Black Butte XXIII | Deschutes Brewery

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Black Butte XXIIIBlack Butte XXIII

Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.80%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
XXIII. So where to next? What's 2011's rich, imperial take on Black Butte Porter? Just for kicks, you dream. Orange zest perhaps? From Spanish Oranges. Seville, to be exact. And Chocolate nibs. Pampered nibs from the artisanal alchemists at Theo. Maybe some chilies? Pasilla Negra only, please. That would be crazy wouldn't it? Welcome to crazy. Get it while you can.

55 IBU

Info from brewery: "475 barrels were produced. 275 were bottled and the remaining 200 were put into kegs."

Added by jdense on 06-17-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 319 | Ratings: 783
Photo of dmsohyea
2.91/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz bomber, served in a snifter.

A - Dark brown, some light penetration. 2 finger tan head, some retention.

S - Smell is dark malts, bourbon, brown sugars, orange zest, and some chocolate. Everything is muddled together.

T - Strong bourbon flavor with a chocolate backbone and a bit of orange on the finish. Again, completely muddled and not very tasty. With all these nice flavors I would have thought it would taste better. Maybe it needs time to mellow out.

M - Low carbonation and medium body. Pretty harsh from the bourbon. More hot than it should be at less than 11%.

O - Didn't like this one. Maybe after a year or two I'll come back and review it again.

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Photo of champ103
3.02/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a viscous and dark, nearly opaque black color. A very minimal and thin bubbly tan head forms, and recedes to nothing in a second. No lace is left.
S: Chocolate, vanilla, orange peal, and light roast. Plenty of whiskey/barrel aromas. Harsh alcohol.
T: Chocolate that intermingles with the orange peal. Lightly roasted. Lots of boozy whiskey. Not so much flavor from the barrel, more like harsh fusel alcohol one gets with a boozy bourbon. A very bitter finish, either from some hops or the orange peal added. I can not tell. Not well incorporated IMO.
M/D: A viscous body that is very low on carbonation. Almost to low. Very syrupy. Hard to drink. It took me a while to finish my half of the bottle. Not something I care to revisit in the near future.

Overall the whiskey alcohol is a little to harsh for my tastes. The orange peal is interesting, but seems more like an unbalanced, overly bitter and boozy Traquir Jacobite. I am hoping some time will mellow this out. Until then, this is not something I would recommend.

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Photo of TheBeerCarl
3.11/5  rDev -26%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Light brown coloring with little to no head. The head that is there is light brown as well.

Smell: The first note is definitely heat and bourbon with subtle hints of chocolate and orange peel.

Taste: The XXIII tastes like a shot of bourbon with some smooth chocolate and very noticeable orange juice. The taste resembles more of a whiskey cocktail than a beer. The beer is still young so it might mature into something softer later but for now its pretty harsh.

Mouthfeel: Burns on the tongue and in the back of the mouth but the low carbonation allows for a smooth feel over the tongue almost cooling the burning sensation.

Overall: This beer is by far the most disappointing vintage of the Black Butte Anniversary series. I was a huge fan of XX and XXI and really liked XXII but this one is definitely a little too harsh for my tastes.

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Photo of OakedCanuck
3.18/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz bottle into cervoise.

A - Pours a dark brown to lighter black. Brown edging. Rusty brown head with minor lacing

S - Noticeably hoppy, pine, on the nose. I pick up some woodiness but little of the bourbon. Spicy chili notes and cinnamon/nutmeg

T - Dang, this is really spicy. Not from the spices but because of the chilis! The heat from the chilis really overpowers all of the other flavours. There is the roasty character of coffee but not much else. I barely pick up some orange zest and some minor spices.

M - Medium and thinning. Hot chilis!

O - I was a little disappointed with this one. The chilis are way too hot and mutes out all of the other flavours. The bottle says enjoy after 6/15/12 and I will revisit this one them and hopefully some of the other flavours will be able to come through.

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Photo of alexhahn82
3.2/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pitch Black. With a very small head (poured by a delicate handed beertender.

S - A hint of booze, hint of cocoa.

T/M - Tastes of oak up front (I said OAK not bourbon, but does finish with a bourbon flavor. Finishes very chocolaty with a bitter end. Mouthfeel is heavy with an almost peppey quality. After finishes off bourbony.

