Black Butte XXI | Deschutes Brewery

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Black Butte XXIBlack Butte XXI
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."

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 377 | Ratings: 580
Photo of FARGO619
5/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- Pours dark brown, almost black with about a 1 finger light tan colored head. Good retention, and minimal lacing.

S- Big chocolate and roasted malts, with integrated coffee tones and nice light bourbon notes. A very well integrated and full nose on this one.

T- More chocolate coffee comes through with fantastic oak bourbon undertones. Smooth vanilla notes and roasted malts also appear once in warms. Heat from the barrel is there in the finish, but there is absolutely no trance of alcohol. This is a great tasting beer.

M- Very creamy, smooth, with light carbonation. Coats the mouth with a velvety texture that warms the throat as it goes down.

O- Such a great beer. Thanks to the people from Deschutes Oregon. Thank you and keep making these great gems.

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Photo of itsopy
5/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I found this limited addition bottle at a beer specialty store near my home. The appearance is like black coffee.
The smell is like chocolate heaven.

The taste is smooth not bitter. Some people think the darker the beer, the more bitter. NEVER the case.

The mouthfeel is like liquid chocolate coffee.

The drinkability, WOW. I can't wait until is done aging so and will drink the rest that I bought.

This is the best beer EVER! Why is it not in the top 10?

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Photo of Jmoore50
4.97/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is an amazingly good beer. Maybe even a top beer ever for me. I like everything about this one.

The appearance pours a dark oily black, but not engine oil black. It is a slight tint lighter than motor oil. It has a beautiful black color with dark dark brown-amber edges. Pours aggressively with a one finger head. Awesome graphic design on the bottle.

The smell is exceptional. Most of the smells carry over to the taste so I will not go too far. Bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, dark malt, bourbon, all beautifully mature once the brew gets warmer.

The taste is awesome. I have never tried an Imperial Porter before but this is much like an Imperial Stout. There are so many complex tastes with this beer it just blows my mind. The first tastes are a dark porter with bourbon foundation. Just amazing. NO harsh tastes at all, flows oh so nicely. Great chocolate aftertaste that also comes with a vanilla light sweetness. Bounces all around the palate so nicely, so sweet and barely bitter. Once at room temperature a cocoa bitterness comes through that accompanies the hop bitterness very well. The hop bitterness is almost non existent, Bourbon and cocoa have their own bitterness that masks anything that does not belong. There is for sure a porter taste as well, it is in a dark malt and light hop characteristic. It is after the major tastes have gone, you can tell this is not a stout but a porter. A little lighter on the mouthfeel, incredibly easy drinkability.

The mouthfeel is amazing as well as the drinkability. Once I first tried it I could not pull it away from my mouth. Just so many interesting flavors that all swirl around your mouth ever so gently. It is so sweet, but also comes with some robust flavor. The bourbon is strong but velvety smooth. The drinkability is insane, if I could buy more I would buy many more. This is maybe my new favorite beer.

Highly highly recommended.


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Photo of JamisonM
4.95/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: black as night with a very exceptional head I would call it mocha head

S: really nice sweetness coffee notes with chocolate in there no alcohol in the smell I can smell this beer for an hour!!

T: getting a sweetness first with roasted notes and coffee with chocolate and layers of sweetness no alcohol is found in taste even as it warmed up

M: med mouth with med carbonation lighter mouth then I expected

D: super drinkable crazy drinkable

Overall: A fantastic beer in every way great look and head retention and lacing. Great smell Great Taste Great drinkability

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Photo of yuriruley
4.95/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance - Nice an dark with a tan head, good retention and lacing.

Smell - Chocolate, coffee, and hints of alcohol.

Taste - Very good, I had it on tap next to XXII recently and I think it is drinking just a little bit better than the XXII. Nice smooth creamy chocolate, coffee, hints of vanilla.

Mouthfeel - Nice and creamy, decent carbonation.

Drink - Goes down easy for the ABV, I thoroughly enjoyed my glass, and half of my friends glass as he thought it was a bit heavy with his meal.

Glad I got to try this on tap. I have had two bottles of it previously and they weren't near as good for whatever reason. They had somewhat of that soy sauce flavor, and while they were good they didn't compare to this.

