Black Butte XXI | Deschutes Brewery

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Black Butte XXIBlack Butte XXI
580 Ratings
Black Butte XXIBlack Butte XXI

Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States

Style: American Imperial Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
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."

Added by squaremile on 07-03-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 580 |  Reviews: 377
Reviews by cpinto6:
Photo of cpinto6
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

More User Reviews:
Photo of tectactoe
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%

Photo of t2grogan
5/5  rDev +13.9%

Photo of weatherdog
4.12/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle poured into three tulip glasses at a recent tasting

It pours a deep pitch viscous black with a small mocha head.

The aroma is very roasty with some strong coffee and chocolate notes. The bourbon aging is evident with some subtle oak and bourbon smells but it isn't overpowering which I'm attributing to only having 20% of the beer aged in bourbon barrels. I'm actually enjoying how subtle the barrel aging is on this beer. It lets the porter character show itself without being overrun by overpowering bourbon flavors.

The taste mirrors a lot of the nose with a strong but not overdone roasted coffee flavors. The bourbon influence is present but restrained and my comments above about the barrel aging are the same I feel about the flavor. The taste is less exciting than the nose though with really only coffee and subtle oak aging notes. A good taste but neither complex or mind-blowing.

The mouthfeel is on the thin side and the alcohol can be felt. Drinkability was decent but I can see some more aging improving this beer.

 1,045 characters

Photo of Beaver13
3.31/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle, best after 10/17/10 (oh well!). Pours a dark brown with a creamy tan head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is sweet roasted chocolate, tar, black licorice, and coffee. A little too heavy on the black licorice and tar for me.

The flavor is sweet sugary lactic chocolate balanced by a big tarry roasted bitterness and black licorice with a little coffee. The finish has a good deal of bitterness. As it warms, the sweetness comes out and becomes a bit overwhelming. Also notes of bourbony dark fruits appear as well. It's very bold but not at all smooth - a bit too brash for me. The mouthfeel is fairly full with creamy carbonation.

Overall, it's a bit too harsh especially with the black licorice and tar and then the heavy sweetness. It would be interesting to try again after the best after date to see if it mellows out.

 856 characters

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.

 909 characters

Photo of megamass
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of Mora2000
4.35/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted at thirdeye11's birthday party.

Beer pours black wiht a tan head. The aroma is chocolate and roasted malt. For some reason, I also got a cayenne pepper aroma, even though no one else in the group was getting it. The flavor is chocolate, roasted malt and the same cayenne pepper I was getting in the aroma. There is also some some hop bitterness. Medium mouthfeel.

Not sure what the cause of the cayenne was since it looks like others are not getting it. Maybe my palate and nose were playing tricks on me but it was predominant in both the flavor and aroma, and it actually went very well with the other flavors of the beer.

 633 characters

Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of KellerBrau
4/5  rDev -8.9%

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.

 678 characters

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

Yes, yes, I know it says not to drink this for another year, but that's why I bought more than one. Pours jet black with a thick, foamy brown head that stays there. Fat lacing on the glass that doesn't wash out with each swig. Heavy molasses, dark chocolate, roasted malt, and whiskey-oak nose. Expected vanilla and toffee compliments with the barrelling. Viscous moithfeel, hearty, and a long, bitter finish. Beautiful chocolate and molasses taste. Some chocolate-chip cookie malt flavor with the bold bourdon backing. Very happy there was none of that espresso/black coffee component as it would have overpowered the subtle simplicty of this beer. Sometimes less is more. Can't wait to hit this again in a year.

 713 characters

Photo of kingcrowing
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber poured into a tulip.

Pours a nice dark black, With a small light brown head. Nose is coffee, chocolate and sweet malt.

Taste is nice and smooth and creamy with a very strong mocha flavor to it. It's very rich and a bit sweet. Really easy drinking for the abv.

 273 characters

Photo of jamesm7485
4.92/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Still sitting on 5 bottles of xx but from my memory this pours a shade lighter with some burgundy color in it. I initially served mine a tad too cold but as it warmed up the head retained much better. It smells like when i used to work in a coffee shop my freshman year of college and we roasted our own beans every sunday. Heavy espresso tones and some chocolate in the taste, very slight bourbon taste as well. Very smooth not as much as abyss but different beers. Very drinkable presuming you enjoy coffee despite its abv

 524 characters

Photo of bpfrush
4.75/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of ehammond1
4.35/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On Tap

K&B Wine Cellars
San Diego, CA

Black, oily, thick, and rich. Extremely thin brown head which dissipates almost immediately. Low carbonation.

