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Black Butte XXIII - Deschutes Brewery

Not Rated.
Black Butte XXIIIBlack Butte XXIII

Educational use only; do not reuse.

766 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 766
Reviews: 315
rAvg: 4.29
pDev: 10.49%
Wants: 150
Gots: 496 | FT: 17
Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery visit their website
Oregon, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  10.80% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: jdense on 06-17-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

XXIII. So where to next? What's 2011's rich, imperial take on Black Butte Porter? Just for kicks, you dream. Orange zest perhaps? From Spanish Oranges. Seville, to be exact. And Chocolate nibs. Pampered nibs from the artisanal alchemists at Theo. Maybe some chilies? Pasilla Negra only, please. That would be crazy wouldn't it? Welcome to crazy. Get it while you can.

55 IBU

Info from brewery: "475 barrels were produced. 275 were bottled and the remaining 200 were put into kegs."
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Ratings: 766 | Reviews: 315 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Jules11788
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Pours a light tan thumb-width head, sticky lacing; color is jet-black, lets no light through

S: Strong notes of bourbon and charred oak; a little whiff of dark fruits and malt in the background, but the nose is mostly dominated by bourbon and burnt wood.

T: Sweet bourbon, charred wood, and espresso up front; notes of dark chocolate orange surface around the middle; finishes with a nice espresso bitterness that lingers, with a very subtle spicy tinge of chili peppers; a little booze, but it adds nicely to the flavor and helps warm as it goes down.

M: Medium-thick mouthfeel; lightly carbonated; SUPER smooth and velvety (especially as it warms), this just melts ever so richly on the tongue. Perfection

O: This is a phenomenal imperial porter (actually the first one I've had, I usually only find imperial stouts), and feels like it should age beautifully. It's superbly balanced, and drinks like a delicious bourbon-infused dessert. Pick one up next time you see it!

Photo of biboergosum
4.1/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A generous half-snifter at the Bend Brewpub - I couldn't help coming back to this place!

This beer appears a solid black, no light from the waning Bond Street patio sun able to poke through, with one finger of thick soapy beige head, which leaves some random, skewed lace around the glass as it recedes. It smells of sour, bitter black fruit, cigarette ash, day-old coffee, dry chocolate, and subtle pepper oil. The taste is sweet roasted chocolate caramel malt, mild cold black coffee, some woody vanilla, soft citrus, and a subtle, growing vegetal heat. The carbonation is quite mellow, the body full and smooth. It finishes with a bit of hop/booze astringency and some semi-sweet chili-tinged dark chocolate.

Well, this is a whole lot of something, that's for sure. Nothing really stands out, especially the elevated ABV, but that's ok, the curious complexity is fine by me.

Photo of largadeer
3.5/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bomber into a pint glass. Dark brown body, not quite opaque. Pours with half an inch of off-white head that settles to a thin film pretty quickly.

Quite a bit of roast and tar on the nose, with a little caramel from the barrel. Bourbon comes through pretty well in the blend, while orange and chocolate are rather subtle. Pepper doesn't come through much at all. This leans much more toward roasted malt and bourbon than BBXII, despite being more or less the same recipe.

The palate, much like the aroma, is pretty damn charred, bordering on burnt. Dark chocolate, sweet whiskey and faint orange zest follow the dark malt. I'd never have guessed there were peppers in here if I hadn't read it on the label, it's quite subtle. The body isn't overly big, but it's a rather intense beer due to the heavily charred malt flavor. Finishes pretty bitter and tannic, narrowly avoiding tasting harsh.

Pretty decent, but not nearly as good as the initial 2 Black Butte anniversary beers, and very different from last year's despite containing the same ingredients more or less.

Photo of Halcyondays
4.35/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Beachwood I,

A: Pours black with a medium off-white head, good lace.

S: Heavy dark chocolate and molasses, some heavy orange as well.

T: Dark chocolate dominates, full dark malt flavour. Nice fruity mid-palate, with some chiles/capsaicin kicking in on the finish.

M: Full-bodied, very smooth, thick, spicy finish, light carbonation.

