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Black Xantus - Humboldt Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Black XantusBlack Xantus

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

993 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 993
Reviews: 365
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 10.98%
Wants: 109
Gots: 264 | FT: 20
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:
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%

(Beer added by: ThreeWiseMen on 10-09-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 993 | Reviews: 365 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Sammy, Aug 15, 2010
Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

t0rin0, Nov 22, 2012
Photo of spycow
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

spycow, Mar 09, 2013
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This bottle has been chilling at my place for a while now, staring me in the face, daring me to crack it. So, I did.

Pours an opaque black with a small 1/2 inch khaki head that fades to an oily film on the top of the beer. A curtain of lace forms on the glass during the drink down. Smell is of dark fruits, dark roasted malts, and some coffee notes. There are some barrel notes as the beer warms. Taste is of the dark fruits, roasted malts, coffee beans, bittersweet chocolate, vanilla, wood, and vanilla. Very complex flavors here. Mouthfeel is thick and smooth and creamy with a lower level of carbonation. A slight alcohol burn in the back of the throat with each sip as the beer gets warmer. Overall, this is a very good stout with a complex set of flavors that meld together quite well.

UCLABrewN84, Aug 17, 2011
Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev -4.5%

djrn2, Nov 22, 2012
Photo of zestar
4/5  rDev -4.5%

zestar, Aug 22, 2014
Photo of acurtis
3.5/5  rDev -16.5%

acurtis, Feb 05, 2012
Photo of Thorpe429
2.5/5  rDev -40.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

This beer *only* punched me in the nuts. Thanks go out to mdfb79 for that one, though working strongly in his defense is the fact that I asked if he could bring this. D'oh. I didn't particularly care for it, though it was a fun piece of the 10-14 diagonal and accompaniments. Served in a FFF / Intelligentsia mini snifter.

Pours near black with a small mocha head that goes away quickly and leaves behind some light spotty lacing. The nose goes bigtime boom with the coffee, so much so that it almost takes on a black-pepper-like character. That's about it; well, I suppose there's a bit of roast in the background. Overpowering, overroasted coffee hits the palate as well, and doesn't feel any better in the finish. In fact, it's worse in the finish. Light sweetness and a long coffee bitterness. Astringent and dry finish. No bueno. Glad to have finally tried this beast, but I wouldn't do so again.

Thorpe429, May 25, 2011
Photo of nmann08
4/5  rDev -4.5%

nmann08, Nov 28, 2011
Photo of Texasfan549
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

Texasfan549, Mar 27, 2012
Photo of metter98
3.95/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is jet black in color and poured with a creamy tan head that rapidly dissipated leaving lacy patterns of bubbles in the center of the glass.
S: Light aromas of bourbon and roasted malts are present in the nose.
T: The taste is somewhat complex and has flavors of chocolate, coffee, molasses, roasted malts and oak from the barrel aging. Alcohol is present in the finish, but this taste becomes hidden as the beer warms up.
M: It feels full-bodied, smooth and slightly creamy on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation. Warming sensations from the alcohol are present in the finish.
D: The beer is rather drinkable considering its strength because the alcohol is well hidden from the taste.

metter98, Mar 06, 2011
Photo of GRG1313
4.47/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown/black, creamy, viscous texture with a big, thick and firm light brown head. Nose is assertive and layered sweet cherry, coffee, dark chocolate nose with an abundance of cherry alcohol in the nose.

Mouthfeel is creamy, rich, thick and appealing. Perfect carbonation and very "richly elegant" and well integrated.

Flavors are big, rich, assertive and bold. Flavors of thick semi-sweet black chocolate and sweet creamed coffee. There is a whiskey, creamy sweet bourbon character. Layers of dark, coffee, black chocolate, espresso and whiskey flavors.

This has wonderful sweet espresso finish.

For this big, creamy, sweet black chocolate/coffee type stout this is very drinkable. Would go well with smoked meats, charcuterie, BBQ, and game. Would also go well with lots of different desserts or simply very nice to drink by itself.

Very friendly all around; very approachable. A very creamy, rich drink with a big black espresso finish. Hard to put this one down.

This tastes like a wonderfully made stout that already has some age on it because of it's integration and "bold" elegance. Likely will get even better with a bit of age.

