Black Butte XXVIII | Deschutes Brewery

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Black Butte XXVIIIBlack Butte XXVIII
271 Ratings
Black Butte XXVIIIBlack Butte XXVIII

Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States

Style: American Imperial Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.60%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Every year, we celebrate our anniversary with an imperial, barrel-aged version of our flagship Black Butte Porter. Our brewers love to experiment and they always add some fun new ingredients to this beer like chilies, cranberries, figs and other such treats. This year, to celebrate 28 years of brewing, they’ve added the interesting mix of ingredients above for another multi-layered flavor experience.

Added by jaydoc on 03-29-2016

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 271 |  Reviews: 78
Reviews by goalie35:
Photo of goalie35
4.29/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

More User Reviews:
Photo of BEERchitect
4.4/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

bitter chocolate, vanilla cream, bog, peat earth pepper smoke, orange peel, bourbon scotch oak

The twenty-eighth year of Black Butte allows Deschutes Brewery to celebrate in a big way. An even more robust character than the original emerges and this time captures an added complexity of smoky booze, spice and citrus to complement the already roasty, toasty and creamy dark ale.

Black Butter XXVIII pours just as lush, viscous and creamy as you'd expect, and with an arid honeycomb cap and a jet-black austere. Its scent is sharp with roasted malt, seeming of burnt toast, cocoa powder, dark-roast coffee, peated whisky and a hint of orange. Its taste is lavishly full and sweet up front with notions of burnt marshmallows, seared cream and burnt toffee all playing equal roles.

As the full-bodied porter slathers onto the tastebuds, its burnt sweetness seeps deep within and washes the tastebuds with bitter baker's chocolate, French-press coffee, and roasted nuttiness. Soothed with the sultry taste and velvety texture of vanilla and heavy cream, the body is firm and balanced, only to follow with a spicy oak and boggish character with hints of campfire and char softened again with caramel, coconut and vanilla from bourbon barrels.

Full and lush on the palate, the beer's acrid roast and oak tannins help to add spice to the sweetness and to keep the malty beer trending semi-dry and powder-fine in finish. Spicy bourbon and scotch offer the masterful reprieve from malt as the imperial porter slowly recedes, leaving a trail of roast and charred fruit lingering behind.

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Photo of GreatStoutman
4.57/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Couple days after the release, on tap at the pdx taproom in a Deschutes teku.

Look is black body with very this tight bubbled ring of head that leaves some spotty lacing.

Smell is strong of bourbon with hints of dark fruit. Not really getting the orange peel on the nose.

Taste is bourbon, vanilla, some roast and smoke and finally a touch of sweet fruit. Really well balanced for being this complex.

Feel is thinner than expected but well carbonated, got kind of foamy and then finishes off dry. Bitterness from cocoa comes into play later.

Overall, this is a delicious version of the anniversary series that never disappoints for me. Will definitely seek out some bottles when they show up back home.

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Photo of BB1313
4.19/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Heinen's in University Hts., Ohio

Pours black with a small light tan head that leaves nice retention and lacing. The aromas are subtle with lots of cocoa malts. Hints of chocolate, bourbon and scotch. The flavors are very bold and balanced. Lots of dark chocolate and milk chocolate. The bourbon and scotch blend very well together and with everything else. The oak/wood does its thing. Hints of vanilla in the mix. The orange doesn't seem to be too noticeable. Bittersweet. Mild warmth in the finish, but the alcohol is well hidden. Mouthfeel is great. It's full-bodied, but light with moderate carbonation. Very fluffy and smooth. Dangerously drinkable.

This is a great brew. They nailed this one. The craftsmanship is very impressive. Well done.

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Photo of jhavs
4.37/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bomber bottle poured into stemless wine glass.

Black, frothy tan head that settles slowly into thick tan collar.

Aroma is boozy, bitter cocoa.

Flavor is chocolate, bitter baking cocoa, scotch barrel is definitely noticeable, hint of vanilla once it warms, didn't notice any orange peel.

Soft carbonation that is proper for the style, a bit over medium body.

Lots of things going on, taste the scotch but can't tell if I get the bourbon or just the barrel and vanilla beans. Actually pretty smooth and easy to drink for a big brew.

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Photo of John_M
4.24/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at the tap and growler today.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with good head retention and lacing. The nose is attractive as well, as I pick up dark chocolate, vanilla, light coffee, noticeable bourbon and scotch. The flavor profile replicates the nose pretty closely, with the scotch and light licorice in the finish balancing the sweetness in this beer pretty nicely. Mouthfeel is fairly full, with a long, slightly boozy finish. That being said, the alcohol is pretty well integrated into the flavor profile, and so drinkability is pretty decent. This isn't a beer I can see myself drinking a lot of, but it would make a great night cap.

I like the direction Deschutes seems to be taking with this beer. The use of scotch barrels is interesting, and adds another element to the nose and flavor profile. Pretty impressive.

