Black Butte XXI
Deschutes Brewery

Black Butte XXIBlack Butte XXI
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American Imperial Porter
4.39 | pDev: 7.74%
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Black Butte XXIBlack Butte XXI
Notes: Released June 2009.

Similar recipe and strength to Black Butte XX (2008), "enhanced by adding some Theo's Chocolate cocoa nibs from Seattle, dry-hopping it with 100 pounds of Bellatazza's locally roasted coffee, and then aging a portion of it in Stranahan's Colorado whiskey barrels."
Reviews: 377 | Ratings: 580 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of poisoneddwarf
4.64/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle. Smells and tastes spicy. I’m a big fan of Deschutes’ Black Butte Porter, but my already high expectations for this beer were exceeded after just two drinks. If Black Butte Porter is Bruce Banner, XXI is the Incredible Hulk, beefing up an already great beer to unparalleled heights.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.79/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Black in the middle dark brown to the edge. Tan head, 2/5". Aroma hit the chocolate, bourbon and oak notes.

Seen some bottle variation in these, sometimes the coffee seems to have changed to a weird acrid thing going for it that is also earthy and meaty. Alcohol can be substantial in the mouthfeel. My least favorite of the series until they came out with that pomegranite one.

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Photo of brewandbbq
4.35/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle from the cellar.

Pours opaque black, thin head to barely a trace. A few wisps of lacing.

Aromatics are crazy good. Espresso, chocolate, and bourbon, all perfectly balanced. Vanilla and Oreo shells.

Crushed velvet mouthfeel. Oily.

Bourbon, vanilla, Kahlua, and dark chocolate on the palate. Char, dark roast coffee, and warming booze follow through.

Finishes with all components fading slowly in perfect harmony.

A showcase of the true potential of a cellared beer.

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brewandbbq from New Hampshire, Nov 02, 2015
Photo of BuckeyeSlim
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

For being over five years old, the appearance holds up pretty well, with a short khaki-brown head disappearing to fine lace quickly. In the glass, it's an oily black hole which no light can penetrate.

Soft, but complex nose of medium roast coffee, 50% semi-sweet chocolate, and dark, dried fruit like raisins set against a faint trace of wood and whiskey. Rich, dark caramels as it warms.

The taste is where the aging really pays off. The ABV is very mellow, hiding in the background of the taste. The malts are definitely roasted, but not at all bitter. Hints of dark, bitter chocolate contrast with an almost-burnt caramel sweetness that finds traces of a whiskey shot in the finish. This could be cold Irish coffee.

Definitely a sipping beer. The structure is so thoroughly blended and softened, it might be a tad long in the tooth, but it's still a very delicious approach to a specialty porter.

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Photo of BigBry
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

22oz bottle, black wax covered cap.
21st Birthday Reserve. Porter brewed with chocolate beans and coffee added with 20% aged in bourbon barrels.

Rich, dark and smooth. Dark, oily black with a thick brown head.
Roasted grained, coffee, and a whiff of bourbon.
Dark roast flavour, coffee and bitter chocolate, a bit of vanilla.
Full body, yet still smooth and creamy. Warming alcohol to finish.
Wish I would have grabbed more than one.

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BigBry from Alberta (Canada), Aug 23, 2014
Photo of cbutova
4.24/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Reviewed during the last week when out of service area/Wifi in WY/UT. Full phone notes taken at the Beer Hive in Salt Lake City, UT. Really nice to see a five year vintage on the bottle list in SLC.

A- Bomber poured to two snifters with a motor oil pitch black body. A dark brown head rises atop the beer to about a finger with a frothy silky consistency. The cap falls to a small ring and lacing is just spotty but it is a vintage, high alcohol BA brew.

S- Smoothed out by noticeable age but plenty of strong aromas come off the top still. Age brings some oxidation and Old Ale caramel raisin feel with notes of dark roast grains, bourbon whiskey, cocoa and some coffee.

T- The age is a bit more secondary here as more seems to open up. The barrel influence feels greater with a medium strength whiskey and toasted oak feel, slight vanilla sweetness. Roast grains, dark cocoa powder, old coffee, cereal grain, caramel, oxidized raisin feel, vinous fruit and toast all come in strong to form a melded base. Coffee lingers especially in the after taste.