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Photo of youradhere
4.95/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had in a XX, XXI, XXIII vert. Pitch black body, ample tan head. Smells of tootsie rolls and chocolate, slight coffee and char, slight orange. Taste is similar with a slight chili flavor; as it warms there is more coffee and chili.

Bottle opens with a pop, pours black with tan head. Head falls gradually to leave lacing cap over the top of a dark and murky body with ruby edges. Smells like chocolat covered fruit, slight chocolate, vanilla, oak, caramel, toffee. Really complex. Taste is coffee and heavy chocolate, smokey oakey in the back, some chocolate covered orange, good stuff here, really mellowed out over the years. Carbonation is strong, mild sweetness that doesnt act too cloying. Mouthfeel is medium strong and veeeery drinkable, I don't think the few I have left will past too many years more.

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Photo of Damian
4.94/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Drank from a 1 pint 6 fluid ounces bottle
Best after: 10/17/10
Acquired in a trade with fumner
Served in a snifter

The glossy, near black liquid was topped by a thin film of khaki colored froth. Tiny droplets of lacing clung to the sides of the glass.

Lots of bourbon sweetness and coffee came through in the aroma. Some molasses and vanilla as well. Super smooth and oaky. Cacoa notes were detectible. Strong indications of brown sugar. Some licorice too. As the beer warmed, the aroma intensified and became sweeter. The coffee notes began to dominate, in a good sort of way.

The flavor profile was simply mesmerizing. Sweet yet balanced up front. Lots of dark malts, oak, bourbon and brown sugar. Fudge-y, dark chocolate notes came through as well. Creamed coffee and roasted malts appeared in the center. Strong vanilla. The finish was semi-sweet and a bit roasty with a hint of piney hops. As in the nose, the coffee presence really intensified as the beer warmed.

The mouthfeel was ultra creamy and silky smooth. Oily with a fine, tongue blanketing effervescence. Although the body did not feel like that of an 11% ABV beer, it simply could not improve in any way.

Drinkability was astounding. This beer has the flavor intensity of an imperial stout but drinks like something half its strength. There was a ton of bourbon flavor but none of the heat.

Black Butte XXI is an outstanding beer in every sense. I am very sad to see that this is no longer being produced and can only hope that future anniversary releases will be as good.

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Photo of Moon2Goddess
4.92/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Color: Deep mahogony, akin to the abyss.

Head: Not much at first pour, made an appearance after the bottle warmed. Porous tan, dissipated after a short time.

Aroma: Oh yeah, now we're talkin'…mmm….god that's good….wait, one more time…oh my god... a freshly fired crème' brulee with a shot of fine scotch and chocolate biscotti. (deep inhale) Ok, now I can stop smelling it long enough to taste it.

Texture: Viscous without being too heavy, a nice weight on your tongue and throat.

Flavor & Balance: N-I-C-E, tastes every bit as sensational as it smells. Imagine the perfect pairing of gourmet chocolate and its dark wine companion, as a warm breeze gently grazes your skin, your favorite song plays in the background, and the glow of the full moon illuminates the eyes of your lover. Or as the gentleman sitting next me described it "sex in a glass."
The balance is unsurpassed, despite the brewer's claim of bitterness, I found it to be remarkably sweet and smooth. Coffee flavor was that of a buttery roast, not at all harsh or unpleasant and the alcohol bite was more like an alcohol kiss, albeit a passionate one! The cocoa beans were blended, truly brewed throughout--not just some chocolate liquer additive. All the while, gentle oak and whiskey effortlessly infuse without overpowering.

Sustained Taste: Became more enjoyable every second that it warmed. Reminded me of a sweeter, youthful version of abyss.

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

pours deep black with semi-transparent amber edges, and a light brown head. lighter than expected or desired. however, it is a porter, not an RIS, and it looks damn good in that regard. this beer is heavenly for the nostrils: rivals the most complex smelling RISs. roasted coffee beans, chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, etc.

flavor is strong coffee up front (breakfast stout style in terms of coffee, but much more complex overall). chocolate accompanies the coffee throughout, and the hops are very prevalent, adding their own bitter flare to the already bitter coffee. toffee, caramel, and tootsie roll. the bourbon gets along well with the other flavors, but remains in the background, which makes me wish they had aged 100% of the beer in barrels. aftertaste is of ROASTED coffee beans, and GOOD coffee beans at that, which definitely keeps you reaching for more.

