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Black Xantus - Humboldt Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Black XantusBlack Xantus

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

887 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 887
Reviews: 354
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 11.24%
Wants: 108
Gots: 248 | FT: 15
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)
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Ratings: 887 | Reviews: 354 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of clickpush


4.45/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pour: 22oz bottle to tulip glass. Black beer topped by 2.5 finger brown head. Plenty of carbonation visible inside the glass, though absolutely no light allowed through the body, even around the edges. Head depletes very slowly, though leaves no webbing along the glass.

Nose: Rich roasted malt, smoky marijuana, chocolate chips & vanilla beans. Very nice. Lacking the complexity of burnt toast or coffee, but appealing none-the-less.

Mouth: Thick & creamy body. Flavors are exact translation of the aromas. Extremely chocolaty, rich, hot, long lasting. A nice roast flavor follows up all the sweet flavors of the fore-front. There is some heat, but this beer could easily be 8% and I wouldn't know the difference.

I will thoroughly enjoy this beer. Will I spend another $16 on it? The jury's still out.

Serving type: bottle

10-30-2009 01:12:51 | More by clickpush
Photo of alcstradamus


4.45/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to bring for the trade.

Poured into my tulip with 2 fingers of head that leave a nice collar and some lacing behind as it subsides. First smell definitely gives away the barrel treatment, with a surprising amount of citrus hoppy aroma seemingly present. The bourbon/toffee/wood scent is dominant but not overpowering. A quick swirl turns this one from good to great.

The taste doesn't quite have as much bourbon as I was expecting. Very little actually when compared to many other fresh barrel aged beers, but still noticeable and luckily quite smooth. The oak is noticeable, as well as coconut and toffee notes. The complexities seem to stop there at first, but after a bit more opening up hints of chocolate and vanilla emerge. Really quite tasty.

Mouthfeel is in between medium and full bodied. It's about at the thinnest point right before I say "I wish this was thicker"....so it is over the threshold but not quite enough to really stand out.

Drinkability is fantastic for the strength. Emptying a bomber by myself would be no problem but I would be quite tipsy afterwards. Great beer here, definitely worth searching out. No aging necessary either, this one is well balanced and ready to drink out of the gate.

Serving type: bottle

10-26-2009 21:35:37 | More by alcstradamus
Photo of waltonc


3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours translucent brown with plenty of tan head. Smells and tastes of bourbon, vanilla, barrel age, and, of course, coffee. The coffee creates a somewhat strange interaction with the oak, in my opinion. Leaves a bitter, tannic, and somewhat astringent aftertaste in my mouth that is less pleasant than would be, say, vanilla, coconut and bourbon. Body is disappointingly thin for an "Imperial Stout." While this is a big beer, I was expecting something a little more menacing, given it's FW we're talking about here and I know what they've done with Parabola and all their anniversary brews (as well as Abacus and Opal).

That all said, if you wiped the slate clean and I didn't know this beer was made by FW, I'd say it's a job well done. But compared to all those huge and delicious FW barrel aged beers I've had, this is easily the least impressive. At $15 a bottle, a few bucks less than FW XII last year, I'm a little disappointed that I bought several bottles of this.

Serving type: bottle

10-23-2009 01:47:11 | More by waltonc
Photo of BeerManDan


4.93/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The color when poured into a pint glass was a very dark, dark, dark brown, on the verge of being black. The dark brown foam was minimal and no lace on the glass.

The smell of roasted malts, mild piney hop's, candy and fruit filled the nose with a pleasant aroma upon the first sniff. On the second wiff, alcohol was evident along with different unidentified components.

The taste was very complex. Creamy, rich with a sweet/bitter finish. The flavors was some complex, that it was a challange to pick out each and every flavor that this porter produced. There was roasted malts, toffee, mild piney hops, prunes, with, other fruity flavors. And, don't forget the 11% alcohol. Not overpowering, but, it was still there.

Interest Imperial Porter. I will say, this is an expensive bottle of Porter, but, well worth it.

