Black Butte for Your Birthday
The largest collection of beers in our closet is a five year vertical of imperial Black Butte.
Every summer, Deschutes Brewery releases a beefed up version of their famous flagship porter. The tradition started when the brewery turned twenty, and every year since they’ve released a new variation. Most are at least partially barrel aged, some include fruit, some include coffee, or cocoa nibs, or chili peppers. Every year it’s a surprise.
It just so happens, Sarah is the same age as the brewery, give or take a month. So every year I grab a couple bottles, one we drink on or near her birthday and the other I save. A few years ago I decided we’d break them all out for an epic vertical tasting when she turned thirty.
Though, whenever I float the idea past sarah she’s skeptical. Could we even embibe that much alcohol without serious repercussions? But before we consider the consequences, we need to do some quality control. Is the beer still good? We had an extra bottle of Black Butte XXV, so last week I cracked it open. Despite the dust, it’s still good.
When we first sampled it – two whole apartments ago – it was a bit of a mess. Adding cocoa nibs, mission figs, medjool dates, and currants was probably enough, but then they aged half of it in bourbon barrels and added in some soured wort. Yikes.
Nearly five years in the bottle has really mellowed the beer out.
Today it’s nearly impossible to taste the lactic acid, which actually lets the other ingredients have a voice. It opens with great big notes of dusty cocoa powder. There’s still a berrylike tang, but it’s more like a chocolate truffle than a shot of sour cherry syrup. There’s a depth to the malt. Under layers of chocolate is a nutty center.
It’s incredibly tasty, but ten ounces is plenty. I’m starting to doubt drinking six of these beers in a night is such a good idea, even if we do invite some friends.