Top Sail Imperial Porter (Brewmaster Reserve) | Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub

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Top Sail Imperial Porter (Brewmaster Reserve)Top Sail Imperial Porter (Brewmaster Reserve)
Very Good
77 Ratings
Top Sail Imperial Porter (Brewmaster Reserve)Top Sail Imperial Porter (Brewmaster Reserve)

Brewed by:
Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub
Oregon, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by ElGordo on 03-30-2007

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 77 |  Reviews: 57
Photo of Sammy
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thick and slick porter looks great and thick black, with a significant white head. Some mollasses aroma. Taste is full of mollasses, and it is a full mouthfeel and a bit sweet in the finish. Good with food. Thanks ccrida. Rich though not overally complex.

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Photo of jaydoc
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of brentk56
3.77/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2007 Version

Appearance: Pours a dark obsidian with just the vaguest of ruby highlights peeking through; head formation looks great, at first, but becomes very rocky and fades quickly while leaving some splashy lace

Smell: The best part of this beer, with gobs of chocolate, coffee and char

Taste: Opens with a chocolate and coffee flavor that moves in a strong char direction by mid-palate; after the swallow, the char elements dominate to the detriment of the other flavors

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation; a bit thinner than I would have expected

Drinkability: Perhaps it is the effect of age, but the beer was unbalanced and almost sour from the char

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Photo of LXIXME
3.83/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from about an inch above the glass gave this clear dark black colored beer a big light brown head that slowly settled into a pretty nice lacing.

The bourbon overwhelms everything else that the aroma might have.

The bourbon is still overwhelming but the taste also has some dark rich roasted malts coming through.

A dry aftertaste on this full bodied beer that harbors some of the roasted malts and bourbon from the taste.

A rich full taste but just to much of the bourbon for me also, I'm not a drinker of hard alcohol but if I were this beer would definitely rate much higher with me.

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Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.91/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 release, acquired via trade from Wasatch, so a big "Thank you" goes out to him, poured from a 22oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color with a medium-sized brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of coffee, dark fruit and roasted malts with a mild background of hops and alcohol.

T: The taste starts out with and is dominated by the two flavors of dark chocolate and cherries. Once you get past that though, this beer has all of the flavors indicative of the American Porter style like coffee & roasted malts. The after-taste is smoky and slightly bitter.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium-to-heavy body, light-to-medium carbonation, sticky & dry finish.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, slightly filling, good kick, there are some that are better within the style but this one actually seems like it pushes strongly toward the Baltic Porter style border if not over it. This is a good beer drink slowly, but if you're in the right mood you could take one down pretty quickly.

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Photo of russpowell
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brewmaster's Reserve 2007 pours mahogany with 3+ fingers of pillowy/chunky mocha colored head. Excellent head retention & lava lamp-type lacing

S: Chocolate, roasty malts, treacle, licorice,& a bit of iron

T: Chocolate, roasted grain, & hint of molasses up front. Dryness, a little bit of boozeyness, & bitter chocolate as this warms. Slight coffee hints, along with oaky dryness, some fruity notes ( dates & plums), vanilla, & roasty grains, plus a bit of booze hotness

MF: Oily, some viscous character, medium bodied, with low carbonation & slight astringency. that vanishes as this warms

Drinks pretty good, a bit too hot for my liking. I remember loving this stuff on draft about 10 years ago

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.33/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black currant black with the slightest suggestion of medium brown at the edges. The head is a toffee colored beast that is immensely thick and rich and is beginning to coat the glass with an impressive blanket of moth-eaten lace. Any number of Russian Imperial stouts would kill to look this good.

The nose is the second indication that there's a very fine line between an Imperial porter and an American double stout. In fact, I'm not sure that Top Sail hasn't crossed that line. Roasted malt is front, center and back. More specifically, espresso and dark chocolate fill my nostrils with every sniff.

I already know how delicious this sucker is because I had to slurp the cap after an inattentive pour. The malt bill is a mystery, but some combination of roasted, black and chocolate has to be present. The flavors include coffee (now with a shot of cream), bittersweet chocolate, blackstrap molasses and black licorice.

