Welcome to BeerAdvocate!

Looking to talk, rate or trade beer? Join today by creating your free account.

Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

Black Xantus | Humboldt Brewing Co.

421 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Black XantusBlack Xantus

Brewed by:
Humboldt Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 421 | Ratings: 1,321
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.

 257 characters

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.

 285 characters

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.

 221 characters

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.

 192 characters

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.

 1,066 characters

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.

 243 characters

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.

 558 characters

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.


 876 characters

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

 188 characters

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.

 361 characters

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.

 289 characters

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.

 649 characters

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.

 963 characters

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.

 437 characters

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

 254 characters

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

 506 characters

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.

 421 characters

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.

 388 characters

Photo of TheDrunkenNerds
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Imperial stout that has a suttle sweet taste. This is aged in bourbon barrels and you taste the bourbon after the first taste. A great tasting beer with the perfect color

 170 characters

Photo of AppaZappa
3.78/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured 22oz bottle into a tulip. Brown in color; lighter than expected. Smell is chocolate, malt, coffee, caramel, slight oak and tannin. Taste is malt, cocoa, and a bit of soy sauce. Bourbon is understated. Taste is light for abv. Unique beer, but doesn't come together for me.

 278 characters

Photo of Spiegle
3.76/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

At boneshaker in rockin ca. Draft in tulip glass. Pour dark black with very little head. Get lot of chocolate small amount of coconut in the taste. Feels very thin for a stout. Overall pretty good beer. Not great but would drink again.

 235 characters

Photo of Ozzylizard
3.86/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

$ 15.49/22 oz bottle from Craft Shack
Bomber at 45 degrees into snifter
Aroma of roasted malt
Head average (2.5 cm, aggressive pour), light brown, creamy, diminishing to 2 mm ring and island
Lacing none
Body dark brown/black, clear
Flavor predominantly roasted malt; no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl; alcohol warming immediately when swallowed.
Palate full, creamy, soft carbonation
Appearance 4.25, Aroma 3.75, Flavor 3.75, Palate 4, Overall 4

 444 characters

Photo of zerosiah
3.74/5  rDev -9.2%
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.

 446 characters

Photo of tprinzing
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bomber into a stout tulip glass.

L: There was a nice red hue when held up to sunlight. With an aggressive pour it had a three finger head that dissipated within a few minutes. Left a slight lace.

T: For me the chocolate was fairly significant. The coffee was nice and subdued. The bourbon was lighter than I would have liked. The berry flavor was slight, mostly lending sweetness.

 404 characters

Black Xantus from Humboldt Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 421 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.