Black Butte XXXI
Deschutes Brewery

Black Butte XXXIBlack Butte XXXI
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Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States
Imperial Porter
4.12 | pDev: 6.8%
Oct 23, 2022
Jul 06, 2019
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
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Photo of beergoot
Reviewed by beergoot from Colorado

3.92/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
Dark, opaque brown body; thick, frothy head, light khaki with sticky fingers and rings of foam attaching to the glass. Rich, malty aroma; cocoa and a touch of vanilla; a bit of wood char. Milk and bitter dark chocolate base flavor; coffee presence; boozy. Heavy body; silky; prominent alcohol warmth.

Three years aging has likely dulled some of the beer's unique character. With that said, for an older beer, the coffee element has held up well and the bourbon angle is certainly there. The cardamom seems to have faded and the milk chocolate is somewhat dulled. Still, factoring in the age of the beer, this still has some excitement to tickle the tastebuds.

Pouring temperature: 43 °F; bottling info: 6/11/19
Oct 23, 2022
Rated: 4.1 by Birdlegs from Washington

Jun 19, 2022
Photo of MacMalt
Reviewed by MacMalt from New Jersey

4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
I received a bottle from @snaortheus in the NBS BIF #14. Poured into a pint glass. It pours a dark mahogany with some cola hues at the bottom of the glass, and a half finger of creamy, khaki-colored had and creamy lacing. On the nose there is roasted malt, cocoa, vanilla, and a whiff of tobacco and char. Very nice! The taste features a nice balance of chocolate sweetness and bitter, earthy char and tobacco. There are also notes of vanilla and some dark fruit. The flavor is rich, complex, and thoroughly enjoyable. I really like the mouth feel: it's very thick and creamy for a Porter, with moderate carbonation, and the the 12.2% ABV is potent. Overall, I'm surprised Black Butte XXXI isn't rated more highly. It's delicious and has a killer mouth feel for the style. It's a one-off and I'm grateful for the chance to try it. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Dec 24, 2021
Photo of backblast
Reviewed by backblast from Alaska

4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
Pour black with a thin tan head.

Tastes rich dark malts and coffee up front and dark fruit, treacle, dark chocolate, cardamom, barrel follow and lingers. Nicely done.
Dec 13, 2021
Rated: 3.76 by KAP1356 from Pennsylvania

May 06, 2021
Photo of Proteus93
Reviewed by Proteus93 from Virginia

4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
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
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Reviewed by Sludgeman from District of Columbia

4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
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
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Reviewed by iannutter from Korea (South)

3.88/5  rDev -5.8%
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
Reviewed by bluejacket74 from Ohio

4.27/5  rDev +3.6%
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
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Rated by erickc from Washington

4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Had on tap at Special Brews Lynnwood, WA
Jun 26, 2020
Rated: 4.4 by spark3148857 from Ohio

Jun 15, 2020
Rated: 4.27 by liquorpig from Massachusetts

Jun 13, 2020
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Reviewed by REVZEB from Illinois

3.96/5  rDev -3.9%
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
Reviewed by stortore from Illinois

4.16/5  rDev +1%
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
Rated: 4.62 by akopczyk from Ohio

Apr 11, 2020
Rated: 4.59 by jason_nwx from Oregon

Apr 05, 2020
Photo of mschrei
Reviewed by mschrei from Illinois

4.56/5  rDev +10.7%
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
Rated: 4 by archero from Texas

Apr 04, 2020
Rated: 3.99 by Dactrius from Netherlands Antilles

Mar 01, 2020
Rated: 4.25 by szmnnl99 from Michigan

Feb 23, 2020
Photo of hreb
Reviewed by hreb from Washington

4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
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
Rated: 3.68 by BKast409 from Virginia

Feb 14, 2020
Photo of dave_ackbar
Reviewed by dave_ackbar from Hawaii

4.43/5  rDev +7.5%
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
Rated: 4.24 by Daniellobo from District of Columbia

Jan 25, 2020
Rated: 4.44 by BeardedWalrus from North Carolina

Jan 19, 2020
Photo of Lingenbrau
Reviewed by Lingenbrau from Oregon

4.44/5  rDev +7.8%
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
Reviewed by snaotheus from Washington

3.67/5  rDev -10.9%
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
Reviewed by mkh012 from Colorado

4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
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
Rated: 4.12 by Zanico from Ohio

Dec 25, 2019
Rated: 4.14 by rkarimi from Colorado

Dec 21, 2019
Rated: 3.75 by bpfrush from Wisconsin

Dec 14, 2019
Photo of BBThunderbolt
Reviewed by BBThunderbolt from Kiribati

3.26/5  rDev -20.9%
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
Reviewed by puck1225 from Texas

4.34/5  rDev +5.3%
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
Rated: 4.16 by Gemini6 from Michigan

Nov 25, 2019
Rated: 4.04 by sparx1100 from Minnesota

Nov 23, 2019
Rated: 3.98 by jakecattleco from California

Nov 09, 2019
Photo of ilikebeer03
Reviewed by ilikebeer03 from Texas

4.49/5  rDev +9%
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
Rated: 4.21 by JamesStreet from Louisiana

Oct 20, 2019
Rated: 4.09 by MykeJ from Minnesota

Oct 19, 2019
Photo of CarolinaCardinals
Reviewed by CarolinaCardinals from North Carolina

4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
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
Black Butte XXXI from Deschutes Brewery
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 57 ratings