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."
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Reviews: 377 | Ratings: 580
Reviews by bsp77:
Photo of bsp77
4.55/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bomber into Snifter.

Appearance: Very dark chestnut brown with moderate tan head and some nice lacing.

Smell: Rich molasses, dark fruit, caramelized sugar and vanilla, with just hints of chocolate, coffee and oak.

Taste: Molasses, caramel, and heavily roasted malt core with nice layers of chocolate, coffee, vanilla and an overall oakiness. The chocolate becomes much more apparent as it warms. Fantastic complexity.

Feel: Ultra smooth, rich and creamy with low carbonation. Simply luxurious feel.

Drinkability: Just a great beer. Very complex and easy to sip. A chocolate lover's dream. Sad I will never get to have XXII out here in Minnesota.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of paco1029384756
4.17/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown, near black color with one finger of off white head.

Scent of coffee, fruity hops, bitter chocolate, oatmeal and a bit of wood and alcohol.

Taste of coffee, molasses, chocolate and oak. A robust flavor with a nice touch of fresh coffee.

Mouthfeel is medium heavy bodied with fairly strong carbonation.

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Photo of kjkinsey
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of spycow
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of SuperNova777
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

100th Review

Huge thanx to alleykatking, South Bend's Godfather

A:Pours a non transparent black with a fingers worth of tan head that falls nice and slowly,
excellent lacing is left all around the glass

S:Nose picks up a big amount of roasted coffee and malts intialy, followed up by chocolate and vanilla with a small amount of hops in the mix as well. Very exciting.

T:Up front and in the middle a pleasant mix of smooth roasted malts and coffee followed up with a dose of chocolate. The backend gets a nice dose of hops with slight alcohol tingle down the throat, a little bourbon and molasses flavor is also detected.

M:Nice syrup thicker body accompanies the brew with near perfect carbonation, palate is coated with a nice mix of chocolate and hops that linger around thru the whole drink

D:This was a real treat and well worth my 100th review, really easy to drink for the alcohol with all the flavors that you would want out of the style with a little bit extra to throw it over the top. There is really no wonder why this tough to get and on everyones want list, I could drink this bad boy all night long.

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

Enjoyed about a 12 oz. pour at Beachwood BBQ tonight.

A: Black...typical...along with a 1-finger head. Lacing and head retention were good as well. The body also appeared heavy...milkshake-like...which is always desired for this style of beer.

S: An your face espresso and coffee aroma. Some subtle chocolate and burnt malts were also detectable.

T: Again, a robust coffee flavor with chocolate and caramel like flavors. Has a nice Hershey Kiss sweetness at the tail end of the sip that I enjoyed.

M: Again with the milkshake analogy...this brew is thick! Nice and creamy on the palate with gentle carbonation.

D: A pretty complex and flavorful beer that hides it's beefy ABV very well. On the other hand, one glass is sufficient...felt like I was having a meal.

Overall: I prefer last year's version a little bit more. There seemed to be a much more pronounced coffee character that wasn't bad...but had that "masking" affect on the other qualities the beer had. A must try. Cheers!

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Photo of matttttYCE
4.8/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Ah, Black Butte XXI. 21. A fine number. The legal drinking age. The age I was when I first had this brew, on tap, at Papago brewery, for a Deschutes event. At the time, I was a little dissapointed I didn't buy an older bottle of Abyss, but looking back, I'm just happy to have had XXI (and Dissident) on tap. Here we go again: XXI for my 21st review, into the same Deschutes balloon glass I got for free with a pour of XXI not too long ago.

Appearance - This one starts with a nice, roughly 2 finger high tan head that's creamy and lush at first and dies down after a while leaving nice sticky lacing up and down, a ring around the glass and a thin film of bubbles over top. Much the same as XX. That's to be expected with the 11% ABV. Color is murky, deep black with just tiniest hint of brown around the edges when held to the light. Bigger head and more lacing than XX. Also, there's a noticeable 'film' of what I believe to be alcohol that coats the sides of the glass every time I move the beer like a fine spirit in a glass. Not bad, just an observation. Didn't notice that with XX. With the very large head that didn't dissipate as quickly as XX's did and a bit more lacing, gotta go a little higher than XX on appearance.

Smell - More barrel notes to this than with XX. Barrel aromas aren't extreme by any means, just a bit more than what XX had to offer. Vanilla, oak, smooth Whiskey spice, and some caramel and toffee work so well with what this beer is. Cocoa nibs, bitter sweetness, and big beautiful dark roast coffee all work their magic alongside dark roasted malt and burnt character, and a bit more caramel and some sweet burnt brown sugar come out to play. Love that dark roast smell, don't like drinking coffee. Go figure. Obviously more coffee from this, since it's a year younger than XX, but I think they added more coffee to this than XX so there's that. Wonderful. Even with everything that's going on, you can tell this is still a porter at heart. It's a porter in a world of it's own, really.

