Black Butte XX | Deschutes Brewery

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Black Butte XXBlack Butte XX
360 Ratings
Black Butte XXBlack Butte XX

Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States

Style: American Imperial Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Porter brewed with chocolate beans and coffee added with 20% aged in bourbon barrels.

Added by josiahschlender on 05-23-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 360 |  Reviews: 283
Reviews by marksto:
Photo of marksto
3.88/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled at the recent Tampa BA gathering, thanks to whoever brought it.

Pours opaque with a tan head and good head retention, leaving a lacing of carbonation around the rim of the glass. Aroma hash a big time coffee and roast along with a little light fruitiness. Flavor is all about coffee, it dominates the flavor and IMO overpowers the cocoa and barrel aging. Alcohol is also surprisingly light for a beer advertised at 11%.

Overall, a pleasant enough beer but kind of one dimensional with all the coffee. Recommended if you get the chance but not one to go out of your way for.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review from BeerAdvocate magazine Vol. II Issue VIII:

Whoa, momma! This big Porter is brewed with chocolate beans and coffee, and 20 percent is aged in bourbon barrels and then blended back in.
Big frothing with a lacing that cascades nearly in slow-motion as the light brown head forms. Black as a cloudy night in the boonies, and the head retention is nothing but stellar.

Expressive aroma of toasted cocoa nibs, fresh coffee grounds, peppery alcohol and a slight Bourbon note. Slightly creamy with a slick, full body and a light smoothness from the carbonation. The trio of chocolate, coffee and bourbon fights to be king of the hill, and that hill is a mountain of roasted grain flavors. All seem to stop fighting at once and meld together with a mix of rich, toasted cocoa nibs, low-acid, dark-roasted coffee and a smooth bourbon. A quick kiss of acrid roasted grain middle to end shows that the malt is boss. Alcohol is there and certainly part of the party, but never comes hot. Slightly sweet and roasty finish.

Extreme beer at its best, an amazing beer, and is a prefect showing of what Deschutes is capable of when it comes to pushing the flavor envelope. Happy 20th, guys!!

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Photo of Dmann
4.95/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

What a killer brew! The pour was pitch black with a great 1/4 inch dark brown head. This is a very inviting beer in that the smell was full of dark chocolate and smokiness with a slight hint of alcohol in the background. Flavor was great, especially once the beer reached room temp. Dark chocolate and bitterness hit you right off the bat followed by a slight sweetness and dry aftertaste make you reach for that next sip very fast! Recommended for sure!

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Photo of badbeer
3.88/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black, but brown around the edges with a tan head that retains pretty well. Smell of anise, roast, vanilla, ash, and the smell of green wood on a still living tree. Same thing with the living wood in the taste, as well as cocoa, vanilla, caramel, charcoal, and some roastiness. Thicker than medium body and light carbonation; quite smooth. Pretty tasty, though I don't know that I'd worry about getting more of this.

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Photo of FMetzger
3.6/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: This beer was dark, almost black with slight brown highlights in the light. The head was moderate, about an inch and a half and dissipated to about a quarter inch and stayed.

S: Unfortunately, all I could smell out of this beer was bourbon and hot alcohol. It was rich smelling; vanilla, bourbon, burnt chocolatey coffee malty. It was definitely complex.

T: Equally complex. So complex it started reverting back to simplicity. All I could taste for a long time after each sip, both cold and warm was hot alcohol. Some malty sweetness and coffee/burnt chocolate tastes were present, but they were overpowered for the most part and were almost an after thought on my palate.

M: The mouthfeel saved this beer from letting the bourbon overpower the rest of the beer completely. If it was thicker, it would have been an exercise to finish it, but it was thin and didn't try to kill the drinker the way some bourbon-ed beers do.

D: This beer was too much and needs a while in the bottle. I appreciate big beers. This is a BIG beer. This beer, to me, is a one and only glass of the evening. It is too big to have at the end of the night, and too complex to be the first. It doesn't really have a spot on my beer list right now, which may be because of my palate, or maybe Deschutes hit their mark and I missed with mine.

Any way you pour it, this beer is HUGE. Be ready for that and you might enjoy it.

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Photo of SkinnyElvis
4.15/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Cheers to VegasBeerMan for this brew in a trade.
Pours black as my heart. Nice thin layer of carbonation. Swells of chocolate and sweet booze. Taste is mostly roasted malt. Mouthfeel is smooth but you feel the ABV on the way down. This will be a good sipper for the night. Recommended.


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Photo of magictrokini
4.41/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a very small brown head. Dense aroma of chocolate, bourbon, coffee, raisins, and wood. Roasted malt, more coffee and chocolate in the taste. Nice blend with not-too-strong bourbon flavors, molasses, smoke, and tobacco. Some soy flavors, possibly from the hops. Simply a massive, delicious beer.

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Photo of jamesm7485
4.63/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pour is pure pure black, almost more so than i remember abyss being.

