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Black Butte XXVI | Deschutes Brewery

163 Reviews
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Black Butte XXVIBlack Butte XXVI

Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States | website

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our 26th anniversary Imperial Porter was aged in bourbon barrels (50% for 6 months) and dry spiced with Theo Chocolate's cocoa nibs, revealing hints of vanilla and chocolate. Pomegranate molasses and Oregon cranberries complement the robust flavor with a hint of fruit and just enough tart to make you smile.

Added by dwagner003 on 06-05-2014

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 163 | Ratings: 1,018
Photo of Selz202
4.29/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This bottle had a best after of 5/31/15

Pours a rich black a little lighter than I expected with toasty head, pretty good retention and strong lacing.

On the nose strong tart fruit and chocolate. Surprisingly not much barrel notes. Something else I cant quite describe, possibly the molasses.

Taste still has a good amount of tartness up front and on the back end its a little malt and a small amount of barrel that balances a little bit of bitter. Small amount of heat on the very end, not much though.

Mouthfeel is balanced medium, not creamy and not thin. Pretty smooth for a beer of this nature.

I cracked one of these open on xmas so have now had 26 fresh, 1 year old and 1.5 years old. I do not see much advancement from the 1 year mark, I was hoping to get more barrel note out and a little more balance to the tartness. Overall a good beer I look forward to drinking the other 2 I have.

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Photo of stevoj
4.26/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Another beauty from Deschutes. Black and rich, oily with an airy beige head. Dried fruit aroma, taste is molasses and more dried fruit. A little brandy on the finish.

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Photo of oldn00b
4.37/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours near jet black, thin khaki head recedes to a thin cap/ring with some lacing.

Nose is aged roasty malts with bright fruits - ripe cherry huge. Big on the molasses note, but it says that on the label so might be leading me.

Flavor is fantastic - the cherry and pomegranate are there for sure. But the roasted malt backbone is huge and intact. Vanilla, bourbon, oak, char/smoke, and bright cherries. Residual sweetness, molasses definitely comes through. But so incredibly well rounded. Just a beautiful flavor profile here that really works for me.

Feel is on point - cab level is perfect. Full but not too viscous. Definitely not thin but zero syrupy aspect, generally hate if it's syrupy.

Edit: as this warmed it became a bit more fruity and sweeter than I like. It was a bit upsetting to the stomach for some reason (felt like a higher level of acidity than I'm used to?) so i dropped it a couple notches on taste, feel, and overall.

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Photo of ajm5108
4.12/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours pitch-black with creamy foam head. Good retention. Aroma is decadent, lots of dark chocolate, pomegranate & cranberry and lots of warm caramel & vanilla from the oak. Not much straight bourbon notes which is fine by me. The taste is interesting because it really does pull lots of the pomegranate juice, and mixed with top layers of burnt cocoa & bourbon it really goes for a sweet / savory combo. It lingers almost like a chocolate berry cake. Some of the bourbon heat and oak clash with sweetness a little, so it misses the mark ever so slightly, but it is still a very good beer. Also, it's a little thin for the kind stout it is.

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Photo of mtomlins
4.16/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours clear dark brown with two fingers of tan bubbly head that fell to a thin collar leaving spotty lacing. The nose starts with dark roasted malt, stone fruit, bourbon and some alcohol. The taste is roasted malt, char, deep sweet stone fruit, molasses, bourbon, some hot alcohol. Full, round, smooth, maybe a touch thin.

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Photo of Meyers1023
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured almost completely black with a bit of tan head that dissipated quickly. The smell is vanilla, barrel, and a little booze. The flavor follows suit as vanilla and chocolate interplay well to begin with the barrel smoothing out the booze flavor that hits at the end. The feel is almost syrupy with a bit of carbonation. This is an amazing imperial porter that I look for every year!

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Photo of TreyIsWilson
4.08/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a motor oil black with one finger creamy tan head. The head leaves tons of soapy lacing.

S - Aroma is dark cherries, bitter dark chocolate and light bourbon.

T - The taste follows the aroma. Upfront is dark cholocate and cranberries. Roasted malts, light bourbon, and charred oak round out the flavor.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Soft smooth mouthfeel. Dry finish.

O - Full flavored and very drinkable. Solid brew.

