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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 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.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 580 |  Reviews: 377
Photo of Sammy
4.15/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Isn't this what we call imperial porter? Thickish pouring and bodied black coffee liquer, rich and alcohol more or less hidden. Well integrated, the coffee and chocolate and roast.Bourbon in the secondary well managed and adding to the complexity. The richness is carried by the aroma. A great drink, and then a great nap.

 322 characters

Photo of acurtis
4/5  rDev -8.9%

Photo of Texasfan549
4.75/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.3/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to SamuelJackson45 for sending me this one!

Best after 10/17/10.

Pours an opaque black with a 1 inch dark tan head that settles to an oily film on the top of the beer. Thin rings and patterns of lace form on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of roasted malt, roasted coffee beans, chocolate milk, and some wood notes. Taste is of dark, rich chocolate syrup up front with a roasted malt and coffee bean presence on the aftertaste. I am not getting any of the barrel flavors, just some wood notes in the smell. This beer is smooth and creamy while still maintaining a carbonated feel. Overall, this is a great beer with a nice balance of flavors but the smell is a bit lacking. This is still a stellar beer!

 718 characters

Photo of GRG1313
3.85/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black in color with a decent tan head that quickly disappates.

Nose is all big black coffee, espresso and dark chocolate.

Mouth feel is medium and may get creamy with some age.

Taste and flavors are as promised by the nose - big full coffee and dark chocolate with some sweet espresso and espresso bean character. This porter, for me, is much more of a stout and all coffee and espresso and dark chocolate character.

Age will absolutely integrate the flavors and likely give a more creamy, integrated mouthfeel to the beer. In fairness, the bottle says "best after 10/17/10." I couldn't wait. However, some bottle age will improve this one all around and my score will likely go up. Still, I could live with drinking this one with some regularity as it is. Nice effort.

 783 characters

Photo of spycow
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of kjkinsey
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of djrn2
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%

Photo of nmann08
3.75/5  rDev -14.6%

Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev -8.9%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of brentk56
4.32/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours an obsidian color with a rather modest head that declines to a ringlet and archipelago; spotty lacing

Smell: Chocolate and more chocolate; underneath there are hints of licorice, dark fruit and bourbon/vanilla

Taste: Opens with a twinge of hopleaf and then the chocolate overwhelms, builing through mid-palate when the licorice and and citrusy hops are reintroduced; after the swallow, the dark fruit and licorice add depth with the vanilla/bourbon adding complexity in the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: A very nice beer with a delightful chocolate taste that somehow falls slightly short of the standard I would expect for an anniversary ale - I might rate it higher in a different presentation

 760 characters

Photo of oline73
4.1/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours black with no light coming through. One and a half finger thick creamy tan head.

Smell: I'm picking up a ton of roast. Sweet dark chocolate, bourbon, and mild vanilla.

Taste: Again, there is a lot of smokey roast. The coffee flavor is very mild. I'm also picking up dark chocolate, dark fruit, and bourbon. The alcohol doesn't overwhelm at all.

Mouthfeel: Medium to thick body, but definitely not as thick as I thought it would be. The carbonation is smooth and creamy and the finish is a bit slick.

Overall: This beer was a bit different than I thought it would be, but not in a bad way. The roast flavors dominated the sweetness. The flavors blend together well, and I really enjoyed the mild bourbon taste. I'd definitely have this one again.

 804 characters

Photo of zeff80
4.49/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Poured out an opaque, jet black color with a small, light brown colored head of foam. It left minimal lacing.

S - It smelled of chocolate and cocoa with roasted malt notes. There were mild toffee aromas.

T - It tasted of chocolate and black licorice. It had a peppery hop spice.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium to full bodied ale that packs a warm alcohol punch.

D - Great beer. It is probably the best porter than I've ever had.

 450 characters

Photo of SocalKicks
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

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

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

Smell: Even though this is a blend with only 20% aged in bourbon barrels, that signature caramel and vanilla bourbon aroma is the first thing I noticed. More coffee-forward than the Black Butte XX, but still nicely balanced by dark malts and a touch of barrel.

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

 1,074 characters

Photo of zestar
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%

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

Had this on tap at Toronado

Served in a goblet with hardly any tan head. Color is a deep brown, pretty much black.

Aroma: Some oak, vanilla, and bourbon. Big roasted malt feel. Slight caramel and chocolate with coffee notes.

Taste: A lot of bourbon with the oak and vanilla. Brings some head with it. Lots of nut flavors and grassy hops. It is a nice porter and really great for the style.

Mouthfeel: smooth and creamy with a slight bit of heat. Full bodied with a lower amount of carbonation. Ends malty, roasted, and dry.

Overall, I wasn't too amazed by this beer until I remember that it is a porter. I really wish more porters tasted like this. I have a bottle and I am going to age it and I can only imagine it getting better.

 736 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.47/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Held to the light, Black Butte XXI remains an almost completely opaque black brown. The exception is the ring of reddish chestnut directly beneath the fading head of creamy dark tan above it. It fades to a wide collar within a minute, to be sure, and only tiny specks and streaks of lacing are left behind.

