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Black Xantus - Humboldt Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Black XantusBlack Xantus

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,065 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,065
Reviews: 375
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 10.74%
Wants: 111
Gots: 286 | FT: 21
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: 1,065 | Reviews: 375 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of OakedCanuck
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into cervoise.

This beer pours a nice, deep black with thin tan coloured head. Little lacing and head retention. Full bourbon on the nose with a roasty charcoal character. A certain oakiness to it with musty undertones. A nice espresso coffee forward main flavour with smooth bourbon complement. A certain ashy burnt chocolate taste with some molasses and dark fruit. Very smooth mouthfeel and the ABV is hidden quite well. I really enjoyed this beer and the barrel aging was timed perfectly.

Photo of jondeelee
4.45/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black Xantus (Xantus being a species of hummingbird, as per the label's picture) begins with a heavenly Imperial Stout aroma--chock full of tobacco, ash, smoke, coffee, and molasses--but this one is tempered by the promise of brown sugars and caramelized figs.

On the tongue, the beer opens with a lash of coffee, ash, tobacco, black malt, and anise that is truly spectacular. As the mouthful ages on the tastebuds, a sugary layer of caramelized figs and brown sugar filters through, but is obviously struggling to do so against the weight of the primary flavors. Subsequent mouthfuls reveal deeper layers of figs, vanilla, and aged port, as well as a rim of bourbon at the edges. The aftertaste is a continuation of the darker flavors, as well as a slow bourbon alcohol burn that actually increases in intensity, and lasts for quite a while. Mouthfeel is a smooth medium, and carbonation is medium to medium-high.

Overall, this is a great Imperial Stout, and sure to please fans of the style. The beer might be a bit too heavy on the bourbon-and-alcohol burn (which does tend to dominate the flavor profile if several sips are taken in a row), but at 11% ABV, it's actually surprising that this isn't more present, and speaks volumes of the levels of flavor otherwise assaulting the tastebuds. Sip this one slowly, but otherwise well worth the price.

Photo of angelogarcia3
4.67/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A really great beer! The midnight color and very thin dark brown head imply the thickness and density of this beer. The nose has strong bourbon and alcohol aromas. The visual heaviness transfers to the mouth with a thickness similar to syrup. The taste of molasses, caramel, & malt. No bitterness at all and a warm feeling all over after drinking this beer at Rattle-n-Hum.

Photo of daveytheformer
4.6/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

from notes.

Pours a dark black (brownish hued) with a noticeable tan head that has some lacing remaining.

Smells like chocolate, vanilla, dark fruit, light roasted malt, lots of bourbon, just a tad nutty and overall amazing!

Tastes are raisins, prunes, caramel, sweet chocolate, vanilla, and a huge bourbon presence. Nice.

Mouthfeel is medium with a silky smooth finish. Light carbonation that fits this kind of beer perfectly.

Overall is excellent! One of the best beers like this I've had.

Photo of FosterJM
3.55/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

679th Review on BA
Bottle to Flute

App- Very dark pour with it almost being black in the glass. A little bit of bubble activity and a ring of bubbles around the edges.

Smell- A little bit of roast, a little bit of chocolate syrup. Small notes of the barrel but not too much. Slightly sweet with vanilla and maybe a tinge of bread.

Taste- Much more chocolate than I thought would hit. I was expecting much more barrel and coffee notes on this one. Was a bit boozy and a bit grainy.

Mouth- Medium bodied and medium carbonated. A lot of barrel character left with the vanilla notes and some oak.

Drink- Was pretty good. I expected more from this one. I didnt know it was a limited release. Thought it was more of a regular line up. Lots of chocolate and booze. Tasty but not sure why I didnt like this one.

Photo of domtronzero
3.98/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage.

A - Pours a very dark brown, nearly opaque with ruby-mahogany tinted edges. Big, long lasting tannish head with lots of lacing.

S - Sweet malts, dark roasted caramelly chocolate aromas. Vanilla and oak are nicely balanced. Just a touch of warmth, which is to be expected, and it seems it has mellowed a bit since the original release.

F/M - Big, rich chocolate and roasty malts. Sweet bready malts and a bit of caramel emerges as it warms. The coffee flavors have faded and are now a bit muted. Dark stone fruity esters, plums and raisins. Nicely balanced barrel flavors of vanilla and sweet oak are also noticeable but not overpowering. Its definitely not as complex as some of the leaders of this style, but it is still quite tasty. Medium bodied and a little thin. Moderate carbonation and a little warm in the finish.

