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Black Butte XXI - Deschutes Brewery

Not Rated.
Black Butte XXIBlack Butte XXI

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

551 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 551
Reviews: 374
rAvg: 4.39
pDev: 7.74%
Wants: 214
Gots: 143 | 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: 551 | Reviews: 374 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

weazal, Jul 24, 2009
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.

GRG1313, Jul 23, 2009
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

mikedashg, Jul 23, 2009
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.

jkendrick, Jul 22, 2009
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.

Athabaska, Jul 22, 2009
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.

Tdizzle, Jul 22, 2009
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.

John_M, Jul 21, 2009
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.

Halcyondays, Jul 20, 2009
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.

waltonc, Jul 20, 2009
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.

RickS95, Jul 20, 2009
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.

lhaqq, Jul 20, 2009
Photo of Overlord
4.22/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Actually, not that black. At first glance, you may think "black," but it's actually more of a dark, dark brown. As you pour down the glass, you'll see a nice deep mahogany brown with almost ruddy edges. For shame Black Butte, for shame. About an inch or two of quick dying light brown foam.

Smells like chocolate, big coffee, and ... yeah. Sweetness and coffee on the nose.

Taste is oversweetened coffee. I mean, this is a sugar bomb. Seriously. A crap-ton of molasses, sugar, and milk chocolate/cocoa mixed with a huge espresso/coffee background. I almost never, ever, ever say a beer needs time to age. If it doesn't drink right on the day of its release, blame the brewer, not the lack of aging. But this one...it just might need some time. There's roasted malt in here that adds a nice, charred backing. A hint of .. bourbon? ... and two hints of vanilla.

Well, it's smooth, fairly drinkable ... I don't know. It's a good beer, but I'm not blown away.

Overlord, Jul 19, 2009
Photo of OlieIPA
4.38/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed about a 12 oz. pour at Beachwood BBQ tonight.

A: Black...typical...along with a 1-finger head. Lacing and head retention were good as well. The body also appeared heavy...milkshake-like...which is always desired for this style of beer.

S: An extremely...in your face espresso and coffee aroma. Some subtle chocolate and burnt malts were also detectable.

T: Again, a robust coffee flavor with chocolate and caramel like flavors. Has a nice Hershey Kiss sweetness at the tail end of the sip that I enjoyed.

M: Again with the milkshake analogy...this brew is thick! Nice and creamy on the palate with gentle carbonation.

D: A pretty complex and flavorful beer that hides it's beefy ABV very well. On the other hand, one glass is sufficient...felt like I was having a meal.

Overall: I prefer last year's version a little bit more. There seemed to be a much more pronounced coffee character that wasn't bad...but had that "masking" affect on the other qualities the beer had. A must try. Cheers!

OlieIPA, Jul 18, 2009
Photo of Magpie14
4.38/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: as the name implies, black. Well, I should say, for the most part it is black. Some soft orange brown shades exist in the snifter. A delicate swirling of foam sits atop with a thin bubbly ring hugging the glass. Not much lace and no biggie, this thing is gonna pack a punch. However, I did notice a few microscopic mocha blobs adhering to the walls

S: the smell was difficult to pull out at the bar. But from what the nose allowed was staunch coffee and chocolate. Both seemed like ringers as far as the nose is concerned

T: it has a crumbly dry cocoa/chocolate character with dried flaky oats. Running next to this is a hearty java presence that teeters on deep roasted (just about smoky) tastes. Some vanilla and dark fruit textures are surfacing. Bitterness wrings the tongue nicely with a touch of coffee bean acidity. Coffee seems to win the overall battle on the palate after numerous gulps and sips and yet, I find a light balance to exist

My first few sips made me think of no bake cookies, as crazy as that sounds, it is true

M: pretty dreamy. Very smooth with velvety textures and a notch or two over the usual porter girth. No alcohol fumes either

D: I don't mind this at all. Coffee lovers should give it a try and porter fans alike. Another vice from Deschutes

Magpie14, Jul 17, 2009
Photo of DiabolikDUB
4.45/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-Tap @ the Portland Brewpub poured into Snifter glass.