Overall - A little too much actual cocoa nibs for my taste, it would be better if it was a chocolate flavor from toasted barley more so than an additive. Def worth a shot but will UPDATE this review when I taste it AFTER ITS "BEST AFTER" DATE.

PP (Price Point) - $10.99 for a 22oz Partially bourbon barrel aged beer that is 10.8% is well worth it to me.


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Photo of axeman9182
3.31/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber that was a very generous extra from dc55110. It was allowed to warm some before being poured into my Duvel tulip.

Black Butte XXIII pours a solid black, with a monstrous, frothy caramel colored head. It tops out at more than four fingers of foam. Head retention and lacing are both very good, but I'd have liked to have seen a little more from at least one of those to give the beer a 5 for appearance. I bring my nose towards the glass, and a bunch of different aromas hit me; most, but not all working well together. There are notes of chocolate and molasses, the two of those contrasted by a bit of heat from the chili peppers. That all meshes together fine, but there's also a citrusy orange peel component that doesn't fit in, and just sticks out like a sore thumb. The flavor again has those same great suggestions of chocolate and molasses, with just a hint of spice, only to be ruined by the orange peel. It almost tastes candied, like it has a sugary edge to it, and is more prominent than in the aroma. The body is not as rich and full as I might have imagined, but it has a very nice creamy quality to it. The carbonation is definitely lacking though, the beer occasionally teeters across the line into having a syrupy quality. I had Black Butte XXI a few months ago and loved it, so my expectations may have been unfairly heightened. Also, XXIII is fairly fresh and almost a year out from its "best after" date, but I wanted to try it fresh, while this year's addditions (orange and chilies) are fresh. There's a good beer lurking somewhere in Black Butte XXIII, but it's overpowered by the inclusion of orange peel in the brew. This one will probably be a bit better with some age

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Photo of ktrillionaire
3.32/5  rDev -21%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to CoastieSimon for the share. The brew pours a thin black hue, with very modest head, looking like iced black coffee. The nose is that of a robust Porter, and offers very little of the sweet and delectable notes that I was expecting; it is all roast and a bit of alcohol. The flavor is, again, just roasty Porter with a big amount of herbal and grassy bitterness, with very little, if any, trace of the cocoa or barrel. This differs from previous versions in that it is so strongly hopped. I don't like the level of hoppiness, it is hugely distracting and subverts any nuance the beer would've had. Poisoned by hops. Also, the brew is a bit thin. Overall, a big step down from the level established by BBXX and BBXXI. A very disppointing brew, though it is certainly drinkable.

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Photo of jethrodium
3.38/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

650 ml bottle. Pours a dark brown that is cola colored at the edges when held up to the light. Small tan head has decent retention and lacing. Aroma is big dark chocolate, some orange peel, some light floral hops, as well as some light alcohol that becomes more prominent as it warms up. I don't really detect the bourbon or peppers. The taste is big dark, bitter chocolate, then a bit of orange and floral hops. Finish is again dark, bitter chocolate with a bit of alcohol, although less than is present in the nose. A slight alcohol head is present, but a pepper heat seems to persist after the alcohol is gone. Medium-light bodied and relatively low carbonation. Similar to the others in the series, I find that the bitter chocolate tends to dominate all the other flavors making it a bit one dimensional and not as enjoyable as it could be. I also think that this beer probably will not improve much with age since the hops and orange will probably fade somewhat making it even more one-dimensional.

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Photo of yourefragile
3.38/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled this a few times the past week. Initial reviews of this beer are collectively a little bonkers on this site. I guess the reputation of previous batches and Deschutes at large (ignoring the occasional recent quality issues) earn anything they put out an auto A.

Pours a dark mocha brown with a light tan head, mild lacing. Not much depth in the nose and I couldn't pick up any chile presence. Roast, chocolate, coffee and mild citrus, but no cohesion. Flavor is more of the same pattern but even sloppier. A little stronger oak/bourbon presence and the roast drops out in the finish allowing the orange to push through a little more with some additional barrel and chocolate sweetness. Not sure age can make this much better; not to say this is bad, just not very interesting.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.41/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Chilled bottle into a glass. From notes long ago.

A: Pours a black body with a finger of dark tan bubbles.

