Deschutes Black Butte Porter

Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR

Style: American Porter / Robust Porter

Stats: 5.2% ABV / 30 IBU’s

Availability (according to California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Japan.

Sample Type: Pint glass, poured from a 22 ounce bottle.

Deschutes is in Minnesota! I’ve known for a couple months that I’d soon be able to find Deschutes beers here, and my excitement peaked when I found out through that one of the introductory beers would be Black Butte Porter.

Black Butte (the beer, not the mountain whence it draws its name) is an old beer-friend of mine, and has long been my favorite porter. During my years of living in the Pacific Northwest, this was the closest I had to a regular beer – meaning that every fourth or fifth six-pack I bought was most likely Black Butte. I would not call Black Butte a benchmark for other US porters, because I feel it’s too good to be the “standard.” Instead, Black Butte blends porter’s working-class origins and a delicious elegance that I wish more porters in this country would aspire to.

This is not meant to disparage Black Butte’s brother and sister porters; after all, were I forced to name a favorite beer style, it would be porter. However, I’ve had my share of porters that are simply a stout made scrawny by using less crystal malt and roasted barley, leaving me with little more than the memory of a thin, slowly-dissipating sensation of charred chocolate.

Okay… time to step off of the soap box, and on to the review:

As soon as I open the bottle, delicious smells of coffee, chocolate, and caramel waft into the room.

A vigorous pour results in a creamy, one-finger head consisting of large loose bubbles. Over the next two minutes, the head diminishes to a thick layer of foam atop the beer. The beer itself is black; dark and thick enough to compete with any stout for color. Held up to the light, I observe scant brown highlights along the curve of the glass.

The aroma in the glass is more of everything that I smelled upon popping the top: coffee, dark chocolate, and caramel, with a very light smoky character developing over time.

The flavors largely reflect the smells. This is an artful blend of coffee, chocolate and caramel, with some nice toffee and bready notes. A respectable bitterness balances the sweetness of the chocolate and caramel, and then the beer finishes in a slightly roasted flourish and a tease of grassy hops.

There is ample body here to accompany the well-rounded flavors, and a healthy dose of carbonation. As the beer warms and the carbonation escapes, the mouthfeel develops a vinous quality.

If you are a lover of dark beers and would like a sessionable-yet-delicious alternative to all those tasty imperial porters that are all the rage right now, it would certainly behoove you to try Black Butte – you won’t be disappointed!

BeerAdvocate reviews of Black Butte Porter

ratebeer reviews of Black Butte Porter


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