MF- Semi-thick bodied but it has definitely lost some texture with age but retains some creaminess. Carbonation is still at a silky medium-low level and it all hits the palate smoothly. Finishes with some alcohol warmth.

For being a couple years old it holds up quite well with some notes of age and oxidation overshadowed by a big Porter and some nice barrel influence. This was an all time want and I got it a few years late but this has held up to age as well as any dark nonsours I have had.

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cbutova from Massachusetts, Jul 31, 2014
Photo of notchucknorris
4.3/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours black with a one finger creamy tan head. Sheets of lace with each sip.

S: Big and roasty with tons of dark chocolate, powdery cocoa and some faint barrel. Barrel notes emerge more as it warms.

T: Tons of velvety dark chocolate, dark berry notes and dark roasted malt. Some syrupy espresso as well. Finishes with a bare touch of char. Smooth as hell. Really well done.

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notchucknorris from California, Mar 03, 2014
Photo of Smurf2055
4.46/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Uber, pour is black with a small tan head.

Smell is roasty, with a lot of chocolate and a bit of booze.

Taste is creamy chocolate, fig, raisin, and a bit of coffee.

Maybe it’s the age or maybe it was just a better batch, but this blows XXIII out of the water.

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Smurf2055 from Washington, Jul 20, 2013
Photo of inlimbo77
3.9/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz, Best After 10/17/10. Drank on 7/3/13
The Bruery tulip

A: Pours a deep dark brown color. Reddish hues around the edges of the glass and down in there. Sticky lacing. Still good carbonation after all these years.

S: Dark cherry. Light tobacco. Roast. Dark chocolate. Not getting a ton of barrel, but usually don't on their anniversary brews because of the blends being so minimal.

T: Dark chocolate. Tobacco. Dark cherry. Oxidation. Still good but it must have lost a bit. I was a touch disappointed in the flavors on this one. Don't know if it was me or the bottle being in a valley currently. Still very good beer.

M: Big medium.

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inlimbo77 from Delaware, Jul 08, 2013
Photo of watermelonman
4.47/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I wanted another bottle of XX but I settled for this. Once open, I realize that nothing about this bottle is settling.

This poured to a dark, near black color with hints of mahogany and minimal head. Lace is next to nothing. It looks decent, but the awesome comes with the taste and smell.

Light enough in body to stay drinkable, the cocoa and coffee oozes from this beer in large quantity. The finish brings vanilla that grows more significant as the finish lingers. Barely enough residual sugar to remind me of dark fruits, while a blended boozy hot serves to remind one of the content without getting in the way.


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watermelonman from California, May 24, 2013
Photo of wisrarebeer
4.31/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

$11.96 for a bomber.

A: near opaque, some deep copper hues but very dark with tan head that dissipated quickly
S: roasted malt, chocolate, bourbon, medium nose, bourbon just the right amount
T: deep rich, nice bourbon finish with good roasted/chocolate malt up front, well-balanced bitter hop finish, not as rich as I expected but very good, not overpowering with bourbon
M: well-balanced, not too cloying, some heat in finish

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wisrarebeer from Wisconsin, May 12, 2013
Photo of lighthabit
4.48/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

notes to me -

getting over a cold, so that really skews the review, but it showed up at venitis on court street in salem, ore.

the staff at venitis was pleasant, but could not tell me which release this was.

smell seems solid, but hard to tell with stuffy nose.

appearance was dark, thick, almost oily. no head, but i don't think the person pouring had an idea i would expect that.

taste, minus the stuffy nose, was spot on black butte, but more of everything.

mouth feel was wonderfully smooth, carbonation was weak, but i think that suits the style better.

11% makes itself known very quickly, yet alcohol is masterfully hidden in chocolate, fruit, sweet coffee flavors. not one to have many of at lunch . . . one is fine :)

will review again if it's still available after i'm all cleared up.

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Photo of jegross2
4.21/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Reviewing a vertical of Black Butte XX, Black Butte XXI, Black Butte XXIII and Black Butte XXIV from the Deschutes Brewery from Bend, Oregon to commemorate my 400th written review (per BeerAdvocate)! A major thanks and shout out to Edgar Chavez for making this vertical tasting possible. Each vintage of the Barrel Aged Black Butte release is a different formulation.

