Black Butte XXIII | Deschutes Brewery

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Black Butte XXIIIBlack Butte XXIII
790 Ratings
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.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 790 |  Reviews: 320
Photo of LaneMeyer
4.22/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a tulip.

A- Pours a deep, deep brown, 1/2 finger of light tan head.

S- Cocoa nibs, figs, strawberries, vanilla.

T- Kind of a woody taste upfront, alcohol is very prominent, finishes with a bitter cacao taste and orange peel flavor. Could definitely use some aging.

M- Alcohol needs some subduing. Feels a bit watery with a sort of bite to it.

O- I like this beer but I'm definitely gonna age the next one I try. Seems like it needs to mellow.

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Photo of PeprSprYoFace
4.26/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter. Pours a deep black with a nice thin light tan head. Nice lacing.

Aroma is the worst part but not bad. Lots of roast but smells kinda hot and green. Bit of bitter chocolate.

Taste is great. Nice roastyness but a nice caramel sweetness. Bit hot but not bad. Nice chocolate taste too.

Mouthfeel is nice and smooth with a bitterness in the finish. Nice medium carb.

Overall awesome as usual. Gunna have to open my XX soon. I hear it's peaked.

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Photo of MBrausen
4.36/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass.

A. Beautiful night black color with a nice tan head. About 1 pinky thick head with good retention. Fades to a nice white ring. Good lacing on the glass.

S. Strong sent of caramel malts, dark chocolate and oak. Nothing over powering. A mild sent to the beer.

T. Loads of dark chocolate come out right away. The hops fade in next with a little bitterness, followed by a smoky tart flavor. There seems to be a hint of blackberry mixed in.

M. A coarse feel, that isn't overly aggressive. A dry finish, but not so much that it is overbearing or dominating. A heavy flavor that has to be sipped slowly, but thick feel.

O. And overall pleasing feel to the beer. There is a heavy smoke flavor, with a lot of dark chocolate. This could be too much for a lot of people. I find the taste to be great, but it's not something I could be knocking back at the bar all day. This beer takes some time to drink. But it is something tasty.

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Photo of ShogoKawada
4.4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thanks to augustgarage, had the hankerin' for a big beer, I think this'll do just fine. 22oz into large tulip.

A- Big tan sandy brown head on a dark brown body. Beer has nice color in the pour, very dark in the glass. Head settles to 1cm like an oatmeal cookie.

T- Lots of bitters, molasses, and pipe tobacco. Really rich chocolately malt. Intense dark chocolate. Bourbon is moderately heavy on the tongue. Lots of directions, but it all works.

M- Thick, heavy, decadent. ABV is here, but it's in-check.

O- Great flippin' beer. I'll have to seek out another. The orange flavor, although fleeting, is sublime. Really well put-together. Cheers to deschutes and augustgarage for the chance to try this one.

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Photo of
4.7/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a-pours a inky deep black with an off white head. Head remains capping off the beer.

s-let the bottle warm for 20 mins before opening, I got smacked by the chocolate and rosted notes right away. There is some hint of orange that comes in and out of the nose for me.

t-taste amazing. Has the chocolate right up front with a lot of roasted malts in the profile. Then the coffee, and bourbon come to the front. The oranges are very much in the background, but as it warms it becomes more pronounced. The chilies are only there on the finish, it adds a little heat (not like Chocolate Yeti with cayanne pepper, but it's in there). There is a beautiful chocolate finish. The hops bring some good balance into the mix.

m-dang good. The carbonation is nice, brings out a lot of the flavors. This porter is right on the line with a stout, IMHO.

o-I cannot wait to see what this beer does in my cellar. This beer had a lot going on with it now, and is tight. I think this is the best of this series that I have had. Well done.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.31/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Best after June 15, 2012.

It pours a pitch black with a 2 finger head of tan foam. The lacing looks to be typical Deschutes quality..plenty of it.

I took this straight out of the fridge so the aroma is on the weak side. Definite notes of dark chocolate and some bourbon. As it warms up, I'll make mention of anything else I can pick up.

Initial taste is very heavy on the dark chocolate or cocoa, as per the label. Also per the label, 25% aged in bourbon barrels and what comes through the taste is on the light side. That's some pretty accurate info Deschutes gives in their description so definitely no surprises. I salute them...

Some sweeter notes are now coming out as the beer slowly warms. I'd say they come from a bit of fruitiness and a minor portion for the sweeter aspect of the chocolate. Nice. I do get a bit of alcohol but it isn't overwhelming at all.

The mouthfeel, well, is superb! Such a creamy texture with just the right amount of carbonation. Very tasty, very easy to drink, despite the hefty abv, I give this a firm thumbs up and I look forward to trying it again on or after the best after date.

