Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Smokin' Black Butte Porter

5.2% ABV
30 IBUs

Deschutes has finally graced us with their presence and bestowed upon us the Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond Pale Ale.  Will these brews live up to the anticipation Deschutes has built by delaying their release several times?  Can FatCat move past his rejection issues and judge this brew fairly?   In the name of craft brew truth I will put my grievances aside and give the Black Butte Porter a fair shake.

Without considering any other factors, this 22oz bottle was $2.99.  That is an absolutely stellar price point and shines positive light on this brew already.  Black Butte pours opaque black with a nice tan head.  The nose reveals some grainy sweetness and a prominent bitter malt aroma.  The first thing that draws my attention is the thin mouthfeel of which I was expecting thicker.  The initial drink explodes on the palate and it’s hard to determine what is happening initially.  The thing that does jump out is the smoky character that starts in the middle of the palate and lasts well into the finish.  There is a brief grainy sweetness in the beginning that gives way to bitterness.  The bitterness plays Houdini in your mouth.  At first it seems like it is hop bitterness with some subtle floral character but then it shifts and seems like it’s roasted malt astringency.  The finish is very dry and offers a super subtle coffee note.  As the brew warms, the bitterness turns into a significant grainy/smoky character that gets a little too persistent.  The keyword for today kids is D-R-Y.

When I think of Porter, I’m thinking a semi-sweet brew with a medium-thick body.  The Black Butte doesn’t fit into my preconception and I am subsequently not a huge fan.  I’m thinking the thinner mouthfeel with the prominent roasted malt bitterness made this brew a little off for me.  If the mouthfeel was a little thicker I think it would have made the smoky bitterness a little more bearable.  On a positive note, the Black Butte does exhibit some impressive complexity for a porter.

This wasn’t a bad brew; it just wasn’t my cup of tea (or porter).  It did win bronze at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival.  The great thing is at $2.99 a 22oz, you can try one for yourself. 

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