Apr 30, 2010

Nectar Ales Black Xantus

Label: Nectar Ales Black Xantus

Not only is the hummingbird after which this beer is named quite rare, but the beer itself is pretty damned hard to find. I’m a big fan of what Firestone Walker have been doing with their traditional ales, but was pretty damned stoked to hear about Black Xantus late last year.

This Russian Imperial Stout is brewed with coffee beans from Jobella Coffee Roasters — I’m not sure of the exact bean they use, but it imparts quite a unique flavor. The beer is then aged in a variety of barrels (bourbon, retired Firestone Union and wine barrels). The result is a big beer (13% ABV) that is rich and full flavored.


Black Xantus pours a near opaque black with a deep red edge. The large head is light mocha in color and faded relatively slowly for such a high ABV beer.


Big time roasted coffee, caramel and a little anise are the primary notes on the nose. There a slight oakiness in there as well as a bit of a cigar character, but it’s light. The alcohol adds a little heat to the nose, as well.


The mouthfeel on this brew is thick and viscous, as a Russian Imperial Stout should be. The roasted coffee nearly dominates the palate while a touch of anise and smoke (the cigar from the aroma perhaps) come in behind it. There’s a subtle dark cherry hint in the lingering finish that’s also got a bite of bitterness. While the higher alcohol content is present I wouldn’t call it “hot.”


This is one of the more full flavored and unique Russian Imperial Stouts I’ve ever had. It’s got a complex palate, yet is still smooth and quite drinkable. All I have to say is I’m glad I bought more than one bottle. I can’t wait to see how this one changes over time.

Rating: 4/5

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