Black Xantus - Humboldt Brewing Co.

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Black XantusBlack Xantus

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1,200 Ratings
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Ratings: 1,200
Reviews: 403
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 10.26%
Wants: 114
Gots: 339 | FT: 28
Brewed by:
Humboldt Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: ThreeWiseMen on 10-09-2009

Barrel aged for 6 months in combination of Bourbon, retired Firestone Union and wine barrels and Infused with fair-trade, organic coffee from local roaster Jobella.

Style: Imperial Java Stout IBUs: 50 Color: Black ABV: 11%
View: Beers (5) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,200 | Reviews: 403
Reviews by SuperbikeShaun:
More User Reviews:
Photo of zerosiah
3.74/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This beer poured a very dark brown into my glass. With the term "black" in the name I was expecting a darker color. I would put this beer into an imperial (barrel aged) brown category rather than a stout. The toasty bitter taste one might expect in a stout is lacking. However, chocolate presence and smooth barreled mouthfeel are quite forward in this offering. If this beer was labeled as an imperial barrel aged brown I would give it a 4.5.

Photo of oberon
3.87/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a nonic a near jet black with a creamy-like deep beige head that looked good but faded rather quickly.Great mix of vanilla,roast,coffee,and bitter chocolate aromas,really rich aromas.Sweetish and rich on the palate with vanilla and molasses being the main component,its roasted and it holds up to the sweetness well but the sweetness wins out in the end.A rich RIS and its a good nightcap but it gets a tad sweet after mid bottle in my opinion.

Photo of warnerry
3.38/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours black with one finger of quickly dissipating tan head.

S - Sweet bourbon notes up front, with some vanilla, coffee and oak also coming through.

T - Taste is also sweet vanilla, coffee and bourbon, with some roasted malts coming through that were not apparent in the smell. Oak becomes more prominent the further into the bottle, but not necessarily in a pleasant way.

M - a little thin for an RIS.

D With the abv, thin mouthfeel and pervasive, drying oak, drinkability is moderate at best, and definitely not worth $15 a bottle.

Photo of tigg924
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Driftwood-Plymouth--served into a tulip.

Appearance: black in color, minimal head, minimal carbonation, opaque

Smell: coffee, cream, and roasted malt

Taste: deep roasted coffee, light cream, vanilla, and oak--especially at the end

Mouthfeel: smooth, moderate-high carbonation, medium body for the style, sweet with oakiness that gives a slight bittering

Overall: Was not sure I was going to like this beforehand, but I love it. The coffee is rich but not overpowering and it mixes very well with the oak. I would love to try this one aged, but on draft it was a treat. This is what a coffee stout should be to me and is the new standard bearer.

Photo of Mora2000
4.13/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this beer.

Beer pours black with a tan head. The aroma is sweet, with a little bourbon as well as some vanilla and raisins. The taste is a strong mix of vanilla and milk chocolate. You also get a little bourbon and oak character. The beer has a thick, creamy mouthfeel and is very good.

Photo of fo1ksguitar
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 Bottle

A- Pours very dark, a fair amount of carbonation

S- Smells sweet; hints of coffee & vanilla

T- Very well balanced, upfront is chocolate and coffee, as it warms up the back end is more complex, can taste more fruit and a little more booze.

M- Medium body, but still smooth

O- Overall I really enjoyed this. The 2 year point was perfect to smooth it out. Hope this comes to St. Louis in the future. Love the FW line.

Reviewed on: 07-02-2011

Photo of kingcrowing
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into a tulip.

Pours a very dark brown, almost no head but it's dark. Nose bis oaky, a bit sweet and very mellow with vanilla.

Taste is sweet, oak, some. Sort of liquor and a good rich vanilla flavor. Mouthfeel is full, creamy and very good.

Photo of jondeelee
4.45/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black Xantus (Xantus being a species of hummingbird, as per the label's picture) begins with a heavenly Imperial Stout aroma--chock full of tobacco, ash, smoke, coffee, and molasses--but this one is tempered by the promise of brown sugars and caramelized figs.

