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+.