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Focal Banger - The Alchemist

Not Rated.
Focal BangerFocal Banger

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

133 Reviews
THE BROS
99
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 133
Hads: 1,487
rAvg: 4.6
pDev: 2.39%
Wants: 1,258
Gots: 189 | 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 (11) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 133 | Hads: 1,487
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. (334 characters)

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. (878 characters)

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. (158 characters)

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. (467 characters)

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. (273 characters)

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. (392 characters)

Photo of MyThoughtsExactly
4.77/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | 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. (577 characters)

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. (328 characters)

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. (616 characters)

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! (171 characters)

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. (1,306 characters)

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. (533 characters)

Photo of mrz200
4.45/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

got a single surprise can from a friend in Burlington.

had the first 4-5 sips from the can, poured the remaining 10oz's in a Pro Pig tulip

excellent fruity hoppy nose. very strong malty back end that led to my pouring it into a glass, thinking this might free up some hops. At 7% it's not a heck of a lot "weaker" than heady, but it's a different beer, far more similar to Sip of Sunshine. It's an excellent IPA, in the top of the class. (443 characters)

Photo of popery
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to frenchyraoul. It says to drink from the can, but I took my chances and poured some into a glass. The new can design is quite nice, though. The beer is yellow, fairly pale, with just a bit of orange to it. Pretty hazy. Big white head. Lots of lacing and very good retention. Big juicy hop aroma. Lots of tropical and citrus fruitiness with a solid resiny backbone running through it. It’s big on pineapple, tangerine, grapefruit, pine, mango. Good stuff. The taste has moderate to medium bitterness. Lots of hop flavor. Mild pale malt character. A nice mineral note. Finishes pretty dry. Easy drink. Soft, full mouthfeel. Packs a lot of flavor. It’s a very satisfying IPA. Excellent work from Vermont. (714 characters)

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

Just as good, perhaps better than its better known brother, Heady Topper. Highly recommended. Apparently only for sale on-Premises at local restaurants. (154 characters)

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

Poured it into a glass, and I'm glad I did. It had the same murky quality of Heady, but the head was beautiful, soft as a pillow, and generous in the lacing it left. The feel was thinner and the taste was pinier than Heady, but it still hit that wow mark that Heady does. Not quite as mindblowing as its older brother, but way closer than I expected it to be. (359 characters)

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

I was back in Vermont this month and did the usual "drink everything you can get your hands on" tour, and this was my favorite of the bunch- I love having one, maybe two heady toppers, but my palate is pretty much wrecked after that. I could have 6 of these and keep going. They are still very hoppy and run you through a gamut of flavors, but are much more drinkable than their older brother. The can is awesome, too (for those who care). (442 characters)

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

had out of a can for look going on person next to me who poured in a glass
A nice pale hazy orange, a 3/8" head and nice lacing

a very fruity and citrus smell jumps out of the can.

wow what a tasty. a smooth crisp sweet hoppy tasty .

Has a light feel good medium to light carbonation.

It is not a "heady Lite" as people say. it is a banging beer in it's own right. it drinks and tastes smooth as silk with a bang. has banging dank hops with each taste. it is something that i could drink every day. in my opinion it is better than Heady. Wow a pleasure to finally try it. (576 characters)

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

This beer is off the charts. Piney, sweet & balanced. Almost TOO drinkable. I can't wait until the new brewhouse is online so this becomes more widely available! (164 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.41/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

kind of cool how this one is showing up all over the place in vermont now, locals are calling it heady light, but i totally disagree. while it is super drinkable (so is heady in my opinion), its got a totally different hop complexion going on, with the two varietals coming in waves. usually mixes of hops sort of all splash in at once, sometimes harmoniously, sometimes in cacophonous chaos, but this beer has two distinct stages, where the citra comes in first, middle of the beer, with preserved lemon and tart fruitiness, while the mosaic comes on much later, with an only southern hemisphere pineapple tropicality. really fun transition, and the sometimes one dimensional citra is elevated be coming first. the grain base of the beer seems to me relatively nondescript, engineered as a hop platform, not as a major contributor, but there are some light fresh cereals in this and enough texture to hold the hop resins. not as dry as anticipated, but its a fruity tasting sweetness thats left in the end, hoppy for sure, but not wicked bitter. scary drinkable. i was worried these guys were never going to make anything but heady, so its nice to see this one out there, and its reassuring that its basically just as good as heady. well worth seeking out or trading for, you wont be disappointed. (1,298 characters)

Photo of costanzo_mike
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy golden color, excellent lacing on the glass. Mosaic comes through beautifully on the nose and shines through on the taste. Smooth mouthfeel with a dank bitter feel. An excellent alternative to its brethren (218 characters)

Photo of MerriweatherRaven
4.93/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

It's better than Heady Topper.
It's like Topper light - a bit easier to drink, and every single bit as tasty and delicious. It also has that HUGE Hop aroma. (157 characters)

Photo of winningwes91
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow. Seriously blown away. Easily the best ipa I've ever had. So juicy and hoppy, and dangerously drinkable. Pours a beautiful hazy orange color. Smells like sticking my nose in a bag of hops and passion fruit. Taste follows suit with a wonderful creamy mouthfeel. Seriously my new favorite ipa, and yes, better than heady! (323 characters)

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

Another gem from Alchemist !! May I need to say more ??? F. Lighter than the heady S) similar to Heady grapefruit pronounced T) absolutely amazing Hop character and superb front-end bitterness with perfect citrus and mosaic hop balance ! My New Favorite :) wish I could get these in cases !! (291 characters)

Photo of EveningCordial
4.85/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Fresh out of a can on delivery day in Burlington.

A- can't say much here other than the can looks cool. I didn't pour this one out, but had it other times and can say it looks basically like Heady.

S- lots of fruit jumping out of the can. Pineapple, pear, mango, and others. Maybe a small hint of biscuit or grainy bread. Basically the citrus fruits take control of the nose.

T- wow, tastes similar to heady but has it's own little tartness thing going on. Tastes very fruity and crisp

M- great mouthfeel. Nice crispness but also has a beautiful medium bodied texture. A little more of a bite on the finish in comparison to Heady, which I drank side by side with this one.

O- outstanding beer. Was stoked to see this on the menu where we stopped and it certainly did not disappoint. (800 characters)

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Focal Banger from The Alchemist
100 out of 100 based on 133 ratings.