Deschutes Black Butte XXVI
Producer: Deschutes Brewery; Bend, Oregon
Beer Name: Black Butte XXVI
Style: Imperial Porter
Price Range: $15-17 / bottle (22 oz)
Virginia Pour House Review: This beer from Deschutes promises to be a highly complex one with a description that reads: “Ale brewed with pomegranate molasses with 50% aged in bourbon barrels blended with ale with cocoa nibs and cranberry added.” Whoa, that’s a lot of different things going on at once. Let’s break this down. It’s brewed with pomegranate molasses, which is apparently just a fancy way to say pomegranate juice. It comes from pomegranate juice boiled down into a thicker, syrupy substance. The beer itself is 50% aged in bourbon barrels and 50% brewed with cocoa nibs, which I’m assuming is a fresh batch. Finally, there is cranberry added, which I’m guessing was added post-brew in the fermentation phase, although I can’t tell for sure.
This is an annual release from Deschutes, released each year on their birthday (this of course being their 26th). This being the first year that they have distributed to Virginia, it is the first time I will be trying this beer. The beer pours a clear black with a small off-white head. There is a lot going on in the aroma. I get hints of pomegranate, cranberry, and cocoa, with a hint of bourbon in the back. The first taste is smooth at the beginning, but changes to tart by the middle with the pomegranate kicking in. It finishes nicely with some cranberry and cocoa at the end. There is not much bourbon flavor initially, but upon subsequent sips I get a little in the body. I suspect that when it warms up, the bourbon becomes more prevalent, but this beer is so good that I don’t think I’ll have any left by that time. The mouthfeel is a bit thin, but that is to be expected of a porter. As someone that isn’t a big fan of porters in general, this is maybe the best I have had. It’s basically a stout without the thick body, but it works in this case because the beer is bursting with such a diversity of flavor. My only regret is not posting this sooner, because it might be all gone by the time you read this.