When you know, you know
A Review of Black Butte Porter by Deschutes Brewery
Posted on 7/1/2015 by Chops
The humble porter is perhaps one of the most perplexing craft beer concoctions. Is it a stout? A brown ale? An old ale? Some might be surprised to learn that the answer is ''yes'' to every question. The porter started out as a British ''everything but the kitchen sink'' blended ale. It didn't fit into any particular category, but it more than quenched the thirst of UK port workers, hence the name.

Today, the American craft beer movement has redefined the porter as a roasted malty ale lurking in the middle ground between brown ales and stouts. Consequently, it can be quite difficult to determine what makes any given porter great. Aside from a few common traits, interpretations can vary wildly. This is why most craft beer fans rely on a ''when you know, you know'' approach to rating porters. With that in mind, allow me to introduce you to one of the best, if not the best, porters in America: the Black Butte Porter from the Deschutes Brewery out of Bend, Oregon.

In the glass, this beer had a dark brown coloration that was near black. It came with a big rocky tan head that had great retention. On the nose, I was greeted by a strong coffee-like roast, dark chocolate, a hint of toasted nuts, and an array of earthy malts. The aroma as a whole fell under a charred umbrella, giving off a warm and welcoming campfire vibe. It was a delightful introduction and I wasted no time diving in for that first sip.

The flavor followed the aroma almost note-for-note. I found a warm coffee roast followed by savory dark chocolates, toasted nuts, and earthy woody malts. Rounding out the mix were notes of burnt sugar, toasty bread crust, and a mild vanilla. The hops profile offered a moderate sting of bitterness and served as a counterweight to the savory malt profile, creating a beautifully balanced brew. The beer had a medium body and felt silky smooth on the palate. Most porters have some sort of gritty character, but not this one. If anything, the velvety smoothness gave the beer a chewy quality. The finish was very clean and exited with a lengthy aftertaste of sweet roasted malts.

Overall, I found the Black Butte Porter to be a perfect beer. With solid characteristics of both stouts and brown ales, the beer sat perfectly in the center with savory roasts and restrained sweetness. This is the exact feeling that a porter should invoke: an infinitely drinkable darker brew with widespread appeal. Needless to say, this is a brew that I can recommend to any and all beer fans. In fact, I will go one step further and put it on a pedestal as one of the few gateway brews into the style. After this session, I can say with clarity that if you don't like the Black Butte Porter, then you can rest assured that you don't like porters.

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Black Butte Porter by Deschutes Brewery
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