Noel: Is this really 100 IBUs? I need another sip. Is this really 8.5% ABV? That’s crazy. Where has this beer been all my life?
These were just some of the thoughts swirling around my head last night as I partook of this unexpectedly glorious liquid. It’s called Pursuit of Hoppiness. Need I say more? Well, yes, actually…I do. I had never heard of this beer (or its brewer) until I grabbed the bottle off the shelf a few weeks back, so there’s definitely a shroud of mystery surrounding it. At the very least, its name isn’t being tossed around much here in the Midwest. And it’s certainly not getting mad props like Firestone Walker’s Double Jack, or every Stone beer ever created.
But it should be.
In the words of Grand Teton themselves: “Pursuit of Hoppiness Imperial Red Ale is brewed to showcase the brash beauty of American hops: Summit, Simcoe, Chinook and Nuggets at 100 International Bitterness Units (IBU).” There’s more to it than that, but you catch their drift; they used the word “brash”. From the moment the cap pops off, bold, zesty, spicy, citrusy hops from the American Northwest bombard your senses. To be honest, the intermingling scents were strong enough that my nose was confused at times. Is that cherry I smell? No…roses? No…tangerines? Pine sap? Grapefruit? I’d like to think all of the above. It isn’t the most powerfully dry-hopped beer on the planet, but by merit of the sheer volume of hops used in the brew process, you’ll find a veritable citrus explosion emanating from your glass. And that color…awesome.
Before you taste it, you think you know what’s coming. “I’ve had hoppy beers before,” you tell yourself. “Hopslam? Pliny the Elder? Hop Stoopid? Arctic Panzer Wolf? It can’t be more extreme than those.” And…you’d be right. But this isn’t just your standard ridiculously hoppy beer. It’s not an Imperial Pils, or IPA, or APA, or what have you. It’s an Imperial Red Ale. And as such, it has a certain level of complexity most other insanely hopped beers can’t touch. The hops are still there, sure…bitter and spicy and so juicy you’d swear you were eating them. But beneath the bite is a delicate toastiness, a clean caramel tinge…a nutty, earthy backbone that never leaves. You can tell this ale wasn’t made to just overpower you with hops. It was carefully crafted to be an all-around great beer. As if to prove my point, my parents each took a sip, then promptly poured themselves their own glasses. How many average, non-craft beer crazy Americans can get excited about a 100 IBU beer?
The brewery isn’t well known, the bottle design is reserved, and it’s name is somewhat gimmicky. But I just gave it an A+. So…you know what to do. Grade: A+
John: My favorite beer man recommended I give this a try since I love IPAs. With a name like “The Pursuit of Hoppiness” it was hard to resist so I bought a bomber. It poured with a nice head that stayed around for awhile. The color was a cloudy amber that was appealing to the eye. The aroma lived up to the name–hops! I discovered something in this tasting namely I like citrusy, grapefruity IPAs more than I like caramel leaning IPAs. This beer had the hops but was heavy on the caramel as well. Imagine candied hops and you’ve got it. Not my style. Give me an IPA that shouts hops. Mouthfeel is medium smooth so it’s pleasant. This finishes with a dry, memorable exit. If you like hops and caramels get this. If you are more of the hoppy IPA type try it once to broaden you spectrum. Grade: B+
Taylor: I am in full agreement with Noel’s review. This beer should be judged as a Imperial Red Ale and not an IPA. It is absolutely positively amazing from start to finish. Wow. Grade: A+