Black Butte XXI is similar recipe and strength to Black Butte XX, "enhanced by adding some Theo's Chocolate cocoa nibs from Seattle, dry-hopping it with 100 pounds of Bellatazza's locally roasted coffee, and then aging a portion of it in Stranahan's Colorado whiskey barrels."

Black Butte XXI Score: 93

2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012 vintage bottles served side-by-side and enjoyed on 02/10/13 with a few friends.

Appearance: The appearance is strikingly similar on all vintages -- this brew is similar to a dark molasses in appearance/color. The XXIII pour is a little lighter, faintly orange-ish in color in comparison to the other three. Each vintage pours a thin layer of light mocha head that settles to a ring around the glass on all of them. Average lacing and retention using the worst glassware possible. 4/5

Smell: Chocolate, faded coffee and a little roast. There's a touch of faded hops and some fig/prune (about the same amount detected in the XXIII nose) too. There is also a bit of smokey malt or peatiness that initially grows as the beer starts warming up, and then fades as the beer approaches room temperature. 4.25/5

Taste: Smooth, slightly roasty coffee backbone with an overlay of chocolate and just a touch of positive (fruity) oxidation. Delicious! A little more acidic than the other vintages, but I think it works. There's definitely some straight up oak flavor too (which I totally dig). 4.25/5

Mouthfeel: Each of the vintages' mouthfeels are a little heavier than medium bodied, but far from full bodied (and not quite medium-full bodied either). Low carbonation as well. Each of the vintages has a real nice, drinkable balance (none is too sweet or acidic (well the XXI has a little acidity, but in a good way) or whatever). Oily slick feel on the tongue. Only the freshest vintage (XIV) has a little "alcohol heat" to it. 4/5

Overall: I feel like verticals are often "reserved" for rarer and bigger beers like Dark Lord and Bourbon County (Brand) Stout, or even barleywines dating back to the 90's (i.e., Bigfoot), but this was a really fun vertical to do. Nothing was really can't miss here, but nothing had "fallen off," and nothing here was undrinkable by any stretch of the imagination. My favorite vintage in the end was the XXI, but each vintage struck me in a unique way at different points in the vertical as it warmed up. Cold, the XX and XXIII were my favorite.

Cost: $12.99 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle that can cost as much as $19.99.

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jegross2 from Illinois, Feb 11, 2013
Photo of kaseydad
4.56/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Held onto this for 3+ years. No idea how I had the willpower.

Pours a black ale with a nice one finger foamy beige head. Still frothy after all these years. Nice. Crystal clear bottom of the bottle. Impressive.

Massive amounts of sweet chocolate in the aroma. Strong presence of coffee beans also. Smoky. Cocoa powder. Touch of apple. The bourbon is definitely there as well. Just a great smell that does not get tiresome.

The taste is a mix of light and dark chocolate with a smoky, bitter, lingering aftertaste. The wood from the bourbon barrel shines through. Black coffee is also present. Awesome.

Mouthfeel is very slick but full.

Overall this is a masterpiece. Who says you can't age a Porter? This would still be kicking after another year or so. Sadly this went to my belly but I loved the session. Amazing beer. The Deschutes crew knows how to brew beer and this is a great example of how good they are.

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kaseydad from California, Feb 03, 2013
Photo of Pencible
4.4/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: This poured a nearly opaque nearly black with a little tan head.
S: It smelled like raisin and fig and oak with mocha and vanilla and alcohol.
T: It tasted like bitter dark chocolate, with some raisin and molasses and oak, and a bit of toasted coconut. It had a bittersweet aftertaste with a little heat.
M: It was very thick and chewy with some carbonation. Huge body.
D: I'm curious how this brew was fresh, but it's very nice now. The scent and taste were great, and the body was even better. It was still pretty hot, but it had a smooth finish otherwise, so it was fairly easy to drink. Lovely beer.

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Pencible from Virginia, Feb 03, 2013
Photo of claaark13
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks jedwards. From the fridge to a 15 minute warm-up at room temp, and into a Bruery tulip.

A - Pours a lighter black with a creamy off-white head. Thick lacing remains. Doesn't stick particularly well, but hey, it's a porter.

