Deschutes Black Butte Porter
"So I put this one on tap today and we all pulled several pints. This is a great recipe and I really like this beer! I managed to get my hands on a real Black Butte Porter a few weeks ago when we took a trip up north and I have to say this recipe is definitely spot on! Thanks for posting Kal! Another beauty!" - John
"I have no idea what the actual version of this beer tastes like ... have been sampling it after 7 days and it is absolutely phenomenal ... The flavor now at 16 days to me is just about right but it might keep getting better. I'd better go ahead and keg it though before it's gone... my new favorite porter... Thanks for sharing!" - Jerz
"Amazing!!! It’s dangerous. You totally nailed it with your recipe." - Bill M.
Deschutes Brewery was founded in 1988 as a brew pub by Gary Fish in Bend, Oregon, USA. Located 160 miles South East of Portland, he named his brewery for both the county that Bend is in, and the magnificent Deschutes River that flows through the town. It was the first brewery in a city that today houses over two dozen, making Bend one of the highest breweries per capita cities in the USA.
Times were rough at first for Deschutes: In the first year only 310 barrels of beer were sold (just under 10,000 gallons), with ten consecutive batches dumped due to contamination from grain mill dust.
As people's demand for robust, great tasting beer grew, production began to increase, to just under 4000 barrels/year by 1992. Since then the brewery has expanded multiple times to keep up with demand, including installing a much larger 50 barrel brew system in 1993. Their most recently announced expansion will include an entirely new East Coast production facility to be located in in Roanoke, VA, allowing them to distribute their beer to more states. The new location is expected to start producing beer by 2021.
Today Deschutes Brewery ships beer to over 28 states and around the world from its main brewing facility located on the banks of the Deschutes River. As of 2016, Deschutes was the eighth-largest craft brewery and thirteenth-largest overall brewery in the United States, producing over 300,000 barrels per year.
The Deschutes brewery overlooks the wild and scenic Deschutes River in beautiful Bend, Oregon. Image (c) deschutesbrewery.com
The Deschutes Bend brewing facility tasting room. Image (c) deschutesbrewery.com
The Deschutes brewery lineup (circa 2016). Image (c) deschutesbrewery.com
Their flagship beer today is still the one that started it all and is largely responsible for their success over the years: Their highly regarded Black Butte Porter, which at the time of its initial 1988 release, was quite a daring undertaking. Most people were still used to drinking lighter tasting lagers, so a porter is typically not a beer that you'd find in a flagship position.
Black Butte Porter has a rich, creamy mouthfeel that complements a layered depth, revealing distinctive chocolate and coffee/roasted notes. Full of flavour, yet easy to drink. It strikes the right balance at every level in terms of roastiness, hoppiness, and sweetness. It is considered by many as one of the most balanced, most approachable beers in existence and has taken numerous medals because of it. Some of these awards include:
- Bronze Medal, Brown Porter: 2009 Great American Beer Festival
- Best Porter: 2007 Readers' Choice Awards, Northwest Brewing News
- Gold Medal, Porter Category: 2007 Australian International Beer Awards
- Silver Medal, Porter Category: 2006 Australian International Beer Awards
- Silver Medal (88 - Highly Recommended): 2005 World Beer Championships
- Gold Award, Porter: 2005 European Beer Star
- Bronze Medal, Brown Porter Category: 2004 North American Beer Awards
- Gold Medal, Porter Category: 2004 Australian International Beer Awards
- Gold Medal, Brown Porter Category: 2003 North American Beer Awards
- Silver Medal, American Dark Ales: 2003 Real Ale Festival, Individual Category Awards
- Best Porter, People's Choice Awards: 2003, 20th Annual International Beer Festival, San Francisco, CA
- Bronze Medal, Brown Porter Category: 2002 Great American Beer Festival
- Gold Medal, Brown Porter Category: 2002 North American Beer Awards
- Silver Medal, Dark Milds, Stouts & Porters Competition Class 3: 2002 Brewing Industry International Awards (B.I.I.A.), London, England
- Gold Medal, Bottled American Brown Ales & Porters Category: 2001 Real Ale Festival
- Gold Medal, Brown Porter Category: 2000 North American Beer Awards
- Gold Medal, Brown Porter Category: 1999 North American Beer Awards
- Bronze Medal, Brown Porter Category: 1998 Great American Beer Festival
- Silver Medal, Brown Porter Category: 1998 World Beer Cup
- Gold Medal, Brown Porter Category: 1996 Great American Beer Festival
Whole hops waiting to be added to a batch. Image (c) deschutesbrewery.com
On August 17, 2009 Deschutes Brewer Jimmy Seifrits joined Jamil Zainasheff's "Can You Brew It" podcast to discuss the beer in detail including the recipe and process used. The intent of this series of shows is to see if a commercial beer can be replicated. Tasty McDole (brewer behind the popular beer Janet's Brown Ale) attempted to clone the beer using the information provided and the result was a deemed a success by everyone who tasted both versions. The beer was considered cloned.
The recipe and instructions here are the result of those discussions and scaling the recipe/process to a 10 gallon batch for brewing on our setup. For the most part this recipe exactly follows the original except for one change: Like Tasty, we used Nugget hops as the 90 minute bittering addition instead of Bravo hops (the difference would not be noticeable - feel free to use either).
We recommend giving the podcast a listen as there's lots of good tidbits of information: Can You Brew It: Black Butte Porter – The Jamil Show 08–17-09
As usual, Jamil and others really know their stuff and always asked the right questions to really nail down the entire process from grain to glass. Well done! (The ingredients that go into a beer are only part of the story, process is important, as is equipment that can actually implement that process). We've said it many times before, but a big thank you also goes to Deschutes for being so open minded and sharing their process and recipes with homebrewers. Show them your appreciation by picking up a six pack of Black Butte Porter and support your local brewery!
