Sunday, May 12, 2013

Owning a Full Sail

Recently, a very good friend brought a bottle of the Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout  from Full Sail Brewing over to the Savage Boleks' household.  He picked up the bottle because it is an independent, employee-owned brewery. (We both have devoted our professional careers to working to further and protect the rights of employees, individually and through labor unions.)   Back in 1999, Full Sail divvied itself amongst its forty-seven employees.  The move, which turned Full Sail Brewery into an employee-owned enterprise, is a move that the brewery believes to be one of its proudest moments.

But that is not Full Sail Brewing's only accomplishment.  Full Sail also has its own award-winning water treatment plant.  It also distributes spent grain to nearby farmers, uses sustainable filtration system, packages its products in recycled paperboard, and supports hundreds of charities and events throughout the year.  Clearly a long list of accomplishments for a relatively small brewery.

Turning to the Bourbon Barreled Aged Imperial Stout, this offering from Full Sail displays some of the best characteristics of wood-aged beer.  Obviously, aging beer in oak barrels imparts some wood aromas and/or flavors to the beer.  The key is what barrels to use.  When brewers use bourbon barrels, they are often looking to add some more sophisticated flavors such as vanilla, caramel, toffee, or cocoa.  The brewers at Full Sail used those bourbon barrels to great effect with this Imperial Stout.  The beer itself pours a dark, inky black, which is as dark as night.  There is an off-white foam that develops as the beer is poured but it recedes and gives way to the blackness of the beer.  As the beer is brought to the nose, there is a clear sense of strong roasted malts and provides a foreshadowing of the alcohol content in the beer.  Each sip of the beer presents a roasted, almost coffee flavor, that is paired with chocolate and cocoa powder.  The use of the bourbon barrels is done very well.  While the alcohol makes itself present in the aroma, it is much more subtle or subdued in the flavor of the beer. 

My friend bought this beer at a local beer and wine store.  Full Sail has done a lot to increase its distribution in recent years and its beers -- like this Imperial Stout -- can be found at beer stores with larger selections of craft beer. Many thanks to the very good friend who brought me this beer ... you know who you are.


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