Black Gold Imperial Stout - Bourbon Barrel Aged (Brewmaster Reserve) - Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub

Not Rated.
Black Gold Imperial Stout - Bourbon Barrel Aged (Brewmaster Reserve)Black Gold Imperial Stout - Bourbon Barrel Aged (Brewmaster Reserve)

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

491 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 491
Reviews: 267
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 13.38%
Wants: 84
Gots: 130 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub visit their website
Oregon, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  9.60% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: msubulldog25 on 02-02-2009

3rd Release - 2013 (9.6% ABV)
2nd Release - 2011 (11.4% ABV)
1st Release - February 2009 (10.5% ABV).

After its initial release in February 2008, this Imperial Stout was aged for about 10 months in Bourbon casks from Kentucky.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 491 | Reviews: 267
Reviews by ebrauser:
Photo of ebrauser
3.17/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Black as oil, of course, with the thinnest brown head left over after a minute. Seemed like it was tinted with a touch of red?

Aroma: Bourbon! Hints of vanilla and chocolate somehow force their way in past the strong alcohols.

Flavor: Strong bourbon again, with more oak, vanilla, and cherry flavors coming out. Malt base isn't huge, and I don't think it balances too well. I will really look forward to opening my second one in another year or two to see how it handles! Hopefully the bourbon will mellow a bit, letting the flavors develop.

MF: The beer body doesn't really stand up to the strength of taste, and is a little watery.

More User Reviews:
Photo of RoyalT
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – This came out a very dark, almost black stout with wonderful ruby highlights around the edges. The head was moderate and beautifully browned.

Smell – Oh, this is bourbon at its finest. We always have a couple good bottles of bourbon around the house, so when I popped the top on this we passed it around with a few bottles from Bourbon County, Kentucky. They really did hit the mark here.

The rest of the beer was just as pleasant. The malts were very dark but the sweetish whisky and sugars balanced things out nicely.

Taste – The malts were bigger at the taste. They were very crisp. The bourbon was smooth and satisfying. There was also most definitely a light sense of coconut.

Mouthfeel – This is medium-bodied and had a light stingy feel from the high ABV.

Drinkability – If you enjoy bourbon you’ll really like this RIP. If you don’t, get over it and buy a bottle anyway.

Comments – Thanks to skyhand for not only strongly recommending this purchase but for talking me into cellaring this for six months before drinking. Dead right on both counts.

Photo of marvin213
4.07/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Black like it's supposed to be, it looks good. The smell is sweet, but it's Kentucky. Beer aroma analysis has also taught me about bourbon: this beer is aged in Kentucky (not Tennessee) bourbon barrels. It doesn't smell overly sweet, but it does smell like bourbon.

The taste is dark goodness with the flavor of good (but not great) bourbon. This can't be Perry Van Winkle! I'd even prefer Beam. Is it Kentucky Gentleman? The beer and the beer work well together, as it's a legitimate, big-boi RIS aged in bourbonized wood. It can't really compete with the southern (more local? better??) bourbon-aged brews, but it'd be too harsh to say it ain't good.

It seems to me that barrel-aging really thins the mouthfeel. Other than perhaps the BA Old Rasputins, I don't come across chewy bourbon beers. With craft brews what they are today, it's tough for me to rate this one higher than a coffee + infused RIS. Maybe that's unfair, but don't blame me...blame the game. ;^)

Photo of Beaver13
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle. Pours an opaque dark brown with a very thin tan head that quickly dissipates to a thin collar.

The aroma is strong alcohol, some figs and creamy chocolate and a little bit of a sour tang. As t warms oakey vanilla dominates.

The flavor is strong bitter alcohol initially and a little bit of sour fruits. Some smoother chocolate malts and coffee and oakey vanilla and cherries come out later. The mouthfeel is smooth full and creamy.

Overall, a bit too much harsh alcohol for me (I'm not a big liquor fan), but it is pretty complex and interesting. It gets better the more I drink of it - smooth and well balanced.

Photo of badbeer
3.65/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Black with an off-white head, quickly recedes to a ring around the glass. Sweet bourbon and caramel aromas; bourbon is pretty dominant. Bourbon, vanilla, oak, and roastiness in the taste. Light body with a dry finish; higher end of carbonation. Thanks to cokebottle, or whatever his current name may be.

