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 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.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 360 |  Reviews: 283
Photo of jrae2424
1/5  rDev -76.9%

Photo of craytonic
2.61/5  rDev -39.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

2007 aged for one year.

Appearance: Pours jet black.

Smell: Coffee & Mocha, maybe a little chocolate, burn, char.

Taste: Stale old coffee mixed with used coffee grounds. No bourbon, no oak, just a little blackstrap molasses.

Mouthfeel: Thick, liquid used coffee grounds.

Drinkability: Didn't even finish 1/3 of the bottle. Made me think I had scraped the bottom of dried and burnt coffee maker, made it a sludge, and drank it. For the coffee drinker only. This is a harsh, bitter, acidic coffee beer.

NB: Why on earth do they only age a % of it in oak? Put the whole thing in the barrel!!!

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Photo of julian
2.78/5  rDev -35.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bought from Whole Foods in Bellevue, WA

Made a slight "tsss" as the cap was pried off.

A: midnight black, with garnet hues near the bottom edge if held up to light. moderate bubbly chocolately tan head that quickly shrinks

S: At first this has a dark fruity aroma like sweet cherries and is almost berry like in smell. during the opening and initial pour. Nose up to the glass however yields earthy aromas of roasted nuts, lots of coffee, molasses, toffee, dark chocolate. very very slight alcoholic presence. no wood or bourbon on the nose.

T&M: This is a thick, chewy beer. very noticeable alcoholic presence (even after 2 completely different beers already). Warms your throat/stomach. you can definitely tell this was aged in bourbon barrels as the warming bourbon taste comes through in full force. relatively high hop bitterness. Can't really taste any of the other smells that were experienced.

D: high ABV and booziness will limit how much one can drink of this. This is more of a sipping beer, and even at that it's quite alcoholic. Very bitter too.

I also have to agree with josiahschlender's statement that this warrants being in a category of "imperial porter". It does not fit into the standard american porter category given it's high bitterness and hop heavyness.

EDIT: This has been compared to The Abyss, but after having Abyss on tap just a few weeks ago, this tastes nothing like it. This is a harsh, bitter brew vs Abyss which is clearly more robust, complex and flavorful. 2 totally different beers IMO.

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Photo of TexIndy
2.86/5  rDev -33.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a pint glass. The bottle was dipped in black wax. It poured a deep pitch black with no visible carb and slight lacing. It had a thin brown head that quickly settled into a thin collar.

The aroma was mainly bourbon with roasted malts and oak in there as well. I'm not a fan of bourbon barrel aging unless it is slight. The taste followed the aroma. The bourbon aging really dominates the taste and hides the base flavors. I love the regular Black Butte so I know it's the aging here that throws it off for me. Mouthfeel was nice and creamy. Goes down smooth.

Overall, not my style so it's a miss for me. Usually I skip anything barrel aged but this one is top 100 and I'm trying to have em all so had to drink this one. For me it's one and done and off to get a 6 of regular Black Butte to wash this down.

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Photo of drpimento
3/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

First of all this is the XX version. Secondly, this is one of the weirdest beers I've ever had. Appearance is a short-lived brown head, no lace, and opaque brown black color. Aroma at first is dark ripe fruits, cocoa, coffee, lumber, leather, but soon that goes waaay bad - to a dirty public toilet! And that aroma kind of comes and goes, but it's nasty. And when I went to take my first sip, my god, that nasty aroma was going into my mouth!! That wasn't easy. After a bit the flavor gives way to the initial aroma qualities, plus whiskey, vanilla and a bit of tang and bitter. Body is so so as carbonation is on the flat side. Luckily the nastiness don't persist into the finish.

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

Pours dark brown out of the bottle, and appears black in the glass. Light tan foam, quickly fades into a collar, not bottle conditioned. Aroma lacks finesse and complexity, mainly dominated by heavily roasted malts, blackened fruits and alcohol. Nose lacks coffee and chocolate notes, as well as any type of barrel contribution. Still, at least it has an aroma. Flavor also lacks grace, but it does have a lot of flavor. Pretty crude and overly roasty, overly burnt. Bitter coffee notes and more blackened fruits. Doesn't finish well either. I also don't understand Deschutes theory of barrel aging. Aging 20% of the beer in a barrel is not sufficient. In fact, it's basically pointness. There are no hints of whiskey barrel in the beer at all, in the nose or flavor. It's also not bottle conditioned. Maybe it will age decently, but for now, it's not a beer I enjoy.

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Photo of brdc
3.23/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Large capped bottle poured into a snifter.

