo of ARoman
ARoman from Illinois

3.52/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

*transferred from old ntoes - 12/31/2013*
22oz bomber poured into a brandy snifter. The aroma initially comes through as musty - kinda like a wet rag - but, shortly after, the vanilla bean comes through; although the vanilla bean aroma, once found, dominates, the wet rag smell still lingers a bit. As the drink warms up, some cola aromas come through too; overall not too offensive, and the vanilla and cola combination make it more pleasant. The deep, rich ruby brown color (cola comes to mind again) is nearly opaque. The fluffy, brown-yellow head reduces down to some "clumps" of head floating on top. Small, even lacing cascades at a somewhat quick pace, although a sparse amount will cling to the side of the glass throughout the drink. There really is no initial taste, just a very plain maltiness; however, swishing it a bit brings out the vanilla sweetness with some cola, followed shortly by some burnt bitter notes and some hop spiciness. Swallowing without swishing allows the vanilla to really be accented without as much of the burnt smoky flavors. It?s a thinner texture with very light carbonation. The lightly burnt, maybe roasted, aftertaste lingers for awhile. Initially it strikes me as a bit salty and meaty, kinda like a salami, but eventually gives way to a creamy sweet vanilla with some pepper spicy to it. Definitely not a beer for those who shy away from sweeter beers, but I could see this pairing nicely with a lot of different food combinations; and could be a lot of fun tasting the different aspects of the beer that come out whether it?s paired based on its sweetness or roasted-ness.

Apr 10, 2015
Photo of coltonbrimhall
coltonbrimhall from New Mexico

4.39/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

-lots of tiny bubbles for a nice sustaining thick head on a black body
- scent is smokiness like its brother but more mellow and refined
-the vanilla bean is the perfect note level not to strong but softly lingering, while there is more coffee in this one than the smokiness of the last one very complex with the few notes they applied
- feel is thicker than the last one earning it a higher rating
-great porter liked this much more than the other variety, a greatly crafted beer!

Apr 06, 2015
Photo of oregonduck
oregonduck from Arizona

2.62/5  rDev -33%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

The smoke flavor was very overpowering. I just don't see the allure of this beer. I normally really like darker beers but the overwhelming smoke flavor made this very hard to drink.

Apr 04, 2015
Photo of KYGunner
KYGunner from Kentucky

3.78/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The nose and flavors are virtually the same as the vanilla is strong, yet a tad artificial, strong dry chocolate malt, light char or smoke and a bit or roasted coffee.

Apr 04, 2015
Smoked Porter - Vanilla Bean from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 2361 ratings