Top Sail Imperial Porter - Bourbon Barrel Aged (Brewmaster Reserve 2008) | Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub

99 Reviews
Top Sail Imperial Porter - Bourbon Barrel Aged (Brewmaster Reserve 2008)Top Sail Imperial Porter - Bourbon Barrel Aged (Brewmaster Reserve 2008)

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

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.85%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Released February 2008

Label: "After its initial release in February 2007, Top Sail was aged for about 10 months in bourbon casks from Kentucky. Top Sail Bourbon Aged Imperial Porter has hints of chocolate, figs and oak. Cheers!"

Added by ElGordo on 02-02-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 99 | Ratings: 113
Photo of Beerzebub
3.55/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Cellared at 55 degrees F for about 6 years.

Dark dark brown. No head.

Smells like coffee, mild bourbon, vegetal hops, and - strangely enough - fresh cucumber. Not bad, but certainly odd.

Tastes like smooth roasty coffee, mild bourbon, and some earthy, slightly vegetal hops. Some nice flavors, but also something a little off. No explicit oxidized character, but seems to have lost some vivacity (not that I remember what it was like fresh).

Good creamy smooth texture.

Fairly enjoyable overall, but far from great. I agree with the last reviewer: aging this for 6 years was dumb.

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Photo of stakem
3.64/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from notes, I opened this up last month. Have I really held on to this beer for this long? Bomber into a snifter, the brew pours black in color with a skimpy tan head. Some spotty lace sticks to the glass but the head remains faint and a bit lacking.

The smell includes notes of raison and molasses. Some milk chocolate, oak and only a faint touch of booziness. Overall it doesnt smell too bad but is slightly muted. Considering how oxidized the flavor is, no oxy notes to be found in the nose.

The taste is quite oxidized with a flavoring not too far off from cardboard/paper. Raison and molasses with suggestions of earth and faint chocolate malt are an afterthought once your palate becomes accustomed to the oxidation.

This is medium to light bodied with a light amount of carbonation. Not terrible but certainly its better days are behind it at this point. Dont cellar a porter for 6 years...that was dumb.

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Photo of staggerlee024
3.97/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a deep black with little to no head or lace.

S - Oh Boy! Bourbonville here. The smell of the booze almost burns. A touch of roast and char. Really liking the smell.

T - Bourbon, Bourbon and more bourbon. It is hard to find anything else in this beer. There is some slight roasted notes, some char, sweet chocolate. But you really have to think about them. This is all bourbon all the way.

M - This is where the beer really starts to fall apart. As others have mentioned, this is incredibly thin. Nothing in the beer can stand up to the Bourbon. It is just too weak.

O - Not a bad beer overall. But falls short of other Bourbon Stouts in its class. Perhaps the issue here is that they used a porter instead of a stout. It is just so thin. I love bourbon barrel aged beers. I probably rated it higher than I should have based on that. I had this on the same day as the Abyss. They are the same price. Nowhere near in the same league. I will drink again. But not if there are other Bourbon Aged options available.

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Photo of russwbeck
3.58/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Provided in a trade from doughanson way back when. Been holding onto this for no particular reason, and eventually having a 4 year old bourbon barrel aged porter became too enticing to hold on to any longer.

A: The pour is muddy and black, giving off about a finger of bubbly, fluffy, brown head that recedes rather quickly. A nice ring remains around the top of the beer, lacing nicely down the side of my Deschutes snifter.

S: A lot of chocolate and booze aromas wafting up from the dark liquid below. Dark fruits (I believe the bottle said to expect figs, which I think I'm smelling). Notes of bourbon, vanilla, and oak are all very nicely integrated. The aroma overall is deep and complex, but a bit too harsh on the booze.

T: Top Sail has aged well, but I think this might be on its way downhill. Some roast and dry dark chocolate are holding on to their last breathes, but booze, oak, and bourbon are beginning to win this war of flavor. A bit too focused on the barrel treatment, the taste is lacking additions from the base beer that are so important in a good bourbon barrel aged beer. Roast does take the cake on the backend, providing a little balance...just a little too late.

MF: A bit too thin, low carbonation, pretty dry finish, warming alcohol finish. I still enjoy drinking it, I just wish I had a few years ago.

O: For all its faults, Top Sail Brewmasters Reserve is still pretty good. I'm impressed this porter was able to still impart something to try and balance the additions from the barrel. It just falls a bit short. Overall, I would absolutely still recommend it to a friend. Especially the 2010 version.

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Photo of AgentZero
3.95/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I don't remember who shared this, but thanks, drank at Sean's place.

A - Black beer with a small tan head. Stuck around for a bit and left some spots and slight lacing.

S - Decent barrel and bourbon comes through on the nose. A bit of roast and chocolate with bitter coffee note coming in on the end.

