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: 425 | Ratings: 1,332
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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Photo of jjayjaye
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

You can see crimson hues from the clear dark color of the pour that creates a nice deep foamy light tan head that fades fairly quickly leaving spotty patterns of Belgian lacing over an opaque darkness beneath. The smell isn't overly aggressive; big on the bourbon, supported nicely by chocolate and coffee notes. Full flavored, the bourbon taste runs away with the show, but the espresso steps in much more significantly than it does from the nose. Lightly carbonated yet tangy from the booze, the mouth feel is predominately light, on the dry side, but not watery. The bourbon manages to linger appropriately. The bottle is labeled 11% but the web page indicates 13% ABV either way I'm finding it quite drinkable...not planning on straying too far afterward either. Really had fun considering this one. You'll enjoy this one if you're into bourbon. I'm having trouble again with RIS vs Double Stout. Glad to see that Finger Lakes Beverage Center in Ithaca was able to snag some of these beauties. I'll grab a couple more if I see them again. I remember seeing this one on the Top 100 when it first came out. Can't say that I'd go there...but I'm a big fan of the big bourbon take on it.

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

22 oz bottle tried 10 Feb 2010.

Served in a 512 One snifter. Small dark brown head. Medium carbonation. Black and thick. Chocolate aroma, cocoa, some ethanol. A lot of vanilla upfront. Cocoa bttersweet chocolate and licorice throughout. Oaky finish. Chocolatey aftertaste. Ethanol is warming in the finish and aftertaste.

My score diverged from A's on this one...

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

22oz. bottle split, poured into an imperial pint. No bottled date. Thanks to Beerwolf77 for yet another shared beer!

(A)- Pours a pitch black color that produced a good tan head that dissipated down to a light layer of bubbles.

(S)- A vanilla-like bourbon licorice smell with a good roasted profile behind that. The licorice is predominate but good.

(T)- A good roastedness with a big licorice profile in front of some bitter cocoa & molasses.

(M)- A good carbonation level & balance. A potent bitterness, but fits well with the roastedness & licorice profile. Becomes almost spicy/smoky with all the licorice in this from what I can tell.

(D)- A solid RIS. I am enjoying the licorice profile to this. A fitting character for the style. Rich, but not overly sweet like some of this style can be. Good stuff.

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

22 oz bottle split and poured into a Sierra Nevada imperial pint. 11% ABV, no date.

Thanks to Beerwolf77 for bringing this over last night for our increasingly epic tasting!

A - A dark but clear pour settles to a mainly black beer with a sliver of ruby-dark brown around the bottom of the glass. The beautiful tan head cascaded for moments which looked great but then it deflated to a thin foamy layer with some lace in moments as well.

S - This is the first beer I've ever smelled that honest-to-god smelled instantly like black licorice. So awesome! A touch of bourbon comes across the nose but settles behind a roasted malt and chocolate aroma. Good nose with a small touch of vanilla in there too as it warms.

T - Massively roasted malts with lots of molasses and black licorice. A nice kiss of bourbon comes across the flavor with as small touch of grassy hops on the finish. The beer isn't labeled as barrel aged but it has a little bit to it in flavor and aroma that seem like it is, at least in part.

M - Full-bodied and rich but still some how a bit thin in the mouthfeel. Bold, smooth finish with a warm alcohol finish but it's still got a great mouthfeel. It could use a little bit of work in this area to fix that thin feel to it.

D - Still, despite the alcohol, it's a great beer with fair drinkability for what it is. Not overwhelming in the least though. It's a solid imperial stout I'd be interested in seeing age further.

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Photo of david18
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was sure this was a Russian Imperial Stout and not an American Imperial Stout. The label only said Imperial Stout. It had an excellent dark roasty aroma and flavor while being a little lighter on hops than a typical American Imperial. Very dark color, great roast aroma and flavor. Light carbonation (color and intensity). Mouthfeel was good.

I also enjoyed blending this beer with pale ales and ipas. I would have again.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
4.16/5  rDev +1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Big beer weekend beer #4!

