Highland Big Butte Smoked Porter | Highland Brewing

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Highland Big Butte Smoked PorterHighland Big Butte Smoked Porter
34 Ratings
Highland Big Butte Smoked PorterHighland Big Butte Smoked Porter

Brewed by:
Highland Brewing
North Carolina, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by atsprings on 09-19-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 34 |  Reviews: 30
Reviews by DavidEddie:
Photo of DavidEddie
4/5  rDev -1.5%

More User Reviews:
Photo of marvin213
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

It's a dark porter that could easily pass for a stout. Even the head is brown and thick--almost creamy. Swirling evidences lacing like wine legs, and the brew's look doesn't change. The top's almost like an eyeball as the hoppy foam hits the edges while an almost circular patch spots the center. In between is black American porter. It's an impressive-looking beverage.

The nose is a burnt, roasted, smoked malt. The smell offers layers of complexity as the roasty smokiness fails to hide lingerings of chocolate in the background. The Fuggle hops do add a grass-like earthiness. It smells like a lil' chocolate's been added to my Lay's mesquite barbecue chips.

I taste even more smoke than I smell. I'd call it a rauchbier without blinking an eye. The malts (which I couldn't distinguish as German without reading the bottle) make a potentially biting smokiness much more palatable. I verge in to mouthfeel because the seemingly perfect carbonation really meshes what's a great assortment of flavors. This is really a unique brew, and it's complex enough (roasted, malty smokiness combined with a chocolate grassy earthiness) that it changes significantly with temperature and, I'd imagine, with age. It's just a cool liquid to swish as if it were mouthwash. Although these aren't my favorite ingredients for a beverage, I'd offer that they're thrown together right nice in this Big Butte bottle o' beer.

There are certainly many porters more drinkable than this one. That's probably owed largely to the fact that few porters are as flavorful as this one. It's absolutely appropriate as a beer to take outside to flame up the grill, to sip as you throw on the ribs, to enjoy as you wash down the sauce, and to savor just after you've turned off the heat. As with most smoked beers, however, the occasion and cuisine are relatively limited.

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Photo of merlin48
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber pours an opaque dark mahogany body with a small, but lasting, creamy tan head. Patchy lacing is left on the glass.

Good porter aroma has some nuttiness, dark fruits(mostly plums), and dark roasty malt notes of coffee and dark chocolate. Just a hint of smokiness, initially.

Light medium to medium body is thinner than expected but just fine for style. Medium carbonation.

Taste opens with sweetish dark fruits(plums again). Dark roasty malt notes take front and center, with coffee and bittersweet chocolate. Campfire smoke emerges nicely as it warms. No hint of alcohol, despite the 7% abv. Earthy hop bitterness provides a nice balance to the dark fruity sweetness.

Nicely executed and very enjoyable.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on-tap. flying saucer charlotte

cell-phone notes

appearance: served in a standard pint - dark mahogany body, light tan cream lace

smell: smoked meat - specifically sausage, dark chocolate, dark roasted malts

taste: asked the bartender what she thought of this one and she said it tasted liked smoked sausage. this probably turns off most but i was all over this one and she was fairly accurate...roasty, chocolatey, and very smoky - check this one out for sure

mouthfeel: medium-heavy, creamy and smoked out

drinkability: pretty good, all things considered

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Photo of RomaniIteDomum
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours like black frothy goodness with a nice one finger tan head.

There is a lot of roasted smell in this beer. It has a very tasty aroma.

The taste follows the nose with a little added sweetness. Unlike most smoked porters I don't taste that fake chemical bacon taste akin to dog treats. The smoke is more subtle and natural tasting.

The feel is nice and creamy with a nice body.

Pretty damn drinkable. One bomber is enough, but I wish I had a second for future drinking.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle into several sample glasses. Thanks to Deuane for busting this one out.

Pours black, with a little bit of ruby coming out along the bottom, and a frothy 1/2 finger of creamy chocolate mocha head. This stays rich when swirled, leaving back some nice looking spotty swathes of lacing. The aroma is chocolate, roast, coffee, and light toffee coming out first, with some more subtle meaty smoke coming out behind it. Really nice evenness
here, between the roast, smoke, and sweet character, giving this a pleasant feel in the nose.

The taste has a silky sweet base of roasted chocolate and caramel sweetness to it. Crunchy coffee comes into play in the middle part, followed by the smoked malts that slink into the back part of the profile. Really well done finish on this, which sees that smokey meat character lingering along with coffee notes for a dry and roasty feel. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with an extremely smooth and creamy feel to it. I can't actually believe that this is 7% ABV, as it handles like so much less than that. Very nice!