Btw, the smell didn't improve all that much during the warming up but it's decent.

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Photo of illidurit
3.68/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bomber poured into a pint glass. Black color with a slow-rising cocoa head that puffs up and leaves some nice lacing. Aroma displays milk chocolate and vanilla with very little roasted character. Clearly a porter, not a stout. Flavor displays a slightly boozy chocolate note, like a bourbon cordial, along with plenty of candied orange and dark caramel. Pretty sweet overall but not egregiously so. Mouthfeel is pretty thick and sticky but again it's not bad. This beer could use a little fine-tuning but I enjoyed it well enough.

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Photo of russwbeck
4.35/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Decently dark brown pour with a wispy light brown head. The retention isn't great, but the lacing is.

S: Deep roasted malts, dark chocolate, hints of bourbon, and some orange and other spices mixed in. Smell seems a bit disjointed, but complex and wonderful.

T: The flavor really develops well, but you can certainly tell some time would mellow these flavors out and really make this a phenomenal beer. The chocolate comes first, in a big hit roasted malts, coffee, and bourbon all come at you at once. It cools down about with the orange, and finishes with a dryness from the chilies and roastiness. The flavor is extremely complex.

MF: Dark, heavy, carbonated well. Only hints of booze here and there.

O: Great beer that will become truly amazing with age. Need to get my hands on another.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4.35/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured dark brown, near black with a nice tan cap and bubbles

S: Pretty straightforward: Roasted malts, coffee, a bit of wood and chocolate

T: Chocolate, coffee, roasted malt, a very light orange peel, a very minimal bit of pepper and wood. The booze is pretty disguised.

M: Big body, good carbonation

O: Very solid overall

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Photo of John_M
4.38/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Horse Brass the other night.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with excellent head retention and decent lacing. The nose is attractive, as I get considerable coffee, licorice, dark chocolate and light vanilla. The flavor profile replicates the nose, but is a bit more intense. The dark chocolate and licorice seem to dominate, but increasingly, I started to pick up some heat from the chilis in the finish. It's a very nice touch and an interesting flavor component to this well made beer. Mouthfeel is fairly full, with a soft, almost creamy, long and drawn out finish.

Another winner from the folks at Deschutes.

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Photo of BigB415
4.08/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I haven't had a porter in so long since I moved onto stouts. I think my last porter was actually Black Butte XXI since XXII was draft only and I didn't get a chance to find a place near me that had it.

A: Pitch black with no light getting through. Medium brown head that dissipates quickly. Heavy lacing that also dissipates quickly and follows the beer down the glass as I swirl.

S: Oranges and chocolate.

T: More oranges and chocolate with no alcohol taste. The fruit masks it pretty well. I get a little bourbon taste so that comes from some of the aging in bourbon barrels that Deschutes did.

MF: Slight burn from the alcohol but just right. Not overpowering. The fruit and chocolate notes linger after I sip and come back stronger when I lick my lips..

O: I really like it. I can't remember XXI to note any differences but it stands on its own. Now to hunt another down to age past its best after date.

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Photo of mithrascruor
3.73/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle poured into a mug.

Appearance: Pours a nice black color with a 1+ finger tan head. Good retention and lacing.

Smell: Nice malty aroma with sweet cream, a hint of chocolate, and a bit of alcohol.

Taste: Light malts and bitterness, leads to cocoa and sweet cream, leads to very intense bitterness. Aftertaste is like cocoa powder with some alcohol burn.

Mouthfeel: A very warming beer. Medium- to full-bodied and mostly smooth. Mild carbonation.

Drinkability: The strong alcohol definitely kicks in rather quick, though in the taste it is never overwhelming.

Not particularly impressive to me - there's a bit too much bitterness all around, and I can't really taste much of the bourbon barrels or the orange. Fun to try, but not at $14 a bottle.

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Photo of gregshead
4.13/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Pours black with a finger of head that dissipates slowly.

S: Sweet bourbon with another sweet smell I can't quite discern. Can't really smell the oranges.

T: The sweet cocoa nib interweaves with the bourbon flavors nicely. A zesty finish probably from the chiles and maybe the oranges.

M: On the lighter side which works for this porter. The after feel is a little unusual. The spicy/zesty may be covering the heat in a strange but good sort of way.

O: A really tasty beer. I think I like this one fresh but will be interesting to see what this one tastes like in a year.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.8/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottle... dark brown, bordering black, light tan head leaves a finger of light tan head, good retention... awesome nose, tons of orange with a touch of chocolate, chocolate covered oranges... lots of chocolate but a touch light and devoid of taste, not bursting with the flavor I was hoping for... solid, but no xxi

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Photo of Scotchboy
3.93/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a Deschutes snifter and shared with no one.

