Black Xantus | Humboldt Brewing Co.

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Black XantusBlack Xantus
1,373 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,373 |  Reviews: 439
Photo of YumYumGumGum
1/5  rDev -76.1%

Photo of psmoore
1/5  rDev -76.1%

Photo of SteveRod
1/5  rDev -76.1%

Photo of jophish17
2/5  rDev -52.2%

Photo of StubFaceJoe
2.25/5  rDev -46.2%

Photo of leftoverburrito
2.25/5  rDev -46.2%

Photo of Jerryt0000
2.25/5  rDev -46.2%

Photo of Jeffo
2.36/5  rDev -43.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

After having trades fall through on several occasions, SETG finally steped up to the plate and delivered the goods. Thanks heaps for the hook-up mate!

From a bomber into a snifter.
Vintage: 2010

APPEARANCE: Dark brown and relatively transparent pour for the style. Produces a one finger, medium looking, off-white or light tan head with poorer retention. Lots of noise on this head too. Dark brown body and, again, quite transparent, with medium carbonation evident. Head quickly fades to a faint wisp and ring. Only a ring remains until the end but leaves no lacing down the glass. Too light, transparent, and the head is lacking as well.

SMELL: Some roasted malts and dark chocolate notes, as well as bourbon and vanilla from the barrel. Notes of caramel and toffee as well. Bold enough, and the barrel takes the leading role for sure.

TASTE: Roasted malts and a heavy barrel presence. Bourbon, vanilla, as well as oak notes. Some dark chocolate tries to make an appearance, but is mostly swept aside by the booze and barrel on this one. Bold and lingering aftertaste is boozy with plenty of bourbon, vanilla, and only a touch of roasted malts. Very barrel heavy and boozy, making it difficult for any of the base beer to really play a role. The heavy barrel and bourbon flavors make it more difficult as the session continues.

PALATE: Medium-thin body and kind of lifeless. Not really creamy or smooth, though not quite prickly either. Medium carbonation and slightly light on the palate, goes down fine and ends a little sticky. A touch of heat at the finish. Not robust or creamy enough.

OVERALL: Though not as bad as Arbitrator makes it out to be, this is certainly bottom of the barrel for the barrel aged RIS category. Confirms my theory that any BA beer with carbonation will get an A- on this site. It wasn't a horrible beer, but the appearance was certainly sub-par and the feel lacking. Moreover, the barrel aging was just too upfront, leaving it overly hot and one-dimensional while completely drowning out the base beer. If you like in-you-face bourbon beer, this might be your thing, but if you're into more nuanced and measured barrel aging, this probably won't do it. Didn't actually finish the bomber. That said, I'd been itching to give this one a try for a long time, so a big thanks to STEG for the awesome trade. Cheers!

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Photo of kojevergas
2.38/5  rDev -43.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

650 ml brown glass bottle with papered-over standard pressure cap served into a Guinness goblet in me gaff in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are extremely high given what I've heard, though I have a merely average opinion of Firestone Walker.

Served refrigerator cold and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a half finger head of no real cream, decent thickness, and poor retention. Colour is a solid black. No yeast particles are visible.

Sm: Heavy coffee bean, some cacao, chocolate, roast, dark malts, and caramelized malt. A moderate strength aroma. Not particularly rich. No yeast comes through.

T: A bit medicinal, actually. Heavy coffee notes. Some cacao, but not enough. Too bitter. Dark malts form the foundation. no real roast. Some caramelization. Not rich enough. A bit too simple for the style. Lacks subtlety. Boozy. Lacks layering. No yeast comes through. Stale coffee is dominant and poorly implemented, annihilating any chance of good balance. No cream. Neither complex nor subtle.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Should be coarse and dry. Adequately carbonated. Thick but off. Doesn't suit the taste all that well. Lacks creaminess.

Dr: Drinkable but lacking quality. A major disappointment; I'd heard great things. This seems to be a running trend with Firestone Walker. I wouldn't get it again or recommend it to friends. Doesn't really hide its ABV. A poorly conceived imperial stout. Might get better with age.


