The Pursuit of Hoppiness, Exeter, pub review

Adrian Tierney Jones
the pursuit of hoppiness exeter

Here is one of Exeter’s newest pubs, having opened its doors in March in what was once a compact language school, at the end of a terrace that survived the Baedeker Blitz of 1942. New meets old, even though there are no nicotine stains on the ceiling, or the imprint of generations on a worn stone floor. Your grandad didn’t drink here. 

On the other hand, there’s a luminous quality here. The light that comes in through the broad front windows gives the drinking space an almost ethereal mood, offset by the sand-coloured, solidly made wooden bar and accompanying benches and tables (think a grittier Ikea styling).

In its short existence this friendly and easy-going pub has made a solid impression with its eclectic cask and keg offerings from such stars of the UK craft beer scene as Burning Sky, Lost and Grounded, Northern Monk and Moor. There’s also the “fridge of dreams” stacked with cans from equally great breweries. On my visit I fell for Wylam’s Hickey the Rake, a 4.2% pale ale bursting with oodles of lemony notes on both the palate and nose, before finishing with a bracing RSM-on-the-parade-ground dryness. 

“Glass of Death, please,’” said a man next to me at the bar. With relief I realised that Death was a viscous, heady, chocolatey 12% imperial stout from Northern Monk, rather than the grim reaper. My Hickey the Rake finished, I also fell half in love with easeful Death, a beer that envelops the palate with the all-embracing completion of a Joe Marler stopper, but still has a kind of Cipriani lightness that makes it an ideal contemplative brew.

Around me people chatted, their conversations floating through the air like scraps of burnt paper rising from an autumnal bonfire. Laughter erupted from a couple of friends as one said how he’d recently seen local resident (and Wetherspoon founder) Tim Martin in the street, his distinctive hairstyle making him look like an “out-of-work violinist”.  I took another sip of my beer and couldn’t resist the thought: in the midst of Death, there’s plenty of life.

42 Longbrook St, Exeter EX4 6AE 01392 430730; hoppiness.co.uk