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Black Xantus - Humboldt Brewing Co.

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Black XantusBlack Xantus

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1,096 Ratings
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Ratings: 1,096
Reviews: 390
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 10.74%
Wants: 108
Gots: 304 | FT: 24
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%
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,096 | Reviews: 390 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of homebrew311
3.62/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into Bruery snifter.

A: pours thick viscous opaque black, minimal head and no retention, no lacing

S: boozy bourbon comes first with bold roasted coffee to follow, oak licorice and vanilla come through on the end

T: taste starts out with a decent amount of roast and coffee, this is quickly set to the side in favor of vanilla, oak, and booze, the finish is hot and bourbony. This one seems as if it would benefit from sitting down for a while.

MF: thick, syrupy, medium carbonation

O: not a bad brew, the bourbon seems to spoil the party a little, it comes off with an abrasive character and quickly trounces on the more subtle character of the base beer and the coffee character

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 BdubleEdubleRUN
4.58/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottling. Thanks to baybassboy for bringing this to the tailgate although I don't think Black Xantus gave hime much of a choice. Poured into a red Solo cup before a game of cornhole. It pours a pretty vicious thick black with a large tan head that clinged and left residue all over the inside of my white Solo. The nose is huge and smells great, coffee, chocolate, roasted malts, now every time I have my morning coffee i thnk of Black Xantus. The taste is huge as well full of coffee, molasses, rasted malts, chocolate and alcohol. The mouthfeel is perfect and exactly what I want in a big stout, thick and chewy. Black Xantus showed me nothing but love.

Photo of samie85
3.53/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A-Pours a pitch black color with a finger and a half tan head.

S-Smells of chocolate and dark chocolate with some roasted coffee notes.

T-Heavy roasted, bitter coffee notes with some charred oak and a bit of bourbon on the finish.

M-Pretty creamy with low carbonation and a very bitter, drying finish.

D-The coffee on this one is really overwhelmingly roasted and I can't really taste much else on this one.

Photo of pmarlowe
3.7/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2011 bottling. Tulip glass.

A: Pours black with a cap of dark khaki foam, which recedes within a minute or so to a ring. No lacing to speak of.

S: Big boozy bourbon, oak, vanilla, alcohol, some chocolate malt and dark molasses, lots of cinnamon and oak as it warms up.

T: Big chocolate and vanilla, roasted malt, some smokiness, alcohol/bourbon, and again lots of cinnamon/oak as it warms. Espresso bitterness is pretty high on the finish.

M: Medium-full body and medium carbonation.

O: Pretty good, but the base beer is completely overwhelmed by the barrel. Alcohol is quite present also. This is not one you can put back very much of.

At this price point ($14/22oz), there's better stuff out there.

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

Poured blackish-brown with a small finger of light tan head.

Moderate carbonation and a thick, slightly syrupy mouthfeel. Big hit of espresso up front followed by dark cocoa, molasses, and hints of vanilla and licorice. Long finish with roasty bitterness and boozy warmth.

The coffee character dominates but balances well with the molasses/vanilla and gives this beer an almost kahlua-like quality (in a good way). Very nice!

Photo of ocelot2500
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown color with a frothy, mocha head that leaves a sheet of lacing.

Smells of coffee and other roasted notes with some vanilla.

Tastes of big roasted notes. Coffee and bittersweet chocolate lead off with some toffee. A decent amount of sweetness, but there is some dryness in the end. A good amount of vanilla and oak is also noticeable throughout. Alcohol is a little noticeable, but is deceiving for 11%.

Mouthfeel is full with a creamy amount of carbonation.

Overall, this is quite good, but the price tag is more than I am comfortable with ($14 for a bomber).

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 Retsinis
3.8/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Purchased this beer out of the small fridge at Firestone Walker in Paso Robles in 2010, and cellared for 1 year.

Shared with a few fellow BA's
Review from notes

A: Poured into a small snifter, the beer pours black, with a small tan ring of bubbles. Some coating on the glass, but minimal head lacing.

