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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

266 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 266
Hads: 496
Avg: 3.96
pDev: 18.18%
Wants: 87
Gots: 137 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 266 | Hads: 496
Photo of mnapier
4.27/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Serving Temperature, 55 degrees. Serving Glassware, 12 ounce tulip.

During a strong overcast with scattered shower evening, I witnessed a strong foamy salt and pepper head that recedes quickly leaving little to no lace inside the glass.
The nose is interesting with strong alcohol, cocoa, bourbon, and oak.
The mouth is soft with light vanilla, some phenalic, cocoa, black cherries (almost raisin like), and oak.

Needs some work.


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Photo of Charlie_Hoss
2.78/5  rDev -29.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.75

I figured I would write my first review on this beer to explain why I gave it such a low rating because I would like to think I like "most" craft brews.

2013 vintage poured into a DFH signature glass, Split between three people.

A: Poured into my glass moderately aggressive and poured a small, quickly diminishing, khaki head. Decent black color, probably one of the most appealing aspects of this beer. (great label, I can sometimes go for bling)

S: Upon initial smell I could smell bourbon,anise, and some fruit and I had high hopes it would be a tasty brew.

T: This is where everything went wrong. Maybe I was serving it too cold but my first sip tasted like fruity soy sauce. I waited for it to warm hoping this would change. It only moderately mellowed and I could not finish my glass (and I absolutely hate to pour beer). One of my friends felt the same, the other liked it, as taste is obviously one's opinion.

M:Very watery and thin, this was one of the biggest disappointments. I was hoping I would be pleasantly surprised but this just wasn't it.

O:Really disappointed in this one. I had high hopes for a barrel aged stout at $11 that was easily available. This was just not it. I will stick with Uinta Labyrinth as one of the best affordable barrel aged stouts that flies under the radar. Cheers

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Photo of Beernoisseur
4.23/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've always wanted to give a bourbon barrel aged stout a try. Thanks, obscure liquor store at point of the mountain, for granting me this opportunity. I should hit them up more often, they full shelves of some great beers.

By the way, It's 3:00 in the pm. Perfect time to start drinking a bomber weighing in at 10.5% ;-)

Cool bottle. I like the black and gold label. The pour is gorgeous into my oversized snifter, a deep walnut, *Almost* black, with a dense head the color of peeled almonds. Little retention, little lacing. Slight "legs" from the higher than average ABV.

The smell is very oaky, with lots of toasted coffee/toffee/carmel. Chocolate's in the crowd along with some fruity tones (cherry? berries?). Very appealing. It's drawing me in...

Not to wax poetic, but when the flower of this beer's flavor buds in my mouth, I get vanilla. This is followed by a full on bloom of multi-tonal depth and complexity. Being a big proponent of bourbon, I pick up on that distinct flavor immediately, as well as chocolate, espresso, toffee, with tart citrus and berries toward the finish. A fairly sweet beer, this one warms as it goes down, but hides the high alcohol content very well. Delicious. a sipping beer. I'm glad I poured it into my snifter.

This is on the higher end of what I would consider medium bodied, and feels wonderful in my mouth. The drinkability is high.

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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!

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Photo of HimerMan
3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I feel this beer should really be cellar aged for 6-12 months prior to drinking; but still an excellent beer.

Pour was dark brown/black with a nice head and strong aroma of vanilla and alcohol, with a bit of chocolate.

Taste - a bit sharp on the alcohol (as again, in time this will fade) but very sweet and creamy at the same time. Flavor lingers for a bit, without the taste of agressive hops in the background.

Overall I think the ratings will go up for this once time allows the flavors to mature a bit. I really believe this is an excellent beer.

Definitely worth a chance if you can find it now.


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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

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Photo of alexhahn82
3.61/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First of all: 2011 Vintage = 11.4% ABV

Appearance: WOW. Black Gold, totally effin' nailed the name, I thought I was pouring oil into my glass that was thinned down with paint thinner!

Smell: Sweet and bourbony. Carmel and Bourbon. I don't like simple descriptions but it is what it is.

