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Black Xantus | Humboldt Brewing Co.

421 Reviews
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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

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Reviews: 421 | Ratings: 1,321
Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.29/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This seems like a very polarizing beer for some reason...I liked it!

A: Bubbly, brownish head that dies down fast. No lacing, jet black.

S: A pleasant oaky, coconut, vanilla, bourbon, chocolate, and raw malt bouquet. Nice.

T: I get a definite bourbon burn tinge on a malty, chocolatey, vanilla and oak/wood flavor with a bitter finish. Coffee notes as well. Nice stout.

M: A little thin and overcarbonated for me, but still a smooth drinker.

D: Great stout, interesting but probably not worth what my friend paid for it!

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Photo of klikger
3.92/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bomber pour in a tulip

A - Brown/black, no head or lacing

S - Burnt coffee beans and molasses. Not bad, though.

T - Pungent dark chocolate, booze --> a little musk --> vanilla added to the chocolate --> same on finish.

M - Pretty heavy, decent carb...good for the style

D - A bit hot, not horribly so, though.

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Photo of EgadBananas
3.22/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Looks fairly nice. Was a bit tough to draw a head out of. It's pretty black, but didn't give the impression of an RIS.

Aroma was a little hampered at first, but warmed up to nice notes of coffee, bits of chocolate, and booze soaked dark fruits.

Taste was a bit similar, but a bit too boozy, hampering the hidden dark fruit notes. Mostly, it was Coffee, and Booze!

A bit too thin on the mouth, for how big of a beer this should have been.

This thing appears to be the rough draft to a fucking Rembrandt. It doesn't work completely, but there's wonderous things buried here. Supposedly they are going to go again, and I hope/have a feeling things will be better the second time around.

I'm very blessed to have the opportunity to try this!

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.5/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Crow feather black that isn't a complete black hole, since somewhat generous bronze highlights are seen along the bottom of the glass. A thick chunk of khaki colored foam crested the rim on the pour and needed to be slurped. So far, lace looks to be more extensive than the ABV and barrel aging would lead one to expect.

The aroma is perfectly complemented by Jobella Fair Trade coffee, not dominated by it. Dark chocolate, caramelized sugar and vanilla are noted as well. Story is, the beer was aged for 6 months in barrels that had previous held bourbon and some sort of wine. So far, so good.

Nectar Ales Black Xantus tastes like it smells, but loses something in the translation. For starters, there isn't enough malt, which means the beer is thinner than it should be. For finishers, there's too much unmasked alcohol, which is unacceptable in a sub-style that should have enough flavor intensity to cover up a flaw of that sort.

Bourbon whiskey is actually more prominent than coffee. Either those were some leaky barrels or the brewers added a shot of Kentucky's finest to each bottle prior to capping. No red grape vinousness is evident. It isn't a complete and unmitigated mess, but some significant mopping up needs to be done if the brewery plans to release this offering again.

Neither sweetness (slight lead early) nor bitterness (slight lead late) seizes the reins and charges across the finish line. Warming doesn't change much, which is odd. Usually beer of this sort finds its groove by the middle of the bomber. The flavor isn't becoming more well-integrated, the alcohol isn't mellowing and the mouthfeel isn't becoming the least bit chewy or full.

Black Xantus was named after a rarely seen hummingbird. That's a strange name for a beer that is supposed to be big and bold, but it's understandable given Nectar Ales labels and overall theme. Unfortunately, it never really comes together into something that can seriously compete with the country's best, much less the world's best.

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Photo of biglite351
2.86/5  rDev -30.6%
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 Gobzilla
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a dark as night black with a brown thin head and surprisingly did leave a little lacing sticking to the glass. The oaky barrel and bourbon really stand out on the nose but it also came with chocolate malts and slight coffee notes. Upfont on the palate the bourbon and chocolate malts really blend quite nice alonside oak, vanilla, and coffee accents; really tasty treat. The brew was pretty full in body with a fair amount of carbonation which had a sweet, silky, slight roasty, and boozy finish. It drank so easy for a RIS and have had the chance to enjoy this beer numerous times. Hit me up if you want to try some I can still get my hands on more bottles.

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Photo of coldmeat23
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees
Thanks to mrbubbler for sending me this one!

