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Black Xantus - Humboldt Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Black XantusBlack Xantus

Educational use only; do not reuse.

412 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 412
Hads: 1,296
Avg: 4.12
pDev: 18.69%
Wants: 125
Gots: 369 | FT: 30
Brewed by:
Humboldt Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

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 (6) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 412 | Hads: 1,296
Photo of tprinzing
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bomber into a stout tulip glass.

L: There was a nice red hue when held up to sunlight. With an aggressive pour it had a three finger head that dissipated within a few minutes. Left a slight lace.

T: For me the chocolate was fairly significant. The coffee was nice and subdued. The bourbon was lighter than I would have liked. The berry flavor was slight, mostly lending sweetness.

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Photo of Jeffrey84
4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Typical big imperial stout flavors. The one thing that stood out to me was a distinct cocunt flavor mid mouth. Which I loved. I didn't get any bourbon from the barrel aging.I wish it had a bigger mouth feel but overall a good solid beer.

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Photo of Mcwill51
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

650 mL bomber poured into a snifter. Appearance - medium pour results in a very thin tan head that dissipates quickly atop a dark brown, almost black beer with reddish hues if held to the light. Have to think this is a result of the wine barrel aging. Nose - caramel, toffee, vanilla, bourbon barrel prominent here. Some hints of dark fruit like black cherries. Also some chocolate and some malt but these take a backseat. Taste - lots of chocolate, some roasted malt that interplays with the coffee, and lots of dark fruits from the wine barrel - cherries, leather, plums, tannins like a Cabernet. Some alcohol heat from the bourbon barrel but far less prominent than what is on the nose. Manifests as a bit of a bite on the finish. Overall pretty sweet for an imperial stout. I actually think a little more coffee (or maybe just a super fresh bottle) would bring out the coffee bitterness more and round out the flavor profile. Don't get me wrong, it's well balanced but a touch in the sweet side (nowhere near say, Founder's Big Luscious). Mouthfeel - low carbonation and a tiny bit on the thin side for such a big beer. Still, doesn't hurt the overall presentation too much and actually causes it to be a little bit more drinkable than it might otherwise be. Overall - an interesting and complex brew that has the bourbon barrel forward on the nose but the wine barrel the most prominent in the taste. Drinkable and sweeter than you're average imperial stout, there are a lot of flavors and aromas going on here to take it but it works well together. The dark brown/reddish tint to the brew is also different from your average Imperial stout. Definitely worth trying.

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Photo of dpgoblejr
4.75/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pretty aggressive pour lead to slight mocha head that retreated and no lacing amongst the mostly reddish black hue as it was consumed. Smells of bourbon, coffee, fruits, and chocolate. Tastes of bittersweet bakers chocolate, cherries, bourbon oak, molasses, and toffee. Medium bodied brew that has a little bit of peppery heat on the finish. Overall, a solidly crafted Imperial Stout.

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Photo of mobrado
4.46/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

So, so, so smooth with just a touch of heat from the bourbon barrel. Very well blended. Tastes like it's aged although the bottle is barely two months old.

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Photo of BigBry
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Yard House in LA.
Opaque black with a small tan head. Foam slowly fades, but never disappears, leaving a sheet of lace.
Smell is of dark fruits, roasted malts, and coffee. There is a bit of vanilla and bourbon barrel as well, more as it warms.
Taste has dark fruits, roasted malts, coffee, cocoa, vanilla. Lots of flavors, complex without being overpowering.
Mouthfeel is thick, but still smooth and creamy. Lower level of carbonation.
Flavorful, complex, delivers every thing I was hoping for.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.41/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

On tap at World of Beer in Jacksonville, FL.

Pours a dark, rich black, with a small head, and a little bit of lacing.

Smells like coffee, cherries, chocolate, and a good amount of bourbon.

The bourbon is less forward in the taste than the aroma. There's a ton of dark fruit flavor here, reminiscent of black cherries. I get a little bit of red wine too. The coffee is strong too, slightly nutty and fruity, with silky chocolate and molasses. There's not a whole lot of roasty bitterness, making this beer pretty sweet. It's good in small doses, about 8 oz or so.

This is medium bodied, a little tiny bit thin, but still really silky and full in the mouthfeel. The carbonation is pretty low.

A really nice BA stout that seems to go under the radar. It's pretty sweet, but other than that, it's really, really good.

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Photo of mabermud
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Medium brown body that appears thin and watery. The mocha head quickly retreats into a light ring around the collar. The smell definitely shines. Strong bourbon, oak, booze, roast, and vanilla aroma. The taste is not unlike the smell, plus it has a good deal of dark bakers chocolate. Chalky bakers chocolate taste. Clean finish. This has a good bourbon smell, but the bourbon taste does not take a strong stance. Sweet biscuits as the beer warms. The liquid feel is substantial, fits well, and does nicely with light, dense carbonation.

Overall - This is a nicely made imperial stout. It isn't elite, but is upper echelon, just near or at the bottom of the upper tier. I would likely have it again, but would not seek it out. That's not a problem because it sits on the shelf for a little bit around here when it is released. Try it.