T - Pretty big for a porter, but I guess that's why it's called an imperial. A little hot, with some roast, coffee, chocolate, dark fruit, barrel, vanilla. Pretty nice meld of favors.

M - Medium bodied, moderate carbonation, a bit hot.

O - A pretty good beer. I think it's cooled a bit since the last reviews, but there is still a little alcohol burn.

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Photo of seeswo
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a small tan head. Big roast, oak and booze, with some vanilla behind it. Exactly as you might expect. Smells good, not decadent. Roast dominated imperial porter, with a slight cherry cordial flavor. Oak and integrated booze. Pretty tasty, though the cherry cordial flavor was curious and I was wondering if it was intended. Either way, it worked at the moment. A good bit of booze hangs through, but otherwise is pretty drinkable with a medium mouthfeel and low/med carbonation. The whole thing was very solid, but unspectacular.

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Photo of sprucetip
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From notes.

Pretty much impenetrably black, very active, 1 finger mocha head lingers and leaves spotty lacing.

Bourbon and barrel both come through strongly up front. Later, with a swirl, start to get an unusual strong Earthyness, possibly from the oak, and the bourbon is less prominent. Mellow boozy esters emerge and take it to the finish. Long legs.

Sweet malt, chocolate, and roasted barley mingle and merge into the base upon which bourbon, oak, coffee, and mild bitter layers are stacked nicely.

Carbonation bite, full body, and strong warming. Pretty dry, a little bitter, and feels thinner than expected.

A sipper, of course. Extremely tasty and complex. Pretty smooth and balanced. What a treat! Try it if you can, and put some away for later.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.35/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Big thanks to Kevin for sharing this one!

A-pours a dark black liquid with darker tan colored head.

S-the nose is huge, tons of bourbon and some dirty messy malt presence. notes of chocolate and anise with hints of meat in the back.

T-the taste is a little hot with a good bit of bourbon, notes of dark chocolate and some light meat flavors in there with a touch of burnt coffee bitterness.

M-creamy feel on a medium body with low carbonation and thins out in the back.

D-shows the booze a little too much and the bourbon is extremely strong lacking the malt presence to balance.

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Photo of mdfb79
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had at a small tasting thanks to nimbleprop.

a - Pours a dark black with less than an inch of tan head.

s - Smells of whiskey, oak, sweet, sticky dark fruits, and roasted malts.

t - Tastes of whiskey, oak, roasted malts, vanilla, and dark fruits.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

d - A decent beer, but still a tiny bit hot. Would give another shot.

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Photo of paco1029384756
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours thick and black with a small tan head.

Scent of sweet dark fruit, sugars, wet oak, caramel and a hint of bubblegum. A little more sweet than I prefer my Porters, but still a good scent.

Taste of charred oak, bourbon, caramel, ash, roasted malts and a very mild alcohol. Decidedly less sweet than the aroma in favor of dry barrel characteristics, this is very tasty stuff.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and oily with a low amount of carbonation.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.32/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Matt for sharing this beer at thirdeye11's tasting.

The beer pours a dark brown color with a tan head. The aroma is chocolate with roasted malt and dark fruit. I could smell this beer all day. The flavor is pretty sweet with oak, vanilla and bourbon as well as roasted malts and chocolate. The alcohol is slightly hot but goes well with the rest of the beer. Medium mouthfeel and low carbonation.

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Photo of WesWes
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a pitch black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great! It has a dry, earthy, black malt scent with adequate warmth and a killer bourbon barrel aroma. The taste is good. Again, the bourbon character is bold and up front, but well integrated into a bone dry black malt flavor. It goes down silky smooth and finishes with a nice bit of warmth. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium/full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a very good beer. I really like the bourbon aroma in this one.

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Photo of kbeals
4.07/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tremendous thanks to JohnGalt1 for shipping this brew my way!

A- 22 oz. bottle decanted into a snifter glass reveals an inky, jet black liquid. A vigorous pour gets some head to appear, a good finger and a half of tan, soapy head. Lacing is good given the not so good head retention. I never really expect too much head on an imperial porter or stout.

S- Wow! Deeply complex, tons of chocolate, dark fruits, a hint of roasted coffee and a mild smokiness to it. As it warms the bourbon definitely makes it's presence known. One of the better BBA brews that I've smelled.

T- Just what I was hoping for, very similar to the smell. The dark fruits and bourbon seem to head up the flavors along with sweet, dark chocolates and a nice roastiness to it. The warmer it gets, the hotter it gets. I thought this would be less hot from the bourbon given the aging on it, but I have no comparison from a fresh one.

M- A bit thin, but overall very smooth and rich. Definitely warms up the chest as you drink it and was much appreciated on a cold winter night in Northern MI.

D- Despite the hotness of it, this brew left me wanting more. The overall complexity of it was excellent, and it wasn't overly sweet. A fantastic brew!