O - I like this beer. Its got some minor issues, but overall its a tasty beer. Too bad the price is so high, I'd probably drink a lot more of this one.

Photo of muttyd
3.24/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured aggressively into a tulip glass. Little to no head with almost no lacing. Rather still boring looking beer...

Aroma is filled with dark chocolate covered raisins, roasted malt, slightly nutty, and hints of coffee. Alcohol slightly noticeable. The flavor pretty much follows the nose: bitter dark chocolate, dark sweet fruits, toffee, caramel and slightly smokey. Finishes sticky and sweet. Coats the mouth with a creamy mouth feel.

Not a bad beer. Not something I would seek out again at almost $20 per bottle.

Photo of n2185
4.24/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours black with a finger of tan head that recedes into a thin ring with no lacing.

S: Roasted malts with lots of sweet, creamy chocolate and some creamy coffee aromas as well. There is a touch of smokiness in there along with a hint of a graham cracker aroma. Vanilla and oak aromas also make a showing as the beer warms.Slight alcohol aroma on the finish.

T: Similar to the taste, lots of creamy chocolate with some coffee flavors. There is a strong presence of caramelized vanilla, oak, and toffee flavors as well. The finish has a slightly bitter roasted coffee flavor along with a light alcohol burn. Very good.

M: Thick body with lowish carbonation, this beer is fairly thick and creamy but has just enough carbonation to provide a little bite towards the finish.

O: A very good RIS. A bit on the expensive side at ~$13 per bottle, but very tasty overall. The aromas could be more pronounced and the body a bit thicker, but the vanilla/oak/toffee flavors work very well with the roasted malt characters of the stout.

Photo of fo1ksguitar
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 Bottle

A- Pours very dark, a fair amount of carbonation

S- Smells sweet; hints of coffee & vanilla

T- Very well balanced, upfront is chocolate and coffee, as it warms up the back end is more complex, can taste more fruit and a little more booze.

M- Medium body, but still smooth

O- Overall I really enjoyed this. The 2 year point was perfect to smooth it out. Hope this comes to St. Louis in the future. Love the FW line.

Reviewed on: 07-02-2011

Photo of WanderingFool
4.55/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black Xantus pours black into the glass with a small light tan head on top. The foam dissolves quickly leaving behind a few spots of lace on the glass.

The aroma is not as strong as I thought it would be. It has rich malt with notes of coffee, roasted malt and nuts.

Each sip of this full bodied beer is chewy with light carbonation. The flavor is sweet. It begins with coffee and chocolate. In the middle creamy milk notes blend with roasted malt, toffee and nuts. It finishes mildly bitter with grassy hops.

This is a full flavored beer that hides its 11% abv very well. It's sweet with nice coffee notes, however the coffee doesn't overpower. Very well done.

Photo of Bendurgin
2.76/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Shared by Brad and poured into a tulip. Pours black with a finger of dark mocha head. Settles down to. Thin layer of foam.

Molasses and dark bitter cocoa on this one with a little bit of coffee to round it out. Plumbs and a little bit of caramel bourbon. Kind grapish on the flavor that seems a bit off. The coffee and bourbon get a little bit lost in translation. Molasses is very noticeable on the flavor. This one is sweet.

The body could use a bit of volume and the carbonation seems a little low. I think this one is a bit sweet. I'd love to see that toned down.

Photo of celticfutblclub
4.01/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A - a beautiful jet black body with a thin white head on top that doesn't last long. some mild lacing. nothing too special going on in the presentation.

N - huge notes of chocolate in there. smells like you are over a bowl of chocolate ice cream.. there is also some coffee in the background as well.

T - the chocolate hits right away and is followed surprisingly by a punch of alcohol that fades back into chocolate and coffee.

M - full bodied with lots of carbonation. good alcohol felt both in the mouth and down the throat. really good feel for an RIS.

O - this is a damn fine russian imperial stout. maybe a bit too pricey for my blood but definitely an enjoyable and solid drink.

Photo of stakem
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bomber with a date stamp on the neck that is for the most part scratched off but what I can make out looks like this is 10/8/09. Poured into a pub glass, this brew appears black in color with a finger of dense, creamy tan head that slowly recedes to a film across the top that remains patchy and holds around the rim. When held to the light, this brew displays some deep ruby coloration and lighter brown clarity around the edges. A swirl revives the cap and produces some spotty lacework on the glass.

The aroma of this brew is dark and fruity. While this is my first experience with this brew, it smells strangely familiar with a deep roasted grain quality intertwined with alcohol and fruits like raisins or plums. More smells reveal a woodsy scent of oak and light vanilla. Cocoa and a very light amount of espresso mix with a faint citrus element and earthy scents somewhat like hops but not readily identifiable as such.

