Top Sail Imperial Porter - Bourbon Barrel Aged (Brewmaster Reserve 2008) | Full Sail Brewing Company

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Top Sail Imperial Porter - Bourbon Barrel Aged (Brewmaster Reserve 2008)Top Sail Imperial Porter - Bourbon Barrel Aged (Brewmaster Reserve 2008)
113 Ratings
Top Sail Imperial Porter - Bourbon Barrel Aged (Brewmaster Reserve 2008)Top Sail Imperial Porter - Bourbon Barrel Aged (Brewmaster Reserve 2008)

Brewed by:
Full Sail Brewing Company
Oregon, United States

Style: American Imperial 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.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 113 |  Reviews: 99
Reviews by djeucalyptus:
Photo of djeucalyptus
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

decided to crack a bottle of Top Sail in honor of the release of this year's Brewmaster's Reserve (BB Black Gold).

Pours a dark woody brown out of the bottle, building to jet black in the glass. Amber and red at the edges up to a light. A rich mocha brown one-and-a-half-finger bubbly head sticks around longer than anticipated, fading to a bubbly collar that leaves impressive lacing to the bottom.

aroma is rich and pleasantly intoxicating. vanilla, molasses, oak, maple sugar, rum, bourbon, raisins, dates. More sweet bourbony goodness. rich, sugary alcohol. cocoa, dark chocolate, and a bit of earth. charred, woody richness. More rich (and less bourbony) than I remember when it was fresher.

whoah. let it warm up and it transforms beautifully. caramel, smoke, bourbon, oak, vanilla, fig, dates, black currants. There's definitely bourbon, but the year of age seems to have mellowed the hot bourbon significantly, letting the fruits and caramel sweetness show through more. roasted coffee, charred oak, chocolate and cocoa.

Mouthfeel is exceptionally smooth and rich without that thick, sticky, syrupy mess that some bourbon barrel brews have. ample light carbonation helps wash the sugars off the tongue. A warming alcohol on the tongue and in the back of the throat, but not hot.

This one goes down incredibly smooth with a nice warming finish. I'm impressed what a year has done to mellow this one out. What at first was a hot bourbony brew has mellowed into something much more complex and delicious. I'm not a huge fan of bourbon barrel brews, but this one is definitely one of my favorites. Definitely worth tracking one of these down.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev -2%
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 orbitalr0x
4.82/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep charcoal black pour with dark tan bubbles on top. Spotty lacing on the glass. Aromas of deep, dark malts with chocolate, raisin and fig floating in a bath of bourbon and oak. Vanilla and caramelized wood tones. Slightly roasted...the aroma is intoxicating and draws you in. Awesome.

Big dark malts upfront. The brew is rich and tasty with a myriad of chocolate, raisin and light coffee as well. It flows into rich bourbon and oak barrel flavors that meld with the beer in perfect balance for an amazing collusion of flavors. A real treat.

Medium bodied and smooth...this one has good carbonation and is quite drinkable. A damn fine bourbon porter that was barrel aged perfectly IMHO. Well worth seeking out and I'm very glad to have had the chance to try it. Thanks to JohnGalt1 for the trade.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.32/5  rDev +5.9%
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 Reino
4.67/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I drank about 6-8 bottles of this within the first few months it was out. I pimp it so often that I thought it was time I revisited it, and share my opinions via a BA review. Every bourbon barrel aged beer I drink I compare to this.

Appearance- Pours black as night into my Block 15 snifter making the black silk screening disappear. Two fingers of khaki head rises to the top of this dark monster. The head recedes at a pretty slow pace, and leaves behind cappuccino-type froth around the glass. I don't see much of any lacing.

Smell- Delicious bourbon notes flow into my nose from the second I pop off the cap. I get: vanilla, caramel, cherries, chocolate, molasses, brown sugar, dark roasty malt, wood and booze. Very nice.

Taste- The flavor starts much like the nose. Actually, I start to taste those flavors in the order I described them with obvious blending of some. The sweet bourbon flavors come first riding a wave of chocolate and then the roasted malt comes in at the very end to finish things off along with a little heat. Check that, the more I drink, the more the roasted malts that I perceived turn out to be oak character coming through. I haven't had one of these in about 7 months. I thought it was amazing and smooth then, but I wonder if it was THIS smooth. With the aroma and flavors you get, the mouth expects to get hammered with alcohol heat, but this fucker has just the right amount, and it doesn't take anything away from the flavors. Complex and delicious.