Taste - Smooth and light bourbon, bourbon heat, subtle oak and vanilla, toffee, lots of bittersweet chocolate / coffee bite right off the bat. I enjoy the upped coffee taste here over XX. That Whiskey barrel aging is light, smooth, and ties in so well. Moreover, sticky maple syrup notes, hints of licorice, caramel, more toffee, another hint of barrel juice, just the slightest hint of alcohol, and on the finish, lots of espresso and dark roast coffee beans, roasted malt, caramel and sweetness. The finish is really a blast of lingering coffee and I enjoy it.

Mouthfeel - Silky smooth and creamy consistency, light and creamy carbonation (a little less than XX), medium bodied overall, with a long finish of coffee and some roasted character. Almost makes me crave some coffee...Can I get some barrel aged coffee, please? Now that coffee, I would drink!

Overall - Just a fantastic beer overall. I think this might have been not only the beer that turned me on to barrel aging, but also the beer that really solidified my love for big, flavorful dark beers. Up until I had this on tap, I was mostly about the IPAs/DIPAs, but had had plenty of darker offerings. This beer really just changed everything for me. Deschutes really changed everything for the porter world. Go figure. I think XXI is aging wonderfully and could probably go for another year before really reaching it's peak, whereas XX, I think, has reached its peak already. Both still great beers. I just think they took all the great things they had going for XX and perfected them with XXI. Is this still my favorite beer? That's really hard to say. Since having this on tap, I've been fortunate enough to have a number of superb barrel aged beers that have really floored me. But still, XXI is in my top 5, maybe even my top 3. There's definitely some ties going on. Anyways, 5.0 overall for a GREAT beer.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
4.1/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass.

4.5 A: Clear near black (held up to the light to verify). Two fingers of creamy head that retains well and leaves plenty of lacing.

4.5 S: Lots of sweet chocolate from the top. Bourbon is next. Coffee is there, but much less subdued. Lots of roasty flavors and a touch of oak. Very nice, I like it quite a bit.

4.0 T: Coffee comes through in the taste much moreso than in the nose. In fact, the coffee is the strongest flavor here. Chocolate is next in intensity. Bourbon is there again, but isn't as strong as in the nose. The alcohol is considerably apparent, but for 11% it can be overlooked. Again, nice roasty flavors. However, I was hoping for something a bit sweeter and thicker.

3.5 M: Medium body. I was hoping for a thick, viscous body, but alas there was naught. Carbonation is fine. There's warming alcohol on finish and the presence of the alcohol makes this a little less smooth.

4.0 D: Good beer, not incredible, but definitely good. I hope they keep making this as I wouldn't mind a bottle of this now and then.

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Photo of ptykozoon
4.27/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black, brown and red tones. Head dies fast into a sparse island of foam and minimal lacing.

Bitter coffee, chocolate, strong wooden presence.

Milky chocolate, bitter, oaky notes. Bourbon is in the background but definitely there. Subtle grape notes as well. Very balanced and complex.

Surprisingly light, crisp mouthfeel.

Scrumptious, will be phenomenal to age and test over the years.

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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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Photo of oreo
4.63/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Shared by Drewba.

Poured into a snifter deep black with a finger of tan colored head. Excellent lacing down the glass.

Smells like fresh coffee and chocolate. Vanilla and hops make an appearance in the nose.

Awesome beer. Super smooth, and thicker than any porter I have had before. Tons of coffee chocolate and vanilla. I would put this up against any good stout. Simply awesome to drink.

Porters should be a little bit thinner on the mouth, but this one held it well with how thick it was.

Extremely drinkable. Wouldnt have any issue downing a whole bottle.

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Photo of piclee
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of THECPJ
4/5  rDev -8.9%

Photo of angelmonster
3.97/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a two finger chocolate head. Body is pitch black in color. Head retention and lacing are above average but the head didnt last long.

Smell is of chocolate and ice cream, similar to Southern Tier Choklat. Very faint alcohol and coffee. A little soy sauce too. Hops are very faint also

First taste is of burnt malt and some bitter hops. There is also sweet chocolate and coffee. For 11% abv, the alcohol is definitely present in this beer.

Mouth feel has a syrup like consistency. Carbonation livens it up nicely. Wish the head was still present to add to the body, only thing missing from creating a truly great mouth feel

Drink ability was good. Wasnt too hard to finish a bomber, even though its a strong beer. Think I opened this bottle too early as the best by date indicates. Beer was a bit hot still and I didnt get a lot of coffee flavor in there. Would buy one again if I could find it in another six months but I doubt it would be available anywhere.

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Photo of russwbeck
4.4/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Best after 10/17/10. Can't wait to try this! Almost exactly 2 years old.