This is a very nicely done Smoked Porter of restraint, allowing the other flavors to really shine as well. Just a killer feel and drinkibility for the size on this to. I'd love to see this added as a fall seasonal every year.

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Photo of thagr81us
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served from bottle into a Spaten Optimator dimpled mug. Poured a massively dark brown with a half finger beige head that subsided to a minimal amount very quickly. Maintained phenomenal lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, roasted malt, dark fruit, milk chocolate, and smoke. The flavor was of sweet malt, roasted malt, dark fruit, subtle dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and smoke. It had a medium feel on the palate with mild carbonation, almost velvety. Overall this was a fairly good brew. I was really surprised at how well the flavor turned out on this brew based on the first impression from the aroma going on here. The aroma wasn’t bad, but I did find it to be rather weak unfortunately. Still quite easy to drink and enjoyable. Definitely worth trying if you get the opportunity.

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Photo of Bung
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. Deep brown/black pour, not excessively thick. Dark tan head. Roasted malt, chocolate and hints of peat and smoke in the aroma. Taste has the roast malt, hint of coffee, slightly acidic. Chocolate and charcoal accent this very nicely. Medium body, not quite creamy. Little lingering bitters, dark chocolate, bbq smokeyness in the finish. Slightly dry finish. Warming of course, brings this one to life a bit more as well. Drinkability is pretty high, not difficult to drink. Not sure if some time will improve this drastically, but it is still quite good now.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.55/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Jake65 brought this to a freaking epic tasting at Ditmier's house last weekend.. Glad I was able to attend.. amazing! Reviewed from paper notes.

Very clear dark brown brew.. nice tan head.

Wow... very smokey.. lite caramel.. minor brown sugar..

dark malts with some dark fruits, but the main player is "beef jerky" .... dark cocoa if I try and pull it out... bits of char... medium body and a bit heavier carbonation...

Seems waaay more of a "smoked beer" than an American Porter.... I hope that changes. Overall, I appreciate what came out of the bottle, but I honestly don't like most smoked beers because they're overdone.. this is no exception.

Thanks Jake for all the super cool beers, but this one left me flat.


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Photo of mikesgroove
3.53/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Another new one for me, we brought a bunch over to the fourth of July cookout. Served cold and poured
into a nice tasting glass, this one was consumed on 07/04/2010.

Nice deep dark brown pour I have to admit, this was quite impressive. Nice head, maybe an inch or so
high that came up and over the top, settling down nicely with some decent lacing along the glass.

Aroma was dark and very bitter chocolate, hints of smoked malts, a touch of vanilla pokes through as
it warms as well. Interesting flavor as burnt coffee and deep, dark malts take over. Really bitter
dark bakers chocolate led to the flavor being distorted in a way I was not ready for. Still though it
was nice, I just think there is too much bitter flavor rolling through here. Finish is strong, again
though deep bitter coffee notes pull it in one direction.

Overall a nice solid choice but if I am being honest I was expecting more out of it. Thankfully the
olde ale made up for it.

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Photo of blackie
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: tight, creamy mocha head recedes to a nice layer atop the mahogany, nearly black colored beer

s: a full caramel back carries big roasts and extra dark chocolate, supporting an aroma of richly smoked, fruity meats - nice balance on this end, very well executed

m: soft, light-medium carbonation on a medium body

t: this is what a smoked porter is all about - big meaty smoke well entwined with a roasty body, rich toffee, and very dark chocolate, the drier finish pulls out more woody, charcoal flavors, dusty cocoa, and burnt barley, finishing with a lingering flavor of campfire and mild bitterness

d: no issues here - great beer

bomber from Peace Street Market, Raleigh

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Photo of Murchmac
3.53/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Chuck for this beer. Love me some smoked porters.

Khaki brown head, black with cola highlights.

Smells smokey, some hops. Maybe I got a bad bottle but I didnt smell much of anything really.

Taste 1st smoke, 2nd the body of a good porter, 3rd, some earthy hopness. Was a bit restrained for a porter, but a nice mellow change.

Two thumbs up.

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Photo of CWiggins
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Sarah M. for the sample!

My first experience with a true rauchbier put me off any beer that has "smoked" in its name! I have learned that the American version of smoked beers doesn't bear any resemblance to that authentic German concoction, but I still fear that first taste.

Highland's Big Butte Smoked Porter pours a dark black with a decent, but short-lived, tan head. This was surprisingly leaner than most porters I've head; it just didn't pour as thick. Dark roasted malts and smoke are certainly discernible in the aroma, and a touch of sugary sweetness is carried along as well. The flavor is full of those roasted malts, along with a mildly smokey character that really makes itself known during the finish and aftertaste. There is a nice, mild sweet (nearly fruity) essence on the front and main body, and the slightly bitter, smokey, coffee-ish aftertaste is true delight.

