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Black Butte XXI - Deschutes Brewery

Black Butte XXIBlack Butte XXI

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

524 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 524
Reviews: 372
rAvg: 4.4
pDev: 7.73%

Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery visit their website
Oregon, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Released June 2009.

Similar recipe and strength to Black Butte XX (2008), "enhanced by adding some Theo's Chocolate cocoa nibs from Seattle, dry-hopping it with 100 pounds of Bellatazza's locally roasted coffee, and then aging a portion of it in Stranahan's Colorado whiskey barrels."

(Beer added by: squaremile on 07-03-2009)
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Ratings: 524 | Reviews: 372 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of notchucknorris


4.3/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours black with a one finger creamy tan head. Sheets of lace with each sip.

S: Big and roasty with tons of dark chocolate, powdery cocoa and some faint barrel. Barrel notes emerge more as it warms.

T: Tons of velvety dark chocolate, dark berry notes and dark roasted malt. Some syrupy espresso as well. Finishes with a bare touch of char. Smooth as hell. Really well done.

Serving type: on-tap

03-03-2014 20:04:43 | More by notchucknorris
Photo of Smurf2055


4.49/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Uber, pour is black with a small tan head.

Smell is roasty, with a lot of chocolate and a bit of booze.

Taste is creamy chocolate, fig, raisin, and a bit of coffee.

Maybe it’s the age or maybe it was just a better batch, but this blows XXIII out of the water.

Serving type: on-tap

07-20-2013 17:34:14 | More by Smurf2055
Photo of lighthabit


4.51/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

notes to me -

getting over a cold, so that really skews the review, but it showed up at venitis on court street in salem, ore.

the staff at venitis was pleasant, but could not tell me which release this was.

smell seems solid, but hard to tell with stuffy nose.

appearance was dark, thick, almost oily. no head, but i don't think the person pouring had an idea i would expect that.

taste, minus the stuffy nose, was spot on black butte, but more of everything.

mouth feel was wonderfully smooth, carbonation was weak, but i think that suits the style better.

11% makes itself known very quickly, yet alcohol is masterfully hidden in chocolate, fruit, sweet coffee flavors. not one to have many of at lunch . . . one is fine :)

will review again if it's still available after i'm all cleared up.

Serving type: on-tap

03-04-2013 21:27:35 | More by lighthabit
Photo of benclimbs


4.33/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

black as the moonless night had on tap at toronado

smell is just so stoutlike, tons of chocolate and coffee and deep baking goods nose

taste - incredible, so rich, so bitter - cacao nibs, espresso grinds, and harsh licorice, maybe some persimmon on the finish.

overall this is a bomb example of a huge ridiculous porter that just oozes bitter black character and pounds your tastebuds but does it respectfully!

Serving type: on-tap

06-06-2011 05:43:06 | More by benclimbs
Photo of HuskyinPDX


4.8/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this on tap at the Portland Brewpub. Severed in a Deschutes Snifter.

A - A dark, deep brown, not quite black. Very thin, dark tan head that clings to the edges.

S - Chocolate, coffee, toffee, very slight booze.

T - Chocolate is the dominate flavor here, some coffee tones, molasses, bourbon.

D - This is where most Big Beers can fail, but not this one. Smooth, balanced, flavors are bouncing around in your mouth.

Serving type: on-tap

05-20-2011 04:29:42 | More by HuskyinPDX
Photo of inthebeeraisle


3.93/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap today at the Deschutes Brewery pub in Portland as part of American Craft Beer week. Served in a snifter.

A: A really dark color with a very small amount of head that dissipates pretty quick.

S: Aromas of alcohol, licorice, and molasses.

T: A licorice taste as well. Boozy, but balanced.

M: The mouthfeel has a molasses stay with you feeling, but the beer is thinner then expected.

O: Pumped they had this on, surprised it was XXI and not XXII. I'm more of an Abyss guy it seems.

