I’d been eyeing the bottle of Black Butte XXI that Deschutes Brewery sent me for a few days before I broke down and opened it. That was four days ago, and I’ve been lax catching up with this review. Not for any particular reason, other than days just going by (too) quickly.
Let me reiterate the stats on this beer: Imperial Porter, brewed with chocolate beans and coffee, 20% aged in bourbon barrels, 11% alcohol, 55 IBUs. It’s a Reserve Series beer and this pedigree proves it.
Of course, stats alone don’t just make a good beer. But Deschutes does. This beer is fantastic, better than what I remember from last year’s Black Butte XX, and really showcases what a mature, first-rate brewery Deschutes truly is.
Appearance: Black and thick with a thick a porous dark tan head. Completely opaque even when held to the light.
Smell: Lots of coffee and dark chocolate. Very roasty, hints of whiskey. A sweet note to it along with a bitter (black) astringent bit.
Taste: Thick, sweet Greek coffee. Very bitter dark chocolate with a creamy note. Roasty but decadently sweet like an exotic candy, coffee-laced black licorice or something. There’s alcohol heat lurking in the back, muted but there. Definite hints of a liqueur, touches of bourbon.
Mouthfeel: Fairly full but not overly so—much like Black Butte Porter which looks like it should be big and thick but is actually lighter and drinkable.
Overall: Ultimately drinkable, which is dangerous since it’s so strong. Fantastic. This is a world-class beer that surpasses expectation. (It’s not too harsh, hot, etc.)