Beer Review 0353: Deschutes Black Butte Porter
Deschutes Brewery is located in Bend, Oregon, overlooking the Deschutes River. Offerings from the brewery are available in twenty states, but not here in my state of North Carolina, so thanks to Dave (OnWisconsin on Untappd) for sending me a bottle of Black Butte Porter in a recent trade.
It’s unusual for a craft brewery to start life brewing a Porter, but Deschutes did just that. Born in 1988, Black Butte is the company’s first and flagship brand — brewed with Pale, Carapils, Chocolate, Crystal, and Wheat malt, it comes in at 5.2% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 30 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).
So, what’s a butte? A butte is a conspicuous hill with steep, nearly vertical sides and a flat top. We’re guessing this beer is named after Oregon’s famous Black Butte, which has an elevation of 6,436 feet.
Black Butte poured with an average, creamy, and lasting head. The color can only be described as classic Porter: dark brown out of the light with lighter edges; ruby red when held to light, and with a clear body, free of particles and sediment. The lacing was of high quality, leaving solid sheets of thin foam. Exceptionally nice in the visual department.
On the nose, typical example of the style continues with roasted coffee, which is mixed with bittersweet chocolate to form sort of a dry cocoa powder aroma. There’s a mild hop presence with some dark pine notes, and some general toasted bread. This beer smells creamy and smooth; as it warmed, I noticed a kiss of smoke.
The flavors issue up a balanced blend of hops and malts at first, giving fresh coffee that united with some piney hops, which were mildly bitter, pairing nicely with the acidity from the coffee. Flavors continue in this general fashion until the finish, which is where the meat and potatoes of this beer lie: layers of mild bitterness meld perfectly with creamy chocolate and fresh roasted coffee, making for a long, nearly decadent taste that reminded me of tiramisu. Medium-bodied, the beer is thin on texture but is nice and creamy when swirled around the tongue.
I’m apt to call this a sneaky beer, and we’re not talking alcohol — Black Butte is such a classic example of a Porter that it may sound boring to describe; but therein lies the success of this beer. There’s nothing groundbreaking about this beer, but being such a textbook example of the style makes it groundbreaking. Get it? Good — the ease of drinkability, depth of flavors, and price point make this a candidate to always have in the fridge. I don’t often reach for a Porter, but I’d reach for this.
Deschutes Black Butte Porter, 94 points. Price: $3.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.