There was so much beer awesomeness to be had in Seattle. It seemed as if I was being offered and introduced to one incredible beer after another during my short, whirlwind stay there. On my last full day, Shaun and I stopped in at a QFC supermarket to find some interesting bottles. I needed to find a bottle for a Chicago friend of mine and wanted to see if there was anything I'd want to take back with me, such as an incredible Pacific Northwest IPA. I locked in when I saw the Full Sail Elevation IPA. Having already tried their stunningly incredible Top Sail Porter, this was a no-brainer. Other small production imperial IPA's from the region such as Deschutes Hop Henge have been nothing short of spectacular, so if a brewer on Full Sail's level was concocting this IPA - an imperial IPA, no less - I figured to be putty in their hands.
I opened the Elevation to the sound of trumpets about a week after my visit, sharing it with a friend of mine. I was racing with anticipation to try this expectantly amazing beer. The color did not disappoint me. It poured a nice head with a bit more of an amber color than I expected. It was not the straw color of Hop Henge or some of the other Pacific Northwest imperials, but I've had other great imperial IPA's with a darker color profile so I was unfazed. Nothing unusual presented itself in the odor. I got a dose of pine, grapefruit and all the usual suspects. The feel was a bit creamy but relatively thin, and, again, nothing unexpected.
This beer fell apart on taste. I mean, it imploded. I was floored, stunned, ripped open to find out how average this beer tastes. The hop bite was suppressed and it had more of an iced tea flavor to it. The Beer Advocate reviewers attribute this to cheap macrobrew malts, which I would be surprised to find Full Sail using. Whatever the case, the effect was a beer more akin to Fat Tire than any tropical west coast IPA's.
Whatever Full Sail had in mind with this beer, they did not achieve it. I'm glad I bought a bomber of it at $5 instead of a four pack, would it were they offered it in 12 oz bottles. I can't figure out whether they were going for a more mainstream flavor or if this was culled from a batch of Elevation that happened to be bad. Regardless, this is a beer I'll have to sample on tap again before I'll ever invest in it.
2.4 of 5 stars. Bitterly disappointing. Bitterly.