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Focal Banger - The Alchemist

Not Rated.
Focal BangerFocal Banger

Educational use only; do not reuse.

157 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 157
Hads: 1,649
Avg: 4.6
pDev: 24.13%
Wants: 1,382
Gots: 232 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
The Alchemist visit their website
Vermont, United States

Style | ABV
American IPA |  7.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: hillvt4me on 01-30-2014

An American IPA, hopped judiciously with Citra and Mosaic.
View: Beers (9) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Focal Banger Alström Bros
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Reviews: 157 | Hads: 1,649
Photo of Back_in_the_Saddle
4.63/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Can at Burlington Airport - The Skinny Pancake.
I asked for a glass, sorry John Kimmich, I wanted to give it a "correct" review.
They gave me a stemmed pilsener. Hmmmm...not sure how this is gonna go given, wrong glassware. Here's the rest based on observations.
The appearance was the typical TA unfiltered look, yes, the floaties John likes to hide. Muddled brown to orange color. One finger white foamy head that dissipated in about a minute. Some stringy lacing here and there.
The smell had a big burst of the grapefruit to piney oily hops. Resinous and pounding my nostrils in a harsh way.
The taste was sweet yet bitter and pounds at my taste buds nicely. Lingering resinous aftertaste slides into the finish.
The mouthfeel was sharp with the resin hitting my tongue in a pronounced yet profane burst. In trying to say "uncle" to the beer, I think I fell off my chair.
Overall, in every way known to mankind, there are IPA's that do their respect to be bittersweet. But this one just takes the cake to the extreme, wooeee. Send me to bed, momma, of course I'd have this again.

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Photo of PintOh1759
3.56/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Good IIPA but coming from the almighty John KImmich of Alchemist Brewing this beer had a lot of hype behidn it and simply did not deliver like Heady does. That being said if you just simply respect quality IPAs then this is nothing short of a damn good IPA that is very drinkable.

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Photo of MonkeyKnfeFight
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Another gem found on a 1-day bender through Vermont...in the airport terminal. I had 3 since you can get this via retail locations & drink it in-house only. Also stoked I was the only person in my row on the flight home as the buzz was spectacular & I mos def smelled of glorious beer.

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Photo of tmbgnicu
4.92/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Finally got to try this at prohibition pig last thursday with dinner. Lives up to ALL of the hype in my opinion, a perfect IPA, has all of the great characteristics of Heady but adds "otherworldly drinkability" to the mix. Ended up ordering 3 of them. Cannot wait until this is mass manufactured.

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Photo of macher0
4.69/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A. Light bronze color, great effervesce, fine-bubble egg shell head that had good retention.

S. Very citrusy - grapefruit rind, pineapple, mango and the such. Juicy.

T. As with the nose, very tropical. Outstanding.

M. Very crisp and smooth more so than HT.

O. Had this at a share as a side-by-side with HT. I've noticed HT to be batchy and more often then not, resin and piney. This was more on the tropical side of hops and I felt the mouth feel was better.

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Photo of hardysf
4.62/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

In your face hop aroma. Citra and Mosaic hops are the profiles that stand out to me. Lots of lemon and mango aroma and flavors with some grapefruit. Bitter and dry finish. I could just smell this beer all day.

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Photo of allhoppedup2
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is exceptional, a rare 5.0 beer. I got the chance to taste this and Heady on a vacation trip to Vermont last week. I had the Heady first and will review it later. The local folks recommended I try the Focal since it was only available in restaurants. To my palate, it was sweeter than Heady. Excellent Hop Balance. Very smooth, no notice of alcohol. Do drink it in the can, the Alchemist folks really have mastered World Class beer in a can.

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Photo of captainsdaughter
4.94/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

L: Had to give it a 4 because I drank it from the can like it was recommended and have no idea what it looks like in a tulip glass.
S: Smells like papaya, fresh pineapple and mango, with hops hops and more hops that burst through your nostrils just like in the picture on the can.
T: Best IPA I've ever had IMO. Blows SOS out of the water. The power of the hops and dominating citrus without over doing it makes this simply the most drinkable and pronounced IPA I have had. At 7% the drinkability is scary. No alcohol presence whatsoever.
F: This and Heady are in a class of their own when it comes to mouthfeel. The hops just roll down the back of your throat and it's not so overpoweringly bitter like most other IPA's are when they try to mimic this style. Similar mouthfeel to Heady but not as strong.
O: Like I said best IPA I will probably be able to enjoy, perfect beer that I would drink every day if I had the chance. Even better than Alter Ego.

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Photo of hasher
4.88/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Got the chance to taste focal and heady side by side. Both delivered to the bar that day. If you like one you'll like the other. I found them to be similar except focal was less hoppy tasting and a bit smoother. I thought there was less fruit flavor in the focal. Overall another excellent beer from the alchemist.

