REVIEW: Black Butte Porter from Deschutes Brewery

Quick Characteristics
Brewery: Deschutes Brewery
Location: Bend, OR
Style: Porter
ABV: 5.2%
IBUs: 30
Hops: Cascade, Tettnang & Bravo
Malt: Carapils, Pale, Wheat, Chocolate & Crystal
Appearance: Pours Dark, Dark Brown with Glimmers of Red on the Edges
Aroma: Roasty Malt; Cocoa; Coffee; Chocolate; Hints of Pine
Flavor: Subtle Coffee; Bitter Chocolate frolicking with Sweet Malts
Availability: Year-Round
Pairs With: Grilled/Smoked Meats; Robust Onion Soup; Coffee or Chocolate Cake

This is an interesting one. Not only is this an old beer, first brewed in 1988, but also this is Deschutes flagship beer, a position you will rarely find the porter style occupying. In 1988 Gary Fish opened Deschutes as a brewpub, the first in Bend, Oregon. He named his new business for both the county that Bend is in and the magnificent Deschutes River that flows through the town.

Deschutes, like any other brewery, has had its share of lows. In the winter of their first year they had to dump ten consecutive batches of beer due to bacteria contamination. They found the contamination was due to a flaw in their brewing design that had the grain mill directly above the mash tun, and airborne grain bacteria from the grain dust kept drifting down into the mash.

After they got this not-so-little hiccup remedied, people started to notice how good the beer coming out of this new little brewery was. They sold 310 barrels of beer in the first year.

Jump ahead three years and business was booming. Gary Fish likes to say they did so well, so fast because of their attention to detail, quality ingredients, and a sense of community that the brewery worked hard to foster from its very beginnings.
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REVIEW: Smokejumper Smoked Imperial Porter from Left Hand Brewing Co.

Quick Characteristics
Brewery: Left Hand Brewing Company
Location: Longmont, CO
Style: Smoked Imperial Porter
ABV: 8.8%
IBUs: 55
Hops: Mt. Hood, CTZ
Malts: Smoked Munich, Roasted Barley, Pale 2-Row, Chocolate, Wheat, Rauch, Special W,
Appearance: Dark as a moonless night with mocha-colored foam
Aroma: Mix of Sweet Molasses, Warming Alcohol & Not-so-Subtle Smoke
Flavor: Rich Smoke; Dark Malts, Molasses & Chocolate-Espresso
Availability: Limited
Pairs With: Meat dishes, BBQ, Smoked Salmon, Sharp Cheddar Cheese

With a forest fire burning in the Gila, about 15 miles away from Silver City, this beer just sorta seemed right. A time to sit, drink in some smoke, and reminisce, for a moment, about those times when I ate smoke trying to catch wildfire. I’ve worked with the men and women this beer is a tribute too. They deserve the honor.

Left Hand brews this beer as a tribute to Smokejumpers, the courageous souls of the wildland firefighter community that parachute into rough country, risking their lives to save national resources and property from fire. It is widely considered one of the most dangerous jobs in the US.

It is a no brainer that the official beer of the National Smokejumper Association needs… well, smoke. But how to get the right smoke?

The brewers at Left Hand realized that to get a close rendering of the smoky sense of a wood fire they would have to smoke their own malt. After many trials, a wood combination was found that seemed to best signify the smoky character they were searching for.

This beer was first brewed in 2006 and won gold in the 2009 Great American Beer Festival in the smoked beer category. It was brewed again to great acclaim in 2012 and now for a third time, this year.
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REVIEW: Edmund Fitzgerald Porter from Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Quick Characteristics
Brewery: Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Location: Cleveland, OH
Style: Porter
ABV: 5.8%
IBU: 37
Appearance: Solid Dark Brown with Creamy Tan Head
Aroma: Roasted Malts, Coffee Beans, Caramel, Dark Chocolate
Flavor: Roasted Malts, Bold Hops, Coffee, Dark Chocolate
Availability: Year-round — Bottle & Draft
Pairs With: BBQ Ribs, Steaks, Oysters, Chocolate

The names of beers are sometimes whimsical, playing on the names of styles or ingredients, or using pop culture references. Great Lakes Brewing Company has gone the other way, naming its beers to pay tribute to their city. They are proud Clevelanders, and it comes through in their beers and the names they give them.

Great Lakes as a whole is a fairly unique company, established in 1988 by two brothers in the middle of Cleveland, as the first microbrewery in the state of Ohio. They brew all of their beers in accordance with the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516, not jumping on the bandwagon of outrageous flavors, simply brewing great beers using limited ingredients.

Most representative of their outlook on beer and their city is their award-winning Edmund Fitzgerald Porter. The name is taken from the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, a freighter that sank in 1975. The majority of the freighter crew, all of whom went down with the ship, were from the Cleveland area, and the brewery felt it appropriate to pay tribute to them with this brew. Supported by the families of the victims, this porter was originally released in 1988 and has been the flagship beer of the brewery ever since.
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