Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Black Xantus - Humboldt Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Black XantusBlack Xantus

Educational use only; do not reuse.

407 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 407
Hads: 1,274
Avg: 4.12
pDev: 18.69%
Wants: 123
Gots: 358 | FT: 31
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 (6) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 407 | Hads: 1,274
Photo of fastsrt
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured form 22 ounce bottle in snifter

A: black, thin head that lasts

S: oak, vanilla, burbon

T: oak not overpowering though, the malts still come through and there is some bourbon there as well, there is also a touch of espresso.

M: smooth, full body with a spicy finish.

D: this one was a surprise i just picked it up randomly and it is quite good i didn't even know it was barrel aged till i took my first whiff, i was pleasantly surprised what a perfect way to end my day.

 482 characters

Photo of shivtim
3.3/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Hummingbird themed stout? Why not!

Tilted it into a pint.
Deep brown/black with just the slightest hints of red.
Nice dense tan head.

Nose is alcoholic sweet roasted malt. Slightly spicy/sweet smelling, contrasted with dark charcoal barley roast.

Taste is a bit overly sweet, with cloying alcohol on the end. Slight harshness to it, but with a solid malt background.

Mouthfeel is average. Not thick enough for an RIS, and with a bit too much ethanol.

 454 characters

Photo of mothman
3.72/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into Duck Rabbit snifter.

Pours 1/2 finger of light tan head. Color pours a copper brown, but settles a dark brown. No head retention. Leaves some splattered lace.

Aroma: Whiskey notes and oak, light vanilla, cocoa, a little boozy,. It gets betters as it warms.

Taste: Strong whiskey and oak. Sweet vanilla and caramel with cocoa hitting next. A lot like the aroma. Maybe some dark dried fruits here.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, but light. This is a very light bodied BA stout. Medium to a lower amount of carbonation. Ends dry and bitter with whiskey. It is was too light for a 11%$ imp stout.

Overall, not bad, but not good. The whiskey flavors are nice but this beer is so light. Not thick and chewy like the beer should be. Very let down with this one.

EDIT: Having the 2nd bottling of this, I would probably rate it higher. It has notes of coffee and bourbon reminding me a bit of bourbon county. A lot better than the first bottling.

 943 characters

Photo of realmpel
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this beer when it first came out in bottles and then with a year or so of age on it. When I first tried it the beer was a bit hot. Now, the bourbon heat has muted quite a bit and chocolate, vanilla and oak flavors have emerged. I think it's perfectly blended now. Had it side to side with Parabola and I prefer the BX (though to be fair, the Parabola will probably develop more).

 383 characters

Photo of TheJollyHop
3.75/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

After holding on to this brew for a while (mainly due to Arbitrator's positive comments) I finally decided to crack this bad boy open and see what I was dealing with.

Bottle cracks with a loud PFFT, indicating a high level of carbonation.Toffee colored thick head. Deep and dark, nearly ominous, body with average retention yet sticky lace.

Scents of coffee, black currants, some vanilla, definite roasted barley, and maybe dark cherries; faint alcohol as well. Very malt forward brew with very little hop presence.

Tastes of sweet grain, robust alcohol body that adds some depth and underscores the malts; ends with a caramel flavored coffee finish (a drier finish would have been preferable). Bitterness is more mild than it should be. I believe aging this brew reduced the hops bitterness too much. Roasted malt is too subtle, almost no astringency. Hop bitterness hits early but never overtakes malt. Sugar water middle.

Low to medium carbonation. Full bodied and creamy; coats the tongue, envelopes the mouth, and forces you to savor. Mouthfeel really shines with this brew.

Overall the malt character is too prominent and it hinders drinkability. Now I wish I would have tried this beer when it was younger.

 1,219 characters

Photo of srandycarter
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Overrated but still pretty good. Finally brought one out.

A - Near black, nice tan head that stays for some time. Leaves to ring and some spotty lace.

S - Choc chip cookies, anise, coffee.

T - More anise here, along with the choc chip cookie thing and hot booze.

M - Medium body, good carb, pretty well balanced for the mix.

D - Too big. Really not a bad beer. NOT what it was supposed to be by all accounts.

 413 characters

Photo of beerwolf77
3.62/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks goes to garbercury for sending this extra during one of our trades.

Bottle split with the SE sconnie crew. Poured into my pint glass the beer is pitch black with about a fingers worth of dark khaki head. A small amount of soapy lace struggles to hold onto the edges of my glass.

The aroma is quite the olfactory smorgasbord. Black licorice, chocolate, bourbon, carmel, cookie dough and coffee. I picked out everyone of those at different levels of intensity. It's like a candy/coffee shop in the aroma.

