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Focal Banger - The Alchemist

Not Rated.
Focal BangerFocal Banger

Educational use only; do not reuse.

147 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 147
Hads: 1,558
Avg: 4.6
pDev: 24.35%
Wants: 1,307
Gots: 203 | 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: 1,558
Photo of UtisTheLaw
2.42/5  rDev -47.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

We must have gotten an off can. The beer did not smell or taste right. I'd have to try it again to five it a fair shake, but this scoring reflects the can I tried.

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Photo of Prospero
3.75/5  rDev -18.5%

Nice white head, great golden straw color, aroma & flavor of citrus. Great overall beer with nice mouthfeel and think it's quite sessionable but the hop flavor and aroma seem a tad muted versus other IPAs that are similar. Much prefer Alpine IPAs, but good IPA regardless.

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Photo of BTVflatlander
3.92/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great deal of hype surrounding this one, much due to the notoriety of Heady Topper. If they can make such an outstanding DIPA, why not an AIPA? Well, I must say, as much as I wanted to love Focal Banger, it severely underwhelmed me unlike their previous draft release, Ourborous.

If you're from Vermont, you're probably familiar with Fiddlehead IPA. It's a very decent American IPA that I'd never turn down yet also never seek out. Focal Banger, to me, has all the trappings of Fiddlehead IPA with much, much, much higher expectations. As such, as my good friend put it, "it's everything that Heady Topper is not," and that's not necessarily a good thing.

Try it for yourself, but don't expect too much.

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Photo of Sammy
3.95/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Big hop aroma, the Citra has been tamed. Lasting head on yellow body, leaving a lace trail. Citra dominated taste, rounded out by subordinate tropical fruit. Fresh tasting, a good complement in the product line to the Heady Topper. Can from Tom, thank you.

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Photo of gueuzedreg
3.95/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A- Golden honey, lots of head with medium retention.

S- Smells of fresh big piney hop character with malt backbone.

T- Little too hop forward for my pale liking. It is pretty hop focused, which many people love.

M- Somewhat creamy, medium carb

O- A well done pale by Alchemist, I am just not the hop forward pale guy

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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 breadwinner
4.01/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A case study in hopping the ever loving shit out of a beer with Citra. Sure, it smells nice. But, its body has an off-putting thinness, and though I understand the desire to go bare bones and basic with the malt backdrop, it creates a certain astringency that I do not enjoy.

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Photo of EyePeeAyBryan
4.01/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

So much hype surrounding this brew and my body was ready. Had half in a glass and half in the can. Murky, more of a bright yellow/golden color. Really has that NE vermont taste that's sweet but dank and juicy. Wanted so much to fall in love but it just didn't happen...more of a one night stand.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.05/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can from MrBarleywine, thanks for the hookup Mike!
Cloudy hazy lemon orange color with a huge frothy bubbly bone white head that persists forever. Citrusy tropical fruit lemony pine and resin dominate the aroma with just a bit of sweet bread deep underneath. The flavor holds a touch of lemon with lots more citrus and tropical flavors like the aroma suggested. Bread and light caramel maltiness bring in a hint of balance. Moderate level of hop bitterness with a lingering bite at the end of every sip. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation and a resinous sweet watery mouthfeel. Quite easy to drink and very flavorful, its a great beer. I prefer the depth of flavors from Heady, but I could drink this one regularly with ease.

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Photo of maximum12
4.05/5  rDev -12%

Thanks again to Joe_Grizzly for drowning me in Alchemist, really looking forward to this one. I got your Silver Bullet right here, mother….16 oz. can dumped into my purty Kuhnhenn glass.

The thing I love about Alchemist IPAs is that when you pop the top, the smell hits your nose at the speed of light. No need to suck in copious amounts of air, wet your nose, or otherwise search for the aroma. It is PRESENT. Filet knife sharp citrus, honeysuckle, bunch of airy tropical notes. The brew is a light, dull orange, with a head that appears focused on sticking around until the weekend arrives.

Focal Banger is an underhanded, dishonest brew. My first sip I thought “What kind of sweet, malt-driven-ass IPA is this…” & then my thoughts scattered. A malty base of sweetness, clover, & honey gives way quickly to the mid-palate of hops that stick close to the nose. A moderate bitterness rides along with the tropical punch, roaring citrus, bit of spiciness, fragments of lemon & perhaps banana. The end is interesting, as the bitterness builds with every sip, until the top of my mouth is wallowing in spite. Grassy. Light. I would have to say this is one of the easiest-drinking beers I have ever had, I’m drinking this about twice as fast as I would a ‘normal’ brew.

I like to compare stuff, so I’m going to say this isn’t quite in the same league as All-Stars Heady & Crusher. Which is to say this is merely excellent, rather than amazingly superior. I’ll take that kind of third-string any day.

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Photo of Jwale73
4.06/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a pale orange hue with a hazy clarity and a half-inch, tight, bright white head. Nose is floral, herbal and earthy with a trace of light toasted malts. Taste follows nose. Mouthfeel is light-medium in body (but closer to light) with a lively carbonation. Overall, quite quaffable. Another great Alchemist offering.

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Photo of Luk13
4.1/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can, thanks to blckout20! Appearance: Nice pale golden pour with thin white head. Aroma is very fruity (mango, banana, oranges), some light dank hops and some biscuit malts / graham crackers. Taste is fruity, moderate to high bitterness and a tad too sweet. Carbonation is rather low. I'm being picky here as I'm comparing it to HT. Not nearly as powerful and resinous as Heady, but a very good highly drinkable IPA.

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Photo of dboon
4.15/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can shared by Collin. Clear yellow pour with a white head. Fruity hop aromas. Grapefruit hop notes dominate. Good balance, body, and mouthfeel. Very nice..