The smell is much heavier on the coffee than the chocolate and the barrel aged smell isnt therwe

taste is heavy coffee up front and nice chocolate after

mouthfeel is not as smooth and more carbonated than i expected

despite the alcohol itsz very drinkable, im sad i only got three bottles

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Photo of bpfrush
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of ehammond1
3.97/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle (2008)

Sour Fest 2012
Bottle Share
Stone Brew Co.
Escondido, CA

Thanks for the pour!

(Aged for 4 years)

Black and thick body, though without a lot of visible carbonation. A small dark brown head rises initially, but quickly fades away, leaving small dots of stick down the glass.

Mild though pleasant aroma of chocolate and some burnt sugars, along with mild licorice.

The flavor is incredibly smooth and well integrated, with mild roast and bittersweet chocolate making up the majority of the flavors, along with a bit of licorice.

Medium bodied with low carbonation.

Very nice, though I imagine this is quite mellow now compared to when it was fresh.

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Photo of boatshoes
4.42/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I received this bottle almost a year ago in a great trade with JohnGalt1 for an epic amount of Deschutes reserve series lineup. Thanks Toby!

Appearance- Pours opaque black out of the bottle with a half finger of brown head sitting on top. Solid looking levels of carbonation despite the aging and a mild amount of lacing left as I drink.

Smell- Some medium to dark roast, vanilla, and an interesting dark fruitiness as well. Wasn't quite expecting that but it lends a unique quality to the nose. Interested to see how it shows up on the palate.

Taste- First thing I notice about this isn't necessarily the usual flavor suspects but rather an interesting dark fruit and licorice quality which I wasn't quite expecting. Tastes almost of figs and anis, which I like. In addition to these flavors though were bitter dark chocolate, some vanilla and wood, and medium roast coffee. Finish was nice and smooth with no real evident alcohol or bitterness.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Mouthfeel was silky smooth, though it thinned out a touch as the beer warmed. Drinkability was amazing given the rich but not overwhelming flavors and silkiness of the beer itself.

Overall, really quite good. I like this even better than I remember liking the XXI fresh, which bodes well for the aging of that one as well.

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Photo of far333
4.08/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brownish black with a half inch head of light brown froth that settles down slowly leaving spikey legs and ringlets of raise up the edges of the glass.

Inviting aroma of espresso and bitter chocolate, some roasty malt and molasses.

Big and full flavor of sharp espresso and dark chocolate, cocoa and smoke, some licorice and darkly toasted marshmallow. Rich coffee bean and root beer flavor lingers.

Even mouthfeel, moderate carbonation, tending toward slick but full and tingly finish. Very tasty and drinkable beer, so strong yet so smooth. Thanks to Sparky27 for sharing.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.22/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a little thinner, yet darker than expected, beautiful regardless. Very little carbonation, although this one has been aged.

Smell, you can tell this was soaked in some kind of alcohol. This one was bourbon, but I really couldn't differentiate it from something else, other than to know it made the beer real strong aromawise.

Taste, very complex, the bourbon is more apparent in the taste as opposed to aroma, and along with it, hints of chocolate, coffee, maybe even a little tobacco toffee ish ness.

Mouthfeel is excellent, you want to sip this beer and let it sit. Drinkability, take it slow.

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Photo of OStrungT
3.88/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a jet black color, with a brown head. The thick head fades slowly, leaving a thick curtain of lace.

This beer has a bittersweet chocolate aroma. It also smells of coffee. It smells very malty and sweet. Not much Bourbon aroma though.

This beer tastes much like it smells. Not much Bourbon, which kind of sucks. Some coffee, and a decent bittersweet chocolate flavor. It has a sweet caramel malt flavor.

This beer is full bodied. Ity goes down smooth, leaving a chocolaty aftertaste. It is low in carbonation.

This beer might not be the best session beer. It is pretty high in alcohol, and the aggressive flavor would be hard to drink after a while.

Overall: Thanks to mentor for this beer. I have been wanting to try it. I liked it, but I dont think I would necessarily seek it out again. Good every once in a while though.

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Photo of kevwcamp
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of beenitty
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of pwoods
3.15/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to RoryGilmore for this bottle. Shared at RoyMunson's house along with FtownThrowDown. Thanks for having me over :)

22oz. brown bomber, black waxed, poured into a snifter.

A: Pours a deep black with just a bit of light on the edges. A short dark tan head forms and holds a bit. Some lacing.

S: Big deeply roasted/burnt malts. The barrel aging lends some depth that feels like it's being overtaken by a charred or sooty aroma. Some anise is hidden in the back.

T/M: Definitely lots of that charred/sooty flavor. Very distracting. More of the big roasted/burnt malts... probably where the soot is coming from. Some sweetness from very dark molasses.. almost like it's burnt, too, and maybe makes more sense that that is where the sooty-ness is coming from. The anise is hidden and the wood basically is, too. Body is medium full with semi low carbonation.