Not much aroma immediately, but more and more arrive as the beer warms: milk chocolate, caramel, and sea salt.

Taste is smooth and easy: chocolate, coffee, and caramel notes. The alcohol is almost lost, especially considering the beer is 11% ABV. I would never know.

Velvet and smooth mouthfeel.

I could drink this all night, glass after glass, which is shocking at it's ABV.

 531 characters

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

Poured from a bomber courtesy of Dyan in a recent trade, thanks! Managed to get ahold of a couple other bottles as well, so I thought I'd try one fresh before aging the others.

Appearance- Pours the usual deep, opaque black I'm used to for the style. About of half finger of brown head that dies fairly quickly to a thin layer over the surface of the beer. Lots of lacing as I drink as well.

Smell- Mmm, lots of burnt coffee and roasted malt. A touch of bitter chocolate and vanilla as well. Each smell comes out pretty prominently for me into a nice nose.

Taste- Lots of roasted malt with less burnt coffee than in the nose, but still present. Vanilla and bourbon even stronger in the taste, though the chocolate is less present. Some alcohol burn on the way down. All the flavors are excellent, and I expect they would meld and round out even better with some aging. Will have to do another review in a year or so.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Mouthfeel a bit disappointingly thin, but still somewhat chewy. However, it doesn't kill the drinkability, which remains quite good for a heavy beer. I expect the mouthfeel might round out with more time as well.

Overall, quite tasty fresh, and I image will be much better with some age. Get ahold of some of these if you can, they're quite a treat!

 1,295 characters

Photo of ohmybock
3.98/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I had the pleasure of being out again in the PDX area recently and had sooo many great beers. One of the ones that stood out was BB XXI. Honestly, I wasn't totally sure what to expect from this new BB special brew. I had the BB XX last year and loved it, but for some reason I just didn't expect as much from this year's special BB release. Thankfully, I found the BB XXI to be a wonderful brew. It has an inviting aroma of boozy, slight vanilla-y/caramelly malts. The aroma is good, but it's not like it's the best thing I've ever smelled in a beer. The taste, however, is really good. For those that don't like too much chocolate, coffee, or barrel-aged character in their brew, than this is for you. I'm usually not a fan of in-your-face barrel/oak/bourbon/etc brews. Thankfully, the barrel character in this brew is very subtle. This taste of this beer is amazing in its balance. I get a bit of the boozy/barrel-character up front, followed quickly by some authentic chocolate, and just a touch of coffee. Honestly, the palate seems kind of thin for a brew of its strength. This is very good right now, but I think it's still way too young at this point. I bet it will be phenomenal in a year or more. Heck, don't take my word for it. The bottles say best *after* 10/17/2010. By then I imagine the booziness will have died down, there will be a better integration of all the flavors, and there will probably be a richer/drier chocolate character. Argh...I wish I had a beer cellar where I could age a case of BBXXI for the next year along with some Abyss 09.

 1,562 characters

Photo of HoppySeb
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.63/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown pour, very slick, tan head. Aroma was chocolate, whiskey.

Got a strange aftertaste reininiscient of dog food from one of the two bottles I've had. I dunno, still have one left, but massive bottle variation seems to be my experience here.

Coffee flavor may be responsible, it tasted like it had disappeared or mutated from previous pours of this. Thought the alcohol was too pronounced. Bitter. Needs more cocao, chocolate, less whiskey.

I'll come back and adjust this one after having the 3rd bottle, but at this point, this one is so far below XX and XXII.

 572 characters

Photo of glid02
4.22/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Jeremy - thanks!

Pours black with a one-finger light brown head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of moderately roasted malts with large amounts of dark chocolate, vanilla, and hints of coconut.

Tastes similar to how it smells, though not as robust. Smooth roasted malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by moderate amounts of dark and lighter chocolate flavors. Slight amounts of vanilla come into play midway through the sip, fading out into a moderately bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with smooth carbonation.

Drinkability is very good. I finished my glass quickly and could easily have a few more.

Overall I was expecting more than I got from this beer, but to be fair I was expecting a lot. A bit more body would go a long way. Still, a very good beer that's well worth a shot.

 887 characters

Photo of kevwcamp
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of striker2160
4.33/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of acurtis
4/5  rDev -8.9%

Photo of Shawner
4.75/5  rDev +8.2%

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Black Butte XXI from Deschutes Brewery
Beer rating: 4.39 out of 5 with 580 ratings