Let's do something just a little bit different here today. Just jotting down some tasting notes on Deschutes's Black Butte XXV is all well and good, but really, what's the point? It's a good beer, a great beer even, and you already know that.
So, instead I have taken a bullet for you, and done some comparison tasting. XXV vs XXIV on tap; bottles of XXV, XXIV, and XXIII; all vetted, just for you.
How did the XXV measure up against the aged beers? Very well, actually, and I'm really interested in seeing what it'll be like when it hits the "best after" date. Two years is a long wait, but it'll be worth it.
What XXV has going for it is an excellent flavor profile, one that in my mind is better than the previous years's editions. The currant shines through here -- Deschutes's hype wasn't unwarranted -- and the hints of bourbon and chocolate do a great job flanking it. It's unmistakably a Black Butte, yet different. Just like we were promised.
Granted, beating the two year old XXIII hands down(check our '11 write-up for tasting notes) is hard. The thick mouthfeel with its dominating chocolate and vanilla is all velvety smooth. Good as the XXV is, it needs to age for the mouthfeel to reach maturity. On tap it is definitely smoother than in a bottle, but as it stands right now, XXIII is the Black Butte to beat as far as the overall experience goes.
Sampling the XXIV (we have a write-up on that one too), and it is pretty much what one would expect a year in. rom a Deschutes special reserve. For whatever reason these taste better fresh or two years in. After a year? They're somewhat thin and the flavors seem more mellow.
The XXIV is better on tap than it is in a bottle, but as far as I'm concerned the XXV still has the upper hand. It's all in the flavors, and XXV has more going on there. More depth, and even just a bit more velvety than the XXIV. This may likely be turned upside down a year from now, but as for now I prefer the XXV.
Philosophical comparisons aside: The XXV is one of those beers you just have to try. Have to! It's pretty much a requirement to get a few bottles for cellaring and a few for enjoyment right now. Try it on tap too, you owe yourself as much.
And do your own comparison. You'll feel like a scientist doing so.