Deschutes keeps having birthdays and it keeps putting out experimental porter to commemorate it. This year’s Black Butte is less outright wacky than some of the recent releases, brewed with cocoa, vanilla, peated malt, and sweet orange peel. Half of the batch, as always, is aged in barrels — this time used bourbon and Scotch barrels.
Lots of licorice on this imperial porter, along with very, very dark, bittersweet chocolate notes. The vanilla adds a slightly sweet kick to the finish (more so as it warms up), but Black Butte takes little time celebrating the sweet stuff. This may be a celebratory beer, but it’s always dark as Hades, often drinking like the last dregs in a cup of espresso, perhaps filtered through a charred, woody reed.
That may sound like a difficult time, but there’s lots to be enchanted by in BB XVIII — particularly the way the whole package comes together with relatively disparate flavors that manage to work well as a whole.
A- / $17 per 22 oz. bottle / deschutesbrewery.com