Full Sail Black Gold: First Impressions Can Fool You

There are two ways in which first impressions can be wrong.  You might think something is good and it turns out to be…Hmmm, not so good.  Then sometimes you can think something is not so good, and it turns out to be great.  Take for a moment the case of Fran Drescher.  She played “The Nanny” on a TV SitCom for a number of years.  Now you might look at her and think “Wow, what a beautiful woman”, and you’d be right, then she would say something and the thought of you getting involved with “that voice” for years and decades might make her less than desirable.  That is one way that first impressions can be wrong.  Fortunately for me the first impression I got of Full Sail Brewery was wrong in a totally different way…

My first experience with the Full Sail Brewery was with their Session line of brews.  Their Black Lager and Lager  Session beers are just ok.  Then I reviewed Vesuvius, their Belgian Style Ale from their Brewmaster Reserve Series.  I was less than impressed.  So, I didn’t even really want to taste this brew, but a little good natured  arm twisting at the Beer and Chocolate pairing event last month at Brewforia made me give in.  After a small sip I immediately bought a bottle.

This is perhaps the best Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout I’ve ever had.  I’d like to do a side by side comparison of this and New Holland’s Dragon’s milk (my other favorite Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout), because I think it would be very close as to which I like better.  The really cool thing is the two brews taste totally different so perhaps now I have two favorites.  The good news is I can actually get the Full Sail here in Idaho.

The first thing I noticed was there was a slight hiss when I opened the beer.  This was a good sign as I don’t particularly enjoy flat brews.  This beer poured black as coal and had a thin mocha colored head.  I forgot my picture of this brew so I got this one from online.  I noticed some changes from last year’s release.  The 2009 version of this brew was around 10 %ABV, but the 2010 version which I had was a 11.4%.  Just a little more robust then the previous version, and believe me I didn’t mind a bit.

The nose on this brew was like smelling an empty bourbon barrel.  Lots of vanilla, oak, and caramelly goodness.  Throw in a little chocolate from the huge malty character of this brew and you are speaking my language.  Best of both worlds from my perspective.

The flavor was full bodied but very well rounded.  The first thing that hits is a huge vanilla flavor that coats the palate and has a nice sweetness to it, then the roasty malts take over, followed by an alcohol flavor that gave this brew a dry finish, and almost a merlot character.  There wasn’t one off putting flavor.  The mouthfeel was medium to full bodied, and the bourbon aging gave the brew a rather slick feel on the palate.

This beer completely blew me away, and completely changed my perception of the Full Sail Brewery.  It just goes to show that first impressions can be wrong.  I think this is a lesson that Jim and I are both learning as we go along.  Just because a brewery has a clunker or two or something you didn’t appreciate, doesn’t mean all the beers are bad.  I’m looking forward to my next brew from Full Sail’s Brewmaster Reserve series.



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30 Comments on “Full Sail Black Gold: First Impressions Can Fool You”

  1. dwarven_stout
    March 25, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    I like the barrel-aged ones from Full Sail as well. They alternate each year between releasing the porter and the stout- I’ve still got a couple bottles of the porter from last year, which was a fantastic beer.

    Some of the other Brewmaster’s Reserve offerings are real clunkers, though. Bump in the Night was one of the worst CDA interpretations I’ve tried.

    • Don
      March 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

      They must be real hit or miss. Their Vesuvius was heal ham handed, and kinda over the top, but this beer was so dang good! I’m going to go and see if there is any left on the shelves.

  2. March 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    Dragon’s Milk is an ale, Don, but a really, really dark one. They don’t call it a stout.

    And I bet this would pale besides my beloved Schlafly’s 2008 Reserve, because no beer can be that good.

    • Don
      March 25, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

      I wouldn’t know since you don’t ever send me anything anymore. Even though you have beers for me that you won’t send! I guess I’m no better though, I’ve had some to send you since Christmas! I thought the Dragon’s milk was a stout, oh well my bad. Still a great dark ale. I bet the Black Gold would give the Schlafly’s a good run for its money.

      • johnking82
        March 25, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

        I was going to comment that Dragons Milk is an ale as well. Do your homework Donny! Schlaflys 08′ and 09′ are pretty tough to beat taste and price-wise.

        • March 25, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

          Preach it!!

      • March 25, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

        Yeah, even if it was a stout, there’s no way in hell I’d send you any – any bottle that I get is MINE!!!

  3. March 25, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    All right, all right, Don. I’ll pick one up. I keep hearing how good the Black Gold is. But like you, I’ve been consistently disappointed by most of the brews I’ve had from Full Sail. Some have been downright bad, others are O.K., but I can’t recall one that I was blown away by. I think the barrel aged porter was pretty good last year. But I donl’t recall thinking that I’d go out of my way to get it again.

