Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Full Sail Top Sail Bourbon Imperial Porter

Full Sail Brewing Co. has a series of brews called Brewmaster Reserve that continues to impress me. Last year's Keelhauler Scottish Ale had me running back to the store for a few extra bottles.  Last fall, The Rhino had a keg of the Lupulin Fresh Hop Ale that was a fantastic showcase of hop aroma and bitterness.  Last Friday, also at the Rhino, we ran across Full Sail's latest Brewmaster Reserve, Top Sail Bourbon Imperial Porter.

Truth be told, I didn't realize it was a bourbon porter until reading about it the next day, not that this is a bad thing.  I've enjoyed the explosion of beer aged in bourbon and other oak barrels over the past year, but some have been a bit over the top on bourbon.  Top Sail was aged for 10 months in bourbon casks from Kentucky, but this added character without stealing the show. Then again, I'll admit to having had a very nice dinner and a beer or two before trying this one, so that might explain a thing or two as well.

What I did notice about this beer were the great dark chocolate undertones. It pours a dark brown to black with a tan head.  The taste makes a great first impression with prevalent roasted malt mixing with the dark chocolate flavors. It has a bitter coffee-like finish and in the aftertaste.  The alcohol sits at nearly 10% abv, though i did not notice a recognizable alcohol taste or warmth.  Full Sail described it as "immensely drinkable and smooth" and that's very nearly the same description we gave it after enjoying a pint.  I scored a bottle of it at Worden's Market in Missoula and am looking forward to tasting it again to see if my impressions change about the bourbon and alcohol warmth.

[Note: this is a corrected version which amends the % abv thanks to a kind note from Stephanie, one of the "ever-so lucky Full Sail employee owners."]

Name: Top Sail Bourbon Imperial Porter
Brewery: Full Sail Brewing Co., Hood River, OR.
Style: Imperial Porter aged in oak.
Color: Dark brown to black; off white head.
Packaging: draft and 22oz bottles.
Stats: 9.85% abv, 65 IBU.
Bought: The Rhino, Missoula.
Ruling: Four out of Five Hops. Delicious imperial porter.


  1. Hey Alan!
    My name is Stephanie and I'm one of the ever-so lucky Full Sail employee owners. Thanks for writing about Top Sail Bourbon Porter-- I was so impressed with this year's blend and am glad to see you got to enjoy some before it was gone. It sold out pretty quickly here at the pub.

    I wanted to correct a slight detail though-- the ABV is actually almost 10%, as the porter gains a higher alcohol content while fermenting in the bourbon casks. Hopefully after your other beers in addition to this one you weren't too tipsy. Thanks for the love, man. Cheers!

  2. Thanks Stephanie. I appreciate the correction. I got the 6% figure from your website, but perhaps I was looking at the wrong spot. I'm not at all surprised to hear that it sold out quickly at the pub. It is a fantastic brew. I picked up a bottle yesterday at Worden's market here in Missoula and I'm looking forward to enjoying it again. Keep up the great work!