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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: 427 | Ratings: 1,341
Photo of BucannonXC5
3.81/5  rDev -7.5%
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 -0.2%
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 +1%
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 -11.4%
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 -12.1%
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 +12.1%
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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Photo of danh53
4.09/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Big anise notes with coffee, molasses, and tobacco. Bourbon is subtle but adds some caramel and booziness. Wine barrel is present adding dark and red fruits. It's mostly bitter, but there is some sweetness as well to add balance. This exceeded expectations.

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Photo of smanson56
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured a dark black color into my snifter. The nose is heavy on the coffee side and hides the barrel aging well. There is a wonderful mix of flavors in the taste with the rich coffee and the mild bourbon. The mouthfeel is thick and wonderful and IMO perhaps the best side of this beer.

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Photo of LloydDobler
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

For the thin brown pour on this one it sure had a nice thicker and slicker feel to it. The nose is cocoa, anise, honey, and coffee(but not much). The barrel comes through nicely here. Smooth and dangerously easy to drink.

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Photo of L_Raydell_Mundo
3.44/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Didn't work for me, way too boozy. I'm wondering if I got a bad bottle - my experience wasn't even close to other reviews. The bitterness overshadowed any coffee, chocolate, or bourbon notes.

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Photo of ccg
4.11/5  rDev -0.2%
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 jmdrpi
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bottle, no date

jet black, tan head. the head is thin and fades fast. nice aroma, a bit of roasty coffee and bitter cocoa. similar flavors in the taste, a bit of alcohol when it warms. creamy smooth body. thick, coats the mouth.

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Photo of Greasy
4.29/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Black Xantus pours the same color as its namesake with a khaki head that eventually dissipates.
S: Big notes of coffee and bourbon. Roasted malts are there too.
T: A huge flavor profile on this one. A kick in the mouth of coffee, semisweet chocolate and roasted malts. Oak flavor is subtle, but evens out everything.
M: No alcohol burn for an 11% monster; full bodied, not super thick, good mouth coating going on.
O: Black Xantus is not cheap ($14.99 for 650ml), but is definitely tasty. A solid imperial stout that should be tried and enjoyed by all.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
4.34/5  rDev +5.3%
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 Bosoxfan20
3.68/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Lots of roasted malt character, mild barrel notes, dark fruits, and a touch of bitterness in the finish. A pleasant surprise and one I am shocked I waited so long to try. Solid all around

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Photo of Barracudas
4.75/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A great beer with a very complex flavor. It has a great aroma and it drinks very smoothly. The beer has a high ABV so it packs a punch! A great beer for a special occasion!

 172 characters

Photo of JakerLou
3.93/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque brown with a small amount of tan head.

Smells of spicy raisins, booze (bourbon), some vanilla, and a bit of coffee.

Taste is similar, I get a lot of raisin and booze with a touch of vanilla. The coffee is understated and really comes across as a slight bitterness in the finish.

This beer is a bit on the thin side for an 11% imperial stout.

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Photo of GOBLIN
3.99/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Overall a decent imperial stout. Doesn't have that deep pitch black appearance I've come to expect from your typical imperial stout though. Appearance is more of a dark mahogany. Flavors of cocoa, vanilla, dark chocolate, coffee, and a faint, subtle touch of bourbon . . . If any at all.

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Photo of barczar
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Aroma is thick with dark fruit, molasses, and roast malt. Deeply caramelized notes meld well with dates, figs, and plums. There's a touch of leather. Smells extremely sweet. Notes of vanilla and bourbon emerge as it warms.

Flavor is very sweet initially, with a roasty, lightly charred malt backbone kicking in mid palate and carrying through to a lightly bitter finish. Well balanced. Wine barrels added a slight tart contrast. Fairly complex beer. Hints of cinnamon and vanilla surface in the aftertaste, and coffee becomes more noticeable. Really opens up as it warms. The bitterness is just a tad too charred, for my liking, and it's a bit hot.

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Photo of oldn00b
4.36/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours black, almost no head forms - when agitated a dark tan head of about 1/8 inch forms and recedes immediately. Color is spot on - can see the nice deep red hue around the rim.

Nose is full of coffee, chocolate and a bit of bourbon.

Flavor is coffee forward, dark sweet from the malt and a bit of the warmth from the barrel - not at all boozy. The coffee and chocolate are both bright and bitter but the overall character is sweet. Long finish - the coffee lingers longest.

It's incredibly gentle on the palate, surprisingly so for the ABV and amount of bitter from the brew. Was expecting it to come across as under carbonated but there is medium low carbonation and very tight - also helps keep the sweet aspects in check.

This one is better than expected but hard to pick up what the barrel(s) imparted. Maybe it's just an overall softening of some of the more forward characteristics but it's the best thing I've had from these guys, hands down.

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Photo of breadwinner
4.36/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Almost 3-year old bottle I just got to sample and, man, it was might fine, far better than I remember, the coffee incredibly smooth, fruity even, probably enhanced by the partial wine-barrel aging, no shortage either of dark, lightly chocolately malts and slight bourbon barrel. Really well done. Not sure how the newer versions are, since FW no longer produces Nectar/Humboldt, but if you run across an old bottle, by all means snag it.

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Photo of drpimento
4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Average appearance but excellent flavor and body. Flavor is nicely bittersweet with the bourbon, roast, and cocoa to perfectly compliment. Body has a round fullness yet enough carbonation to balance and boozy warmth to remind you of its power. Good stuff

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Photo of KensWorld
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

650ml bomber purchased back in November 2014.

L = thick light brown head with killer silky solid lacing. Almost black.
S = not much going on
T = wow, very powerful taste bud explosion. Ending with a burn down the throat. Brown sugar and burnt caramel dominate. No coffee taste at all, nor is there any hint of barrel aging here. Very sweat.
F = thick, chewy, robust, over the top.
O = a very powerful RIS, almost too much! I wish I could save the rest of this because it's going to be hard to finish. 4.45

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Photo of oregonduck
3.1/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Very sweet, but not a lot of complex flavors. Taste is sugary sweet mixed with some bitter coffee. This doesn't really have the typical nice bourbon barrel aged flavors. Smell is coffee and alcohol. Texture is nice, thick and silky. Overall, this is a decent stout, but nothing special. It is just too sweet for my taste, as the sweetness just takes over and becomes overwhelming. Hard to finish the bomber. WNBA.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.56/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

From the waxed on 650 ml. bottle. 2014 batch. Sampled on April 3, 2015.

Jet black pour with modest tan had that fades out some.

Aroma of deep roasted caramel malts, coffee, and a hint of that 11% ABV booze.

The body is full and smooth.

The taste tends to bring out more sweetness in those dark malts. But the booze is a little more evident and lingering. Still delightful all around.

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Black Xantus from Humboldt Brewing Co.
4.12 out of 5 based on 1,341 ratings.
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