A: Dark pour with a light brown head. The dark brown head I'm accustomed to seeing with big dark Bourbon/Chocolate/Coffee beers is not present and is missed. The retention and lacing are lacking a little.

S: Certainly not a Bourbon bomb here. With that said, the smell isn't very impressive. Chocolate and Bourbon mostly, but sort of musty almost. It does, however, improve as it warms. The Bourbon and chocolate really come out a lot more. I was originally going to rate this at 3.5, but after it warms I went with a 4.

T: This is where the beer shines. Wow. Extremely complex and well balanced. Lots of flavors going on, but very mellow. The taste starts with chocolate, very light to begin with. The Bourbon comes up next, not dominating, just popping up to say hello. At this point the beer is sweet, but not quite Dark Lord sweet. Roasted malts and a slight booziness (and I mean slight, it's only slightly noticeable) end the beer. Far after the beer has been consumed, the coffee comes back in a big way. It could not be any more on the backend, but is welcomed immensely. As was noted by my drinking partner, the complexity evolves and strengthens as the beer warms. It seems to coat the tongue in a way that negates the booziness that was previously noted.

MF: Medium bodied. What I keep reminding myself is that it's a porter not an imperial stout. The carbonation might be a tad low, but it certainly isn't off-putting.

O: Really a wonderful treat. This beer is aging very well. I wish I could have had it fresh to compare, but I can't imagine it being better.

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Photo of mjl21
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle poured into a tulip. Best after 10/17/2010. Comes in at 11%.

A-Pours an extremely dark brown that has a faint touch of reddish hue. It has a nice two finger sandy head that has some nice retention. It leaves small spots of lace in between sips.

S-Lots of rich, roast malt. There is chocolate and spent coffee grounds. There is also a nice citrus hop component. The citrus aroma grows as the beer opens up. As it opens up the vanilla from the barrels stands out more. I found the coffee to remain well blended throughout and it only really stood out for the last few sips.

T-Lots of chocolate flavor when it first hits my mouth. It is a mix of sweet and bitter chocolate. There is also some nice vanilla sweetness from the barrels that is mostly noticeable mid sip. At the beginning the coffee is evident in quick bursts and remains blended with all of the other components. After it has gone down I am left with a nice dark chocolate aftertaste. I found the citrus hops be stronger in the nose than in the taste.

M-It is thicker bodied, smooth, a touch oily, and perfectly carbonated.

D-The 11% is dangerously hidden in this one. A well crafted barrel aged beer.

This is drinking extremely well. I am curious how it will taste in 9 months when it reaches its best after date. Definitely worth seeking out.

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Photo of CaptainTripps
4.65/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz Bomber poured into a Duvel Tulip.


A: Poured a very dark brownish black (almost there but not fully). Chocolate brown hues on the edges. Came with a darker-then-off-white but not-quite dark-mocha head. About one fingers worth at pour.

S: Roasted malts, spices and chocolate are coming out of this beer big time creating what i am calling a nosegasim. The chocolate just makes this beer smell like a milk shake. The coffee is present but not as big as it would say -probably due to its age. Bourbon is another major factor making this thing smell delicious.

T: Again the chocolate in this makes this beer just outrageously tasty. The bourbon qualities is just at this perfect level as well. Just perfect on the palate. Everything just flows in brilliant harmony together. Coffee is a little small, but again probably due to its age. Also some vanilla coming through along with some spices. Alcohol not apparent.

M: I wish this beer was a little bit thicker then it is currently, but it is a imperial porter not a stout (difference in mouth feel). The carbonation is dead on and the alcohol? Is there any in there? So smooth you need to be careful -alcohol is non existent for a 11%abv beer.

D: Very high with this beer, i could drink this all day. Drank incredibly smooth. Not a full on sipper which is sometimes nice. ITs a Black Butte Porter on steroids. Great beer, GREAT BEER!!!!

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Photo of KeefD
4.32/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from tasting notes:

Dark brown pour, almost black in the glass, small tan head that left no lacing. Dark ruby edges when held to the light

Booze and roast are the first things to pop out in the nose. Also picking up some wine/port qualities,not getting much in the way of chocolate or coffee, but it's therein light amounts

Taste is sweet with light chocolate and coffee, some more of the vinous notes from the aroma come out, and interesting fruitiness. Boozy, warm, and more coffee comes out as it warms up, but still want more!.

Mouthfeel is full, almost syrupy, but has an odd chalky finish to it.

Good beer, a little sweet, one to share with friends.

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Photo of 2xHops
3.8/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I thought it was very interesting that I actually strongly preferred the 23rd anniversary bottle over this one. I found the flavor profile to be drastically different between the two.

The beer had a oily dark black appearance, and it's pretty typical of what you see in good porters.

