Name of Beer: Smoke Jumper, Left Hand Brewing Company, Longmont

Style: Smoked Imperial Porter

ABV: 8.8 percent

Serving Type: 22-ounce bomber

Malty? Hoppy? Malt, malt, and more malt.

Reviewed: May 2012

Four years ago, when Left Hand last brewed their Smoke Jumper imperial porter, I lived in a different state. So when I heard the beer was on Left Hand’s brewing schedule for the first time in years, I was excited to try it out. I don’t usually go bonkers for smoked beers, but this brew has a backstory that’s too intriguing to ignore. In 2008, it won a gold medal in the smoked beer category at the Great American Beer Festival. The beer is the third homebrew recipe Left Hand’s head brewer Ro Guenzel devised. And it’s the official beer of the National Smokejumper Association. Plus, I have an uncle who is a retired smokejumper. For me, this was a must-try beer.

I could smell the toasted malts as soon as I popped the bottle. (The Left Hand brewers smoked malts for more than a week leading up to the brewing of this beer.) I poured the beer into a glass and took a bigger whiff, which revealed the signature smoky scent. The smell, however, wasn’t overpowering; there were also subtle aromas of alcohol and dark chocolate. The beer has a silky mouthfeel, and, for an imperial brew, the alcohol taste wasn’t overpowering. I don’t think I’ll ever develop regular cravings for smoked beers, but when I’m in the mood for one, this is the brew I’ll want.

Would we buy it again? Yes, but one bottle is probably enough. I’ll stash it away for the rare occasion when I’m jonesing for a smoked beer.