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Photo of strohme2
4.37/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pour leads to a big soapy head that seems to be lasting down the sides of the glass. Garnet red to medium brown color. Smells of unripe berries, chocolate and some woody notes. Initial taste reminds of me chocolate covered sweet cranberries. I get very little to no bourbon. I was expecting something different but I'm not disappointed. Starts of a non cloying dry chocolate and finishes with a minute tartness. Highly drinkable.

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Photo of constantine_272
3.74/5  rDev -9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

My bottle poured a brownish curdled mess on a black mildly carbonated beer. It was cellared at too cold a temp, but as a 26 anniversary, it wasn't aged that long and I expected it to hold together better. Guess not. Very disapointing appearance. Smelled of chocolate covered cheries, bittersweet chocolate, tangy dark pomegranate and rich raspberry. The flavor mirrored the red fruit nose but had a richer pomegranate fanciness and a roastier dark chocolate coffee richness with a milk chocolate creamy body. A mild dry cocoa powder finished both dry and sweet at the same time. With the creaminess. A mellow bourbon oakiness lingers heavy and wide on the palate albeit a little on the sweet chocolate syrup side. Overall, a bit disapointing with the appearance alone. It was the first impression and set the stage poorly . I liked the red fruit sweetness but felt it was on the aggressive side for my taste. I had hoped the red pomegranate and raspberry notes to be a mild accent with dark coffee malt being the foreground, but I felt it was sadly reversed here. It was good, full flavored and delicious, but fell short on the beer I built up in my head with high expectations.

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Photo of worstfisherman1
4.63/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Fruity scent hits the nose immediately. First taste is over molasses giving way to mild fruit notes forcing your mouth to salivate as you enjoy it. Aftertaste is of smooth creamy bitterness like that of a latte. Your mouth continues to salivate well after your sip!

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a shaker pint, the beer is jet black, with a subtle creamy head. Aromas of booze, coffee, chocolate, and woody/earthy highlights. Flavors are coffee and chocolate forward, bitter and balanced, with subtle vanilla highlights, and subtle fruity notes. The body is rich and smooth, with a slightly cloying finish.The aftertaste is boozy and rich, heavy on the chocolate and vanilla. The finish is smooth and slow, with a solid linger of chocolate and subtle fruity notes. Really solid beer!

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Photo of atigerlife
4.18/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Pours black. Some amber highlights. Two inch brown head. Very impressive to look at.

S: Dark malts. Dark chocolate. Marshmallow. Soy sauce.

T: Dark burn wood. Strong acrid smoke at end. Dark chocolate. Brown sugar.

F: Medium plus bodied. Lightly cleansing.

O: Very nice. Very drinkable considering high ABV. Really enjoyed this one.

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Photo of EMV
4.6/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a snifter.

L: Pours a dark, dark brown... nearly black. Very nice tannish head and lacing.

S: Complex and delicious. Dark fruits, oak and vanilla, booze, and roasted malts.

T/F: In a word... complex. Lots going on with this beer. Dark roasted malts... dark fruits and vanilla (wouldn't have picked up on the pomegranate if it weren't on the label, but sure... it's there). Cherries and cranberry... bourbon and booze. Medium mouthfeel. Rich and smooth.

O: A fantastic beer from Deschutes and a yearly ritual to try to pack a few away for later. Delicious and a 'must try' if you can find it.

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Photo of Jeffo
4.12/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this one from Rutger this past summer. Cheers for the brews man!

From a bomber into a snifter
Best after 16 June 2015

Ale brewed with pomegranate, molasses with 50% aged in bourbon barrels then blended with ale brewed with cocoa nibs and cranberries.

APPEARANCE: Pours out clear brown and yields a two finger, medium looking, creamy, light brown head with great retention. Clear bistre brown in color, clear, with higher levels of carbonation for the style. Head slowly fades to a full cap and coats the glass on the top. A ring and splotchy wisp remain leaving decent lacing down the glass. Good looking, though a little over carbonated for the style.

SMELL: Dark malts, vanilla, oak, bourbon, coconut notes, light berries and toffee on the nose. Pretty complex and nothing overwhelms. Good stuff.

TASTE: Tart fruit, oak, vanilla notes and lightly toasted malts up front. Some caramel, bourbon, sweet cream and tart cranberries at the swallow. A bold and lingering finish of tart fruit, bourbon, vanilla, some toffee and lightly roasted flavors as well. Good stuff and very nicely put together.

