Black Xantus | Humboldt Brewing Co.

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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: 423 | Ratings: 1,326
Photo of mjwellman
4.48/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours rich dark black with a nice creamy head. Aroma slight malty aroma with a bourbon & coffee. Slight bourbon flavor with a stronger taste of coffee. Very light bitterness aftertaste but overall smooth wonderful taste. Every sip I take encourages me take another. This is an exceptional Imperial Stout.

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Photo of Stevedore
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

650ml bottle. Served in a snifter glass 12/28/14.

A- Dark medium-brown body. Minimal offwhite head, average retention, no lacing.

S- Sweet bourbon, coffee, oak, chocolate.

F- A bit more barrel vanilla, small amount of umami, oak, roasted malt, dark chocolate, coffee. More oak on the finish. Overall different, but nice flavour.

M- Thinner side of medium. A bit thin in general. Lower carbonation.

O- An interesting stout that is quite different from your run of the mill barrel-aged stouts.

Final score: 4.01

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Photo of Falcon91Wolvrn03
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Pours a very dark reddish black color, that one can see through when held to a bright light. Has a medium head, with thin lacing.

Smell – I notice a wine scent more than anything else, with heavy malt, sweet vanilla, light coffee and maybe just a touch of bourbon.

Taste – Very malty, with a touch of vanilla and a light alcohol burn. I can feel the bourbon more than I can taste it.

Mouthfeel – Very smooth and creamier than it looks. No strong aftertaste. It really feels good.

Drinkability – This goes down well due to the great mouthfeel. Enjoyable.

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Photo of Tele
4.27/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Serving Type: Bottle

A: 4.5 Pours pitch black with a two-inch tan head. Looks a little thinner than most big stouts.

S: 4.25 Lots of coffee and dark roasted malt hit you at first with caramel and vanilla coming in close behind. The coffee smells quite dark and earthy but also has a mild fruity quality. Bourbon is there in very small doses; it could be a bit more assertive.

T: 4.25 The flavors on this beer are rather expected: lots of coffee, bitter malt, and dark chocolate with vanilla, licorice, caramel and bourbon filling in the background. What’s very interesting is the way these flavors are delivered. Most imperial stouts with coffee tend to be a big sweetness at first followed quickly by bitterness and dark coffee. Black Xantus is a bit more unique in that the sweetness and the richer, bitter flavors go back and forth on the palate. The bitter coffee flavors are more dominate overall (especially with the almost too bitter aftertaste), but it’s more balanced than expected. Like the nose, some more bourbon would be nice.

M: 4.25 The carbonation level is great. It could be a bit thicker, but doesn’t really disappoint here.

O: 4.25 I was ready to get let down by this beer and was pleasantly surprised. The flavors are very good and the coffee is strong but tastes like it’s of high quality. It’s a very good beer with fairly expected qualities and flavors.

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Photo of Zach136
4.31/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pitch black, ok lacing.

Aroma: Rich chocolate and dark fruit character. Bit of oak and spirits.

Flavor: Rich vanilla, chocolate with touches of roast, dark fruits, and spirits with a medium kick of booze. Little to no hops. Coffee isn't assertive enough to stand on it's own, and seems to get grouped together with its roasted malt character.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied but a hint of booze kind of thins it out.

Overall: Great beer I'm stoked to try.

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

22 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 11/12/2013. Pours dense pitch black color with a 2 finger dark tan head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice spotty lacing clings on the glass, with a light amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, toast, dark bread, molasses, raisin, plum, fig, nuttiness, vanilla, toffee, oak, bourbon, tobacco, light smoke/char, and roasted earthiness. Incredible aromas with outstanding balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt, coffee, and oak barrel notes; with great strength. Taste of big milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, toast, dark bread, molasses, raisin, plum, fig, nuttiness, vanilla, toffee, oak, bourbon, tobacco, light smoke/char, and roasted earthiness. Light roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, toast, dark bread, molasses, raisin, plum, fig, nuttiness, vanilla, toffee, oak, bourbon, tobacco, light smoke/char, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roasted malt. coffee, and oak barrel flavors; with a nice roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and fairly slick mouthfeel that is incredible. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is an absolutely insane imperial stout. All around incredible complexity and balance of dark/roasted malt, coffee, and oak barrel flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A world class imperial stout offering.

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Photo of chinchill
3.86/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Aroma: not bad but more suggestion of woody roots than expected.

