Friday, December 16, 2011

Full Sail Wreck The Halls

The last time I reviewed a Full Sail beer I was in Florida in July. Now I'm in upstate New York in December. About as opposite as you can get, eh? Anyway, this is Full Sail's attempt at a hybrid of an American IPA and a classic winter warmer. Sounds like an interesting premise to be sure.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (592) - Albany, New York, USA - DEC 15, 2011
I poured a 22oz bomber into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Dark orange to brown proper; very hazy but translucent with carbonation visible. Forms a good size, dirty white, creamy head which laces and retains very well.

Smell: Lighter, more floral notes of citrus pith or rind with just the slightest hint of cinnamon or other winter spice. There’s also a very subtle fusel smell, but it’s easily overlooked.

Taste: I always admire and encourage experimental brewing as long as it’s not arbitrary or for shock value. Full Sail Wreck The Halls claims to be a hybrid between an American IPA and a winter warmer, but drinking it I detect little to no presence of the latter. That’s okay because it still performs well as a solid, well-balanced India Pale Ale that has elements of both East and West coasts plus some English qualities, too.

It begins very much in the west coast style: strong, dry, powdery/doughy bitterness up front. It gives way to citrusy sweetness and slight tartness through the middle, along with some tea-like earthy flavors. The back end is a different kind of bitterness: resin and pine needles with mild confectionary sweetness of marmalade or other English-type flavors. What’s disappointing is the fact there’s little presence of spice or other overt "winter warmer" characteristics. Perhaps there’s a hint of cinnamon or nutmeg, but the hops seem to overpower them. Still, it’s a tasty, well-balanced beer and that’s what really counts.

Mouthfeel: Slightly thicker than your average IPA. Creamy, soft texture that’s not tepid (but far from crisp). Hops linger for a noticeable, but tolerable, dry sensation.

Drinkability: Weighing in at only 6.5% ABV, Full Sail Wreck The Halls is average in weight for an IPA or a winter warmer (or both). Comfortable mouthfeel and smooth finish with strong hop presence make it quite pleasurable to drink. A fantastic beer with dinner or sharp cheese, but don’t mistake it for a dessert brew or a nightcap.
Grade: 8/10

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