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Deschutes Brewery | Black Butte Porter

Black Butte
Susan Engebretson

My PorchDrinking 2018 beer resolution was to drink more of the classics and the beers that first got me into craft beer, so I picked up a six-pack of Deschutes Brewery‘s Black Butte Porter for this beer showcase. Bend, Oregon-based Deschutes has been making Black Butte since the very beginning and it is very easy to see why it has stood the test of time just like its namesake landmark — the stratovolcano, Black Butte. The butte is breathtaking and if you want to see for yourself, you can virtually hike it in under three minutes on their website.

After my study abroad in Ireland, I returned to the United States and had my now beloved pint of Guinness. It was not the same as the Guinness brewed in Ireland, and I began a long trek through dozens of porters in an attempt to find a replacement. While Black Butte is vastly different from Guinness in terms of flavor profile, it caught my taste buds’ attention and did not let go. I quickly became a fan of this jet-black beer with blood red hues at its edges. The long-lasting tan head retention allowed me to develop my smell sensory skills and I began to notice the initial roasty notes that give way to bitter chocolate and toffee. I now know, thanks to my current job, that these flavors are imparted by the specific malts used. Deschutes lists Pale, Carapils, Chocolate, Crystal and wheat malts as their grain bill for Black Butte. All of these malts contribute to the aroma flavors described above.

ABV: 5.2% | IBU: 30

When it came to actually tasting the beer, I was head over heels. It was like drinking a coffee and infused chocolate cake with a light caramel drizzle, but with none of the decadent richness that instantly leaves you with feelings of remorse that you get from eating cake. I could easily pick out specific flavors, taste how they interacted with each other and they lingered longer than the flavors of the ambers and pale ales I was drinking at the time. A friend who is a sommelier said when he was studying for his level one test he started eating foods that were commonly used to describe wines. He began to eat more raspberries, strawberries, plums, etc. I realized my steady diet of coffee and chocolate probably set me up to discern the flavors in Black Butte nicely.

Now that I’m a few hundred more beers into my craft beer journey, I usually only drink porters during the colder months, but as I write this I would guess that it is a pretty refreshing beer after you have climbed to the top of Black Butte volcano in the summer.

Since Black Butte Porter’s ABV is only 5.2%, I would recommend trying a second one as a beer float with some fudge and brownie ice cream like I did!

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