Photo of Mora2000
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to someone for sharing this at the May Freetail bottle release.

The beer pours a dark brown to black color with a brown head. The aroma is heavy on the roasted malt with a lot of bourbon whiskey notes. I get some oak, as well as some alcohol and maple.

The flavor is more complex. In addition to the oak and bourbon notes, I get a lot of chocolate, brown sugar and a little bit of dark fruit. The roasted malt is also present but takes a back seat to the chocolate.

Thick mouthfeel and low to medium carbonation. A very nice barrel-aged beer.

Photo of jondeelee
3.94/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Full Sail Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout (2013 release, 9.6% ABV) opens to a rich, smoky, complex, chocolaty, bourbon-laced aroma that is instantly appealing. Bourbon-soaked chocolate bon-bons are perhaps the closest confection in aroma, with their rich, thick milk chocolate and smoky vanilla bourbon notes, but add to that layers of coffee and ash, tobacco and heavy cream, as well as caramel and touches of molasses, and that served with a thick, heavily-toasted slice of rich yeasty brown bread, and you’re getting close. The beer is very nicely balanced, despite the enormity and variation in the aromas, each note playing well off the others. The sugars are especially nice, with fig, date raisin, and lychee fruit esters, lending a port-like quality to the aromas that meshes nicely with the bourbon. In fact, in a blind smelling test, this beer might easily be mistaken for port, especially after it has sat open for a few minutes and the initial heavy bourbon and ash shock has wafted away. As a whole, this smells fantastic.

On the tongue, the beer is very alcoholic, bourbon and port trouncing the tastebuds almost immediately, followed by chocolate liqueur candies, the stout tasting very much like a cognac-filled chocolate treat. Late in the mouthful a few measures of ash and tobacco come through, as well as dollops of brown bread, but it’s mainly the chocolate liqueur candy that dominates, being fairly sweet and containing heavy alcohol vapors. The mouthfeel is, however, strangely light, a watery medium-light at best, making the beer seem like the bourbon barrel aging is responsible for much of the taste in here, and that without it, the stout would only be semi-decent. Aftertaste is ash and tobacco, with lingering sugars and bourbon.

Overall, while the aromas in here were fantastic, the beer didn’t quite live up to its initial promises, and the heavy reliance on bourbon barrel notes ends up making the underlying stout seem weak and watery.

Photo of daveytheformer
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a thick oily black with a thin tiny tan head that immediately fades to a few spots.

Smells like vanilla, caramel, oak and sweet beautiful bourbon.

Taste a little chocolate and a lot like the aroma. Lots of bourbon and dark malt.

Mouthfeel is honestly little thin for what I'm used to for the style.

Overall is good and probably the best Full Sail beer I've had.

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.32/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer pours a jet black body with a sticky bubbly tan head that fades to a sheet after a bit. There are a few microbubbles that can be seen through the dense body of this beer.

S- The dark sweet malt aroma has notes of raisins and graphite with fresh sweet oak and a slight vanilla note to it coming through. There is a peaty bourbon note that comes through as the beer warms a bit. The notes of sesame seeds becomes part of the malt aroma and Kleenex tissue becomes part of the oak aroma as the beer warms.

T- The black sweetness has some sweet oaky flavors to follow with prune and dried fruit flavors underneath. There is a soft roasted flavor without any bitterness in the finish that turns inky as the beer warms. There is a soft alcohol flavor that combines with it but is not fusel.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a slightly slippery texture and a very mild alcohol warmth on the exhale.

D- This is a big smooth great sipping beer that is not really heavy and doesn't have much bitterness to balance the sweeter flavors, but that is ok as the inky flavors come through and the malt isn't overly sweet in itself. This beer starts of with big complex flavors but as the beer warms the flavors and aromas tend to get a bit washed out.

Photo of Reino
4.12/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- One finger of mochaccino (yeah, I said it) head rises to the top of my Duvel tulip and recedes to a creamy film atop this pitch black monster. There are only a few spatterings of lacing. Body=great, head and lacing=meh.

