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Pursuit of Hoppiness

Grand Teton Brewing Co.
Victor, ID

Style: American Strong Ale
ABV: 8.5%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

Pair With:
As I stated in my previous review for Grand Teton Lost Continent Double IPA, a change in scenery and perspective can take a brewery from completely unnoticed to “gotta try it!” in the eyes of the beer drinker. Such was the case with Nigel and Grand Teton Brewing Co. after our spring vacation out west. After all, Grand Teton claims to be the “original brewery for Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.” I’m not really sure why that matters, but we spent three incredible days in Yellowstone and Nigel loves good marketing, so I’ll bite.

Upon returning home with a few Grand Teton brews, including the aforementioned Lost Continent, Nigel‘s better half, who was a fan of the Grand Teton offerings we had sampled in Wyoming, discovered a couple of their “Brewers’ Series” of big beers at Milwaukee’s finest craft beer retailer. After viewing Grand Teton’s website, it appears that Lost Continent is also a member of that series, so apparently this will be my second attempt at the Brewers’ Series. Unlike Lost Continent, which is available in four packs, the current selection, Pursuit of Hoppiness, as well as the Wake Up Imperial Coffee Porter that continues to hang out in storage, come in foil-topped 25.4 ounce bottles.

Pursuit of Hoppiness (fat finger syndrome has Nigel occasionally typing “Pursuit of Hippiness,” which is something completely different that I hope to never explore), despite its name and 100 IBU profile, claims to be an imperial red ale rather than an imperial IPA. This makes sense with Lost Continent holding the imperial IPA throne in the Brewers’ Series, but clearly Pursuit of Hoppiness is meant to be a hop monster as well, as it brags about its liberal incorporation of Chinook, Centennial, and Columbus hops. The classification of it as an imperial red would lead one to believe that while a hop monster, there is a noticeable maltiness to it as well.

Pursuit of Hippiness—DAMMIT! HOPiness—pours with a thick foamy head well over an inch deep that quickly dissipates, leaving a lively creamy lace at the top throughout and plenty of residue on the sides of my chalice. As you would anticipate from an “imperial red” ale, it has a deep, coppery, fiery hue that is definitely a shade darker than you’d see in an imperial IPA, and perfectly fits its designation as a red ale.

While the initial appearance perfectly illustrates the style, the aromas tip the balance back towards “hop monster.” Aromas are powerful and lean heavily towards Northwest hops, with a bitter, floral, piney singe on the nostrils. Eventually there are some other aromas that hint at the maltiness, mainly in the form of sweet sugars (caramel, toffee). At no point do I sense any earthy tones that would illustrate the roasted barley utilized, which has me a bit concerned that this isn’t going to have the balance one would expect for the style. Mixed results so far, let’s see what the flavor has in store.

Initial flavors pattern the aroma, but Pursuit of Hoppiness quickly turns around and ends up being a flavorful, balanced brew. The bite of Northwest hops hits the tongue immediately, with the standard notes of bitter evergreen, citrusy zest, a light floral overtone, all of which is pleasant to a Hophead but can be a bit astringent and unpleasing to someone anticipating a darker, earthier beer. Not to fear … unlike the aroma, which had only slight notes of malt, the body and overall balance quickly takes hold of the beer. The initial bite is quickly tempered by a dark, sugary profile of caramel, toffee, and dark brown sugar that curls the tongue for a second, but is the perfect counterbalance to the initial bitterness. Most of the session is dominated by the dance between the bitter, citrusy profile of the hops and the thick, sweet, sugariness of the malt. However, secondary notes of more subtle earthiness (roasted malt) as well as a slight bite of alcohol are also present, rounding out a brew that fights its way to the realms of four mugs thanks to an overall balance and, though strong at times, flavors that do impress. Full bodied, this is a sippin’ beer for sure as the profiles are strong at times and the ABV is high at 8.5 percent.

All in all, another solid brew from Grand Teton that is a worthy entry into the Brewers’ Series. Pursuit of Hoppiness tips the scales at times as a hop monster, but in the end redeems itself as a picturesque, balanced brew that can appeal to a number of different tastes. Grand Teton’s website indicates that this may be coming out in four-pack form similar to Lost Continent in the near future, so this Hophead will eagerly await that development as he savors a tasty session just completed.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on October 29, 2012.
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