This one, for all intents and purposes, is black. Only when backlit and under careful scrutiny does it reveal the tiniest amount of dark brown and deep crimson, right around the surface edge. A medium-to-almost-hard pour produces only a small head of brown foam, barely over a fingers worth. The retention is quite nice though and the lacing that it leaves is in spots and thin strands, which are both nicely sticky.

This nose is fairly impressive. There seems to be a lot of things going on in this glass, so much so that I feel that I'm missing some of them, as they are too elusive. I get little snippets of a scent and before I can pinpoint what it is, it's gone.
I get a good amount of roasted malts and quite a bit of dark chocolate. Some dark caramels, black coffee and hints of both leather and tobacco. Mild hints of dark fruit sweetness. Good hints of oak woodiness and a touch of bourbon.

Wow....this has loads of dark roasted, almost to the point of burnt, malts flowing all through it. Big, rich and dark. The sweetness of vanilla and bourbon cut through these notes. They are followed by a dry hint from the oak, which is mingling with some light traces of dark cherry sweetness. Hints of leather and a light wisp of smokiness. Light traces of licorice and dark molasses. Underlying all of this is a stream of dark roasted coffee/espresso and dark chocolates.
This is very good, but very rich.

This one is full-bodied and slightly oily with a mild-to-light level of carbonation. It is extremely smooth, like satin and has a light touch of creaminess to it.

The 11.00%abv, while not offputing is easily noticed. A mild hint of booze in the flavor and a slight warmth that goes all the way down. Put this together with the richness of this one and you've got a special occasion beer.
It goes down nicely, but you certainly wouldn't want it every day.

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Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This tasty bomber I could not believe I finished over lunch. vanilla and chocolate aromas in a rich black body. The 11% is well hidden, some sugar, coffee. Very mild bourbon. Some complexity that keeps it interesting. Above average mouthfeel and drinkability. Thanks Augustgarage.

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Photo of jrallen34
4.01/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to hoppymcgee, 650 ml bottle into my Narke tulip...Black our, light tan head, great retention and lacing...Light aroma with a malt backbone, mostly sweet chocolates, as it warms a little coffee comes through. Wish it was a little stronger and complex...The taste is light but drinkable. Again mostly malty, sweet chocolates with a light bitter coffee finish. Super easy to drink, just not overly flavorful.

This is not an overpowering stout in flavor, but it has enough flavor to just crush it and drink it all night long.

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Photo of 1759Girl
4.24/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance>dark, dark with a small light chocolate malt head. No distinct lacing.

Smell>chocolate, burnt toast, raspberries

Taste> Hot dang. This is good. This is pretty much a raspberry truffle from Sees' Candy in liquid form, and I love it. Starts like an irish dry stout, but then goes super chocolatey, then fruity, then ashy, then softents to a lovely raspberry and chocolate finish.

Mouf>nothing to write home about.


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Photo of mdfb79
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 7/24/10 notes. Got to try at the CL dcd release thanks to a generous BA.

a - Pours a black color with 1 inch of tan head.

s - Smells of oak, whiskey, roasted malts, coffee, and chocolate. Great smell and balance.

t - Tastes of chocolate, oak, bourbon/whiskey, and roasted malts.

m - Medium body and no carbonation. Very easy to drink for 11% ABV.

d - I thought this was a great RIS. I thought it smelled amazing and was very easy to drink considering the high ABV. Would love to try again.

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Photo of farrago
4.57/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aggressive pour yields virtually no head at all, swirl all you want, you're not getting any form or lacing. While jet black, clear enough to see a solid burnt orange tinge at the rims and glass bottom, nice of it to allow for some color. Smooth coffee, chocolate fudge, almost German chocolate cake, in the nose, not quite doughy nor bready, biscuity, if anything, the roast noticeably subdued, pleasing wafts of citrus zest, more anise than licorice, good mixture of sweet apricot, plum, cherry, black grape scents, the hops remain in the background. Medium to full-bodied, extremely well-polished and fluid, deftly utilizes its weight to carry the flavors. Hoppy with a pleasing biscuity, piney touch to the attack before cocoa, mocha, dark chocolate, caramel and coconut take the stage, comes close to evoking bourbon barrels. Shows Brazil nut, cashew aspect, stays toasty versus roasty. The carbonation has a slow churn, turns over at a slow rate. The flavor intensity remains complete through the finish. Dee-licious.

