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

very good
57 Reviews
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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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 57 | Ratings: 77
Photo of Bitterbill
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
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 SargeC
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Deep black brew with a dense brown head that lingers and laces.

Smell: Molasses, toffee, coffee, vanilla, caramel and chocolate.

Taste: Solid malt character. Not overly bitter or sweet, they found a good balance with this brew. Slightly smoky with a touch of alcohol in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Semi-grainy and chewy with an oily quality that helps the flavor linger.

Drinkablity: Very tasty and bold porter. Its drinkability almost makes it sessionable, but it could catch up to you in a hurry.

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Photo of udubdawg
4.36/5  rDev +13%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

finally getting my hands on some Alpha Klaus tomorrow, so figured I'd open this tonite in anticipation...woah, where'd my stash go? Multiple cases has turned into a few lonely bottles - I enjoy it that much.

22 oz bottle
Beautiful looking pour, very very dark brown, with an impressive cocoa-colored head. Lacing left everywhere as it slowly fades, stubbornly remaining as a ring even to the bottom of the glass. I can find no fault with this (the appearance that is - getting to the bottom of the glass of a great beer is obviously a problem!)

By now I've had this beer at least a couple dozen times, and the nose is disappointing in the lack of complexity, but not the overall aroma. Don't get me wrong - I like it. I like it a lot. But having had so many beers that smell like heaven over the last year, it is difficult to rate this any higher. Maybe I need to develop my nose, but I get mostly a lot of chocolate with a hint of spiciness and a decent amount of char.

Extremely tasty beverage right here. Call it a 4.75, leaving room for another soon-to-be-tasted beer to improve upon an already great taste.
Very robust. Roastiness is immediately evident, with chocolate and coffee refusing to take a back seat. I love the acidic charred edge, plus some citrus hoppy bitterness in the background. Goes doen easy but never approaches sweet. Long drying finish.

Obviously I can't rate this as a double stout, where the mouth would have to be considered thin, but I'm at a loss as to what should one expect from an "imperial porter." It's smooth, medium in body, and extremely enjoyable. Good enough for me. Drinkability is great, borderline dangerous at 7.5%, but is going to be limited by my supply soon. Can't recall what the price was, but hell I bought 3 cases, so it couldn't have been that bad.

This should absolutely be a year-round beer. Recommended.

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Photo of alexgash
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle.

Dark chocolate brown body with a thick, lacy, dark khaki head. Chocolate aromas mix with coffee, vanilla, light smoke, and roasted malt bitterness. Dark chocolate bitterness up front. Smoother, sweeter chocolate and dark fruits follow. Strong roasted malt character turns more coffee-like. Hop and coffee bitterness blend with woody astringency in the finish. Lingering chocolate. A very hoppy porter. Medium-full body with a creamy feel. Not bad, especially if you like lots of hops in your porter!

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.27/5  rDev +10.6%
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 Gueuzedude
3.6/5  rDev -6.7%
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 BlindPig
3.26/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Thick mocha head on a pretty black body.
S- Big alcohol, coffee, and chocolate all in the nose. Some roasted aromas too, along with a little grass.
T- Follows the aroma. Kind of a big coffee flavor to it. Chocolate does come in to but coffee dominates the flavor. Grass hops come out just a bit to help balance things out a little bit. Not much alcohol that can be detected.
M- Medium body with low smooth carbonation.
D- It is a decent porter. Nothing to go on about. It is drinkable and that's all I care about right now but I wouldn't get another.

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Photo of Zorro
3.91/5  rDev +1.3%
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 BuckeyeNation
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
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 RJLarse
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I bought a bottle of Top Sail Imperial Porter late last spring, and have been saving it for more a "porter like" season. Finally a cold gray late fall day presents an opportunity... poured in to a pint tumbler.

Pours a coal black color and is opaque. A firm foamy tan head caps the beer and is remarkably resilient. From above the glass it looks a bit like a chocolate shake.

Smell is a curious perfume like aroma, with a hint of coffee and chocolate. It doesn't have the smoke scent I expected.

Taste is a lot like the smell, there is an acerbic flavor up front, a little heat, and then some dark roasted coffee and chocolate flavors on the finish. Bitter aftertaste, that lingers.

Mouthfeel is good. The beer is fairly full bodied but not cloying.

A fairly drinkable porter. The flavor is not overpowering, nor is the alcohol. Not nearly as stiff as the "imperial" tag implies. I would have this again, but there are a lot of porters that are as good.

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Photo of MuddyFeet
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Simply fantastic.

Poured a dark chocolate milk brown. Head held up well and was slightly tanned brown Poured thick like chocolate milk. Nose was sulphuric with some subtle dark chocolate tones.

Solid American porter. Heavy malt flavor with a smokey cinder presence. Not overpowering but enough to remind me what I am drinking. There is also some touched of slightly green hops. Very much a Pacific NW beer. Dark chocolate. Coffee grinds. Caramel. Lots of flavors going on in this beer. Medium to full mouthfeel. I actually thought there was more flavor before the beer warmed up to room temperature.

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Photo of russpowell
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
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 nlmartin
4.31/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to UncleJedi for sending this beer my way. The beer was served in an Imperial Pint glass.