PALATE: Medium body and medium levels of carbonation. Creamy on the palate, goes down smooth with a bit of a scratch, finishing slightly mouth-coating. A bit of tartness lingers.

OVERALL: Good stuff all around. Just enough tartness to make it interesting with some nice, well measured barrel notes. Nothing really dominates this beer, with lots going on and everything working well together. Another excellent incarnation of their anniversary porter. Check it out if you get the chance. Thanks again Rutger. Always enjoy drinking this one every year.

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Photo of mschrei
4.28/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Dark brown with dark tan foam. Reminiscent of a cola. Lot of sediment that looks like cocoa powder. Lot of barrel on the nose. Sweet tasting, a bitter tang accompanies. Rich. Pretty tasty.

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Photo of schoolboy
4.35/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Yeah, it's great, but it could be better. I bought this bottle a very long time ago. Since it had a best after date of June of this year, I stuck it in the fridge this summer. Then, a couple months ago I found another bottle just like mine in a store for about the same price ($15 or $16, I think). So I bought that as a backup. Good thing. I just opened this and I think it needs to sit another year.

It's brown and beautiful. The aroma is busy. All kinds of dried fruity things going on. It is robust.

The taste similarly is very busy and large. It's sweet and full of fruity flavors. The aftertaste lingers like a red wine - huge and dominating.

The other bottle of this will be resident in my basement until next fall.

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Photo of brentk56
3.78/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: I always love a big, heady pour when raise the bottle a foot above the chalice and this beer doesn't disappoint; a massive, foamy and rocky head tops the fudge colored liquid with bands of lacing arcing around the circumference

Smell: Chocolate and roast, with the cranberries and pomegranate molasses peeking through

Taste: Chocolate, caramel and roast forward, but those flavors are subsumed by the cranberry and pomegranate molasses flavors, brown sugar builds, underneath, but the tart flavors bring up the finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation

Overall: Not living in the Deschutes distribution area, I have tried this series sporadically through the years; I missed the XXV but was surprised (and disappointed) by the direction this beer has taken by adding tart fruit flavors; it is not a bad beer but was a big let-down from what I was expecting

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Photo of Chris_Huston
3.77/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This tastes more like the XXV, specifically with the pruney fruits flavors. Clear bourbon presence with those fruits, and a bit of cocoa will make it very interesting to some, and a little too weird for others. Nice creaminess; tartness is faint enough to be missed by many, but adds some complexity. This is actually a "double" or "imperial" porter, so the feel is more stout-like, so it's worth a try for drinkers who prefer a stout body to a porter. The flavor is not for me, but it hits its marks.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
4.06/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a chalice glass

Appearance – The beer pours a nearly pitch black color with a small cream colored head. Upon swirling in the glass the beer appears thick, with fingers of the brew clinging to the sides of the glass. The head fades slowly over time with a little bit of steaky lace left on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is huge of a sweeter chocolate and molasses with a moderately strong aroma of vanilla and some caramel. Along with these aromas comes hints of a darker fruit smell with some raisin, pomegranate, and plum being there. Along with these aromas comes come nice rich espresso smells as well as a very rich and warming bourbon smell. With a little bit of a licorice and some char a very dark, sweet, and warming smell invites one to try out the brew.

Taste – The taste begins with a sweeter chocolate flavor with a good showing of dark fruit of pomegranate and plum with a decent showing of molasses. Throughout the taste, there is a dark and roasty taste which remains rather strong throughout all while some char develops more in the middle, fading a bit toward the end while other tastes of a boozy bourbon and oak come to the tongue. The mix of fruit, roasty, sweet, and bourbon give the brew and almost port wine like character and leave one with a dark and roasty, but fruity and sweet warming taste to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the thinner side for such a potent brew of 10.8 % with a carbonation level that is rather low. Surprisingly, while the lighter thickness (for a 10.8 % brew) was not ideal for the dark porter flavors of the brew, the thinner body actually did very well for the pomegranate and red wine flavors of the brew and actually made for a surprisingly pleasant sipping but crisper and sweet taste overall.

Overall – Not surprisingly for an imperial porter, it was a rather sweet and warming brew. With that said however, it had some more red wine like characteristics with a dark fruitiness and a thinner, more crisp feel which gave it an easier and more approachable drinkability. Not sure if it’s worth the more hefty price tag of $15, but it was a fun one to try.

