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 Sammy
4.1/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours opaque black with a moderate brown had. Coffee aroma and taste, a bit of chocolate in the secondary. This is is a good cup of coffee and I do not drink it anymore. Oak, anise, roast, bourbon, all well controlled. Full mouthfeel.Clean taste,a avery good porter.

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Photo of jaydoc
4.25/5  rDev -1.6%

Photo of acurtis
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of GRG1313
4/5  rDev -7.4%

Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev -7.4%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.75/5  rDev -13.2%

Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev -1.6%

Photo of BEERchitect
4.27/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

So, what makes an imperial porter different than a stout? This is a question that I've wrestled with over the past few years. This beer begins to explain it to me.

The beer starts with a viscous, very dark brown pour. Opaque with a fair foamstand that lasts the session. Certainly has the look of a big stout.

Aromas do too. A very toasty, chocolatey, roasty scent comes through at the onset; suppressing any fruitiness or other yeast character. Malty rich with caramel notes and sharp citrus hopping.

Flavors take on those stout-like characters at first with the toasty, cocoa emphasis. The roasted malts begin to recess allowing the chocolate malts to dominate. This gives the beer a smoother taste without the sharp, acidic charred flavor. Still, hop flavors intensify with a burst of oranges, grassy, pine notes.

The mouthfeel is much softer, rounder, and less aggressive than big stouts, allowing a milky, creamy rich texture to smoothen the beer. Less sharp, less dry, less aggressive thoughout. The intense balance and sharpness is left to the hops to round out with emphasis on citrusy, piney flavors that last long into the finish.

This beer may drink better than the Abyss. I completely fell for the cocoa flavors and silky smooth textures.

From bottle July 22, 2009: Thanks JMBSH

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Photo of brentk56
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a pitch black color with a robust mocha head; great retention and lace

Smell: Complex aromatics, with milk chocolate, coffee, vanilla and caramel

Taste: Dark fruit and chocolate are big, up front but by mid-palate, the hops release a balancing fruity bitterness; after a bit of a swirl on the palate, the dark fruit, coffee and chocolate flavors push it back; after the swallow, the hint of whiskey appears to soften the other flavors; lingering aftertaste of milk chocolate and caramel

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation; warmth in the gullet

Drinkability: This is one complex brew which touches all the angles of dark beer richness; highly recommended

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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 Kurmaraja
4.34/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

For the age this is still remarkably "fresh" tasting. Very slight oxidation that strips a bit of it's looks and mouthfeel, but still a killer beer.

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

Poured into Founders Snifter

Pours ½ finger of light tan head. Fades to a thin ring. Leaves a slight amount of lace.

Aroma: The bourbon sticks out with a bit of heat. I was kind of surprised as I didn't expect this much. Has vanilla, chocolate, caramel, and a roasty coffee showing. It is sweet and roasted. Pretty malty.

Taste: More heat, booze, and bourbon up front. Very chocolaty and roasted. A lot of coffee bitterness. Caramel and vanilla also show. I also get some brewers licorice mixed in there. It is pretty creamy.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, smooth, and rich. Medium bodied with a low to medium amount of carbonation. Ends dry and roasted.

Overall, at first sip I wasn't a fan, but as I drank more if it I liked it. It is a really solid porter with a ton of flavor. It is decently drinkable, but a bomber was a good idea to split. I could easily have this again.

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Photo of largadeer
4.3/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: This beer pours pitch black into my snifter. Absolutely no highlights here, it's just black. The mocha-colored head leaves little lace as it descends, eventually settling into a quarter-inch cap.

Smell: Even though this is a blend with only 20% aged in bourbon barrels, that signature caramel and vanilla bourbon aroma is the first thing I noticed. Wow, this is nice. Chocolate, coffee, roasted malt and a hint of alcohol follow. Everything is in perfect balance here, and the coffee thankfully doesn't totally dominate the aroma.

Taste & mouthfeel: The whole bourbon barrel coffee beer thing has been done before, and quite well, so I was interested to see how this one would stack up. I'm happy to say that it stacks up quite well, though that doesn't surprise me coming from Deschutes. Balance is where this beer truly excels - the coffee, chocolate and bourbon flavors all have equal presence. Alcohol is noticeable here, more so than it was with The Abyss when that first came out, though I think this will mellow with age. Semi-sweet initially, the finish brings out more of the coffee flavor along with an ample hop bitterness. This is already drinking very well for such a big beer, but I think with another few months in the bottle it will improve even more.

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Photo of zestar
4/5  rDev -7.4%

Photo of billab914
4.64/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Decided to finally crack this one tonight. Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Pumpking chalice. It poured pitch black in color with a thin khaki colored head barely covering the top of the beer. It had moderate head retention and left a bit ofamount of lacing as I drank it.