This one's a bit thinner than many American porters I've sampled. That certainly makes it more "drinkable," however, the alcohol (at 7% ABV) may sneak up on you, so be careful!

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Photo of baklo
4/5  rDev -1.5%

Photo of Rifugium
3.75/5  rDev -7.6%

Photo of cvstrickland
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Alex Buerckholtz's 2009 Highland Cup winning homebrew, courtesy of Highland Brewing:

I got to taste this one at the brewery during the 2009 Tasgall Ale rollout, and got a chance to meet both Homebrewer Alex and Highland's Brewmaster John, whose collective crewdogs and cooperative efforts combined to produce this fine German smoked malt and Fuggles-infused porter on a scale large enough to bring it to more than just a lucky few. Those guys were all so cool and the beer was so damned good that I just had to grab a few bottles on the way home.

The label tells the tale of how this beer came to be, sports a 7% ABV , and indicates that Big Butte will cellar nicely and improve over time. I have a few bottles I'm saving for sometime later, but the chilled 22-ounce bomber in front of me is not one of them. I select my Delirium tulip, and after letting the bottle temper a bit I pop the top.

Big Butte pours light-sucking mahogany-tinted garnet in color with a finger and a half of creamy pale beige foam atop. From the first hiss of the crown a persistent waft of pleasantly acrid smoke swirls around the brown bottle before also claiming the airspace above the wee drinking vessel. The cap of foam deflates into a sticky sheet and leaves a ragged film of lacing plastered onto the sidewalls of my glass.

The clean, dry, smoky aroma is laced with dark roasty notes, leaning first toward bittersweet chocolate before veering into the French-roasted realm of Juan Valdez. If I had to hold the smell-descriptor to two words, I'd call it, "Smoky Mocha". As the brew warms a bit, a cooling whiff of Bourbony vanilla caramels gains purchase. After much huffing, swirling, and eventually getting a shot of foam up the snoot, I arrive at the landmark conclusion that the brew smells pretty damn good the whole time you drink it, but snorting it... no.

The taste is richly dark and malty with a sprinkle of burning sugar , a dusting of herbal spice, and a pervasive edge of dryly tangy smoke. The flavors are so familiar... I'm thinking of my grandmother's inimitable homemade lard biscuits, a day old, split open, smeared with real butter and pan-toasted dark and crispy in an iron skillet before being smothered in savory chocolate gravy and plated with crisp fried hickory bacon. Mmm-mmm! An earthy-dry splash of cooled black coffee perfects the days-of-yore breakfast idea only moments before the persistent smokiness smacks against my internal smoke alarm, the detector shocking me back from my 20th Century revelry. [Granny! The biscuits are burning!] This is a great-tasting beer. And a little smoky, did I mention?

The drink is medium-fullish in body with a mild fluffing of fine carbonation that fits it just perfectly. An extremely easy drinker that I'm sure would go great with Western NC-style "barbecue". Outstanding.

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Photo of JISurfer
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this one from the back room at Brawley's in Charlotte. I'm a fan of HBC and smoked porters, so I jumped on it when I saw this one. I noticed that it was only released in NC, which makes it cool that I could get it. Had a thick tan head that stayed around for a little while, then went into a thin lacing. The smell had a slight smoked meat mixed with heavy malts smell to it. The tasted definitely got better, the closer to room temp it got. It wasn't bad when it was cold, but it was much better as it warmed. It really helped bring out the smoked malt and meat flavors. Glad I picked this one up as it's definitely worth grabbing if you can. Once again, HBC puts out another great product.

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Photo of cnjohn19
4.4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

enjoyed this with my stepdad who drove in from KY...been saving it for his visit...

pours an unpenetrating black with a rich light brown foam...brilliant to look at from a distance...smells of strong smokey richness, an apparent malty backbone...getting a scotch smell and hint of coffee...

wow...absolutely splendid...bold, rich, smokey (of course) and an awesome aftertaste...you won't get this your first taste but give it a minute...

this one stands out to me as one of the best porters i've tasted...cheers to the homebrewer for this one...

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Photo of Durge
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An extremely opaque dark colored liquid with a modest light tan ring of head and nice lacing. The aroma brings a very tart chocolate burnt pumpkin blend, unique and enjoyable. My taste buds pick up on the smoke and plenty more tart coffee bitterness. There's not a lot more to be said, a touch of creamy chocolate in a mid-bodied plus brew with a delicate carbonation. It's reasonably drinkable for the style but the theme here is pretty much all tart with a modest smoke overtone. Very tasty and an agreable porter option.