The taste confirms my suspicion. I didn't know this was a barrel aged imp stout but after tasting it, there is no question. Taking a closer look at the label, it doesn't proclaim itself as such but there are barrels stacked on the bottom of the label. This brew tastes roasty and bitter with dark grainy flavors and an earthy element that leads its way into minor flavors of espresso, cocoa powder, oak, vanilla and dark fruity alcohol flavors like raisin/plum as indicated in the aroma as well. Long lasting aftertaste of roasted grain bitterness resides on the tongue mixed with the barrel aged properties. Light alcohol tang hints the mouth as this brew warms up.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation. The 11% abv packs quite a punch, initially it was well integrated but once it comes up to temperature it is felt both in fruity esters that mingle well with the flavor and a big warmth down the back of the throat. This is a pleasant barrel aged offering.

Photo of vfgccp
4.39/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A – Deep, almost black, maple syrup.

S – Soft roast with sweet edges. Almost like chocolate covered espresso beans.

T – Kahlua and dark chocolate up front. Huge, delicious cocoa nib note dominates the mid profile with a twang of woody bitter that’s there more for ambiance than balance. Gentle roast and smoke notes with warm booze on the backend.

M – Medium light body with above average carbonation (on the low and high end of the style respectively) lend a surprising degree of drinkability. Lightly boozy / sweet chocolate finish.

O – Delicious. Could use a few years to mellow out.

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.96/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

aquired in a trade with kmurry8126. Thanks Kevin!

poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance: light black body with a light mocha brown head. About one and a half fingers of head. Minor amount of lacing noted on the side of the glass.

Smell: lots of chocolate, vanilla, oak, and slight hints of coffee.

Taste: u can tell immediately that this beer is all about a barrell aged beer. Lots of vanilla and oak. Chocolate is the next major player and its pretty substantial with backers chocolate, cocoa, and a dark chocholate all mixed together. The coffee lingers in the background with a hint of oats. Booze is well hidden.

Mouthfeel: the high end of medium bodied. Carbonation is low end of moderate.

Overall: This is a really tasty beer an I am glad i was able to aquire it in a trade! Thanks Kevin! It is worth seeking out, very solid RIS!

Photo of BigB415
4.23/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've had my eye on this for a while and I finally decided to splurge and get it. Pours pitch black into my firestone walker. Smells like chocolate and chocolate milk. I'm sipping on this so it warm up and note the differences. As it warms up I can taste more chocolate so it tastes a little like chocolate milk with some alcohol burn. As it warms up even more the alcohol burn lessens and the chocolate comes out even more. This is great stout that I would get again if it wasn't $12.99 for a bomber. If I do decide to splurge again for this I would get one for the cellar and see how it tastes later down the line.

Photo of jlindros
4.42/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this great beer thanks to dfclav, before it started showing up around here in a limited fashion.

Pours a darker bubbly and creamy 1/2 finger head that fades at a medium pace and a little bit of lacing, over pitch black beer, no light coming through there.

Nose is pure chocolate and coffee, baker's chocolate, dark chocolate, cocoa nibs, milk chocolate, I feel like a kid in a candy store, a beer candy store, and kid I mean 21 year old... the chocolate seems like it's melting in my nose with a delicate aroma, giving way to a roasted malt and some mocha java, adn even some vanilla, i think a bit of oats, and luscious dark malts.

Taste comes on rich and full, again loaded with chocolate but less on the bitter dark and bakers chocolate and more on the creamy milk chocolate and cocoa nibs, a light roast with hints of coffee, caramel and vanilla, a little sweetness but not much, gets slightly bitter thanks to the charred malts and hints of an earthy hop that I can't really detect other than the remnants that it was there at one point, some creamy oats and milk chocolate round it off as well, hints of warming booze remind me that it is a strong beer, with a slightly drier finish, more lingering booze late that gets slightly tingly, mouth coating chocolate and dark malts and even more vanilla. I also found a slight bit of a bourbon and oak taste, which took me a while to actually taste but it's there once I get past all the chocolate, coffee, and dark malts.

Mouth is rich and heavy bodied, luscious and creamy, decent carbonation for the style, some warming and slightly tingly booze.

Overall I'm impressed, lots of great malt flavors, tons of chocolate but not fake chocolate, light roast, creamy and luscious, and with all the heavy dark malts no burnt flavors or minerality/tannic flavors. I personally would have liked a bit more earthy hops but it does really well, and those may interfere with the luscious and creamy chocolate.