D: Big alcohol and some unfavorable tastes definitely lowers the drinkability for me.

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Photo of acurtis
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of LordofTime25
4.35/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours to a dark brownish black color with a two finger off white head that leaves little lacing on glass as beer is consumed.

Has a molasses smell with also a roasted coffee aroma.

Has a strong molasses, rosted coffee, and slight bourbon taste. Very nice after taste!

Medium bodied with a nice balance of carbonation.

Very good and very tastey!!

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Photo of sloejams
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of IntriqKen
4.67/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours pure, deep, dark black with a smallish head of slighly offwhite foam that melts to a very simple ring of white.

Aroma is totally coffee and chocolate...more espresso...more chocolate to deep belgian and bittersweet.

Taste is sharply bitter chocolate with lots of coffee...not much else...just a slight alcohol warming...but I don't know if anything else is necessary. The coffee and chocolate notes are wonderfully balanced.

Mouthfeel is as smooth as an oatmeal stout...totally creamy and tongue coating without being cloying at all.

Aftertaste is a wonderful chocolate, coffee experience that, like that famous bunny rabbit, just keeps going and going.

No sense of the alcohol until after you have finished a half a glass then...whoa! It's in there.

Lovely stuff.

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Photo of Dogfishipas
4.42/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Opened right out of the fridge (45 degrees or so).

Pours a dark black with a good coffee/chocalte aroma to it. Taste goes similar with the smell. After taste is just as good as the drink itself. As others stated the 11% is not noticeable in this beer.

Definitely recommend it if you can find it. (Every store I went to I had to specifically ask for it from the back) so if you don't see it on the shelf it might not actually mean they don't have it.

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Photo of GilGarp
4.28/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've been looking forward to this one. Not an easy one to find but I called around and managed to get one. Expectations are high since Abyss was awesome and there's been a lot of buzz. I only mention this because I think it can influence the ratings, including my own.

Wax dipped 22oz. bottle opens with a small hiss. Without accurate control over the fridge, I tried to get this around 50 degrees but my house is much warmer.

Pours jet black with lots of head. Only the very edges let any light through. Fair head retention but excellent lacing left behind.

Aroma is mostly roasted malts, coffee, and alcohol but a little bit of chocolate and bourbon comes through.

The taste has initial sweetness up front that reminds me of the darkest chocolate. This is soon followed by strong bitterness and alcohol. There's certainly some roasted coffee and just a hint of bourbon.

Mouthfeel is silky smooth with just the right level of carbonation. The slight burn at the end is just a reminder of how potent the XX really is.

The more it warms, the more coffee comes out, to the point where I feel only coffee lovers would really enjoy this beer. Luckily I am and I do.

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.45/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours out a pitch-black liquid with a beautiful light brown head. It's not super thick, but it shouldn't be, considering the bigness of this beer, and it does maintain a crown all the way through, leaving a few brown splats of lace here and there.

Aroma is muted, but not in a bad way. Earthy, woody, musty, with a hint of roasted chocolate-flavored coffee beans...all of it quite subdued.

Flavor is enormous. Dark roasted coffee, gooey dark chocolate, bourbon and wood flash across the tongue. I'm not just looking at the label and repeating it, it's just that they seem to have completely hit their mark, flavor-wise. Sweet cream comes into it as well, also reflected in the utterly smooth, velvety, creamy mouthfeel. Has a kind of bitterness in the finish that would hint this was a NW brew even if you didn't know it. The finish also keeps the char/coffee/chocolate flavor riding out forever and ever.

Wowza...this is killer. I think this is how barrel-aged beer should be, with just a fraction of it (20% in this case) aged in barrels. Gives it a touch the wood and whisky without stomping all over the beer components. Thanks a zillion to msubulldog25 for this one, gifted to me in person at Three Floyds last September. That fine day just got better in my memory.

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Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.2/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

probably about time i reviewed on of these.

Pours a nice deep brown black with almost impenetrable body. Dark tan head hangs around for a bit but subsides into a ring with some Archipeligos of foam.

Nose is alot of roasted malt and slight cherry with vanilla and oak making their presence known.

Taste follows, big vanilla flavors with slight coffee, some dark cherry, oak, roasted malt. Starts off with some graininess, then melds nicely into its big vanilla oaky profile. Alcohol is pretty well subdued.

Mouthfeel is pretty much right where it should be, although this one could be just ever so slightly viscous. Carbonation could be pushed just a touch also.

Drinkability is great for the abv, but the alcohol is there for sure. but when all is said and done, good drinkability for sure.

Overall this is not my favorite imperial porter, but it is indeed a very good one and a great representation of the more complex examples of the style. I like the big vanilla presence complimented by a good solid mouthfeel and body. You will not be dissapointed with this one, and im excited to see how well it ages. This is no abyss, but it is still a damn good brew from deschutes. Good beer.

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Black Butte XX from Deschutes Brewery
Beer rating: 4.32 out of 5 with 360 ratings