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Photo of brentk56
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a espresso brown color with a roacky tan cap that leaves a fair amount of lacing behind

Smell: While you can tell this is a smoked beer, there is an unexpected amount of plum and blackberry in the aroma; the smoke is subtle and more like hickory smoked BBQ than the typical ash bomb; sweetened coffee underneath, as well

Taste: Biscuits and dark fruit, up front, with the plum and blackberry flavors joined by the BBQ smoke at mid-palate; some caramel in the profile, up front, as well; after the swallow, the sweetened coffee flavors join in, along with some milk chocolate; the smoke re-asserts itself in the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: One of the best beers to come out of Highland, this one had relatively little publicity but will not be forgotten for some time

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Photo of therica
3.65/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brewed once for the 2009 Highland Cup contest where it placed best of show in March 2009, available only in North Carolina, purchased in Surf City NC in September 2009, consumed and rated April 2010.

Let this warm to 50F plus if you hope to find much of quality in this porter.

A= near-black, little head, hardly any rimming or lacing.

S= rather unexpectedly light nose for a porter at 45F, some smoked wood scent, some mild hops florals, roasted malts evident, chocolate in the first whiff but that disappeared quickly. At 50F+ some caramel became evident as well as the smoky traits.

T= very dry and astringent, chalky molasses, burnt malts and raisins evident, a bit too carbonated which is surprising since there was little head et al. Not quite balanced in my opinion but interesting. Some dark chocolate here and there. I'm not getting the smoked effecs, just burnt and dry at any temperature. Light caramel after it was nearly warmed.

M= dry and astringent with burnt molasses, light syrup.

D= drinkable for a query but I don't know that I'd buy an extra bottle, maybe share a bottle with some friends for samples. Try Smuttynose Baltic Porter and you'll forget this stuff ever existed. There are just too many better porters out there especially at this $5.99 price (Sept 2009).

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Photo of carolinahophead
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is the winning recipe from the recent Homebrew contest in Asheville NC.
The appearance is a dark coffee color with a nice foam head when poured. Has a terrific smell of a expresso liquer and dark roasted malt. Exotic spices are present as well.The taste is very different from other porters as this is where the smoke comes through in a good way. Mouthfeel is light in body but full with noticeable acidity and bitterness. Be careful with this one; it's a great beer to age . Save for a hearty meal or an after dinner treat.

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Photo of NCSUdo
4.28/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle

A: Deep brown/black body under a good sized off white head. Good lace and retention.

S: Nice aroma, very balanced. Toasted and roasted maltiness, caramel and toffee through out, with some hints of chocolate. At first, I wasn't quite getting the smoke, but eventually it came through as "meaty" type smoke.

T: Again, nice and balanced. Smoke comes through more in the taste department. Malt is mixed with smoke up front, before giving way to a cream like sweetness and then a pretty decent bitter punch, that seems part hop/part smoke/part dark chocolate induced. A bit of burnt caramel clings to the palate as well, and the slightest hint of alcohol. Good stuff.

M/D: Full bodied, smooth, carbonation is just right. Good drinkability. Really solid, well balanced porter.

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Photo of sholland119
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours a lovely dark brown with just a hint of light at the bottom. A thin pool of off white head leaves some nice lacing.

S-Medium levels of wood smoke and a bit of bacon goodness.

T-While the nose is maybe a bit underdone, the taste is really nice. Rich chocolate malt in the front, some very nicely balanced smokiness and a nice roasty hop bite in the finish.

M- Very nice richness, medium bodied and a really long lingering roasted malt.

D-Two for two on smoked porters tonight, with this following Ng Smoke on the Porter. This is quite delicious, lighter on smoke. longer on flavor and body.


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Photo of corby112
3.56/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled from a 22oz. bottle courtesy of Deuane.

Pours pitch black and completely opaque with only the slightest hint of mahogany in the edges when held to a light source and a two finger light beige head that has great retention, slowly fading into a lasting ring that leaves chunky rings of lacing.

Sweet roasted malt aroma with chocolate malt, toffee, caramel and a nice smokiness on the end with subtle chocolate.

Medium body with a sweet silky chocolate maltiness that is only slightly roasted with caramel and hazelnut notes. Smokiness is subtle and not as prominent as I would prefer. Faint charcoal BBQ smokiness in the dry finish. Subtle hops.

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Highland Big Butte Smoked Porter from Highland Brewing
Beer rating: 4.06 out of 5 with 34 ratings