Deschutes in Oregon brews a huge volume of beer, but its products are not distributed nationwide. Black Butte is one of its better-known offerings, perhaps even its flagship beer. It’s a good porter with a reputation that precedes it.
Porter is a style that brewers tend not to mess with. That’s not to say that if you’ve had one you’ve had them all, just that the style is Black Butte Porter solid, so why tamper with it? That seems to be the approach taken with Deschutes Black Butte Porter. It plays it very safe with a tasty, well balanced, and smooth palate.
Black Butte has an extremely dark blood-red maroon to black complexion that is noticeably ruby red around the edges and forms a large, dark-khaki, tightly compacted foamy head that retains and laces quite well. The classic porter aroma of dairy aisle milkiness has some additional dark fruit notes such as cherry and prune and a hint of chocolate candy.
Black Butte begins like most porters do with a mild, lightly sweet taste of milk chocolate at the beginning. It transitions to something more fruity, authentic, and rich through the middle of the palate, like a Dr Pepper crossed with a Trappist quad. There’s the classic cough syrup component many porters tend to have, but prune and dark cherry are the main attraction. The finish is quite nice, with a toasty, roasty malt taste plus some dark chocolate sweetness. There’s a light coffeelike bitterness and dryness as well, but it’s barely noticeable until the beer reaches a warmer temperature.
This beer is tasty and satisfying all around, but what’s really interesting and impressive is the drinking experience. Although porters tend to be thinner and lighter than stouts, Deschutes Black Butte has noticeably finely carbonation and a thin, wet mouthfeel. It’s not quite a creamy or velvety texture, but it does go down smooth. The 5.2% ABV is right where it should be: big enough to give it genuine energy but small enough to keep it under wraps.
CP Review originally printed in The Handbook of Porters and Stouts.
The Handbook of Porters and Stouts is the ultimate, complete, and definitive guide to some of the most complex and original beers available in the market today.