Wednesday 30 May 2012

Tasting : Deschutes Black Butte Porter clone

Even though I bottled this clone about 6 weeks ago, I really took my time writing up an actual review of the beer. I've had several of them over the past few weeks, and was a little wary of it overall at first. The carbonation took longer to develop compared to most of my beers. I'm not sure if this was due to pooped-out yeast or not, but I'm quite sure it had nothing to do with temperatures, as the bottles were sitting in a room set at about 70 F, which is my typical bottle-conditioning temperature. After awhile, however, the carbonation finally came around.

I was also worried that the beer would be too sweet, as my FG was high at 1.018, compared to the 1.012 target given by the brewer. I admit that that number seems a bit odd to me; with the target OG of 1.058, a FG that low would give an ABV of about 6%, which is much higher than the actual 5.2% listed by Deschutes for the real Black Butte Porter. This would also indicate an apparent attenuation of 79%, much higher than the average of 69% for Wyeast 1968. Either way, I'm pretty happy with how the beer came out. As usual, I don't have any of the commercial beer on hand to compare, unfortunately!

Appearance: Poured with a moderate-large, very creamy tan head. Pretty good retention, sticks around for quite awhile before fading to 1/2-finger. Body is a very dark brown, even black, and appears opaque... but when held to bright light, yields some ruby highlights and excellent clarity.

Aroma: Aroma of mostly dark, rich chocolate... slightly sweet. Some coffee and roasted notes as well, but maybe not as much of the roasted character as their should be. Perhaps a touch of spicy hops in there.

Taste: Again, while there ARE roasted and coffee notes present, the chocolate really wins out in this beer. There is a touch of tartness that may be from the wheat malt. Hop bitterness is moderate-low in the finish, which is more on the sweet than dry side. No diacetyl.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, moderate-low carbonation. Just a bit of astringency (ok).

Overall: My porter experience is much lower than with other beer styles, but this is a pretty tasty beer. I don’t remember the Black Butte being overly roasty, and wouldn’t have expected as much with this recipe, so I think it’s probably in the ballpark of the commercial beer. Pretty enjoyable overall.


  1. Although I haven't tried the original yet, I'd like to give this one a go. Looks gorgeous!

    1. When I get off my lazy ass and send your package, I'll be sure to include a bottle!

  2. I think I might give this one a go as well. I have some pale chocolate and regular chocolate I'm going to use. I also found some specs on their site that corrects some misinformation...
    OG is 1.055-1.060 and FG can be 1.016-1.019, so say an OG 1.057 and a FG of 1.017 will give you the 5.2% that it is, probably more in line with the attenuation.
    Any further tips/notes to consider?
    I have some WLP002 that I will use along with cascade/Nugget(instead of galena) and Tettnag ...

    trick is the calcium level. I don't want too much sulphate in there, so I'll to play with the levels of CaCl & CaSO4. Just nailed a brown Porter this past week. I added 1g of table salt to 5 gallons. A great new trick, really makes it shine, just like in food....

    1. There's been several times where recipes given by the actual brewer on CYBI don't seem to quite match up with specs on their website, bottles, etc. I think what you're suggesting would definitely be the way to go.

      I hope you try it... I still have a lot of bottles left, so we could try to compare sometime down the road.