S: Very, very chocolatey, with a roasted coffee supporting aroma. Good, but a bit simple, especially given the complexity of the ingredients involved in this beer. The orange peel was suppressed on the nose.

T: As in the nose, this is very chocolate-dominated. The barrels are overwhelmed by the sweet (but not cloying) beer. Some orange peel on the back end, but not much; I was hoping it would be stronger, the way it was in BB XXII. This missed that balance I have come to appreciate from Deschutes. It's hardly a bad beer, but it simply isn't upper-tier.

M: Medium-bodied, but the finish was lingering and a bit sticky. You could argue that that is expected for a barrel-aged beer like this, but I recall previous vintages not being so oily.

O: I remember thinking, after trying this, that I should really dial back on the Deschutes Reserve beers, to the point where I didn't even seek out BB XXIV this year. I found XXIII tough to finish.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
3.45/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours black with dark brown/garnet borders. A bit of a soapy head, off brown color with minimal lacing as it drank. The top 1 inch is crusted, but nothing else

Aroma is boozy dabbled chocolate and wet coffee beans. Roasty and some citrus.

Boozy taste. This must be cellared for a time to calm this down. It's roastiness is thin and chocolate fleeting. Some orange zest is present at first, very briefly, then is drowned with cocoa and coffee beans. This beer is hot, which thins it out in the end.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.45/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: pours a somewhat thin jet black, thin layer of head, minimal retention

S: nose starts with heavy bourbon and oak, plenty of vanilla and booze, notes of molasses in the middle, chocolate is somewhat subdued compares to its non BA counterpart

T: hot bourbon up front, raw oak, seems a bit green...perhaps a little age could balance things out a bit, some vanilla comes through on the finish

MF: kind of thin for its size, medium carbonation

O: this beer isn't bad but not all that impressive, seems like it could benefit from a little more time.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.48/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Ordered this bottle online. Served in a Captain Lawrence tulip at a recent tasting. Reviewed from tasting sheet notes.

Pours a very dark brown with a moderate light tan head and a bit of lacing on the sides of the glass. The nose carries some light orange zest and chocolate plus a fair amount of roast and some light coffee. Light almost chile-like character there. Flavor is so-so and not up to par with the XX and XXI versions, which is a big disappointment, as I had really been looking forward to this recipe when XXII was announced. Light orange and chocolate with heavy roast. Medium body and a dry finish. Very roasty. Nothing really melded in this one.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.48/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Black Butte XXIII has a dark brown, almost black body with a solid brown head. Retention is quite good and spotty lacing is left behind.

The aroma has curiously strong spices in it, along with the expected coffee and a bit of bourbon.

The core of this beer is very nice, and it reminds me mostly of the anniversary beers that I have had, XX and XXI. There is a good bit of coffee, some chocolate and the barrel flavors that encompass a little bit of oak and a good bit of bourbon. The malt and the barrel are balanced very well, each allowing the other to do its part without dominating. On top of that, however, XXIII has what tastes like an extensive addition of spices. I'm not sure exactly what went into this one, but nutmeg and cinnamon seem likely to me. The spices are the strongest flavor, and they intensify as the beer warms, making XXIII remind me of a winter warmer. Speaking of warmer, the finish has a nice alcohol warmth to it.

Big, oily body. Nice feel.

I was planning to bring a few of these bottles back from Oregon with me, because I have loved Deschutes' other Anniversary beers, but I'm not so sure about this one; no more bottles made the trip back in my suitcase. The base of this beer reminds me of what I love about XX and XXI, but the spices are a little too powerful for me. Finishing a bottle of this on my own would be difficult; I recruited help for the one I had.

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Photo of largadeer
3.5/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bomber into a pint glass. Dark brown body, not quite opaque. Pours with half an inch of off-white head that settles to a thin film pretty quickly.

Quite a bit of roast and tar on the nose, with a little caramel from the barrel. Bourbon comes through pretty well in the blend, while orange and chocolate are rather subtle. Pepper doesn't come through much at all. This leans much more toward roasted malt and bourbon than BBXII, despite being more or less the same recipe.

The palate, much like the aroma, is pretty damn charred, bordering on burnt. Dark chocolate, sweet whiskey and faint orange zest follow the dark malt. I'd never have guessed there were peppers in here if I hadn't read it on the label, it's quite subtle. The body isn't overly big, but it's a rather intense beer due to the heavily charred malt flavor. Finishes pretty bitter and tannic, narrowly avoiding tasting harsh.

