Black Xantus
Humboldt Brewing Co.

Black XantusBlack Xantus
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American Imperial Stout
Ranked #401
Ranked #1,388
4.22 | pDev: 9.95%
Humboldt Brewing Co.
California, United States
Black XantusBlack Xantus
Notes: Barrel aged for 6 months in combination of Bourbon, retired Firestone Union and wine barrels and Infused with fair-trade, organic coffee from local roaster Jobella.

Style: Imperial Java Stout IBUs: 50 Color: Black ABV: 11%
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Reviews: 443 | Ratings: 1,384
Photo of BlurryVisi0n
4.31/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Served in a red wine glass from the bottle.

Appearance: Dark thick black body with medium bubbles to the body with a dark tan head rising well over one fingers length off the body.

Smell: Espresso aroma accompanied with light dose of vanilla extract and hints of light whiskey.

Taste: Complex brew and incredibly tasty. It is a dry butter coffee with rich whiskey. It is subtle with doses of dark chocolate with molasses and beyond malty. Caramel notes are there and offset the brew perfectly.

Mouth: Super sticky beer. Comes off a touch dry with espresso stickiness. Full body with medium carbonation.

Overall: Great brew. I got this from a beer of the month club and Will inquiere if I can make further purchases. It's a must grab and better than some of the hyper crap you see see on the internet. Sleeper hit of the year. Yes I said it. Salud!

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Photo of MonDak_Joe1953
4.08/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22oz bottle. Stamped on bottle neck is bottling date of '11/06/14'. The label says the beer was brewed and bottled in Paso Robles CA, which is where Firestone Walker is located. The date of bottling, according to Humboldt's website timeline, is post-Firestone Walker ownership, but perhaps the beer was contact brewed by Firestone Walker.
Ruby brown colored body. Partial finger width of tan head, which sticks around as a partial head fed by rising tiny bubbles. Spots of lacing with each sip slide back down into the body.
Aroma is heavy with dark malts, with dark chocolate. There is a hint of vanilla and black licorice.
Taste is dominated with the heavy, dark chocolate malt. Also has caramel and molasses. There is a background bitterness from how coffee would express. There is a hint that this beer has been barrel aged, as evidenced from the higher ABV% and an aftertaste akin to bourbon and vanilla.
Nearly medium in mouth feel. Quite good carbonation.
The beer has a touch of sweetness, but also has a definitely darker and more bitter touch. The rising bubbles provide a visual show at the beer's surface.

I have another bottle of Black Xantus which the label identifies 'Nectar Ales' as the brewer. The stamped bottling date is '11/22/13', which is an earlier bottling date for the first reviewed bottle. Label says "Brewed & Bottled by NECTAR ALES Paso Robles, CA 93446".
Dark brown colored body, with a partial finger width of light tan head. This head stays around as a partial cap and ring. Leaves behind some strings of lacing.
Aroma is dark malts, with chocolate, dark fruits, and vanilla.
Taste follows the smell with dark malts, heavily expressing chocolate. There is a tang akin to dark fruits, along with vanilla and bourbon barrel notes. Some toffee and anise flavors mix in.
Medium plus mouth feel. Very good carbonation.
From memory this beer is very similar to the other bottle of Black Xantus, and the rating score remains the same.

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Photo of Mshoener
4.75/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The pour is lucious with an outstanding head of bubbly foam which recedes nicely and in itself tastes outstanding. The nose is pure smokey sweetness with a taste that’s thick and smooth with burnt roasted booze warming to the depths of your soul. Enjoy decadence. First time I’ve had this and def will look for more.

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Photo of Harrison8
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with a finger of khaki foam that retains fairly well and then leaves a dense ring of foam. Aroma is heavy roasted and toasted malts with a strong smack of bitterness. There is a twinge of caramel and toffee that soften the harshness a touch. It's a hearty imperial stout that retains focus. Flavor profile is caramel, toasted, and roasted malts with a hint of caramel, toffee, and molasses. The flavor profile is a little sweeter than the aroma, but it still retains a strong bitterness. Mouth feel is medium-thick with a velvety, otherwise standard, texture. Overall, this is the embodiment of a standard imperial stout. While other imperial stouts pack in more flavor, this one retains a splendid simplicity.

Served in a Teku 3.0 from a 22oz bottle.