Thanks again Toby, truly appreciated!

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Photo of corby112
3.97/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black and completely opaque without even the slightest of lighter colored hues when held to a light source and a two finger frothy light beige head that fades into a lasting ring. Sporadic spots of lacing left behind.

Lots of bourbon in the nose with lots of earthy oak and deep roasted malt. Hints of bittersweet dark chocolate, burnt toast, smoke, roasted coffee bean,vanilla, toffee, licorice, leathery malt and sweet alcohol. Smells pretty complex but the oak is the most prominent characteristic followed by the heavy bourbon presence.

Slightly chewy medium body that is a bit lighter bodied than I expected with lots of hot bourbon and earthy oak flavor lingering throughout over the dark roasted malt notes. Underneath the strong bourbon flavor is a strong roasted malt profile that is slightly smokey with hints of bittersweet dark chocolate, roasted nut, coffee bean, burnt toast, licorice, sweet alcohol, sweet alcohol and subtle vanilla. Again, the oak presence is very strong adding a nice earthiness and level of complexity. A bit too hot still with too much of a bourbon presence for my liking and lots of warmth in the finish. This beer could be a little more balanced and is surprisingly very hot after over a year of aging. It definitely needs a bit more time to mellow out.

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Photo of bret27
3.9/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

S: Vanilla, bourbon, sweet malt

A: Black body w/very dark brn head. minimal.

T: Bourbon, choc, vanilla, roasty and robust. Slight alcohol finish.

M: Medium/thick, good for style and strength

D: Ok for a big beer

Overall: Good balance, quite tasty.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From BeerAdvocate Magazine Volume II, Issue II:

Second installment of their "Brewmaster's Reserve"
in 2008.

A shade or two from pitch black, sufficient frothing and a solid head retention which is great to see as some higher alcohol barrel-aged beers lack retention altogether. Big and clean up front, fumes of Bourbon and some higher alcohol from the fermentation. Deep oak, slight vanilla and charred malt in the nose. Creamy and smooth with a medium body, lighter than we anticipated. Hit of Bourbon wakes the palate up with a boozy warmth but not hot. Roasted flavor comes off a little tame as the oak flavor surrounds the taste buds. As it warms up, an undertone of coffee appears. Hop bitterness is balanced and there is some lingering hop flavor that throws down herbal and wild flower flavors. Finishes on the dry side with a long trail of oak and faint roasted grain.

Lighter than we thought, perhaps. More drinkable? Yes, and in a dangerous way. This beer really shows what barrel aging tastes like. Sip with caution. extreme beer lives on, seek this beer out.

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Photo of brdc
2.65/5  rDev -34.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Large capped bottle, poured into a snifter.
Thanks JohnGalt1 for this one.

Nearly pitch black, no head whatsoever despite a vigorous pour; only some tan foam on the edges.
Aroma is a sign of things to come; bourbon, vanilla and other barrel notes; no sign of anything "porter".
Despite the ABV and all the bourbon notes, the body is disappointingly thin. Notes are again all barrel, no porter.
A very disappointing drainpour.

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Photo of Onenote81
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Split a bottle of this with a friend during a night of billiards and darts. Poured into my snifter. Pours a deep jet black with a thin tan head on top. Little lacing sticks. Smells of oak, vanilla, booze, chocolate, and hints of ginger.

The mouth is creamy smooth. Coats the palate well. Big flavors of bitter dark chocolate mixed with a subtle creamy sweetness. Nice balance. The bourbon quality is definitely tamed down a bit, which I like. Not as boozy as their BBA Stout was. This is a really good beer that I'm am glad to have had the opportunity to try. Recommend.

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Photo of flagmantho
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap at the Wedgwood Alehouse in Seattle.

Appearance: solid black with a relatively thin, dark head.

Smell: chocolate, wood, bourbon and alcohol. Good, but quite bourbon-ey.

Taste: roast coffee, notes of caramel and vanilla, nice bitterness and above all bourbon. Seriously, it was almost like a shot of bourbon had been poured in while the pint was poured. As a guy who likes bourbon, however, this earns the brew extra points.

Mouthfeel: medium body with an appropriate level of carbonation.

Drinkability: I like bourbon quite a lot, so taste was no impediment to drinkability here. However, drinking it gives me a sense that I've been drinking hard liquor, so I think I'd be limited to one or two (being nearly 10% contributes to this as well).

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Photo of treyrab
4.14/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to jac5084 for bringing this out tonight and kryptic for sending it his way. Had my eye on this one for a year+ and am glad I got to try it. Poured into my 11.5oz snifter tonight with jac5084...

A: Pours a rather thick, steady, lifeless black with very small, if any, head. Held up to the light this was as black as, well, it was very black. Very minimal brown around the edges, and again, no head whatsoever.