The flavor is a bit of a let down after that wonderful nose. The hops come on strong at first. Then a small dose of coffee and chocolate help to sweeten things up. Burnt malt that fades into a chalkiness finishes things on a bit of a down note.

Medium to full body with light carbonation. Typical RIS.

Overall a bark that simply can't follow with bite. The aroma was intense and complex yet the flavor was less then stallar. Drinkable just not all that powerful.

 978 characters

Photo of kels
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared one of these with bamadog at our annual tasting.

Pours a darkest, blackest brown with a 1-finger, fizzy tan head that fizzles out immediately to nothingness and leaves behind bits of spotty lace along the walls of the glass. Complete darkness within, but it's hard to tell if it's just dark or completely opaque; certainly not clear.

Smell turns me off a bit - there's a huge pocketful-of-dirty-change metallic overlay masking the dark chocolate, cherry, coffee essence that hides below. The other smells alone would have been mouthwatering.

The cocoa flavors are quite delicious in this beer - they are dry and somewhat bitter while still providing a nice sweetness that keeps things from being too overwhelmingly dry. The flavors of whole cream, vanilla, toasted marshmallow and roasted malts all play together really nicely in a body that's slightly sticky and moderately mouthfilling. Nice drying effect on the palate in the aftertaste, and not even a hint of the alcohol.

Drinkability is definitely good in this one. Once I get past the nose, the flavors are very robust and pleasing, and the well-masked alcohol lets it go down easy.

 1,154 characters

Photo of pennywhistle
4.6/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A fantastic stout - it's a bit sweeter and less bitter than some other local stouts. It has a nice bourbon flavor, but it's not too strong (which I prefer). A delicious beer, one of my favourite stouts. Very dark in the glass, thick around the edges.

 250 characters

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

Pours a near solid black with a coffee colored head
and lots of sticky lacing. The nose is heavy on malt, with
notes of sweet bourbon, dark fruit, milk chocolate,
coffee, smoke and cherry. Rich flavors of bourbon,
coffee, anise, vanilla, roasted malts and toffee meld
perfectly. It's as if you can taste every element of the
beer individually, in order. The sign of a truly great
imperial stout. Mouthfeel is heavy, with light carbonation
and a warming, slightly boozy finish. At 11% it drinks
nice and smooth.

 510 characters

Photo of capra12
3.53/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed solo, served out of a pint glass,

Appearance: jet black with a small cascade and 1 finger of fine and coarse head that dissipates rather fast, leaving a sparce and spotty head.

Smell: I get a ton of dark roasted malts, dark fruit and dark chocolate.

Taste: Opens with a dark fruit and malt profile as the carbonation intensifies the dark fruit in this. There are dark chocolate and coffee profiles in the background of this but is quickly squashed by the dark fruit and malt. As this warms up the chocolate and coffee become more pronounced but still subdued leaving a roasted malty and candied fruity aftertaste. There is a slight booziness right before the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Slightly warming but only briefly.

Drinkability: I would have this again in cooler weather, but only once more. I recommend this to those imperial stout drinkers who seek a dark fruit and roast malt profile with subtle coffee and dark chocolate profiles.

 986 characters

Photo of jjayjaye
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

You can see crimson hues from the clear dark color of the pour that creates a nice deep foamy light tan head that fades fairly quickly leaving spotty patterns of Belgian lacing over an opaque darkness beneath. The smell isn't overly aggressive; big on the bourbon, supported nicely by chocolate and coffee notes. Full flavored, the bourbon taste runs away with the show, but the espresso steps in much more significantly than it does from the nose. Lightly carbonated yet tangy from the booze, the mouth feel is predominately light, on the dry side, but not watery. The bourbon manages to linger appropriately. The bottle is labeled 11% but the web page indicates 13% ABV either way I'm finding it quite drinkable...not planning on straying too far afterward either. Really had fun considering this one. You'll enjoy this one if you're into bourbon. I'm having trouble again with RIS vs Double Stout. Glad to see that Finger Lakes Beverage Center in Ithaca was able to snag some of these beauties. I'll grab a couple more if I see them again. I remember seeing this one on the Top 100 when it first came out. Can't say that I'd go there...but I'm a big fan of the big bourbon take on it.

 1,187 characters

Photo of htomsirveaux
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle tried 10 Feb 2010.

Served in a 512 One snifter. Small dark brown head. Medium carbonation. Black and thick. Chocolate aroma, cocoa, some ethanol. A lot of vanilla upfront. Cocoa bttersweet chocolate and licorice throughout. Oaky finish. Chocolatey aftertaste. Ethanol is warming in the finish and aftertaste.

My score diverged from A's on this one...

 366 characters

Photo of sweemzander
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle split, poured into an imperial pint. No bottled date. Thanks to Beerwolf77 for yet another shared beer!