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Photo of mwilbur
4.54/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2015 vintage. Poured from 22 oz bottle into snifter.
A: Pours a very thick and viscous super dark brown with 1/2 inch of dark mocha tightly bubbled head with decent retention that eventually settles to a thin fizzy skim.
S: The moment the bottle was opened, the darkly sweet and bourbony notes started wafting. All sorts of stuff hit at once upon closer inspection...bourbon, smooth dark chocolate, soft red wine note, medium roast coffee, vanilla, and a hint of whiskey. This comes up to and toes the line of “too much”.
T: Medium roast coffee, dark dried fruit, and red wine hit first, followed by smooth dark chocolate, mild sweet bourbon, subtle whiskey, and hints of anise and charred wood. Loads of complexity!
M: Super smooth and coats the palate beautifully. Medium-heavy body with extremely well hidden ABV. Darkly sweet with a wonderfully balanced contribution from the red wine, bourbon, and whiskey barrels. Lingers and matures very well on the palate.
D: Oodles of complexity. Let this warm up for best enjoyment. Love the balanced contributions from the various barrels it was aged in. The coffee note plays perfectly with everything too. Seek it out!

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Photo of Brentlock
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

After letting this one cellar for almost a year, finally cracked it open. Everything melded so well and the bottle said so little that it just tasted complex and good. Would definitely get again.

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Photo of AFunHobby
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A tasty Imperial Stout with a smooth crisp finish. Tasty notes of bourbon and wine dominate. However, this also seeks to drown out most of the coffee flavor and aroma.

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Photo of q33jeff
4.48/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


22oz bottle to goblet.

LOOK: cola black-brown, medium beige head.
AROMA: chocolate, toffee, toast, caramel
TASTE: roasted malt, chocolate, caramel, touch of licorice. Lots of great sweet malty flavors. Like a cappuccino, with muted coffee flavor. I know coffee is added to this, but the other flavors kind of drown it out. Barrel effect is also subtle.
FEEL:medium to full body. A bit flat, but to be expected for the style.

Very impressed by this. Grabbed it as an extra heading to a buddy's house to drink a few beers by the fire. Since said group of friends are not huge beer geeks, I grabbed this at $11 in favor of AleSmith Speedway ($21), Victory Java Cask($19) or Brooklyn Black Ops ($23). I think this is right there with those other pricier offerings. I will certainly buy this again.


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Photo of StoutElk_92
4.65/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

22 oz. bottle

Pours dark maroon black with a creamy beige khaki colored foam head. Smells like rich bourbon, wine, oak barrel, sweet caramel, toffee, vanilla, nutty toasted malts, chocolate, coffee, molasses, some cherry, raisin, booze-soaked dried fruits, with floral earthy herbal grassy pine. Tastes very rich, full and intense with red wine, bourbon, oak barrel, caramel, toffee, vanilla, nutty toasted malts, dark chocolate, roasted coffee, molasses, cherry, raisin, boozy dried fruits, and floral earthy herbal grassy pine. Feels medium bodied, creamy with moderate carbonation. Overall a really great and unique mixed barrel aged imperial stout.

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Photo of lic217
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: Dark black, almost no head after a couple minutes
Smell: Dark fruit, anise
Taste: Bourbon, maple, vanilla, dark fruit, coffee, finishes with alcohol
Feel: Smooth low carbonation, a little thin for style
Overall: A solid beer, with some complexity

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Photo of TonyLema1
3.79/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

L: jet black, tan head, minimal lacing
S: dark roasts, dark fruits, coffee
T: bitter chocolate, bourbon, coffee, roasted malts
F: tons of mouthfeel, bourbon, coffee, roasty finish
O: great sipper

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Photo of ClavisAurea
4.1/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

04/2015 bottle served chilled in a wine glass

The bottle label is not very descriptive. Because this is an "aged" bottle the coffee is really not present at all. The dark fruit and wine character however are really there. The classic bourbon barrel character is very faded to gone. I do get some oak dryness. I do get a little oxidation on the palate and a little vinous character. Overall this is a really nice beer. The alcohol is pretty well hidden and reserved however as it warms up you can tell this is a "stout" beer.

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Photo of TreyIsWilson
4.11/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A - Pours a midnight black with a one finger tan head. Nice amount of soapy lacing.

S - Aroma is dark fruits, dark chocolate and espresso.

