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Black Butte XXI - Deschutes Brewery

Not Rated.
Black Butte XXIBlack Butte XXI

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

547 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 547
Reviews: 373
rAvg: 4.39
pDev: 7.74%
Wants: 217
Gots: 142 | FT: 7
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 547 | Reviews: 373 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of WhatsNewinBooze


4.53/5  rDev +3.2%

On June 27, 2009 the Deschutes Brewery of Bend, OR turned 21 years old and to commemorated this achievement they released a limited batch of Black Butte XXI. This is a doubled up, barrel aged version of the popular Black Butte Porter. This imperial porter is loaded with hops and malts, a healthy amount of coffee, cocoa nibs and is barrel aged in used bourbon barrels. It pours black as night with roasty aromas with hints of almonds, dried berries and chocolate. The palate is loaded with hops, strong notes of bitter dark chocolate, roasted coffee beans and red berries. The flavors are all very complex, however they meld together to create a wonderful drinking experience. Unlike many cocoa porters this beer doesn't come across sweet, in fact it is just the opposite providing a nicely well balance bitterness that incorporates the cocoa instead of it being the defining feature.

08-15-2009 20:35:42 | More by WhatsNewinBooze
Photo of Trappissed


4.7/5  rDev +7.1%

What an amazing smell. Tons of chocolate and coffee, with some great bourbon notes. The alcohol burns the nostrils slightly. The taste is very close to the smell actually. Just what I would expect. Only difference might be that I taste a little more of that bourbon than anticipated, but definitely not overdoing it.

Still, very rich and complex. A bit of a burnt/roasted aftertaste that a porter typically gives off. The coffee outweighs the chocolate here for me. However, the overall taste seems perfectly balanced. Mouthfeel is a tad syrupy and thick. Drinkability suffers a little bit whenever you have something this rich and decadent. All in all, a fantastic beer that I should really consider picking up a few more to cellar.

08-14-2009 20:41:54 | More by Trappissed
Photo of Natural510


4.47/5  rDev +1.8%

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.

08-14-2009 03:14:58 | More by Natural510
Photo of pants678


4.22/5  rDev -3.9%

Doesn't pour a jet black like I thought it would. It's a very deep brown when you get some light to it. The head was a single finger and tan, more bubbles than I expected. There's a little caramel colored halo just under it; interesting.

Smells of coffee and hints of cocoa. The nose is distinct, thick for sure.

Tastes is much the same as the smell. Thick coffee with sharp hints of chocolate. On the back end the flavors become coarse, almost separated or powdered. It's exactly a complex brew so the nutty flavors are a welcome addition to break things up.

Again, more carbonation than I'd expect. I was expecting a Russian Imperial, a milkshake thick beverage, but that's not this. It's rich, but the carbonation is more than welcome. It's tough, but the flavors are precise enough to keep things interesting.

08-13-2009 06:08:44 | More by pants678
Photo of ChillMike


4.38/5  rDev -0.2%

A: Almost black super dark and sexy, with a nice dark tan head that leaves a lot of lacing around the glass.

S: Chocolates, mulberry, caramel, nuts and nice toasted malts, oh man this is like the smell of heaven.

T: Bitter chocolate, roasted malts, some nice caramel and a hint of raisins. Very tasty and complex beer.

MF: Full bodied and very silky, low on carbonation but enough to make it tasty.

D:Very drinkable beer, tasty hides the alcohol quite well, goes down smoothly. Amazing love it.

08-10-2009 04:43:18 | More by ChillMike
Photo of MADhombrewer


4.38/5  rDev -0.2%

9-26-11 : Drinking one now and I hate to say this but I think this has gone down a little. Lots of chocolate and still some alcohol to the taste. The aroma is great, but there is something missing that tied it all together when it was fresh. Thicker mouthfeel, but I don't know if that is a good thing. The coffee is gone and I think the hops that were there were a bigger presence than I thought. Those are gone as well.

A- Midnight black with a nice two finger tan head.

S- Coffee, vanilla, baking chocolate, with little smoke, beef jerky, and alcohol.

T- I can taste a lot of the baking chocolate right off the bat. The alcohol is definitely there also. The coffee flavor, vanilla, smoke round out this very good beer. i also detect a little black liquorice.

M- Mouthfeel is GREAT! stays with you for a long time. Very thick and sticky. Yum!