O: This is a really good big porter and the chiles just add an extra dimension. Another good one in the Black Butte line.

Photo of yourefragile
3.38/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled this a few times the past week. Initial reviews of this beer are collectively a little bonkers on this site. I guess the reputation of previous batches and Deschutes at large (ignoring the occasional recent quality issues) earn anything they put out an auto A.

Pours a dark mocha brown with a light tan head, mild lacing. Not much depth in the nose and I couldn't pick up any chile presence. Roast, chocolate, coffee and mild citrus, but no cohesion. Flavor is more of the same pattern but even sloppier. A little stronger oak/bourbon presence and the roast drops out in the finish allowing the orange to push through a little more with some additional barrel and chocolate sweetness. Not sure age can make this much better; not to say this is bad, just not very interesting.

Photo of Thorpe429
3.48/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Ordered this bottle online. Served in a Captain Lawrence tulip at a recent tasting. Reviewed from tasting sheet notes.

Pours a very dark brown with a moderate light tan head and a bit of lacing on the sides of the glass. The nose carries some light orange zest and chocolate plus a fair amount of roast and some light coffee. Light almost chile-like character there. Flavor is so-so and not up to par with the XX and XXI versions, which is a big disappointment, as I had really been looking forward to this recipe when XXII was announced. Light orange and chocolate with heavy roast. Medium body and a dry finish. Very roasty. Nothing really melded in this one.

Photo of ehammond1
4.32/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5


Holiday Wine Cellar
Escondido, CA

Nearly black in color with dark brown edges. Brown, khaki head. More and more lacing left on the glass as it warms.

A divine aroma consisting of vanilla, bourbon, oak, orange peel, and chocolate. This is a whiskey/dessert lover's dream come true; good thing I'm both!

The flavor is just as divine. There is a lot of vanilla and bourbon, balanced nicely by an oakey woodiness and earthiness, along with some chocolate and just a bit of sweet orange in the background. It's one of those beers that makes you sit back, smile, and appreciate life and beer for all that they have to offer.

The mouthfeel is just a touch too thin. A bit thicker and heavier and this beer skyrockets to one of my favorites of all time. Though, in all honesty, it's really not deterring from my enjoyment of this beer.

Damn, fine beer.

Photo of IKR
4.06/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Very dark brown. Appears black but when held up to the light you can see through the outer edges. Decent size beige head which dissipated slowly to a surface film. Nothing to change here for the style.

S: Coffee/roasted malt aromas, subtle bourbon notes with some oak presence from the barrel aging.

T: Subtle bourbon taste which integrates with the oak and dark roast notes. Slight orange notes are present with some subtle chocolate notes. Finish is dry with the roast notes and hops lingering. The roast notes seem to be more aggressive than I remember in the XXI. The weird thing is the barrel notes (bourbon and oak) and the slight orange taste are still present in the aftertaste after the roast and hop notes subside.

M: Good body with good carbonation.

O: Good beer which seems to be expected from Deschutes. It's been a while but I think I preferred the XXI. The beer's best qualities seem to appear at a slightly higher temperature than normal so I would recommend that anyone drinking this let it warm up before you pass judgement. I'm curious what aging will do for it as well.


Photo of mothman
3.78/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Pours a large layer of tan khaki head. Pretty good retention leaving some lace rings. Color is a deep brown black.

Aroma: A ton of roast. Coffee and chocolate. A lot of malts. Some caramel. The orange shows. No oak or bourbon which really let me down. (as it warms, a touch of the barrels show).

Taste: Vanilla and some bourbon show nicely here. Some oak. A bit of booze. Roasted malts and chocolate. The orange is very subtle. Creamy. Caramel and coffee. Nice flavors.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, creamy, and a touch warming. Medium to full bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Ends very dry and very roasted.

Overall, at first this beer was over roasted and as it warmed the bourbon showed more which was really nice. I liked the flavor, but the aftertaste wasn't enjoyable. A decent beer in the series.

Photo of augustgarage
4.3/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap @ Blue Palms Brewhouse in Hollywood - served in a snifter. ABV listed as 11%

Opaque seal brown liquid topped by a fat finger of dense khaki cream. Rich soapy lacing and shimmering legs.