In the nose it's deeply roasty, almost charred, and chocolatey.
it expresses dark chocolate, but there's also a good bit of sugar and cocoa that delivers creamier milk chocolate. Chocolate-covered espresso beans come to mind as well, as there is a bit of coffee. It reminded me of rich, oily Kenya that's been left in the pot just a touch too long, but still hasn't become burnt and oxidized (yet!).

The flavor is rich - MASSIVE even - and the initial burst of dark, almost burnt coffee bean quickly turns to dark chocolate, dusty dark cocoa, and then fruit. It builds on the palate quickly though, and things change. Where I first found bright reddish fruit in the first two or three sips, I then started to find fig and darker skinned fruits subsequently as the malt lingered in my mouth and the bitterness grew. Soon fudge-like notes emerged, and leafy hop notes appeared. I think it's really too rich and full and complex though to give a kind of play-by-play because it will probably assault everyone just a little bit differently. The bitterness, however, should remain the same. It's rock-solid, and when teamed with the roastiness it acts as a dense anchor that holds the sweeter chocolatey notes down. Additionally, the alcohol lends a bit of spiciness and warmth once you've passed the quarter glass mark. As for the Bourbon barrel again, well I don't really find any Bourbon flavor except in the finish, although I'm guessing it's responsible for at least a touch of the heat. And oak? Well there's a bit of woody dryness that lingers in the mouth. It actually helps to dry it, along with the heat and the bitterness and the roast.

It's a massive beer, but it's also well-fermented out. The mouthfeel delivers a full body, and it's oily-slick and just slightly creamy until you let it warm to become foamy, and then BAM, it simply explodes in a big puff of froth!

As to drinkability, it's obviously too big and densely flavorful to offer repeat servings, but one is enough as it's so massive (it puts most Imperial Russian Stouts to shame). So then what about its desirability as a sipping beer? Well, it is a bit harsh and blocky. It's not round. It's more like Bourbon with its fiery edge. And I'll just go with that. If you enjoy sipping whiskey, you'll certainly enjoy sipping this.

Unique. Complex. Rich. Worth seeking out!

 2,654 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
3.87/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewery in August 2009.

A: Dark black with an espresso-colored head and a tiny bit of lacing.

S: Lots of coffee going on here with a little bit of chocolate and some hops.

T: Lots of the same but a little too overpowering at this point--it definitely needs some age on it and I'll certainly do a re-review after some time has passed on it.

M: Fairly thick, but quite a bit too dry.

D: Pretty good, but the taste definitely needs some time to mellow.

 468 characters

Photo of nickfl
4.2/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - One finger of tan head on top of an opaque black body with some ruby highlights showing through. The foam settles slowly and leaves a thick coating of lace on the glass.

S - Notable chocolate malt and coffee. Fruity plum notes with caramel and some woody oak aroma.

T - Sweet, thick caramel malt up front with thick, bittersweet chocolate. Coffee appears in the middle with a dry bitterness and some nutty espresso notes. Finishes with some sweet, fruity alcohol notes and spicy pine hop flavor, as well as vanilla, black cherry, coffee and chocolate. Lingering chocolate covered coffee bean flavors with a hint of whiskey.

M - Thick, viscous body, moderate carbonation, and a somewhat sweet finish. Spicy alcohol that leaves some lingering warmth in the throat.

D - I am quite impressed that this beer manages to differentiate itself as a porter rather than an imperial stout with its emphasis on chocolate malt character over roast. Despite the chocolate nature of the malt, coffee dominates the overall flavor profile and it has quite a different, more espresso like character than that of roasted grain. The bourbon barrel aged portion seems to contribute relatively little to the overall impression of the beer, modifying the other flavors rather than standing out on its own. The label says best AFTER October 2010 (cute) and I am inclined to believe it. The alcohol is still a bit hot while the coffee and chocolate malt sweetness are bludgeoningly strong and lacking in subtlety; the flavors are bold, but seem like they could benefit from about a year to integrate. It is good now, but it probably does need some time to reach its peak.

 1,653 characters

Photo of ygtbsm94
4/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

 1,190 characters

Photo of wethorseblanket
4.39/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of russpowell
4.59/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours mahogany with a finger of mocha colored head. Nice viscosity to this; above average head retention & lacing

S: Dark fruit & oakyness, plus vanilla notes, once warm, a touch of sherry as well, beautiful nose to this

T: Coffee, burnt grain, dark fruit (raisins & dark cherry) & dark chocolate. Dark chocolate, plums, oaky vanilla, coffee & a touch of booze as this warms; plus dryness. Finishes dry, boozey, oaky & with some mocha, dryness drags this down a bit for me

MF: Medium bodied, oily, low carbonation, pretty darn rich

Drinks pretty easy for the abv, just enough coffee for me. I think I liked XX more, but this would be an awesome 2nd choice. Can't wait for XXII!

 681 characters

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