Smell- Chocolate, black cherry bourbon, dark fruits, vanilla, caramel, oak, brown sugar... pretty much everything you'd expect from a good bourbon aged stout. The more I smell it, the more the bourbon vanilla and caramel notes dominate.

Taste- Am I crazy or does this taste quite a bit like Cherry Adam from the Wood? I think the reason I'm getting that is the tannins running wild through the rest of the flavors. There are some beautiful bourbon flavors of oak, vanilla, and caramel coming through, but the fruits are more sharp than sweet. Some bitter baker's chocolate is mingling, as well. This needs time to come together.

MF- Full bodied on the lowest end of medium carbonation. The full body doesn't hold up to it's competition, however. I actually think their imperial porter has a fuller body. It's still quite pleasing on the tongue except for those damn tannins clinging where they don't belong. The heat isn't much of a problem for me, but I'm starting to become numb to it after all of these big beers this winter.

Drinkability- It goes down very easy considering the abv, tastes good, but a bomber is enough for me. Time will definitely improve the flavor, but I'm still quite disappointed with this beer. It's a good beer for the style, but I think their Top Sail Imperial Porter is better in every way, and almost more of an Imperial Stout than this is. I'm not an Abyss whore like a lot of people, but when I drop over $10 on an impy stout that's brewed in OR, there are certain expectations, and this didn't live up to them.

Photo of pwoods
4.59/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Shane(beachbum1975) for sharing this.

A: Pours nearly pitch black with basically no light. Nice sized head with some retention and decent lacing.

S: Plenty of chocolate, vanilla, coconut, and a bunch of hefty alcohol. Some dark fruits in the back and more as it warms, definitely some grapey flavor and maybe some black currants.

T/M: Very nice flavor complexity. Same as the nose with enhanced coconut and great alcohol. Alcohol is great, very hot but very enjoyable. The wood comes through even past the bourbon and adds so much depth. Body is medium to medium full and extremely smooth.

D: It's pretty damn hot but very tasty. Right now the drinkability isn't so great but it'll age beautifully.

Photo of CloudStrife
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a snifter. Brewmasters Reserve 2013.

A: Pours a dark brown appearing black in the glass with a tannish brown head on top. Fairly quick to dissipate it leaves a few spots of lacing.

S: Loads of bourbon notes on this one along with oak and vanilla. Dark fruits are fairly heavy along with a pleasant chocolate aroma. Touch of booze on the backend.

T: Isnt as much of a bourbon bomb as the nose would lead to believe but has a great roasted malt and chocolate profile. Oak and vanilla round out the backend smoothing things out.

M: Medium body with low carbonation. A bit lighter than most stouts on the market as there is a slight watery aspect. Nice mellow feel to it which is enjoyable.

Overall was very difficult to pass up at under $5 a bottle but I am glad I picked a couple up. Well balanced beer that is a good entry level bourbon beer.

Photo of mudbug
4.34/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the bomber into a standard pint glass results in a heart of darkness black body with a half inch head of tan foam with good retention, nice.
Yow, this one is pungent! Bourbon up front with lots of dark chocolate and espresso and booze, complex and in your face the aroma is outstanding.
Taste is bold, strong chocolate with a bourbon backbone And at the end there is a clean bittering of hops, not as sensational as the smell, but darn good with a nice alcohol warming.
Not as thick as some RIS, not overly chewy, medium bodied for the style.
Overall, this is one very nice Bourbon Barreled RIS all the correct parts are there and I think a few years ageing will put it up another notch. BRAVO!

Photo of Magpie14
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gold foil-top bomber, very excited about this one

A: a tempting deep brown bourbon pour with intense reds making an appearance. Overall very dark and luscious looking in the glass. I gave it a rather vigorous pour and a thin ghostly head appeared and vanished. Just a small ring of light mocha colored fizz remains. Just a few random dabs of lace

S: nice whiff of freshly shredded and flaked vanilla sweetened coconuts, mild sweet aged bourbon, dark bitter chocolates, and dark roasted malts. So far so good, shaping up real nice