Regal roast malt, cocoa nibs, vanilla, and a soft char/fruit combo in the nose. Bourbon with an orange twist (sort of like an Old Fashioned) and hints of licorice root emerge as the beer warms.

Bourbon flavors are rich yet subtle (very smart to use a blend of barrel aged and non-barrel aged beer), and don't begin to overwhelm the base beer...rather the addition of tobacco, vanilla, charcoal, and burnt sugar elevate the distinctive roast malts to a new apex of flavor. The orange and roast poblano merge seamlessly into the esters and char. Finishes with a gentle complexity.

Velvety, somewhat creamy and well carbonated, but just a touch fusel, with the slow background burn of pasilla accentuating the heat from the alcohol.

A bit more complex than XXI perhaps, though at the sacrifice of a certain purity. The bottled version will likely age very well.

Photo of eclipse54
4.45/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at The Front Door during Boise Base Camp week, which nicely coincided with Deschutes' 23rd anniversary. As such, multiple venues were offering this well in advance of Boise's bottle shipment (which as of writing this, still hasn't arrived...*disappointed sigh*).

Pours a very dark brown that appears black in the Deschutes Tulip is was served in. A great 1.5 inch khaki head rests on top with significant retention; ample sticky retention is left in its wake. Smells greatly of chocolate, some piney hops, a unique orange/chili blend, caramel, and some other faint herbs. Tastes of rich chocolate, smoky/roasted malts, some grassy hops, faint caramel, and a more prominent chili/orange mixture. The mouthfeel is very smooth with near perfect carbonation levels; slightly dry finish. Overall, an excellent porter.

Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.37/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass.

A - Pours a nice dark inky color with some slight brown edges. There is a large 2 inch dense and creamy tan head. Yum. Looks delicious. Not as viscous as I imagined.

S - Roasty grain, toasty bread, even some rye bread notes. There i some nice bitter chocolate notes as well as some nice strong chocolate sweetness. There is some slight roasty coffee notes as well. Very malty.

T & M - Starts off with some delicious dark bitter chocolate and some nice milk chocolate sweetness. There is some nice coffee and roasted malt notes that give the beer a nice sticky and burnt flavor all over the palette and the mouth. There is some citrus notes that coat the palette and the gums as well. Very interesting. There is some slight grassy hop notes on the back end and there is some slight alcoholic heat that is very pleasant. There are some woody notes and mild vanilla int eh middle portion. There is some nice coffee and some brown sugar notes as well in the finish. This incarnation of the beer is quite delicious. I haven't had any other versions but this is great. Mouthfeel is creamy and very full, delicious carbonation as well.

O - This beer is delicious. Quite a strong porter that is full off flavor but not too overwhelming.

Photo of ExplosivoSR
4.2/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Nice black, with a finger of mocha head that doesn't stick around too long. Some lacing to be found.

S - Lots of chocolate that play well with the bourbon. Orange peel, oak, licorice and slight chile also present.

T - Lots of bourbon and oak up front, which gives way to a huge cocoa flavor that sticks around for quit some time. Chile shows up at the back of the throat. Bourbon warms the belly. A sipper for sure.

T - Medium body and chewy.

O - A very good barrel aged porter.

Photo of emmasdad
4.09/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle of this one up in Fort Collins while staying overnight. Peeled of the wax this evening and poured some into a snifter. After setting the bottle down and tossing the wax scrapings in the trash, I turned to picked up my glass and noticed the bottle gushing. I poured more into the glass stopping the waste.

Poured a rich black color with a big brown head. Aromas of whiskey, dark chocolate, char, light orange and roasted malt. On the palate, this one was full bodied, with flavors of dark chocolate, orange zest, dark chocolate, roasted malt and char.

Photo of womencantsail
3.78/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Richard for bringing this beer to share.

A: The pour is (not surprisingly) black in color with a finger of dark tan head.

S: As with all the previous iterations of this beer, the roast character is intense. Lots of dark chocolate, vanilla, and coffee. The orange peel comes through, which is sort of amazing given all of the intense aromas.