Pours a smooth black onyx color that has glowing mohogany edging and a tan fizzy head that dissolves into a swirly ghost of a head and a slight ring around the glass. Beautiful lacing on the glass almost spider-web like. The aroma is dark chocolate, soft oak, tobacco, booze, coffee and a little vanilla. The flavor is sweet chocolate upfront with some oak, vanilla and coffee in the finish. The finish is also bitter as well as sweet that lasts. Its full-bodied and a nice amount of carbonation. I think that I like this beer young. I really like the amount of complexity and could see the difference between this years version and lasts. I much prefer this beer fresh rather than aged.

DiabolikDUB, Jul 16, 2009
Photo of Schmittymack
4.83/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Deschute's has hit one out of the park with this one (along with their Abyss, of course). This is my second one of these by my lonesome, after sharing another bottle with some friends. Let's see if I can do justice to it.

A: Black. Definitely won't be reading any newspapers through your glass with this one. Kept small lacing on my glass; head was pretty minimal.

S: COFFEE! Almost like the aroma of brewing coffee in the morning after it starts to warm. Could pick up other scents but since my smeller is not real good these days, wasn't sure what it was/is.

T: Wonderful! Chocolate and coffee; great combo. I could do these over and over if it weren't for the higher alcohol content. Definitely a malt and coffee bomb, in my opinion. Definitely get some sweetness but not overly so.

Drinkability? Hell YES. This stuff is great now; I know it'll only get better since the label on bottle says best AFTER Oct of 2010. I feel as though the alcohol is fairly well hidden; kinda sneaks up on ya. Get this beer to drink now AND to age a year or more.

Schmittymack, Jul 16, 2009
Photo of jamesm7485
4.93/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Still sitting on 5 bottles of xx but from my memory this pours a shade lighter with some burgundy color in it. I initially served mine a tad too cold but as it warmed up the head retained much better. It smells like when i used to work in a coffee shop my freshman year of college and we roasted our own beans every sunday. Heavy espresso tones and some chocolate in the taste, very slight bourbon taste as well. Very smooth not as much as abyss but different beers. Very drinkable presuming you enjoy coffee despite its abv

jamesm7485, Jul 15, 2009
Photo of Mebuzzard
4.13/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

With 2 XX still in storage, I decided to pop this one open to compare...against my XX notes.
Dark pour, not as reddish as the XX methinks. Very nice head, though. It just grows. Dense. Smooth.
This was is a bit more coffee centered in the aroma. Not totally dominant but the chocolate and dark fruit take a slight back seat.
Taste follows. More coffee, but not strong. Good balance with dark chocolate and roasted barely. Slight sharpness towards the end. Alcohol is blended well with some spice. VERY easy drinking. This is a nice porter.

Mebuzzard, Jul 15, 2009
Photo of yemenmocha
4.33/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Exceptional appearance with rather thick tan head that almost fools you into thinking it is a nitro head. It retains very well and leaves thin lace.

Nose is a sexy beast of coffee, roasted malt, and very dark chocolate.

On the palate the alcohol is masked fairly well even though my bottle is quite young, and the medium to full bodied ale pulls through a very masculine roasted coffee flavor with big malt, and only a slight tang of flavor from the bourbon barrel influence.

Amazing beer and surprisingly drinkable.

yemenmocha, Jul 15, 2009
Photo of nomomentwasted
4.55/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap today at the Deschutes Brewery in Downtown Portland. Was really excited, definitely worth the wait. Into a sniffer from the tap.

Appearance: Dark and with still semi-white head, but mainly just porter-black with brown swirls. Beautiful lacing and spiraling carbonation, it's really pretty gorgeous.

Smell: Dark with hints of smoke and wood, but the main flavors are vanilla, barley malt, and a hint of coffee/chocolate.

Taste: Much like the nose, only fuller and more powerful. Bitterness is mild upfront and finishes with a slight alcoholic burn, but the vanilla and cocoa are probably the biggest taste in combination with the smoky texture. Wow, just complex and interesting.

Mouthfeel: About as good as it gets. Creamy, heavy texture with perfect carbonation and definitely finishes warm and smooth. Fantastic.