Taste: Baker's chocolate. Bitter yet pronounced. Has a hint of chocolate, but definitely unsweetened chocolate with a medium bourbon tone.

Mouthfeel: Medium with a little tang. Yes, tang. I hate that word but have no better use of it. Semi metalically, but not in a bad sort of way, finishes smooth and chocolatey.

Overall: Very nice beer, well worth the $12 per bottle price, well balanced but steers toward the complex choco/bourbon flavors. Definitely worth a try!!

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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.

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Photo of aeminter
4.21/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thank you Colt9016

The appearance in jet black with low light brown head.

The smell is initially of bourbon, go figure, there are some light esters; mostly of dried fruit.

Hmm, tastes very rich, complex, bourbon, malty, light esters... maybe plum or fig. The bitterness is minimal and only really expresses itself in the finish.

The mouthfeel is damn near perfect; velvety, full bodied and just a little on the chewy side. The carbonation is moderate to low. It just plays on the front of the tongue and then disappears. The alcohol isn't really all that noticeable until you take a few pulls and then the warming starts. Very nice.

note: I'm generally not a huge fan of stouts, but like anything else if you look hard enough you can find exceptions to the rule. This is one of those exception, and I'm very happy to have had the chance to have this beer.

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Photo of chicano4craft
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours black as night into my snifter. Small tan head that disappears fast. No lacing here.

Lots of bourbon in the nose. Not a bad thing! Barrel aging gives off a nice woody aroma. There's slight dark chocolate hiding in the background.

Nice combanation of flavors in the taste. Bourbon blends well with the roasted stout. Lots of vanilla, especially as it warms. Alcohol hides at first, but comes on strong towards the end. A bittersweet finish that's sort of dry.

Mouthfeel is deceptive. It starts thin but the strong flavors seem to beef it up quite a bit. Decent drinkability. Meant to be sipped and savored.

Pleasant surprise. Most of Full Sail's Reserve Series have been middle of the road. I really liked this one and will age my remaining bottle.

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Photo of kdahnke123
3.92/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

2104 Vintage, poured into a snifter. 9.84% ABV. At cellar temperature.
A - Pours a very dark brown with a two finger crema colored head. The head dissipates slowly leaving a rim of lacing.
S - Bourbon and chocolate up front with a hint of hops at the end.
T - Lots of chocolate up from, very smooth. Next comes moderate bourbon and just a hint of bite from the hops at the end. The alcohol is well integrated.
M - A little on the light side for an imperial stout. Lightly carbonated with very little if any mouth coating quality.
O - An average BB stout. Has a good bourbon nose but comes out a little flat on the flavor and mouthfeel.

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Photo of Iguana
4.48/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This gem poured black with brown hues around the edges, with a almost non existent head. As I poured it I was greeted with the scents of vanilla and bourbon. Taste started out like roast coffee with a huge bourbon punch of a finish. As it warmed it got smoother and smoother. Very thick almost syrupy in texture. I would call this a sipping beer, mainly because the bourbon finish is so strong. Wish I had more of this beauty for aging but alas I only got 1 bottle. A great change of pace from Full Sail in my opinion and a truly great beer for the RIS lover and the bourbon lover alike.

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Photo of unclederby
4.04/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured as vigorously as i could into my miniature Old Raspy nonic (about 8 oz.?) Smallish caramel color cap sits atop this black beer, but it quickly fades to nothingness. No lacing as i drink. Aromas of bourbon and caramel predominate, with a touch of vanilla to lend an overall creme brulee-like bouquet. Smells scrumptious. Flavors are much the same, with obvious roasted malt and caramelized sugar nuances. The bourbon is mellower and smoother than last years porter and I appreciate this... there is also enough of a hop presence to keep the richness from becoming too cloying. I'd have to agree with others that the mouthfeel is a little thin for the style, but this does have the effect of increasing it's drinkability. Carbonation is there somewhere i'm sure... Overall, a nice beer if not exactly a world-beater, and i'll shell out the bucks for one more to cellar for a bit.

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Photo of SPThirtyThree
3.64/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

My first attempt to review this beer failed when I realized I'd bought Full Sail's Imperial Porter instead. However that beer turned out to be astonishingly tasty. Hopefully this one won't disappoint either. A heavy gold foil covers the crown, but it peels away easily, allowing me to begin enjoyment.

