Few breweries hang its hat on a porter, and even fewer craft the style to be a flagship offering. But that’s exactly what Bend, Oregon-based Deschutes Brewery did with its Black Butte Porter. Rich and creamy, dark yet drinkable—it’s easy to see why Deschutes leads its portfolio with this complex yet approachable offering.
Deschutes Black Butte looks like a perfect porter. Black as night at first glance, it’s really a deep mahogany with zero clarity. A full, tan head lingers after the pour and fades only as you start to drink.
Roasted malt makes up the bulk of a somewhat subdued nose. Light grain and nuttiness add to the complexity without adding sweetness. That lack of sweetness, combined with a touch of earthy hops, makes for a more crisp and bitter aroma than most porters.
Style be damned, Deschutes Black Butte Porter is exactly the kind of beer breweries should use to lead portfolios.”
My immediate impression upon the taste is more about feel than flavor. It’s shocking how full and creamy Black Butte can be at only 5.2% alcohol. Velvety is the word that comes to mind, a descriptor typically reserved for the booziest imperial stouts. Black Butte nearly mirrors the flavor in stronger beers too, with deep roasted coffee, bitter chocolate, sweet caramel and herbal hops. Its nutty and lightly fruity as well, with all of this flavor packed into an easy drinking beer with a downright luscious body.
Style be damned, Deschutes Black Butte Porter is exactly the kind of beer breweries should use to lead portfolios. It is nuanced with depth of flavor, yet it’s well balanced. Deschutes captures all of this while keeping Black Butte approachable both in body and ABV. The brewery takes a forgettable style and executes a beer that is anything but. More breweries could follow Deschutes lead and opt for something besides another flagship IPA.