Review: Black Butte XXIII, Deschutes

Black Butte XXIII
Deschutes Brewing Co. — Bend, OR

  • Style:  Imperial Porter
  • Bitterness:  60 IBU
  • ABV:  10.8%
  • Malts:  Chocolate, Crystal, Pale, Wheat
  • Hops:  Millenium, Cascade, U.S. Tettnang
  • Special Ingredients:  Sevilla oranges, Pasilla Negra chilies, Theo's Chocolate Nibs
  • Sampled:  6 oz. snifter
  • Price:  $12.49 for a 22 oz. bottle at grocery store ($40.88 six-pack equivalent).

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." — Deschutes Brewing Co.

Random thoughts:  Black Butte XXIII was brewed to commemorate Deschutes' 23rd birthday.  25% of the beer was aged in bourbon barrels for six months.  I tasted this at Deschutes' Portland Pub on July 1.  As a point of interest, Deschutes did not release Black Butte XXII last year because the chocolate was coming out of suspension.  For more details check out this story from Portlandbeer.Org

The tasting:  This was served cold, so I let it warm up for 15 minutes before tasting it.  Black in color, opaque, with a dark tan head that dissipated fairly quickly.  Aroma of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, bourbon, and boozy alcohol.  The same elements in the aroma were present in the flavor with the addition of vanilla.  I didn't smell or taste the hops, and frankly, didn't expect to.  But surprisingly, I didn't notice the oranges or chilies in aroma or flavor.   What a shamethose ingredients were listed in Deschutes' beer description and sounded absolutely delicious.  However, I was unable to taste them.   

Black Butte XXIII is medium bodied, with moderate carbonation, and a smooth mouth feel.  It finished with roasted malt, chocolate malt, and warming alcohol.  For such a big beer, it went down very well right now.  I can only imagine how it will benefit from another year or two of aging.

Rating: 4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!   I liked Black Butte XXIII despite the fact that I couldn't taste the two of the speciality ingredients.  I bought a bottle and will cellar it for at least one year. Hopefully, time will coax the orange and chili flavors to come out of hiding.

Have you tried Black Butte XXIII?  Did you taste the orange or chilies? 

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