A: The beer pours jet black into my snifter, thick but surprisingly shy in the head. The cap is about a half-a-finger, and a rich brown. The head falls fast, leaving brown splotches on the surface of the black brew.

S: The nose is an explosion of whiskey; I guess I should have aged this one more. Another year and a half and it would have been perfect. The barrel flavors completely dominate the scent. Bourbon, vanilla, and roasted oak hide a tarry citrus background. Phenolic, hot smells also linger, and a faint hint of toffee or espresso.

T: Again, plenty of whiskey, and it's burnt, sour character. Charred caramel, coffee, and a quick but sharp bite from the hops near the finish. A sweet clove base slides behind strong, sticky bourbon vanilla.

M: Thick and chewy, although more creaminess would make this beer perfect. Maybe it's not creaminess, but something is definitely lacking from the body. The carbonation wasn't particularly high, but I don't think that is what's missing. It might be that the bourbon has broken down the proteins in the beer, leaving a thinner-bodied brew.

D: Medium. The beer is very good overall, but the barrel character is overwhelming. If you like a massive oakiness to beer, this is delightful, but again, I think it would be much better with age.

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Photo of TheCrowsNest
3.52/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip glass, this high-ABV beer forms a thin tan head that fades quickly to a very, very dark brown. A solid oak aroma is immediately present along with a decent amount of vanilla and a little warmth right before the first sip. Most of the roasted bitterness has probably faded in the barrel leaving mostly chocolate and oak. Still some coffee, but it’s hiding behind some vanilla. Finishes with just a little twang. There’s more carbonation in this than it shows in the pour but the finish is a little too quick.

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Photo of beersabound
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The appearance is black and opaque with a brown head of one finger's width and good retention. The inital aroma and flavor is of roasted malts and whiskey. It has lots of warming alcohol in the flavor and mouthfeel. The mouthfeel is full but smooth even considering the alcohol. It was moderately carbonated. As the this black beauty warms, the oak, vanilla and supporting malt sweetness emerge producing a drinkable, strong, and complex stout that is great to share with a couple of friends. Sharing is great because then you can try many beers in one sitting. I'd buy more bombers of this for sure but would hesitate ordering a full pint at a bar. Mostly because of the alcohol content. This is a great beer for dessert (I'll pass on the cake and ice cream) or after dinner sipping while solving the world's problems.

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Photo of bodybyadam
4.02/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

If you want to try this one grab it while you can. I bought this from my local establishment, who had this in his cellar for about 6-8 months. This one he only allows his customers to purchase one. Not one at a time, but you're limited to buy ONE. So many people want to stock up on this "Character".
So the lavish label is somewhat appealing. Served into my typical goblet I immediately notice the dark pitch color pours smooth with a ¾’ head. I’m already anticipating its raved about taste, since I warmed my palette with a mild commercial stout. The Imperial has a nose of malty molasses, which threw me because its label reads of aging in oak bourbon casks. Well hang on at this point because the “amusement park ride” has just started.

My first taste after sniffing, and noticing the malty molasses, and I should have expected this, was a strong bourbon flavor. The later tastes started to throw in more flavors. The aftertaste was a caramel smoky stout that had reminded me of a smoked porter favorite of mine, but with very distinct differences. The mouth feel is the best part of this drink for its awakening of your senses.

One thing to remember is that the 10.5% ABV is there and if you don’t like the taste or smell of bourbon then this might not be the drink for you. This one is right at the top of my stout list and though it may not be for everyone, I know I’ll at least have one waiting for me.

Elbows Up,

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Photo of edmedina
4.52/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a deep dark black. This is one of the darkest beers I've seen. The head even comes off brown but full

Aroma: Vanilla and bourbon, nothing else. I tried to see if I could get hints of roast malt or anything else, but I got nothing.

Taste: I get tastes of the roasted malt. Almost chocolate like but that is immediately replaced with vanilla and the oak from the barrels.