Drinkablilty: For 11%, it's pretty fantastic, but it's so dark it's tough to drink too much. Still, a fantastic and complex, dark, and tasty brew that really takes Black Butte Porter to imperial heights with no complaints from me.

nomomentwasted, Jul 13, 2009
Photo of sevopie
4.28/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Dark brown in appearance with a large rocky medium brown head. Dissipates mildly quick.

Chocolate, coffee, a little wood, some smoke, and a touch of whiskey.

Coffee tries to blind the rest of the flavors, but chocolate and wood come through to some degree. There's a little of the alcohol in the bite, but not much.

This is a lot thinner than I was expecting, but its not devastatingly so. The carbonation is medium to mild, and works well with the tastes.

This is deceptively easy to drink for 11%, so much so that I wonder if it is anywhere near that number. The thin body takes away a bit from the overall cohesion of the brew, but I still like this one a lot. Not quite as good as its brother from last year, but definitely a good brew.

sevopie, Jul 12, 2009
Photo of Wetpaperbag
4.6/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a very dark brown which turns into a very black beer. The head is very active, and chunky clingy.

S- Sweet smelling with great chocolate and vanilla smells. The coffee is there, but not as strong as I was thinking it was going to be. The more I smell the beer the more the alcohol is present, it tingles the nose hairs.

T- Oh wow this is tasty. This is like a cold mocha. The chocolate taste is very generous and creamy. The coffee is there in support of the chocolate bringing out the vanilla. As for the bourbon I'm not getting it very much, it is getting lost in the coffee and chocolate. The alcohol burns good, and warms you from the inside. But as for an over all taste it is fantastic. This is great fresh, but just like the XX this will be ultra sexy with a year on it.

M- Smooth and creamy. "Insert Sexual Joke Here"

D- Very drinkable, the only thing hard to swallow is the price hike. Lets make more of the beer and charge more for it. Fail.

Wetpaperbag, Jul 11, 2009
Photo of MisterClean
4.45/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Owl Club in Roseville. Funny how this place doesn't get adequate love.

A - Poured black with a 2 fingered mocha head. It dissipated moderately-fast and left nice lacing.

S/T - Medium roasted coffee, chocolate, light alcohol and slight cherry esters. There's the slightest hint of bittering hops, but not enough to stand out in the flavor though.

M - Full-bodied and well-balanced, but maybe slightly too light in body. Light alcohol as well.

D - Overall, a great imperial porter. I would recommend Deschutes goes with a more bland yeast variety as the cherry ester may be unwanted.

MisterClean, Jul 10, 2009
Photo of jdense
4.35/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap at PDX Public House served in chalice.

Opaque black body, brown rocky one finger head slow dissipation. Very complex nose, chocolate, coffee, caramel malt, minimal hop presence. Delicious taste, all of the above to nth degree, with a smooth finish due to barrel aging. Not big carbonation, and certainly a sipper due to dangerous ABV, but in the end a thoroughly delicious concoction, top shelf beer. World Class.

jdense, Jul 10, 2009
Photo of RedDiamond
4.43/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I wrote the word YOWZA! in my notes describing the aroma of this imperial porter brewed to celebrate Deschutes' 21st anniversary. It takes a lot to bring me to YOWZA! But Black Butte XXI takes me there. The aroma has roast coffee notes in such abundance; it's almost too much to absorb. Some might even find it overbearing though I enjoyed it precisely for its commanding presence.

XXI was brewed with cocoa nibs and fresh roasted coffee, and was partly aged in bourbon barrels. The cocoa and coffee are omnipresent, the bourbon elements, subdued.

The flavor emulates the unrelenting potency of the aroma. Coffee, chocolate, toasted grains, and formidable bittering create a complex taste sensation that is as bold as it is mesmerizing. It's almost frightening. At the very least, Black Butte XXI is uncommon - perhaps thankfully so. It's not the kind of beer you can drink every night. But it's a take-no-prisoners beer whose brazen immediacy screams, "Get it while you can."

RedDiamond, Jul 09, 2009
Black Butte XXI from Deschutes Brewery
97 out of 100 based on 551 ratings.