Serving type: on-tap

05-19-2011 23:35:03 | More by inthebeeraisle
Photo of jethrodium


3.48/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Beer Revolution. Pours a very dark brown with a small light tan head that dissipates quickly and leaves very little lacing on the glass. Aroma is huge dark, bitter chocolate. There is also some licorice and molasses as well as a bit of alcohol. The initial taste is sweet with dark chocolate going into some licorice and molasses. A little graham cracker as well. The finish is on the sweet side with a light bitterness and a decent amount of alcohol. Lightly astringent. Medium body. Low carbonation. The chocolate dominates almost all other flavors in this beer. The alcohol was also quite prominent considering the age on this beer. It was a solid beer, but I was expecting a little bit more.

Serving type: on-tap

05-03-2011 08:32:59 | More by jethrodium
Photo of Gatch


4.5/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this from the tap on the night of Deschutes Base Camp Week at Papago Brewing Company in Scottsdale, AZ on Friday, April 8th.

Dark as night. Smooth, mellow, and strong roasted malt with barely any alcohol presence. Consistent and one of the better Porters that I've had. I've had this same beer out of the bottle without any aging. This definitely improves upon that with the aging and come from a keg. Such a great beer.

Serving type: on-tap

04-09-2011 21:44:42 | More by Gatch
Photo of nataku00


4.72/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap poured into a tulip glass. Beer is a very dark brown, opaque and bordering on black, with a half a finger of light brown mocha colored foamy and creamy head. Held up to a light, edges allow a bit of lighter brown color show through, and a bit of carbonation seen slowly rising from the bottom of the glass. Light lacing that slides easily back into the glass, and a bit of alcohol feed greasing the way for it.

Taking a sniff from the glass, lots of chocolate, semisweet and rich, some dark roasted malts on the lighter side of the roast, and smooth fruity coffee. A bit of molasses and light vanilla sweetness as well. Very fragrant and well balanced aroma.

For a porter, this is bordering on an imperial stout in robust flavor on the tongue. An explosion of milk chocolate sweetness and fruitier and complex dark chocolate flavor hits the tongue, a touch of roasted malt bitterness to help keep the sweetness in check, and some nice mild roasted coffee as well. Mid tongue, there is a bit of the barrel presence in vanilla and light oak, but the chocolate is immense. Nice lingering fruity chocolate on the tongue after each sip.

Very fine carbonation combined with a medium body for a creamy mouth feel. Smooth and luxurious, like a well made hot chocolate, served cool. Not much alcohol burn in the flavor, masked by the excellent chocolate notes, but there is a bit of warmth in the throat after each sip to remind you this is a big beer. I wish I can still find bottles of this excellent beer.

Serving type: on-tap

04-03-2011 20:11:26 | More by nataku00
Photo of barleywinefiend


4.5/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Poured jet black with good carbonation and tanniosh head

S: Vanilla, cocoa, wood, lightcoffee

T: So smooth. Soft, smooth cocoa goodnes, milk chocolate, wood, some hints at coffee. Very smooth

M: Creamy, well carbonated, booze is well hidden

D: Most excellent

Serving type: on-tap

10-16-2010 00:53:26 | More by barleywinefiend
Photo of yuriruley


4.95/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance - Nice an dark with a tan head, good retention and lacing.

Smell - Chocolate, coffee, and hints of alcohol.

Taste - Very good, I had it on tap next to XXII recently and I think it is drinking just a little bit better than the XXII. Nice smooth creamy chocolate, coffee, hints of vanilla.

Mouthfeel - Nice and creamy, decent carbonation.

Drink - Goes down easy for the ABV, I thoroughly enjoyed my glass, and half of my friends glass as he thought it was a bit heavy with his meal.

Glad I got to try this on tap. I have had two bottles of it previously and they weren't near as good for whatever reason. They had somewhat of that soy sauce flavor, and while they were good they didn't compare to this.

Serving type: on-tap

10-10-2010 21:41:12 | More by yuriruley
Photo of oregonskibum


4.3/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a snifter glass at a bier cafe on 6/22/2010. Served a touch on the cold side. Review from a text message, so a little sparse.