Nice looking, pitch black or very close, fluffy two finger head, caramel colored.
Aroma is bourbon like, burnt coffee beans, caramel.
Medium bodied, perhaps a bit heavier than that, it starts and ends too acrid, with excessively burnt notes. As the beer warms up, and you add the bottom of the bottle, some sweet caramel notes improve the beer somewhat, but the acrid notes are still there. Decent at best.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
3.25/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

11-22-2008 review:
I picked up this 22oz bottle at Lee's in Vegas 2 weeks ago. The beer is very dark, almost black color, with a red-brown wet-looking foam. The smell is pretty strong with bourbon or some other liquor, along with malt and a little coffee maybe. I guess it could be compared a little to an after-dinner coffee. The taste is a little too strong with the bourbon barrel in my opinion, and the small alcohol burn in my throat shows that alcohol is definitely present. I missed the porter flavors that are surely in the background, the bourbon sort of takes over. The body is substantial enough while being a little thinner than you might expect for the style. Drinkability is diminished as the bourbon flavors and the alcohol burn kept this to a medium nurse.

2-5-2011 update:
What a difference 2 years makes! Normyk brought a bottle of this to a Jackie O's release, and this was easily the most delicious beer of the day. Rich and flavorful, still a sipper but approximately 1000% more enjoyable than when fresh.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.48/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A vigorous pour into my New Belgium globe goblet produces three-fingers of tightly beaded, browned, dark tan colored froth. The beer is opaque and black, though it does show a hint of a red tint if held up directly to the light. The aroma definitely has lots of chocolate to it as this is the first thing I notice as I am pouring it. Once I focus on the aroma though the chocolate takes more of a back seat to the roast aromatics and warm alcohol esters. The roast character smells distinctly of deeply roasted coffee; sharp, slightly acrid with a burnt, acidic edge and even a bit of char. Towards the end some toasted grain notes become noticeable, sort of like browned saltine crackers, but these notes are fairly soft. This has a fruitiness to it that is reminiscent of roasted prunes and blackened raisins.

Quite sweet tasting, with more fruit and less roast character than the aroma would have suggested. The fruitiness has notes of berries, raisins and figs that all have a charred note to them. The finish has notes of bitter, darkly roasted coffee and some light oak spiciness to it as well as some soft warming notes from the alcohol. While this is chewy and slightly viscous it definitely drinks lighter than its 11% alcohol; it almost has a lightness to it & I would have expected this to be a lot more thick and creamy. Sweet, roasted flavors of molasses and chocolate syrup move to bright, coffee notes in the middle and finally finishes with charred malt, a burnt acidity and a lingering roasted bitterness in the finish. The oak / bourbon notes are quite subtle / hidden; just noticed in the finish with the spicy bourbon-barrel notes accenting the warming alcohol notes a bit.

An interesting beer. The flavors and aromatics don't integrate and work as well together as they should, thought the individual components are pretty good. In the end it can be a bit too thin, a bit too acrid and a bit too bitter to be really good. Still a tasty tipple and certainly enjoyable.

Purchased: Plaza Liquors, Tucson AZ

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Photo of RustyDiamond
3.5/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Super black pour, into a Brooklyn snifter. Very little head. Cola brown around the edges. Initial aroma of Whoppers and cigar ashtray. Oakey sweet as well...almost sour smelling. Sour mash? Charred oaky whiffs. Noticeable tobacco note on the front. Rasinettes on the front end of flavor. Middle is fairly dry, noticeable carbonation. Black strap cooked molasses thick flavor. Somewhat ashy? Finishes sweet. Not a fan. Too sweet and cloying for my tastes.

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Photo of beagle75
3.54/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Draft service into a tulip glass at Beachwood BBQ.

A: Opaque black color with over one finger of fine, persistent mocha-tinted foam head. Light lacing remains on the glass.

S: Ferric umami dominates--slightly bloody--with used coffee grounds and dark chocolate also detected.

T: Begins off-dry, with with dark fruit, roasted malt, and occasionally intense acidity. The middle features chocolate and coffee in excellent balance as acidity fades. Bitterness is restrained in the drying finish, where malt and chocolate linger on the palate.

M: Medium viscosity, prevailing sensations on the palate waffle between either acidity bordering on unpleasant or unctuously creamy, with moderate carbonation.