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Photo of maximum12
4.38/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. black-waxed bottle that’s $6 more than the Black Butte XXI still resting in my cellar. That’s a lot of inflation. Split with my wife.

Pour: black. Says so right on the label. The nose bring chocolate mocha, moderate barrel, & the smoke from a very distant fire.

Black Butte XXVIII was an impulse buy - no more mission figs, dates, or shed snake skin in these beers, I beg of you! The first sip turns into a long pull. The whiskey is delicious & back to an age-appropriate level, & is lovingly smothered in cocoa (I just found my dying request - smother me in whiskey soaked cocoa!). Moderate bitterness (orange peel?) in the middle, along with mild lowland peat bog, black treacle, scant oak. Bourbon finish. Very smooth & very easy to down.

XXVI was a huge disappointment as this series circled the drain - XXVIII is the Justinian I of the anniversary beers. Now the big question - does XXIX hold Rome or is the bubonic plague on the horizon? Only time will tell. Excellent beer.

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Photo of SerialTicker
4.47/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a howler (32oz growler) of this at Michigan Beer Growler Company... the board said Black Butte XVIII, but I figured someone didn't know how to do Roman numerals... turns out I was right.

Alright, this'll be a short review. This beer is delicious. For me though, this tastes like most good bourbon barrel aged porters out there, which is obviously not a bad thing. It's just hard to differentiate. The bourbon is fantastic, and the scotch barrel adds that little extra "oomph." The label also notes that this is brewed with orange peel, but I assure you, you won't notice it whatsoever. Even with it on the label, if you're one of THOSE people, you won't recognize it.

This is just a delicious beer. It reminds me a decent bit of XXVII, but I like it more than that, as this one has a bit less of a smokey flavor to it. I see that this has peated malt, but I don't feel like it adds much more of a smokey kind of flavor than regular ol' roasted malts go.

In any event, find it, buy it, enjoy it. I also think this one should age well... but with it drinking as deliciously as it is now, just enjoy ASAP. Cheers!

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Photo of don1481
4.49/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber poured into snifter.

Appearance: motor oil appearance with a dark head that quickly subsides.

Smell: The peat shines through in the nose here. It's not obnoxious but well balanced with the Bourbon.

Taste: A bit of the peat here as well, but the surprise on the tongue is the orange peel. It's not overpowering at all, and works surprisingly well with all the other ingredients.

Mouthfeel: A somewhat sweet, somewhat peaty aftertaste lingers. This coats the mouth quite nicely.

Overall: The best of the past three versions (26, 27, 28) by a long shot. Especially happy there's no "enjoy after" date on this one. Will get more to enjoy.

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Photo of DanGeo
3.96/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of t2grogan
4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of sabitu
4.25/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of dontknojack
4.88/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of tigg924
4.2/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours opaque, black in color with minimal head. Taste is bourbon, vanilla, and raisin. Peat really comes out on the aftertaste. Thick and heavy beer with low carbonation. Tasty and complex. I tend to prefer other Deschutes big beers more, but this is well worth seeking out. Glad I picked this up.

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Photo of Franziskaner
4.18/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Black in color with no penetration to light. There's a quarter inch of creamy beige on top. Moderate lacing. The nose is very busy with sweet bourbon, orange peel, cocoa, and vanilla. I'm tasting that sweet bourbon with cocoa, vanilla, and orange peel. There's just a lot going on here and a lot to enjoy. Each sip and sniff is a bit different than the last as it warms up. The mouth is very rich, decadent, and warm with alcohol.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.55/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a chalice.

Appearance: Pours midnight black with a moderate amount of bubbles. Slight finger of tan head that fades away.

Smell: A rich and roasty dark malt driven aroma with a scent of chocolate, vanilla, and whiskey. Dark roasted barley malt with a scent of dark chocolate, coffee, biscuit, toast, smoke, caramel, toffee, and wheat along with yeast. Barrel scent of vanilla, oak, bourbon, and scotch. Some hints of peat, leather, tobacco, and anise. Sweet scent of molasses and vanilla bean. Dark fruit hints of fig, prune, raisin, and dates. Also some hints of orange peel. A very good complex aroma.

Taste: Like it smells, a rich, sweet, and roasty dark malt driven taste with notes of chocolate, vanilla, and whiskey. Dark roasted barley malt with notes of dark chocolate, coffee, toast, biscuit, smoke, toffee, caramel, nuts, and wheat along with yeast. Barrel notes of oak, vanilla, bourbon, and scotch. Nice notes of leather, peat, tobacco, and anise. Sweet taste of molasses and vanilla bean. Dark fruit undertones of raisin, fig, prune, and dates. Also some light notes of orange peel. A very good taste.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Rich, chewy, and fairly syrupy. Alcohol heat is hidden very well.

Overall: Another very good take on this Imperial Porter. Nice complex mix of roasty malt, barrel, and dark fruit notes.

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Photo of chinchill
3.59/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

"Vintage anniversary" ale on tap at the Deschutes brewpub in Bend.