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Photo of thetomG
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review #100! WooHoo!

Pours a nice deep brown with minimal head and basically no lacing. Aroma is enticing - some sweet molasses, a bit of coffee, and malts really shine through. Flavor is very similar but the sweetness comes through a bit more with some vanilla notes as an added bonus. Carbonation seems spot on for the style. Very nice beer. Split this bottle with my buddy mishuggah and we both agree that this beer very much reminds us of Dark Lord with regard to the flavor profile. We're both calling this one Dark Lord Lite, and I like it.

Will definitely drink this again. YUM!

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Photo of spoons
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a stark black color with small foamy coffee colored head.

Smells a lot like bourbon and oak. Some chocolate and vanilla flavors come through as well when this warms up a little.

Has a lot of sweetness with vanilla and smoke notes. You definately get a little oak coming though. Mouthfeel is creamy and syrupy with a gentle carbonation.

This is tasty but perhaps a little on the sweet side. Id drink it again but not more than a glass.

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Photo of fastsrt
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured form 22 ounce bottle in snifter

A: black, thin head that lasts

S: oak, vanilla, burbon

T: oak not overpowering though, the malts still come through and there is some bourbon there as well, there is also a touch of espresso.

M: smooth, full body with a spicy finish.

D: this one was a surprise i just picked it up randomly and it is quite good i didn't even know it was barrel aged till i took my first whiff, i was pleasantly surprised what a perfect way to end my day.

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Photo of shivtim
3.3/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Hummingbird themed stout? Why not!

Tilted it into a pint.
Deep brown/black with just the slightest hints of red.
Nice dense tan head.

Nose is alcoholic sweet roasted malt. Slightly spicy/sweet smelling, contrasted with dark charcoal barley roast.

Taste is a bit overly sweet, with cloying alcohol on the end. Slight harshness to it, but with a solid malt background.

Mouthfeel is average. Not thick enough for an RIS, and with a bit too much ethanol.

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Photo of mothman
3.72/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into Duck Rabbit snifter.

Pours 1/2 finger of light tan head. Color pours a copper brown, but settles a dark brown. No head retention. Leaves some splattered lace.

Aroma: Whiskey notes and oak, light vanilla, cocoa, a little boozy,. It gets betters as it warms.

Taste: Strong whiskey and oak. Sweet vanilla and caramel with cocoa hitting next. A lot like the aroma. Maybe some dark dried fruits here.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, but light. This is a very light bodied BA stout. Medium to a lower amount of carbonation. Ends dry and bitter with whiskey. It is was too light for a 11%$ imp stout.

Overall, not bad, but not good. The whiskey flavors are nice but this beer is so light. Not thick and chewy like the beer should be. Very let down with this one.

EDIT: Having the 2nd bottling of this, I would probably rate it higher. It has notes of coffee and bourbon reminding me a bit of bourbon county. A lot better than the first bottling.

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Photo of realmpel
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this beer when it first came out in bottles and then with a year or so of age on it. When I first tried it the beer was a bit hot. Now, the bourbon heat has muted quite a bit and chocolate, vanilla and oak flavors have emerged. I think it's perfectly blended now. Had it side to side with Parabola and I prefer the BX (though to be fair, the Parabola will probably develop more).

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Photo of TheJollyHop
3.75/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

After holding on to this brew for a while (mainly due to Arbitrator's positive comments) I finally decided to crack this bad boy open and see what I was dealing with.

Bottle cracks with a loud PFFT, indicating a high level of carbonation.Toffee colored thick head. Deep and dark, nearly ominous, body with average retention yet sticky lace.

Scents of coffee, black currants, some vanilla, definite roasted barley, and maybe dark cherries; faint alcohol as well. Very malt forward brew with very little hop presence.

Tastes of sweet grain, robust alcohol body that adds some depth and underscores the malts; ends with a caramel flavored coffee finish (a drier finish would have been preferable). Bitterness is more mild than it should be. I believe aging this brew reduced the hops bitterness too much. Roasted malt is too subtle, almost no astringency. Hop bitterness hits early but never overtakes malt. Sugar water middle.