On the tongue, the beer opens with a lash of coffee, ash, tobacco, black malt, and anise that is truly spectacular. As the mouthful ages on the tastebuds, a sugary layer of caramelized figs and brown sugar filters through, but is obviously struggling to do so against the weight of the primary flavors. Subsequent mouthfuls reveal deeper layers of figs, vanilla, and aged port, as well as a rim of bourbon at the edges. The aftertaste is a continuation of the darker flavors, as well as a slow bourbon alcohol burn that actually increases in intensity, and lasts for quite a while. Mouthfeel is a smooth medium, and carbonation is medium to medium-high.

Overall, this is a great Imperial Stout, and sure to please fans of the style. The beer might be a bit too heavy on the bourbon-and-alcohol burn (which does tend to dominate the flavor profile if several sips are taken in a row), but at 11% ABV, it's actually surprising that this isn't more present, and speaks volumes of the levels of flavor otherwise assaulting the tastebuds. Sip this one slowly, but otherwise well worth the price.

Photo of ehammond1
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On Tap

Churchill's Pub & Grille
San Marcos, CA

A very dark brown with an extremely thin and light brown head. Leaves significant lacing down the glass. A pretty beer, but it doesn't strike me as special or beautiful.

A muted yet pleasant aroma of chocolate and coffee and some sweet dark fruits, but nothing is leaping out of the glass to attack my nose.

A good taste that follows the nose, yet everything seems muted a bit. There's some roasted coffee, some burnt chocolate, and a touch of fruit, but nothing overwhelming or overtly special.

An appropriate velvety and smooth mouthfeel.

A pleasant enough and drinkable enough RIS but it doesn't do any one particular well enough that makes it one of my favorites. Fortunately, I can find better RIS on a regular basis. Ultimately good, but not great.

Photo of TKEbeerman
4.27/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured into my SA perfect pint, this brew pours a super dark brown. Held to the light you can see some light shine through. The head is lacking body.

S: The aroma deserves a 4.5 simply due to mouth watering .complexity. Medium roast coffee, notes of chocolate and vanilla, some toffee, and maybe some hazel nut.

T: The flavor is almost equally as complex and satisfying as the nose. Very smooth chocolate, vanilla, coffee mix with a slight bitterness on the back of the pallet.

MF: The mouth feel is velvety smooth with excellent carbination for brew supposedly aged in various barrels.

Overall, a brew completely worth the price. It is rare to see a brew of this quality on the shelves here in FL

Photo of Soonami
4.68/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks Chad for sharing this bottle of Black Xantus. This was a delicious RIS, I can't remember having a better example of the style. The beer was nearly opaque, dark as midnight with mahogany hues when held up in the light. The beer was topped with a cappuccino foam that held a wonderful aroma of mocha, roasted malt and fresh ground coffee. The beer had great balance with a wonderful amount of malty toasty grain. Often stouts are all bitter and astringent roast, but this beer has delicious maltiness that just makes it for me. Great beer thanks a lot Chad for sharing, i can't wait to be able to buy this soon.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black as beer, tons of coffee aroma, taste was immediately very reminiscient of Alesmith's Speedway Stout, until the sweetness creeps and creeps on you.

Coffee and chocolate dominate more than any barrel aging bourbon stuff, and yet the heat on this beer is definitely there. I don't see why this gets such a bad rap, its basically like a ris that has enough coffee to not make the dark fruits turn me off like they have a tendency to do at times. Smoky comes on as well. What originally was a simplistic Speedway Stout comparison evolved into something more complicated, not always working out, but definitely a successful effort from Firestone Walker on this one.

"Imperial Java Stout aged in bourbon, the first barrel aged release under the Nectar Ales banner. Brewed with Michoacan Fair Trade Coffee."

Photo of chinchill
3.86/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Aroma: not bad but more suggestion of woody roots than expected.

Flavor: rich and strong, even for style. Essentially no burnt qualities but very dark roasted grains dominate. Black coffee jumps in in the aftertaste.

Feel: very full body with proper carbonation.

O: a rich, strong sipper worth seeking out.

Photo of OStrungT
3.33/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a jet black color, with a thick, fluffy brown head. the head fades slowly, leaving a decent lace.

