Office Brew: Deschutes Black Butte Porter Clone

Our Rob attempts to recreate one of his all-time favourite dark beers.

Towards the end of summer, I took my first strides into homebrewing with a crowdsourced farmhouse saison. One of the very first saisons I tried and enjoyed was Tank 7 by Boulevard Brewing from Missouri, and it’s fair to say I was overly excited at the prospect of making 20L of something that tasted similar. It didn’t quite turn out the way I’d imagined unfortunately; massively fluctuating fermentation temperatures resulted in a weird marriage of off flavours with fruity esters sitting up front. This was due to leaving the heat belt on over the weekend in an empty office, it certainly wasn’t my finest moment.

Skip forward a few months into the arcticlike coldness of the North, it was time to get the Grainfather out again for brew number two. The approach to this one was a lot more conservative, deciding on a brown porter over a raspberry gose.

Rather than attempting to edit a base recipe, we went for a clone instead. You’ll find a hell of a lot of different takes of the same commercial beer clone recipe available online, and it can be difficult on making a decision on which one to go with. This certainly was the case for Deschutes Black Butte Porter. Deschutes has the recipe listed on its own website for you to figure out the finer details; it’s quite a novel idea, but the difficulty level for a novice like myself all but ruled that out.

In the end, after searching through various forums, I decided to go with the recipe that had drawn the most acclaim from the homebrew community. There’s some great advice on for cloning beers from scratch and building your own recipes (week 113), so maybe we’ll give this a try next time around.

The brew was fairly straightforward, with only a few hiccups. Cleaning on the go made a massive difference this time around. My previous brew’s cleaning was all done at the end of the process, having a load of hardened sticky equipment to clean after hours of slogging over a hot stove isn’t much fun at all.

Thanks to a lot of ice cubes and sub-zero temperatures on the office fire escape, we pulled it off...”

At the end of the boil, I knocked the filter loose at the bottom of the Grainfather after overly enthusiastically attempting to create a whirlpool. With no filter in place, the pump clogged up within minutes and this meant we couldn’t use the cooling coil. We had to decant straight into a carboy at boiling temperatures to then cold crash. It was less than ideal, but thanks to a lot of ice cubes and sub-zero temperatures on the office fire escape, we pulled it off in about 40 minutes, ready to pitch our English Ale Yeast at 18° C.

Hopefully brew number two will be a success; and by ‘success’ I mean safe(ish) to drink. I certainly hope so anyway, as it’s for my Dad’s Christmas.

Inspired by our recent and much-loved Elements Project, I made this beer again over the weekend, due to having a crazy amount of hops left over. This time around I added 100g cold brewed Columbian coffee and 400g of cocoa right at the end of the boil. It was a bit of a stab in the dark, but nevertheless it’ll be interesting to compare the two when they’re ready in about two weeks’ time.

Deschutes Black Butte Porter Clone | Brown Porter


· For 5 gallons (18.93 L)

  • 4.08kg NW Two-Row Pale Malt
  • 363g Chocolate Wheat Chocolate
  • 227g 80° L Crystal Malt
  • 142g Dextrin Malt
  • 14g Galena Pellet Hops (90 min)
  • 7g Cascade Pellet Hops (15 min)
  • 7g Hallertauer Blanc Pellet Hops (5 min)
  • White Labs WLP 002 English Ale Yeast 


  • Original Gravity: 1.057
  • Final Gravity: 1.016
  • IBU: 37
  • SRM: 32
  • Efficiency: 75%


Mash: 67° C (153° F)  
Mash Time: 60 Mins
Mash Out: 76° C (168° F)
Boil: 90 Mins
Ferment: 18° C (65° F)



Imperial stout-1

After a couple of weeks’ fermentation and four additional weeks sat on oak chips, we’d seen a huge change in this strong, unctuous stout. The hard, boozy edges had softened, and the somewhat blunt bitter/ sweet balance given a more interesting character by the subtle wood influence, which brought cinder toffee and vanilla to the party. Softly carbonated in the bottle, it had a luxuriously smooth mouth feel, with plenty of body to carry the 8.5% abv. We were really pleased with this one, and have challenged ourselves to save some for Christmas.


West coast IPA-1

This brew went so smoothly, so it was reassuring to see the beer coming out absolutely right at the other end. Big, bold and juicy, the late-addition hops really shine through, with pineapple, mango and citrus. A sunshine orange colour and good fizz were the icing on the cake. The most interesting side of this brew was the decision to split it in two, with one half getting dry hopped after primary fermentation, and the other getting the same hops, but around four days before primary fermentation had finished. This supposedly leads to a process called biotransformation’, in which some of the hop compounds are metabolised by the yeast to form new flavours. There was definitely a difference between the two batches, with the biotransformed beer showing slightly and an additional spicy note.

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