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
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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Photo of xnicknj
4.42/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into snifter - thanks to biglobo

Pours a pretty blacked out color with some browned, nutty hues. Crop of tanned head faces out into a collar of film, leaving some spotty lacing on the glass.

Really nice nose, chock full of vanilla and oaky bourbon. Inviting coffee and roasty tones with some underlying chocolate. Malty and full with some booze.

Plenty of roasty warmth with coffee beans up front. The barrel comes through nicely with vanilla and bourbon, followed by some slightly charred oak. The tannins lie underneath a pretty thick malt backbone with dark chocolate and sweetness. Finishes with another splash of vanilla and bourbon warmth.

Fuller medium body, decent carbonation, chewy and pretty smooth on the tongue. You can tell this is about to go downhill, although there's still some fantastic, smoothed out barrel and coffee flavor in this.

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Photo of Reaper16
4.3/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bomber served into a tulip glass

Pours a, well, a black color. It's black. Pretty black, yeah. Not much head here -- a wisp of tan -- but at 11% ABV I didn't expect much. Decent lacing on the glass, considering.

I'm surprised that only 20% of the blend is barrel-aged, because this totally smells like a barrel-aged stout. Smooth chocolate everywhere, with plenty of that vanilla barrel character. There's a decent amount of roast here (as any good porter should have). Quite solid.

The first and most dominant flavor is the cocoa. It's pretty tasty, definitely on the darker side of the chocolate spectrum, and spiked with some kind of chili pepper from the taste of it. It's a delicious flavor, with the pepper sensation perfectly balanced. It plays very well with the smokiness of the roasted malts. Rounding everything out are the barrel characteristics, which again are more significant than I would have expected. Smooth vanilla and that slightly-thinned-out flavor that comes with age. This is a kick-ass beer, and it is thanks to those Dominican cocoa nibs.

Like I said, this is a bit thinned-out because of the age on it, but it's nothing distracting. The carbonation level has mellowed, of course, but that's not altogether a bad thing when it creates such smoothness.

Overall, this is a very solid Imperial Porter. Probably one of the very best I've had. The drinkability must be mentioned here too; this beer does not at all taste like it's 11% ABV. I'm glad that I have another bottle of the XXI.

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Photo of ibbjamin
4.58/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Paid $12.99 for a bomber and am reviewing it about 27 months after its release.

Small, dense, light tan head with a nice layer of retention. Black in color with thick lacing.

Deep roasted dark malts, bourbon, dark chocolate, espresso, oak, vanilla, creme and leather in the nose. A complex big stout much more than a porter.

Taste is very chocolatey with dark roasted malts and a nice oak presence. Bourbon is noticed, but quite tame and the overall ABV is hidden very well.

A pleasure to drink, this is full bodied and smooth as silk. Carbonation levels are perfect and the cellaring of this has certainly made it quite delicious. Dark malt and chocolate promise a lengthy finish.

This is going down very fast and I wish I had picked up more of them. An awesome beer.

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

Glass: New Belgium Globe
Aging Notes: Enjoy After 10/17/2010
Bang for the Buck (oz*%/$): 22*11/12 = 20.2

A: Inky dark, turbid. Lacey tan head, showing some roasted malt or maybe coffee.

S: Roasted malt, coffee, slight hot pepper, some malt.

T: A little one-dimensional on the coffee/hot pepper thang, but enjoyable. Extremely unique.

M: Lingering roasty-ness like coffee, a little oily. Carbonation pleasant. No alcohol heat.

O: This beer got me fucked up, despite strong efforts to mitigate its effects with water. Annoying for a beer session, nice for a friday after work. All the pieces put together are greater than the sum of the parts.

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

This bottle was courtesy of BrewerB in a box a couple months ago. Thanks for hitting this Want Brian! It was on my Wants list for a long time.

