Tuesday, June 22, 2010

357. Deschutes Black Butte Porter XXI

A big bottle of something special from Deschutes tonight—their 21st Birthday Reserve of Black Butte Porter. Can you blame us? Since we’re headed into the home stretch with our year-long blog, it’s time to bust out some of the gems that we’ve socked away. Nothing says victory like ransacking your basement of all of it’s gems. This is our sixth beer from Deschutes—the list includes Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Black Butte Porter, Hop Trip, Inversion, and Red Chair IPA. In sadder news, Black Butte Porter XXII just got cancelled. How bad does that suck?

Described on the label as a “porter brewed with chocolate beans and coffee added with 20% aged in bourbon barrels,” Black Butte XXI pours a rich cherry wood color—rich brown with subtle red highlights—with a white head that quickly disappears. The nose is subtle and complex; dark fruits mixed with cocoa, oak, and vanilla, and just a touch of alcohol in the background. The oak and vanilla dissipate after a couple of minutes, allowing the fruitiness to dominate the nose. Starting with a rich dark sweetness that has molasses and chocolate flavors, Black Butte XXI moves into sweeter and fruitier flavors in the middle—cherry, currant, and prune— although still accompanied by chocolate. The finish is sweet, with some alcohol flavor, and a touch of roastiness from the coffee that helps transition from the middle to the end, merging well with the chocolate and sweetness. Black Butte XXI has a medium to heavy body with a rich, smooth mouthfeel; the carbonation is medium to light, and only contributes minimally to overall palate sensations. The alcohol flavor and tang pick up significantly as the beer warms; the taste is good, but still a bit sticky on the palate, although since we are drinking this before the “Best After” date, we shouldn’t be surprised—while nice now, this beer should age well, allowing the beer to dry out a bit and marry the flavors into more of a seamless whole. Very well done; rich, balanced, and nuanced across the profile with subtle notes that we’re sure will continue to develop, which is good because we have another bottle of this in the basement.

From the bottle: “XXI. What does 21 years of hardcore experimentation look like? Witness the imperial version of our Black Butte Porter. Three types of chocolate malt. Three varieties of Northwest hops. Cocoa nibs from the Dominican Republic. Locally roasted Ethiopian coffee. Painstakingly aged in bourbon barrels. Joyous abandon in a bottle. After 21 years we recognize the safe path, we just refuse to take it.

From the Deschutes website: “This masterpiece is a tribute to Black Butte Porter, the revolutionary Deschutes Brewery beer that has excited beer enthusiasts since 1988. This special Reserve Series release is a colossal version of Black Butte Porter. Our brewers enhanced Black Butte XXI by adding some Theo’s Chocolate cocoa nibs from Seattle, dry-hopping it with 100 pounds of Bellatazza’s locally roasted coffee, and then aging a portion of it in Stranahan’s Colorado whiskey barrels. These regional partners provided quality artisan ingredients that give this commemorative beer a truly handcrafted complexity. ”

ABV: 11%
IBU: 55
Best After: 10/17/2010

We do like that Deschutes has beers with “Best After” dates. Ah, so rich.


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