Mouthfeel: Starts off very creamy and ends with a bourbon after taste. It's subtle but there.

Overall Impression: OK when I first took my smell I thought, Wow this is going to be full on bourbon but the taste was nothing like that. The beer behaves like a Russian Imperial Stout but ends with a bourbon bite. I like how balanced Full Sail made this beer. You can definitely tell this is a big beer for the big boys.

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Photo of DeepBrew
3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Labeled Brewmaster Reserve 2013, ABV 9.6

Poured from 22oz bomber into snifter

A: Black with medium tan foam and good retention. Leaves behind good lacing.

S: Beautiful smell of caramel, malt, barrel, vanilla and booze

T: Tastes less rich than it smells, the sweet is still there and the chocolatey bitter, but the vanilla is gone and the barrel is muted compared to what I expected after 12 month of aging. The aftertaste was somewhat dry for the style.

M: Creamy, medium strong, medium carbonation

O: After taking in the beautiful looks and smell, the taste was somewhat of a let-down.

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

Pours as dark as the night with a quick dissipating head and a thin lacing lacing left behind, this impeeial stout has a huge taste of bourbon and vanilla with a roastiness that balances well it's bitterness. Medium to full bodies with a warm aftertaste of alcohol this beer is not too demanding or overpowering, but instead it balances itself to a very welcoming warmness.

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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.

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Photo of BarleyMine
4.5/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured this into a snifter:

L- BLACK! With a thick tan head and sticky lacing.

S- Molassas, brown sugar, bourbon, roasted grains and wood.

T- Bourbon, roasted malts, alcohol and a slight toasted coconut finish.

B- full, thick body with nice smooth carbonation.

Extremely drinkable.

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Photo of dfitch81
4.87/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

As a rule I only write reviews while I drink the beer being reviewed but I'm going to make an exception this time because I need to let you, dear reader, know how awesome Black Gold is. I had two bottles of this hiding away for a special occasion, and the night before my wedding, weekend before last, fit the bill just fine. What did I find? Complexities are wonderfully abundant: you can, for example, taste the bourbon, which has its own distinct nuances, but it remains harmoniously integrated within the palate. Oozing evidence of master craftsmanship from every figurative pore, Black Gold is a great masterpiece. I had a bottle of Abyss a few days later, and it was excellent too, but I'd actually give the nod to Black Gold. If you think that sounds like blasphemy, then try both before you start throwing stones. Black Gold is certainly hard to get a hold of; if you see some grab it immediately because it sprints off store shelves like a cheetah with its ass on fire. And the cheetah - flaming ass and all - would never entertain you as much as Black Gold will. Cheers.

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Photo of aewinte1
3.55/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Pours pitch black with ample carbonation. Approximately 1.5" head from semi-vigorous pour
S- Smells of caramel and chocolate malts, bourbon booziness, and coffee.
T- I was somewhat surprised when I tasted this beer because I expected to love it. This beer is good, but the bourbon was too over-the-top for me. Bourbon really masked a lot of the other flavors which was somewhat disappointing. I love a good bourbon, but in a bourbon beer I want a bit of complexity. Tiny bit of coffee attempts to balance out the bourbon, but it doesn't do a good job
M- Carbonation and viscosity were good, but nothing terribly memorable
D- Drinkability is average at best because its so boozy. I'm not saying the ABV is too high, but the bourbon is just too overpowering to want another.

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Photo of dukew456
3.47/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into my Duvel tulip.

Jet black, with a small, light brown head that quickly dissipates. Spotty lacing leaves something to be desired, but still respectable.

The aroma is nearly overpoweringly boozy to me. A sweet bourbon aroma jumps out initially, then moves aside just barely enough to let some roasted malt through.

Wow, the taste directly follows suit, being overwhelmingly boozy, with just a small amount of roasted malt and chocolate. The bourbon aspect adds a kind of fruitiness to this stout that I didn't expect.

I was a little bit disappointed in this beer, but maybe it would benefit from aging. This is pretty damn boozy, but it does say on the label that it's 10+% ABV. I just wish that maybe Full Sail had done a better job smoothing out this one's alcohol a bit.

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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 266 ratings.