Pursuit of Hoppiness: 42 Longbrook Street, EX4 6AE Exeter
At a first glance, Pursuit of Hoppiness could seem a little sterile and cold, with simple wooden high tables and industrially designed barstools. Yet this cool simplicity is warmed into more of a pub vibe by the plethora of beer mats edging the walls as if in place of moulded plaster cornicing. The décor encapsulates the intersection present in the drinks – at once a trendy craft beer and wine bar, yet also a relaxing pub space with cushioned benches and time to chat.
This blend of styles continues to the glassware with cask beers being served in classic nonik pint glasses, with halves in smaller versions of the same. Keg beers have a more craft beer vibe in stemmed tulipesque glasses, which bear logos from a range of breweries. The wine glasses are stylish with different profiles to best suit each wine – from narrow-mouthed angular glasses for white, to wider mouthed, more rounded glasses for reds.
The playlists are set by the manager and although they give a slight sense of his tastes they are carefully enough chosen as to be unobtrusive. Service is swift and efficient when needed, but they are always happy to give tasters and have a good chat about which beers they think you would enjoy most. This is the sort of place you can walk into, sit at the bar, and be sure to find conversation, whether it be from the staff or fellow drinkers.
Having walked through the surprising cold of a cloudless October night, I needed a cask beer with a smooth sweetness and ‘The Boogie Below’ by New Bristol Brewery did not disappoint. The lactose sweetness of the Milkshake IPA was tempered by fruity hops, with a pleasing bitter finish, and a sensuous mouthfeel. Pursuit of Hoppiness is not a place to go if you want the same beer as last time, with at least five casks and five keg beers, a keg cider and two still ciders on at any time. The beers change regularly as they normally only have a beer on until the cask or keg has run out.
The rest of the beers I had that night were on recommendations from the staff. At 6.5% ABV, ‘Apocalyptic Thunder Juice’ by Amundsen Bryggeri lived up to expectations, bringing the smorgasbord of juicy fresh flavours that is the inevitable product of a double dry-hopped New England IPA, impregnated with mosaic upon mosaic. I followed that with ‘Citra Sands’, a very easy drinking American Pale Ale by Burnt Mill Brewery, which lives up to its name with bold citrus and a refreshing bitterness. The other beers they had on ranged from rich porters, herbal sours and classic best bitters, to biscuity smooth lager. To be bored of Pursuit of Hoppiness is to be bored of beer itself.
Yet, there is still more beer, with a fridge, known as ‘The Fridge of Dreams’, stocked with can after can of perfectly chilled beer. And don’t let me forget the sharing bottles – wine sized bottles of beer that should be savoured with friends just like a bottle of wine – and with the priciest rocking in at £27 and 10% ABV, it would be extravagance itself not to share them.
To finish my night at Pursuit I changed to a glass of wine. There are options for when you want to splurge but also house wines at prices that challenge the beers. These provide a balance of grapes and New and Old World wines. This range is reflected equally in their other wines, many of which are offered by the glass. And so I went for a Croatian graševina, called ‘Radosh’. It had a nice dry acidity, balanced by a subtle tang of chalky minerality, blending with a hint of floral sweetness.
– Ed Bedford