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Photo of Thorpe429
2.51/5  rDev -40%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

This beer *only* punched me in the nuts. Thanks go out to mdfb79 for that one, though working strongly in his defense is the fact that I asked if he could bring this. D'oh. I didn't particularly care for it, though it was a fun piece of the 10-14 diagonal and accompaniments. Served in a FFF / Intelligentsia mini snifter.

Pours near black with a small mocha head that goes away quickly and leaves behind some light spotty lacing. The nose goes bigtime boom with the coffee, so much so that it almost takes on a black-pepper-like character. That's about it; well, I suppose there's a bit of roast in the background. Overpowering, overroasted coffee hits the palate as well, and doesn't feel any better in the finish. In fact, it's worse in the finish. Light sweetness and a long coffee bitterness. Astringent and dry finish. No bueno. Glad to have finally tried this beast, but I wouldn't do so again.

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Photo of DefenCorps
2.63/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Chris sent this with the best of intentions which quickly turned into bitter disappointment once he actually drank it. Since this beer is single-handedly responsible for the emasculation of Chuck Norris (or so I'm told by Arbitrator), I'm approaching with caution.

The pour is dark brown, turning to black once my glass is sufficiently full. Reddish brown highlights are noticeable, and the dark brown head rises quite beautifully before falling off to a disk, leaving some mild lace in its wake.

The nose is strange. An amalgamation of fruity hops and vanilla, this smells like some sort of a milk shake. Hop bitterness is low, and the coffee character is rather non-existent. Some chocolate is noticeable as well, but the tropical fruit hop character is what dominates. While unusual, I kind of like it, despite it being close to nothing that I'd expect from an IRS. Hop bitterness is low.

Wow, this beer darn near choked me with the initial alcohol bite on my first sip. Clearing my sinuses and getting back on my chair, as I take my second sip, I am presented with a blend of fruity hop flavor (beautiful pineapple and mango character, BTW), dark chocolate bitterness, some harsh solvents and some mild burnt malts. Vanilla and coconut appear mid-palate, and the acrid malt character grows tiring really quick, especially when coupled with a rather simple sugary sweetness that has some caramel-like character. I'm really not getting the coffee character, the fruity hop character is too dominant. Harshly alcoholic on the finish with an overtly tannic character that I really do not like. Bourbon character is limited to the tannins, vanilla and coconut, and maybe I should attribute the harsh booziness to it as well. Too thin in body for a big imperial stout, this beer is quite highly carbonated. The finish is quite disappointing too, with the tannins and the burnt malt bitterness involved in a Mexican standoff with the sweetness, taking my palate, my sobriety and $11 worth of beer down the drain. Where's the coffee?

Note: I stand by my 1.5 rating for drinkability, simply because I can't bring myself to choke it down. I love a big, boozy imperial stout, but it needs to be well done.

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Photo of rugyrl04
2.64/5  rDev -36.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Photo of BarrytheBear
2.68/5  rDev -35.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

22 oz bottle purchased almost one year ago on a trip to SLO to visit friends.

Into a snifter this looks the part: quite dark with a moderate mocha colored ring.

Smells strongly of bitter roast and harsh bourbon notes. Underlying dark chocolate lingers beneath a fusel mist of vaporous evil. It smells like it wants to kick your ass.

Well, time has not tempered the savage beast. Damn this is one hot little coquette, like a beer scorned. What ills did someone bestow upon this bottle to cause such anger? Boozy coffee and sharp bourbon. Having had a KBS the other night, this beer just lacks the refinement and grace of a well constructed BA stout.

Why the ill demeanor son? I hoped for and expected more. A puzzler from Firestone.

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Photo of MarkFy
2.75/5  rDev -34.2%

Photo of Bendurgin
2.76/5  rDev -34%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Shared by Brad and poured into a tulip. Pours black with a finger of dark mocha head. Settles down to. Thin layer of foam.