A gift from Mr. Kevin. He'll buy any beer with an animal on the label. It's true.

Pours brown, looks black. Had to force a thin, muddy head which soon left on its own accord. One fat lacey web.

Dark fruity esters greet my first whiff. Sweet caramel and cola--but the good, niche market small production kind of cola. Dark and brooding malt mixed with dark chocolate bar.

Taste immediately hits upon dopplebock-esque hearty caramel malt and dark vinous fruit before settling into soothing roast malts. Llicorice. Fairly viscous. Flavors are carried by lil' alcoholic wings despite being aged for a bit.

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Photo of zeff80
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an opaque, jet black color with a two-finger, light brown head of thick, bubbly foam. It left thin soapy rings of lace.

S - It had a strong black licorice aroma with a good dose of roasted chocolate malt. There are some mild toffee and floral notes, too.

T - It tasted black licorice, bourbon, chocolate, rich roasted malt and touches of toffee. A nice blend of bitter and sweet flavors for a really great taste.

M - It was crisp and smooth with a dry finish. A medium-bodied ale with a well-hidden alcohol warmth.

D - This is a nice RIS. I hope they brew it again.

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Photo of emmasdad
3.7/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was initially really looking forward to trying this one, but eventually my interest waned and the opportunity presented itself. Pours a nice, shiny black color, with a good amount of mocha colored foam on top. Aromas of freshly brewed coffee, chocolate, vanilla and a little bourbon. On the palate, I get a lot of roasted malts, along with the flavors mentioned above. A pretty nice effort to be sure, but nothing spectacular.

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Photo of hoplover82
4.7/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black with a small tan head that has great retention and ok lacing, but for the style, I'm impressed with the head retention.

The aroma was kinda bland at first, but as it warmed up a bit, it began to become very interesting and complex and wonderful. It began to be full of dark chocolate with light notes of earthy mint toffee. As it warms there also is a coffee note to compliment to dark chocolate. So nice and complex.

My favorite thing about this beer is the roundedness and smoothness of this beer. There is the flavor of the best dark chocolate and fresh roasted bright coffee. There also is a very pronounced toffee note in the flavor as apposed to the aroma. SO smooth.

HUGE silky mouthfeel with a sweet silky finish.

Very smooth and drinkable. I'm so glad that I had the oppertunity to try this. Thanks Jason! This was epic indeed.

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Photo of jasonjlewis
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

pours a nice initial head with good retention. dark brown in color.

smell is of wet tobacco with licorice and undertones of mint.

taste is of huge dark chocolate. wet tobacco comes through as well. undertones of mint come through as well. bitterness is moderately low. undertones of licorice come through as well. as the beer warms a toffee flavor comes throguh and the roastiness is exaggerated as a coffee flavor comes through

mouthfeel is silky and adds to the beer. the alcohol is rounded out. excellent beer

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Photo of Patrick999
4.42/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The infamous Black Xantus, purchased sometime in 2009, really don't remember when, though. Poured into a snifter. Lazy head, probably too lazy to warrant a high score. Not quite black either.

Aroma is of whiskey, caramel, chocolate.

Tasty. A lot of coconut and vanilla. Straight down the middle bourbon barrel stout flavors. Not hot at all. I don't know the exact age here, but the ABV is a non-factor. Has to be an aged bottle, because the alcoholic heat other earlier BAs have described in their reviews just isn't here. Also, I find no trace of coffee whatsoever - it seems like the coconut-vanilla flavors are the biggest players at this time.

Thin near-flat feel that I always like. I wouldn't really want an 11% barrel stout to be so thick, full-bodied and burpy.

Masked ABV, thin-ish feel and good flavor makes for a very easy drinker per style, enough to earn it a 5, IMO. It's surprisingly easy to put down the bomber alone. I can't understand why this brew was so polarizing - it's just a solid, very-drinkable bourbon-barrel stout, IMO. Nothing more, nothing less. I'd think the vast majority of BAs would come to the conclusion that this is pretty good, at the very least. It's got really nice flavor. A damned good beer. Price would be my only complaint....but for a barreled RIS this tasty and accessible, I can't say I wouldn't buy it again as an indulgence.