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Photo of Damian
4.94/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Drank from a 1 pint can at Hen of the Wood, Waterbury, VT
Served in a snifter

Cloudy, amber-tinged straw yellow appearance. The beer was topped by an inch-plus tall cap of bubbly froth that quickly dissolved. Droplets of lacing trickled down the glass.

The aroma was amazingly hoppy and bright. Super fruity. Tropical fruit notes dominated. Loads of musty passionfruit, papaya and mango. Uber juicy. Orange juice definitely came to mind. Tangerine as well. Fairly sweet. There was also an intensely dank, weed-like quality. Really fantastic. The passionfruit notes intensified as the beer warmed.

The flavor profile was very similar to the nose and just as incredible. Loads of tripical fruits. Mango, papaya and passionfruit were most apparent. Citrus notes played a bigger role here than in the aroma. Very orange-y. Orange peel appeared on the back end. The beer finished with notes of white grapefruit rind. Just the right amount of bitterness for balance. Piney, resiny notes lingered after the swallow.

The mouthfeel was amazingly creamy and supple. Fluffy and almost cloud-like. A fine, zippy effervescence made the liquid seem much lighter than it actually was.

Focal Banger definitely lived up to the hype. As much as I love Heady Topper, I have to say that this beer is even better.

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Photo of Hopglow
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Loved this one. Hop profile made this much more floral in nature than heady. It is a different beer than Heady, I would not compare it to that. On its own, it's worth seeking out.

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Photo of ChrisP802
4.79/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This was basically a Heady, but with slightly less bite. Better in my opinion
Pour - I'm just going on a limb here saying that it looked great. Drank out of the can
Smell - tropical with citrus coming out strongest. definitely piney
Taste - much more refreshing than heady, nothing overpowered anything else
Overall - more drinkable than Heady, but still very potent

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Photo of NiceTaps
4.78/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I drank it right from the can, as ordered.

I give it a "3" for looks, though I never saw what it looks like. I thought about a "4", but The Alchemist overcooks the goofy beer commands: "Don't be a D-bag", "Drink from the can"....enough, already. It's not the message, just the way it's sent.

Super fresh hop aroma, like fresh pressed hop fluid. Its cousin, marijuana, pays an aromatic visit. Lot of pine, too. The aroma is very pleasant and opens the nasal passages, refreshingly.

Lots of citrus hop flavor, strong grapefruit. A bit piney, a bit tropical. Enough malt to balance and keep it a beer.

Full feel, clean and refreshing. Not a trace of the 7% abv. Lasting bitterness and tongue tickle but not overly bitter.

I'm not getting the "dank" that I read in other reviews. I'll take it over a Heady, TY.

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Photo of BranfordBound
4.86/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had at a few locations during a trip to Vermont: Stowe Wine & Cheese (unexpected), Doc Ponds, and Hen of the Wood. Poured some out just to get an idea of looks but kept 95% of it in the can, as specified. Pours a hazy golden color with a decent head that sticks around. Smells of... sweet baby jesus: pure hops. I should call the police because my olfactory cells just got assaulted by an angry mob of hops. Grassy, super herbal, notes of stone fruit.

OK, let's drink this 16oz of elixir. Starts with the faintest sweetness from the english malts, but then it's blown away by the most epic wave of hops encountered. Very herbal and grassy, tons of stone fruit like peach and mango. Notes of citrus. Finishes ultra bitter with a mild carbonation kick to fight the hop oils which linger in the mouth for minutes afterward.

The body will get to you after a little bit and a the whole can will leave you feeling somewhat full, not as much as Heady, but this beer will defeat your taste buds. They will beg for mercy. They will never be the same after this, they'll need years of therapy of tasting pale lagers, hefeweizens, porters, and witbiers to recover.

Overall an amazing experience. I tried this next to Heady Topper and HT could not keep up. If you're in Northern VT and this is on the can list, don't even consider any other option.

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Photo of SDRedDevil
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had cans in Stowe and Waterbury during a road trip. Great combo of Citra and Mosaic hops. Smells incredibly dank with great citrus notes as well. Tons of citrus hops on the front end, semi-creamy, with a nice dry bitter end. I think I like the hop forwardness more than Heady but I'm just splitting hairs....

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Photo of Hyptochrons
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

dank so fkin dank. enjoyed from can at Sherpa Kitchen in Burlington, VT (for only $5). ridiculous nose - predominately citrus and pine, beautiful grapefruit and pineapple scents. the taste is even better than the smell, gushing with tropical fruits. crisp and clean, leaves you craving more after each sip. you cant even slightly taste the alcohol and this beer goes down a little too easy considering its 7%. gotta say in my opinion its better than heady because its in your face but slightly less so. hands down the best beer ive tasted.

