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Thursday, March 18, 2010

See, Now This Beer Tastes Bitter

In a wonderful moment of serendipity, last night's beer was Full Sail's latest Brewmaster's Reserve, Hop Pursuit. The night before, I had a Hop Henge (everyone who thinks there should be a moratorium on beers with the word "hop" in the title, raise your hand), which led me on a slightly protracted ramble about how hops may actually reduce the perception of bitterness. As the day wore on, my thesis seemed progressively more thin to me, but I was saved by the Hop Pursuit.

In the world of doubles and imperials, this is a bit of a throwback beer. (A throwback from, you know, 1998.) It is a modest 6%, sunflower pale, and in-your-face bitter. Some many moons back, Full Sail did a seasonal called Equinox ESB, a beer that actually set my expectations for a spring seasonal. It was vividly and greenly hoppy, resinous, almost too much. I loved it. Hop Pursuit has that same bracing quality, like a sneaker gust of wind that contains a bit of winter's bite. Yet it is only 55 IBUs. They all come through on the first swallow, and rake the tongue as they exit the mouth, leaving you smacking and smiling. It's not a particularly complex beer--biscuity sweetness in the body, just enough to support the piney, sharp hops. But it's a beer that makes you smile with recognition--this, you think, is a classic Northwest beer.

Once again, I am confronted with the prospect of rating this beer highly. I don't know any brewery that turns out so many consistently above average beers as Full Sail. Call this a B+.


  1. Just tried it myself two nights ago and my take was similar to yours: "now this is the quintessential Oregon spring beer." I loved it as much for what it represented as for the beer itself (which is pretty darn good).

    I admire the winter beers with all of their complex spiciness, but to me this is the moment, the dawn of the spring beers-fresh and hoppy and wonderful. In fact from now to fresh hop time is my favorite beer season by far.

  2. "Northwest brewer introduces new beer with nuance sacrificed to a butt-load of hops."


  3. It may be a throwback from further than 1998. At the East Burn Beer Belly dinner, John Harris said he wanted to brew a beer like the first ones he ever brewed (I think he said that was 26 years ago).

    So the siblings of this beer on the family tree might be Hammerhead and Mirror Pond.

  4. Bill, I think you're right. I was sort of kidding with the 1998 to show that in American craft brewing terms, "throwback" ain't that far.

    But allow me to strain as I try to pat myself on the back for identifying the retro vibe in this beer. That's why they pay me the big bucks.