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Photo of cpetrone84
4.15/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Pour is reasonably hazed peachy gold with a tight white head. Nose is loads of citrus hops with grapefruit and peach. Taste follows the nose, loads citrus, peach and grapefruit. Very dry and clean, well carbonated and lighter body. A lot like a slightly lower alcohol heady with a bit more fruity punch but less bright hop flavor.

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Photo of maverickManas
4.15/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.75

Although beer industry professionals (owners or employees) are welcome to join and participate on BeerAdvocate.com, we do not allow them to review their own beers and/or establishments. Reviewing the so-called competition is also highly frowned upon. All reviews and/or accounts that fail to follow this will be subject to deletion.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.17/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This poured with a brilliant pineapple yellow color with a thick head of densely knit, bright white foam.

The nose has a malty background but the Mosaic hops are very evident. The aroma has some honey, oranges and pineapple before turning earthy and grassy.

The flavor is sweet and sugary, like a citrus fructose, with the evident Mosaic hop character punching through. The hop finish is grassy, earthy, not overly bitter, with a spicy character.

The feel is so light, airy and smooth but it still has a good amount of heft.

Very well crafted IPA with some different aromas and tastes then the standard fare.

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Photo of FosterJM
4.17/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

1785th Review on BA
Can to Stemless Alchemist Glass
16 oz tall boy

Thanks to Jake and Mike

App- When I crack the can on this one, I do get a good solid IPA pour. The color reminds me of a orange and pineapple color combo with some decent orange and light yellows and a bit of gold. A smaller head was there and the disappears. The cling is nice down the glass and its a mix of bubbles and sediment coming towards me.

Smell- This was a good mix of tropical bursts from the hop combinations and then trails off into a bit of forest like pine and resin with a little bit of a skunk aroma to me. The prevailing citrus note is that of pineapple.

Taste- I will say I am quite enjoying this beer and I am aware its not meant to be a Heady. This was good and rated as such. The fruit and citrus forward taste from the hop combo is delicious. Prevailing fruits of orange, tangerine, pineapple dominate the front and the pine take center stage in the back.

Mouth- A creamy and airy medium body with a good medium carbonation behind. Silky like a stout, but bubbly like a DIPA. I enjoyed the balance quite a bit.

Drink- This was a treat. I never expected to land a can, because I dont trade that much, but that you fellas. This was a great tick. I love the dont be a Dbag sticker because they ran out of stickers. A good beer, could be great if not to be outdown by another beer from the same brewery.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.23/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16 oz. can poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Hazy bright orange. Decent white head. Medium collar.

Smell - Grapefruit hops. Some orange. Musty. Pale malt.

Taste - Great hop flavor. Some sweet orange hops. Grainy cracker malt and a hint of pale malt sweetness. Finishes with a medium bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Medium body. Bitter, but nothing overwhelming.

Overall - Excellent. The Mosaic differentiates it from just being Heady Jr.

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Photo of Maurizio
4.27/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Nice head, with good retention. White, thick lacing. Cloudy golden with light orange appearance. Nose is full fruity hop aroma. Taste is very fruity with more hop bitterness than Heady, which I think is a good think. Smooth mouthfeel, with long-lasting finish of puckering hop bitterness. I think I actually prefer Focal Banger to the much-lauded HT because of what I perceive as more bittering hops.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.28/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Can: Poured a clear light yellow color ale with a nice white foamy head with excellent retention and some great lacing. Aroma of huge floral notes of grass notes with some light resinous notes also perceptible. Taste is also dominated by an all-out hops assault with tons of grassy notes with light limey notes and some resinous hoppy notes. Residual sugar can be detected but doesn’t stray the taste from the hoppy notes. Body is about average with great carbonation. Very enjoyable but almost close to being unbalanced with those sharp hoppy notes.

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

On tap at Blackback, Waterbury, VT.

Hazy yellow-orange pour into a Hill Farmstead wine glass (as is the way of things at Blackback), topped with a small, creamy, white head that retained well and left some strands of lacing on the glass. Aroma of citrusy hops, tropical fruit, some pine, fresh cut grass. An assertive hop bitterness right up front in the taste, all the qualities detected in the nose, grapefruit, mango, grass, some light floral notes, with a soft, bready, pale malt profile. It's about as hoppy/bitter as Heady Topper, but a bit lighter and softer, and at only 1%ABV less, it's pretty comparable overall. Light-medium body, crisp and dry, and easily drinkable. When this goes into bigger production, trying the two beers side by side will obviously be something I look forward to doing.

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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 JulioH
4.29/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Really nice hoppy IPA. Had it side to side with Heady Topper, and this one is the little sis.

Pours a nice yellow beer. Good amount of foam is formed. Aroma is very hoppy, the usual for an IPA. Taste is bitter, hoppy, but mild and not aggressive like other beers from this brewery. A nice beer for anyone who enjoys a good bitter IPA. Body is light.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.3/5  rDev -6.5%

A-Cloudy deep orange, two finger head with nice lacing.

S-Citrus, tropical notes, grass and hops.

T-Citrus, tropical, grass with nice hops, a mild bitterness as well.

M-Medium bodied, nice carbonation with hop resins.

O-A solid IPA from the Alchemist, they know what they are doing with hops.

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Photo of mynie
4.31/5  rDev -6.3%

Apparently BA's "Phone friendly" interface refuses to post reviews written on iOS? Whatev...

Nutshell: this is like if Heady were a Citra bomb.

It's super intense and delicious: "decadent" is probably the best word. And while that's great, the lack of depth of hop profile holds it back from excellence. Heady can get away with its largeness because the hops come at you with wave after wave of cascading variegation. The relative simplicity of Focal makes its heft more salient, and finishing a can is a bit like trying to eat half a cheesecake in one sitting.

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