A: Color is a solid black throughout. Pours with a one-inch tan head that dies down to a faint film and ring around the edge of the glass. Only minimal lacing.

S: Pick up strong cocoa notes on first smell. Smell is rich with a solid coffee backing. Lots of dark roasted malts. The barrel aging has left only minimal wood and vanilla flavors.

T: Coffee and chocolate remain the dominant flavors. Some very faint caramel and vanilla show up as the beer warms, but are very subtle. Taste is rich and smooth up front. Eventually, a burnt coffee bitterness takes hold and remains through a long finish. Some definite warming from the alcohol, but no harshness.

M: Full bodied, fairly low carbonation. Definitely coats the tongue, approaching oily. But very smooth.

D: Excellent. Only mark-down was for the burnt coffee bitterness. Outside of that, this was a very enjoyable beer. I didn't take notes the first time I had BBXXI, but I remember it being far more harsh on the finish than what it drinks today. Very nice.

Serving type: on-tap

06-23-2010 04:03:10 | More by oregonskibum
Photo of Ryan011235


4.72/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap in a "snifter" at the Portland Brewpub on 5/26/10

Dark crimson brown in color. One finger of foam thins to a smidgen more than a skim. No head retention or lace.

Dang, this smells awesome. Lots of prevalent roasted dark malts. Notes of coffee & dry cocoa; hints of caramel, molasses & brown sugar. A touch of booze. Overtones of vanilla, oak. Appreciable hops.

Tastes a heck of a lot livelier than expected. Instead of what I presumed would be mellow smoothness, Black Butte XXI opts for packing a punch. Piney hops hit upfront, leading into a quite dry, roasted malt profile. Molasses & brown sugar. Coffee notes. Bourbon makes for a pointed attack. Vanilla & undertones of charred oak.

Full bodied with carbonation that is a little high for the style, in my opinion. Still, it works on account of the biting qualities. Hot, hot, hot. The whole flavor profile lingers on.

Despite being so bold, this is a great drinking beer. I'm no longer bummed that they ran out of Jubel 2010 on tap before I could try some. Highly recommended.

Serving type: on-tap

06-04-2010 02:40:49 | More by Ryan011235
Photo of djbreezy


4.63/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at the Deschutes Pub in Portland, OR. This review is from tasting notes. I don't normally like many porters with the exception of standard Black Butte and the occasional other, but this beer blows me away.

appearance - pours very dark, brown head, good retention and lacing

taste - the complexity reminds me of The Abyss or any other Russian Imperial Stout, not what I'd expect in a porter, alcohol is present but the taste is dominated by well roasted malts and chocolate flavors, delicious

mouthfeel - this big boy is wieldy and chewy, very smooth

drinkability - this is a huge beer but so enjoyable to sip slowly, the complexity is magical

Serving type: on-tap

04-16-2010 23:43:08 | More by djbreezy
Photo of ChrisPro


4.25/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black Butte XXI on tap at the brewery on 6/26/09 for the release.

Pours solid black with tan head. Nice mocha aroma. Incredibly smooth full-bodied beer with sweetness up front balanced with an incredible bitter coffee finish. A little fizzy, but otherwise great mouthfeel. Incredibly complex beer that gave some incredible caramel, oak and overpowering (in a good way) coffee aromas. Can't wait to let my bottles age.

Serving type: on-tap

03-29-2010 02:01:28 | More by ChrisPro
Photo of mothman

United Kingdom (Wales)

4.33/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Toronado

Served in a goblet with hardly any tan head. Color is a deep brown, pretty much black.

Aroma: Some oak, vanilla, and bourbon. Big roasted malt feel. Slight caramel and chocolate with coffee notes.

Taste: A lot of bourbon with the oak and vanilla. Brings some head with it. Lots of nut flavors and grassy hops. It is a nice porter and really great for the style.

Mouthfeel: smooth and creamy with a slight bit of heat. Full bodied with a lower amount of carbonation. Ends malty, roasted, and dry.

