Of all the beer styles out there the Imperial Stout is probably the most highly regarded. If you need any assurances of this recognition you can simply review Beeradvocate’s Top 100 list and will find 5 of the top 10 are populated by Imperial Stouts. The quantity of Imperial Stouts in that list isn’t surprising when you consider the negotiating power a Stout or Porter has across both genders.
Today we are addressing Full Sail’s Annual Bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout or Porter, with this year’s Black Gold Imp. Stout.
Historically Full Sail has been regarded as one of the oldest breweries to have barrel-aged their beers in bourbon barrels. Beers with original notes of coffee, chocolate, molasses or licorice may take on additional flavors of nuttiness or butterscotch during this process.
In any other maturation process the latter flavors would be looked at as unwanted and most likely would qualify the beer for being poured down the drain. It is with these thoughts that we decided to check out this year’s Black Gold Bourbon Barrel-aged Imperial Stout.
Brewers Association Guidelines
Black in color. American-style imperial stouts typically have a high alcohol content. Generally characterized as very robust. The extremely rich malty flavor and aroma are balanced with assertive hopping and fruity-ester characteristics. Bitterness should be moderately high to very high and balanced with full sweet malt character . Roasted malt astringency and bitterness can be moderately perceived but should not overwhelm the overall character. Hop aroma is usually moderately-high to overwhelmingly hop-floral, -citrus or -herbal. Diacetyl (butterscotch) levels should be absent
Black Gold Imperial Stout rests in the glass dark as pitch, without any light passing through it. As the beer settles a mocha-colored half-inch foamy head forms, only to recede slowly leaving behind tiny dots of lace inside the glass.
Gradually we allow this beer to warm up and are rewarded by an aroma filled with strong citrus, licorice, oak, and a pronounced aroma of alcohol. It’s almost a shame we will have to sip this as we can’t get past the thought an Irish Coffee or Hot Chocolate.
Taking our first sip we are welcomed by licorice, dark cocoa, slight notes of vanilla before it finishes with an expected (and not surprising) bit of butterscotch. Overall Black Gold feels like it might have a light to medium weight to it, while resting on the tongue. Given the alcohol we are also equally not surprised by the bit of stickiness.
A hearty brew that is black as night with a strong roasted malt character and a full body. After its initial release in January 2010, our Imperial Stout was aged for a full year in Bourbon casks from Kentucky. This extended aging presents hints vanilla and oak. This, combined with the robust character of the Imperial Stout make for a smooth, wonderful taste experience. A hearty cellar beer. Very Limited Availability - 22oz Bottles and Draught. Black Gold was named one of "the best" barrel aged beers in the US by Men's Journal and took home a silver medal at the 2006 Great American Beer Festival® in the Wood and Barrel Aged Strong beer category) ABV 11.4% IBUs: 37.5
You Should Try This (but pick another one up for a year later). This year’s batch outside of the light mouthfeel is a welcome respite from the occasional syrupy, imperial stouts that populate the shelves this time of the year. The only negative we can say regarding this year’s varietal is the same that we have said about all Barrel-aged high alcohol imp. stouts - age will improve the balance. So with that thought, as you are pondering some cheese or dessert, pick up a bottle now and at least another to enjoy a year from now.
Thoughts by your Colleagues:
About the photo’s author
Paul “Fruit Trees” Orchard, is an amateur craft beer enthusiast and amateur photographer. Throughout the many years in craft beer he is always carrying a camera (smartphone, digital, traditional) and is invites you to see that beer can also be exciting even if you can’t drink the photo.
In accordance with new FTC regulations regarding bloggers and endorsements, the aforementioned company has provided me a free sample that was used for research prior to writing this review.