The beer is silky smooth, but slightly over-carbonated and lighter than desired, but both of these, while taking away from the mouthfeel, contribute heavily to the superb drinkability.

Though already an elite brew, This sleeping giant will awaken to all of its glory in 1-2 years, and will be a true pleasure to drink at that time. my other 7 will be hanging out in the cellar for awhile.

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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

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Photo of prsguitarsr4me
4.87/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A wonderfully rich and sweet porter -- very Deschutes! Not as dark as other porters as rich as this, aroma is sweet and fruity, and the taste is similar with strong bourbon flavors. Extremely smooth --- one of the most drinkable beers I've ever had with this alcohol content. I loved this beer -- one of best beers I've had recently, and easily the best porter I've ever had.

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Photo of loren01
4.85/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Pours jet black color, good sized brown head with good lacing down the glass.
S: Smell is of chocolate, roasted malts and coffee
T: Sweet, chocolatey with a coffee/espresso aftertaste.
M: Very thick and heavy sticky mouthfeel
D: This beer is so tasty...I loved it. Goes down way easy for an 11% ABV beer.

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Photo of Elendinn
4.85/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Notes from February 14th, 2011:

Poured into my Deschutes tulip glass -- split the bomber with my wife, for our semi-anniversary (six months married!).

Pours an abyssal black, with a thin layer of truly caramel-colored head that quickly resigns itself to the circumference of the glass, with no lacing. It's tranquil and ominous looking, the way a big beer of this style ought to be.

Rich, roasted coffee dominates the nose, atop layers of restrained bourbon, dark chocolate, wood, dark fruit (figs, raisins, and port-like grapes), vanilla, and carmelized sugar.

Lots of roasted coffee on the tongue, masterfully balanced with dark chocolate; beautiful, wood-infused bourbon; and vanilla. Vinous grapes are faintly discernable, among flavors of molasses, cinnamon, and, perhaps, a few other, unidentifiable spices. Finishes dry, roasty, and slightly hoppy, but not overwhelmingly so. Everything compliments each other so well -- a truly amazing experience.

A moderate amount of carbonation and a full body suit the flavors perfectly -- thick and smooth. Excellent mouthfeel.

Black Butte XXI was _the_ brew that introduced me to craft beer. I had it at American Dream almost one-and-half years ago and, not surprisingly, it's aged beautifully. This beer is right on par with The Abyss and, quite frankly, I think it deserves more recognition than it's gotten. It's exquisite and extremely drinkable. The worst part: I'll have to wait for Black Butte XXIII to get bottled (it damn well better be!) before I can acquire, and age, more of it. The best porter I've ever had and, quite frankly, one of the best beers in general -- if you can still acquire this, you have an obligation to. Save it for a special occasion and savor every last drop. You won't be disappointed.

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Photo of 100floods
4.84/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

note on the bottle says DON'T open until october... fuck it. pours jet black with a finger of golden head which is slowly going away. I know porters come in second when it comes to barrel aging dark beers (stouts seem to be the go-to beer for a barrel). Just smelling this beer justifies further barrel aging of porters. The roasted malts cut through the the alcohol aroma's just enough that the barrel does not dominate (label says only 20% was aged in a bourbon barrel), yet the two seem to agree with each other. Definitey notes of dark chocolate and coffee break through it all.

The first sip is recognizable. This is for sure Black Butte, but with a kiss of barrel aging. Much like the aroma combo, the flavors seem to be working together as well. The alcohol is backing up the roasted/darker flavors perfectly, without getting in the way. This is definitely a porter first, barrel aged beer second. I want to say there's hidden hint of vanilla, but just barely. It's hard to tell that this beer is 11%. everything is so balanced and not in your face.

I've had this one sitting for 6 months since it's purchase. I'm not sure how much aging this really needs, but whatever. It works for me.