T: man, this has a great profile. Roasted malts maintain a good footing and make things robust and tidy. I also pick up on more chocolate in the mix...reminiscent of fudge brownies with a dash of vanilla beans in the back after the swallow. The bourbon flavors evoke vanilla, charred wood, and dry flavors. This is a good after dinner desert drink, you might be able to conjure of soft dark fruits in the mix as well. Another interesting feature is the slight astringency that is showing up at the back of my tongue. It says that this brews IBU is 65, I would concur. I happen to like this one, bourbon notes have a mildly driving push throughout

M: i could tell from the pour that it was going to be a light imperial stout body. It is not the creamiest, thickest, or darkest imperial stout I have ever had. However, it is slick, smooth, easily drinkable with a more-than-husky medium body. I find it fits well

D: a wonderful experience is right. I found myself enjoying this bottle immensely. If you see it, buy it and enjoy

Photo of AKBelgianBeast
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an impenetrable black with a light tan head that lingers quite well and leaves nice lacing.

Nose is full of chocolate and vanilla with some oaky notes, and a hint of bourbon.

Hooah! Taste is still quite raw on this one. Some roasted malt kicks its way through, but mostly huge chocolate, vanilla, and BOURBON flavors. Now, normally this is a good thing, and what one looks for in a BBA stout, but this is quite raw, and has a certain hairspray quality too it. The finish is quite hot. Aftertaste is...bourbon, as well as oak.

Mouthfeel is on the thin side for the largeness of this one. Carbonation is right on. A bit dry.

Drinkability is ok, but really nothing special about it.

Bottom line is this one NEEDS TIME. I am going to lay the rest of these down for at least a year before i try another one. Really needs some more time to mellow and smooth. Still quite raw, and turbulent. Definitely has some promise though. A good beer.

Photo of Kevin73
3.87/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I tried the older 9.6% ABV variety. Appearance wise it wasn't the most appetizing beer. A brisk pour produced a very thin head that disappeared quickly. The smell was typical of most bourbon barrel aged beers (and bourbon in general) with brown sugar, vanilla, oak and caramel, so nothing surprising there. You expect an imperial to have more of everything. Hops are in the flavor but are very weak. There are notes of roasted malts; coffee, chocolate, dried fruit, almost like a dark ale. The beer was unusually boozy for being 9.6%, which makes me wonder if it's not mislabeled. Very strong alcohol burn. Overall I didn't dislike the beer--it's hard to not enjoy a bourbon barrel beer--but it came on a bit too strong and wasn't as well balanced as it could be.

Photo of GabeBoise
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%

2013 edition. Not labeled as Black Gold. Delicious bourbon aromas and smooth, bourbon infused stout flavor. Thinner and creamier mouthfeel than many other imperial stouts.

Photo of russpowell
4.97/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours mahogany/black witha 3 fingers+ mocha colored head. Very good lacing and head retention

Smell: Oaky, vanilla, & bourbon notes

Taste: Bourbon notes, vanilla, slight nutiness, slight grainy bitterness witha dry fruitty finish.

MF: Rich & creamy woth perfect carbonation levels

Super drinkable for the strength. I love this style & this easily one of the best I've tried. Enjoy

Photo of Glibber
4.42/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I recently bought a six pack of Russian Imperial Stout and it was a little heavy for me. The Black Gold on the otherhand was exceptional. The beer poured like black coffee, and had a thick bark brown head that dissipated after a little time. The smell was a powerful punch of coffee beans, and dark chocolate. Up front I tasted the sweetness of hazelnut with bitter chocolate. sucking in the beer, you could really feel the density of the beer. Not only am I much more a fan of Imperial Stout, I will be seeking out this beer.

Photo of HalfFull
3.87/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Often a Barrel Aged RIS becomes an Amer/Impy Stout. Apparently in this case, the opposite is true. The style characteristics seem to favor the former though the ABV is middle ground for both offerings. Just a bit of semantics perhaps.

This years release is poured into a wine glass from a 22 oz. capped bomber, showing nearly black in color and with a light mocha cap. Moderate retention and light lacing follow.

Potent notes of bourbon, oak, cherry and caramel on the nose. Roasted malt and chocolate notes contribute more with warming and exposure. Alcohol is present as this is surely a 'wet' barrel aged beer, though its presence does settle out after a few minutes.