D: Interesting at times but a chore to drink at others, this beer provides another reason to reconsider making your special, limited edition beer in the style of the imperial porter. At its best this beer is a wonder to behold, but unfortunately it has some low points that are equally drastic. While I was pleased to have the opportunity to drink this beer on-draft from a keg cellared by the brewer, it is perhaps not the equal of the bottle-conditioned format. The fact that I found a bottled one-year-old Black Butte XXI to be superior to this beer may further indicate the superiority of bottle-cellaring for this line of anniversary beers.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.58/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Really cool label but it says this was aged in bourbon barrels. I thought I read on their website they used Stranahan's whiskey barrels, whatever, let Kentuckians quibble over that. Black with red edges. Not nearly as viscous looking as the Abyss. It smells like an amped up black butte, roasted coffee but with an alcohol tinge that could be from the whiskey barrel but is more likely just the high abv of the brew. The alcohol kinda dominates the flavor for me at first, tingling the mouth. For the life of me I can't taste coffee, chocolate, or whiskey. Then it warms sufficiently and the coffee begins an assault. It is easy enough to drink and it might become more interesting in a couple months, who knows? Oddly, I think the regular black butte is a better porter than the XX and it actually packs more flavor if not more punch.


smells like coffee and whoppers. Tastes smooth but the coffee is a little much for me.

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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 chimaychimaynot
3.61/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours opaque black in my nonick pint glass (regrettably, my snifters are in storage), with a thick, creamy, beige head of foam.

Aroma has a strong oaky, whiskeyish aroma, with notes of dark chocolate and coffee playing second fiddle.

The taste mirrors the aroma: prominent bourbon barrel notes, alongside toasted coconut, chocolate truffle, and coffee (coffee has a faint oxidized note to it). Sweet through the middle, drying with a trace of spicy hop and generous alcohol warmth in the finish.

Full bodied, rich, fudgy, with a late alcohol warmth.

After the Abyss, I had high hopes for this beer, but I found the barrel-aged character overwhelming, masking any sublety that might lie beneath.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.73/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a good size light brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of bourbon and black chocolate is dominant with some light roasted malt notes also discernable. Taste is also a nice mix between some well balance bourbon with notes of black chocolate. Hops are well hidden as well as alcohol. Full body with great carbonation. Interesting and well done but I was expecting to be blown away as I had been with the Abyss so I was somewhat disappointed by that one.

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Photo of BretSikkink
3.73/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Good strong pour elicits an attractive brown head that raises up a couple inches, topping a super-dark brown that would qualify as black if not for the tiny amount of ruby highlighting when held to the light.

Plenty of chocolate, including the bitter and sweet sides, although I am more focused now on the estery alcohols and the roast of the malt. Plenty of coffee, including that acrid edge that plays more in the flavor than on the nose, and also some very dark fruits, like a dried, unsweetened fig (or a desweetened date).

More of these flavors hit the mouth in a fairly impressive mouthfeel, nice and full and creamy, with a lush, surprisingly smooth finish. Lots of dark fruit in the flavor, where the sugars can emerge more fruitfully, while the bitterness plays along nicely as well. The alcohol is of course mildly noticeable, but it has probably caught up on many people as quickly as it did me. Fortunately I was taking quick notes, because I actually fell asleep in a sub-optimal situation, both physically and socially.

I noticed on the bottle that it was partially aged in wood. I'm impressed with the restraint here; there's oftentimes far too much of the acrid oak flavor, and here that's not a big problem, although the oak does add a pleasant edge of complexity.

I've waxed fairly romantically about the XX, but in the end I'm not going to be it's biggest admirer. Interesting, complex, in your face to be sure, but somehow a little bit thin..not necessarily in terms of mouthfeel, but just in general. A little time might do this one some good, but at 8.99$ a bomber, I might never find out.

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Photo of bleeng
3.75/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bomber from Tops in Tempe. Pours dark black with a small white head. Nose of chocolate, dark malts, sweetness, alcohol. A bit hot, sticky, chocolate is subdued. This needs to settle and I'll let the other bottle sit for a while. This could be very good later on-not great, but very good.

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Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.75/5  rDev -13.2%

Photo of ffejherb
3.75/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz. bottle into half pint via Deuane.

A - Black body with burgundy highlights around the bottom and a slim tan head that reduced to virtually nothing and left no lacing on the glass.

S - Meaty aroma with suggestions of soy sauce and leather. Malt character is roasty with some woody/oak notes. Alcohol is quite apparent, giving Black Butte XX a pretty hot aroma overall.

T - Chocolate and espresso with a mild soy sauce character in the back. Finishes on the bitter side with an earthy and roasty character.

M - Full bodied with a thick, oily texture and soft carbonation. Finish is quite bitter on the palate.

D - Definitely quite good overall, but there is a little too much soy sauce and not enough chocolate or coffee to really push it up a notch for me personally.

Brewslut's Quote of the Day:
"Boiled potatoes... before you put in the milk and butter."

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Photo of JEdmund
3.78/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sexy black bottle with a black wax-sealed top; pitch black body with a tan, short head that settles fast in my Delerium snifter.

