Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Left Hand Smokejumper Smoked Imperial Porter review

Left Hand Smokejumper Smoked Imperial PorterIt's been four long years, but Left Hand Brewing finally brought back one of it's highly requested beers from 2008 - Left Hand Smokejumper Smoked Imperial Porter. This beer won gold at the 2008 Great American Beer Festival, beating out the likes of Alaskan Smoked Porter.

Smokejumper was made in honor of the brave souls who parachute into wildfire areas and risk their lives to save people, property and wildlife and to put out some of the biggest fires around. It also is helping to promote the National Smokejumper Association. Many a toast was raised with this beer with the words: "Here's to smoke in your glass, not in the woods".

Smokejumper is a hefty brew that weighs in at 8.8% ABV and is rated at 50 IBUs. The smoky flavor comes from hand-smoked malts and some of the bitterness comes from Magnum and Mt. Hood hops. This beer is made so that it could be aged even further. Smoked beers tend to take on some wonderful characteristics with age. This bottle was fairly fresh as this was released back in late April of 2012.

Appearance: Smokejumper poured about as dark as they come, a 84 SRM color (black). The brew looked thick and it yielded a small, 1-finger tall brown head that quickly dissolved into just a thin ring around the edge of the glass. There was a very loud hiss when I popped the cap so I assumed it was bottle conditioned and adequately carbonated. Swirling the brew left just a thin, slippery lacing that quickly slid off the glass edge.

Aroma: Ah yes, there was a definite sweet, smoky aroma to this beer. A smell that reminded me of both a campfire, smoked meats (like bacon or jerky) and roasty malts. This is the type of smell that reminded me of cooking out during a camp-out. It was a very inviting aroma, one that I couldn't help but recognize as a smoked beer. The smoke is dominant, yet pleasant.

Taste: Smokejumper hit me with a big swig of roasted malt. The malt was semi-sweet, smokey in flavor and had a nicely balanced bitterness that was both spicy and earthy. If I held my breath and tasted this, the malts really came out and filled my mouth. It had a touch of a sweet molasses taste and big on roasted malts. Then when I inhaled deeply, the rich smokey aroma and flavor really come through. If not for the smoke, I could swear this was a wonderful imperial stout, yet it was missing the coffee-like tones.

Overall: This was a smoked beer that only took a sip or two to really get into. I was loving this brew almost right from the start. The big smoke flavor was a semi-shock to the system, but immediately after it mellowed out and the rich, complex flavors really shone through. I would easily compare this to other great smoked porters I've had at the GABF and here locally.

If you love smoky flavor, a beer with a lot of flavor, thick, chewy and rich - then this one you should seek out. I'm ready to go out and pick up a couple more bottles of this and age them for another year or two. Granted, this beer is excellent now, but I'm also curious on how it will hold up to time. At a big 8.8% ABV, this beer should last for several years in a well conditioned cellar.

My grats to Left Hand Brewing for putting out a wonderful smoked beer. It's not a brew to fear, rather one to seek out.

Disclosure: I was sent a complimentary bottle of this beer directly from Left Hand Brewing Company for review. I was not paid to endorse this product.

Video showing the pour of Left Hand Smokejumper Smoked Imperial Porter:

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Related articles:
- Beer Week Sauce specially tapped by Left Hand Brewing.
- Get jumping for Left Hand's Smokejumper.
- Left Hand releases Smokejumper Imperial Porter. (2008)
- Alaskan Smoked Porter 2008 review.

This article came from FermentedlyChallenged.com - a Colorado beer blog.
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