This beer has a sweet roasted malty aroma. I get some vanilla, and oaky notes. A very subtle bourbon aroma is also present. I detect a very subtle coffee aroma as well.

This beer tastes like oaky vanilla. Some bourbon flavor mixes in, along with a mild coffee flavor. The alcohol is present in the flavor.

This beer is very thick and creamy. It might be the creamiest stout I remember ever having. It kind of reminds me of Baileys Irish Cream. It leaves a coffee aftertaste. The alcohol warms on the way down.

This beer wouldnt make a great session beer. For one, the alcohol content is too high. Second, it is VERY aggressive, and the creamy mouthfeal gets old. Third, at $15 a bottle, it is a little too pricy to consume many of.

Overall: I opened this beer to celebrate National Stout Day. It was decent. I was expecting better. For the money, I could have bought 3 bottles of good beer. I didnt necessarily dislike it, but I felt that it was a bit too creamy and that made it a little hard to drink.

Photo of mahak213
4.27/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance- Black, but with a touch of light coming in around the edges. Not much head as expected, which dissipated into lots of big bubbles around the edges of the glass

Smell- Coffee and chocolate, vanilla from the barrel as well as a touch of a sweet, roasted coconut. No alcohol at all on the nose

Taste- Big milk chocolate which fades into roasty coffee. Coffee isn't too present, but it's there. Really nice barrel character though with sweet vanilla, coconut, and a touch of booziness finishing things off.

Mouthfeel- Medium body with mild carbonation. Could be a bit fuller, but the carbonation is spot on for me. Finishes sticky, sweet, and coating

Overall- I think I enjoy KBS a bit more than this as far as BA coffee stouts go, but this has a much nicer barrel character. Either way, you can't go wrong, this is good stuff!

Photo of daveytheformer
4.6/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

from notes.

Pours a dark black (brownish hued) with a noticeable tan head that has some lacing remaining.

Smells like chocolate, vanilla, dark fruit, light roasted malt, lots of bourbon, just a tad nutty and overall amazing!

Tastes are raisins, prunes, caramel, sweet chocolate, vanilla, and a huge bourbon presence. Nice.

Mouthfeel is medium with a silky smooth finish. Light carbonation that fits this kind of beer perfectly.

Overall is excellent! One of the best beers like this I've had.

Photo of glid02
4.22/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from a friend.

Pours one shade from black with dark brown highlights and a one-finger tan head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of vanilla and a combination of dark and milk chocolate mostly, with underlying roasted malt aromas. As the beer warms hints of whiskey and butterscotch waft out.

Tastes similar to how it smells. A malt profile that definitely is on the sweeter side - hints of roastiness are present but take a backseat to smooth chocolate flavors along with good amounts of vanilla. Midway through the sip hints of whiskey enter into things before fading out into a sweet ending.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability was very good. I finished my glass quickly and could easily have another.

Overall this wasn't quite as odd as I was expecting after seeing the all-over opinions of this beer. Not in the upper tier of RIS's but certainly above average. Worth a shot.

4.47/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

the first thing i noticed when i opened the bottle and took a whiff was the overwhelming smell of alcohol. tasted well above the 11% abv etched on the bottle, but trust me, i am not complaining. the taste was amazing. very overt bourbon taste with faint coffee and chocalate notes. quite possibly the best beer i've ever had. i really wish i had gotten more than one bottle now.

Photo of r0nyn
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into my DFH snifter. Courtesy of and split with fellow BA infi.

Pours a dark, oily black with minimal head. Spots of sticky lacing coat the inside of the glass. This beer's got legs too, with the 11% ABV coming out and waving at you from the top layer. Smell is nicely complex, with some sweet vanilla wafting through along with dark chocolate nuances and some roasted malts and coffee. Lots of dark fruit on the back end.

Mmm... dark fruit is there right off the bat in the taste and it lingers throughout the entire flavor experience. Roasted coffee and bittersweet dark cocoa follow through leading into a mildly astringent finish. Alcohol is just slightly detectable at the end as a boozy warmth at the back of the palate. Mouthfeel is slick and smooth, with just a little bit of carbonation fizzing around to tickle the tongue. Drying finish, leaving you wanting more sips.