D- i am torn on this one. On one hand I could drink this beer all night, but on the other, at 11% i could only have two. If i stretched it I would love to have another.

This was poured into a snifter from a 22oz bottle. I must get more for my cellar since this will be fantastic in 6 months to a year.

08-10-2009 04:15:47 | More by MADhombrewer
Photo of ehammond1

4.38/5  rDev -0.2%

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.

08-10-2009 04:03:26 | More by ehammond1
Photo of Jmoore50


4.97/5  rDev +13.2%

This is an amazingly good beer. Maybe even a top beer ever for me. I like everything about this one.

The appearance pours a dark oily black, but not engine oil black. It is a slight tint lighter than motor oil. It has a beautiful black color with dark dark brown-amber edges. Pours aggressively with a one finger head. Awesome graphic design on the bottle.

The smell is exceptional. Most of the smells carry over to the taste so I will not go too far. Bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, dark malt, bourbon, all beautifully mature once the brew gets warmer.

The taste is awesome. I have never tried an Imperial Porter before but this is much like an Imperial Stout. There are so many complex tastes with this beer it just blows my mind. The first tastes are a dark porter with bourbon foundation. Just amazing. NO harsh tastes at all, flows oh so nicely. Great chocolate aftertaste that also comes with a vanilla light sweetness. Bounces all around the palate so nicely, so sweet and barely bitter. Once at room temperature a cocoa bitterness comes through that accompanies the hop bitterness very well. The hop bitterness is almost non existent, Bourbon and cocoa have their own bitterness that masks anything that does not belong. There is for sure a porter taste as well, it is in a dark malt and light hop characteristic. It is after the major tastes have gone, you can tell this is not a stout but a porter. A little lighter on the mouthfeel, incredibly easy drinkability.

The mouthfeel is amazing as well as the drinkability. Once I first tried it I could not pull it away from my mouth. Just so many interesting flavors that all swirl around your mouth ever so gently. It is so sweet, but also comes with some robust flavor. The bourbon is strong but velvety smooth. The drinkability is insane, if I could buy more I would buy many more. This is maybe my new favorite beer.

Highly highly recommended.


08-09-2009 23:44:26 | More by Jmoore50
Photo of mcallister


3.93/5  rDev -10.5%

Nearly black in color with a thick tan head with great retention considering the ABV. A nice layer of sticky lace envelops the tulip and lasts the length of the party.

Dark chocolate, vanilla, hints of wood bourbon, dark fruits, thick malty goodness, hints of red currants. Nothing mind shattering though.

Nice roasty malted flavors, chocolate, caramel, slight bourbon and wood, black fruit, some red fruits, alcohol shows nicely but not offensive. Nice burn with some acidity to boot. Very nice.

08-09-2009 20:46:24 | More by mcallister
Photo of jdklks


4.93/5  rDev +12.3%

pours deep black with semi-transparent amber edges, and a light brown head. lighter than expected or desired. however, it is a porter, not an RIS, and it looks damn good in that regard. this beer is heavenly for the nostrils: rivals the most complex smelling RISs. roasted coffee beans, chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, etc.

flavor is strong coffee up front (breakfast stout style in terms of coffee, but much more complex overall). chocolate accompanies the coffee throughout, and the hops are very prevalent, adding their own bitter flare to the already bitter coffee. toffee, caramel, and tootsie roll. the bourbon gets along well with the other flavors, but remains in the background, which makes me wish they had aged 100% of the beer in barrels. aftertaste is of ROASTED coffee beans, and GOOD coffee beans at that, which definitely keeps you reaching for more.

The beer is silky smooth, but slightly over-carbonated and lighter than desired, but both of these, while taking away from the mouthfeel, contribute heavily to the superb drinkability.

Though already an elite brew, This sleeping giant will awaken to all of its glory in 1-2 years, and will be a true pleasure to drink at that time. my other 7 will be hanging out in the cellar for awhile.