Overall, I wasn't too amazed by this beer until I remember that it is a porter. I really wish more porters tasted like this. I have a bottle and I am going to age it and I can only imagine it getting better.

Serving type: on-tap

01-30-2010 22:04:58 | More by mothman
Photo of Thorpe429


3.83/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewery in August 2009.

A: Dark black with an espresso-colored head and a tiny bit of lacing.

S: Lots of coffee going on here with a little bit of chocolate and some hops.

T: Lots of the same but a little too overpowering at this point--it definitely needs some age on it and I'll certainly do a re-review after some time has passed on it.

M: Fairly thick, but quite a bit too dry.

D: Pretty good, but the taste definitely needs some time to mellow.

Serving type: on-tap

09-24-2009 19:44:09 | More by Thorpe429
Photo of Aenema


4.2/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours black with a tan head and spotty lacing.
Smell - Cocoa power, some chocolate and coffee notes as well. Roasted malts.
Taste - Coffee grounds, dark chocolate; intense flavors that manage not to overwhelm each other.
Mouthfeel - Smooth, rich feel with a full body.
Drinkability - Rich and enjoyable, but filling. Alcohol is not an issue with this beer, but it is quite rich and filling.

Serving type: on-tap

09-10-2009 00:45:17 | More by Aenema
Photo of wertperch


4.63/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Respect beer. Respect this beer especially. Black Butte is one of my favourite porters, and this anniversary offering is a celebration not just for the brewery, but of porter itself.

I found it hard to fault this beer in any way, from the pour to the last drop. It was served at the Graduate bar in Davis, and I first sampled it a week ago, and simply had to go back for a pint. Well, actually, in a 12-ounce glass, but I'm not quibbling about that.

It's a dark beer, dark as night with all the promise of a coming dawn. There's coffee and burnt toast in a glorious nose, and there's a robust and fruity bitterness in every swallow, with raspberries and chocolate. With a little hop, but as you'd expect, it's not aggressive - more lurking in the background playing hide-and-seek with the tastebuds.

The main event is the dark, rich malts, and as I was drinking it, the theme from "Shaft" was playing on the jukebox. Appropriate, given the dark nature of this beer.

If I had to nominate a beer as a centrefold pinup, it would be this one today. It's rich, with a big flavour, great mouthfeel, one to savour as it rolls around releasing its malty wonders.

It's hard to say what would improve this one. The roast coffee bean could get tiresome after a while, but in the thirty minutes I was savouring it, it doesn't get in the way at all, and I bet I could have gone for seconds and still wondered at this midnight-dark, warm, absolutely delicious beer.

Will I go back for more? Oh yes, because in the words of the song, this is "the cat that won't cop out".

(Some of this review is cross-posted on my blog.)

Serving type: on-tap

09-09-2009 17:24:29 | More by wertperch
Photo of digitalbullet


4.7/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Apperance: jet black brew with a light tan head. Man have I been waiting for to taste this.
Smell: bourbon, bourbon and more bourbon with some dark chocolate thrown in.
Taste: sweet bourbon with dark chocolate. Yum! Can taste the alchohol a bit, but not too bad. Lingering coffee notes in the background.
Mouthfeel: slick, coats the tongue. Light carbonation.
Drinkability: Oh so dangerous. Will sneak up on you if you aren't careful. Awesome brew overall

Serving type: on-tap

08-27-2009 18:20:33 | More by digitalbullet
Photo of jminsc76


4.2/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a St. Bernardus tulip, and exhibits an impenetrable black body. Couldn't derive too much head due to the nature of the glass and the fact that agitating it would slosh beer all over the counter; however, some nice thick brownish legs as I tilt.

Aromas include rich molasses, a little cocoa, and even some raspberry. It's not intense, and the molasses definitely dominates, but it's pleasantly effective.

The flavors are where the heart of this beer is, and includes sweet chocolate and bitter coffee on the front end with espresso beans on the end. This really hits the entire palate from start to finish with a range of flavors. If someone told me this was an Imperial Stout I wouldn't be hard pressed to disagree.