S - Tons of cocoa coming in strong, giving a malted-milk-ball-like aroma. Slightly roasted malt comes out once it breathes, which could be more from fading coffee. Slightest hint of oak.

T - Some roasted malt and wood, then some stronger woody bourbon bites slightly, vanilla, cocoa and finally some coffee towards the finish. Fairly complex. The finish seems a little boozy as well. The cocoa seems to take a backseat in the flavor to the woody barrel influence. Good, but not what the aroma lead me to believe I'd find.

M - Solid medium body, expected for a good porter.

O - I liked this one. I don't think I'd hold onto it much longer, as I think the flavors have developed as far as they can. One of the best of the style I've had; certainly in the class of the HF barrel aged porters. Hard to compare though as there is a 3 year difference in their ages at this point. I hate to give it a flat 4.5, but that's how I have it.

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claaark13 from Indiana, Feb 02, 2013
Photo of colts9016
4.82/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I have sat on this bottle for three years, waiting for another chance to buy another one. Yesterday I acquired another one, the cellar it goes. Poured into a tulip glass at 50 degrees.

Appearance: A two finger head that has good retention, the head is light tan, creamy and foamy. The head left some lacing on the glass. The color of the beer is dark brown, like burnt motor. The clarity of the beer is opaque.

Nose: A rich bourbon aroma permeates through the beer. The malt is dark roasted with caramel, toasted, and biscuit. Other aromas vanilla, alcohol, grain, dark chocolate, espresso, anise, molasses, and bread.

Taste: A very rich deeply roasted malts with bourbon and chocolate. The malt has a slight burnt quality, caramel, toasty, and biscuit notes. Other flavors, vanilla, oak, alcohol, dark chocolate, espresso, anise, molasses, and a hint of hops (grapefruit, and pine) notes on the end.

Mouth feel of the beer is coating, rich, slightly carbonated, and tad warm from alcohol.

Overall: The body of the beer is medium to full body and the finish is lasting. This is such a great beer and I am so glad that I waited this long to crack this bottle. All the flavors mingle so well. This a great beer.

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Photo of abrand
4.3/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber poured into pint glass

Pours a jet black with some brightness on the edges. A ebony quick fading head leaves nothing behind. Smell is full of dark chocolate and bourbon. Hints of sweet vanilla comes through as it warms. Taste is bitter with dark chocolate and roasted coffee. Some sweetness from plums and sugar are present but dominated with the bitterness. Mouthfeel is thick and sticky. Overall this is impressive. Very good tasting and smooth. I think it can use a little more aging though to mellow the bourbon.

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abrand from Illinois, Nov 09, 2012
Photo of Thehuntmaster
4.62/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

650ml bottle 11,0% Abv.
Served lightly chilled in an over sized wine glass.
Best after: 10/17/2010

Black Butte XXI appears pitch black in the glass, but a back light reveals a lot of deep red along the edges of the glass. A rough pour yields a massive, creamy, dark tan coloured head. The head lasts really well for the Abv. and leaves some patchy lacing.

Smell: Ah man, as with the XX, this smells absolutely divine! As with the XX, there is an absolute ton of chocolate - cocoa covered dark chocolate truffles just about sums it up. Other notes include: Coffee, salted dark caramel, toffee, vanilla, bourbon, some dark fruit and a touch of salty liquorice.

Taste: The flavour leans more to the roasted side, as opposed to the sweetness of the nose. Dark chocolate and coffee are equally prominent, alongside roasted malt, dark caramel, dark fruits and a little bourbon.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied (a littler fuller perhaps), with a medium level of fantastically smooth carbonation.

Overall: Another fantastic anniversary beer from Deschutes! I am going to have to get another bottle or two to put in the cellar.

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Thehuntmaster from South Africa, Oct 18, 2012
Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.52/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle poured into a Duvel Tulip style glass. Liquid itself is black most of the way through with some edges that are dark orange to light brown in color at the highlights portion. About 1/2 inch slightly darker than tan colored head. Decent lacing, but not great, overall a really good looking porter.

I initially didn't like the smell, but as it warmed I loved it. Super roasty on this one. Plenty of cocoa and coffee and a diecent blend of the two . Bourbon present, but takes a backseat to the roast, sort of vanilla aromas come off of it. Suprisingly some slight hop notes as well, but not strong.