Just a hint of bourbon on the taste, along with oak and vanilla and lesser hints of chocolate and cherry. Offers more of a toasted malt finish with enough texture and carbonation to balance the sweetness and ABV well on the tongue. Finish is reasonably full though somewhat more brief than expected given the bourbon influences, and with a bit of caramel and chocolate.

Initially overbearing with bourbon influence, this beer becomes a nice sipper as it warms; yet will always be an outsider to the 'family'. Apparently a different animal than prior releases I would gather.

Photo of bashiba
4.35/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a nice deep black with an inch of dark tan head, some light lacing.

The smell was a nice mixture of light vanilla and bourbon notes with a decent amount of smokey and burnt roasted barley.

The flavor followed the smell perfectly. A nicely balanced mix of big imperial stout flavors - Roasted Barley, chocolate, and a hint of anise - along with solid touches of bourbon barrel ageing - a bit of oak, light vanilla, and some honey.

The mouthfeel was nice and thick with that smooth dry quality that barrel ageing tends to lend.

Very nicely done, great balance with the right amount of time spent in the barrel.

Photo of 6DaysBottomOcean
3.82/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Doodler for the bottle! Pours a rich black, nice dark cocoa head that settles down to a ring around the edge. Oh man, if you like bourbon this beer is for you, aroma is big rich bourbon with a little bit of roast and mild alcohol heat. Taste follows with waves of bold boubon flavor but nicely hides the alcohol. Reminiscent of BCS with about a year on it. Nice dark chocolate flavors meld with the bourbon and a little heat is left of the back of the pallet in the finish. Moderate mouthfeel for the style, all in all pretty damn tasty but might be even better with a year on it.

Photo of Gmann
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a pitch black color with a small yet tight toasted khaki color that settled into a light ring.

The aroma is of bourbon and vanilla with a roasty malt base. Very straight forward bourbon aged stout.

The flavor is of a smooth bourbon, with vanilla and caramel adding extra layers of smooth. The roasted malt flavor is there but serves as a base and an offset to the sweet bourbon flavors. Some milk chocolate notes pop through as well.

The feel is moderate, a bit light for the style, with prickly carbonation. Smooth flavor on the palate but does end with significant belly burn from the ABV.

An enjoyable and flavorful bourbon aged stout. It is a bit hot and could use some aging. Good pick up.

Photo of Jjski
3.54/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A-black, small head

S-roasty malt chocolate , mild bourbon and vanilla

T- not overpowering or very assertive at all. A bit mild, but balanced flavors found in nose.

M- thin, effervescent

O- ok imp stout, but for $ 5.79 it is a bargain. It's the best (only?) sub-$6.00 barrel aged stout. As for reasonably priced beer of this style- I think Heavy Seas : Siren Noire is far better at @$8.00 to$9.00

For a bargain: recommended.
If you are looking for a Parabola or Abyss equivalent: skip it

Photo of jtierney89
4.3/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2013 vintage, only 9.6% as opposed to 11.4. Also this is the first time i've seen this in NJ? Anyway, I've been loving everything full sail lately so I'm hoping this lives up to what I've been having. Pitch pitch black with a half inch of head even with a vigorous pour. Lots of bourbon and chocolate on the nose. Oak and vanilla under it all.

Big bourbon flavor. Vanilla sweetness up front followed by rich chocolate flavor. Spicy oak finish. Nice underlying bitterness on the finish balances the bourbon sweetness that you find throughout the beer. For such a big brash beer, the flavor are layered extremely well, and, typical full sail quality, extremely clean. Probably the cleanest bourbon barrell flavored imperial stout i've ever had (full sail trademark) As the beer opens up a bit you get a bit more malt. For such a big beer its also kind of simple but in a good way. Flavors are quick layered and concise and work well together. Bourbon is a little strong, but laying it down for a couple months might help it fade a bit. Seriously though, good, drinkable, flavorful, simple, and clean is the best way to describe this. Massive body. with thin but steady carbonation.

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Black Gold Imperial Stout - Bourbon Barrel Aged (Brewmaster Reserve) from Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub
89 out of 100 based on 491 ratings.