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Photo of Jeffo
4.38/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

YoubrewIdrink brought some of this to the pre-Zeebra extravaganza at the vacation villa resort a few months ago. Good times in an exotic paradise! Cheers!

From a 16 oz can into a snifter
Citra and Mosaic hops

APPEARANCE: Pours a 2+ finger, medium looking, slightly foamy white head with good retention. Hazy opaque amber orange with lower levels of carbonation evident. Head fades to a foamy cap and leaves some foamy lacing on the glass. A splotchy wisp remains until the end leaving more foamy lace down the glass as it empties. Nice color, but really hazy and foamy.

SMELL: Lots of hops on the nose. Just piles. Lemon, citrus, mango, passion fruit, melon and pineapple on the nose. A bit of grapefruit as well. Lots of citrusy, fruity hop aromas. Really nice. Excellent.

TASTE: Melon, passion fruit and lemon notes up front. Lots of hops with a bitter swallow, then waves of hop flavor in the finish. Lingering grapefruit, lemon, passion fruit, some mango, citrus and lots of bitterness dance all over the place. Really nice stuff though perhaps a touch too bitter for perfection.

PALATE: Medium body and medium levels of carbonation. Semi-creamy on the palate, slightly foamy, goes down fine and finishes very dry. Lots of bitterness lingers.

OVERALL: This is awesome stuff. The aroma and flavor are spot on here, and make for a really wonderful hopped-up drinking experience. The look and feel are a bit too foamy for absolute top scores, that those are minor issues. We actually compared this to Heady Topper and both are world class, though the particular can of Heady Topper might have been slightly better executed. Regardless, this stuff is excellent and I'm very happy to have had the chance to give it a whirl. Thanks again Joe!

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Photo of lochraneg
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look: Hazy, beautiful, Golden color, Unfiltered look
Smell: Hop and Citrus Notes, smells like weed
Taste: More drinkable than Heady, could easily have 4 of these in a couple of hours
Feel: Good solid body, Hangs out with great after taste
Overall: Def my have Alchemist Beer, Wish they distributed this for case or 4 pack sale

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Photo of Sheppard
3.99/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Drank straight from the can. Look gets a generic score as a result. Taste is assertive hops, slight mango sweetness overmatched by vegetal bitterness. The finish is very vegetal. Focal is a good, assertively hopped IPA in the typical Alchemist vein and I probably prefer it to Heady, but it is likewise a little harsh and in your face.

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Photo of Givemebeer
4.87/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Hoppier than Heady Topper... And definitely better as well. Hopped with Citra and Mosaic and both of varieties best qualities showed. Tropical fades to juicy berries. Totally unbalanced with all flavor coming from the hops but a retstrained bitterness finishing dry. A treat to have.

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Photo of Davepoolesque
4.41/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Super dank, tropical and delicious. Turbid as a VT ipa should be. Real good...........................................................................

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Photo of ragnar3
4.99/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a can at the Culmination Festival. Tasted alongside Heady Topper and Focal Banger was preferred. Perhaps not as well balanced as Heady, but Focal Banger delivered a crisp bite of Citra/Mosaic that is difficult to beat. Top 5, world class IPA.

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Photo of anteatr23
4.76/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

Poured from a can into a tulip glass. Light yellow hazy pour. Smell is citrus and pineapple standing out. Taste is overwhelmingly delicious with bready malts and hoppy bitterness. So well balanced, but slightly favoring the hops. Extremely crisp and flavorful. Can feel that carbonation with a slight bite and peppery mouth-feel. This beer, much like Heady Topper, surpassed my expectations. If you stumble on the chance to try it, it's an absolute must.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
4.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Hazy pale color with foamy head. Aroma is somehow spicy with dill and oregano notes. Taste follows with the same herbal notes and some dankness. Bitterness shows up in the finish and follows in the aftertaste but does not overwhelm. Body is quite light and dry. Really easy drinking and refreshing IPA with an interesting hop profile.

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Photo of Kurmaraja
4.28/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

People giving this high ratings for appearance are smoking crack. The number of particles floating in this is like OJ pulp. The color isn't very vibrant but it's fine. Head doesn't stick around long and the lacing is pretty weak. There's no getting around this with a subjective "I like hazy beers". The smell is nuanced but subtle. Definitely citrus - mineola tangerine, lemon and orange pith - and a funky vegetation element - wet grass / crushed leaves, maybe even something like zuchini. Flavor delivers more of the same with the vegetation becoming a bit too pronounced, like silage. Body is creamy, almost chewy, soft and round, coating rather than crisp. Finish is a bit flat. I'm picking on this beer a bit simply because I think a lot of the reviews are blind accolades. It's good. It's very good. But it's distinctly ugly and the nose and feel have some serious flaws.

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Focal Banger from The Alchemist
100 out of 100 based on 157 ratings.