Flavor: rich and strong, even for style. Essentially no burnt qualities but very dark roasted grains dominate. Black coffee jumps in in the aftertaste.

Feel: very full body with proper carbonation.

O: a rich, strong sipper worth seeking out.

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.39/5  rDev +6.6%

Bottle from Dorn's in Gainesville. Pours black with a creamy mocha brown head. Very sweet aroma of caramel, chocolate, vanilla, molasses. Flavor is oh so smooth with definite roast notes, bit of coffee, sweet chocolate and molasses, beautifully integrated yet subtle vanilla from the barrels, and only a hint of the bourbon notes. Slightly vinous thing going on here alongside the sweetness. Great, super smooth mouthfeel, medium low carbonation. Man, this is really good. And to think I let it sit on the shelf so long because of the awful label. I don't really get the Nectar Ales line, or the Firestone Walker acquisition or whatever, but this is good.

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Photo of Roguer
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark ebony brown (almost perfectly black), topped by a 3/4 finger brown head. Nice size and color head for the style. Retention is quite good.

Nose is a combination of strong bourbon, a hint of aspirin, roasted barley, oak, vanilla, and a hint of toasted coconut. Some cream and cacao as well, although the bourbon is certainly center stage.

As is often the case with BBA stouts, the bark is bigger than the bite. Smooth and creamy flavor that comes through in waves. Smooth chocolate up forward, with extremely bitter dark cacao on the backend. Smooth vanilla and oak bourbon notes throughout, but strongest up front. Roasted barley provides a strong malt base throughout.

A bit of creamy lactose flavor, as well, and a bit of alcohol heat, primarily on the backend and the long, wet finish. No fruit; a bit of a nutty flavor on the mid- and back-end. A bit of coffee up front as it warms, as well as a bit of toasted coconut on the backend. Very well balanced.

Creamy but not thick mouthfeel, about medium-full. No sting, but quite lively.

This is an excellent, but not top tier, BBA imperial stout. I like it far more than any year-round offerings I've had, but it can't quite run with BCBS, Parabola, et al. Despite the slight bit of staleness in the aroma, there is none in the flavor; this is a very smooth beer.

Bottled in 2010; enjoyed in 2014.

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Photo of Jjski
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%

Wow. A lot going on here. 2 year old cellared bottle.

Coffee, bourbon ., fruity red wine notes, but still a roasty stout at heart, peppy carbonation

Slick palate like a Firestone barrel beer.

Really really really good

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Photo of Kinsman
4.31/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Fills the glass with a pitch black body and a thick and frothy tan head. Notes of coffee and vanilla greet the nose with a nice underlying roasty stout note. Rich and full bodied right way from the first sip. Slightly sweet with oak and dark roast coffee. Smooth and well-rounded mouthfeel. Overall, and excellent brew and one of the best values out there for barrel aged stouts.

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Photo of Bfarr
4.07/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.75

Black and a foamy brown head with good retention. Deep roasted coffee, bourbon vanilla, oak, and chocolate. Dark chocolate sweetness with an espresso finish with notes of vanilla, oak, and raisins. Kind of grainy and milky feeling with a fuzzy linger.

A very sweet stout with great, clear flavors and well blended alcohol. The milky dark chocolate flavor dominates but the other flavors keep it interesting. The major drawback is the feel is really off but not quite so much to completely detract from the beer. I wonder if I just got the dregs in this bottle.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%

Pours a dark blackish color with a short lived head. Free from sediment and quite dark and roasted looking.

Aroma is roasted malt, char, sweet vanilla, and booze.

In the taste, roasted malt, vanilla, coffee, a bit of char. Some alcohol and more nutty cocoa on the edges. A pinch of bourbon and some dry oaky tannins round out the taste.

Full bodied, well carbonated brew, and fairly smooth at that. Overall, this is a solid brew that is as tasty as it is inebriating,

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Photo of cbutova
3.6/5  rDev -12.6%

Served on-tap last night at the Sierra Grille, Northampton, MA. Full notes taken to phone.

A- Black pour to a snifter from the tap. A one finger tan head builds up to half a finger. Fairly good retention falling to a thick creamy ring. Spotty lace here and there.

S- Decadent and extremely roasty aroma leading me to believe it will be moderately sweet. Oak, spiced raisin, some Bourbon and deeply dark coffee. Toasted and nutty as well.

T- Fruits open up quite a bit with cherry and raisins coming up big. Intensely roasted grains, dark chocolate, toasted nuts, coffee grounds and some alcohol. Wet oak, blackstrap molasses, whiskey and vinous notes.