Taste is very good. Again, it's very roasty. Like the label said it's brewed with chocolate beans and added coffee which you can totally tell by the flavor. The balance of the cocoa and coffee is perfect, the blend of bitter and sweet complement each other perfectly. Nice vanilla notes from the bourbon, but its behind the roast. Subtle hints of butterscotch too, that weird? Again hops slightly present.

Mouthfeel is prefect, literally flawless. Full bodied, smooth, and a good carbonation level. Perfectly balanced between sweet and bitter and a nice finish. Warm but not hot finish. Perfect for a nice fall evening.

Geoff, I think this was from our first trade a few years back. It held up nice, thanks for the recommendation and I'm glad we're still trading!

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AndyAvalanche from Massachusetts, Sep 19, 2012
Photo of brystmar
4.23/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at the Portland brewpub for the BB24 release, didn't impress me much but I really wanted to try a bigger pour by itself. Marcos comes through with a big want of mine! "Best After 10/17/2010"

Dark and roasty. Bourbon shows its face in the aroma, stepping aside to let caramel and roasty malts take center stage. Significantly more complex as it warms.

Taste follows suit. Deeply roasted base, booze character shines through from start to finish. Bourbon is subdued. Caramel corn, remnants of coffee, dry yeast rounds things out. Really good.

In the Black Butte Reserve series, my preference is still 23 > 24 > 21 > 22. Regardless, this is a very good imperial porter.

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Photo of Duff27
4.3/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Short head poured, thin collar. Some lacing going on.

Chocolatey booze!

Very faint vanilla. Chocolate/coffee notes. Hides the booziness nicely.

Still holding its carbonation well. Medium-full mouthfeel.

Yum yum. XXI is holding up nicely although judging by how th XX is doing I'd drink any XXI within the next year or two, in my opinion. Thanks for bringing this 4DAloveofSTOUT!

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Duff27 from Illinois, Jul 23, 2012
Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.64/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to mlaroche for the bottle, been in my possession since 2009.

Best after 10/17/10... check.

Pours a dark brown color with a good size light tan head, fades at a decent rate, hardly any lacing though, reddish hues around the edges when held up to the light.

Smell is primarily roasted malt at the forefront, cocoa then hits the nose to bring a big chocolate presence, coffee has essentially faded away, sweeter nose than most porters, hint of vanilla likely from the bourbon barrels.

Taste is on the sweeter side but avoids being cloying, good amount of dark fruit coupled with the chocolate and roasted malt, a very subtle heat of bourbon adds some nice complexity, very smooth and creamy.

This is drinking very good right now, don't see much reason why it won't continue to either, shame I only traded for the one bottle. Thanks Matt!

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Photo of mikereaser
4.17/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black Butte pours a pitch black with a half inch of tan foam that faded quickly with little lacing. The aroma is full of roasty notes with just hints of the bourbon barrel. Taste is just phenomenal. Lots of big roasted malts, lots of chocolate, chocolate is plentiful and just a hint of the bourbon that shows through in the finish. It has a nice creamy mouthfeel with a nice amount of carbonation to carry this through and make it an easy beer to drink.

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mikereaser from Pennsylvania, May 05, 2012
Photo of stxSS07
4.32/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber into a snifter thanks to Norcalgrowler.

A- Pours a deep brown. Nearly black with a 1/2 finger of khaki head that quickly fades to a ring around the glass. Leaves a nice film and legs on the glass.

S- Nice big bourbon, wood, and vanilla notes. Chocolate/roast follow suit along with some nice dark fruits - black cherries and plums mostly. Great smelling beer, let alone a porter.

T- Sweet sugary and roasted malts mix with great bourbon, wood, and vanilla notes. Finishes with some dark fruits and some coffee undertones. Extremely well-balanced and very tasty.

M- On the extremely thin side of medium with carbonation just a touch on the high side and slightly abrasive.

O- This is drinking amazing for being 2 1/2 years old. The mouthfeel leaves something to be desired, but the taste and smell make up for it in spades. Might have to hunt down some more of this stuff.

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stxSS07 from Illinois, Apr 30, 2012
Black Butte XXI from Deschutes Brewery
Beer rating: 97 out of 100 with 580 ratings