This beer pours a medium bodied chocolate brown that turns to a dark chocolate brown as it collects with a one finger mocha head that quickly dissipates. It smells sweet chocolates, slightly bitter coffee, with a touch of bourbon. I'm surprised the bourbon was present upon pouring. It did disappear after it had warmed. Initially though, it had a really, really smooth and nice nose, heavy on chocolate malt. The flavors are smooth and malty. It features a lot of chocolate malt upfront with a milk chocolaty sweetness with slight coffee bitterness. The chocolate is both nice and authentic. I'd also say that there is a splash of cream. The flavors, while not incredibly complex, work well together and make this both flavorful and an easy drinker. Perhaps the most telling part of the beer is the drinkability because you'd never guess that this is above 7% abv but it's 11%? I would have no idea. They masked the alcohol brilliantly. Overall this is a very, very nice porter and one of the best I've had. It's worth seeking out since it's still drinking well. I definitely preferred this to the XXIII I had not too long ago.

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Photo of IdrinkGas
4.27/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Best after 10/17/10.
Pours pitch black with a frothy tan head. Sticky lacing around the glass. Dark chocolate and roasty malt in the nose. Taste is dark fruit, faint burnt coffee and molasses. Finishes with a big lasting cocoa nib flavor. Also pick up a little oak. Creamy and smooth feel. A little drying alcohol in the finish.

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.42/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes. Thanks to Paul for this bottle.

A: Pours a very deep brown, practically black with a small mocha colored head with decent retention and spotty lacing.

S: A surprising amount of pepper comes through, probably the best pepper aroma I have experienced in a beer before. In with the pepper is a good bit of chocolate and darker malt.

T: The peppers come through again here, but a little lighter. It melds with chocolate and a little roasty malt very nicely. There is a little bit of toffee and caramel near the end, and then the finish brings back a bit of spice.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation. Easy drinking, and rather smooth.

O: A pleasant surprise. Really enjoyed this beer, my favorite of any beer I have had with peppers being that prominent. Would be interested to see how it drinks in a year or two.

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

Had this bad boy resting in the cellar for some time now. Time to enjoy.

Poured into a mini-snifter from a bomber.

Pours a very dark dark brown color that appears almost black. It There is cola colored edging around the sides of the mass. There is a fingers worth of sand colored head that sits briefly.

Then nose is straight Whopper candy status. Smells just like a chocolate malt ball. The chocolate is pronounced very nicely in the nose as well as some oak and a tad of coffee that creates the malty scent akin to a malt ball.

The taste is just the same! Awesome. Smooth as silk chocolate with a hint of bitter coffee and some oak and vanilla to smooth it out. There is barely any heat on this one after it's hibernation in the cellar. Very nice.

The mouthfeel is velvety and smooth and quit viscous. There is enough body here to keep the flavors stuck to my mouth and lips for awhile, taking in all the gloriousness.

Overall, this brew stood up very nicely over the past couple years and i am very surprised and impressed in how the coffee flavors still remain, but just enough to allow the other great flavors to rise. Great brew.

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

I had this along with 2010 The Abyss. What a night...

The Black Butte is indeed black, completely opaque. The head forms creamy and tannish. She looks tasty.

This is one of those beers that you can smell across the room if it's opened. Dominant are the aromas of dark fruits like prunes and raisin that gives it a wine-like smell. Oakiness is also pretty strong, booze makes its case, and cocoa and roasted coffee make for a tantalizing smell.

The taste is very complex. It's insanely complex. It's not nearly as boozy as it smells. Like in the smell, the dark fruits are strongest and bring a sweetness along with molasses. It definitely has a bourbon flavor to it. Bitter and roasted coffee and cocoa round the taste out. Fantastic flavors. You want to drink more and more.

It's pretty slick because of the sweetness but the carbonation breaks it up a bit to make it creamy. It's not watery at all and for me that's a huge plus because for my preferences, I generally prefer stouts over porters pretty much every time because porters usually have less flavor and feel too light to me. With the Black Butte this is not the case at all. It's full-bodied but is a very drinkable beer.

Without a doubt, this is the best porter I've ever had.

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Photo of Onenote81
4.17/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Received this bottle in a trade back in '09. Cellared since. Bottle split with a friend, and served in a snifter.

Pours black and heavy, with a good half-inch tan head on top. Pleasantly surprised with the look of this one. Time has not hurt the carbonation at all. The nose is rich and fulfilling. Big notes of vanilla, oak, chocolate, light booze. The nose is not roasted at all; no char-like notes. Sweet and rich.

