Black Xantus | Humboldt Brewing Co.

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Black XantusBlack Xantus

Brewed by:
Humboldt Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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%

Added by ThreeWiseMen on 10-09-2009

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Reviews: 435 | Ratings: 1,360
Photo of q33jeff
4.48/5  rDev +8.5%
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 +12.6%
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 -5.1%
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 tlema1
3.79/5  rDev -8.2%
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 -0.7%
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 -0.5%
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 -14%
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 +3.9%
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 -2.4%
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 TheSixthRing
3.97/5  rDev -3.9%
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 +12.8%
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 -2.9%
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 +4.4%
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 +5.3%
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 -22.8%
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 +6.1%
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 +2.7%
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 hoping4hopps
4.82/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Enjoyed this beer in celebration of my next few steps in bettering mine and my family's self. Delicious and thick, this brew don't hesitate to spring forward with an onslaught of dark roasted barley and is wonderfully infused with the perfect amount of coffee. Overall delicious would seek it out again and would recomendable to anyone who has a preference towards coffee ales.

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Photo of CraftBeerRunner
3.49/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Maybe it will improve as it warms a little, but it smells like a wet dog and the initial sip was just all over the place. Weird. World Cost Market, Oakland, April 2016

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Photo of BucannonXC5
3.81/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Type: 22-oz. bottle
Glass: 8-oz. (I think) clear cognac snifter glass
From: Cost Plus World Market in San Jose, Calif.
Price: $10.99 ($1 off regular price)
Purchased: April 16, 2016
Consumed: April 16, 2016
Misc.: No BOD on bottle; Think it was bottled in 2015 though

Bought this on a whim after not finding anything I really wanted at Trader Joe’s. Once I got back to the hotel I realized that this was on my want list. Sounds really good (barrel-aged for six months in combination of bourbon, retired Firestone Union and wine barrels and infused with fair-trade, organic coffee from local roaster Jobella) and it was a dollar off the original price.

Poured a very dark brown, dark mahogany color with two fingers of frothy, tan head. Below average spotty lacing on the sides of the glass. Below average retention. (Sight - 3.50)

First whiff was a bit unbalanced and a bit all over the place. Settling down I got sweetened dark tea bags (somehow), java coffee, dark milk chocolate, smooth bourbon, espresso and roasty malts. (Smell - 3,75)

Taste followed the nose somewhat, kind of reminding me more of an imperial milk stout. Got roasty coffee malts, dark milk chocolate, tea bags (still), dark espresso, hints of smooth bourbon, burnt molasses, dark cocoa nibs, caramel and light vanilla. Can’t believe this is 11 percent. (Taste - 3.75)

Full body. Creamy-to-sticky texture. Average carbonation. Long, smooth, slightly warming finish. Best part of the beer by far. So smooth. (Feel - 4.50)

This was not as good as I thought it would be. Disappointing overall. Good, just not great. (Overall - 3.75)

3.81 | 86 | B+

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Photo of rodbeermunch
4.11/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Before there was Parabajava, there was Black Xantus. They're pretty damn similar actually. This one is probably better, but you know how rarity fuels hype. Anyhoo, this one is black as expected. Drops a better coffee quotient than Parabajava.

This melds coffee and chocolate quite well with the bourbon. Nicely hides some of the dark fruit bitterness that plagues this style. Don't see why one would chase rare beer and stand in line for a barrel aged coffee stout when this is on shelves unless they really don't value their time. Just pull this off the shelf.

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Photo of Catracho5
4.16/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 ounce bomber poured into a snifter

A: Pours a dark brown, lots of light comes through around the edges, no head retention, slight lacing, looks thin for an imperial stout, medium amount of carbonation.

A: Bourbon? No, big whiff of wine, oak, hint of bourbon, touch of vanilla, alcohol is not present on the aroma, not getting as much as I thought I would. Smells pretty good, but not like a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout.

T: Get of wine and oak, touch of bourbon and vanilla, some dark chocolate, hint of espresso, taste is definitely a lot better than the aroma, lots of drinkability, a little heat, some depth and complexity.

M: Medium bodied mouthfeel, creamy, smooth, good amount of carbonation.

O: Besides the thin looking appearance, this is pretty good, a strange mix of flavors, but very drinkable and enjoyable, it's not a typical bourbon barrel aged stout, it's got some wine, oak, and hints of bourbon notes.

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Photo of SerialTicker
3.65/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

$14.99 bomber. Picked this up on a whim... just sounded interesting. Bottled 11/6/14 and poured 2/25/16. I didn't see the dating until I had my beer finished.

This pours looking absolutely nothing like any other Imperial Stout I've ever seen. Very light in color -- really, brown. The smell and taste are absolutely unique... this is a truly bizarre beer. I don't know how to break it down. There's a pretty intense sweetness up front that is wine-y, that's the best way I can describe it. That sweetness and slick alcohol wine-y feel last halfway through until a heavy caramel malt and decent dose of roast come into the picture. Near the end and on the finish there's quite a bit of a coffee with milk and sugar vibe.

Absolutely strange beer and I'm not sure that I love it... in part because I don't think this is very stouty at all, but also because it doesn't have the typical "feel" that a big stout does. This beer is pretty thin, slick, and sticky with a fairly significant wine character ahead of any roast. The description says this is aged in bourbon barrels, but all I get is maybe a hint of oak. Another negative on this beer is the aroma... it's just strange. Very sweet dark fruits, wine, a little oak, and very little roast qualities.

I love trying new and unique beers, but this isn't a beer I'd likely have again... I'd've likely preferred it quite a bit more if it were more fresh so the coffee was more pronounced and maybe the sweetness was less intense.

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Photo of alarmclock314
3.62/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle, no date. Pours nearly black with a large khaki head with good retention. Smells of dark fruit, sweet malt, and bourbon. The taste follows closely with dark fruit, sweet malt, and port with some char, bourbon, and nearly undetectable coffee flavors. Pretty sweet and moderately bitter. Higher carbonation and medium body. Overall, it's closer to a Barleywine than an Imperial Stout; it left me craving more roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, and bourbon. There are better IS's available on the shelf.

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Photo of PhillyJ
4.62/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Overall this exceeded my expectations. the best part of this is the mouthfeel it's so thick and creamy. The downside is a slightly rough pre finish that can't decide whether it's wine or bourbon infused but the coffee takes over and calms the fuss with a pleasant coffee to subtle oak finish. Complex with tons of flavors and depth to explore and enough barrel characteristics to make this a solid offering. Cheers

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Black Xantus from Humboldt Brewing Co.
4.13 out of 5 based on 1,360 ratings.
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