Black Butte XXXI
Deschutes Brewery

Black Butte XXXIBlack Butte XXXI
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Porter - Imperial
4.15 | pDev: 6.75%
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Black Butte XXXIBlack Butte XXXI
Notes: In Celebration of our 31st Anniversary, this year's imperial porter was inspired by Turkish Coffee and uses cold brew from our very own Scott Hughes of Third Rock Roasters.

52 IBU
Reviews: 22 | Ratings: 52 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Proteus93
Proteus93 from Virginia

4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked up a bottle of this along with a couple of 2018 bottles of the Abyss in Dec. 2020. Eager to see what some time has done for it.

A: Cola-dark with a sandy, bubbly head. Moderate retention, collaring the glass and leaving behind a nice seafoam sheet of head behind.

S: Roasted malts, notably strong on the coffee and there's no mistaking that there is chocolate brewed in rather than the scent being present as a result of the malts. There seems to be a hint of an anise scent in there, though that may be the way my nose is picking up on cardamom (which would be odd).

T: Tastes much like an iced mocha, though with more bitterness of dark chocolate or dark roast coffee. It appears to be strong influenced by Turkish coffee, so there's a part of me that is expecting to find some grounds in there.

M + O: The mouthfeel is actually a little thinner than I had expected, though it is still a full body--if that makes any sense. Soft carbonation, suitable for the style and alcohol content, finishing with a touch of warmth. This is a nice experience and a good brew--age has done it some good, though I would have been curious to have tasted it against a fresh offering.

Dec 27, 2020
Photo of Sludgeman
Sludgeman from District of Columbia

4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

T - Dark fruit, bourbon soaked cherries, coffee, dar chocolate, a bit of heat which seems to be spicy in nature.

S - coffee, mild sweetness

O - This beer has that milk stout/Mexican stout flora or to it, but it ends up being a bit too sweet. A very good beer. BTW, drink the entire bottle and the sweetness fades away

MF - heavy bodied, semi-dry finish. No alcohol burn. Smooth.

Nov 27, 2020
Photo of iannutter
iannutter from Korea (South)

3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 6/11/19 in Bend, OR, drank on 11/20/20 in Seoul, Korea! With a beer like this I think a little bit of age is a good thing.

At 12+%, I’d say this is a very drinkable brew. Love a Turkish coffee, and enjoy the heavy balances on either side of the fulcrum. A fun brew after a long week

Nov 20, 2020
Photo of bluejacket74
bluejacket74 from Ohio

4.27/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 ounce wax capped bottle, bottled on 6/11/19. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with about an inch or so tan head that stayed around for a very long time. Good amount of lacing. I like the aroma, the brew smells like coffee, dark chocolate, vanilla, oak, bourbon and cardamom. Taste is similar to the aroma, but there's the addition of some burnt/charred malt and dark bready flavors. All the flavors seem to mesh well together with no one flavor overpowering the others. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's coating and smooth with a good amount of carbonation. A little boozy but not too much. I thought this was a pretty good imperial porter, definitely worth picking up! Didn't notice this available in my area until a week or so ago when I bought this bottle so I'd guess there's still some out there. $14.99 a bottle.

Oct 01, 2020
Photo of REVZEB
REVZEB from Illinois

3.96/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Jet black appearance with a tan cap. Turkish coffee huh? I guess I can smell that: dark roast coffee, cardamon pop, black pepper, dark chocolate and sweeter earth. Taste injects a tootsie roll like flavoring to the mix, and almost a floral bite to the roasted and chocolatey finish. It is odd but very well made. Feel is thick for a porter, has elevated roast and decent creaminess, overall somewhat chewy. Don't know if I need to have again, but it was good

Apr 21, 2020
Photo of stortore
stortore from Illinois

4.16/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into a snifter. Bottled 6/11/19, had 3/28/20.

Pours a dark brown, semi opaque, with a half inch foamy head and some foamy lacing. Aromas of coffee, char, chocolate, malt, vanilla, oak, some bourbon, light cardamom. The flavor also starts with the coffee and more bourbon than the nose. Also, chocolate, vanilla, malt, light cardamom- more as it warms, some cocoa and caramel, light oak. Smooth, good medium to full body, well carbonated.

Really like this combination. The coffee is really good- and pretty dominant, the tempered cardamom is an excellent addition. My only complaint is that this could use a little more intensity in both the aroma and flavor. Still, very enjoyable.

Apr 15, 2020
Photo of mschrei
mschrei from Illinois

4.56/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Standard dark appearance, dark tannish edging, very quickly dissipating foam and lacing. First thing on the smell to notice is the spices that unfortunately overwhelm the coffe, chocolate, and malt notes. Taste is also spices first, but there’s more of a sweet chocolate, bitter coffee, and roasty malt presence with mild barrel undercurrent. Medium bodied, a hint of oiliness, not thin but not thick either, boozy presence. I’d like to let it warm and see how it develops, but it’s really too damn tasty with a well balanced flavor profile. I say this on every review of every edition of this beer: I always buy two-one to drink fresh and one to age. This may be one of the better ones fresh, and I look forward to having it aged.