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Photo of jpmclaug
4.82/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from the bottle into my Founders snifter. Thanks to BarrytheBear for sticking this want in one of his many fantastic boxes he has sent me. I decided I have a lot of beers that I've been cellaring or holding onto for a special occasion and I'm going to open up something good every day until Christmas this week.

A - Black as can be with a nice light brown head resting on top. A light amount of lacing sticks to the glass on this one

S - Nice mix of roast with some subtle chocolate notes. Picking up on the barrel aging a little bit but not much. Can't pick up on the coffee that I was told was in this one but still this smells tasty

T - The chocolate flavors in this are phenomenal! Real smooth. Some coffee flavor is present but not much. A lot of dark malts lead by chocolate notes and a nice hint of barrel aging lying in the background. I'm enjoying this.

M - medium to heavy body, lightly carbonated, slightly syrupy. Mmmm

D - Off the charts drinkability for its 11%. I love the chocolate flavor and the syrupy body. I love the subtle barrel aging that is present as well. Few breweries know how to brew a beer like Deschutes. Another home run for them. I would love to have some more of this beer for my cellar and any future releases in this series I will definitely seek out.

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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 sidetracked
4.82/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1/14/2012 - Revisited this beer after a year and a half. The bourbon seems to have dropped out of it. Chocolate dominates. Slightly sweet. Not as amazing as I remember.


Pours black with a light brown head that lingers for the whole drink. No lacing.

Heavy bourbon aroma mixed with roasted malts, chocolate, and coffee.

Bitter chocolate and coffee flavored roasted malts upfront leading to a slightly sweet middle. The dark roasted malts and bitter chocolate follow through to the finish when they combine with bourbon, vanilla, and sweet dark fruit flavors. As it warms some sweet molasses comes through at the finish too, but not enough to distract from the other flavors.

Full bodied and chewy with enough carbonation to prevent it from being syrupy.

Drinks a lot like an imperial stout. The balance of bourbon, bitterness, and sweetness is perfect. The aroma and flavor is just amazing. One awesome beer.

5/23/2010 - "Lost" Finale

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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 ThreeWiseMen
4.8/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Two separate reviews are included below: the first by Wiseman Nick on April 17, 2010; the second by Wiseman Justin on February 24, 2010. Overall scores are averaged.


Sampled this last night at a BA gathering. The following review is based on notes taken at that time.

Poured into a snifter.

Appearance: A short, foamy, light brown, cap sits atop a pitch black body. Looks far darker and thicker than any porter I've seen. The head is really impressive for a barrel-aged beer - drags a ton of lacing, too! All in all, this looks fantastic. (5.0)

Smell: Cayenne pepper, dark chocolate, and bourbon. This totally reminds me of Great Divide's Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti, which also exhibits a lot of cayenne. Caramel is there too. I love it! (4.5)

Taste: Caramel, cayenne, dark chocolate, cream, and spicy, bitter, and floral hops. Oh yeah, all of those flavors are accented by mellow bourbon. This is a great mix! (4.5)

Mouthfeel: Peppery, prickly, and softly carbonated. Warm and dry, but not overly so. Very robust for a porter, and very creamy for a barrel-aged beer. Impressive. (5.0)

Drinkability: If this were a little cheaper, I'd drink it all the time. As it is, I still purchase this once or twice a month. Highly recommended! (5.0)


Wiseman Justin Reporting:

Opened this bad boy due to a rough seven days.

Appearance: Pours black, with a nice thick milk chocolate colored head. Very foamy, the head stays around for a long while as I type away on the keyboard. (4.5)

Smell: Well I'm about two feet away and I can already get the hints of whats to come: Bourbon. You can smell it from two feet away. When your nose is closer to the cup you get a strong smell of chocolate. My nose also picks up some cherries. I'm not sure if I got used to the way it smelled but the longer I tried to smell this beer the harder it got. All I can tell you is bourbon + chocolate = delicious smell. As you drink this beer and go back for some more smells to see if you missed anything you get it: Burnt chocolate.. that's what's going on. It's not complex in any way, but what it does it does well. (4.0)