08-09-2009 06:04:13 | More by jdklks
Photo of popery


4.38/5  rDev -0.2%

Big and sweet with a pleasant bourbon character and a touch of oak. The beer pours surprisingly light. I mean it's still a deep, dark brown, but the head is light mocha/khaki and hints of light begin to highlight the edges once the liquid level goes down. The smell is porter ash, chocolate and sweet coffee with just a hint of bourbon. There's more bourbon in the flavor, but it's still just pleasant and mild relative to some big bad bourbon barrel stouts. Deschutes Reserve Series seems to be all about complexity, elegance and quality and doesn't hit you over the head with bourbon or oak. Those flavors still exist in this beer, but the marriage of roasted malt, coffee and chocolate is the star. This beer actually tastes of dark chocolate, unlike most chocolate-added beers, and the coffee is similarly restrained. Right now, I would argue that this beer is drinking on the hot side. Deschutes Reserve all seem to be excellent candidates for the cellar. At any rate, the mouthfeel is still quite nice, creamy and biting. As an imperial porter, I find this beer quite drinkable. Perhaps, it's less about the style and more that Deschutes has preserved the likable, friendly character of the normal Black Butte, despite the increase in size and barrel aging. This beer is a real treat. I would recommend buying a few and sticking them in a dark, cool spot for a year or two.

08-03-2009 06:31:01 | More by popery
Photo of AKBelgianBeast


3.95/5  rDev -10%

Pours a deep impenetrable black with a nice tan head that retains pretty well and leaves ok lacing.

Nose is full of chocolate and some roasted malt. A twinge of coffee makes its presence known but certainly doesn't dominate or overcome other flavors. Almost a tootsie rollish aroma.

Taste is pretty similar to the smell. Chocolatey, roasted malt, coffee presence. Still pretty hot, seems hotter than last years, but for the most part it is pretty damn similar. Some vanilla and minimal wood. Maybe a touch more coffee here, but still really not a dominant aspect of the profile.

Mouthfeel is quite nice here. A good solid viscosity lends good body to a big thick flavorful brew.

Drinkability, at this time, is good but struggles a bit. This beer is still pretty hot. I realize this is a partly barrel aged brew, but still seems like it is hotter fresh than last years was.

Overall this is really pretty damn similar to last years offering. A fine imperial porter, and one that certainly has an interesting cast of ingredients. I see some real promise in this when it gets some more age on it (as the original seems to be aging well), and loses some of that heat. Again though, certainly a good beer, and great example of the style. Glad to see deschutes cranking out some more good ones in the reserve series.

08-03-2009 05:39:03 | More by AKBelgianBeast
Photo of peabody


4.4/5  rDev +0.2%

Looks the part. Pours out very black /no light penetrates this one. One finger of brown suds with lots of lacing.
Can't smell the alcohol but I get a fruity mess of raisin fig and dark black cherry and some coffee.
Taste is coffee and bitter dark chocolate. There is a fruity character here too. Some heavy bourbon flavors coming in toward the end.
This is good, the mouthfeel is sticky and bittersweet.
Drinkability might suffer with the 11% but hey, this is very good. Olfabrikken is just as good as this but in a different way. Glad I had the chance to get this one.

08-01-2009 09:43:25 | More by peabody
Photo of Bitterbill


4.6/5  rDev +4.8%

Purchased from LiquorMax in Loveland CO online for $11.49 a bottle. Best after Oct 17, 2010. Is Deschutes the only brewer doing this? Listing a best after date?

This pours not quite a pitch black as I can see some red hues at the bottom of my NB goblet. It has about a 1" head of tannish foam and plenty of sticky lacing.(served straight from fridge)

Still being cold, I don't get the full effect of aroma that I'm used to when I serve a beer nearer to room temp but...I'm definitely smelling some big notes of coffee and dark chocolate. When it warms up, I'll update.

The taste is full flavoured with big roasted coffee but bigger heaps of chocolate, both sweet and bitter, and definitely a taste that only bourbon barrel aging can bring to a brew. I...love...it. This is ready to drink right now and I can only guess at how good it will be by the best after date. I think the Mirror Mirror isn't as good out of the gate as this one.(it also has a best after date)

The medium mouthfeel is really on the edge of being full but works superbly. The carbonation falls just short of medium for me and I like where it's at. Oh and the head shrinks quickly to a fine broken layer but the lacing does not want to give up.

Drinkability? At 11%abv, this is a big, bad boy but I can't honestly say that it shows up in the taste at all and the warming after the swallow is minimal. Combined with the great taste and mouthfeel, that adds up to great drinkability for me, folks. This is another superb effort from Deschutes. I only wish that Casper was able to get some. Oh well. I got some anyway, didn't I? ;^)

Btw, the smell during the warming up didn't intensify that much except for the bourbon influence. Still, not a bad smelling brew; the taste more than makes up for the lack of aroma to my nose.