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Photo of morimech
4.19/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Very dark brown color with a finger of dense head that held on forever. Lacing coats the glass. Smells like a customary robust stout with heavy chocolate, molasses, brown sugar notes with a little note of alcohol. But the flavor is a whole other scene. There is a lot going on. The base beer flavor is strong with dark bread, cocoa, raisins, brown sugar, and then there is a hint of bourbon, vanilla, and then the odd tartness in the finish from the cranberry. A little alcohol heat and flavor in the finish and aftertaste. Big, bold body with a gentle carbonation that allows the beer to coat the palate and linger. A very good beer but I think I would of preferred it without the cranberry and pomegranate fruitiness and tartness.

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Photo of brewskis
3.9/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown (almost black) with a two finger dark tan head.

Aroma is very fruit-forward, as the pomegranate and cranberry really stand out. Right behind that is bittersweet chocolate, carmel, roasted malt, slight vanilla, oak, and bourbon from the barrel.

Taste is dominated by the fruit up front. The cranberry and pomegranate are so prevalent that they are pretty much tart-like in taste. Balancing out this fruity, somewhat tart flavor is carmel sweetness, roasted malt, bittersweet chocolate, slight oak, slight vanilla, and slight bourbon later in the palate. Wish the barrel was more present, but this was only 50% barrel aged and has sat for a year.

Medium body, but wish it had more body to it being an imperial porter. Crisp, somewhat creamy, and a sticky finish.

Not bad. I think if this was 100% barrel aged, this could be so much better. The fruitiness and tartness is prevalent, but that more prominent barrel would have balanced and smoothed it out. Nevertheless, it is still a solid beer.

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Photo of SquallLionhart
4.43/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured 10/28/15, into a porter/stout goblet.

L: Dark, with 'plenty' of sediment (which is settling at the bottom of my glass as I type... in a way, it's kind of off-putting, but in another way, it signifies that we're truly enjoying a 'craft' brew, not just some mass produced alcoholic beverage. )
S: Oh the smell, probably my favorite part of this one. Lots of chocolate and fruit. It's intoxicating.
T: Chocolate/cocoa is definitely on the front of this one, but the fruitiness/tartness of the cranberries quickly overpowers any other flavors present in this brew. I'm enjoying that, but I could see where it could be too much for some. It tastes pleasant to me, but I would say it smells better than it tastes. Never once did I pick up the bourbon flavor, though. I think the cranberry destroyed any bourbon flavoring that was there.
F: For a porter, this is pretty thick. It's closer to a stout. Moderate carbonation.
O: Very good porter. I was a bit disappointed that the bourbon didn't come through more, but the chocolate-fruitiness was quite excellent. I'd drink this again. I almost wish I had picked up more of this when I first got it. Looking forward to trying XXVII (next year, of course) !

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Photo of brandonwnw
3.86/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Look: Black as night - Bueno Smell: Wonderful dried fruit and dark chocolate; Taste: The disappointment starts, flavor is sour and biting; too much Pom and not enough bourbon for my taste; Feel: Pretty smooth in spite of the sour bite; Overall: I expected a lot after tasting XXV, but this disappointed. If it tasted like it smells it would be fine, but not enough bourbon for my taste. I want to love this having spent lots of time drinking at BBR in my youth, but I can't.

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Photo of ljc973
4.46/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I'm not sure if this beer was infected or not, but there was an unusual amount of settlement in the pour. That being said, this was an amazing beer. Beautiful tan head. Rich malty notes, a sweet berry taste, and subtle vanilla. Extremely smooth, full mouthfeel. There was a slightly "soured" quality, but the complexity of the beer covered it. The ABV is well hidden. This is worth seeking out.

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Photo of svenness
4.08/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Best after 6/16/15, check

L: Very dark brown with red hue, tan-white head persists, some floating sediment in first pour
S: Fruity, chocolate, vanilla, acetate
T: Tart fruit, sweet, chocolate, bourbon, low bitterness
F: Medium-light body yet sticky-sweet, moderate carbonation
O: Tasty imperial porter, faint barrel characteristics, perhaps a bit out of balance

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Black Butte XXVI from Deschutes Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 163 ratings.