GRG1313, Nov 07, 2009
Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev -4.5%

kjkinsey, Dec 07, 2011
Photo of brentk56
4.14/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown color with just under an inch of foam topping the liquid; the bubbles quickly fade to a ringlet but the beer leaves plenty of dots and legs draping the side of the chalice

Smell: Chocolate and coffee; black bread and Bourbon - nothing over the top

Taste: Coffee-infused chocolate Bon Bons, with the Bourbon expanding in the middle; licorice and black bread, after the swallow, cut the sweetness somewhat but the finish is much like the start

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied with low to moderate carbonation

Overall: TIme has been kind to this brew, hiding the alcohol and bringing all of the flavors together; not a mind-blower but very, very good

As there is no date on this bottle, I think it may be from the original bottling in 2009 or possibly 2010 as it came in my 2010 Secret Santa box; thanks, mrmiles, for the opportunity

brentk56, Jul 23, 2013
Photo of BEERchitect
4.51/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Espresso, bourbon, wine- ooh, my! Emboldened with utmost complexity, this powerful stout tantilizes with savory sweetness while promoting dry roast to take the taste buds on quite a wild ride!

Black Xantus pour with an onyx-black pour and complete opaqueness. A thick sheet of foam builds on top the dark ale before reducing to a delicate creme before holding firm for the duration. Where lacing is minimal, the beer instead prefers brandy-like legging that combines with the froth for a sultry and ominous appearance.

Decadent aromatics rise from the glass with a burst of espresso and dark chocolate first, and then the sweet bourbon aromas secondarily. Brought together with notes of molasses, brown sugar, and vanilla- the scents all intertwine into a savory mix of all-things-dark. Warming up a bit, deep sherry wine emerges and brings in the light soy sauce and char-grilled scent that's more meaty than smoky.

As the malt lays on the tongue, it saturates with black-strap molasses, espresso, bittersweet chocolate and burnt grain. Its merely mid-weight sweetness promotes a dry roast taste that accents its roast and introduces slight ash. While the roast easily balances the sweetness, the savory wine flavors peak through with aged sherry, rich meaty and salty soy sauce, and licorice-like pepper taste. Finishing with sweet bourbon- the caramel, vanilla and booze-soaked oak sweetens the taste before closing with a return of coffee-like bitterness.

Certainly full on the palate, the beer takes little time to cast the bulk of its malt sweetness and weight to the wayside in order to favor a drier and more drinkable palate. Where the dryness helps here, it exposes the powdery ash textures and roast-derived astringency that creates slight harshness in texture. However, this only keeps the beer from becoming world class; its still and excellent mouthfeel component.

Black Xantus is an incredible Imperial Stout with strong bourbon and mild wine undertones. Though delicious and dry on the palate, the stout promises sultry and savory aromatics that the taste and texture has a hard time equaling.

BEERchitect, Oct 04, 2013
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.48/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Crow feather black that isn't a complete black hole, since somewhat generous bronze highlights are seen along the bottom of the glass. A thick chunk of khaki colored foam crested the rim on the pour and needed to be slurped. So far, lace looks to be more extensive than the ABV and barrel aging would lead one to expect.

The aroma is perfectly complemented by Jobella Fair Trade coffee, not dominated by it. Dark chocolate, caramelized sugar and vanilla are noted as well. Story is, the beer was aged for 6 months in barrels that had previous held bourbon and some sort of wine. So far, so good.

Nectar Ales Black Xantus tastes like it smells, but loses something in the translation. For starters, there isn't enough malt, which means the beer is thinner than it should be. For finishers, there's too much unmasked alcohol, which is unacceptable in a sub-style that should have enough flavor intensity to cover up a flaw of that sort.

Bourbon whiskey is actually more prominent than coffee. Either those were some leaky barrels or the brewers added a shot of Kentucky's finest to each bottle prior to capping. No red grape vinousness is evident. It isn't a complete and unmitigated mess, but some significant mopping up needs to be done if the brewery plans to release this offering again.

Neither sweetness (slight lead early) nor bitterness (slight lead late) seizes the reins and charges across the finish line. Warming doesn't change much, which is odd. Usually beer of this sort finds its groove by the middle of the bomber. The flavor isn't becoming more well-integrated, the alcohol isn't mellowing and the mouthfeel isn't becoming the least bit chewy or full.

Black Xantus was named after a rarely seen hummingbird. That's a strange name for a beer that is supposed to be big and bold, but it's understandable given Nectar Ales labels and overall theme. Unfortunately, it never really comes together into something that can seriously compete with the country's best, much less the world's best.

BuckeyeNation, Sep 25, 2010
Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -16.5%

ygtbsm94, Jan 13, 2012
Photo of mikesgroove
4.58/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Another new gem I was lucky enough to get a hold of. I was really looking forward to trying this one as I have heard excellent things about it. Served chilled at cellar temp and poured into a large pint glass, this one was consumed on 11/11/2009.