T: The orange peel flavor cuts through all the way and is sort of candied and sweet. Lots of chocolate, roast, and some coffee. A bit of ash as well as some light barrel characteristics.

M: Medium in body with a smooth, medium carbonation.

O: Much different than the previous versions, but still quite tasty.

Photo of mudbug
4.62/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Diving into this one before the best after date out of curiosity and a visit from another beer aficionado.
From the waxed cap (which I could do without BTW) bomber into two standard pint glasses gets a very dark brown body with a half inch tan head, lots of lacing.
Aroma of dark chocolate, astringent hops and coffee, a hint of bourbon too, very stout like.
Taste is a little bitter upfront followed by a huge chocolate sweetness, a solid roasted malt backbone,some orange zest, the chilies are there only as a hint of earthiness I can detect no heat at all.
Medium mouthfeel, I think thats correct for a porter, any thicker and this would be a stout (maybe it already is)
Will revisit this again after the best date.
Edit, another tasting, Taste is over the top, This beer kicks most stouts to the curb. For the style, who cares?

Photo of ottovon
4.12/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours out a dark brown with a 1 finger brown head. as it falls it leaves lacing down the glass.

S: i get roasted malt, dark chocolate, coffee, burnt sugar, vanilla, and caramel. there is also a good chili aroma, and tart orange peel. a bit of alcohol that tingles the nose a bit.

T: there is definitely chocolate in the flavor. roasted malt, coffee, and orange. i get a bit of chili in there. its starts out somewhat sweet, and then finishes bitter. the bitterness reminds me of dark chocolate or roasted/burnt malt. i get a somewhat medicinal flavor as well, which i think is a bit from the alcohol and the roasted flavors.

M: medium body with a good amount of carb. it is smooth.

O: this is a good beer, and I can't wait to see what happens in another year.

Photo of Huhzubendah
3.7/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by mdfb79. Thanks Dan!

The beer is dark brown, with 1/4" of light tan head and some random lacing left on the glass.

The aroma brings roasted malt, chocolate, alcohol, and oddly enough, a spicy flavor I was not expecting. Zesty citrus and/ or chiles?

The flavor consists of dark chocolates, roast, and an orange peel flavor that was not present in Black Butte XX or XXI. Similar to a dark chocolate candy bar with orange or orange peel. While this is interesting, I definitely prefer the previous anniversary editions from Deschutes.

Medium bodied with appropriate carbonation. Decent feel.

Overall, I much prefer the Black Butte XX and XXI to this year's offering.

Photo of unseenbyyou
4.13/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was able to "step up my game" and find two of these bottles at Ramirez Liquor in East LA (on my birthday!)
Had to have one the next day, and have one more waiting for the best after date on the bottle.

Drank out of a snifter, temperature outside was about 83 degrees..which I assume that my beer was around 70 once I started drinking it.

It does not look like a porter, looked through the bottom of the glass and up, noticed an amber, bourbonish color, little carbonation, little head. I recall that XXI was much darker than this beer.

Smells of coffee, chocolate, whisky, and sugar. A nice wooodsy smell too.

The taste was a bit strong at first, can tell that the complex flavors need more time to mellow and even out (will be close to a 5 once it smooths out. And by complex I mean the hint of pepper, the chocolate, the coffee...it's all there..the bourbon too...just needs time to meld better.

Mouthfeel...again, needs to smooth out a little more. Had a liquor kick at the end that I wasn't expecting. The XXI was as smooth a beer as I could have tasted.

Overall: I am expecting that this one will age better than XXI since there is a wider range of flavors at work in this bottle. But again, XXI was a great beer!

I mentioned to my bro in law that the beer is more like a barleywine rather than a porter...had a barleywine characteristic to it.
Another great effort by Deschutes!

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown, ruby edge to it, small tan head, what head there is, leaves a sticky smattering of lace all around the glass. Aroma was nice and mild, coffee, slight amount of bourbon, chocolate was the biggest.

