Stone is known for major attitude — its flagship IPA is named Arrogant Bastard. So you'd expect something pretty hairy from its smoked porter. In fact, it's surprisingly elegant.
It pours very dark brown with a dense tan head and a nose of yeast and a hint of molasses. The smoke flavor is very subtle indeed, perhaps somewhat hidden in the roasted-malt flavors that lightly suggest coffee and chocolate.
The main impression is a very polished palate — malty sweetness quickly dried out by the hops (there are a lot of hops here, but the effect is not challengingly bitter). The very long finish is of sweetness constantly being undermined by hops and a teasing bitterness tickling the tongue.
There are food pairing suggestions on the bottle, basically barbecue, rich desserts and a peanut butter sandwich (opinionated as ever, Stone suggests making it with huckleberry preserves on sourdough bread). Those sound OK, but the solidity and slick balance would make it stand up to many a meaty or cheesy dish.
Style: a porter with dry stout tendencies, like a pushier version of Guinness
Price: $3.50 to $4 per 22-ounce bottle
Where to find it: Beverage Warehouse in Los Angeles, (310) 306-2822, http://www.beveragewarehouse.com; Wade's Wines in Westlake Village, (818) 597-9463, (805) 522-4445, http://www.wadeswines.com; Red Carpet Wine, 400 E. Glenoaks Blvd., Glendale, (800) 339-0609, http://www.redcarpetwine.com; and Beverages and More (www.bevmo.com) and Total Wine (www.totalwine.com) stores.