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2009 19:32:17 | More by BeerManDan
Photo of PretzelCity


4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Verdugo. Poured pitch black with a thin tan head that faded quickly. The nose is all of your typical Firestone barrel aged goodness, mostly a good whiff of sweet bourbon. The taste is a little plain considering. Bourbon, sweet malts, light coffee and hints of chocolate in the finish. It's a little boozy at this point. Kind of coats your mouth and lingers. Medium body. It's a well blended beer that's good but not great. Won't seek this one out at $15 a bottle.

Serving type: on-tap

10-21-2009 21:12:06 | More by PretzelCity
Photo of slayer3604


4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Verdugo for Nectar night.

A- Black, not much head at all, only about a half finger's worth, which settles, with very little lacing, even after aggressive swirls. No retention, and has medium brown hints on the side of the glass when held up to the light.

S- I had to struggle to get a nose out of this one at first when it was cold, which is no surprise, but even when it warmed up it was shy. Lots of chocolate, a sweet bourbon hint and some nice nutmeg as well.

T- Oh damn here we go! As with the smell, it was shy, but even cold, xantus was like having a chipotle triple chocolate brownie. Had a lasting chocolate finish, but was slightly hot for my taste. has some room for improvement.

M- medium body, and a lasting finish...sounds hard for an 11%abv bourbon RIS, but they did it. wish it was a little less hot. thats something that goes away with time though. great beer.

D- This was so good i went back for seconds!

Serving type: on-tap

10-21-2009 11:42:18 | More by slayer3604
Photo of Overlord


4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours blackish black with a tinge of black. When held next to an overwhelmingly powerful light source, a faint tinge of deep red. Surprisingly robust tan head that turns into a swirly-whirly caramel colored crusty coating.

Quite intoxicating aroma. Roasted coffee, roasted malt, vanilla and ... a nutty coconut? Huh? That's unexpected. I didn't expect this to be a strongly -bal aged beer, but the bourbon component is noticeable.

Taste is not what I expected, at all. I was expecting a big horned RIS bull goring me in the stomach, but this a mellower, more nuanced beer. Strong bourbon, the layered caramel, toffee, and ... molasses? ... something sweet ... take over, and the vanilla provides an aftertaste. The roasted coffee/malt is mellower than expected. Sadly, the coconut, flavored rum aroma barely carries through to the flavor, but this is a striking, albeit hot sipper. Almost like an RIS mated with a bourbon barreled strong ale.

Very drinkable for what it is, though it has a touch of heat. If there is a let down, it's the mouthfeel ... it's smooth, but maybe a bit too smooth. Could use more body.

I must say, after Largerdeer's tour de force review, I was prepared to be underwhelmed. But, it's a solid, not top tier, brew.

**After having a second bottle, I'm bumping it down a bit, but not too much. The smell is definitely better than the taste.

Serving type: bottle

10-20-2009 18:46:23 | More by Overlord
Photo of largadeer


3/5  rDev -28.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-20-2009 16:41:17 | More by largadeer
Photo of iD9


4.63/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served in a cognac snifter.

Appearance: Dark, real dark. Head pours dark tan color. Out of the bottle, relatively little head (keep in mind small serving sizes), light lacing around the edges. Very pretty. Note, I had this straight from the tap at firestone brewery yesterday and the head poured beautiful.

Smell: Smells of bourbon, for a reason. Typical aroma of RIS style beers. Notes of chocolate and a dark malt roast. Fantastic.

Taste: Bourbon! Lots of chocolate, dark roasted coffee, hints of dark fruits possibly? Excellent depth of flavor. Sweet, dark molasses are present throughout with a rich, creamy flavor that defies the standards of regular beers. I love this style and this beer.

Mouthfeel: I'm trying to imagine a word or phrase that is not too graphic, but still does justice to this RIS's mouthfeel. It is full, smooth and creamy, with a hint of smokey chocolate. As the beer warms the slow burn of the bourbon presents itself further forward in the mouth. The creamy goodness lingers in the mouth for moments after the beer has passed.

Drinkability: Excessively drinkable. This is definitely a sipping beer and not to be taken lightly. When I had this on tap yesterday it was so good I could not leave until I got another one and a few bottles. I believe the movie Beerfest, starring Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske said it best when they described the specialty brew of the Von Wolfhausens.