I took a few sips right after the pour out of the fridge, then let it sit for awhile to "warm up" and develop. The mouth is heavy and borderline chewy. This one is meant to be sipped. Big sweet dark chocolate flavors balance with a mild vanilla sweetness on the backend. A wallop of coffee on the finish. I know only 20% of this was aged in the oak barrels, but the whiskey has mellowed out for sure, as it is hardly detectable in the flavor anymore. Still, this beer is amazing. I'd be hard-pressed to find a better Porter out there. Deschutes has done it again. This is one killer beer.

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Photo of eyeenjoybeer
3.88/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into Bell's tulip glass on 10/16/11.

Appearance: Black cola body with a fleeting off-white head. After 30 seconds the head settles into the body.

Smell: Simple but nice dark malts dominate. Caramel is present, as well as a little oak. Not really very busy, here, but nice for the age.

Taste: The front end slowly leads from a sweet coffee note into mild dark malt notes. Nothing too complex, but a little oak finishes the flavor. Sweetness hangs out, lightly, through the entire flavor profile.

Mouthfeel: Feels like thin coffee, not too coating, but nice.

Overall: This beer was likely better when a bit fresher. I thoroughly enjoyed this beer, but I will drink the other one in my cellar pretty soon. I don't think time will anything more for this one.

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Photo of chugalug06
4.47/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Drank from an Avery Tulip glass...

A - Not too much head pours from this all black bottle. The one-finger head that does pour is an almost gray foam... Brew is dark black with lots of deep browns. Head builds nicely when swirled. Brew is nice think density.

S - Big chocolate and brown sugar... Lots of nice rich caramel and a small side of bubble gum. I also get lots of Bourbon vanilla pouring out...

T - HUGE (brown) sugar, but nicely avoids falling into the "sugar bomb" category. Very roasty, but not at all smokey... Very nice and light, doesn't have any of the heat the ABV represents.

M - AWESOME! Perfect carbonation. Perfect small amount of bitterness, none present all smooth and silky... Great.

O - A wonderful brew to enjoy on a cold rainy day. Perfect for the afternoon... Glad I got to Split this one with some good friends. Highly recommended.

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Photo of mulder1010
3.62/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bought in October 2009 in Tucson, AZ best after date of 10/17/10

Poured into a snifter

A-- Poured a dark brown and settled black with just a few hints of amber here and there. Small light brown head, stayed through drinking the beer.

S-- Big initial nose of roasted coffee and milk chocolate. Hints of vanilla as well. With more air nose became more of coffee and chocolate.

T-- Dirty, grity, and earthy coffee, chocolate, vanilla and touches of oak. Reminded me of old coffee. Thought KBS but without the bourbon notes that KBS has. Much more about rich coffee and chocolate.

M-- Gritty and earthy in front, more creamy in back. Bits of thinness in the mid and back of palate. Well hidden alcohol for the size of the beer. Once it opened up more did get notes of whiskey in the finish. Medium feel and low carbonation.

O-- Not bad but not great. Liked it more and more as I drank on. Well hidden alcohol. More about coffee and chocolate with this. No wow factor to this really, even with age. Seems to have mellowed out well but maybe too much.

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Photo of Kadonny
3.65/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber bottle into a snifter glass.

A: A thick jet black syrupy liquid with very minimal light brown head. No glass lacing.

S: Sweet chocolate, some coffee and roastiness. Caramel and toffee notes with maybe a hint of vanilla.

T: Wow, this is sweet. I'm sure it sweetened up over the years. Initial flavors start off with the sweet chocolate flavors, sweet cocoa, coffee, slight vanilla, toffee, caramel coupled with the heavy roasted malt flavors. Not getting much barrel aging flavors other than some slight vanilla. Finish stays sweet and turns cloying with some alcohol.

M: Creamy, full, coating, sweet with decent alcohol. Just too sweet to enjoy IMO.

O: I was not getting this beer really. I thought it was too sweet to enjoy and it could have used some hops or other earthy tones to help cut the sweetness.

Overall I was disappointed in this beer. I had high hopes for this beer especially with the whiskey barrels, but I left wanting more. I'm not sure why very little of the woody/earthy tones did not come out that would have no doubt cut the sweetness. Still, I understand how limited this beer was so I was still glad to try it.