I'm surprised, although not really disappointed, that the hops aren't more prominent. Most of the bitterness, I'm guessing, is due to charred malt. Having said that, citrus peel (grapefruit especially) is easily identified. I love hoppy stouts... er, Imperial porters... but I'm pleased that Full Sail didn't didn't go overboard with the little green cones and allowed the malt to remain at center stage.

The only letdown is a mouthfeel that falls short of Imperial status. No wait, that was my initial impression. My current impression, now that the beer has reached an estimated 60 degrees, is that it's full enough. A glassy smoothness and an ideal amount of carbonation (can't have one without the other) solidify the given score.

This Full Sail Brewmaster's Reserve offering is an unqualified success and deserves to be brewed year-round. It's bursting with black malt flavor and is sneakily hoppy enough to stay true to its Pacific Northwest roots. Recommended.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%

Photo of GClarkage
3.85/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

08/07/07- Purchased at John's Marketplace, in Portland, OR.

Presentation- 22oz bottle with no freshness info on the bottle. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Dark brown to light balck in color. 3/4 inch chocolate brown head with streaks and small patches of lace left.

Smell- Deep roasted malt notes with a smoky burnt aspect. Some bitter hop aroma and maybe some burnt coffee beans.

Taste- Malt is intermixed with coffee and chocolate, both which are lightly smoked and roasted very deeply. Hop bitterness intermixes well with the both. Flavors get much sweeter as the bottle warms. Much more drinkable at room temp than cool.

Mouthfeel- Very creamy with a mid level carbonation rate. Light bitter aftertaste.

Drinkability- Seems like a mix of Baltic and regular porter. I'd still push it to the imperial side though. Perfectly fine beer worth trying out. Solid effort from Full Sail as usual.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep black color, nice carbonation, nice small creamy tannish head, which then leaves some nice islands and sticky lacing throughout the drink. The nose is malty, slightly roasted, big on the toffee/coffee/caramel. The taste is malty, roasty, nice touch of toffee/coffee/caramel. There's a nice slightly bitter/dry finish. Medium body. Drinkable, this is a very nice porter from Full Sail, glad that I can get this locally.

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Photo of jwc215
4.57/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a thin tan head that is well-retained for abv level. Some trailing lace slides down glass.

The smell is of anise, chocolate and coffee notes. Earthy background. Some berry-like fruitiness.

The taste is of chocolate, anise, coffee and caramel/molasses. A touch of oak blends in. Sweetness balanced for style by a subtle berry-like dark fruitiness and earthy notes. Ends appropriately sweet and rich.

Full-bodied. Creamy.

This is awesome. Alcohol well-covered. Complex but not over-bearing. Have this sipper as a rich dessert.

Thanks to Wasatch for this wonderful treat!

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Photo of NickThePyro
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of Bitterbill
4.32/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got this bottle in a trade with Wasatch. Thanks John!

A very dark brown pour with a 1 finger head of foam. It leaves some nice lacing and the head retention is ok.

The smell has notes of chocolate, roasted malt, toffee, and some fruitiness. Nice nose.

The taste is big! Lots of chocolate and roasted malt with some toffee and some hoppy goodness and I'm getting a nice sweet-bitter flavour that is very tasty. I notice a goodly amount of dark fruit as well that adds some of the sweet tones and yeah, the alcohol does give me some warming after the swallow but it's not *tht* noticeable so I'll sip on. ;^)

Medium mouthfeel here with medium light carbonation. It finishes slightly smokey with a good bitterish kick and maybe a touch of anise. Very tasty and very satisfying brew. I recommend it!

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Photo of Zorro
3.91/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Damn dark colored ale here, everything but light proof black. Good brown colored head.

Smell is lots of chocolate and toasted bread aroma. A little boozy Kahlua scent is in this but it really smells like a chocolate biscuit.

The taste starts out a little sweet and a little raw fuggles hop flavor in the mouth. For the beer style this does an excellent job of tasting like an English Dark Ale. Good chocolate flavor from the patent malt but coffee is very subdued. Flavors of leather and tobacco that I wouldn't expect in an ale of this type. Alcohol level is completely hidden here, seem more like 4%

Mouthfeel is OK.