Surprisingly small initially, though it does become more prominent towards the end of the glass after the beer has warmed; has that imperial stout/porter quality of sweets and bitters, making me think of raisins first and foremost

Taste & Mouthfeel
1st Glass - First sip explodes with more flavors than what was detected in the nose; like a decadent chocolate dessert with hints of vanilla and caramel playing throughout; maybe I'm not familiar enough with bourbon, but I keep getting vanilla as if it was aged in oak barrels; that vanilla-ness is perfect, with just enough to complement the brew and not be an overhanded flavor component; texture is creamy and well carbonated, and the body is medium on the lighter side (was expecting more heft); it finishes with a little boozy heat (which becomes more prominent the more I drank it) and all the flavors come together nicely, leaving a very pleasant aftertaste (detecting blackberry here).

2nd Glass - Starting back up with this cold again, I actually prefer it this way as the flavors are tighter--with vanilla being a little sharper--and the finish is less boozy, making it more drinkable; surprised by how overall sweet this is considering the coffee used in the process; I was expecting there to be a dominating roasted quality.

3rd Glass - By now this is taking some effort to finish and I'm really detecting the ABV; once it's warmed, the brew is pretty hot with alcohol, and I'm left thinking this one would have been better to share with a friend as 22 oz. is too much.

I've been so excited the past two months I've had this to break it open, and I think I had too many expectations going into it. I was a little disappointed in the end primarily with three things: the aroma offered very little; the body was a little too light; the drinkability was low due to the alcohol not being hidden well. That being said, it was certainly a big, bold, and flavorful beer with lots to contemplate and enjoy. It was a treat to drink, and now I'd really like to try the Abyss and see how it compares.

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Photo of xnicknj
3.8/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into snifter - thanks to claspada

Pours a deep black color with some lighter brown tones. The head is pretty much just a flash, dissipating into a little cloudy of film and a few spots of lacing.

Roasty and warm in the nose with some chocolate sweetness. This feels noticeably duller than the XXI and XXIII, which we opened alongside this. Still some nice vanilla and boozy oak though.

The experience was somewhat similar to the nose, as the beer begins roasty and warm with plenty of malt character. The heat has died out almost completely, leaving dark chocolate and bready caramel. Some vanilla and whiskey with a faint notion of coffee beans. Finishes a little warm and roasty on the tongue.

Medium body, decent carbonation, a little listless on the tongue but still fairly creamy and slick. This drank pretty well despite the age but I think it might be fair to say this one's past its prime.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.83/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to 011x0110 for this one via SS 09. Pitch black color with a large frothy tan head. A good dose of lacing and the retention is quite nice. Foam sticks around for quite a while.

Aroma is sweet and alcoholic. Not a whole lot of the roastiness I look for in a stout/porter. A touch of chocolate and vanilla but the alcohol seems to lead the show here.

Slightly fruity with large oak and vanilla and bourbons flavors. Really nice. The oak aging comes out more in the flavor than the aroma, which is a good IMO. Bitter chocolate, fruity alcohol, and some earthy/oaky/tree like flavors.

Mouthfeel was quite thin. Sticky and tangy and bitter in the finish.

Drinkability is okay given the large ABV of this one. I like it but not sure it is really worth a lot of searching or a high price tag: I did neither so this was a real treat.

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Photo of edmedina
3.83/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A friend tried this and said she hated it. I had a bottle and was planning to age it but after talking with her, I figured I'd give it a try. The pour is black. There is no other way to describe it. It has about 2 fingers worth of head there. Aroma gives a hint of what to expect in the glass. I pick up hints of coffee, malt and molasses. I also get a hint of vanilla. On first sip I wasn't sure exactly what I was tasting. I had to read the bottle. I do get the coffee and malt but not really the chocolate bean. I am not sure if they are referring to the a bitter/baker chocolate or not. I do get a bitter taste though. The after taste is where you do get a hint of that bourbon barrel. I am not exactly sure what my friend didn't like of this one. I found it pleasant but at the same time found that maybe it was trying to be too much. However, I do wish I had aged this for about a year or two. I wonder what it would have tasted like then.

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.85/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Deuane for sharing a bottle of this at his recent tasting party. Poured from a 22 ounce bomber into my glass on 3/21/09. Appears a deep dark, just about black color with a finger of tan head. The head fades to a thin layer in minutes. Smells a bit musty, as well as of mild coffee, caramel, and cocoa powder. Tastes of toffee, mocha, milk chocolate, ffej is getting soy sauce notes and we're drinking from the same bottle, but I'm not getting it. Caramel malt and molasses are also present. A tasty beverage. Rather full bodied with medium carbonation. Glad I've got a bottle of my own to share and/or sample at a later date (not too much later though).

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