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Photo of steve8robin
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this one for while, glad to finally open it...

A: You're sitting in the brightest room in the world for 5 minutes and the lights go completely out. It's that dark. Medium off-white head that quickly disappates. Good.

S: Boozy dark fruit scents upfront. Deep dark chocolate in the middle with bitter hops on the backend. Good.

T: Caramel hops upfront with thick, creamy bourbon in the middle and slight watery fruit on the backend.

M: Decent amount of carbonation. Good.

D: After the bitter booze gets down it becomes much more enjoyable.

All in all, this was a decent brew. Not amazing, but definitely worth trying if you like some good bourbon flavor stouts. A decent blend of earthy hops and bourbon thickness.

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Photo of Bung
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. A solid enough black pour, very minimal tan head, very minimal. So not muc retention obviously and not a whole lot of lacing either.

Aroma is some roast malt and some sweet caramel, chocolate.

Taste is a bunch of malt, enhanced with the honey. Roast malt is there a plenty and comes forward nicely with some warming. Lots of caramel for stout accented with the milk like chocolate. Definetely a sweeter Imperial, but not to detriment.

Mouthfeel is pretty solid, more so than the appearance would lead to believe. On the thickest side of medium. Very viscous oily body. Not quite creamy but very coating. Abv catches up to you or me in a hurry, but is not really present at all.

Had this entire bottle unintentionally watching MSU get to the great eight and it did not disappoint. This probably belongs in the double stout category to compare properly.

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Photo of maximum12
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks for this bottle go out to cloudskipper, who sent me this in a wintertime trade in which he humiliated me with a small flock of scorchingly good extras. Glass raised to the west, & onwards we go!

Pours Vin Diesel-style Pitch Black. Light only turns vaguely brown if held close to the light, then only a millimeter around the edge. Smell is my kind of thing. The barrel & the malts appear to be working in beautiful unison.

Black Xantus has tempted me into three sips before I've even begun to dare an attempt at description. First one must note that it's one of the family of belly-warming beers, that I've felt all the way into my stomach, & will eventually reach the bottom of my feet & force me to remove my slippers. The balance here is a work of art. The vanilla, bourbon-esque qualities of the brew are in the front row, but now overpoweringly so, just first to ring the doorbell. Underneath, or alongside, is a slew of rich, dark malts. Present, but more faint, are vague dark fruits, a bare wisp of roast, & as a follow-up, a tang of dry dark chocolate. Fuckin' A, this is good.

Not only that, but I'm powering through my half of the bomber trying to tease out more tastes, & enjoying every sip. Interesting that the beer is coffee-infused, because I can scarcely detect it in the beer. Seems to have been subjugated by the barrel.

Excellent beer. Not sure why this divided the masses so much, it's just yummy. And forty-five bonus points for the cool mythical hummingbird on the label, too.

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Photo of 100floods
4.84/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

pitch back hue with half a finger... no, now no head but a faint mocha colored film lingering on top. sweet, black liquorish aromas, haven't smelt those in a stout in a while, yum! Some chocolate aromas as well. The combination is superb, some of the best aroma's to come from a stout in a while, for me at least.
Nice dark chocolate, roasted flavors. I think I mistook the liquorish for something else, but i feel like they are still lingering barely. coffee with a dash of milk comes to mind. The darker flavors come in second after the chocolate ones. Very easy on the carbonation, doesn't interrupt what else is going on. This beer is very comparable to Speeway Stout in execution. Nice full body, big flavors that come out smooth and not harsh. I let my bottle sit probably no more than 6 months. I don't know if I would age it longer. It's so good as it is right now.

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Photo of kirok1999
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rich, dense black with a nice, fluffy light brown head with great retention. Rich coffee smell, lots of sweet cream and some milk chocolate.
Taste is nicely sweet and reflects the smell. Sweet coffee and cream with some mild hop bitterness to balance it out. Some chocolate lingers in the aftertaste, along with some bitterness. Feels dense and creamy. Really well made and a great sipper.