Apr 04, 2020
Photo of hreb
hreb from Washington

4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Black Butte XXI. Bottled on 6/11/19, 22oz, capped with wax. Served in a curved glass. The darkest brown and surprisingly fizzy as I pour, to form a nice brown head that quickly falls. Even only lightly chilled the aroma doesn't offer much but a bit of oak and booze. But the flavor is something else. Cardamom, spice, vanilla, layers of roasted barley and dark grain flavors. Through the middle the vanilla bourbon flavor dominates, but the finish is surprisingly clean, and the moderate carbonation really helps to keep it light on the palate -- when it should be devastatingly heavy. There's a hint of unsweetened cacao but I don't detect coffee enough to mention, according to my palate. Less chocolate than I'd like.

Ridiculously drinkable. Spice completely masks any strong alcohol flavor, and there's zero burn. Very impressive.

Feb 17, 2020
Photo of dave_ackbar
dave_ackbar from Hawaii

4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My buddy brought this over to the house for a night of beers.

Since it was in his car for the ride over it got to the perfect temperature for a porter before he got here.

Look is a nice dark chocolate brown with hints of Auburn.
Smell was a lot of chocolate and just a slight touch of the bourbon.
Taste was so damn good. Perfect porter taste with a perfect combo of all the ingredients listed.
Feel was exactly what you want from a porter.
Overall this is a total winner.

Feb 02, 2020
Photo of Lingenbrau
Lingenbrau from Oregon

4.44/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Like all of the anticipated anniversary brews, XXXI pours nearly pitch black. It's obsidian body has no choice but to mirror it's surroundings, while an impressive khaki foam rests stubbornly above, smooth, frothy, and likely intentionally designed to mimic a freshly prepared local cafe's espresso.

As hoped for, the inclusion of cardamom is noticed immediately, to my pleasure. Hiding closely behind the comfort of that spice, a heavy hand of chocolate and advertised cold-brewed coffee shine brightly. Booze and barrel, though subtle, take an appropriate back seat.

While I can see this might not hit the popular taste bud vote, this seems custom tailored for me. A slight char accompanied by a bready malt, with cardamom generously applied simply screams homage to my favorite Danish treat. Chocolate powder and wood almost act as a perfect dressing, booze as side of Aquavit. All that's missing is the Lingonberry jam.

The texture is silky smooth, rich, and decadent. Wonderfully spiced, dessert like without being too sweet. It's full, but still very drinkable. The 12.2% abv is criminally undetectable. An interesting tug-of-war is undeniable as sips are easy to return to, but practice of patience and self control is well rewarded.

This very well may be my favorite of the Anniversary Black Buttes to date. Biased as that may be, that's what beer is all about, right? Freedom, experimentation, expression. Well this one captures it all with familiarity and individuality, hand in hand. I will definitely be securing more XXXI for the future.


Jan 12, 2020
Photo of snaotheus
snaotheus from Washington

3.67/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle in a sampler. Dark brown, big head, carbonation. Smells like spice wars. So much cinnamon. Taste is spices and chocolate sweetness. Maybe mole. Overall, not bad. Not my favorite.

Dec 30, 2019
Photo of mkh012
mkh012 from Colorado

4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled 6 months ago.

Pours near-black with a finger of tan head.

The nose is cinnamon, ginger, cherry, fig, chocolate, and wood.

The taste is coffee, chocolate, cherry cola, and gingerbread cookie. Mild boozy bourbon.

The mouthfeel is medium. Well-balanced and reasonably accessible for the ABV.

Overall, very nice. A warming spiced porter.

Dec 28, 2019
Photo of BBThunderbolt
BBThunderbolt from Kiribati

3.26/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Waxed 22oz bottle poured into 14oz teku. Poured a solid black color with 1/4 inch of tan head that had low retention and lacing.

Coffee dominated the nose, completely covering up the base beer. Some bourbon did show through though.

Same on the tongue, all coffee at first, with bourbon following, bare hints of chocolate, and some beer.

The body was nicely full without being heavy, smooth, and had medium-dry finish.

Drinkability is gonna vary widely, depending on the level of amore for the Devils Brew. I hate it, and thought there was way too much in this beer.

Overall, the brewery probably hit their target, too bad the target wasn't worth hitting.

I've liked most of the releases in this series, and look forward to it every year. This one was one-and-done for me.

Dec 07, 2019
Photo of puck1225
puck1225 from Texas

4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Helped me prepare for Thanksgiving!

Poured from a bomber into a tulip glass. Dark brown color with nice initial head and decent lacing. Strong dark brown chocolate smell and taste. Coffee and warm spice flavors. Nicely smokey. Very nice beer!

Nov 28, 2019
Photo of ilikebeer03
ilikebeer03 from Texas

4.49/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown / black with a nice light cinnamon head with good retention
Nose is cold brew coffee, upfront, follows by chocolate, soft bourbon, cardamom at the end
Taste follows. Coffee and cardamom upfront, followed by a delicious wave of chocolate and soft, oaky bourbon and vanilla. Cardamom reappears I’m the finish. Excellent beer.

