Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Full Sail Brewing Top Sail Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter
So, last November came the big moment when I poured my Full Sail. I waited until Ohio State was playing a big game against Iowa and I could spend some time alone at home with this beer. My experience with Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout taught me that bourbon beers are nothing to be messed with and the Top Sail came in a large format bottle. This beer was going to occupy my attention for a while. Even though this was to be pure enjoyment, I had my notepad ready. Beers boasting 10% alcohol make you quickly forget things. What was my high school girlfriend's name again? Wait. Where did I go to high school? You get the idea.
Anyway, on to the review. As you can see above, I poured this into an upright goblet. I wanted a vertical glass so as to boast this beer's commanding toffee colored head. And it helped me re-create Shaun's infamous photo, still haunting me at the time. Aromas of oatmeal, dark chocolate, and bread streamed out as if one of the Cascades erupted. An opaque, mysterious substance lies underneath, waiting, challenging you to enter the depths. There's no turning back.
Top Sail's mouthfeel is moderate and somewhat syrupy but never overtly dense. Unlike Port's Older Viscosity and Lost Abbey's Angel's Share, the substantial carbonation as suggested by the head engages your mouth through each sip. There's a dizzying array of flavors. Dark chocolate is present. There's also oatmeal, licorice, coffee, caramel, and dark roast. The bourbon flavor arrives late toward the finish and its smoky notes and odor build up after a while, and more so as the beer warms. The finish is roasty and slightly sweet with a slight burn of alcohol. Top Sail leaves incredible khaki colored lacing on the glass, like windswept snow against windowpanes. The aforementioned head never disappears.
Top Sail is stated to reside at 9.85% and probably does. Upon finishing this I felt a deep, mellow buzz but was never underwater.
This is a remarkable beer and quite an achievement in brewing. The integration of flavors is magnificent as it seamlessly transitions from what appears to be a bitter chocolate porter to a bourbon aged stout on the finish. There's little else in its class.
PROS: You'll want one every week and you won't want to share it with your beer geek friends.
CONS: Your beer geek friends will hate you, you cad, because you won't be able to resist telling them about it. You still won't share.
VERDICT: If any beer is worth becoming a friendless recluse over, it's this one. That's what TiVo is for.