Pretty drinkable ale that has more than a few milk stout and English Dark Ale elements in it. Imperial Porter with extra flavor levels, this really deserves slightly more than a four in the taste department. Super easy to drink and something I will buy again.

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Photo of biegaman
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Full Sail Imperial Porter is an essentially black beer with a dirt-covered wild mushroom coloured head. I say 'essentially black' because while it is opaque, and virtually without highlights, it showed a softer, more brown-ish side coming out the bottle and even in the glass doesn't look quite as inky as an imperial stout. Interspersed lacing is a nice touch.

The roast coffee and caramelly malts you were looking to smell are in there somewhere, but you have to hunt for them. Swirling helps, but it also agitates some of the alcohol esters and even then still doesn't give off the air of a top-notch, full character porter. There is, however, enough zestful hoppiness to at least positively identify it as an *American* porter.

The best American porters have a smooth, rich, espresso level (and espresso-like) flavour that is so immensely gratifying it allures you into quicker and quicker and bigger and bigger sips, constantly chasing that perfect apex of dark chocolaty, black licorice and coffee taste as they scintillate on the tongue mid swallow. This one has that and it's wonderful (although I don't care much for that droplet of alcohol that disconnects us from a proper finish).

And the accompanying mouthfeel, furthermore, is a little out of whack. The silky dark flavours and gentle roast seem to disintegrate a little on the finish, largely because of an over zealous carbonation that pricks little holes in the tongue through which all the gooey chocolate and medium-sweet maltiness slip through. The beer's leafy bitterness (and the 60 IBUs) could be better integrated, it too seems out of step with the profile.

Full Sail brews a great variety of styles and, while they do them all reasonably well, they've yet to really "win" at any of them. This porter (American or Imperial or whatever) is lovely stuff, but more deserving of a participant's ribbon than hardware. Still, it's a beer I'd be happy to have available locally and one that was definitely worth what I paid for it.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.6/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A vigorous pour produces a frothy, tightly beaded, initially three-finger thick, brownish tinged, dark tan colored head that sits atop an opaque, basically black colored brew. The head leaves some delicate lacing as it slowly recedes. Distinctively fruity smelling (though not dominantly), aromas of concentrated raisin, fig, brandy like notes and perhaps a touch of cherry are all here, though they have all been slightly burnt. Concentrated malt aromatics contribute the noticed fruit notes, but it also produces notes of dark chocolate, black coffee and huge toasted malt aromatics. The aroma is so smooth and so rich and satiating; I am quite impressed how rich, yet not overly burnt this beer smells.

Slightly sweet, but not nearly as much as I had expected. The beer has a medium fullness to it that is not quite rich. Ample roasted malt flavors of black coffee, slightly acidic espresso, bitter dark chocolate, and a burnt grain husk character all play a big role. At times this reminds me of a coffee liquor (though one that is not all that sweet). Some dusty cocoa notes, warming, almost hot, alcohol that combines with that roast acidity in the finish contribute to some disjointed flavors. Not quite as rich and smooth as I was hoping it would be; at times a really good chocolate flavor & aroma are noticeable, but at other times it can be overwhelmed by slightly harsh / sharp notes.

The flavor is more roast / burnt dominated than the aroma and is not nearly as smooth. I have a hard time distinguishing this from a strong stout, at least based on the flavor. After my nose has acclimated a bit, even the aroma becomes a bit harsher. Still a tasty beer and it definitely hits the spot when looking for a big, darkly roasted malty beer.

Purchased: Plaza Liquors, Tucson AZ

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.27/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz pulled out of the cellar to wash down and cleanse out palates after a bunch of less than stellar APA's. Shared with my brother.. my half poured into my New Belgium balloon. Still listening to the RIS iPod party mix... Primus, John the Fisherman, live.

Poured at warmer than cellar temp... nice lite brown head.. lacing lasts the entire glass.... dark dark brown... ruby highlites.

Roasted grains and yeasty fruitiness. Nuts and dried fruits.. Aroma is bigger than expected. coffee/cappucino creaminess. A little ruby port comes around as Top Sail warms up.