T - The taste is espresso, roasted malts, dark chocolate, vanilla, dark fruits and light bourbon barrel. There is also a good amount of oak in the finish.

M - Full bodied with medium carbonation. Chewy mouthfeel with a soft dry finsish.

O - A nice beer. The flavors are dark and rich. Good stout that will probably get better with age.

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Photo of Tristancwalshe13
3.55/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

thick and barrel taste with all the stout taste... i would hope that you should enjoy the harsher bitter stout cause thats it. i would love to taste this with some lactose so other than that its very tasty!

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Photo of daliandragon
4.29/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Found this randomly in Charleston, South Carolina. It pours black as night. Nose features coffee, port wine, caramel, honey and hops on the edge. Flavor is very heavy on the dark chocolate malts with coffee and booze. Texture is crazy, motor oil thick. If you are looking for an "imperial stout on steroids" experience, you could do worse than to start here.

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Photo of avalon07
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

L: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a jet black color and a thick, impenetrable consistency. There was a quarter inch of creamy, tan-colored head that lasted an average amount of time. Not much lacing.

S: A nice aroma of coffee, bourbon, dark fruit, and chocolate.

T: Tasted of a fair amount of the bourbon barrel - not as aggressive as with some bbl stouts, some chocolate (you get more of this as you go along, some coffee (not as much as I would have thought), light hops, some roasted malt, and dark fruit (raisins, in particular). A solid flavor that's big, yet subtle. Not as aggressive as other stouts of this kind, but still tasty.

F: A good amount of carbonation with a silky smooth finish. Full-bodied.

O: Black Xantus isn't necessarily a perfect stout, but it is incredibly likable. Quite easy to drink.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Many thanks to SawDog505 for this bottle.

A - Pitch black with thick, creamy, toffee colored head. Very sticky and viscous on the sides of the glass.

S - Roasted bitter chocolate cream, cocoa, and some black licorice/anise.

T - Delicate char, roasted cocoa, toffee cream, light smoke, oak, and alcohol.

M - Full bodied, chewy, very little alcohol warming,

O - This is a fantastic stout and the ABV is very deceptive.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.97/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours black with cola brown edging and a khaki colored head that peaks just under a finger before rolling back fairly quick, leaving behind a mostly barren surface with a fine island of suds in the center and a razor thin ring around the edge of the glass. Nothing for lace.

Smell - Interesting aroma, for sure. Notes of toffee and coffee, with lesser bourbon and oak. A light, cola-like caramel sweetness.

Taste - Good flavor, but a bit condensed and it hits you all at once. Vanilla, coffee, milk chocolate, bourbon, toffee and oak all hit upfront, then the vanilla and coffee fades, leaving the oak and bourbon with underlying toffee and chocolate sweetness as the brew rounds out into the finish. Maybe a hint of raisin fruitiness in there somewhere. Aftertaste lingers with mild wood, faint chocolate, toffee and a trace of molasses.

Mouthfeel - Full-bodied with moderate carbonation. Creamy at first before turning dry and slightly sticky in the finish.

Overall - Humboldt Brewing's website says this thing packs a punch, and they aren't lying. The brew absolutely bursts with flavor upfront, but it ultimately fades much too quickly, leaving the brew feel a bit hollow on the backend. Really good beer overall, but leaves a desire for the flavor profile to play out in a much longer, more wide-spread composition.

Oddly enough, the aftertaste is almost spot-on to Firestone-Walker's Sucaba, which is a BA barleywine, but since this is made at FW's brewery, maybe some flavor similarities shouldn't be too unexpected.

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.66/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Sampling a cellar temp 22 oz bottle that I am pouring into a snifter. Picked this beer off the shelf because my daughter liked the humming bird on the label. Hope to enjoy this one. The beer pours a dark cola brown with a spongey tan head of 4 cm foaming up even with a gentle pour. there are some deep garnet highlights when I hold the glass up to the light. The aroma is a malty complex smorgasbord of scents. I get molasses, coffee grounds, brown sugar, a little vanilla and a good dose of roasted malt. no real hop presence that I can detect and actually the 11% seems to be hidden as there isnt a strong peppery boozy note that I pick up.
First sip reveals a bit of a thicker body but not syrupy, I also get fine and spacious carbonation that does tickle my palate a little as i swallow each mouthful.
The flavor of the beer is what was advertised by the nose. The beer starts with some sweet brown sugar and roasted malt, which rolls to more roast and coffee ground and finishes with a deep hit of molasses, vanilla and some raisin and finishes fairly dry with just a hint of alcohol warmth. This beer is still very drinkable for 11% and seems to fit the role of Imperial Stout very well. This is a very nice beer for a cool fall evening.