A: Pours the darkest of dark browns, nearly black with almost no light penetrating. The off-khaki head dissipates quickly but this beer leaves good lace and alcohol feet.

S: From cold to room temp, this beer has a one dimensional nose to me; dark chocolate malt. Bitterness and some booze behind that, but it's really just the roasted malt on display here.

T: This unfolds better than the nose, from bitter chocolate malt initially to spiced bitterness. The chilies and hops show up on the back end and dry your palette out. Almost no orange presence unfortunately. Very little bourbon character as well, although there is a definite alcohol burn.

MF: Viscous and robust, dry finish. The alcohol cuts it a touch. This beer is definitely more bitter and dry than rich and sweet.

O: I hope the cellar 1.) cuts the booze and 2.) allows other flavors to emerge like the bourbon barrel and orange: This beer seems like it's missing some flavor; right now it's drinking like an over-hyped RIS with no barrel character. It's tasty, but just good, not great.

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Photo of Mooch273
4.82/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Beachwood BBQ, Seal Beach, CA poured into a 10 oz flute.

A: Beautiful finger of mocha-tan head that foreshadows a chocolatey coffee goodness. Body is nearly black with a brownish hue.

S: Chocolate and coffee roastiness strike immediately. Aroma intensifies as the luscious liquid comes to temperature. Inviting!

T: Sweet chocolate goodness with the bitterness of roasted coffee grounds is quite pleasing. Slight hint of orange zest, but otherwise not quite detectable unless you know what you're looking for. Strong dessert-like flavors mask any alcohol.

M: A smooth sipper with little carbonation. Definitely thicker than your typical porter, but not heavy. This has just the right viscosity to coat your tongue, providing a nice reminder of the previous sip.

Overall, this is one that I enjoyed so much that I had to order a second round. I look forward to revisiting this beauty after a year or two of aging. Well done Deschutes!

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Photo of Hershdawg
4.55/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle into tulip

A: Dark black brown. Only a small amount of light gets though the edges. Develops a thin tan head, that quickly dissipates. No lacing which is surprising.

S: Heavy chocolate, a little pepper, and seville orange. Hint of bourbon. Smells incredible. Not too much roast either.

T: A front of coffee, chocolate, then the pepper shows up. Don't really notice the orange. The bourbon is tame and not that intrusive. Very complex and pretty balanced.

M: I expected it to be a lot thicker. The body is a bit thin.

O: Amazing beer. I bought a second to age and it should be astounding after a year or two. The flavors could use some melding. Excellent now. A must buy.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.38/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

dark pour here with a rich dark brown color that no light could penetrate. This was a monster looking porter I have to say with a menacing two inches of foam on the top of it that cascaded down the sides. The aroma was of light vanilla, lots of oak and woody notes, and hints of molasses and caramel. As it warmed some nice roasted notes start coming off of it. The flavor was as rich as the aroma with lots of sweet malts, hints of roasted notes and a nice bit of caramel and molasses. Light vanilla, not as much as I would have hoped for peaking through. A nice full bodied porter

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Photo of Cavery
4.05/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml shared with Klym, poured into Over Sized Wine Glasses.

Big thanks to Stearns Liquor for making this bottle happen! Cheers!

A: Foamy bubbles rise like egg washed biscuits over a charred body. The head falls relatively quickly leaving some patches of lacing and some creamy more-white-than-brown bubbles. A bit more resistance in the movement of this beer, the viscosity of an imperial stout.

S: Sweet creamy spice cabinet with some surprises. Chile sweetness definitely comes to mind, but more along the lines of a green chile than anything hot. Certainly some cake like chocolate character in the nose that I'm digging. Mexican spiced chile chocolate cake. Man that sounds good. A fairly strong note of anise breaks through the middle transition. Milk chocolate and roast cocoa nibs in the end. Notes of chocolate certainly seem to be heavy in this one.

T: whoa, some unexpected orange juice has crashed the party. Creamy milk chocolate with more orange juice than rind. The rind is in the mix too, but really juicy delicate orange flavors. No harshness from citric acid, just a nice touch of juice to cut the chocolate. There's a lot of chocolate in here, with some accentuated sweetness from the chiles. I can't really find so much any heat in here, but there is a bit of a peppermint like linger potentially from a note of hops and chiles. Starting to feel a bit more acidity after drinking a bit, mostly in the linger.

M: A medium to full mouth that is very creamy and smooth. Like I said earlier in the taste, there's a creamsicle aspect tot his beer that really shows up in the feel. While the flavor isn't really so creamsicle like, it's an apt description of the mouth feel. Light vanilla ice cream on the tongue with frothy whip cream. Light like a cloud, with only the alcohol breaking the consistency of the feel. Creamy whip creams allover the tongue.

