The imperial stout style has a reputation for being big and bold no
matter who brews one. It’s rare you find a beer of the style that’s only
just plain good, but Full Sail Imperial Stout is one of them. Plenty of
flavor to be sure and highly drinkable - but seems to be missing a
certain wow factor.
Appearance: Opaque blood red/black color, no carbonation visible. Forms a
small, tan, frothy head which mostly dissipates and leaves some decent
lacing on the glass.
Smell: All the usual notes of the style, but milder than most.
Taste: My description of Full Sail Imperial Stout’s aroma is a good
description of the palate, and the beer as a whole for that matter. Impy
stouts tend to be roasty and bitter with coffee flavors, but this one
is remarkably sweet for the style. It imparts a taste akin to Diet Black
Cherry Dr. Pepper. Seriously, the first flavor I notice is a cola-like
taste of artificial fruit flavors and sweeteners.
There is definite bitterness to balance it out, though. Significant
hoppiness can be felt at the beginning and middle of the palate. There’s
almost a hint of citrus to it, but mostly it’s just dry. I kept waiting
for a taste of black licorice and/or coffee but never really got much
of either. It ends with an even stronger rush of cola-like sweetness
before finishing quite clean.
Drinkability: I raised an eyebrow when I picked Full Sail Imperial Stout
off the shelf and saw the ABV was only 7.2%. That would likely explain
why it seems a bit too light, though that does help it become all the
more drinkable. The mouthfeel is thin, a bit flat, with a watery
texture. But it does go down extremely smooth with no cloying aftertaste
at all. This would be a great introductory imperial stout due to how
drinker-friendly it is.