So get this. A few years ago (November of 2012) I was excited to see a bottle of Full Sail Wreck the Halls at my local Total Wine. For some reason I’d never tried that, although I had always enjoyed their other Christmas beer, Full Sail Wassail plenty of times. Anyway, I snapped it up and got it home, popping it a few days and finding out it was-egad-last year’s batch.
It certainly was. The Total Wine check in sticker on the bottle was dated 11/15/2012, but the bottle had a best by date of 03/10/12. Clearly, this was year old stock, and I had purchased a bottle of 2011 inventory. Now, that’s no necessarily a bad thing, I myself age beers all the time. It’s how you age them that makes all the difference, though, and I suspect that this bottle sat with a lot of others in a hot un-air conditioned warehouse over the summer.
Here are the notes I took:
Full Sail Wreck the Halls 2011 pours to a brownish amber color with a thick and creamy, somewhat rocky head formation and a slightly citrusy, piney malt nose. Taking a sip, I get some caramel up front and a bit of bready malt. Some chocolate comes through, too. On the downside, there’s definitely oxidation going on here; this beer was not stored as it should have been. Wet cardboard is a main feature, and that’s not good. The hops come back, more resiny piney than anything else, and linger long and dry on the finish.
This isn’t the worst beer I’ve ever drunk at a year’s age, but it has the remnants of a fine beer about it, enough to make me want to try it fresh all the more. At 6.5% alcohol by volume this beer doesn’t quite have the strength to stand up to long aging, although it does seem to have enough hops to preserve it. Would that it had been better cared for over the last year.
Not sure how this sort of thing happens, except I think some crappy distributor tried to hoodwink consumers with beer they over-ordered the year before. Or maybe they just don’t understand beer. Anyway, I e-mailed Total Wine and they said bring it in for a refund. Fair enough. I also e-mailed Full Sail to let them know what their crappy distributor was up to, and they were good about it, too.
Brewmaster Jim Kelter replied and told me that this was not acceptable and he was looking into it. I let them know that Total Wine had told me their distributor assured them the beer would age well. See what I mean about a crappy distributor? Anyway, Full Sail promised to look into it.
I didn’t see Full Sail Wreck the Halls Again until November of 2014, and you can be sure that I checked the best by date on this one. Enjoy By 03/10/15. We’re good to go! Here’s what they say about this on the bottle label:
This annual favorite is a sublime hybrid of an American style IPA and a winter warmer. The result is a bold brew that celebrates the holidays with an intriguing blend of Centennial hops providing elegant citrus notes balanced by a backdrop of a rich caramel malt body. Dry hopped to amplify the aromas and flavor. Available in 22oz. bottles and draught.
Full Sail Wreck the Halls has an alcohol content of 6.5% by volume and 68 IBUs. Full Sail calls it a “Ridiculously tasty hoppy holiday ale”. I paid $6.99 for the bomber bottle both in 2012 and 2014. Here are my notes from this year that are much more positive than last time around.
Full Sail Wreck the Halls 2014 pours to a brilliant golden orange color with a big beautiful hoppy nose of citrus and pine and a moderate creamy head formation of tightly packed bubbles. Taking a sip, the beer has a delicious toasty caramel maltiness underneath that supports the explosive hop finish perfectly. Big old fashioned waves of citrusy grapefruit and resiny pine lead into a very long, very dry, very delicious bitter finish.
Now that’s more like it! Truly a wonderful beer, a well-balanced IPA with lots of malt and hops to make your day. It sure made mine this time around, and a great price too. I’m a big fan of Full Sail beers, and I’m glad I finally got to try this one again for the first time.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.