Molasses and dark bitter cocoa on this one with a little bit of coffee to round it out. Plumbs and a little bit of caramel bourbon. Kind grapish on the flavor that seems a bit off. The coffee and bourbon get a little bit lost in translation. Molasses is very noticeable on the flavor. This one is sweet.

The body could use a bit of volume and the carbonation seems a little low. I think this one is a bit sweet. I'd love to see that toned down.

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Photo of OlieIPA
2.8/5  rDev -33%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

I would like to thank Aimstatus for purchasing and sharing this most sought after Imperial Stout. Poured from a 22 oz. bomber (like water) into a Bruery tulip.

A: Poured just like Coca-Cola; dark brown, fizzy, with a head that lasted momentarily. Oh yeah, no lacing either. Doesn't exhibit any qualities, other than the color black, that I usually associated with a stout.

S: Smells like grandma's funky fruit cake...with extra pepper. Seriously! This is most likely due to overly done coffee punch added to this beer. If this wasn't enough, there was a strong alcohol smell at the tail end as well.

T: After taking a few minutes to mull over the flavor profile, I was surprised to find several aspects of this beer not to be appalling...especially after getting over the aroma characteristics I found earlier. These aspects included a more subtle coffee than expected, some more dark fruits, and mild chocolate malt notes.

M: Thin and overly dry.

D: I don't know what to say...could barely finish my 11 oz. pour. The flavor isn't bad, not great, but is basically the only thing going for it.

Overall: Extremely overpriced and wish I had purchased that bomber of Bourbon County when I had the chance. Hell...I should have picked up a four-pack of Old Rasputin and saved close to $10 bucks. I wouldn't say avoid this beer, but if it were priced at $7 dollars (instead of $15)....I'd still probably recommend another Imperial Stout to try. A below average beer for this particluar style. Cheers!

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Photo of nlmartin
2.82/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Thanks mulder1010 for yet another beer from secret santa 2011. This beer was lightly chilled and served in a snifter.

A- The body of the beer is black with a thin chocolate milk colored head. No retention noted to the head a viscous oily discoloration marks this beers passage from my glass.

S- The beers aroma is dark chocolate bourbon balls rolled in espresso. A bit of char and ash kick around the aroma.

T- Inspite of a nice olfactory experience this beer fails to deliver. The roasted and charred notes are nice until they arrive at the level of burnt coffee. Picture the coffee at 4 am at the stop and rob burnt. Very muted cocoa and underwhelming bourbon notes.

M- The body of the beer seemed to be thin with low carbonation. The alcohol is a bit too hot for this thin bodied over roasted beer.

O- This beer is not a drain pour but not really impressive. The beer smells nice but thin muted flavors are not really agreeing with me.

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Photo of beerandcycling88
2.84/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bomber into a snifter

A Pours a super dark brown that borders on black. There is an off white head that has great retention.

S A bit of chocolate and coffee with lots of bourbon and an almost overpowering note of rubbing alcohol.

T Some coffee and vanilla but mostly overpowering notes of bourbon and alcohol.

M The body is a bit thin for an imperial stout. There is also a nice warming feeling from the alcohol.

Overall this is an average at best imperial stout.The alcohol is far to overpowering and there is nothing here that can't be found in many other stouts which are at a better price point.

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Photo of biglite351
2.86/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A - a good bit of red around the edges. Tall tan tight head.

S - certain bourbon barrel scent. Under that I get some caramel and malts.

T - very strong bourbon taste. However a caramel and chocolate flavor does breathing through. Some toasted malts are in there too. Alcohol flavor comes in the end.

M - creamy but low amount of mouth tingle. Some alcohol burn in the throat.

D - maybe just one.

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Photo of Ryan011235
2.88/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter on 11/17/10

This bottle is from the 2009 release

Dark cherry-brown hue; settles near black. One finger of foam holds briefly then dissipates save for a large patch of bubbles covering 2/3rd of the surface. A little bit of drippy lace remains. Loose, bubbly retention.