Flavor packs a punch.. same as the aroma but with some Western hops.. floral hops mix well with the blackness that envelopes the palate. Hop bitterness hard to pick out from the dark malts.. dark chocolate mixes nicely with the fruits.. think milk chocolate covered dried cherries. Palate is smoooth... creamy satiny velvet. Carbonation sneaks in with rich boozy chocolate burps. Good body for a porter, but this brew blurs the line with lesser Imperial Stouts.

Top Sail is fantastic... I traded a ton of these away... now I wish I had planned to save more for the cellar. Full Sail's brewer's reserve series is almost always a great bet... and there are alot more coming up in '08. Reviewing this beer made me really appreciate it's merits. Yummy, now I just need to quit drinking my stash.

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Photo of DucksFan16
3.78/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of barleywinefiend
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Port Carlsbad.
Poured a deep brown with a small tannish head. Nose is roasty, woody and cocoa. Taste is roasted, cocoa, slight coffee and woody flavor. Mouthfeel is nice, balanced, very drinkable the ABV was just right for this brew. I picked up a nutty flavor on the end of this beer which left a nice taste in my mouth I finished a pint in no time. Really good porter all the way around.

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Photo of ArrogantB
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

-Update 09/07/07

22oz bottle poured into a 10oz Samuel Smith nonic glass. The taste was really good with coffee and roast flavors coming out. Not sure why it is so much better four months later, aging perhaps? I plan on aging the other three bottles to see what happens. Yum.

22 oz bottle poured into a snifter. The color was black with a tan head that was quite fluffy. The taste was a little like milk chocolate but faint. The alcohol was undetectable. The body was a little thin. Overall I did not care much for this beer. I will still give the Full Sail Brewmaster's Reserve a fair shake since Wreck The Halls was so good.

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Photo of zekeman17
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of ccrida
3.03/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into a tulip glass, the Top Sail Imperial Porter is a dark, inky black, purple tinged when held to a light, with a dense, creamy, dark tan head that leaves thick bubbly lace. A little rockier and it would be a 5, gorgeous!

The smell is fairly strong, sweet malt and chocolate, classic porter, but richer, almost reminicent of a milk stout. Nice.

Whoa - the taste is very roasty and bitter, more in RIS territory then porter. Theres some chocolate malty sweetness in the middle, but its lost in the astringency, finish dry and generally lacking depth. Or appeal.

The mouthfeel is rather viscous, although somewhat tempered by creamy carbonation.

Not very drinkable, to rough and roasty for a porter and just not very good.

Here's another one from Full Sail that looks and smells great, and then falls flat for a big let down. Not recommended.

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Photo of argock
4.28/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz brown bomber into a Duvel tulip. No freshness date. Purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $4.99.

A: Nearly black with generous 1-2 fingers of leather brown head with good retention and patchy lacing in thick band around the glass.

S: ROasted barley and citrus hops are most prominent but more caramel appears with warming and earthier, tobacco hops are poke through.

T: The raw roasted barley and heavy citrus hops work very well together, especially with the strong caramel and pale malt backbone which makes this brew a very pleasurable experience. The roasted barley is without harshness or acrid character -- it is just good, down and dirty robust porter rawness that tastes very fresh. The heavy hand with Cascade hops is apparent, and this one treads the line of CDA territory.

M: Very smooth with good heft and low carbonation make for dangerous ease of drinking.

O: I wish all of Full Sail brews were as good as this one. Their CDA Bump in the Night is a mess, Sanctuary was so-so, but others like Wrech the Halls, Hop Pursuit and Spotless are real winners. This imperial porter definitely lands in the winner group, particularly if you like robust roasted barley flavors. Highly recommended.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Strong aroma is oily and smoky with tones of roast coffee and molasses. It pours a nearly opaque sable with a thick, fine-bubbled, fairly persistent dark tan head. Smoky flavor fills the mouth with burnt wood, roast coffee, unsweet chocolate and a hint of licorice. Oily texture is fizzy and lively, leaving a smoky, tingly, woody finish. Recommended!

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Top Sail Imperial Porter (Brewmaster Reserve) from Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub
Beer rating: 3.87 out of 5 with 77 ratings