The aroma has a very good dark chocolaty, roasty, porter character to it. A bit of the bourbon, oak and vanilla comes through and really adds some depth to it. It's very smooth and complex at the same time. Excellent aroma overall.

The taste starts with more of the dark chocolate with a bit of a sweeter milk chocolate flavor to it as well. Some roasty and bitter flavors start to come through towards the finish with just a bit of coffee. A very mild bourbon flavor is present in the finish. like the nose it doesn't play a big role but it adds to the complexity.

The mouthfeel is on the thicker side and carbonation is low. Drinkability is very good, it's definitely one of the best porters I've had. It had some great chocolaty flavors with some nice balancing coffee and roasted flavors. The barrel and bourbon flavors came through just enough to enhance the flavors without overpowering it. Excellent beer overall.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.32/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes. One of the first beers I traded for. I can't remember who I got it from.

Poured into a snifter. Very close to black in color with a slight light mocha head and a tad bit of lacing. The nose is really nice with roasted malt, coffee, a hint of smoke, and some chocolate. The taste is along the same lines and is quite well integrated. Great feel with a bit of dryness. Drinks quite well; I'm a big fan.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.32/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz wax-topped bottle into a tulip glass.

Pours a pitch black in the glass, 2-3 thick fingers of dark mocha colored foamy head. This shrinks down quickly and mostly retains around the edges with some frothiness, leaving light spotty lace and brown goo down the sides of the glass. The aroma smells of chocolate fudge with a good bit of coffee presence and some vanilla thrown in. I'm also getting a touch of some "husky" cocoa notes from the nibs that this sat on. Bourbon warmth is present but it isn't overly strong, melding nicely with the other flavors.

The taste is sweeter up front, with sugary chocolate, cocoa powder, and vanilla all making an appearance, before all of that dark bitterness from coffee, roast, and hops all crunch the back of this up pretty considerably. The bourbon adds somewhat of a burnt molasses flavor to this along the back of the profile, as well as some more subtle woody character that hangs on the edges of the profile and lingers with a dry tannic feel. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with an even mix of a silkier creamy carbonation and then a much chewier and thick feel underneath. I'm also getting a good bit of slickness from the barrel, which helps all of those big flavors slither down the throat. There's a moderate amount of warmth to this but it's mostly confined to the flavor profile and stays out of the body for the most part.

Truly a beer worthy of celebrating a 20 year milestone for Deschutes, this packed a ton of rich flavor into itself and really benefited nicely from that barrel-aging as well. I'm looking forward to checking out some more of the most recent vintages.

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Photo of wethorseblanket
4.3/5  rDev -0.5%

Photo of russpowell
4.26/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I thought was kind of a hot mess upon initial release, hopefully time is gonna help this.

Pours black with a finger of mocha/brown head. Big-time oily sheen, zero head retention & lacing

S: Coffee, some ainise & a bit of dark chocolate

T: Dark chocolate, a bit of licorice, a touch of leafy hops & coffee up front. Some booze is peeking through as this warms, along with raisins, plums & a bit of roasty grain. Finishes with loads of dark choclate, a bit of toasty & charred grain

MF: Chewy, semi-smooth, oily, super carbonation!

Drinks pretty easy for the style, which I presume isn't American porter. Worthy big beer, top 100, no way, Tuck a few in the cellar; these only get better with a few years on them.

Coffee freaks may disagree, a bit of booze burn holds this back a bit. the oaky/bourbon profile has vanished over time to me, conversely, so has a lot of booze hotness, when I has this the first time ( a few months ago ) I'd've rated this a 3.5 overall. Give me the abyss any day!!

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.47/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Well, it certainly is black, there's no question there. Finish it off with a frothy, bubbly, tan-colored head and we're ready to make our way to Buttetown.

Smell: Pungent aroma smelling of dark chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts supported by all those well-integrated, delightful barrel hints of maple, charred wood barrels, and fresh coconut.

Taste: Sweetish dark malts shell out a deep chocolaty taste followed by a sharp roastiness that soon mellows into a generalized coffee flavor. Ah, and there's the blooming, drying barrel character from which the flavor gleans hints of shaved coconut, wood, and bourbon. A drop or two of maple syrup. Minor fruitiness. Earthy, roasty bitterness. Rather warming all the while, even through to the roasty finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Recommended. This is all kinds of good! If you're into rich, complex beers full of dense layers of endless subtleties then Deschutes Black Butte XX might be right up your alley. Right up it!