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Photo of Amguerra305
4.01/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a somewhat thin cola brown that looked black in the glass but you could almost see all the way through it. Did not get any barrel smell and I did not even know it was barrel aged until I went to rate it. Poured way too thin for me to think of that. The smell was rather unremarkable as it just consisted of roast and fermentation but not in a pleasant balanced way, more in your face and harsh. The taste in this beer completely blew me away as it tasted nothing like what it smelled like. Tastes rich and balanced with a pleasant stout coffee/chocolate note on the friend followed by a bitter hop/roast bite. A tad too bitter for my own tastes but still excellent. It did not feel nearly as thin as it looked. Actually felt kind of chewy despite being so thin. Overall a beer that I think would have improved substantially with age. It lacked a nose and just poured too thing for this to be world class. The taste was spot for what a stout should be.

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Photo of kalosjakar
4.31/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with a tan head that is creamy in appearance.

Aroma: milk chocolate, mild bourbon, vanilla, toffee, oak, have to search for the wine with deep whiffs but its there.

Taste: chocolate hits even as you slosh it around your mouth. then roasted notes, followed by sweet bourbon, vanilla, milk chocolate, so much going on here. a bit of booze on the back end but im drinking this close to fresh. notes of cherry in the finish as well. a bit too sweet though.

Feel: soft, chewy, fudgy, silky, wet.

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Photo of Boccu
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Aroma of booze, coffee and malt. Pours dark and rich with a nice head. Taste of booze very light then a roasted malt to a roasted coffee to a light wine with a vanilla finish. Really really good. Very smooth yet complex. Very strong imperial stout. This is right up my alley as I am a huge stout fan.

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Photo of Sabtos
3.19/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Black with a light tan, thin, soft head.

Smell is a confusing raisin and cocoa, like a stouty barleywine.

On the tongue an immediate burn of alcohol hits right up front, from the bourbon barrel, with a raisin attribute following through from the wine barrel. Chocolate and dry bitter coffee try to come in here and there but are overpowered by the barrel treatments.

Thin, but good froth.

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Photo of mac31
4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

On draft, tulip

Sweet, rich, dark chocolate, bittersweet cocoa, intense, creamy and chewy-all in the entry. One amazing start to a beer. The Dark chocolate rolls right in to a nice shot of thick, rich espresso. Bitterness from the dark malts and coffee teams up well with the subtle, mild, earthy hops. This would be a bitter bomb if we're not for that bourbon barrel sweetness that balances everything out. The bourbon barreling makes this a wonderful, cohesive brew. Nice creamy mouthfeel. The alcohol is hidden very well, drinks more like an 8% beer than an 11%. Soft, inviting carbonation lends to even more drinkability. The beer finishes fairly dry. A complex beer for sure. I've seen this in bottle shops around town, but never knew what a jewel this was. This can be viewed as the little brother of the famed FSW Parabola, as they were both once part of the FSW family of beers before being sold off. I see the similarities. I think this beer, while not as refined as Parabola, does have a little more personality. Without a doubt, this is a great beer. Get it! Have it! Enjoy it! I did! And will again.

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Photo of Beejay
4.24/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

1100th Review!

A: Dark black in color with deep brown at the edges when held to the light. A dense brown head rises out of the body of the beer.

S: Rich molasses at first. Followed by vanilla, brown sugar, oak, rich caramel malt, and a coffee finish. More barrel comes out as it warms.

T: Rich and malty with vanilla notes, followed by oak, and finishing with espresso and some earthiness in a long linger. While it is cold there is a bit of a harsh edge in the finish, as it warms the flavors deepen and smooth out into a luxurious rich melding of coffee, barrel, and brew.

M: RIch and thick body with some nice creaminess. Carbonation is fine, but perhaps a tad high for the style, although I do think that it keeps it from becoming to syrupy.

O: Overall, this is a damn fine beer, just lovely.

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Black Xantus from Humboldt Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 94 out of 100 with 1384 ratings