O: The mouth is a fine canvas for a master brewer to paint flavors upon, but I don't think this painting has fully dried yet. The flavors come off a bit overlapping and allover the place. Milk chocolate is the flavor of the day, but orange juices and chiles sneak a peak. This beer needs some time to refine, but the flavors are in there. I just worry that maybe the chiles will be a forgotten factor in this flavor. They are already so mildly present, that I can't help but wish they were more forward. Personal preference, but I can't help myself. Chile orange chocolate just sounds so good, whereas this is currently orange infused chocolates with spritzes of chile essence.

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

A: Pours brown but ends up being pretty black. The head is slightly tanned and plenty but definitely not too much. Leaves a thick curtain of lacing that disappears quickly.

S: Slight bits of orange rind in chocolate. Chocolate is definitely the dominant smell here, though it's almost suppressed by the other notes. A little bit of spiciness, hops, and a tad of heat. Also, a very slight lactose note that I'm enjoying.

T: Starts with a small hop hit and some spicyness and quickly transitions into an enriched chocolate with a slight saltiness that transitions into a small tingling citrus/chocolate aftertaste. Alcohol still has a slight present but is much more well hidden than even the slight touch in the nose.

M: Medium body but with some thickness and a good amount of carbonation. Perhaps it coudl serve the beer to be a little thicker and creamier but I wouldn't be tempted to knock it as it is.

O: This is good, with definitely a strong chocolate character and some interesting notes/hits. I would've enjoyed more spicyness/citrus and a little less chocolate, personally, but I could see some people really loving this. Enjoyed drinking it, not positive I would reach for it again.

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Photo of SFGuy187
4.3/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a jet black into my pint glass with less head that I expected. Carbonation is light and lacing is minimal. Smells of faint bourbon, but I roasted malts, vanilla and a little caramel dominate. Taste is complex and smooth and the mouthfeel is incredible! Overall a great brew ... perhaps it will improve with some age but it is drinking quite well at the moment.

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Photo of Schmittymack
4.53/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz bomber before the best after date of June 2012. Poured a dark brown, nearly black color with a nice two or three finger brownish head. Aroma of chocolate, orange, and coffee. Taste was dark chocolate, orange, a bit of coffee, and black licorice. Deschutes has knocked this one out of the park (much like the XX and the XX1--wish they would've gone ahead and bottled the XXII as it was great at GABF '10). I can only imagine what this one will be like next spring. It's awesome fresh; hopefully I can score another couple of bottles so I can drink two or so more now and still have three for the cellar.

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Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Deschutes in Portland Oregon.

A: 1/3" mocha coloured head over black liquid.

S: Bourbon, malt and yeast.

T: Raisins, dark chocolate, black licorice, espresso and orange with a bitter finish.

M: Thick viscosity with a medium level of medium carbonation.

O: Very tasty and thick imperial porter. So good that I bought one to go.

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Photo of waltonc
3.93/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Black Butte XX and XXI are two of my favorite beers, so I was really looking forward to the release of XXIII, especially after having to wait through last summer without XXII.

Nonetheless, I am somewhat disappointed with this year's offering. The bitter dark chocolate seems much stronger than years past (and I recently opened an XXI for comparison). It really dominates the flavor and pulls this beer out of the zone of pure, delicious, goodness and into the realm of a somewhat "extreme" beer that is a little out of whack.

I have to strain to detect any of the orange that is supposedly here, and if the label didn't say so, I would never guess there's any orange.

Appearance and body are both similar to prior iterations of this anniversary brew - medium/thick body with a good amount of fine carbonation. Overall, a good beer, but I am a little disappointed.

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Photo of Jules11788
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Pours a light tan thumb-width head, sticky lacing; color is jet-black, lets no light through

S: Strong notes of bourbon and charred oak; a little whiff of dark fruits and malt in the background, but the nose is mostly dominated by bourbon and burnt wood.

T: Sweet bourbon, charred wood, and espresso up front; notes of dark chocolate orange surface around the middle; finishes with a nice espresso bitterness that lingers, with a very subtle spicy tinge of chili peppers; a little booze, but it adds nicely to the flavor and helps warm as it goes down.

M: Medium-thick mouthfeel; lightly carbonated; SUPER smooth and velvety (especially as it warms), this just melts ever so richly on the tongue. Perfection

O: This is a phenomenal imperial porter (actually the first one I've had, I usually only find imperial stouts), and feels like it should age beautifully. It's superbly balanced, and drinks like a delicious bourbon-infused dessert. Pick one up next time you see it!

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Black Butte XXIII from Deschutes Brewery
Beer rating: 4.29 out of 5 with 790 ratings