S: Initial scents, just as when fresh, are of Coffee. Followed by medium roasted malt, and hints of vanilla.

T: Fairly medium to potent coffee flavors on the initial draw, and this flavor was consistent throughout with some residual coffee acidity, and some mild oxidation, but still tasty. No real hint of the ABV, it's blended nicely in with the flavors.

M: Light, rounded, with fair amount of viscosity. Smooth.

O: Good, but for me aging didn’t add much. It lost some of the oak, and dark fruits it has when it's fresh.

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 lacqueredmouse
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've seen this a number of times and it never really grabbed my attention—this is probably because it has the same style and typeface as the other Nectar branded beers, which have been poor to middling at best. This is a wild exception, however.

Pours a deep, dark black-brown with a firm and creamy head of pale chocolate bubbles. Lacing is full, sheeting and solid, and adds to the perception of weight to the beer. Beautiful fine carbonation. It's perhaps not as heavy and oily as it could be (especially given it's 11% ABV), and perhaps not as dark, but it's a good looking beer nonetheless.

Nose is redolent with big oaky stout characters. Huge vanilla, toasted coconut and dark malts, with notes of bourbon, and a slight spice light capsicain. Hints of coffee come through as well, along with a very faint herbal note, almost giving a crushed coriander spice. But the big barrel-aged stout characters are dominant, and exceedingly potent. Yes indeedy.

Taste is also very good, and very robustly bittered, with a really good, heavy roasted character giving an ashy astringency and deep roasted coffee hints. This, of course, is all drawn back by the smooth, soothing bourbon and oak characters, which lay down vanilla and sweetness. A little light in the mouth; at least lighter than it could be. Booze is well-hidden though, although the uplift of spice is oddly congruent with alcohol heat.

It doesn't quite have the texture or complexity of the best examples, but it's a very nice brew anyway. A fuller palate and a more subtle sweet complexities would make this truly magnificent. But it could get there, and that's a great thing.

Photo of doughanson78
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap poured into a tulip.

A: Pitch Black. One finger mocha colored head with medium retention and sticky lacing.

S: Big roasted coffee and espresso. Nice chocolate. Slight bourbon notes.

T: Sweet chocolate upfront. Decent roastiness. Dark espresso. Dark fruits, mainly cherries. Light bourbon finish. Alcohol isn't present.

M: Full bodied. Light to medium carbonation. Good creaminess. Slight warming.

O: Great Imperial Stout. Not the best by any means and definitely not on par with Parabola.

Photo of beerandcycling88
2.84/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bomber into a snifter

A Pours a super dark brown that borders on black. There is an off white head that has great retention.

S A bit of chocolate and coffee with lots of bourbon and an almost overpowering note of rubbing alcohol.

T Some coffee and vanilla but mostly overpowering notes of bourbon and alcohol.

M The body is a bit thin for an imperial stout. There is also a nice warming feeling from the alcohol.

Overall this is an average at best imperial stout.The alcohol is far to overpowering and there is nothing here that can't be found in many other stouts which are at a better price point.

Photo of BarrytheBear
2.68/5  rDev -36%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

22 oz bottle purchased almost one year ago on a trip to SLO to visit friends.

Into a snifter this looks the part: quite dark with a moderate mocha colored ring.

Smells strongly of bitter roast and harsh bourbon notes. Underlying dark chocolate lingers beneath a fusel mist of vaporous evil. It smells like it wants to kick your ass.

Well, time has not tempered the savage beast. Damn this is one hot little coquette, like a beer scorned. What ills did someone bestow upon this bottle to cause such anger? Boozy coffee and sharp bourbon. Having had a KBS the other night, this beer just lacks the refinement and grace of a well constructed BA stout.

Why the ill demeanor son? I hoped for and expected more. A puzzler from Firestone.

Photo of Jules11788
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz pour at the Black Xantus release party at Humbrews.