Pretty decent, but not nearly as good as the initial 2 Black Butte anniversary beers, and very different from last year's despite containing the same ingredients more or less.

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Photo of TheDudeRules
3.5/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my Darkness snifter.

Pours a dark brown, not black. Almost two fingers worth of tan mocha head. Lacing remains. Smells of slight hops and predominately green apple. Taste is hop forward. Green apple follows. Slight chili pepper bite.Some bakers chocolate intertwined in there. Rather thin in the mouth.

This is missing something. I would like it to be chewier. Get me a spoon so to speak. It's not awful but not great. This is better suited as a four pack than a one off. Let the hype pass.

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Photo of Kirch
3.51/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Glass: New Belgium Globe
Aging Notes: Enjoy After 6/15/2012
Bang for the Buck (oz*%/$): 22*10.8/12 = 19.8

A: Jet black brew, turbid. Tan head, suggesting some roasted malt or coffee based on the aroma. Not much lacing.

S: More forward on hop aroma than XXI, presumably because the beer is younger (tasted before the recommended waiting time). Hot peppers and coffee also present, as well as some greener grassy notes. Very unique, but needs aging.

T: Coffee, roasted malt, hot pepper, a little bitterness. More spicy than XXI. A unique treat.

M: Lingering mouth-coating roasty-ness like coffee, a little oily, but overall clean considering the intense components of this brew. The healthy carbonation helps with this clean feeling.

O: Extremely intense … not sessionable. Delicious, but the caffeine/hot pepper combo renders us incomprehensible with the ~11% ABV. Recommended as a stand-alone ale (the only one you drink for the night). Aptly lives up to the "bomber" designation in that you will get bombed.

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Photo of rawfish
3.52/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours dark and quickly with a tan thin head. Cola dark center with ruby and garnet highlights. Nearly no retention or lacing to speak of.

Rich fudge, milk chocolate and bourbon. Slight oak, faint and dry. Not a hint of orange or chilies yet.

Cocoa nibs pretty prominent, roasted malt with a hint of milk chocolate sweetness, noticable bourbon character and oak. Not any hop character left, perhaps a bit of bright orange notes. Moderate bitterness, hides alcohol well and lifts from the palate well.

Thin for an imperial dark beer, low carbonation, thin and slick. Alcohol well hidden however.

Held on to this one for a year and a half, perhaps it was too much. The alcohol is really well hidden but the complexities of this brew promised by the label are gone. No orange or chilies to speak of though I tried really hard to find them. Lots of cocoa and slight bourbon, regular Black Butte has a really high and exciting carbonation but this one is more muted and thin. Decent beer but disappointing.

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Photo of AgentZero
3.53/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Awesome extra from phillyswear.

A - Dark brown, almost black colored beer. Bit of a tan stick on the sides of the glass from the tan head.

S - You do get a little bit of the orange and citrus on this one with chocolate, roast, and some coffee.

T - Taste is about like the nose. It's very solid but it's not blowing anyway away. Has a bit of roast, chocolate, touch of coffee, and a bit of citrus.

M - Medium bodied, moderate carbonation.

O - Solid, not mind blowing, I've preferred the other vintages of this series. Would drink again, but not necessarily something I'd seek out again.

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Photo of Chaney
3.53/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Another black "butte"-y sent to me by Harrymel. Thanks Harry!

Nostalgia city: For some reason I was reminded of an instance where I was on vacation in Seattle and sipping on a Black Butte (the standard version) a mere few days before flying back to DC and going on a date with the woman who is now my wife!

Best after 6/15/12.... whoops! I poured this into my DuClaw Colossus snifter.

A: Poured totally pitch black... and I mean "Abyss" black, with a very slight 1/2 finger head that hugged the glass all the way down into its disappearance...

S: Faint, but still effective. To be honest, my first reaction was dog food: Dog food ain't bad right? Hell, I remember a time when I used to eat... (delete) Back to the task at hand: It had bit of a salty scent (in a candy sort of way), along with a tinge of roast and charred malt.

T: Definitely VERY sweet and candy-like, with a total absence of the BBQ-like flair that I commonly associate with porters. A bit of alcohol warming, along with raw cocoa, and not even a hint that a coffee bean has ever even hit a machine that has ever brewed anything that Deschutes has ever produced.

