BOOZER DAYS: Smoke Jumper Smoked Imperial Porter

Because we love beer almost as much as we love burgers, we thought we might as well spit some words on the brews. Each week (or as close as we can get), we lock two beer aficionados, simply known as Doc and El Borracho, in a room with a notepad, pencil and a stockpile of beer. Whatever we can decipher from their alcoholic scribbles we bring to you with Boozer Days.
Doc: Despite his nickname, Doc is, in fact, not a doctor of any kind. Rather, Doc acquired his handle from El Borracho for his ability to read above a fifth-grade level -- a skill that warrants an advanced degree in the eyes of El Borracho. Intellectually (and, occasionally, physically) aroused by the bounty of our beer-filled world, Doc is always eager to sample pints from around the globe and learn the stories behind them. Happily married, Doc has often joked that he'd leave his wife for a proper pint. His wife has yet to find this amusing. El Borracho: A patron of 90 percent of the nation's bars during his 45 years, El Borracho's knowledge of beer is surpassed by only a select few. How he has accrued that knowledge has not always been a savory process. As a result, several outstanding warrants have prompted El Borracho to sport his trademark Luchador mask whenever he appears in public -- earning him the rapt attention of both Mexican wrestling fans and fetishists. Single -- and most likely permanently so -- El Borracho is the (sometimes) proud father of seven children in eight states. (It's complicated.) El Borracho's connection to Doc is something of a mystery, but many suspect the involvement compromising photos.

This Week's Beer:

Smoke Jumper Smoked Imperial Porter by Left Hand Brewing Co.

(Longmont, Colorado) Type: Porter | Alcohol: 8.8% | An homage to wildlands firefighters, Smoke Jumper Smoked Imperial Porter puts smoke to a better use than wiping out Bambi's natural habitat. A limited edition brew re-released for the first time since the 2008 version claimed the 2009 Great American Beer Festival Gold Medal for smoked beer, this delightful creation is the official beer of the National Smoke Jumper Association. And its bold taste certainly lives up to its manly-man namesake.


Doc: At the risk of starting out a little vague, the first word that comes to my mind is, "Wow." El Borracho: Allow me to add a little specificity then. That isn't a "wow," like "hey, there's a three-legged dog." This is a "wow," like, "hey, remember that three-legged dog? Well, he was actually walking upright ... and that wasn't a third leg." Doc: Where do you come up with this stuff? El Borracho: My life has been a twisted road my friend. Doc: Getting back on topic, as the name and close connection to the smoke-jumper namesake implies, this is a man's beer. Take a few swigs and you'll sprout a few extra chest hairs and seriously consider a career in lumberjacking or King Crabbing. El Borracho: This isn't to say women won't enjoy the beer. In fact, if you are a woman, and you do enjoy this beer. I say simply, "Marry me." Doc: That seems unlikely ... Getting married for beer preference? El Borracho: I've married for less before.  


Doc: It's hard not to start with the bottle. Unlike last week's gimmicky contraption, Left Hand has a winner here. The design, created by Moxie Sozo and artist Nate Dyer -- a volunteer firefighter -- depicts a smoke jumper parachuting into a wildfire that makes William Baldwin, Kurt Russell and the rest of the "Backdraft" cast look like a bunch of tea-sipping sissies.

"Kurt Russell ain't got shit on meeeeee!"

El Borracho: As a really cool hidden touch, they've also include a tiny silhouette of the late BBQ specialist who helped the brewery smoke the malts for previous versions of the beer. You could pour one out for him, but I'm sure he'd understand if you wanted to keep it all for yourself. Doc: It pours smoothly and there's not a lot of excessive carbonation, which can sometimes be a problem I've found with smoke beers and porters in general. It's got a great, dark body with a nice brown head that looks as appealing as this brew tastes.  

The Taste

Doc: I've always felt that the key to a good smoke beer is finding the proper balance and Left Hand strikes it just right. The smoke is featured prominently but it's not overbearing. Take a swig and you'll get the molasses and coffee characteristics typical of a porter but you won't miss the smoke, which lingers on your tongue. El Borracho: I'm really trying to avoid swinging at that softball there, Doc, but you're right. Sometimes smoke beers over-index on the alcohol, other times the smoke is so subtle it feels like they just pumped it into the brew after it was made rather than smoking the malt before brewing it up. Smoke Jumper tastes hand-crafted and authentic.

Pour one out for the BBQ specialist. Or not.

Doc: And while it's definitely got a full-bodied taste to it, when you polish off a bottle (1 pint, 6 fl. oz.) you don't feel like you need to unbutton your pants. El Borracho: Speak for yourself, but it's not because this porter is overly filling. Doc: What then? El Borracho: I'm not saying I need a change, but I wouldn't endorse sitting on my lap right now.  

Final Verdict

Doc: You're not going to drink smoke porters every day or even year round, but it makes me a little sad to think this is a limited edition brew. El Borracho: I'm right there with you. I've had more than a couple craft beers in my time and this easily cracks the upper echelon. They really know what they're doing with this and if I was a smoke jumper I'd be honored with a tribute beer like this. Doc: Smoke jumpers, Left Hand -- we salute you!  

Suitable for ...

A savory night of indulgence Pairing with a no-frills burger or steak Upping your man quotient Honoring smoke jumpers, gods or other higher powers Solving erectile dysfunction ("You're welcome," -- El Borracho)  

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