MF- Creamy, full-bodied goodness with low carbonation. It holds back from being too thick and chewy, which I think is a good thing. I think if it were a bit thicker and flatter some of the flavors would become too cloying and syrupy. The finish is pretty dry, and the heat is slightly noticeable on the tongue.

Drinkability and thoughts- This beer is stupidly drinkable for the abv and the style. I regret waiting over a year to review it because I thought this beer was phenomenal from day one. I swear to the beer gods that I would take this beer over any vintage of Abyss almost every time, and it has more complexity than one of my other favorites, BCS.

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Photo of Metalmonk
3.39/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured out looking oily brown, but now that it's in the glass it's jet-black. Has a supremely creamy head, much like one of those ultra-smooth English/Irish stouts. Already some serious lace stickage as the head minimizes.

Aroma is heavy on the bourbon, with an obvious slap of wood, which is a little green smelling. Bourbon aspect blanks out the actual porter elements, all I can get is a slight milky sweetness, but it's so faint. The alcohol spikes out too. I don't like how the bourbon element runs over everything else. m not a fan of bourbon to begin with, so this aroma isn't that appealing to me.

Flavor wise, I was a little worried at first. The front of the sip gives you alcohol and bourbon-barrel woodiness/whiskey with a vengeance. Then it mellows, and some tasty elements emerge: Lactic sweetness, dark roast coffee, juicy dark fruits, and a wonderfully rounded, creamy texture that is the clear highlight of this beer. Then the finish brings in more bourbon flavor, with the alcohol being omnipresent.

I wouldn't rate the drinkability all that's a sipper and an enjoyable enough concoction, but the bourbon/oak flavors take the porter hostage. I'd probably rather have had the non-bourbon barrel version of this Imperial Porter. Am I complaining about msubulldog25's generosity in sending this to me? Absolutely not! I'm just finicky when it comes to bourbon barrel-aged beers. If that's your thing, don't hesitate to seek it out.

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Photo of twowheelssoar
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours impenetrable black with good tan head. decent lace. nose is of bourbon, fruit, and alcohol. Taste follows, bourbon is very evident in the taste, as is great malts. A stoutish flavor, good cream flavor as well. Mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I prefer for the style but still quite good. Drinkability is very good for the ABV, but I've had better. overall this is a great brew, but I think it will benefit from a year or so in the cellar to cool down the heat a little. Quite good.

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Photo of Sammy
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Matt7215's bottle. Big black body and mocha head. Smooth and corny tasting.Mollasses and chocolate and coffee, all in some notional value. Above average mouthfeel, creaminess. Casking works, adds something. A good porter that gives a lot of the RIS a run for the money.

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Photo of cfadams17
3.4/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of ElGordo
4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This is a new release as of today (Feb 1) - last year's Top Sail Imperial Porter was aged for 10 months in bourbon barrel casks. A winning proposition, if you ask me.
Poured from the 22oz bottle into a Maudite snifter. Body is a deep, dark brown with mahogany highlights, topped by a small, tan-colored head. Rich, sweet aroma of bourbon, dark fruit, dark malt, and a hint of bitter chocolate. Palate is sweet and redolent of dark fruit up front, becoming more bitter as it washes over the tongue. Finish is rich and malty, with a lingering battle between hoppy bitterness and bourbon sweetness that ends in a draw.
The body is a bit thinner than I would like, but then again this is a porter, not a stout, so viscosity is not a foremost requirement. For a strong beer, this is highly drinkable. Body issues aside, I'm a fan, and am looking forward to how this one is going to taste with a few more months of aging in the bottle.

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Photo of russpowell
4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a chestnut tinged mahogany with 1+ finger of mocha colored head. Below average lacing & average head retention

S: Boozey bourbon, rum & raisins & booze once warm

T: Boozey chocolate, raisins, & dryness up front. Oaky & vanilla notes, rum ball type flavors & a bit of iron as this warms. Finishes dry with raisin & fig notes, plus a bit of licorice & a bit of booze burn. Almost pulled a 4.5, but too dry

MF: Slick, near zero carbonation with medium body, but no serious depth

Drinks pretty easy, but you feel the ABV. Maybe sit on this one a year or so. A pretty good, but not earth shattering offering

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Photo of Kegatron
3.75/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of JohnGalt1
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz picked up at the Boise Coop by Brenda .. She said it cost about $9... poured into my New Belgium snifter at slightly cooler than cellar temperature.

