Click for full size picture

Rate this beer

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.0/5 (4 votes cast)

Beer Profile

  • Brewery: Deschutes Brewery
  • Website:
  • Country: United States
  • State: Oregon
  • Style: American / Robust Porter Coffee Beers Spirit-Aged Beers
  • Malts: Chocolate, chocolate wheat, Crystal 75, wheat, pale malt
  • Hops: Millennium, Cascade, Tettnang
  • ABV: 11.0%
  • IBUs: 55
  • Tasting Notes: Chocolate, Coffee, Bourbon, Burnt Grain
  • Preferred Glass: Snifter, Tulip
  • Food Pairing: Flank steak and chimichurri sauce, crème brulée, cherries jubilee, strong bleu cheeses
  • PHM Grade: A

Deschutes Black Butte XXI Porter

Written by

John:  I kept this baby in the darkness of my wine cellar (on a basement shelf :)) for one year. It about killed me not to drink it in the first two weeks. After that I forgot about it until I noticed a Post It note on it with the date! The time had come to break the wax seal and enjoy this brew. My expectations were high. They were met! It poured a dark brown leaving a nice tan head and appealed to the nose with sweet, chocolate, fruits and charcoal. Nice combo. Malts were first and then hops. It was not a stout but close. Richer than most porters. What you couldn’t miss was the bourbon smell and waxy feel when cold. More bitter than I like but as it warmed up the bourbon toned down, the waxiness softened and molasses showed up. Drink this near room temp to get the most balanced flavor. The cold seem to minimize the strengths and maximizes the weaknesses of this beer. At this temp it reminds me of my favorite coffee–dirt! Let it warm people! If you do you experience a rich, high quality porter with a nice bourbon touch for variety. Being the stout lover that I am I’d buy this porter again.  Grade: A

Tom:  Wow!  This is a phenomenal brew.  I acquired this bottle a few months before it’s “best after” date (10/17/10) and then aged it for over a year.  Like John I had a hard time keeping this in the dark.  Brewed with cocoa nibs from the Dominican Republic and Ethiopian coffee roasted to perfection, this beer is bound to be a winner.  Note: the entire batch was not aged in Bourbon barrels only 20% of it which is then blended.  This important fact would end up being vital to the flavor and aroma of this beer.

You see had, Deschutes does a great, nay glorious job of incorporating the Bourbon notes into this beer without over doing it.  It is not as harsh as Flying Dogs rendition or Arcadia’s heavy Bourbon notes.  It is smooth and delicate when it comes to the Bourbon notes both in aroma and flavor.

XXI has definite characteristics of Porter.  Form the brown/mahogany pour which turns into a black liquid, to the tight foamy tan head that graced it the top, it kept its style with ease.  John is right in noting that it did favor the stout side, but in my opinion that was only due to the cocoa and coffee added.  These helped to push the astringent aromas and flavors to that of a deep stout.

The aroma had huge notes of vanilla, charred wood, caramel wood sugars, black-strap molasses, burnt grains, a slight smokey effect, oak, and faint Bourbon boozy.  The coffee did not present itself much in the aroma for me as I felt it hide nicely behind the malts…maybe even helped to amplify their qualities.

When wafting in the wonderful deep aromas as I brought the snifter to my mouth the first thing that grabbed me was the astringent grains and roasted coffee.  Deep, dark, and decadent.  Smooth, albeit light, Bourbon notes continued their vanilla and caramel notes throughout each sip.  The mouthfeel was on the light side of moderate-heavy.  Smokey notes were present at the finish along with a charred flavor.  Nice oak quality that mellowed the rich chocolate undertones and coffee character.

A phenomenal brew.  All the components blended well together and did not overpower one another.  It’s a shame it is limited.  However, be sure to purchase the years to come.  Grade: A

Deschutes Black Butte XXI Porter, 5.0 out of 5 based on 4 ratings
  1. It’s a whallop of a beer. Big, sweet, very boozy. I like the regular black buttes, but this was a different beer altogether. Very nice, but more of a desert or sharing beer.

    marc — January 29th, 2013, 7:21 PM
Leave a Reply