    • Don
      March 25, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

      This is a special brew. It is really well done. I hope you can still find one. I got mine at Brewforia, but that was a few weeks ago. Not sure who else might have them. Good Luck!

  4. johnking82
    March 25, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    Fran Drescher used to give me a Full Sail in Junior High.

    • March 25, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

      Really? All I even got was half-mast.

    • March 25, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

      That’s what I’m talking about.

      • March 25, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

        The nanny aspect ratchets it up to full sail, IMO.

      • johnking82
        March 25, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

        She gave me an excuse to swab the deck.

        • Don
          March 25, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

          Ewww! OK, first of all, I might have known that Dragon’s Milk wasn’t a stout if i had any access to it at all. I had one once with my brother Jim. half a bottle. What ever the hell it is its amazing. Secondly, really guys? That Voice? What the hell, did you watch the show without the volume on? I agree that the whole nanny thing is hot and all, but were talking about a Brooklyn Goyl. Can’t go there, maybe its just me? And Jim, you should feel bad about being so selfish. jus sayin’

        • March 25, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

          Hopefully you got no splinters…

      • johnking82
        March 25, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

        I might have to side with Don for a second, brothers need to share things like beer. You should be mailing each other packages monthly of beers, unless Don can’t get anything really different than you can in NJ. If that’s the case, make him drive to California to get you beers. For shame Jim…for shame.

        • March 25, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

          We did for a while, but it got to be a pain in the butt. The last time we traded beers, I brought some New Glarus Enigma to his house in my suitcase. He never returned the favor.

          For shame, Don! SHAAAAAAAME!

      • March 25, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

        I’m not a fan of the Bourbon Stouts, or ales, just not my thing. And at least the Nanny didn’t have a man voice, i.e. the Manny. And sharing is caring. Two wrongs don’t make a right Jim.

      • johnking82
        March 25, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

        For shame Don, for shame.

        I found the comments “pain in the butt” and “Enigma” comical.

        • Don
          March 25, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

          That didn’t even count. And he neglected to tell you that when he came out our first stop was Brewforia where we picked up several bombers that we shared over the course of his 3 day stay. Also he drank a bunch of my whiskey. It is always so one sided when you talk to Jim. Really can’t trust anything he says! 😉

    • Alex
      March 25, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

      And I thought I was the only one! For me, her voice goes beyond annoying, all the way back to endearing. And who can forget Bobbi Flekman from “This is Spinal Tap”? Not this guy.

  5. March 25, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    Nice review Don! I’ve only tried Full Sail’s Christmas Ale. Wasn’t pleased. I’ll try to hunt this one down.

    As far as Fran Dresher goes… the voice is definitely tough to deal with, but I grew up in South Philly, so I’ve had to deal with my fair share of irritating voices growing up. 🙂

    • Don
      March 28, 2011 at 8:58 am #

      You bring up a good point G-Lo. If you are used to the thick East coast accent, does it even matter to you? Perhaps that is the best case scenario. I’m sure someone would find her attractive, and could “deal with” the voice.

  6. March 25, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    Hey Don do you need me to send you some Dragons Milk. Just saw a shelf full the other day I as I was picking up my 2 bottles of Founders KBS! Best barrel aged EVER! Gonna have to look for this Full Sail. I did have a Old Dominion the other day which claimed Oak and Vanilla and tasted neither!

    • Don
      March 28, 2011 at 9:02 am #

      I would love it if you sent a couple bottles my way John, but unfortunately I’m totally tapped out right now. Tax season sucks in my house! If you find this one, pick it up. I’ve had the KBS before, and in my opinion the Black Gold beats it. The KBS I drank had some harsh notes to it, and if it was aged a year, it may have mellowed and rounded a bit, but as I only accidentally age stuff it hadn’t matured at all.

      • March 28, 2011 at 10:31 am #

        No harshness in the stuff I drank. Smoooooooooth. My friend said beer with that much alcohol should not taste that smooth and he doesn’t even like whisky.

        • Don
          March 28, 2011 at 10:34 am #

          I’m not saying it is bad, or I didn’t like it, just I think I’ve had better IMO.

  7. March 25, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

    I think the two of you should have a Beer and Whiskey Brothers Summit in Chicago! Jim bring the beer and Don bring the whiskey and I and the other readers who come promise to come thirsty.

    • Don
      March 28, 2011 at 9:03 am #

      That sounds like a great idea for everyone in Chicago! 😉

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