P.S. This beer becomes much better as it warms...

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Photo of flagmantho
3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bomber into a tulip.

Appearance: totally black with a slowly-subsiding finger of creamy tan foam. There's also a nice lace left on the glass; it's very attractive indeed.

Smell: very sweet malt aroma with a light roastiness; it reminds me much more of a dubbel than an imperial stout. There's some fruitiness and some yeastiness that I like, but it's a little underwhelming for a beer this size.

Taste: like the aroma, it's very sweet with a little bit of a Belgian character, but unlike the aroma there's a huge roastiness and a big chunk of bitterness as well. It's not as multidimensional as I like in a beer like this, but it's still very good.

Mouthfeel: rich body with a silky smoothness and a good carbonation yielding a very smooth creaminess. I like it a great deal.

Overall: this is a damn fine beer, although it doesn't blow me away. What surprises me most is the lack of bouquet (at least, for the style) -- though this particular shortcoming does not ruin the overall experience.

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Photo of SawDog505
4.29/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a 16 oz snifter, not sure of the bottle date. Pours a very dark brown, with a three inch light brown h3ad that leaves behind some patches of lace after slowly settling.

Smell is vanilla, dark fruit, leather, pipe tobacco, dark chocolate, roasted coffee beans, and some cinnamon.

Taste is very aggressive strong coffee, dark chocolate, vanilla bean, leather, pipe tobacco, cinnamon, and only a hint of bourbon and that is fine.

Body is a little bigger thatn medium, nice carbonation for the style, a bit dry as you would expect, and a very drinkable sipper.

Overall this is very good. I haven't done a review in awhile, but this one deserved my full attention. Really met my expectations!

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Photo of Vincea
3.19/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Very good but I thought it had an off flavor causing it to be a low rate and not sure how fresh or condition it was in found it in a random liquor store in Hawaii

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Photo of Foxybrau
4.37/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thick and black, you know it's good when it hits the snifter. Little head that lingers only as thin swirls for just a bit. Aroma is red wine and really the weakest point of a very strong offering. Slippery in the mouth and transitions nicely from vanilla and dark caramel to malt to espresso on the way down. Aftertaste is charred and dry and begs for another sip. The alcohol is very well hidden, but leaves you with a warm hug from oak barrel. A great blend of notes, complex enough to make you wonder what you missed.

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Photo of WoostaBia
4.56/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served at 50 F. Taste improved as it warmed up.

A - Pours pitch black color. I could not see any light through the beer. Less than 1/2 inch cream colored head.

S - Maple, Honey, Vanilla, malted roasted goodness, Balsamic vinegar.

T - Bittersweet smooth chocolate, bitter espresso, sweet light vinegar, roasted malt : espresso flavor.

M - Low carbonation. Medium thickness and creamy.

D - Very good. Great tasting imperial stout, would try again.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.59/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: Dark clear ruby. Tan head with some messy lacing.
Smell: Didn't wait long enough to let this come closer to room temp out of the fridge but right out of the chute the nose is singing. Chocolate, vanilla, espresso, mild bourbon.
Taste: Wow, even better than the nose. all those flavors and so smooth, alcohol very well hidden, no discernible burn just loads of flavor with a nice balance of sweet and dry.
Overall: My first Xantus and hopefully not the last. Well done.

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Photo of mjwellman
4.48/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours rich dark black with a nice creamy head. Aroma slight malty aroma with a bourbon & coffee. Slight bourbon flavor with a stronger taste of coffee. Very light bitterness aftertaste but overall smooth wonderful taste. Every sip I take encourages me take another. This is an exceptional Imperial Stout.

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Photo of Stevedore
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

650ml bottle. Served in a snifter glass 12/28/14.

A- Dark medium-brown body. Minimal offwhite head, average retention, no lacing.

S- Sweet bourbon, coffee, oak, chocolate.

F- A bit more barrel vanilla, small amount of umami, oak, roasted malt, dark chocolate, coffee. More oak on the finish. Overall different, but nice flavour.

M- Thinner side of medium. A bit thin in general. Lower carbonation.

O- An interesting stout that is quite different from your run of the mill barrel-aged stouts.

Final score: 4.01

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Photo of Falcon91Wolvrn03
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Pours a very dark reddish black color, that one can see through when held to a bright light. Has a medium head, with thin lacing.

Smell – I notice a wine scent more than anything else, with heavy malt, sweet vanilla, light coffee and maybe just a touch of bourbon.

Taste – Very malty, with a touch of vanilla and a light alcohol burn. I can feel the bourbon more than I can taste it.

Mouthfeel – Very smooth and creamier than it looks. No strong aftertaste. It really feels good.

Drinkability – This goes down well due to the great mouthfeel. Enjoyable.

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Photo of Tele
4.27/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Serving Type: Bottle

A: 4.5 Pours pitch black with a two-inch tan head. Looks a little thinner than most big stouts.

S: 4.25 Lots of coffee and dark roasted malt hit you at first with caramel and vanilla coming in close behind. The coffee smells quite dark and earthy but also has a mild fruity quality. Bourbon is there in very small doses; it could be a bit more assertive.

