It’s a bold move for Deschutes to send us its non-alcoholic Black Butte Porter and its standard, pro-alcoholic expression side by side. Can an NA version of this beer really hold up to its big brother? Let’s find out!
Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter – This is the year-round version of the Deschutes expression which is regularly released in annual special editions. Classic but fairly innocuous, the thick-headed brew finds a fruity acidity balanced by a ruddy earthiness, bitter coffee bean, and a gritty dark chocolate element. The body’s a bit thin and overtly acidic for my tastes, though that’s fairly consistent with the style of porter. 5.5% abv. B- / $11 per six-pack
Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter Non-Alcoholic – With no alcohol (though the beer is fully fermented), the first big surprise is how big the head is on this beer — arguably even foamier than the with-alcohol version. The lack of alcohol is immediately noticeable on the palate, which comes across with notes of weak coffee initially, studded with a light layer of hops. The almost acrid acidity of the alcoholified version of the beer is virtually absent here, letting a finish of red fruit and a reprise of coffee dominate. It’s a much different experience, but after spending some time here, I find I like it just as much as the standard version — which is to say: so-so. Under 0.5% abv. B- / $11 per six-pack