In two entire years, this is the first out-of-state beer that I’ve talked formally about on the blog, that I’ve reviewed, if you can call this a review. Lately I’ve bought a few Full Sail Wreck the Halls and I can’t get enough of it. I’ve been craving hoppy beers this season for some reason and this one has satisfied these urgings. I actually haven’t craved hoppy beers since the 2009 Fresh Hop festival in Hood River, OR, which happens to be where Full Sail is located. The festival features a high concentration of fresh hop beers from Oregon and Washington. I was so excited to be there but after a handful of samples I could no longer taste or smell any of the beers that there were there. After an hour I went to Double Mountain Brewing down the street and ordered my favorite beer, the India Red Ale, and I couldn’t taste that one either. A bit too much lupulin in one day I suppose. For at least a year I almost never ordered an IPA and I’ve grown to seriously dislike IPAs and 2IPAs that are so-called balanced out with caramel malts because they can be grossly sweet to me.
I’ve been in Colorado for two years now and have not had an IPA here that tastes the way IPAs taste in the Pacific NW. Typically you can count on less caramel balance, dry hopped, a nice complex hop profile that tends to pop out, and perhaps most importantly the hops seem very fresh. Typically the brewers with my favorite hoppy beers are from breweries that seem to specialize in hoppy beers, like Laurelwood, Double Mountain, Walking Man, Ninkasi, and Boneyard, but I don’t know of a single CO brewery that makes hops their goal the way that these breweries do.
The Full Sail Wreck the Halls reminds me of these Pacific NW IPAs in a way that has really re-ignited and reminded me of what I liked so much about those beers. This one is slightly different in some ways as it seems a cross between a Winter Warmer and an IPA. The aroma is slightly spicy and has a nice Centennial honey hop character. It has a lovely nutty malt character with light roast and hints of toffee, not heavy tasting by any means. The beer quickly asserts itself as being all about the hops and those takeover in a nicely complex dance. Perhaps my favorite part is the long bitter finish that has notes of honey. The beer is 6.5% and I can easily drink this whole bottle alone, and I very happily do so. Thank you Full Sail for a fantastic offering.
Due to our Cellarmanship series, I’d be really curious about saving a bottle off for a year to see what happens. Some of the fresh qualities of the hops will disappear but that bitterness will stick around and blend a bit more with the nutty malts. Perhaps it’s best fresh though? I think the beer could take on a light barleywine characteristic, the Strong Ale qualities of the beer would be more pronounced. It’ll be hard to do that though because I like the beer fresh so much. ***Update – Sure enough, got a message from Full Sail saying it’s much better fresh, drink it now.
I encourage our readers to seek this one out. Perhaps the best part about it is that it’s $4.69. What a bang for your buck! You gotta try this beer fresh, it’s really nice.