T: 4.25 The flavors on this beer are rather expected: lots of coffee, bitter malt, and dark chocolate with vanilla, licorice, caramel and bourbon filling in the background. What’s very interesting is the way these flavors are delivered. Most imperial stouts with coffee tend to be a big sweetness at first followed quickly by bitterness and dark coffee. Black Xantus is a bit more unique in that the sweetness and the richer, bitter flavors go back and forth on the palate. The bitter coffee flavors are more dominate overall (especially with the almost too bitter aftertaste), but it’s more balanced than expected. Like the nose, some more bourbon would be nice.

M: 4.25 The carbonation level is great. It could be a bit thicker, but doesn’t really disappoint here.

O: 4.25 I was ready to get let down by this beer and was pleasantly surprised. The flavors are very good and the coffee is strong but tastes like it’s of high quality. It’s a very good beer with fairly expected qualities and flavors.

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Photo of Zach136
4.31/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pitch black, ok lacing.

Aroma: Rich chocolate and dark fruit character. Bit of oak and spirits.

Flavor: Rich vanilla, chocolate with touches of roast, dark fruits, and spirits with a medium kick of booze. Little to no hops. Coffee isn't assertive enough to stand on it's own, and seems to get grouped together with its roasted malt character.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied but a hint of booze kind of thins it out.

Overall: Great beer I'm stoked to try.

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Photo of superspak
4.52/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 11/12/2013. Pours dense pitch black color with a 2 finger dark tan head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice spotty lacing clings on the glass, with a light amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, toast, dark bread, molasses, raisin, plum, fig, nuttiness, vanilla, toffee, oak, bourbon, tobacco, light smoke/char, and roasted earthiness. Incredible aromas with outstanding balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt, coffee, and oak barrel notes; with great strength. Taste of big milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, toast, dark bread, molasses, raisin, plum, fig, nuttiness, vanilla, toffee, oak, bourbon, tobacco, light smoke/char, and roasted earthiness. Light roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, toast, dark bread, molasses, raisin, plum, fig, nuttiness, vanilla, toffee, oak, bourbon, tobacco, light smoke/char, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roasted malt. coffee, and oak barrel flavors; with a nice roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and fairly slick mouthfeel that is incredible. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is an absolutely insane imperial stout. All around incredible complexity and balance of dark/roasted malt, coffee, and oak barrel flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A world class imperial stout offering.

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Photo of chinchill
3.86/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.39/5  rDev +6.6%

Bottle from Dorn's in Gainesville. Pours black with a creamy mocha brown head. Very sweet aroma of caramel, chocolate, vanilla, molasses. Flavor is oh so smooth with definite roast notes, bit of coffee, sweet chocolate and molasses, beautifully integrated yet subtle vanilla from the barrels, and only a hint of the bourbon notes. Slightly vinous thing going on here alongside the sweetness. Great, super smooth mouthfeel, medium low carbonation. Man, this is really good. And to think I let it sit on the shelf so long because of the awful label. I don't really get the Nectar Ales line, or the Firestone Walker acquisition or whatever, but this is good.

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Photo of Roguer
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark ebony brown (almost perfectly black), topped by a 3/4 finger brown head. Nice size and color head for the style. Retention is quite good.

Nose is a combination of strong bourbon, a hint of aspirin, roasted barley, oak, vanilla, and a hint of toasted coconut. Some cream and cacao as well, although the bourbon is certainly center stage.

As is often the case with BBA stouts, the bark is bigger than the bite. Smooth and creamy flavor that comes through in waves. Smooth chocolate up forward, with extremely bitter dark cacao on the backend. Smooth vanilla and oak bourbon notes throughout, but strongest up front. Roasted barley provides a strong malt base throughout.

A bit of creamy lactose flavor, as well, and a bit of alcohol heat, primarily on the backend and the long, wet finish. No fruit; a bit of a nutty flavor on the mid- and back-end. A bit of coffee up front as it warms, as well as a bit of toasted coconut on the backend. Very well balanced.

Creamy but not thick mouthfeel, about medium-full. No sting, but quite lively.

This is an excellent, but not top tier, BBA imperial stout. I like it far more than any year-round offerings I've had, but it can't quite run with BCBS, Parabola, et al. Despite the slight bit of staleness in the aroma, there is none in the flavor; this is a very smooth beer.

Bottled in 2010; enjoyed in 2014.

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Photo of Jjski
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%

Wow. A lot going on here. 2 year old cellared bottle.

Coffee, bourbon ., fruity red wine notes, but still a roasty stout at heart, peppy carbonation

Slick palate like a Firestone barrel beer.

Really really really good

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Photo of Kinsman
4.31/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Fills the glass with a pitch black body and a thick and frothy tan head. Notes of coffee and vanilla greet the nose with a nice underlying roasty stout note. Rich and full bodied right way from the first sip. Slightly sweet with oak and dark roast coffee. Smooth and well-rounded mouthfeel. Overall, and excellent brew and one of the best values out there for barrel aged stouts.

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Black Xantus from Humboldt Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 412 ratings.