Top Sail Imperial Porter

Top Sail Imperial PorterTop Sail is the Brewmaster’s Reserve release from Full Sail, an Imperial Porter that I should mention is aged in bourbon barrels. Here’s the official description:

After its initial release in February 2007, Top Sail was aged for about 10 months in Bourbon casks from Kentucky. This aging presents hints of chocolate, figs and oak to this amplified robust porter. Deep black in color, it has a roasty malt flavor and a rich malt sweetness that’s smooth and drinkable. A hearty cellar beer.

This is a very limited release beer, as so many of these barrel-aged beers seem to be. I was fortunate to get this bottle from my friends Paul and Sandi. It’s also a big beer—as if the name and the barrel-aging didn’t already give that away—at 9.85% alcohol by volume.

Appearance: Pretty black and opaque, with a minimal light brown head. Dirty brown at the very edges.

Smell: Oily, black, wood, burnt, black licorice, bitter coffee beans (very dark roasted), worn leather, tannins.

Taste: Very dark roasted malts full of bourbon barrel notes (hints of charred wood, smoke, bourbon, etc.) all overlaid on top of an incredibly smooth and soft porter… the strength and the character are all there but it’s not harsh or heavy at all. Very smoky. Nice porter "tang" to it (dark fruits) and very, very tasty.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly light, but still amazingly complex in the mouth. I’d say it’s medium-bodied, and has a nice bourbon "feel" and character to it.

Overall: Excellent.

On BeerAdvocate, it scores a grade of A-. On RateBeer, it scores 4.23 out of 5 and is in their 100th percentile.