Low to medium carbonation. Full bodied and creamy; coats the tongue, envelopes the mouth, and forces you to savor. Mouthfeel really shines with this brew.

Overall the malt character is too prominent and it hinders drinkability. Now I wish I would have tried this beer when it was younger.

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Photo of srandycarter
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Overrated but still pretty good. Finally brought one out.

A - Near black, nice tan head that stays for some time. Leaves to ring and some spotty lace.

S - Choc chip cookies, anise, coffee.

T - More anise here, along with the choc chip cookie thing and hot booze.

M - Medium body, good carb, pretty well balanced for the mix.

D - Too big. Really not a bad beer. NOT what it was supposed to be by all accounts.

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Photo of beerwolf77
3.62/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks goes to garbercury for sending this extra during one of our trades.

Bottle split with the SE sconnie crew. Poured into my pint glass the beer is pitch black with about a fingers worth of dark khaki head. A small amount of soapy lace struggles to hold onto the edges of my glass.

The aroma is quite the olfactory smorgasbord. Black licorice, chocolate, bourbon, carmel, cookie dough and coffee. I picked out everyone of those at different levels of intensity. It's like a candy/coffee shop in the aroma.

The flavor is a bit of a let down after that wonderful nose. The hops come on strong at first. Then a small dose of coffee and chocolate help to sweeten things up. Burnt malt that fades into a chalkiness finishes things on a bit of a down note.

Medium to full body with light carbonation. Typical RIS.

Overall a bark that simply can't follow with bite. The aroma was intense and complex yet the flavor was less then stallar. Drinkable just not all that powerful.

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Photo of kels
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared one of these with bamadog at our annual tasting.

Pours a darkest, blackest brown with a 1-finger, fizzy tan head that fizzles out immediately to nothingness and leaves behind bits of spotty lace along the walls of the glass. Complete darkness within, but it's hard to tell if it's just dark or completely opaque; certainly not clear.

Smell turns me off a bit - there's a huge pocketful-of-dirty-change metallic overlay masking the dark chocolate, cherry, coffee essence that hides below. The other smells alone would have been mouthwatering.

The cocoa flavors are quite delicious in this beer - they are dry and somewhat bitter while still providing a nice sweetness that keeps things from being too overwhelmingly dry. The flavors of whole cream, vanilla, toasted marshmallow and roasted malts all play together really nicely in a body that's slightly sticky and moderately mouthfilling. Nice drying effect on the palate in the aftertaste, and not even a hint of the alcohol.

Drinkability is definitely good in this one. Once I get past the nose, the flavors are very robust and pleasing, and the well-masked alcohol lets it go down easy.

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Photo of pennywhistle
4.6/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A fantastic stout - it's a bit sweeter and less bitter than some other local stouts. It has a nice bourbon flavor, but it's not too strong (which I prefer). A delicious beer, one of my favourite stouts. Very dark in the glass, thick around the edges.

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Photo of DaveHS
4.52/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a near solid black with a coffee colored head
and lots of sticky lacing. The nose is heavy on malt, with
notes of sweet bourbon, dark fruit, milk chocolate,
coffee, smoke and cherry. Rich flavors of bourbon,
coffee, anise, vanilla, roasted malts and toffee meld
perfectly. It's as if you can taste every element of the
beer individually, in order. The sign of a truly great
imperial stout. Mouthfeel is heavy, with light carbonation
and a warming, slightly boozy finish. At 11% it drinks
nice and smooth.

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Photo of capra12
3.53/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed solo, served out of a pint glass,

Appearance: jet black with a small cascade and 1 finger of fine and coarse head that dissipates rather fast, leaving a sparce and spotty head.

Smell: I get a ton of dark roasted malts, dark fruit and dark chocolate.

Taste: Opens with a dark fruit and malt profile as the carbonation intensifies the dark fruit in this. There are dark chocolate and coffee profiles in the background of this but is quickly squashed by the dark fruit and malt. As this warms up the chocolate and coffee become more pronounced but still subdued leaving a roasted malty and candied fruity aftertaste. There is a slight booziness right before the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Slightly warming but only briefly.

Drinkability: I would have this again in cooler weather, but only once more. I recommend this to those imperial stout drinkers who seek a dark fruit and roast malt profile with subtle coffee and dark chocolate profiles.

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