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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 cosmicevan
4.42/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bittle shared with yagman.

a - black as you'd expect with a thin tan head that didn't hang around, but never fukly left. Swirling glass brings it back. Creamy looking.

s - like the look creaminess seeps into the nose. Chocolate vanilla malt caramel almost. Some licorice, and a tingle of deep rich boozy sweetness.

t - chocolate roast malt. Touch of bittnerness on the finish. It just occured to me that this is a porter and not a stout. It is that big and bold. Kind of like a porter extreme with that roasty buzziness with the flavor. As it warmed it seemed to be dominated by cocoa powder chocolatiness. Big and boozy.

m - one of the bigger porters i've ever had. Full and rich. One of the easier beers to drink especially considering how big it is. Booze definitely shines on the feel leaving a vodka like tingle. Extremely smooth without the heaviness you get with other barrel aged brews.

o - this is a porter? Er...I mean...THIS is a porter! Huge beer. Pretty boozy in my opinion, but SO easy to drink. Would've loved to try it fresh, will try xxiii tonight and see. Super heavy for a porter, but WHAT a porter!

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Photo of Yagman3000
4.38/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a 22 oz. bomber generously shared by fellow BA CosmicEvan.

Appears a rich dark dark brown with shades of dark red at its heart. A small creamy head remains at rest.

Smells of rich dark chocolate with hints of coffee coming through right after. The smell of bourbon is limited but possibly comes through in its softer toffee notes. There's a strong booziness coming through - one can tell there's 11 % here.

Tastes of dark roasted coffee with, as opposed to the nose, stronger flavors from the barrel-aging coming through. Sweet caramel in the middle gives in to a final roasted bitterness.

Mouthfeel has me immediately think of its creaminess to begin with. I appreciate that it maintains a light effervescence throughout. It's a full ride.

Overall a really nice dark rich experience with a porter. I'm used to these flavor profiles related to an imperial stout. A great start to a tasting with a fellow BA.

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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!

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Photo of Wadsey
3.42/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Black Butte XXI

Served in DFH signature glass

A: Pours darkest of browns and, when backlit, the beer shows a deep amber glow. It is also clear. Head, retention, and effervescence play bit parts in appearance. 

S: Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, coffee liqueur, light vanilla compose smell. I will add molasses as I think this beer would pair well with barbecue beef. 

T: Sweet maltiness and then chocolate in its various and sundry forms. Mid-palate I hit a monolithic bitterness that is the offspring of chocolate, coffee and hops. The only thing that covers it is another drink.

M: Heavy body and medium carbonation. Powdery mouthfeel with some warming. Drying. 

O: Black Butte XXI had the right stats for cellaring, but it seems to have lost something in the interim. I recall it being more multifaceted and brighter.  

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Photo of Alpar
4.61/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another great beer sent to me by my buddy Trappistlover! Thanks man.

A: Really dark, can't see through it when held up to the light, but I am getting a few stray reds near the top. Big frothy brownish head that runs away after a minute or so. I might mistake this for a stout had I not known it was a porter.

S: Anise and Coffee right away. No barrel in there but I can detect the alcohol. This definitely doesn't smell "hot" though. I smell some caramel too.

T: First sip was nothing special, it was actually really sweet and reminded me of my first sip of Dark Lord, minus the extreme viscosity. I was kind of let down after reading the recent reviews but I let it warm and WOW did it really come together. Lots of coffee. It actually reminds me of KBS (flavor wise). I am getting a smooth barrel taste but not detecting it in the nose. A hint of oak and vanilla, definitely some anise in there as well.

M: Very coating but not extremely thick, although this is thicker than most porters I've had.

O: I actually wish I would have shared this with some friends because it is so fantastic. I'm nursing the rest of this bottle and look forward to aging some of the XXIIIs.

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Photo of armock
4.38/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Perry's Liquor in Livermore, CA

A - Poured a black color with a brown head that leaves lacing behind

S - I'm getting a lot of coffee with a very light barrel effect only some oak, vanilla, and whiskey in my bottle

T - Like the nose lots of coffee upfront with some chocolate yet again the barrel effects are minimal which is too bad

M - This beer has a smooth full body with medium carbonation to it

O - This is an outstanding beer the taste is great very easy to drink as the abv isn't noticeable at all definitely worth hunting down to try

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