S: The beer was cold at first and yielded scents of dark, ripe cherries, bakers chocolate and Kentucky mash. As the beer warmed up from the summer night, the flavors augmented to rich, bitter caramel, strong Kentucky whiskey, bitter roast and slight fruits.

T: Good. Very good, but not as flavorful or robust as the smell led me to believe. Very nice flavors of whiskey, bakers chocolate, and toffee, but the finish is lacking completely I thought.

M/D: The mouthfeel was very creamy. I was totally digging it. Slight carbonation on the finish was perfect. I'd have this again, but don't put it up with my favorite of the style.

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.93/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 22 ounce gold foil wrapped bomber bottle. Poured into a nonic Imperial pint glass. The porter appears a nearly pitch black color topped off with a healthy two fingers of creamy dark ecru foam. The nose and flavor are of dark roasted grains, certainly a big dose of bourbon, some vanilla, caramel, bitter sweet chocolate, slightly smokey, quite tasty. The porter falls somewhere between medium and full bodied with a slick and slightly alcoholic finish. Very decent carbonation for a barrel aged porter. Glad I was able to try this one.

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Photo of Onslow
3.51/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

chocolate and bourbon are the guys running the show, but bourbon is the husband, and he puts his foot down and takes the belt off .. . Pours a jet brown/black, has a pretty big whipped coffee coloured head, lacing is quality for such a high abv brew .. . bourbon is the first thing to hit in the nose and taste, some chocolate and tar also .. . very smooth and easy to drink but the bourbon with make it a sipper, some light heat, but just enough, a year or 6 months would do this brew nicely! .. . i am liking a hell of alot this i think the BA imperial stout was alot smoother .. . if you like imperial porters, and like bourbon aged beers, this might do you just right .. . Stuart Holden is a fuckin badass, hou dynamo 1 chivas 0 at the half .. .

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Photo of tpd975
3.8/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to fishingnet for bringing this one home from his trip to Oregon.

A: Pours a nice deep shade of black, with a nice mocha head. Good retention with a nice showing of lace.

S: Bourbon and vanilla up front. Hints of oak, chocolate round things out. Pretty simple but good.

T: Simple taste as well. Bourbon and oak mostly. Light chocolate and toasted malt.

M: Medium in body, pretty smooth.

D: Pretty good, wish there was a bit more depth and waves of flavor with this one.

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.48/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to beerzelbub for this in a trade some months back.

A: Almost pitch black with a touch of red highlights. Some slightly brownish head. Really nice looking beer.

S: Nice clean bourbon nose right up front. Some hints of chocolate. A touch of dark fruit thrown in as well.

T: Nice mix of porter and bourbon. The chocolate bites and mellows out the bourbon. Very roasty in the finish.

M: Nice full and creamy mouthfeel.

D: A really nice sipper. Not hard to drink at all. When you see Bourbon Poter you would not think that.

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Photo of joe1510
4.42/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz Bomber

This is yet another gem of a brew in a long line of gems courtesy of russpowell, thanks Russ! A coffee brown pour turns into a midnight black body as it fells the snifter. The head grew to two fingers without a problem and had a silky look throughout the entire drink. The only hint of any carbonation I can see throughout the black body is the head replenishing bubbles hitting the surface. The head falls over time to a skimming with a strong collar and speckled lacing all the way down.

Wow! The nose on this brew is HUGE! Rich lightly roasty malts hold down the fort while walnut plays definite roles in the aroma. After these initial aromas fall aside the barrel aging takes over with soft notes of vanilla, soft notes of oak, and a healthy shot of spicy, sweet bourbon. The smell of this beer alone warms me up and makes me look forward to each and every drink. If I take a big enough pull the bourbon booziness tickles my nose slightly but that's not only expected but welcomed.

The flavor is incredibly following the aroma step by step. The light roastiness is big and bold taking over the brew with the barrel aging adding touches of vanilla and mild oak. The bourbon is fairly bold too but adds a sweetness that fits perfectly into this beer. The walnut is back and comes across on the finish with a flourish. This is one finely crafted bourbon barrel aged beer where the bourbon compliments the porter perfectly.

The mouthfeel fits this brew very well. The body is on the heavier side with a decent backing heat and a velvety touch. The carbonation is low and manageable to the point this beer rolls over the tongue.

This beer is a sipper but goes down incredibly smooth. As a matter of fact a bomber is not nearly enough of this brew, although it is when taking the alcohol into consideration. I could sip this one all night long.

This beer was incredibly good! I wish I had a few more bottles in my possession. I wouldn't hesitate to pick this up again in the least. Thanks for the great beer Russ!

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Top Sail Imperial Porter - Bourbon Barrel Aged (Brewmaster Reserve 2008) from Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub
4.07 out of 5 based on 113 ratings.
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