A: Pours a headless espresso-black, light lacing; lets barely any light through around the edges

S: A very light smell of dark chocolate and coffee

T: Rich, delicious dark chocolate and strong roasty espresso; finishes with a nice hearty kick of bourbon, some bitter wood, and a hefty serving of booze to warm as it goes down. The chocolate and espresso flavors are phenomenal.

M: Medium-light carbonation, medium-thick viscosity, lots of booze. Overall it's a little too sharp and boozy on the tongue, and there's a little too much carbonation, but I think over time that will mellow out.

O: It's delicious, but could definitely use a little time in the cellar. Give this one a few years and it'll be sublime.

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

Picked up a bottle at the bottleyard in Santa Rosa.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with good head retention and lacing. The nose is pretty impressive, showcasing considerable licorise, milk duds, milk chocolate and coffee. This beer smells as if it's seen some serious barrel aging. The flavor profile replicates the nose in this fairly sweet, intensely flavored RIS. The licorise and chocolate seem to dominate, but nothing seems overdone or out of balance in this beer. Mouthfeel is medium bodied to full, and the finish is long and fairly smooth, with a hint of bitterness in the licorise infused finish. Alcohol is pretty well integrated into the flavor profile, though you can tell the alcohol is up there a bit.

Have had better imperial stouts, but not many. This is really quite impressive.

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

Poured from a bomber into a standard pint glass.

A - Pours a very dark brown, with a light brown head.

S - Notes of dark chocolate, coffee, and some slight bourbon.

T/M - Very strong coffee flavor, and warming booze for sure. Medium heavy mouthfeel.

O - It's a good stout, a big beer for sure at 11%. It definately tastes like it too. But I'm slightly unimpressed by this ones character. Good, but not $14 good.

Photo of DovaliHops
4.12/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage. Pours a dark black color with a small tan head that disappears quickly. Scent is heavy with roasted coffee...i mean LOADED with coffee aroma! Hints of dark chocolate and very faint, sweet bourbon. Taste is initially roasted malt with very dark chocolate. Then sweet bourbon...not a lot though. Not nearly bourbon-y as Parabola. Slight black licorice with earthy notes and a bit of vanilla. Mouthfeel is full-bodied, but isn't syrupy at all. Drinkability is fairly high. Overall, this beer is a very tasty, big imperial stout with some nice drinkability. Just kinda wish the barrels did a little more to this one.

Photo of Phelps
3.92/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 vintage, poured into a snifter. Black Xantus, is brewed with free trade coffee from local roaster Jobella, which is ground up, poured into cheesecloth and left to steep in the wort. The coffee-infused brew is then aged in bourbon barrels from Heaven Hill distillery.

Nectar Ales brewer Matt Brynildson likes to say this beer's color is "Midnight black under a moonless sky," which is apt. Poured into a snifter, it seems to absorb light. The head, half an inch tall, is dense and khaki-colored, but disintegrates after a short while, leaving nothing between me and my quarry.

Aromas of the grocery store coffee aisle greet the nose as the beer approaches. I pick up deeply roasted coffee beans, oats, sweet bourbon and tangy dark chocolate -- a mighty fine mix.

The flavor echoes the aroma, but loses some volume. Cold press coffee and burnt bread lend a bitter snap akin to chewing on a coffee bean before oak and sweetly boozy bourbon emerge mid-palate. Allowing the beer to warm smooths it out substantially, boosting the notes of dark chocolate, sweet vanilla and oats that step in at the swallow to back up the sharp espresso.

A brewery representative told me the ABV was actually boosted from 11 to 13 percent this year, at which point I slapped him for lying to me. With almost no hint of booze to be found, this big stout drinks like half its alcohol content. The body is just a touch thin -- I would've liked a little more heft.

I'm glad Black Xantus was finally able to migrate to Arizona this year, though I noticed a substantial difference between bottled and kegged versions, with the stuff on draft coming out ahead.

Photo of ChanChan
4.58/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 version of Black Xantus
Had this on Tap at Imbibe wine.

Appearance: Black as stout. The head is a half an inch and mocha in color. Lacing is minimal.