Nov 02, 2019
Photo of arizcards
arizcards from Arizona

4.28/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Picked up a bomber from the Craft Beer Hop Stop 8-16-19 for $16.99. Bottled on 6-11-19; consumed on 10-17-19.

Beer poured black with a very nice off white head with the original pour.

Nose is coffee with a good dose of ginger along with a touch of roasted malts in the background.

Taste is light roasted malts, coffee with ginger, and chocolate. Bourbon heat is noticed in the background but plays a secondary role in the flavor influence. Finish is well balanced.

Mouthfeel is large bodied and very smooth and extremely satisfying!

Overall a nice twist on the Anniversary brew. The Turkish coffee twist is different but a good different!

Oct 17, 2019
Photo of oberon
oberon from North Carolina

4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep dark chocolate brown with a garnet tinge,a thinner beige head atop.A mix of chocolate,raisin,and dark roast coffee wich is really assertive in the nose.Flavors of a dark roast coffee infused tootsie roll with a bit of molasses in the back end,sweet but not cloying.Top notch,would like a bit of a fuller feel but the flavor profile was great.

Sep 13, 2019
Photo of maximum12
maximum12 from Minnesota

4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My 12th straight year of the Black Butte Anniversaries, all reviewed except the infamous floating chocolate, non-bottled XXII. 22 ouncer split with my wife (& happy I don’t have to trade for them anymore!). And no shitberries added!

The pour is porter black, which is much better than season 3 of Orphan Black, which started out so promisingly. The nose is a nice mosh pit of barrel roast coffee & chocolate. These things are good.

Black Butte XXXI…you said butte! Coffee has the upper hand here, cold roast on a cool fall night. The barrel tastes light but suffuses the palate, getting into the sinuses & the soul. Bitter chocolate & light spicing that I’ll assume is the cardamom round out the experience; not much beer here. No booze, & soft for a big beer. Easy to sip.

Not the head of the Anniversary class, but another excellent entry in the series; there's something unique about this combo of ingredients that rings my bell. Bonus: rang up as $12.99 at the my local.

Sep 12, 2019
Photo of StonedTrippin
StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

fabulous edition this year, a series that i really do look forward to each year. this one is just dripping with coffee, but the cardamom addition that gives it the turkish coffee vibe is amazing, and the bourbon on this is as robust as i ever remember it being in any vintage of this. the aroma is incredible on this heady black brew, strong herbal notes from the cardamom, a hint of cinnamon there to it as well, a black pepper sort of spiciness, all the dark roasted coffee, which is intense here, as much coffee as beer in the nose really. some strong whiskey too in the aroma, vanilla and barrel char, sweet with notes of toasted marshmallow and toffee too, and the warming alcohol as well, super cozy and wintery to me. the flavor is amazing as well, oddly bitter, a combination of all the coffee, the green cardamom, and all the dark roasted malts in here creating some real bitterness double jeopardy, but the bourbon, which is as intense in taste as it is in the nose, balances it out nicely, sweet and vanilla forward, strong enough that it almost seems like some whiskey is blended into this, amazing complexity, with the oils of the coffee, the barrel char, and the herbal spicy cardamom all linger on the finish. the alcohol is strong, but i expect it to be in something like this, and i think it would be missing if it were gone. this is amazingly complex, but you had better love coffee if you are getting into this one. since i do, its one of my favorite variants i can recall of this over the years. a real treat to drink, its awesome fresh right now!

Aug 31, 2019
Photo of Radome
Radome from Florida

3.94/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Tasted at a PKWY Tavern in Las Vegas, NV. I typically am a huge fan of Deschutes, especially their big, dark beers; however, this one is off the mark for me. There seems to be a great barrel-aged stout in there somewhere, but it is overshadowed by a heavy-handed cardamom addition. The sharp spice overwhelms any other flavors and mutes the complexity I'd expect from this beer.

Aug 25, 2019
Photo of rarigney
rarigney from Washington

4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep, dark chestnut with a dense, creamy, beige head that displays good retention and generous patchy lacing. Cardamom and chocolate are dominant on the nose and palate with a coffee presence at the beginning of each sip. There is a slight sweetness and mouth coating stickiness before a bitter roast finish. Cardamom tends to overwhelm the other flavors to the detriment of my personal enjoyment. It’s still a very good beer, but not my favorite of the anniversary series.

Aug 05, 2019
Photo of AdmiralOzone
AdmiralOzone from Minnesota

4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours deep dark brown. Opaque with a decent amount of tan head that fades away fairly quickly leaving minimal lacing but nice legs when swirled. Aroma is dark roasted malts, chocolate, coffee and a touch of barrel. Flavor is very coffee forward with lots of chocolate and more bourbon barrel than the nose would suggest. The cardamom really can't be found which is a bit of a disappointment. Feel is light bodied but creamy. Overall a nice beer. Not my favorite of the anniversary series but certainly worth the price of admission.

Jul 31, 2019
Black Butte XXXI from Deschutes Brewery
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 52 ratings