07-31-2009 23:25:27 | More by Bitterbill
Photo of johnnnniee

New Hampshire

4.4/5  rDev +0.2%

Pours a dark brown/black with a smallish tan head that dissipates quickly but leaves some nice lace on the glass. Aromas of milk chocolate, bitter chocolate, coffee, and a bit of alcohol. This tastes a lot better than it smells, and it doesn't smell half bad. The taste is a luscious thick chocolatey affair with coffee over tones. A touch of heat in the middle, a vanilla bourbon then a lingering roast and bourbon finish. A touch on the sweet side, but certainly enjoyable. Thick viscous body and feel, light carbonation. I really enjoyed this one. I was underwhelmed with the aroma, but loved the taste and texture. I'll revisit this in a year or so and compare notes. Great stuff!

07-31-2009 21:52:50 | More by johnnnniee
Photo of beertunes


4.03/5  rDev -8.2%

Served in straight pint glass. Poured black with about 1/2 inch of thick, deep tan head that had very good retention and lacing.

The aromas were very roasty, with the dominant flavor being coffee, too much so for my tastes. The strong coffee flavor overpowered the other tastes, so much so that the chocolate couldn't be detected and the bourbon and oak flavors were just slightly noticed on the finish. The beer is still slightly hot, which will fade with time.

The body was thick, smooth and full. This is very drinkable for such a big beer but the coffee flavors hurt the overall flavor profile. A wonderful beer, perhaps not as impressive as the BB XX, but certainly worth the effort to seek out.

07-31-2009 20:06:51 | More by beertunes
Photo of czechsaaz


4.47/5  rDev +1.8%

Lots of roasty malt aroma and fruity yeast. I get coffee and plums and then a tiny hint of bittering hops.

Deeep black with a small thick layer of light brown head. Head is really long lasting (there was a little bit of foam left in the empty glass) that leaves a ton of lacing.

Flavor is really roasty but there's a solid amount of sweet base malt. Here's where the chocolate comes in. There's some bittering hops but the malt/chocolate/roast is the big flavor. I'm not picking up much barrel aging effects but I do get a lot of fermentation esters. Some spicy notes and lots of fruit.

This sucker is thick. It kind of coats the mouth and lingers. There is just a hint of alcohol warmth which is impressive that it hides the 11%

Nice big sipper. Very complex and delicious.

07-31-2009 04:06:41 | More by czechsaaz
Photo of HopHead84


4.38/5  rDev -0.2%

On tap at Newport Pizza. The beer appears black with a creamy light brown head, nice retention, nice lacing etc.

The aroma opens up with dark bittersweet chocolate accompanied by subtle milk chocolate notes. A light roasted character is present, as well as molasses and cocoa. I get subtle notes of vanilla and oak. Coffee isn't dominant in the nose, which was what I was expecting. More roast is coaxed from hiding as the beer warms, along with some black licorice.

Coffee is more apparent here and definitely the strongest note in the flavor, but it's not overshadowing like I was expecting. The rich chocolate and cocoa notes are given some room to express themselves. The coffee doesn't add much astringency so it's actually quite nice. Oak and vanilla notes are again subtle. The beer strikes a balance somewhere between sweet and dry, between chocolate and roasted black coffee. Other notes are of molasses and subtle dark fruits. The finish is dry and slightly bitter, with lingering coffee, chocolate, and mild astringency.

The beer is full bodied with a thick, creamy, chewy, mouth coating mouthfeel.

This was an enjoyable beer, though a full pint might be a bit much. I didn't think I'd be able to get past the coffee, but it was well integrated into the beer.

07-30-2009 22:41:54 | More by HopHead84
Photo of paco1029384756


4.15/5  rDev -5.5%

Pours a dark brown, near black color with one finger of off white head.

Scent of coffee, fruity hops, bitter chocolate, oatmeal and a bit of wood and alcohol.

Taste of coffee, molasses, chocolate and oak. A robust flavor with a nice touch of fresh coffee.

Mouthfeel is medium heavy bodied with fairly strong carbonation.

07-29-2009 20:59:48 | More by paco1029384756
Photo of LibraryTom


4.68/5  rDev +6.6%

Pours a viscous brown black, like they way good motor oil does after a few thousand miles in use. A full head develops with apparent ease, folding back into itself as I pour down through the center. A beautiful display.

