Time for some more Deschutes love. You all knew it was coming, right? It’s been my thing for a while now. Tonight it’s the review of their Reserve Series Black Butte XX (which the Brewery sent to me as a PR sampler).
You probably remember (by now) that this is their 20th anniversary Reserve Series, "double" version of their Black Butte Porter, brewed with chocolate and coffee, partially aged in whiskey barrels, and 11% alcohol by volume. It’s exclusively bottled in 22-ounce, wax-dipped bombers and on sale for $10 a bottle. I’ve tried this beer (in various incarnations) and written about it several times; and finally (finally!) I’ve got my "official" review.
Appearance: Pours coffee-black, thick, with a dense, creamy brown head.
Smell: Coffee, dark chocolate first. Then dark roasted malts, something like black patent paired with licorice.
Taste: Creamy coffee and dark notes of alcohol—"dark" as in dark fruits and oaky. Lots of coffee going on. Bittersweet dark chocolate. It’s not really heavy though—to me it still has the lightness of Black Butte Porter with all the dry, roasted, smoky notes. (Maybe a Baltic porter thing going on.)
Mouthfeel: Chewy and syrupy but paradoxically not too thick. Full and smooth and finishes nicely dry with drawn-out coffee notes.
Overall: I love it, but I’ll just repeat what I wrote here:
holy crap this is a seriously awesome beer…. It’s absolutely outstanding. Coffee, chocolate, black licorice, all right there immediately, then you get the oaky smoothness of the barrel aging… oh my. This is like The Abyss, and I could drink it all the time.
A note on the inevitable Abyss comparison. If these beers were going head-to-head, I’d pick The Abyss. But fortunately, they’re not; these are two different styles of beer and by that measure, Black Butte XX is just as good—different, but good.