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Photo of mcallister
4.43/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Very dark nearing black and opaque. Small mocha head that fades quickly into a topper here and there.

Nose shows dark choclates with a roasty malt character. Unmalted barley, wood, whiskey, raisin, prune, other black fruits, light vanilla and dark breads.

Man what a nice stout we have here. Nothing overly dominating just very smooth and light bodied. So easy to drink for 11%. Whiskey, oak,Roasted barley with vanilla, dark chocolate, hints of coffee, hints of black fruits,nice hop bitterness. light caramel flavors as well. Heavy cream and more. Almost a sessionable impy stout.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Nanoslug for sending this my way. Served in a pint glass and shared with friends.

A - This is some of the darkest foam I've ever seen - a chocolate brown finger that dissipates to a light haze and thin ring. Not much in the way of lacing. The body is pitch black, with a glint of ruby transparency when held to the light.

S - This reminds me a little of BA BORIS, in that the whiskey character seems a little "bottom-shelf" and harsh. The spirit element is far more present than the barrel flavors, although when the beer warms there is a bit of coconut and vanilla. This is over top of a dark chocolate and roasted malt backbone.

T - Bitter roast coffee, whiskey, oak and vanilla, roasted barley and malt, sweet cocoa. Heavy tannic aftertaste. Taste like it smells, which comes with both pluses and minuses I suppose.

M - Thick, chewy, sticky, not much warmth. Lower end of the carbonation spectrum. Again, tannic finish with some residual stickiness.

D - It was a slow sipper, and it's not really a beer I'd want to tackle on my own. On the flip side, I'd certainly drink it again, although not at the original price of $17(!). Better than I expected based on the early reviews, but definitely not an elite barrel-aged stout. Worth checking out if you find it on sale somewhere.

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Photo of portia99
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle received in trade with hoppymcgee. Thanks Greg! Poured into a Portsmouth goblet.

A -Pours black as night -very little light gets thru with a short off-whitehead and leaves behind a thick collar with no lacing on the glass.

S - A good amount of licorice, some light coffee aromas, some nice vanilla, some alcohol.

T - Licorice, coffee, dark roasted malts, some vanilla. Pretty complex overall. Some dark bitter chocolate on the finish.

M - Medium bodied, but thinner than I expected. Carbonation is medium and works well. Quite smooth and creamy. Very good.

D - Quite enjoyable...alcohol isn't noticeable, which is a bit scary...better than I expected. Definitely would like to have again.

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Photo of tpd975
3.97/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to corby112 for sharing this one on my trip to Philly.

A: Pours pitch black with a small khaki head. Little retention with no lace.

S: Aromas of roasted malt, chocolate, bourbon, oak, and light coffee.

T: Flavors of chocolate and coffee up front. Hints of vanilla and coconut. The barrel is there along with a bit of boozy burn in the finish.

M: On the fuller side of medium in body.

D: Pretty good overall.

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

Bottle to Duvel glass.

Impenetrable blackness. One finger light khaki head which mellows to a collar of foam around the edge of the glass with a nice foam island on top of the beer. Some sticky lacing too.

Smell is roasted chocolate malts, chocolate cake, butter rum truffles, cocoa powder, very oaky. Hard to really pick up anything else in the smell. Though this has a pretty powerful bouquet.

Cocoa powder, and again I'm reminded of chocolate cake and butter rum truffles. There's definitely an oaky characteristic, and some bourbon and vanilla characteristics as well. Very sweet. A bit of alcohol. Nice light bitterness to it.

The mouthfeel is kind of powdery (I experienced this with Southern Tier's Choklat, so I want to attribute it to the ground coffee). It is very thick and full bodied. Very interesting.

For the alcohol content incredibly drinkable.

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Black Xantus from Humboldt Brewing Co.
4.12 out of 5 based on 1,332 ratings.
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