Black Xantus
Humboldt Brewing Co.

Black XantusBlack Xantus
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American Imperial Stout
Ranked #442
Ranked #1,444
4.22 | pDev: 9.95%
Humboldt Brewing Co.
South Carolina, 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: 444 | Ratings: 1,387 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by JSchock7:
Photo of JSchock7
4/5  rDev -5.2%

More User Reviews:
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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Photo of ccg
4.11/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

It's jet black but still somehow looks slightly watery. Above-average retention, but the foam on the edges hides the tint that's often a give-away on a BBA stout.
The smell is excellent. I had to keep the bottle in the regular refrigerator (beer fridge is full) so it was a little too cold when I opened it, but the sweet bourbon barrel smell was still there immediately. It mingles perfectly with the coffee scent.
I can taste vanilla, bitter chocolate, coffee, a bit of caramel and toasted malt, lots of oak, and something with just a hint of smokiness, like sweetened pipe tobacco. It has a somewhat bitter finish, with the chocolate and coffee dominating at the end.
Overall: With Humboldt Brewing being a part of Firestone Walker, I'm not sure how this beer manages to fly so completely under the radar. It's one of the best beers you've never heard of. It's probably difficult to find outside of California, but if you see one, buy it. It's comparable to Epic Big Bad Baptist, but, in my opinion, better, because more of the barrel comes through in the flavor.

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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 Brutaltruth
4.34/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thoroughly enjoyed from the big bottle in a snifter. This most excellent imperial stout pours a deep dark blackish brown with a very nice head of light tan foam that subsides to a thick ring, nice pool of foam, and light lacing. Nose of light bourbon, subtle black coffee, vanilla, moderate black licorice notes, subtle char, and deeply roasted malts with moderately strong chocolate notes. Flavors exceed the nose with rich dark raisins that intertwine with light coffee and dark cocoa on all sides. Vanilla fades into the middle of the taste with bourbon and warmth followed by a light cream and roasted malt with a char aftertaste that is filling and substantial. Full mouth feel with light carbonation makes for a fine sipper with a moderately boozy warmth.

A most excellent imperial----had to buy this since I blew the tap and could not get it in a growler.


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Photo of zerosiah
3.74/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This beer poured a very dark brown into my glass. With the term "black" in the name I was expecting a darker color. I would put this beer into an imperial (barrel aged) brown category rather than a stout. The toasty bitter taste one might expect in a stout is lacking. However, chocolate presence and smooth barreled mouthfeel are quite forward in this offering. If this beer was labeled as an imperial barrel aged brown I would give it a 4.5.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4.2/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep brown with good carbonation and small tannish head. Nose is vanilla, bourbon, oak, chcolate tobacco nothing different from the ottle I suppose. Taste is vanilla, oak, cocoa, tobacoo, earthy tones and very litle coffee and a big bite on the end. ABV is well hidden on this as well.Mouthfeel I thought was ceamier than bottle and the coffee was tamer. Drinakbility is good but you will not want another bottle of this, well you would but good luck.

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Photo of projektyle
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

Photo of Mattco
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of SGToliver
4/5  rDev -5.2%

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

Photo of enelson
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of Tele
4.27/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Serving Type: Bottle

A: 4.5 Pours pitch black with a two-inch tan head. Looks a little thinner than most big stouts.

S: 4.25 Lots of coffee and dark roasted malt hit you at first with caramel and vanilla coming in close behind. The coffee smells quite dark and earthy but also has a mild fruity quality. Bourbon is there in very small doses; it could be a bit more assertive.

T: 4.25 The flavors on this beer are rather expected: lots of coffee, bitter malt, and dark chocolate with vanilla, licorice, caramel and bourbon filling in the background. What’s very interesting is the way these flavors are delivered. Most imperial stouts with coffee tend to be a big sweetness at first followed quickly by bitterness and dark coffee. Black Xantus is a bit more unique in that the sweetness and the richer, bitter flavors go back and forth on the palate. The bitter coffee flavors are more dominate overall (especially with the almost too bitter aftertaste), but it’s more balanced than expected. Like the nose, some more bourbon would be nice.

M: 4.25 The carbonation level is great. It could be a bit thicker, but doesn’t really disappoint here.

O: 4.25 I was ready to get let down by this beer and was pleasantly surprised. The flavors are very good and the coffee is strong but tastes like it’s of high quality. It’s a very good beer with fairly expected qualities and flavors.

 1,392 characters

Photo of Klym
3.57/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a darkness snifter. Saw this on the shelves near its release and always went back and forth on the price despite wanting to try it. When it disappeared and I randomly came across a refrigerated batch I figure it was time to give it a shot.

The nose on this is so deep and sweet, with a nice thinner and less smooth look but tasty looking none the less-- I was sure I wouldn't be disappointed. Ultimately it's hard to rate this as I just get such a noxious rubbing alcohol like taste (though strangely without much heat sensation). It's really at the core of the beer and it makes it hard to enjoy. I'd claim quality control or something, but the store i picked it up at is great for controlling their quality. I just don't know what to say about the beer with such a noxious quality.

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Photo of oso
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

Photo of boudeysbigbrew
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

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!

 1,180 characters

Photo of Jake1605
4.67/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Black with a mocha colored creamy 1 finger head that went away quickly. Smell is bitter sweet, lots of bold coffee aroma, oak, cocoa, roasted malts, brown sugar, bourbon, molasses, vanilla, milk chocolate & dark chocolate. Mouthfeel is soft. Very creamy & smooth complex brew. The bottle seems boozier than on tap, but it's still very balanced. Spotty lacing, dry, full bodied, great carbonation. Another amazing barrel aged beer from Firestone Walker.

 452 characters

Photo of hannibalsmith63
4.92/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Enjoyed at XL Grindhouse in Salinas, ca

A- Dark espresso colored. Left less than one finger head.

S- smells of chocolate, vanilla, and coffee. A lot like and Irish Coffee. Doesent smell as boozy as I expect. Great nose morning or night.

T- it tastes exactly like it's nose. Irish car bomb but cool. Begs for ice cream for a float! Vanilla and bourbon stand up well to the coffee.

M- coats the tongue nicely but the burn you expect does not come. The sweetness makes you lick your lips.

O- one of the better beers I have had in a while. Extremely balanced and sophisticated. I'll be very sad when this beer is not around to enjoy!

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Photo of beerdave
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of devilfluff
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.09/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ahh, the infamous Black Xantus.

Pours a dark brown, almost black, color with a thinnish light brown head, fades quickly and leaves no lacing on the glass.

Smell has a subtle aroma of coffee, likely has diminished over time, roasted malt, light dark fruit notes.

Taste does not burn as badly as the jokes used to talk about although there is some heat to it, strong roasted malt backbone with a decent coffee presence, subtle dark fruit such as raisins, barrel-aging is very subtle with little wood character present, nice chewiness to it and a creamy body, carbonation is soft yet active.

 591 characters

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

Photo of GuttaMane138
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

Photo of FLenoci
4.75/5  rDev +12.6%

Black Xantus from Humboldt Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 94 out of 100 with 1387 ratings