Mouthfeel is heavy, slightly viscous, and even a little sticky on the mouth. Almost chewy, the density is so thick.

While this is very drinkable, as it exhibits very little heat with a lot of flavors, there is an overwhelming intensity to it that only warrants one drink per sitting. I'm betting that as it ages a little this intensity will subside and Black Butte XXI could rank with Deschutes' Abyss as among the finest of the porter/stout family.

Serving type: on-tap

08-24-2009 16:12:23 | More by jminsc76
Photo of Georgiabeer


4.35/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap at Jupiter in Berkeley. Pours pitch black with a tall tan head that leaves behind excellent lacing as it fades. Smells big- malty, roasty, yeasty, and chocolatey with some light ash aroma as well. Not very hot, which is nice considering how young this is. Tastes a bit strong, but still not super hot, with big roasty flavors, fair amounts of ash- seems to be a house style for their stronger, darker beers- bitter chocolate, huge malt flavors that edge toward black strap molasses, and yeasty and bready notes. It almost finishes like pain au chocolat, with just a touch of ash. Rich and full in the mouth, but smooth and with the ash notes relieving the light sweetness. Still pretty big and intense, this is a pleasure to drink now but will smooth out a bit with time as well.

Serving type: on-tap

08-24-2009 13:08:21 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of SpdKilz


4.5/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Fathers Office Culvers City

Appearance - When given to me by the bartender it looks extremely dark and has about a finger worth of mocha colored head that gives way to great lacing. Looks very appealing as my final beer of the night.

Smell - Heavenly - a feel like there is a bit of everything good in the nose I am getting from this beer. Vanilla, oaky, coffee and on the forefront chocolate! I was very impressed at how complex the smell was. Boy was I in a treat for how it actually tastes!

Taste - Very similar to the nose. As it touches my taste buds they register a bitter coffee taste with lingering chocolate, oak, molasses, and vanilla. This is a very delightful brew.

Mouthfeel - Medium body - not as heavy as I would have assumed which actually was a pleasant surprise. Moderate carbonation, again, a bit more than I would have thought/expected from this drink but in both instances dramatically add positively to the character of the drink.

Drinkability - Surprisingly so! They hid the alcohol very well in here. What a great way to end an enjoyable evening with the fiancée. I have a bottle of this stored away and can't wait to break it open during Christmas. I'm going to try to get my hands on another now after having this.

Serving type: on-tap

08-17-2009 00:21:05 | More by SpdKilz
Photo of Natural510


4.47/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark brown-black with creamy head. Foam dissipates and there is a lacing which lasts only for a few minutes.
Scent is quite strong, and apparent long before raising the glass to the nose. Roasted malt with a sweet, rich chocolate quality and notes of dark fruit.
Flavor is also of sweet cocoa, accompanied by dark cherries and plum...much like a box of chocolate-covered fruit. Slightly winey and alcoholic, yet a very smooth sipper going down. Alot going on with this brew while maintaining its balance and composure.
Rich, heavy, smooth in the mouth, and full-bodied as one would expect.
Imperial porter? Well it certainly blows away most imperial stouts I've had. A rich, enjoyable sipper which would be ideal during the winter months, or after a big meal.

Serving type: on-tap

08-14-2009 03:14:58 | More by Natural510
Photo of ehammond1

4.38/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On Tap

K&B Wine Cellars
San Diego, CA

Black, oily, thick, and rich. Extremely thin brown head which dissipates almost immediately. Low carbonation.

Not much aroma immediately, but more and more arrive as the beer warms: milk chocolate, caramel, and sea salt.

Taste is smooth and easy: chocolate, coffee, and caramel notes. The alcohol is almost lost, especially considering the beer is 11% ABV. I would never know.

Velvet and smooth mouthfeel.

I could drink this all night, glass after glass, which is shocking at it's ABV.

Serving type: on-tap

08-10-2009 04:03:26 | More by ehammond1
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Black Butte XXI from Deschutes Brewery
97 out of 100 based on 524 ratings.