(A)- Pours a pitch black color that produced a good tan head that dissipated down to a light layer of bubbles.

(S)- A vanilla-like bourbon licorice smell with a good roasted profile behind that. The licorice is predominate but good.

(T)- A good roastedness with a big licorice profile in front of some bitter cocoa & molasses.

(M)- A good carbonation level & balance. A potent bitterness, but fits well with the roastedness & licorice profile. Becomes almost spicy/smoky with all the licorice in this from what I can tell.

(D)- A solid RIS. I am enjoying the licorice profile to this. A fitting character for the style. Rich, but not overly sweet like some of this style can be. Good stuff.

 817 characters

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle split and poured into a Sierra Nevada imperial pint. 11% ABV, no date.

Thanks to Beerwolf77 for bringing this over last night for our increasingly epic tasting!

A - A dark but clear pour settles to a mainly black beer with a sliver of ruby-dark brown around the bottom of the glass. The beautiful tan head cascaded for moments which looked great but then it deflated to a thin foamy layer with some lace in moments as well.

S - This is the first beer I've ever smelled that honest-to-god smelled instantly like black licorice. So awesome! A touch of bourbon comes across the nose but settles behind a roasted malt and chocolate aroma. Good nose with a small touch of vanilla in there too as it warms.

T - Massively roasted malts with lots of molasses and black licorice. A nice kiss of bourbon comes across the flavor with as small touch of grassy hops on the finish. The beer isn't labeled as barrel aged but it has a little bit to it in flavor and aroma that seem like it is, at least in part.

M - Full-bodied and rich but still some how a bit thin in the mouthfeel. Bold, smooth finish with a warm alcohol finish but it's still got a great mouthfeel. It could use a little bit of work in this area to fix that thin feel to it.

D - Still, despite the alcohol, it's a great beer with fair drinkability for what it is. Not overwhelming in the least though. It's a solid imperial stout I'd be interested in seeing age further.

 1,444 characters

Photo of david18
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was sure this was a Russian Imperial Stout and not an American Imperial Stout. The label only said Imperial Stout. It had an excellent dark roasty aroma and flavor while being a little lighter on hops than a typical American Imperial. Very dark color, great roast aroma and flavor. Light carbonation (color and intensity). Mouthfeel was good.

I also enjoyed blending this beer with pale ales and ipas. I would have again.

 424 characters

Photo of donkeyrunner
4.16/5  rDev +1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Big beer weekend beer #4!

A gift from Mr. Kevin. He'll buy any beer with an animal on the label. It's true.

Pours brown, looks black. Had to force a thin, muddy head which soon left on its own accord. One fat lacey web.

Dark fruity esters greet my first whiff. Sweet caramel and cola--but the good, niche market small production kind of cola. Dark and brooding malt mixed with dark chocolate bar.

Taste immediately hits upon dopplebock-esque hearty caramel malt and dark vinous fruit before settling into soothing roast malts. Llicorice. Fairly viscous. Flavors are carried by lil' alcoholic wings despite being aged for a bit.

 632 characters

Photo of zeff80
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an opaque, jet black color with a two-finger, light brown head of thick, bubbly foam. It left thin soapy rings of lace.

S - It had a strong black licorice aroma with a good dose of roasted chocolate malt. There are some mild toffee and floral notes, too.

T - It tasted black licorice, bourbon, chocolate, rich roasted malt and touches of toffee. A nice blend of bitter and sweet flavors for a really great taste.

M - It was crisp and smooth with a dry finish. A medium-bodied ale with a well-hidden alcohol warmth.

D - This is a nice RIS. I hope they brew it again.

 584 characters

Photo of emmasdad
3.7/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was initially really looking forward to trying this one, but eventually my interest waned and the opportunity presented itself. Pours a nice, shiny black color, with a good amount of mocha colored foam on top. Aromas of freshly brewed coffee, chocolate, vanilla and a little bourbon. On the palate, I get a lot of roasted malts, along with the flavors mentioned above. A pretty nice effort to be sure, but nothing spectacular.

 428 characters

Photo of hoplover82
4.7/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black with a small tan head that has great retention and ok lacing, but for the style, I'm impressed with the head retention.

The aroma was kinda bland at first, but as it warmed up a bit, it began to become very interesting and complex and wonderful. It began to be full of dark chocolate with light notes of earthy mint toffee. As it warms there also is a coffee note to compliment to dark chocolate. So nice and complex.

My favorite thing about this beer is the roundedness and smoothness of this beer. There is the flavor of the best dark chocolate and fresh roasted bright coffee. There also is a very pronounced toffee note in the flavor as apposed to the aroma. SO smooth.

HUGE silky mouthfeel with a sweet silky finish.

Very smooth and drinkable. I'm so glad that I had the oppertunity to try this. Thanks Jason! This was epic indeed.