Photo of Thorpe429
2.51/5  rDev -40.1%
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.

Photo of OldIronLungs
4.24/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark soda color - almost a hint of ruby in there. After filling one glass, the second was given an aggressive pour - still only netting a finger of caramel brown head that fades to nothing.

Nose is slightly hot, dark malt, molasses, some rich roasted coffee and hints of vanilla.

A sip is slick and full, lightly viscous. Light carbonation brings out molasses, dark chocolate, vanilla bean, and finishes with deliciously rich coffee note which sticks to the inside of my mouth and lingers to remind me another sip awaits.

Fantastic RIS - worth the price once it warms up. Will grab another to cellar and let cool off a while. Love it.

Photo of kscaldef
4.36/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

No bottle date, but this had been in my cellar for at least a year.

A: big creamy tan head, very dark body

S: Roasted coffee, cherry, chocolate milk

T: Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Smooth and creamy.

M: slightly more than medium body, good linger, just a touch sticky. Low carbonation, but right on for the style.

O: Really, really good RIS. On par with the best barrel-aged stouts, IMO.

Photo of paulozanello
4.27/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pitch Black color, opaque, with some red hues against the light. Head is light brown very creamy that recedes after a minute or so to a thin layer on the surface. Good retention.
Aroma is dark malts, molasses, tobacco and lots of vanilla and oak, finishing with a slight booziness.
Taste is dark malts, bitter chocolate, tobacco, vanilla and a coffee finish. Finish is lasting with slight notes of alcohol followed by a warming sensation.
Body is moderate for an imperial stout. Carbonation is smooth and just right. Alcohol is fairly perceptible but acceptable.
Great and complex beer. Gotta love barrel aged imperial stouts.

Photo of Patrickbrusil
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: nice deep deep deep dark black pour. Slightest hint of tree bark that is being lighted via a moon sliver. Barley any head.

Smell: wonderful chewy tobacco, molasses, dark chockate and coffee notes. I would use this as cologne.

Taste: the molasses, chocolate, and tobacco come through big time. There is a sweet black ice coffee taste upon my second go. Wow this is good.

Mouthfeel: chewy, sticky, stays around on the lips and gums. Boy does she linger.

A fine stout indeed. I'll take another.

Photo of Jwale73
3.89/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle courtesy of seeswo. Served in my Old Stock snifter. Pours one shade shy of black with no head, just a thin tan-colored band around the shoulders and some residual clusters of bubbles; no lacing on this one. Nose expresses rich dark malts, butterscotch and vanilla, as well as a trace of booze and a suggestion of the barrel towards the back. Taste consistent with nose; however, there's also a hint of sour fruit in the mix; not at all unpleasant, albeit unexpected. Finish is slightly tart with some residual ethanol that lingers between quaffs. Mouthfeel is medium-light with a carbonation that falls just short of lively. There's also a little acidity in the composition and the finish is slightly dry, as such. This was a difficult review, and I suspect my final score will be slightly lower than I think it deserves; however, the individual elements are what they are. Black Xantus is definitely an interesting beer; the most notable character being in the nose (this beer smells great off the bottle pop). That being said, it just seems to fall a little short, relative to the style. Nonetheless, an interesting brew and well worth your time if you have the opportunity to try it.

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

22oz bomber purchased at DeCicco's in Ardsley NY

Appearance: The body pours fairly black and opaque with a 1 finger medium beige crown that displays decent retention and some lace which surprises me considering the high ABV.

Smell: Nice notes of chocolate, roast, vanilla, alcohol, a hint of toffee and a tinge of herbal/floral hops.

Taste: Way too sweet and cloying for me but the flavors (same as nose) are good.

Mouthfeel: Fairly thick with decent carbonation.

Overall: A decent beer that really only let me down when it came to tasting too sweet for me.

Photo of peacebone116
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a bomber of this into an over-sized wine glass.

A: Deep, dark, brown with a quickly dissipating tan head that leaves lace at the sides of my glass.

N: Coffee & chocolate liquorice.

T/M: Bitter coffee with dark chocolate. Creamy body, but well carbonated. Cappuccino after taste. The Alcohol is fairly well hidden and only comes through in what I perceive as a slight, quick liquorice note in the middle.

Pretty darn tasty beer, but after hearing how they cold infuse the coffee into this stout, i expected the coffee notes to come out a little stronger. I was actually pleased with the candy liquorice notes, which I would have anticipated to be cloaked by the coffee tones.

Black Xantus from Humboldt Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 1,065 ratings.