Black Xantus
Reviewed by Jez on 17.10.11 in bottle
77 / 100
I've seen this a number of times and it never really grabbed my attention—this is probably because it has the same style and typeface as the other Nectar branded beers, which have been poor to middling at best. This is a wild exception, however.

Pours a deep, dark black-brown with a firm and creamy head of pale chocolate bubbles. Lacing is full, sheeting and solid, and adds to the perception of weight to the beer. Beautiful fine carbonation. It's perhaps not as heavy and oily as it could be (especially given it's 11% ABV), and perhaps not as dark, but it's a good looking beer nonetheless.

Nose is redolent with big oaky stout characters. Huge vanilla, toasted coconut and dark malts, with notes of bourbon, and a slight spice light capsicain. Hints of coffee come through as well, along with a very faint herbal note, almost giving a crushed coriander spice. But the big barrel-aged stout characters are dominant, and exceedingly potent. Yes indeedy.

Taste is also very good, and very robustly bittered, with a really good, heavy roasted character giving an ashy astringency and deep roasted coffee hints. This, of course, is all drawn back by the smooth, soothing bourbon and oak characters, which lay down vanilla and sweetness. A little light in the mouth; at least lighter than it could be. Booze is well-hidden though, although the uplift of spice is oddly congruent with alcohol heat.

It doesn't quite have the texture or complexity of the best examples, but it's a very nice brew anyway. A fuller palate and a more subtle sweet complexities would make this truly magnificent. But it could get there, and that's a great thing.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0