Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Beer #171 - Topsail Bourbon Barrel Aged Horizontal Tasting - Portland, Oregon

This week brought a phenomenal beer tasting at Full Sail Brewery in Hood River and Portland, OR. I had a chance to enjoy the horizontal tasting for their seasonal release, Top Sail, a bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Porter. Not only was the Top Sail available, but Full Sail kegged off each of the three beers that are brewed for the blend that is Top Sail. The four beers offered in the tasting were: Maker's Mark Aged, Stranahan's Aged, Four Roses Aged and the blend of all three, Top Sail blend.
I started with the Maker's Mark Aged which offers up bold aromas of dried fruit, oak and vanilla. It has a full smooth body that emphasizes the vanilla and oak, but maintains a bold characteristic that keeps it from being too sweet. The aftertaste introduces dark chocolate flavors. It is very smooth, not sweet, not bitter, nicely balanced. Oak and chocolate covered fruit notes linger nicely on the palate, getting smoother and smoother as it is enjoyed.

Next up, the Stranahan's Aged which has big notes of smoky oak. It has a stronger bolder body , with more assertive bourbon flavors. Oak and vanilla are strong on the tongue and it finishes bold with spiciness and strong alcohol. Very subtle chocolate in the aftertaste, which mostly maintains the oak and bourbon flavors, tending toward the sweeter side.

The Four Roses Aged aroma asserts more bourbon than the other two. Oak and alcohol are also apparent. It starts smooth with the bourbon flavors overtaking the palate. Smokiness and oak linger on the tongue like a nice bourbon! It finishes with strong bourbon flavors and chocolate in the very finish. It maintains a nice smoothness, even with some strong alcohol and bourbon characteristics.

And finally, the Top Sail Blend. It is very smooth, like the Maker's Mark aged. The aroma is sweet with bourbon flavors and oak combining nicely. It maintains a marked smoothness, combining the smoky flavors of the four roses with the alcohol and spiciness of the Stranahan's. Chocolate, bourbon, spice and oak all reveal themselves in the aftertaste. The beer maintains a balanced full-body.

It was an interesting tasting, and it allowed a really clear chance to see where the blend gets all of it's flavors. Admittedly, I enjoyed two more glasses of the Maker's Mark - hey, it was only available that one night! The Top Sail is available in 22oz bottles at 9.85% and 65 IBUs. It will age well, and I am looking forward to seeing how the individual flavors evolve as it ages.

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