The pour was perfect. Huge and dark, evil looking jet black in color with a huge tan head that reached a height of nearly three inches before it even thought about trying to settle down, and even then simply dropped tons of spider like lacing up and down the sides of the glass. Really just huge looking and absolutely perfect. Rich aroma of roasted malts, nice touches of rich chocolate notes and huge notes of vanilla and molasses. Warming brings out light touches of coffee, hints of woody notes and a light bourbon touch that really pulls it all together really quite nicely. Rich flavor, huge notes of molasses and chocolate, loads of coffee infused goodness and a just a nasty, wicked dark licorice like flavor to it. This thing was a beast and a half to say the least. Warming brings out more touches of woody notes, more hints of vanilla, and a nice back splash of roasted malts. Really again very well done and a very solid example of the style. Perfect feel and although it clocked in at over 11% there was no way I could possibly tell.



Overall a very solid RIS. I would stack this one up in a tasting with the big boys any day of the week, it was really just that good. Another very solid option here.

mikesgroove, Nov 13, 2009
Photo of jaydoc
3.75/5  rDev -10.5%

jaydoc, Jan 11, 2014
Photo of kylehay2004
4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Minimal head with scattered lacing on a very dark body with red tinge coming through. Aroma of vanilla, roasted malt, brown sugar and dark chocolate. The alcohol is very well hidden with a lot of vanilla and chocolate sweetness, a touch too sweet. The roasted malt base is mild and provides little bitterness. Brown sugar rounds this one out in the finish. Medium to full body and moderate carbonation with oily palate. This one is excellent but its a little too sweet for me. A solid and drinkable brew.

kylehay2004, Mar 19, 2013
Photo of womencantsail
3.73/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The infamous Black Xantus. I have had this for quite some time, but opened it yesterday to share with a few local BAs.

A: The pour is fairly impressive. The beer is black with a small mocha colored head.

S: The smell is surprisingly lacking in coffee (considering this is supposed to be a "java" stout). There was plenty of bourbon, chocolate, and vanilla, however.

T: The taste is sort of all over the place. The bourbon is noticeable up front, but not overwhelming. That is followed by some decent chocolate and vanilla flavors, as well as some coffee.

M: The body is on the thin side for an RIS, but not terrible. The carbonation is low, but that is to be expected.

D: For an RIS, it's rather drinkable. But, it's not necessarily a great example. I am glad that I got to try it, but I am not in a hurry to drink my remaining bottle.

womencantsail, Dec 15, 2009
Photo of Knapp85
4.43/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was very excited about trying this beer, The brew poured out as a deep black color with a brown head on top. The smell of the beer was full or bourbon and rich coffee aromas. The flavors of sweet roasted sugary malts blended with the coffee and the bourbon flavors give this brew a huge complex flavor that's unforgettable. The mouthfeel was thick and oily. Overall I was impressed with this and I'm very very happy I got to try it.

Knapp85, Feb 06, 2012
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3/5  rDev -28.4%

westcoastbeerlvr, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of oberon
3.83/5  rDev -8.6%
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.

oberon, Mar 28, 2011
Photo of largadeer
3/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bomber from Whole Foods, 2009 batch. Great artwork on the label, but it's pretty nondescript; no mention of bourbon barrels, coffee or other details you'd think would be important. Black in the glass, a finger of light tan head forms and slowly settles to a crown.

The nose is...odd. Big fruity tropical hop aroma. As it warms, the coffee comes out more, but then it just smells like dry hopped coffee. Tangerine, pear and pineapple meet slightly acrid coffee and solvents. I had high hopes for this beer, but it's honestly a bit of a trainwreck.

The taste is no more redeeming. Coffee and charred malts meet (read: clash with) fruity dry hops, like some abominable fruit flavored instant coffee. Bal aging contributes little more than harsh solvents; there's hardly a trace of bourbony caramel/vanilla goodness here. What little I pick up is covered by the forementioned dry hopped coffee flavor. I can't fathom what they were thinking with this beer, there are so many clashing elements. The body is oddly thin, and the mouthfeel slightly harsh. It finishes with a lingering coffee bite and a touch of caramel sweetness.

Well, this was hugely disappointing. It's nowhere near the quality of Firestone's barrel-aged beers. Even setting those expectations aside, it's simply not a good beer, and the $15 price makes it all the more offensive.

largadeer, Oct 20, 2009
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Black Xantus from Humboldt Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 993 ratings.