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Focal Banger - The Alchemist

Not Rated.
Focal BangerFocal Banger

Educational use only; do not reuse.

147 Reviews

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Reviews: 147
Hads: 1,559
Avg: 4.6
pDev: 24.35%
Wants: 1,310
Gots: 204 | FT: 3
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 (10) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 147 | Hads: 1,559
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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Photo of byronic
4.82/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A beautiful aroma from the can. Very balanced, very crisp and absolutely delicious. A nice blend of hops and fruits with a silk finish, Disappears in no time.

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Photo of reds2harleys
4.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Another home run from the Alchemist. Finally got to try this on a recent VT brew run. Tried several spots that had run out but got lucky at the Blackback pub which had some left. Very tasty beer. Smooth with nice flavor. Close to Heady. Did a back to back with Heady and Second Fiddle and it was extremly close. Heady still wins by a nose due to - IMO - better flavor but this is still a top notch brew thats not to be missed if you can get your hands on some.

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Photo of NolaHopHead
4.47/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Light golden orange, cloudy with tiny white suspension. Smell is sweet and fruity. Taste is soft, grapefruit peel and pine, some earthiness with a bitter back end, but not harsh. Great balance on this one. Mouthfeel is near perfect, slick and soft. Overall outstanding IPA.

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

Enjoyed a 16oz pour on tap at the 11th Annual Hophead Throwdown this afternoon. I dare say this beer has Heady beat. It's crisper, fresher, and doesn't have that synthetic backend that Heady Topper has. Citra and Mosaic are two hops that fit well together. Beautiful notes of citrus and pine. This beer is dank, fruity, and drier than you'd expect. A fantastic brew that lives up to its hype.

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

Poured from a can (about a month old) into a tulip glass.
Look: Hazy yellow to peach color. Small head with a continuous stream of small bubbles percolating.
Aroma: Tons of grapefruit. Smells like fresh grapefruit juice. Also some lemon, peach and dank elements in the background.
Taste: Tropical fruit upfront (grapefruit, lemon, orange) followed by dankness (onion, basil, pine). Bitterness is all in the back of throat.
Feel: Great mouthfeel, has that biscuity NE IPA feel which leaves you lip smacking.
Overall great IPA, I prefer this over heady. Defiantly seek this out.

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Photo of Jslay013
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Glad to finally be able to try this. Had side to side with Heady and while both are great, I prefer this just a tad more. The hop profile seems a bit more complex and I get a bit more citrus. Both are awesome, but given a choice, I would take Focal. Hoping this becomes more available as the new brewery gets up and running.

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Photo of SteveB24
4.46/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Wow, expectations for this beer were very high and it did not disappoint, ignoring the brewer's advice i poured it into a glass, resulting in about a finger and a half of frothy head that remained in big chunks for the duration, color is a cloudy orange, with a greenish yellow tinge. Tons of citrus and tropical notes on the nose, grapefruit, oranges, mango and pineapple are all there. The taste is just like the smell, lots of tropical fruit, with a kick of bitter grape fruit peel cutting through like a knife at the very end, and enough malt to balance out the battle of hops going on. Seriously delicious beer.

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Photo of Kraj30
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Wow- I waited a while to get a fresh can. It is a great IPA. It is up there for single IPAs in the world.. tremendous mouthfeel. Hop aroma is great.. flavor is top notch!

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Photo of smakawhat
4.8/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Can taken from Sunset Grille in Stowe VT and poured about 60% of contents into a shaker.

Turbid lemon yellow slightly, with a pineapple like color. Bit of a glow too it, good body and not wet looking. Creamy top forming two controlled fingers with ease. A bit of styrofoam like appearance but also hangs well.

Aroma is just incredible and big. Thick notes of peach, pineapple, orange, mango.. and a big fruit smorgasborg going on. Airy mint and strangely dried smelling herbs of lavender and lemongrass on top of it. Just a hop aroma dream.

Palate is just not what I was expecting at all. Incredibly supper juiced tropical flavored bomb that takes a big turn. Huge notes of melon and peaches, the big hop quality comes through... all of it from tropical to citrus hinted at the nose, iit's the malt character that blows my mind. Biscuit cookie notes, even a little bit of toast and dryness. Chewy almost wheat like.. it's almost as I am tasting every different kind of grain in a mash bill or something. Palate feel manages to give a boost but it's the last thing you notice and does provide a bit of boost.

Overall just an incredibly controlled brew, with so much things you can dissect without being sledgehammered either. Doesn't even taste like a high ABV IPA either. Just a big winner.

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

Release 7-27-15. Poured from can.

A: Golden color, floating hops present, nice layer of head.

S: Citrus, Piney, fruity, grainy, huge aroma

T: Fruity, crisp, balanced, full-bodied mouthfeel, nice bitterness, not overwhelming, so perfectly intertwined flavors

M: Full bodied, but not as heavy as Sip of Sunshine, medium overall.

O: One of the best, if not best IPA (almost DIPA) ever had. It’s extremely balanced and hop-forward but maintains that fresh VT water and intense flavors. Truly a great beer from The Alchemist.

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Focal Banger from The Alchemist
100 out of 100 based on 147 ratings.