Black Butte Porter from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon, is a great brew and a wonderful option for the beginning beer enthusiast to test the waters for the Porter style of beer. Porters are a member of the Ale family, meaning they are fermented with a top fermenting yeast at a higher temperature. A signature of Porter beers is that they are dark, ranging from reddish brown to nearly black, depending on the types of roasted malts that are introduced during the mash process. It comes in at 30 IBU’s and is 5.2% ABV with 192 calories per 12 oz. As is typical of many Deschutes brews, it is bottle conditioned (check out the Fresh Squeezed IPA review for more information on this process.) The malt bill is comprised of a variety of roasted malts and wheat. The hops used in the brewing process are Cascade, Bravo and Tettnang.
Upon pouring the beer — you should always pour a craft beer into the appropriate glass to have the full experience – you will notice a deep brown, almost black, color. Many porters have a reddish hue due to the addition of malts that are roasted for adding color and flavor. The beer has a reasonable amount of head.
This beer is bursting with aromas of coffee and dark chocolate. The hop notes are not too discernable, but they seem to be what makes the chocolate aroma seem more like dark chocolate. It’s as if the expectation of bitterness is imbued into the chocolate-malt scent by the hop notes. Upon further analysis, the yeast element of the beer comes through, manifesting itself in the form of banana. In addition to these notes, there were hints of vanilla and smoke.
The mouthfeel is round but not creamy as I have come to expect with many darker beers. Often, the color signals to the brain that the beer is going to have a heavy or creamy mouthfeel, but this one is surprisingly light with a perfect amount of carbonation. There is only a slight bitterness, and it is somewhat dry. As with the aroma, the predominant flavors are coffee and dark chocolate. As you continue to drink this beer, you will notice subtle hints of tobacco and molasses. The bitterness is hardly detectable with the intensity of coffee and chocolate flavors; in fact, it provides a necessary frame and counterbalance.
Perhaps the least complex aspect of this beer is the finish. There is a short-lived coffee and dark chocolate finish which quickly leaves the palate.
This would be my first recommendation for a new beer drinker to introduce porter beers. Where some manifestations of this style are extremely big, velvety, and rich, this one is extremely approachable and can easily be consumed to excess. Be careful. This beer is spectacular on its own or with food. I typically enjoy it on its own, sometimes with salty or sweet snacks. However, I have tried it with freshly shucked oysters, and I strongly recommend that. If you are drinking it with food, try it with rich venison, beef or Lamb stews, BBQ, chowder or corned beef and cabbage. Try it with vanilla ice cream or make a float (it’s way better than you might think).