All-and-all this is an amazing beer. I cannot, in good faith, not make a return trip to buy more. Sufficed to say this will be a lean paycheck for the rest of the week but well worth it. This is a fantastic RIS and effectively embodies the style. Unlike some bourbon barrel aged RIS, it is subtle and beautiful. Kudos.

Serving type: bottle

10-18-2009 05:37:36 | More by iD9
Photo of Zorro


4.28/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very dark brown colored beer that is close but not quite light proof. Pours thickly and struggles to form a slight dark brown colored head.

Smells sweet and strongly of chocolate and vanilla. Bourbon is in the scent but not all that strongly. Little bit of Kahlúa scent to this one but not really a coffee beer.

Starts out Malty and strongly of chocolate and vanilla much like the smell. Both sweet and bitter in flavor it is something like kahlua and coffee in flavor. Fairly strong hops under all the stout like characteristics adds carrot flavor to the beer. This is a oak barrel beer but a quite sedate one; bourbon is a distant flavor in this beer. Flavorwise this is more of a vanilla stout. Also has a noticeable coconut flavor.

Mouthfeel is good; you can tell that there are oats added.

Good drinkability this is something like a poor mans Firestone anniversary beer. Strong and tasty, this probably will bee much better after a years aging if you can't let it be.

The makers have posted a video to Youtube about this beer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Op5MpcLoBnE

Serving type: bottle

10-18-2009 03:23:30 | More by Zorro
Photo of number1bum


4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark brown but not completely black, and not as thick looking as I might expect given the alcohol content. Generates about one finger of tan head but settles to no more than a rimjob, although it does leave a bit of stick on the sides.

Smell is rich and powerful, initially dominated by bourbon and vanilla, and then becoming a bit sweeter as it warms with some roasted malt and coffee aromas also coming into play. Bourbon is quite strong, with a woody oakiness to it in addition to a big vanilla note. There is some chocolate as well, and an occasional citrus hop aroma too.

Taste has a lot of bourbon going on, and is just plain dominated by it frankly. Lots of vanilla and oak, but some booze as well. I wouldn't call this beer hot but the alcohol is quite strong and the booziness is a bit much. There is some fudgy chocolate sweetness here, and some dark caramel, which goes pretty nicely with the vanilla from the oak barrels. Even as it warms the coffee never becomes more than a subtle, complementary flavor, as the bourbon continues tdo dominate. There is also some roasted malt, and as it warms I get some black cherry flavor as well; along with the sweetness it has a cherry soda sort of quality to it. There are some good qualities here, but the overpowering nature of the bourbon holds it back from being great.

Mouthfeel is medium-full, but like the density of the pour it doesn't seem as full as expected. It's quite creamy, but the booziness detracts from the smoothness.

This is one powerful beer, although unfortunately the bourbon qualities overpower the others. The nose is great, the rest good. Overall a tasty beer, but lacking in balance. The price tag was hefty (I paid $16.99 at Healthy Spirits in SF), but it's worth grabbing if you see it. Some age might help calm it down.

Serving type: bottle

10-17-2009 01:17:10 | More by number1bum
Photo of Genghis22


4.6/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On Tap at City Beer Store about 40 minutes ago!

A - Deep dark brown and black, like a cup of coffee. Black on first sight, but when held up to the light, some brown accents are seen. Small tight head, with gentle lacing.

S - Gentle coffee notes. Roasted malt, and touches of cocoa and vanilla.

T - Wow! Lots of stuff going on, all in harmony, but lots of individual flavors. Starts very gentle with cofee. Gives way to vanilla, bourban and chocolate. Just enough hops to keep it balanced.

M - Medium body with moderate to high carbonation. It's rich and smooth, but not heavy. The carbonation prickles the tongue a but, but the finish is velvety smooth.

D - Absolutely. If it weren't for the hefty price tag, the fridge would be full of this stuff! Excellent beer, with lots of complex flavors and the alcohol is completely hidden.

Serving type: on-tap

10-09-2009 19:44:47 | More by Genghis22
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Black Xantus from Humboldt Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 887 ratings.