M: Snot-like, and with a carbonation level that was perfect for this style, but I still couldn't get past the in-your-face sweetness here. The lacing was minimal best.

O: I think I should have waited until this one was "ripe." My bad. Still, this was worthy, but not where I was expecting it to be.

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Photo of Onenote81
3.57/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Just cracked this bottle with a couple friends for a mid-week treat. Pours a deep dark brown with light edges. This isn't as dark as expected. A thin sheet of lace rests on top. The aroma is warming with mild bourbon, vanilla, oak, chocolate. The nose is the best part of this beer I think.

The body is too carbonated. I would think that some time spent in barrels, albeit just 1/4 of this beer, would have mellowed this out. On top of that the time since bottling should have smoothed it out, but is bubbly, bordering on harsh. Some of the "bigger" beers I've had recently have had this unpleasant characteristic, unfortunately. The flavor isn't as enjoyable as the XX or XXI. I realize the ingredients are different, but this one is my least favorite. Mild cocoa, light zesty tartness on the back end. Bourbon character is absent. There's some sweetness here, but it's fleeting.

I appreciate their ingenuity, but this one fell short for me. Stick to coffee, vanilla, cocoa, and bourbon - that combo was a sure winner in my book.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.58/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Streets of London on J in Sacramento, as part of their Dechutes night.

Appearance - Pours a dark, near black cola brown. The head settles to a thin, sticky lace.

Smell - Faint bitter chocolate aromas, and that's about all I'm picking up.

Taste - Tastes like it's namesake, only all intricate notes and layers have been muted in favor of a dominant alcohol profile.

Mouthfeel - Good body. Solid carbonation. Fairly creamy.

Overall - Bigger is not always better, and that's certainly the case with Black Butte XXIII. It's not bad, but I'd much rather be drinking a regular Black Butte right now. The alcohol in this just runs everything else over.

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Photo of Ryan011235
3.6/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter on 8/12/11

Best after 6/15/12 (whoops)

Shared by MbpBugeye

Medium brown; settles black. One finger head thins pretty quickly. Thin retention with some drippy blotches of lace.

Smells way fresh. Alcohol heat permeates the aroma with sweet whiskey tones. Dusty cocoa, dank wood, vanilla, roasted chocolate and some deeper-seated dark fruit. Hints of caramel. Stray nips of zest are apparent while cold but get enveloped by booze as the beer warms. Swirling brings out more booze. Very earthy as it warms.

Tastes just as fresh, but not as messy as the aroma. Doesn't taste nearly as hot as it smell, either. Tangy roast, chocolate, zest, roasted dark malts. Quite spicy actually, especially on the finish. Some whiskey tones. Finishes spicy and dry. Well-integrated.

Fairly full bodied and viscous. Rather slick with some heat as it warms up. Carbonation is on the lower side. Some grittiness, too.

A pretty interesting beer, albeit bizarre for the style. I'd be interested to see how this critter ages.

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Photo of BDTyre
3.6/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

frPitch black with a foam, off-white head. Bourbon, chocolate, wine and malt scent. Definite alcohol scent.

Bourbon and chocolate nose. No escaping the alcohol profile in this one. Fruits, dark chocolate and coffee, and of course, hard liquor. Bitter taste, but not unexpected. The scent carries through to the taste. Bourbon and chocolate, booze and an alcohol finish. Good taste, but as it warms the alcohol starts to kill everything else.

Good beer...but probably a one-off...

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Photo of hdelavega
3.61/5  rDev -14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured to a tulip.
Pours black with a two finger tan head pretty good retention and light spotty lacing.
Aroma is very sweet almost like a barleywine. I get some vanilla and orange with a little bourbon in the back.
Taste hits me in front with a bit of coffee and then lots of booze. I cant really pick out much of the orange. A bit metallic. The alcohol is really in the way here.
The body sits on the full side of medium with a medium yet crisp carbonation.
Overall this beer reminds me more of a dark barleywine than a porter. It needs some more time on it for sure. The bottle recommends Best By 6/15/12. I will be looking for another bottle soon, maybe one that already has a year or two on it.

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Black Butte XXIII from Deschutes Brewery
4.2 out of 5 based on 783 ratings.
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