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Black Butte XXI - Deschutes Brewery

Not Rated.
Black Butte XXIBlack Butte XXI

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
98
world-class

565 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 565
Reviews: 375
rAvg: 4.39
pDev: 7.74%
Wants: 213
Gots: 147 | FT: 10
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: 565 | Reviews: 375 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Jmoore50
4.97/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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.

J

Photo of mcallister
3.93/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of jdklks
4.93/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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.

Photo of popery
4.38/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of AKBelgianBeast
3.95/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of peabody
4.4/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of Bitterbill
4.6/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of johnnnniee
4.4/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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!

Photo of beertunes
4.03/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of czechsaaz
4.47/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

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.

Photo of HopHead84
4.38/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of paco1029384756
4.15/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of LibraryTom
4.68/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of froghop
4/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of weazal
3.53/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

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.

Photo of GRG1313
3.85/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of mikedashg
4.4/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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

Photo of jkendrick
4.53/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of Athabaska
4.1/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Got this on tap.

A- Was poured black, with minimal head. That might have been the bartenders fault, as I didn't see the pour. What head there was laced wonderfully as I drank.

S- Roasted malts and coffee overwhelms the other lighter smells, I'm pretty sure I smelled a hint of chocolate.

T- Tasted pretty similarly to how it smelled, the roasted malts and coffee pretty much overwhelmed everything else, though I could taste other flavors, I wasn't able to isolate them. In any event, it tasted great.

M- Mouthfeel was a little weak. It seemed a touch watery, not a silky as it appears it should be, also had more carbonation than I expected, but not unpleasantly so.

D- This was an all around good beer, and the drinkability is no exception. There is a fairly strong alcohol taste that would turn you off after one or two, but its not terrible.

Photo of Tdizzle
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Poured into a New Belgium globe glass, Black Butte XXI appears black with a thick, frothy head of foam that settles to a dense ring along the inside of the glass. A thin, silky layer of foam rests atop the beer, leaving some spotty lacing after each sip.

S- Lots of roasted coffee and deep-roasted malts with some woody barrel notes. Dark, bitter chocolate and anise emerge along with an indication of this beer's high ABV.

T- Flavors of strong coffee and burnt malts are greeted by a sort of twang from the big alcohol. Sweeter notes of chocolate provide a balance towards the slightly bitter finish that yields a lasting flavor of coffee along with more alcohol strength.

M- The feel is on the thinner side of full-bodied with a nice velvety texture as I swirl it around in my mouth. Minimal carbonation.

D- The overall flavor is good, but this definitely needs some time to mellow out. I was able to finish about half a bomber before I got tired of the alcohol.

Another gem for the cellar.

Photo of John_M
4.45/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On tap at the Uber today.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with very good head retention and lots of sticky lacing all around. The head has a creamy look to it, almost as if it was on nitro (the bartender assures me it's not). The nose is terrific, with a considerable aroma of walnuts, licorice and coffee. I can see where someone who does not like licorise might have a problem appreciating this one. Good as it smells, this beer tastes even better. There is chocolate, cherry, coffee and a bit less licorise. There is a slight hoppy edge to this beer in the finish, which enhances the beer's drinkability IMO. Mouthfeel is this beer's best qaulity IMO, which is saying something. The beer is soft and plush on the palate, with a long, creamy, smooth finish. Despite the abv., there's almost a lightness to this beer, though undeniably, there's some noticeable, underlying booziness. Drinkability is pretty good, considering the abv.

This is a very fine beer and, IMO, superior and more interesting then the XX. Impressive. Everything an imperial porter ought to be.

Photo of Halcyondays
4.53/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours black with a firm tan head, good lace and overall head retention.

S: Coffee, chocolate, moderate intensity, pretty much what I expected.

T: Heavy roasted dark black malt initially. Mid-palate the coffee dominates and makes it's presence known, one of the strongest coffee flavours I've ever seen in a beer. Real nice dark chocolate finish. A beer with lots of complexity within its 2 main flavours of coffee and dark chocolate. Barrel aging is not really noticable except for a slight vanilla note hidden with in the dark flavours that keep attacking the palate. An exceptional beer experience, like it an order of magnitude better than the XX (which was a fantastic beer in its own right).

M: Full-bodied, moody, oily, thick (nowhere close to Black Tuesday, but it holds its own).

D: Another fantastic one-off brewing spectacular from Deschutes, a must buy, I glad I got a bottle at home.

Photo of waltonc
4.6/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Glad Deschutes brought this one back, though not sure why the XXI deserves to be separated from the XX in reviewing, since they're pretty similar (it recalls the debate over whether Founders "Kentucky Breakfast Stout" should be separated from Founders "KBS" since the name and recipe are technically different. Apparently, a clear standard is not applied).

Anyway, the XXI is equally delicious in comparison to last year's batch. Can't remember for sure, but I believe the label says the chocolate or coffee (or both) are from somewhere else this year. Not that I can tell the difference. This year's label is not as cool.

As with last year, it pours very dark, nearly black, with plenty of tan head. Lots of coffee, chocolate, vanilla, sugar, a tad of oak, and bourbon. I love all these things. Mouthfeel on the thicker side, carbonation is fairly high. Maybe higher than last year. Drinkability is so high that I had to go out and buy more yesterday.

Photo of RickS95
3.95/5  rDev -10%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Just a stunning beer to look at. Deep, dark black, with a huge brown head.

Coffee and chocolate dominate the nose, but neither is overpowering. After the head subsides, there is a hint of bourbon that comes wafting up.

The mouth picks up a fight between the coffee and chocolate flavors, with the coffee winning a close battle.

For such a strong beer, it's really gentle in the mouth. There is a little bitter, followed by a touch of sweet before alcohol warms you in the finish.

This beer isn't for everyone, but if you like strong porters, you have to try it.

Photo of lhaqq
4.4/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a dark syrupy with little penetration from light, and a frothy thick but dissipating cappuccino head.
S: Pretty damn complex and shifting. Right after opening, a big whiff of dough and citrus, primarily orange. Then becomes more chocolately, which eventually joins with a coffee smell and some red hot peppers. It settles on subdued coffee. Once poured, these last two flavors are the most pronounced. While drinking, the bourbon is easier to find.
T: Tastes initially quite a bit like light roast coffee with a bit of cream added in. Wish I could catch the bourbon in the taste, but I think the other flavors might be a bit too up front. The finish is of roasted malts; the more I drink the more it feels like a porter and less like coffee.
M: Perfect feel for a porter.
D: Good at 11%. At $12 a bottle, a bit spendy but still might try to grab another bottle to age till the date recommended on the bottle.

Black Butte XXI from Deschutes Brewery
98 out of 100 based on 565 ratings.