 861 characters

Photo of jasonjlewis
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

pours a nice initial head with good retention. dark brown in color.

smell is of wet tobacco with licorice and undertones of mint.

taste is of huge dark chocolate. wet tobacco comes through as well. undertones of mint come through as well. bitterness is moderately low. undertones of licorice come through as well. as the beer warms a toffee flavor comes throguh and the roastiness is exaggerated as a coffee flavor comes through

mouthfeel is silky and adds to the beer. the alcohol is rounded out. excellent beer

 515 characters

Photo of Patrick999
4.42/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The infamous Black Xantus, purchased sometime in 2009, really don't remember when, though. Poured into a snifter. Lazy head, probably too lazy to warrant a high score. Not quite black either.

Aroma is of whiskey, caramel, chocolate.

Tasty. A lot of coconut and vanilla. Straight down the middle bourbon barrel stout flavors. Not hot at all. I don't know the exact age here, but the ABV is a non-factor. Has to be an aged bottle, because the alcoholic heat other earlier BAs have described in their reviews just isn't here. Also, I find no trace of coffee whatsoever - it seems like the coconut-vanilla flavors are the biggest players at this time.

Thin near-flat feel that I always like. I wouldn't really want an 11% barrel stout to be so thick, full-bodied and burpy.

Masked ABV, thin-ish feel and good flavor makes for a very easy drinker per style, enough to earn it a 5, IMO. It's surprisingly easy to put down the bomber alone. I can't understand why this brew was so polarizing - it's just a solid, very-drinkable bourbon-barrel stout, IMO. Nothing more, nothing less. I'd think the vast majority of BAs would come to the conclusion that this is pretty good, at the very least. It's got really nice flavor. A damned good beer. Price would be my only complaint....but for a barreled RIS this tasty and accessible, I can't say I wouldn't buy it again as an indulgence.

 1,379 characters

Photo of steve8robin
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this one for while, glad to finally open it...

A: You're sitting in the brightest room in the world for 5 minutes and the lights go completely out. It's that dark. Medium off-white head that quickly disappates. Good.

S: Boozy dark fruit scents upfront. Deep dark chocolate in the middle with bitter hops on the backend. Good.

T: Caramel hops upfront with thick, creamy bourbon in the middle and slight watery fruit on the backend.

M: Decent amount of carbonation. Good.

D: After the bitter booze gets down it becomes much more enjoyable.

All in all, this was a decent brew. Not amazing, but definitely worth trying if you like some good bourbon flavor stouts. A decent blend of earthy hops and bourbon thickness.

 722 characters

Photo of Bung
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. A solid enough black pour, very minimal tan head, very minimal. So not muc retention obviously and not a whole lot of lacing either.

Aroma is some roast malt and some sweet caramel, chocolate.

Taste is a bunch of malt, enhanced with the honey. Roast malt is there a plenty and comes forward nicely with some warming. Lots of caramel for stout accented with the milk like chocolate. Definetely a sweeter Imperial, but not to detriment.

Mouthfeel is pretty solid, more so than the appearance would lead to believe. On the thickest side of medium. Very viscous oily body. Not quite creamy but very coating. Abv catches up to you or me in a hurry, but is not really present at all.

Had this entire bottle unintentionally watching MSU get to the great eight and it did not disappoint. This probably belongs in the double stout category to compare properly.

 862 characters

Photo of maximum12
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks for this bottle go out to cloudskipper, who sent me this in a wintertime trade in which he humiliated me with a small flock of scorchingly good extras. Glass raised to the west, & onwards we go!

Pours Vin Diesel-style Pitch Black. Light only turns vaguely brown if held close to the light, then only a millimeter around the edge. Smell is my kind of thing. The barrel & the malts appear to be working in beautiful unison.

Black Xantus has tempted me into three sips before I've even begun to dare an attempt at description. First one must note that it's one of the family of belly-warming beers, that I've felt all the way into my stomach, & will eventually reach the bottom of my feet & force me to remove my slippers. The balance here is a work of art. The vanilla, bourbon-esque qualities of the brew are in the front row, but now overpoweringly so, just first to ring the doorbell. Underneath, or alongside, is a slew of rich, dark malts. Present, but more faint, are vague dark fruits, a bare wisp of roast, & as a follow-up, a tang of dry dark chocolate. Fuckin' A, this is good.

Not only that, but I'm powering through my half of the bomber trying to tease out more tastes, & enjoying every sip. Interesting that the beer is coffee-infused, because I can scarcely detect it in the beer. Seems to have been subjugated by the barrel.

Excellent beer. Not sure why this divided the masses so much, it's just yummy. And forty-five bonus points for the cool mythical hummingbird on the label, too.

 1,512 characters

Black Xantus from Humboldt Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 407 ratings.