2 Finger brown head .... absolutely no light escapes even when held to a bare bulb... lacing drapes the glass.

Aroma is hugely complex ... chocolate.. bourbon.. vanilla .. mildly smokey.. I haven't even tasted it yet and the aroma has coated my nostrils.. in a good way... faint whiffs of caramel drenched dark fruit.

Flavor ... Anticipation is killing me ... Everything great about the aroma but throw in a big handful of bourbon soaked sweet cherries. Low carbonation adds to a very silky body... slightly carbonated cool coffee with a small pour of Kentucky finest. Fairly oaky with a resounding cherry vanilla profile.. The bourbon flavors can be a little overwhelming... chocolate and light roasted grain are sorta on the lower side given the massive nature of this brew... the body is very smooth albeit lighter than expected. Still fantastic but a little heavy on the bourbon side of things... I am sure will cellar like a champion.

This brew is a completely different animal than the regular Top Sail (and the regular is no slouch) ... It would be futile to try them side by side.. but maybe fun.

I like this one about 10x as much as the last bottle of Black Gold I had... Sorry to those that loved the BG, I would prefer a little stout with my bourbon (and I like good bourbon), but the BG was waaaay to much for me... out of balance for sure. The BBTS is awesome... one of the best beers I've had this year and I am assuming will only get better.. Now I just have to find the funds to really stock up on it before it's gone.

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Photo of wcudwight
4.14/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to breity for the beer.
Black in color with a light lasting tan head. Good thick lacing.
Smells like a dark chocolate espresso with a shot of burbon. I likey.
Well balanced flavors of roasted malts, chocolate, toffee, coffee. Nice sharp bitter finish that seems to be more from the barrell aging than hops. But who cares where the bitterness comes's there.
The mouthfeel seems to be the only thing that distinguishes this beer from an imperial porter from a big stout. The mouthfeel is a bit full for a porter but a bit light for one of the big stouts.
The drinkability is where the lines are really gray. It drinks more like a RIS than a porter. But overall the only thing that matters is that it's a damn tasty beer. Kudo's to Full when are you going to start distributing to NC?

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Photo of josiahschlender
4.49/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try this on tap at Portland's Belmont Station since I missed the boat with finding bottles before they sold out!

Color is molasses dark brown, but not quite black. Minimal dark brown head, but I think it's the fault of the pour. Decent lacing.

I love it when I can smell a beer a few feet away. I immediately noticed the Bourbon, bittersweet chocolate, dark roasted grains, coffee. Is that a bit of yeasty dark fruit, too? Very complex, powerful aromas!

Taste follows suit. Prevailing Bourbon and alcohol adds heat, oak and vanilla extract. Bittersweet chocolate, coffee, burnt grains would normally be overwhelming, but so much is going on in this beer that they're kind of overshadowed by the Bourbon. Earthy, bitter hops round out the very long, complex finish.

I love the flavors going on here, but they just don't quite hit a perfect chord. As others noted, I think the Bourbon comes on a little too strong, and the alcohol is still a bit hot. I bet this beer will mellow out and improve with age. It's a perfect candidate for it in my opinion.

Feel is slick, full, and lingering. Maybe not quite as viscous as some motor-oil stouts, but definitely more viscous than any porter I can think of.

I heartily agree with the "big beer" consensus. I'm going to look around more for it here in Portland, but judging how quick it sold out, there isn't much out there. It's worthy of the attention, try it if you can!

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Photo of scottoale
4.58/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Vintage, 22oz. brown bomber with nice foil label and no freshness date, none needed.

It pours a black-ass brown with fine carbonation and a 1/2" cocoa brown head.

The smell is faint, but good. You have just sweet caramel, vanilla, oak, charcoal and a slight hint of bourbon.

The flavor on the other hand is great. Sweet malty toffee like caramel, with tannins kickin in some vanilla, then oak, then a bittering balance of charcoal and a wisp of bourbon on the, f'n tasty!