Appearance: The appearance is exactly as I like Porters. The beer has an impenetrable blackness to the body. The head is the color of lightly creamed coffee. The head has great retention and leaves a ton of lacing behind on my glass.

Smell: This beer is loaded with the aroma of well roasted coffee with a nip of cocoa. A bitof oakey vanilla and dark fruit play in the aroma.

Taste: The beer gives up a slightly burnt coffee flavor with a dash of cocoa. A wee nip of smoke combines with an earthy bitterness.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: The body is very creamy and on the plus side. The carbonation seems to be on the low end of medium. This is a dam fine Porter and I wish I had a few more to follow this one. Thanks again UncleJedi.

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Photo of Westsidethreat
3.46/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks Duckboy!

A: Pours a chewy dark brown with a frothy dark beige head. This head doesn’t look like it will be dropping any time soon.

S: Oily chocolate, coffee grounds, vinous woods with a chalky aspect to it.

T: Begins with some creamy lactose like flavors at the tip of the tongue. Gives way to chocolate milk with just a touch of sweetness. My imagination is giving me banana and peanut butter for some reason. Definitely some nutty aspects to it though. As the beer continues, I get a homebrew-like alcohol flavor that pops up which isn’t too flattering. Roasted bitterness raises awareness to its position and lingers for a while around the center of the tongue.

M: Full bodied and creamy.

D: Very quaffable porter, easy going on the palate. Nothing overly special though.

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Photo of GClarkage
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
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 TheManiacalOne
3.91/5  rDev +1.3%
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 Wasatch
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
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 loren01
2.85/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours pitch black, good sized tan head, lots of lacing down the glass
S: Smell is very stong chocolate and coffee.
T: Taste is of dark chocolate, like the darkest most bitter dark chocolate you have ever tasted. Almost astringent/asprin bitterness.
M: Thick, full oily mouthfeel.
D: Everything about this beer is pretty good except the taste, way too bitter and astringent.

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Photo of jwc215
4.57/5  rDev +18.4%
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 woemad
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big-ass bomber purchased at Huckleberry’s in Spokane for $3.49. No freshness date.

Poured a dark brown color with a big, mocha colored head. The color of the beer does not lighten when held up to light - yep, it’s a dark one, alright. Sheets of mocha colored foam cling to the sides of my pint glass.

The scent is of roasty maltiness, with tones of coffee and chocolate.

The taste starts out with a bitter, coffee flavor. Then a sweet chocolaty taste jumps alongside. At the fadeout is a dry, hoppy note. All of this is fairly muted. It could have a little more oomph.

Mouthfeel is creamy and slightly oily. Medium bodied. Could use a little more thickness.

This is a halfway decent porter. It could be better with a little more body and a little more oomph. Drinking this beer has done nothing to make me reach for it in the future when a Black Butte is also available.

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Photo of ccrida
3.03/5  rDev -21.5%
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 yemenmocha
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep black, opaque. Tan head. Malty aroma with some sweentess resembling Whoppers malted candies.

Palate is a big malt whallop with some candied sugars and alcohol warmth. Very hearty beer. Finish is long and malty sweet with plenty of hops to balance it out.

Very syrupy, in a good way.

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Photo of Domingo
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky black that actually reminds me of something much more potent, although it forms a decent size 1" head with no aggressive pouring needed.
Smells like chocolate, coffee, and maybe a little bit of molasses.
Taste is really where this beer falls flat. There's a big up-front chocolate flavor and coffee on the back end, but that's it. The flavor is way too dry and there isn't enough depth beyond that. I tried 3-4 sips in a row and kept waiting for something else.
Mouthfeel's just right for drinking without being forced to sip. Because the alcohol is well hidden, if you do like this beer, you could likely have a few.
I'm a big Full Sail fan, but this one didn't do it for me. The look, texture, and make-up of the beer are to notch. The problem was that the taste is just too dry and simple. Every other aspect of it is fine. I'd love to see this re-worked into something with a little sweeter Baltic-style profile.

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Photo of ArrogantB
4/5  rDev +3.6%
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 goodbyeohio
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

mike is tha bomb

dark pour, light-proof. tan topper crown of airy foam and hazy spritz. smells like a chocolate-crusted pumpkin cheesecake. sweet with additional vegetal sweetness. cocoa lingers in the nose, although sweetness can do nothing to evade the senses here.

first sip is mad earthy, dry with hop oils bittering out my tongue.. just none of the traditional hop flavor. malt husks and dry bakers' chocolate fight what hops exist for the title of king bitterness of full sail.. the choco-beast wins with a strange, sour yeasty aftertaste. reminds me of mcneills with its yeast-dominated profile which rides a fine line between luxurious richness and the tartness of raw fermentation.

at 7.5%, this beer maintains an adequate drinkability.. however, it doesn't pull the punches that a porter should at this imperial level. it fails to deliver on hops, and brings no complexity to its malt bill. there is plenty going on, it just falls short of the greatness that i am used to.. but then again, i am from the land of hooker.

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Top Sail Imperial Porter (Brewmaster Reserve) from Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub
3.86 out of 5 based on 77 ratings.
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