Skip to main content

Beer Review #176 Wreck the Halls

My second “Christmas” beer that I am reviewing after Christmas comes from Full Sail Brewing Company  of Hood River, Oregon. I have had a number of their beers in the past and even got to visit one of their locations on my honeymoon in Portland. In my eyes they are one of the “classic” northwestern craft breweries along with Rogue Ales, Pyramid, and a few others.Wreck the Halls is a blend of an American IPA and a Winter Warmer. The bottle displays, “22 ounces of hoppy holiday ale.” That was all I needed to grab up this bottle.

Wreck the Hall pours a cloudy orange color with a bit of a reddish hue. There is a thin white head that sits on top of the liquid but it does not cling to the glass as it is being drank. The nose is hoppy as you would excpect with an American IPA mix. The hops are almost entirely citrus smelling and they are very bright. I did get a bit of background malt, but the hops are the shinning star for the nose of this beer.

On my first taste there was some nice caramel malt up front quickly followed by citrus hops. The first variant of hops fades into a piney hop flavor. The pine flavor really sits on the tongue for a long time and doesn’t get kicked out by any other flavor.

This is a pretty good IPA as the malt balances out the hops pretty nicely. I don’t really see a Winter Warmer in any way, shape, or form in this beer; just a solid IPA. The only thing that I don’t like about this beer is the fact that the pine flavored hops just sit and sit on your tongue. I’m not a big fan of pine hops and I generally like them to be kicked out by carbonation or something else. The bright hops from the nose gave me the impression that the hops would be crisp in flavor as well, but they really just linger. This is still a good beer, but it is not my style of an IPA, maybe it is because I am from the east coast. (more…)

Winter Warmer Recipe

11-20-01In my last homebrew post I talked about doing a Colonial American style beer. Well I am still working on that, but I have a lot more reading to do so that I can make it accurately. In the meantime, I thought that I would embrace the coming season change and got with a winter warmer. I’ve always been a fan of winter seasonal beers, but I have never made one of my own. My wife has also been asking me to make something dark and malty. A winter warmer fits perfectly into that style.

Let me begin with the fact that I have only had a handful of beers classified as “winter warmer” before in my life. I think my favorite belongs to Lancaster Brewing Company, which I enjoyed plenty of last year back in PA. The things I like about it are the facts that it has a huge body, a lot of different flavor notes (some fruit, chocolate, brown sugar, molasses, and caramel), and it all comes in being very well balanced. Furthermore, for an 8.9% abv beer there isn’t much, if any, alcohol noticeable and there is not a lot of hop bite on the back. The malt and complexity in it are what shine in this beer.

So I began doing some research trying to find a starting point with this beer. And after all was said and done, I came up with a recipe that I think is unique and should deliver a great amount of complexity.

  • 8.0 lbs American 2-Row
  • 2.0 lbs Maris Otter Pale Malt
  • 1.0 lbs Caramel Malt 90L
  • 1.0 lbs Chocolate Malt
  • 0.5 lbs Chocolate Wheat Malt
  • 0.5 lbs Chocolate Rye Malt
  • 0.5 lbs American Black Patent
  • 1.0 lbs Molasses
  • 1 oz Fuggle hops (3.6% AA for 60 mins)
  • 1 oz Fuggle hops (3.6% AA for 15 mins)
  • Nottingham Dry Ale yeast, with starter

I’m planning on mashing this at about 150 degrees for an hour. Doing so should give a nice balance between malt character and easy fermenting sugar. The 1 lb of molasses will be added into the kettle during the first runnings. I put a lot of dark malts into this beer becasue I want something with some coffee, molasses, and chocolate notes.

The chocolate wheat and rye were a last minute decision and the original recipe had one pound of wheat malt. I’ve never used chocolate wheat/rye malt and this is my first experience with rye malt overall, so I’m not entirely sure what impacts they will have. From my  understanding, rye malt tends to dry a beer out and give a crisper feel to it. Even at that, it makes up about 4% of then total grain bill, so it should not have a large effect weather it be positive or negative.

I also went with a dry ale yeast here for a few reasons. First, I used it on the pumpkin ale with good results. Second, the dry ale yeast is easy to make a starter with and with the fluctuation in temperatures here in Texas during this time of year (40 degrees between day and night) I didn’t want any active yeast to suffer. Third is that the optimal temperature range for this yeast is 57-70 degrees which falls perfectly into my apartment’s temperatures. Fourth, it is highly flocculant (precipitating) and highly attenuating. And lastly, it has a lost ester profile, so the malt should be able to shine through even more when it is not competing with the hops or yeast esters.

The final stats on the beer look like this:

  • OG 1.075
  • 39 SRM
  • 7.5% ABV
  • 20.0 IBUs

I plan of fermenting for a week (or until fermention is complete) and than putting it into a secondary for 2-3 weeks. After that I will bottle it and leave it condition for another 2-3 weeks (hopefully there will be no carbonation problems this time around). Then I can finally enjoy the fruits of my labor.