There's a strong, sweet whiskey aroma right out of the bottle; this holds over once in the glass, though it does open up some. Notes of vanilla & charred oak are next in line. The base stout sits uneasy beneath the barrel aspect. Notions of molasses, hints of unsweetened chocolate & a touch of toffee. Effervescent, earthy overtones when swirled.

For as bold as the whiskey is in the nose, it comes across as fairly dull on the palate. Not a bad thing per se, it's just lacking some vibrancy. Charred oak is reasonably displayed & vanilla is more restrained to taste. Roasted malts are better manifest here than the aroma. Notes of burnt chocolate, tobacco, molasses, a hint of prune & slight hop bite on the finish.

Somewhere between medium & light body for the style; probably more toward the former, though it seems thin on the peripheries. Carbonation is appropriately low. Alcohol heat is apparent but not over the top. Muddled finish of whiskey, charred oak & burnt malt residuals.

The barrel aging seems haphazard with this one, the upside being more recognition for the stout itself. Integration does not seem to have worked out too well. Black Xantus's best line of defense is that it isn't too sweet. Drinkable? Sure, but far from superior.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
2.93/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

22 oz bottle into a wine glass.

A: Pours a pitch black color. The head is a finger high, with a lighter tan shade. Retention is quite good for an 11% barrel-aged monster, and the creaminess of the head leaves behind a ring of lacing on the glass.

S: The first whiff I get almost has a wine-like aroma. But after that, it transitions into a regular bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout, bringing notes of chocolate, vanilla, oak barrel, and (of course) bourbon. There's also some coffee to be found - it's not like FBS (or for that matter, BCBCS) where the coffee is punching me in the face, rather it's a subtle note that timidly appears in the rest of the beer. It's a solid aroma, but it's problem lies with how defined everything is...or should I say, how defined everything isn't. It's a bit too muddled to be a great BA RIS, but it still smells nice. Also, it doesn't have a perceptibly boozy aroma, which I always like.

T: Just like the nose indicated, the general flavor profile is both muddled and undefined. It opens up with some healthy vanilla flavors, along side touches of bourbon and chocolate. Some of the oak barrel comes through in the back end, with a mild bite (expected for 11%) of alcohol. I'm really not picking up much coffee (and this is a fresh batch), but what I do get seems stale and vegetal. This also finishes up with some generic fruit notes. Not only is it undefined in its flavors, it's rather imbalanced and disharmonious to boot.

M: As far as barrel-aged imperial stouts go, this is (somewhat) light on its feet and even dry. There is a boozy kiss that I find a bit welcoming. It's not that dry, as the sweetness tends to build up after many sips - hey, it's a monster imperial stout, this isn't going to go down like a good pilsner. Carbonation is gently backgrounded like I expected.

O: Ah yes, the beer famous for making the long missed Arbitrator go "lolololol, Black Xantus, ewww..." While the pedigree is here for this to be an excellent beer - imperial coffee stout, aged in multiple barrels, brewed by Firestone Walker (albeit via contract brewing) - it actually kind of sucks as far as barrel-aged brews go. It's problem lies in how it not only has a muddled flavor profile, but how it also comes off as being imbalanced and messy. Parabola with some coffee (Parabajava?!) this is not, that's for damn sure.

2.85/5: On the lower end of barrel-aged brews

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Photo of jneiswender
2.94/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had this beer from a one pint nine ounce bottle. Poured into a mug

A. Black body and an orange brown head.

S. Bourbon smell and a little coffee.

T. Coffee Kahlua taste. A little boozy.

M. Thick ...a milkshake in the mouth ..low carbonation.

D. Good but a bit one dimensional. Might pass a second time around.

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Photo of denver10
2.99/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Photo of ohiobeer29
3/5  rDev -28.2%

Photo of atlbravsrno1
3/5  rDev -28.2%

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Black Xantus from Humboldt Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.18 out of 5 with 1,373 ratings