Drinkability is pretty damn good. It's a weighty beer so you'll feel it, but if you pace yourself, it's a great sipping experience. Big, scrumptious taste and a nice coating mouthfeel make Black Xantus an imperial stout to be reckoned with.

Photo of McD0uche
3.91/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured bottle of Black Xantus into non-chilled pint glass:

A: Almost no head minus a few creamy, light brown bubbles. Extremely dark, black/brown color.

S: Light, sweet smell. Coffee-like aroma.

T: An explosion of sweet dark chocolate and coffee. Very rich in flavor. Extremely tasty.

M: Thick and bubbly. Not as oily as I had imagined.

O: Tasty and strong, indeed. Enjoy slowly sipping on this one on a cold night when you want to ease into a splendid buzz.

Photo of MrVonzipper
4.42/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Much lighter than expected. Light coffee/mahogany color with an average tan head. Fair retention and lacing.

Nose is quite nice. Clean robust coffee, chocolate and nuts like a chocolate brownie with nuts.

Flavor follows the nose nicely and similarly. Very nice clean, balanced and not overpowering coffee character that plays nicely with chocolate and nutty notes.

Full bodied mouthfeel but not thick and viscous, but also not too thin. Very nice for this beer. Carbonation is med-low.

Overall this beer turned out to be very nice. I was quite pleased with it and look forward to trying again and testing with age.

Photo of Metalmonk
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A fluffy light brown head looks like a mass of puffed rice...and unsurprisingly it dies to a skim then a soapy crown rather quickly. This Xantus is indeed black...there's really no other word for the liquid ebony sitting in this snifter., and mesmerizing at that.

Fair bit of nostril-flaring heat in the aroma, but it's not overbearing and there's more worked into it. Kind of has a nutty exterior, with dark fruit suggestions tucked deep inside, even a dash of anise. Interestingly, not as much coffee and chocolate as you normally get with the style.

Flavor has a hoppy bite, balanced well with deep dark chocolate flavors, a light salty/soy-sauce character, juicy fig and prune, and an accenting glow from the alcohol. Some vanilla creeps in with warming; green wood makes itself known in the main and finish. Nice.

Bit of a plastic feel to the mouth, which could be a drying element playing tricks--and it's not a complaint, as it doesn't taste plastic-y, and the gooey, slick, creamy elements of the texture are no less than fantastic. Carbonation is very much present, yet working at a level that highlights the other feels and flavors, and doesn't distract.

Not a mindblower exactly, but a more solid, textbook-example of the style I cannot think of at the moment. Just really, really good stuff; would be an excellent gateway RIS for newbies looking to explore the style. (Can the Xantus Helper or Xantus Claus Xmas RIS be far behind?) (Urgh...)

Photo of nkersten
3.87/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into Surly Darkness glass. Thick black body with some brown hues at the edges and a thin mocha cap that settles to a ring. Smell is very malt driven, lots of dark roasted malt, dark chocolate, some coffee beans, slight lactose sweetness. Taste is sweet and milky at first, bitter roasted malts, lots of chocolate and coffee bitterness in the finish. A great combination of flavors and but once it begins to warm the 11% abv show up. Heavy and syrupy body with a medium active carbonation. A very tasty RIS, albeit a bit boozy.

Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This tasty bomber I could not believe I finished over lunch. vanilla and chocolate aromas in a rich black body. The 11% is well hidden, some sugar, coffee. Very mild bourbon. Some complexity that keeps it interesting. Above average mouthfeel and drinkability. Thanks Augustgarage.

Photo of tdm168
4.5/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - pitch black with a little, thick brown head that has little retention

S - bourbon, chocolate, anise, alcohol

T - chocolate, roasted malts, bourbon, vanilla, coffee, faint black licorice

M - full bodied, smooth, well carbonated

This was a fantastic, full flavored, delicious beer. It has depth and subtleties. For such high ABV the drinkability was still there. This was a truly enjoyable drinking experience.

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Black Xantus from Humboldt Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 1,200 ratings.