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Photo of mdfb79
4.47/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 6/12/10 notes. Got to try this thanks to nimbleprop. Sampled again BB XXi.

a - Pours a black color with 1 inch of off white head and moderate carbonation.

s - Smells of coffee, roasted malts, chocolate, and vanilla. Very enjoyable and sweet.

t - Tastes of vanilla, chocolate, roasted malts, and maybe dark fruit.

m - Medium body and low carbonation.

d - This is a very good beer, but I preferred the BB XXi personally. Lots of sweet chocolate and vanilla and I would definitely try again.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.18/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Inky black with the slimmest dark bronze accents imaginable. For all intents and purposes, the liquid absorbs all ambient light. A vigorous pour has produced three fat fingers of dark brown sugar colored foam that looks milkshake thick. As it slooowly melts, stippled sheets of lace begin to appear on the upper reaches of the glass.

The nose isn't as thunderously black malty as expected. For a huge porter that contains cocoa nibs, coffee beans and had 20% of its total aged in whiskey barrels, this Reserve Series offering isn't very complex in the aroma department. Warming allows the score to be increased. Barely so.

Thankfully, BB XX tastes better than it smells, although it still doesn't qualify as great beer. It's possible that Deschutes overreached a bit by flavoring it with so many different things, each of which can carry a big ale all by its lonesome. As in the nose, warming is resulting in a more tightly knit flavor profile, which helps considerably.

Black coffee is most prominent, followed closely by whiskey and then... wait, bittersweet chocolate is making a late charge. In the end, those three flavors are roughly equivalent, although in this case the lack of focus isn't necessarily a positive. Other flavors include blackstrap molasses and vanilla beans. Moderate char, a puff of smoke, no dark fruit.

If the masterpiece known as The Abyss scores a perfect 10 on the depth and complexity meter, Black Butte XX scores about 7. I like the fact that, at one year of age, the hops are still able to kick out quite a few alpha acids. The bitterness reins in what might have been an overly sweet beer. Maybe it's the 11.0% ABV talking, but I'm feeling better about this beast as the ounces flow by. Consider the drinkability score bumped.

The mouthfeel is the best of both worlds. It's pretty close to full, but is still built for speed. Please observe the speed limit because a heavy foot (drinking too quickly) will get you in trouble in a big hurry. Not reviewing or driving? Then put the pedal to the metal. Smooth and creamy, crushed velvety, luxurious... that about covers it.

Deschutes Black Butte XX is better beer in the bottom half of the bomber than in the top half. Whether the positive change is due to warming or to my progressive inebriation is hard to say. What the hell, I'd buy it again. Top Beers on Planet Earth? Not quite.

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Photo of drewone
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of Slatetank
4.32/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I appreciated johnmichaelsen sharing this with me at the Lancaster County Brewer's meeting last night. Poured from the bomber slightly chilled into my tasting glass.

A - Dark as night w/ a small head, practically opaque and rich in appearance

S - Very dark malts, raisin, currant, cocoa and toffee

M - A smooth roastiness w/ dry undercurrents, fruit and sweetness w/ a dry alcohol feel as it finishes

T - A tasty Imperial Porter! So smooth for 11% a deep bittersweet cocoa taste w/ subtle coffee and nice creamy elments from the yeast. Some nuttiness in the flavor but very rich cocoa like a chocolate pound cake soaked in cocoa liquer comes to mind.

D - This is excellent and worth the taste. I am pleased to have been able to try the limited beer - Thanks John. It has some of the qualities of their excellent Black Butte porter, but amped way up and the alcohol really didn't hit me until late into the taste

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.72/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Picked up some of this from Liquid Solutions on the first release. I was thrilled to try it and have managed to have more then a couple since. Twenty two ounce bottle, served at cellar temperature and poured into a snifter.

THe pour was wonderful, deep, rich, and deep dark black notes were the rule of the day here. Tan head, maybe two inches crept up the side and deposited loads of side glass lace and a good touch of film across the top.

The aroma was just heavenly. Rich notes of espresso, mocca, burnt malts and bourbon, everything but the kitchen sink on this one. Lots of sweet molasses like notes all over the place. Huge flavor here, really just absolutly top notch. Started warm, with a touch of hotness that quickly faded into the body with a huge note of molasses and bourbon. Tons of coffee in here, a dark, frech roast like coffee taste, really just blowing it up here. Lots of vanilla and cocoa hints as it warmed up, really pushing the envelope here. Huge feel on this one, rich, thick, and full with a great carbonation profile. THis was a great sipper, would love to have one of these as a nightcap any night of the week.

Overall wow, this was really top notch and really up there with the Abyss for sure. I would dive into this one any day and so should you really.

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