Amazing ability to cover up the alcohol, 25% barrel aged was the perfect ratio, massive chocolate and cocao, even the orange and peppers are noticeable without searching for them. This really tastes just like the XXII that didn't make it into bottling. Love the warmth coming from the peppers instead of the alcohol. Isn't massive viscosity wise, a little thicker than the regular BB, but not up there with Abyss or whatnot.

A little vanilla and oak in the mouthfeel as well. The great things about these is the way you can pick things up without having to 'look' for them in the beer. Complex, but without weird shit for the sake of being weird, every aspect of it seems to meld well with the others. Light notes of coffee and bitterness, like the regular BB.

Solid beer all the way around. I wonder what will happen to the orange and pasilla peppers with age?

Photo of jera1350
4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Darkest of brown colors, kind of thin looking with a lovely head of tan foam that leaves plenty of lacing.

Smells sweet and lightly roasty. Some chocolate notes as well.

Taste is mainly of dark chocolate with some complimenting orange peel/orange liquor. Some roasted malt with just a hint of chile flavor, but no heat whatsoever. Can't pick up any of the bourbon at all. I would sum up the taste as a Mayan Gold chocolate bar from Green and Black's. Dark chocolate and light orange.

Very smooth and soft on the palate. I would call this about medium bodied.

A nice overall beer, however for the price, I could really do without it again. It's not as big and interesting as I would expect an anniversary beer like this to be. Maybe just too many ingredients and they cancel each other out? Still a very enjoyable and drinkable beer that is worth trying once for sure.

Photo of jsapunor
4.38/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours with a couple of fingers of head on a body so dark the summer sun can't penetrate it. After a glance at the label I expect to smell the chocolate and it's there hiding in the roasty malt. The oak is present too and more so as the beer warms.

The taste is a surprise. The advertised cocoa, orange and oak are all there but the heat at the finish was unexpected. Checking the fine print on the side of the bottle and I see that they threw in some pasilla chilis for good measure. It all works. Combine the taste with a nice, thick mouthfeel for a porter and you have a brew that's delightful.

The label said I should hold off until June 2012. I couldn't wait and I'm glad I didn't. Excellent!

Photo of drabmuh
3.7/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by Dan. Thanks! At the time of this review #15 on the top American Porter list on beeradvocate.com. Beer is brown to black with a nice head of tan bubbles, some lacing, low carbonation.

Aroma is odd, a little spicy? Chili peppers? Odd. Sweet, mild roast, some chocolate.

Beer is medium to light in body. It is mildly body with a mild chili flavor and some mild chocolate. It tastes fine but not as good as the XX or the XXI in my opinion. I think this is very similar to XXII but I don't know that for sure. I have another bottle and I will drink it one night. It was fine.

Photo of alexhahn82
3.2/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pitch Black. With a very small head (poured by a delicate handed beertender.

S - A hint of booze, hint of cocoa.

T/M - Tastes of oak up front (I said OAK not bourbon, but does finish with a bourbon flavor. Finishes very chocolaty with a bitter end. Mouthfeel is heavy with an almost peppey quality. After finishes off bourbony.

Overall - A little too much actual cocoa nibs for my taste, it would be better if it was a chocolate flavor from toasted barley more so than an additive. Def worth a shot but will UPDATE this review when I taste it AFTER ITS "BEST AFTER" DATE.

PP (Price Point) - $10.99 for a 22oz Partially bourbon barrel aged beer that is 10.8% is well worth it to me.


Photo of HopHead84
3.7/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


Thanks to Matt for opening the bottle. Snifter.

A: Looks black in the dim light of The Abbey. Large frothy light brown head.

S: Cocoa and dark chocolate with light oak notes. Moderately roasted malt with a pronounced chili influence. Faint bourbon and lightly nutty. Smells balanced and quite nice.

T: Chili and a slight spiciness with oak and faint bourbon. The chili flavor isn't as good in the flavor. A bit of astringency. Robust dark chocolate. Low earthy bitterness and some heat in the finish.

M: Full body with upper moderate carbonation. Mouthfeel is chewy, sticky, smooth.

Overall: Pretty good. I wish they'd have kept the original XX recipe.

Black Butte XXIII from Deschutes Brewery
95 out of 100 based on 766 ratings.