MF- Thick bodied but not as much as many other similar stouts, not as chewy or oily. Carbonation arrives at a medium high level. Finishes quite warm.

Lots of fruits come out with a highly roasted, dry malty feel complimented by a mix of barrel influence and alcohol.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%

22 ounce bottle, date stamp on bottle says 11/22/13. Served in a DFH snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with a half inch tan head. Head retention and lacing are both OK. Aroma is nice, the brew smells like roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, dark fruit (cherries, plums), vanilla, wood and some bourbon. It tastes like milk and dark chocolate, roasted malt, oak, dark fruit (plums, raisins), red grapes/wine, molasses, coffee, and a bit of bourbon. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's creamy and coating with moderate carbonation. The 11% ABV is hidden well, doesn't seem too boozy to me. Overall I liked this brew, it's a good imperial stout. I think the flavors seem more fruity and sweet than roasty. I'd like to try this one again in the future. $15.49 a bottle.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
2.93/5  rDev -28.9%
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 mfnmbvp
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle, with no apparent bottled on date or vintage date present. Nothing further about the beer printed on the label either. Somehow this is my first review of a beer from Nectar Ales, or Humboldt Brewing Co., as BeerAdvocate lists it. Acquired this bottle at the local beer store for $14.99. Expectations are excellent based on this beer's high ratings.

Poured into a Duvel tulip glass.

A - Pours a thick murky mahogany; opaque black in the glass with just over a finger of thick sudsy mocha head with some decent staying power considering the hefty 11.00% abv. Some sticky spotty lacing clings to the glass on it's way down. Looks very nice.

S - The aroma definitely has a lot going on - you can smell the combination of bourbon & wine barrels working together. Vanilla, caramel, toffee & some fruity berry / vinous dark fruit presence in the vain of raspberry / cherry / plum. Cold coffee is in the aroma also, but it is a minor player.

T - The taste is much more bitter / roasty coffee-forward than one would expect from the aroma. Caramel, vanilla, toffee, herbal tea leaves, oak wood. Dark fruits are more in the background - raspberry, cherry, dates, raisins.

M - The feel is smooth, lightly thick / syrupy, and creamy. Goes down smooth with mild warmth on the finish. Lightly bitter, sticky, and roasty on the finish also. Semi-bitter for 50 IBU.

Overall, an excellent barrel aged stout from these guys, but I wish the label would delve further into specifics about the beer. Obviously, not the most complex of all barrel aged stouts, but it is very nicely crafted and well worth picking up.

Nectar Ales Black Xantus ---4/5.

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Photo of rand
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

From 22 oz bottle to snifter

A: Black as black can be, a small head attempts to form but is quickly squashed by its own weight.

S: The nose yields oaky, toasty, roasty aspects right away, propelled by ample alcohol volatiles and carbonation. The malty sweetness is properly offset with astringent notes, giving the edges of the bouquet notes of mint, carob and coffee.

T: Molasses and sweet carob are at the front of the palate; the molasses notes are stronger than expected. Lots of bittersweet chocolate as well, along with a toasty, oaky undertone. The booze and drying oak aspects keeps things from getting too sweet, but the finish is still long with plenty of sugary residue lingering between sips.

M: Oily-slick but not as chewy as some of its contemporaries. More than enough carbonation for to the style.

A boozy, barrel-aged classic. There have been so many great BA stouts of late I don't go crazy stockpiling this brew, but it's still a tasty treat.

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Photo of dbossman
4.11/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown with a reddish tint; minimal lacing

S: Dark fruits, boozy, roasted malts; some vanilla--man, this smells good

T: Roasty with loads of chocolate, coffee, and some bourbon-- a bit astringent; oaky with some subtle vinous notes and lots of roasted coffee in the finish

F: A bit thin--even a touch over-carbonated

O: This is a nice, boozy, oaky beer

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Photo of richj1970
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%

A: Pours pitch black with no light penetration. Less than one finger head and no lacing.

S: Semisweet chocolate and rich coffee.

T: Plenty of roasted malts with slightly sweet chocolate and rich coffee notes.

M: Very full body and lightly carbonated. Nice creamy finish.

O: Excellent stout. If this was in my distribution in my area, it would be one of my regular buys.

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Photo of Flounder57
4.27/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Served in a snifter at the Union Brewhouse in Weymouth.

