At the Harborside they had Full Sail’s Top Sail bourbon porter on tap from 2002 and 2008. How could I resist?
For those of you who have never been to the Harborside, I recommend hitting it during happy hour, which I believe is from 4-6pm. The beer costs the same, but there is a fantastic selection of food for two bucks; hummus plates, french fries, burgers, all your basic Portland pub grub, and it’s very good. You want to arrive by 5 though, because it gets crowded very quickly. It’s loud but congeneal, mostly populated by folks just getting off work and wanting to relax for a moment before heading home.
I started with the older beer and was handsomely rewarded. The head was the color of chocolate milk and the nose was all bourbon. The finish however, had a maple flavor to it that was more woodsy than sweet. In between that it was all smooth porter; nothing too sharp, nothing hiding away, just a good beer.
The 2008 was a related cousin. The nose only hinted of bourbon, and the finish was the standard mellow coffee flavor I’d expect. The middle was a work in progress though. There was a roughness to the flavors of the beer that stood out. I described it as ‘white noise on my tongue’ to the other people at the table.
The ’08 wasn’t a bad beer by any reasonable standard. I’d just had an uncommonly good beer before it and so in comparison it suffered. I would happily drink more 2008 Top Sail by itself, but comparing it to the 2002 almost seems unfair.