The December 2016 issue of BYO magazine had an interesting article called 'Deschutes Deconstructed' which include a recipe for their Black Butte Porter. We did not find it to be in line with what the brewer said was done so we stuck with the podcast version. In speaking to magazine writers / editors over the years, quite often clone beers that are published in magazines are simply interpretations that are done without any input from the actual brewery.
The Deschutes brewery lineup (circa 2016) including the imperial versions of Black Butte from years 24 and 25 (taps 3 and 4). Image (c) deschutesbrewery.com
Like the beer? Consider trying their 22-ounce bottled Black Butte Reserve Series anniversary beer as well. Every year, Deschutes celebrates their anniversary with an imperial (higher gravity), barrel-aged version of Black Butte Porter. Their brewers love to experiment and they always add interesting new ingredients to this beer to celebrate. In the past, they've added chilies, cranberries, pomegranate molasses, dates, figs and more. The 2016 addition included peated malt, cocoa, vanilla and sweet orange peel, all aged in bourbon and scotch barrels.
Brew up a batch and let us know how you like it!
Deschutes Black Butte Porter
Size: 12 US gallons (post-boil @ 68F)
Mash Efficiency: 95%
Calories: 195 kcal per 12 fl oz
Original Gravity: 1.058 (style range: 1.050 - 1.070)
Final Gravity: 1.016 (style range: 1.012 - 1.018)
Colour: 21 SRM (style range: 22 - 40)
Alcohol: 5.6% ABV (style range: 4.8% - 6.5%)
Bitterness: 30 IBU (style range: 25 - 50)
15.8 lb Domestic 2-row malt (1.8-2L) (75.8%)
2.1 lb Pale (or white) wheat malt (1.5-2.4L) (10.1%)
1.06 lb Crystal malt (75L) (5.1%)
1.25 lb Chocolate malt (350-500L)* (6%)
0.63 lb Carapils or Carafoam (1.4-2.9L) (3%)
1.25 oz Nugget hops (13.2%) - added during boil, boiled 90 min [25.7 IBU]
0.5 oz Cascade hops (6.9%) - added during boil, boiled 30 min [3.9 IBU]
1 Whirlfloc tablet (Irish moss) - added during boil, boiled 15 min
0.5 oz German Tettnanger hops (3.9%) - added during boil, boiled 5 min [0.6 IBU]
*To remain true to the original recipe split the Chocolate Malt between higher lovibond American Chocolate Malt and lower lovibond British Chocolate Malt. If you can't, no big deal, it's doubtful that the difference would be noticed.
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Notes / Process
- Add 500mg potassium metabisulfite to 20 gallons water to remove chlorine / chloramine (if required).
- Water treated with brewing salts to: Ca=129, Mg=10, Na=16, Cl=89, SO4=136. For more information on how to adjust your water, refer to our step by step Water Adjustment guide.
- 1.25 qt/lb mash thickness.
- Mash at 130F for 10 mins, then raise to 156F and hold for an additional 60 mins.
- Raise to 168F mashout temperature and hold for 10 mins.
- ~90 min fly sparge with ~5.6-5.8 pH water (measured at mash temperature).
- Boil for 90 minutes, adding Whirlfloc and hops per schedule. Lid on at flameout, start chilling immediately.
- Cool the wort quickly to 62F (we use a one-pass convoluted counterflow chiller to quickly lock in hop flavour and aroma) and transfer to fermenter.
- Aerate or oxygenate the chilled wort to a level of 8-10 ppm dissolved oxygen. For more information refer to our Aerating / Oxygenating Wort guide.
- Pitch yeast and ferment at 64F (wort temperature). We use modified stainless fermenting buckets in wine fridges.
- Ferment until approximately 5 points from final gravity and then raise the temperature to 70-72F until finished. In our case we simply turn off the fermenting fridges and allow the beer to naturally rise to room temperature. Assume fermentation is done if the gravity does not change over ~3 days.
- There is no need to use finings such as unflavoured gelatin as the yeast is extremely flocculant and will drop brilliantly clear on its own.
- Package as you would normally. We rack to kegs that have first been purged with CO2 and then chill to near freezing while carbonating at the same time in a 6-keg conditioning fridge. After ~1-2 weeks at serving pressure the kegs will be carbonated and ready to serve. In a hurry? Feel free to raise the CO2 pressure temporarily to 30-40 PSI to carbonate fast over a 24 period, and then turn back down to serving pressure.
- While this beer is fine served on regular CO2 (we recommend keeping the carbonation level low, under 2.0 volumes of CO2 to minimize carbonic bite and let the hop/malt flavour come through), we find it's even better when served on a stout faucet pushed by a nitrogen/CO2 blend to get a nice creamy head and close to flat beer. Deschutes seems to agree as Black Butte Porter can be found in some bars on nitro taps instead of straight CO2. This is a personal preference so choose whichever method you prefer. One inexpensive way to mimic this is to use a syringe (without needle). Pour the beer as you would normally and then suck up a syringe full and force it back into the beer, hard. Repeat 2-3 times and you'll knock most of the CO2 out of solution leaving a nearly flat beer with a creamy head. Not quite the same texture, but similar to a nitro pour. We tried this for years before finally adding a real nitrogen/CO2 serving setup to our basement bar.
For detailed brewing instructions, see our Brew Day Step by Step guide.
Questions? Visit our Deschutes Black Butte Porter forum thread.
Interested in seeing what we're brewing right now? Follow us on Instagram for pictures and videos of our brewing activities as they happen.