Appearance: A one finger mocha head was poured that reduced to a thin layer. It is a pitch black color with no vision of anything. Super tight mocha lacing down the glass.

Smell: Roasty, milk chocolate, toffee, caramel, molasses, smoke, toasted, vanilla, oak, and bourbon alcohol booziness

Taste: Same as above. Pretty tasty stuff. I like it a lot.

Mouthfeel: Silky creamy smooth, full bodied,

Overall: Pretty awesome barrel aged RIS. Not seen too often here in Boston and now I know why. It goes fast

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Photo of beer4colin
4.67/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This is a very, very nice Imperial Stout. I have been looking at it bottled but never pulled the trigger. I think it was label confusion? On tap today at Union Brewhouse, so trying it on for size.

Need to mention....UBH has had this stocked away for a year, so this is certainly not the same as a bottled yesterday bomber....

BIG! HUGE! This is a mouthful of licorice and coffee riding on a bourbon surfboard. I am going to regret having another of these 11%ers when I fall asleep watching Jeopardy but it is so good I am doubling down.

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

A-dark brown black color with a nice light brown head and good lacing

S-dark malt, coffee, chocolate, light dark fruit, vanilla, hint of bourbon

T-dark roasted malt, dark chocolate, raisins, anise, coffee, light char, light bourbon, little oaky, vanilla

F-full body with moderate carbonation, smooth and creamy, alcohol well-integrated

O-this was a great imperial stout, great blend of flavors all harmoniously balanced

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Photo of Darkmagus82
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from bottle into a snifter

Appearance – The beer pours an almost pitch black color with a one finger of tan colored head. The head has a good level of retention, slowly fading to leave a moderate level of lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma of the beer has tons of chocolate and coffee in the nose. Along with these smells are some wonderful oaky and bourbon aromas mixed with a good dose of caramel and vanilla sweetness. Some other lighter aromas of a more dark fruit nature are thee as well with smells of cherry, raisin and plum all there. Overall the aroma is big roasty and sweet producing a nice warming aroma overall..

Taste – The taste begins with a huge sweet chocolate flavor with tons of caramel and vanilla mixed within along with a decent sum of a roasted malt flavor. While described from the bottle as a coffee stout, I got much more chocolate and sweetness out of this then coffee. From the onset with the big roasted, chocolate and sweet flavors does however come some notes of a coffee flavor as well as a bit of a oaky flavor. Some lighter alcohol flavors, for a brew of 11% abv, come to the tongue at the end of the taste, which are accompanied by some fruit flavor of raisin and fig, end up mixing with the other flavors that had come up throughout the taste profile to leave a nice smooth and sweet, chocolaty roasted flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the thicker and creamier side with a carbonation level that is on the lower side. Both were fantastic for the big chocolate, and sweet flavors of the brew with the lower carbonation only accentuating these and making for a nice slow drinker that is surprisingly easy to drink.

Overall – A nice and “easy drinking” Imperial stout at 11 % abv. It has tons of nice smooth flavors that make it a real pleasure to drink.

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Photo of neurobot01
3.54/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured at fridge temp into a snifter, allowed to warm while drinking. Have been sitting on this since late Nov.

Look: Dark brown, with very minimal head, not much carbonation.

Aroma: Initial smell is really hard to place—pretty sure it was the wine barrels coming through, but didn't quite smell like wine. I think the best description I can give overall is that it smells Iike Ghirardelli Raspberry-filled Dark Chocolate Squares. Also a hint of astringency. Honestly not sure what to make of it.

Taste: First thought was, "What the hell is in my mouth?" Sort of bitter/tart fruitiness, has a kind of rotten something going on. Followed quickly by intense sweetness, chocolate, then sweet fruit (or fruit-like goo; see aroma). I also feel like I'm getting some char—maybe that's part of the initial bitterness. Lingering taste of fruit, chocolate, and burnt wood. Surprisingly pronounced yellow bell pepper way on the back end. As it warms, things meld a bit better—it almost has the feel of an ABA, thanks to the combo of roastiness and bitterness. Might also pick up a bit more Bourbon.

Feel: Fairly light, particularly for the abv and style. Pretty spot-on carbonation.

Overall: I really wanted to love this beer—it's a local brewer trying something pretty different. As it is, I may grab another bottle from a local shop where I know it's been in cold storage the whole time. But based on this bottle, this just doesn't quite work for me, and for this price, I'd much rather be drinking actual FW barrel stuff than this step-child brew.

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Black Xantus from Humboldt Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 423 ratings.
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