Full chocolate with even more coffee on the nose. Just a hint of the stickiness and the bourbon. The first taste was really mellow as the beer was a bit too cold still. As it warmed, she opened up very well. The bourbon character in the back was not in the drivers seat but was definitely along for the ride. Coffee was the main character here, helped along by all that chocolate malt. Very well integrated beer, though it would do well with a few years stored in the bottle I would say.

Very rich and decadent, this one. As Imperials go though, this baby is a very drinkable one. Who needs coffee after dinner, when there are beers like this one.

07-26-2009 15:22:19 | More by LibraryTom
Photo of froghop


4/5  rDev -8.9%

pours a jet black with a small brown head, good lacing.

smell of cocoa, touch of coffee, licorice, touch of vanilla.

taste is sweet up front (didn't see that coming), bold, licorice, bitter-sweet chocolate, touch of coffee, somewhat smokey.

overall very nice.

07-25-2009 01:41:09 | More by froghop
Photo of weazal


3.53/5  rDev -19.6%

S: Purely coffee beans. Like walking into a good coffee shop. Aroma is moderate, but pleasant.

T: Potent! Upfront bold coffee flavor and bitterness. Softens out halfway through only to have the bitterness renewed at the end, throughout the finish. Pleasant tingly carbonation through out which adds a bit of texture.

A flavorfully overwhelming, kick-in-the-face kind of drink on par with brutal IPAs in terms of intensity. The predominant bitterness however, reduces it's drinkability.

07-24-2009 06:55:36 | More by weazal
Photo of GRG1313


3.85/5  rDev -12.3%

Pours black in color with a decent tan head that quickly disappates.

Nose is all big black coffee, espresso and dark chocolate.

Mouth feel is medium and may get creamy with some age.

Taste and flavors are as promised by the nose - big full coffee and dark chocolate with some sweet espresso and espresso bean character. This porter, for me, is much more of a stout and all coffee and espresso and dark chocolate character.

Age will absolutely integrate the flavors and likely give a more creamy, integrated mouthfeel to the beer. In fairness, the bottle says "best after 10/17/10." I couldn't wait. However, some bottle age will improve this one all around and my score will likely go up. Still, I could live with drinking this one with some regularity as it is. Nice effort.

07-23-2009 07:44:28 | More by GRG1313
Photo of mikedashg


4.4/5  rDev +0.2%

A - Poured a thick chocolate black into my snifter glass, good size tan bubbly head. Lacing that sticks to the glass pretty good and then slides off very slowly.

S - Wow! Chocolate, Coffee, a little Vanilla, Oak, and Bourbon

T - Again, wow, pretty much same as nose. creamy Espresso molasses chocolate vanilla burboun Light oak. Roasted malt.

M - moderate body, moderate carbonation, not too heavy, not too light.

D - Man, this is one good beer. Can't keep me away from it. Abyss' younger cousin

07-23-2009 03:29:02 | More by mikedashg
Photo of jkendrick


4.53/5  rDev +3.2%

A: Poured a dark brown. This is definitely thinner than the Abyss and more consistent with the standard Black Butte.

S: Roasted coffee, chocolate, light alcohol and some slight vanilla (the oak? Not sure because there is the same vanilla in the standard Black Butte).

M: Medium-bodied, maybe too light in body.

T: Same roasted coffee and chocolate as in the standard Black Butte but bolder. Here is what i wrote about Black Butte:

"This a porter and roasted malt is prevalent. It isn't all that bitter to me though. The flavors aren't bold, but nicely balanced. After the malt, I taste some coffee, some chocolate and a bit of smokiness. But those flavors aren't as strong as the aroma would lead you to believe. This is mostly malt. The finish is bit dry and the alcohol warms a bit in the belly."

The biggest difference here is that the flavors are bold and the flavor DOES live up to the aroma. This is much more consistent with its year-round counter part than the Abyss is to Obsidian or Mirror Mirror is to Mirror Pond.

Overall: A fantastic imperial porter. Black Butte is one of my favorite beers and this simply amps up what I love about it. However, I have no doubt that this one will be MUCH better with age.

07-22-2009 17:07:41 | More by jkendrick
Black Butte XXI from Deschutes Brewery
97 out of 100 based on 547 ratings.