Black body with a good light tan head.

Moderate aroma of sweet malts and whisky barrels

Rather sweet and nearly cloying.

Smooth, full body; slightly hot; lively medium carbonation.

Overall: disappointing and not as pleasing as the 27th Anniv. Butte with which it was paired.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.07/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz black wax-sealed bottle - always nice to see this anniversary offering available way the hell up here in Wild Rose Country.

This beer pours a fairly solid black abyss, with some minor basal cola edges, and two fingers of puffy, loosely foamy, and rather bubbly brown head, which leaves some streaky rising fog bank lace around the glass as it evenly blows off.

It smells of lightly smoked, bready caramel malt, oaky vanilla, bittersweet chocolate, dampened citrus zest, black licorice, ethereal cafe-au-lait, and a very subtle metallic booze warming. The taste is bready and grainy caramel/toffee malt, some weak free-range peaty smoke, bitter cocoa powder, more vanilla-forward (and otherwise enhanced) Bourbon oakiness, still hard to pinpoint generic citrus rind, licorice-laced creamed coffee, and a sense of alcohol heat yet unleashed.

The bubbles are fairly tame in their bored and insouciant frothiness, the body a solid medium-heavy weight, and actually more or less smooth, just a wee warming acridity taking a chunk out of our happiness at this junction. It finishes well off-dry, the big sugary malt not particularly tempered by the increasingly wan barrel astringencies.

Overall, there is indeed a lot going on in this brew, and trying to parse it seems like a fool's errand (who's got two thumbs, and...), especially when looking for the supposed Bourbon and Scotch barrel character. Maybe that's a good thing, really, as the drinkability here is pretty high, even with the shy-seeming 23-proof wowee sauce quotient.

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Photo of Futbolmanby
4.18/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of TheSixthRing
4.08/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours black with cola brown edging. Dark khaki, finger width head that dissipates in fair time, leaving a thin, broken layer of suds stretching across the surface and a thin ring around the edge.

Smell - Chocolatey character hits the nostrils first; milk chocolate with a hint of fudge. Vanilla is also evident. Hints of oak along with booziness at the tail end. Smoke sits beneath and is difficult to pick up over the booze.

Taste - Follows the nose. Notes of chocolate character ranging from sweet to earthy. Vanilla. Some oak and bourbon barrel notes. Some scotch barrel sweetness. A bit of smoke in the finish, but otherwise finishes mostly chocolatey with light heat.

Mouthfeel - Full-bodied with low to moderate carbonation. Slick, slightly creamy texture quickly turns a dry, slightly chalky finish.

Overall - A great, but not exceptional iteration of this year's Black Butte Anniversary. Nice flavor, but frankly I found it a bit boring, and not quite up to the expectations from the ingredients. Orange peel? I'm not finding it. Peated malt and Scotch barrels? Not quite as strong as I'd like. I'm glad I tried it, but I won't be buying another for aging.

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Photo of augustgarage
4.24/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22oz bomber into my Portsmouth tulip.

Clear bistre/seal brown body with a low tan head; average retention, quick sandy lacing, vague legs.

Sweet somewhat boozy aroma with chocolate, vanilla, and smoke. Hints of specialty malt and grassy hops, but the adjuncts are to the front.

The finish is so strong with this beer that it's hard not to talk about it first - the low smokey/briny scotch notes combine majestically with the cocoa and vaguely bitter orange notes once the sugars have all faded from memory. Up front, there is an almost cloying wave of vanilla and complex malt along with burnt sugar and a touch of tobacco.

Creamy faintly tannic mouth-feel - warming but the alcohol is well integrated.

This is a wonderful dessert beer, but despite the move away from the excessive experimentation of some previous incarnations of the anniversary ales, I still prefer the unadorned base beer to this rendition. It rides the fine line between decadent and bloated.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
4.35/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark brown color with light brown head. Aroma has mostly toasted malts and brown sugar. Taste is really well put together, nothing stands out but the complexity of there. Dark sugar, dried fruits, some whiskey and a bit of caramel on the finish. Medium body and carbonation. Really well balanced and well rounded beer.

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Photo of fthegiants
4.25/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of BeerAndFilm
4.73/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of russpowell
3.99/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours mahogany/ebony with a sliver of tan head. Great head retention ; viscous look, above average lacing

S: Cocoa, vanilla, faint smokeyness, raisins & a little banana

T: Cocoa, dryness, a little caramel up front. a little woody hop, orange flavor & Scotch boozeynesss as well. Dryness, cocoa, vanilla, woody hops, faint smokeyness, a little raisin & peaty boozeyness once warm. Finishes warming, with cocoa & vanilla sweetness with a little smokeyness, plus a little bit of booze warmth

MF: Medium body, slight carbonation . Carbonation picks once warm

A beer with its best days ahead of it IMHO. Some rough edges need to be smoothed out

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Black Butte XXVIII from Deschutes Brewery
Beer rating: 4.26 out of 5 with 271 ratings