Aroma: At first this beer smells like chocolate and booze. As the beer warms up you can detect the vanilla and oak it was aged in.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, coats the mouth well, this beer leaves your lips sticky.

Taste: The initial taste is of pure dark chocolate. If this beer were to be marketed as a chocolate stout it would do great. I cannot detect the coffee at all in this beer. As it warms up the taste of oak and Firestone Barrels kick in.

Overall: This is an amazing beer. I never had the 2009 but the 2011 is superb!!

Photo of Klym
3.57/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a darkness snifter. Saw this on the shelves near its release and always went back and forth on the price despite wanting to try it. When it disappeared and I randomly came across a refrigerated batch I figure it was time to give it a shot.

The nose on this is so deep and sweet, with a nice thinner and less smooth look but tasty looking none the less-- I was sure I wouldn't be disappointed. Ultimately it's hard to rate this as I just get such a noxious rubbing alcohol like taste (though strangely without much heat sensation). It's really at the core of the beer and it makes it hard to enjoy. I'd claim quality control or something, but the store i picked it up at is great for controlling their quality. I just don't know what to say about the beer with such a noxious quality.

Photo of dwilson01
4.55/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

poured from a bomber into a figueroa mtn brewing co pint glass. The body is black as pitch and not see through when held up to the light, the head is a sandy mocha coloration which blooms late and dissipates quickly leaving thick lacing.

The smell is straight up bourbon chocolate, it's got the bittersweet dark chocolate with some vanilla and hard bourbon in the rear, smells great.

The flavor is pretty awesome, follows well from the nose, I get an intense chocolate flavor in the forefront which is followed by a vanilla coffee bit and ends up with a hearty warm bourbon flavor in the end rounded out by a sweeter dark maltiness. This is a must try if you can get your hands on it.

The mouthfeel is what I love in an imperial stout, thick with the absolute minimal carbonation to lighten it up, it's almost syrupy it's so thick. Definitely the equivalent of eating some dessert chocolate pudding.

Overall this is a kickass brew, if you love the barrel aged style of imperial stouts this shit must be had.

Photo of colforbin73
4.72/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

i am reserving a full 5.0 on the overall due to the lack of my own experience. regardless, the is an Exceptional stout.

pours a luscious gloppy black and works up a little tan head with an aggressive pour. it dissipates but leaves a sharp maple star in the glass and thin foam on the rim.

aroma, excellent, lots of roasty and chocolate malts, very strong -- giving an indication of the taste. but slightly misleading....

this stout is very strong tasting, roasted and chocolate malts dominate the palate, nearly smokey, but perfectly sweet and surprisingly creamy. the high ABV hits -- but it is very warming and mellow. you could have a glass after dinner -- a sumptuous desert stout.

a thick & malty, complex, nuanced stout -- this is one to judge against all others. i was overly impressed by this beer... if i see it again, i will gather.


Photo of scottfrie
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into snifter.

A: Pours black with a thick dark brown head that faded into a long lasting film that left spotty lacing down the glass.
S: Dominant notes of roasted malt and fresh coffee grounds with just a touch of anise, cinnamon, and spicy bourbon.
T: Good balance of sweet, roast, coffee, and bourbon. Definitely not as coffee forward as I was expecting, but I thinks it’s integrated rather nicely. I also get notes of barrel spices and vanilla.
M: Thick body, soft carbonation, and a really full and fluffy mouthfeel. There is just the slightest bit of warming alcohol but it’s not distracting at all.
O: I enjoyed this one a lot more than I was expecting. Maybe it’s the age. Definitely worth a try if you’re a fan of stouts.

Photo of camil1mj
3.65/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Received as an extra. Poured at room temprature.

A: Black as night. 1 finger foamy, off-white head.

S: Lots of chocolate and bouron.

T: Harsh alcohol and lots of oak undertones.

M: Thin bodied with medium carbonation.

O: Not as good as expected as I know there was a lot of hype around this one. I am glad to have tried it, but would not seek it out.

Black Xantus from Humboldt Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 1,096 ratings.