Medium plus body, not heavy. The bourbon barrel ageing makes this stuff shine, it really works well. A nice smooth fluff to the mouthfeel and a pleasant warmth from the alcohol make this brew a winner in my book...great stuff. This was actually a bit better than my high expectations for it, surprize.

This was on my wants, got thrown in as an extra on a trade by a very generous travisd13...thanks alot man!

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Photo of joshrosborne
4/5  rDev -2%

Photo of WeisGuy
3.85/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Jw347 for this bottle.

a - pours black with a one-inch medium brown head, retention around the edges, decent lacing

s - bittersweet chocolate, burnt malt, oak, some booziness

t - dark chocolate and dark roast coffee notes up front, strong caramel and dark chocolate on the midpalate, bourbon makes its appearance on the midpalate into the finish, readily apparent notes of oak, more bitter chocolate also on the finish

m - medium-bodied, a little light for the style, moderate carbonation, pretty dry on the finish, some alcohol warming

d - not overly drinkable, pretty harsh on the palate and not overly complex, a bit boozy

Not too bad overall, but it's not great. Pretty basic offering, and not all that complex.

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Photo of wethorseblanket
4.06/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of bespin15
4/5  rDev -2%

Photo of barleywinebrewer
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - solid black brew with a nice tan head.

S - nice bourbon notes witha like chocolate nad dark malt undertone.

T - bourbon, caramel, burnt / smoky grains, vanilla and oak.

M - medium-full bodied, nicely carbonated with a nice smoky aoak note and a light astringent note.

D - a nice sipping beer, only brought down in flavor due to the oak astingent note that takes away from the residual flavor notes.

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Photo of jwc215
3.82/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Wasatch for this one!

Brewmaster Reserve 2008, 22 oz. bottle, poured into a snifter:

Pours pitch black with a delayed thin head that appears than almost immediately becomes a thin swirl.

The smell is of bourbon/vanilla with chocolate notes and slight fig-like fruitiness.

The taste is of oak/vanilla and bourbon that's pretty strong. Underneath has chocolate and dark fruitiness (mainly fig). Sweetness turns to a dry finish.

The feel expands as it progresses, but hardly makes it out of medium-bodied - was expecting a bit fuller. Smooth. Alcohol noticeable in taste, but not sharp.

A nice one if you like bourbon-barrel aged beers (as I do), but it does dominate a bit much, would have liked to see the imp. porter aspect a bit more. Sips well for a bourbon-dominated brew of nearly 10% abv. Certainly recommended if you like bourbon-barrel aged beers! Thanks again, John!

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Photo of jakon
4.65/5  rDev +14%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle topped with gold foil.

This beer pours coffee-black with a needing-to-be forced 3 finger khaki colored head that displays average retention and leaves behind an impressive wash of lacing.

Wow. I've never come across a beer that had such a big and pure bourbon aroma. There is also a strong dark fruit presence, maraschino cherries, cocoa, fudge, vanilla extract, something resembling Belgian yeast, and that's all I'm getting at first.

The taste mirrors the aroma, with the bourbon dominating over a light cocoa/chocolate flavor, maraschino cherries, and some complex dark fruit/yeasty characteristics.

If you like the taste of bourbon, this is an easy drinking sipper. If not, then you may not like the beer at all.

Mouthfeel is thin if compared to the big stouts, but about what you'd expect of an outstanding porter such as this. Carbonation is on the lower side of the scale at this point.

Can't wait to see how this awesome beer develops with age.

This is easily the best beer I've tried from Full Sail.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.82/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle from russpowell via trade. Thanks for the opportunity. Gold foil.

Poured into a heavy glass chalice, formed a a light skim of small bubbles above the totally opaque dark brown/black brew. Bubbles quickly gather around the rim, slow-falling but leggy lacing. Aroma is rich and choclatey, with ample bourbon character. Taste follows the nose, chocolate upfront, wisps of coffee, then sashays on into the vanilla and barrel character, with the alcohol coming on at the end. Warmth continues down the throat, and some gum numbness does appear. Mouthfeel is velvety smooth, and drinkability is WAY too easy for a brew of this caliber. Unfortunately I have but this one bottle.

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Top Sail Imperial Porter - Bourbon Barrel Aged (Brewmaster Reserve 2008) from Full Sail Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.08 out of 5 with 113 ratings