Taste: The style says "american porter" but I'm going to go with imperial porter. Everything you might not like about a porter is gone. This is probably one of the best porter's i've ever had. It's full bodied and delicious. I get strong flavors of chocolate, wood, bourbon, and smoke. Truly delicious. Tried this side by side with The Abyss 2009 (deschutes imperial stout...) Their porter is better than their imperial stout. In what world is a porter better than an imperial stout? (5.0)

Mouthfeel: Thick and full bodied, smooth, refreshing... I love the way this porter feels. Simply put this leaves my mouth happy. The alcohol adds a 'warming' feeling and it is in ever way a good feeling. The beer has smoothed out a lot since the last time I drank it. I'm missing the raw wild alcohol component a little bit. (4.5)

Drinkability: You know how it goes with these bigger beers. I can tell you whenever I split one of these I want more. I'm drinking this one all to myself and I'll probably wish I had more. (4.5)

Note: If you drink this beer you might be tempted to rate it next to great beers like Old Rasputin. Then you remember... this is a porter not a stout. As a porter it does not get much better than this.

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

Deschute's has hit one out of the park with this one (along with their Abyss, of course). This is my second one of these by my lonesome, after sharing another bottle with some friends. Let's see if I can do justice to it.

A: Black. Definitely won't be reading any newspapers through your glass with this one. Kept small lacing on my glass; head was pretty minimal.

S: COFFEE! Almost like the aroma of brewing coffee in the morning after it starts to warm. Could pick up other scents but since my smeller is not real good these days, wasn't sure what it was/is.

T: Wonderful! Chocolate and coffee; great combo. I could do these over and over if it weren't for the higher alcohol content. Definitely a malt and coffee bomb, in my opinion. Definitely get some sweetness but not overly so.

Drinkability? Hell YES. This stuff is great now; I know it'll only get better since the label on bottle says best AFTER Oct of 2010. I feel as though the alcohol is fairly well hidden; kinda sneaks up on ya. Get this beer to drink now AND to age a year or more.

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

oh my how i love thee. a deep rich black concotion bursting with burnt coffee grounds, dark chocolate, vanilla and just the right amount of bourbon? sweet and malty yet balanced with a nice bite? silky smooth in the mouth? 11% to boot? it is true my friends. the black butte XXI is phenomenal. i pop one once a month and these are aging well. could possibly be my favorite brew of all time. 11% really?

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Photo of DucksFan16
4.8/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22 oz. bottle.

Pours a dark black with a creamy tan head. Aroma of chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, and roasted malts. Flavor is very rich. Regular Black Butte is one of my favorite porters anywhere, and this version is absolutely incredible. This is without a doubt one of the best bourbon barrel aged beer that I’ve had.

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Photo of RomaniIteDomum
4.78/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this at a tasting I stumbled upon with a few local BAs. Great time with great people.

The beer poured black, which happens to be one of my favorite beer colors. Little carbonation, nice lacing.

The smell was surprisingly sweet for something the color of liquified sin. Some vanilla, chocolate, and coffee present.

The taste was very, very nice, similar to the nose. Surprisingly not much alcohol taste. Great beer. Too busy drinking to do much writing.

Creamy, very creamy. Not much carbonation, but very smooth.

I had to add this to my wants. I fell in love with this beer from the get-go. Great beer.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.77/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this on tap at the Portland Brewpub. Severed in a Deschutes Snifter.

A - A dark, deep brown, not quite black. Very thin, dark tan head that clings to the edges.

S - Chocolate, coffee, toffee, very slight booze.

T - Chocolate is the dominate flavor here, some coffee tones, molasses, bourbon.

D - This is where most Big Beers can fail, but not this one. Smooth, balanced, flavors are bouncing around in your mouth.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.75/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Review from 4/2011 notes. One year old properly cellared bottled, poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a very deep red brown amber, appearing black. One finger dark tan head and lacing. Looks nice. Fine aroma of dark and roasted malts, chocolate and dark fruit with a hint of oak, bourbon and licorice. Taste follows with dark roasted malt, chocolate and dark fruit up front followed by a mellow, satisfying finish of malt and light chocolate and bourbon flavors. Delicious and well made.

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