The part about this beer that disappointed me the most was the taste. I could certainly taste the traditional porter profile along with some chocolate note. For me, the overpowering flavor was the burnt, roasting. I t did not taste as complex as I wanted. It did feed significantly different once you swished and swallowed.

I would bring it again if there's anything available left, only to have a vertical sampling. I just thought the 23rd Anniversary edition did a better job integrating all of the flavor profiles.

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Photo of billab914
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Dogfish snifter. It poured black in color with a modest tan head barely covering the surface of the beer. The head retreated and formed a thin ring around the edge of the glass where it left just a bit of lacing.

The aroma shows a lot of coffee in it. Dark, bitter chocolate also plays a significant role. Just a hint of the barrel aging comes through. I get some alcohol to it as well. Pretty nice aroma, the coffee dominates a bit but the other flavors compliment nicely.

The taste is strong with rich coffee and dark chocolate. The coffee gives it a strong bitterness that lasts through the finish. Just a bit of the vanilla and bourbon flavors come through. Not enough to give it a strong barrel characteristic, but enough to give it some great complexity.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side and the carbonation is low. It has a nice creaminess to it that was particularly nice. Drinkability is very good, it's an excellent tasting beer. It had a lot of very good and rich flavors to it. All the flavors came together very nicely as well. The coffee was the strongest flavor but all the others complimented it nicely. An excellent beer overall.

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Photo of JeremyHB
4.43/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a truly amazing example of a quality porter.
As a drinker of Black Butter Porter, just the regular sixer bottles, I was pleasantly surprised by this one.
Came in a wax topped bottle and was priced at a wealthy 11.99.
It was worth it.
Split the 22 oz bomber with my wife and we both loved it.
This is what I always wanted Bourban county or Dragon's Milk to be.

Nice coffee, toffee, roasted malt and wood from the aging are all clearly present. There is no residual "boosiness" just a lingering sweetness that makes me lick my lips and want more. This is a true sipper. Me and the wile took over an hour to split the 22 and we are not slow drinkers, just enjoying the flavor.
A wonderful example of a special occasion beer, I know what she will be getting for those times when I need some extra points in the husband book.

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Photo of Vdubb86
4.27/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a mug

Thanks to TMoney2591 for providing this beer for my consumption.

This beer pours an almost black brown with almost a finger of beige foam. The aroma is absolutely wonderful, it is a mixture of home made toffee with a bittersweet chocolate glaze and some DME. The taste while still good wasn't nearly the same as the fragrance. The palate comprises of coffee, vanilla, oak, and slight hints of whiskey. This is as bold and robust as a good porter should be. Though I must say while this is a really good beer aesthetically, the actually drinking of it wasn't extraordinary. Though the overall score might comprise that this was a wonderful beer (which I'm sure it deserves) the argument can also be made that it's not really that special. Though I must admit I would gladly drink this again if it were offered to me.

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Photo of ControlledBurn
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%

Photo of ShanePB
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle generously opened by mdaschaf during our mini-tasting at his place. Poured into a snifter glass.

A: Deep dark brown, bordering on being completely black except for the hues around the top edges. Creamy, tan looking head that stuck around for a decent amount of time and left a nice cap. Minor lacing on the walls.

S: Tons of black pepper emerging from the glass, wow that is completely unexpected and quite a unique note to have so overpowering. Chocolate, slight coffee notes and some dark malts come in midway. Towards the end of the aroma is a faint sweet toffee note, but it's hard to break through this strong peppery aroma. Strange but quite nice.

T: Again, more black pepper comes through big up front. The chocolate and dark malts break in mid-palate, along with some caramel undertones. The back end and finish brings in more of the peppery flavor, ground coffee beans and just the faintest little bitter hop note. Certainly one of the most unique beers I've tasted in terms of flavors.

M: Quite bubbly, well carbonated and medium-bodied. Not very full or robust, but it's still a rich and smooth beer. The pepper leaves a bit of a dryness.

My first of any of the Black Buttes and this was certainly a very unique beer. The peppery nature of the beer was nice, but I feel like it sort of overwhelmed the entire nose and taste. Still, a great beer I'm very happy I was able to try side-by-side with the XXIII. Thanks again Matt!

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Photo of emmasdad
3.73/5  rDev -15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours from the bottle a deep, nebulous black, initially topped off with about an inch of rich mocha foam which shortly settles into a thin collar studded with random bubbles. Huge nose on this one, lots of freshly brewed espresso, bourbon, dark chocolate, dates and black pepper. Coffee is dominant on the palate here, along with a little cocoa, roasted malt, oak and vanilla. Finishes a little bit bitter, with some pronounced alcohol heat. The time in the bottle has done this one well. A very nice 21st birthday beer for a criminally underrated brewery.

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Black Butte XXI from Deschutes Brewery
Beer rating: 97 out of 100 with 580 ratings