Dismiss Notice

Site Performance Updates: We're aware of the nightly site outage, and working on resolving the issue.

Follow our progress ...

Focal Banger | The Alchemist

185 Reviews
For Trade:
Focal BangerFocal Banger

Brewed by:
The Alchemist
Vermont, United States | website

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
An American IPA, hopped judiciously with Citra and Mosaic.

Added by hillvt4me on 01-30-2014

View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 185 | Ratings: 1,915
Photo of TomAllen
4.49/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This is one where the sum is greater than the parts. Had it straight out of the can in a restaurant in Burlington, Vermont. To me, the grapefruit and pine smell and flavor really ran over everything else.

 206 characters

Photo of fireazzi
4.25/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had this while I was in a restaurant in Vermont. Tasted really good, but I still like Heady Topper a bit more. Had a great smell and taste. Glad I got to try this one.

 170 characters

Photo of JMUbrewz
4.65/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I'm not sure if this is a better beer than Heady, but it's definitely more up my alley in terms of what I'm looking for in an IPA. Lighter on the malt, heavier on the tropical fruits, and a beautiful dry finish. This is a top tier IPA, and manages to maintain high bitterness levels, while incorporating some of the softer flavors associated with these NE IPA's. Man, I can't wait until this is available by the case.

 417 characters

Photo of RABouffard
5/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Just wow. The absolute only thing that could be classified as a complaint is the tiny amount of floaties on the bottom of the can (which I personally see no problem with). It's the same tingly hoppy floral and citrus perfection as heady exception in a slightly lighter and less dry IPA form. Perfect malt backbone to catapult the hop character. A little bit less complex than Heady, but don't let that take anything away from this gem.

 435 characters

Photo of Rammed96
4.77/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The smell is amazing. Smells like a wedding in the meadow. The color is a hazy gold. It is the after taste of floral notes that makes this beer top notch. Not as much bite as Heady.

It smells better from a glass.
But tastes better out of the can.

 248 characters

Photo of IvoryFoxhole
4.51/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

FINALLY got one at the Prohibition Pig on April 9. Poured a little into glass to see what it looks like; otherwise drank from can.

L: Not unlike HT, a hazy pale golden. Minimal head and lacing.

S: Grapefruit, other citrus, mango (there's your Citra hops), light malt.

T: Generally follows nose. More light grapefruit than anything else. Resiny and piney on end.

F: Light to medium bodied, light to medium carbonation. Good drying with no bitterness and the famous Alchemist balance.

O: Definitely Heady Topper's little brother, more sessionable and a little less intense. Can't wait until they retail.

 606 characters

Photo of ajcuster89
4.64/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Had this one straight from the can at Prohibition Pig in VT. This is a slightly better version of Heady Topper, the hops are juicier and the nose is stronger. Pro Pig almost always has it, so if you are in VT and want to tick this one, head to Pro Pig!

 252 characters

Photo of pkalix
4.81/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

wow! been waiting to try this one.... drinking from the can like it commands, it tastes like Squirt. very delicious, very refreshing and very easy to drink! how does one rate it if one cant pour it into a glass, though? so i did. it actually may even taste a little different(?). slightly hazy, thin head. but yes, it DOES taste better from the can.

 349 characters

Photo of TedStrosser
4.99/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Hard to rate how it looks as I drank right from the can as directed.
I think I like it better than Heady, can't wait for new brewery to open and hope for larger distribution.

 174 characters

Photo of curtis6290
4.95/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Lighter than the Heady Topper, but you get the same flavor profile. This one is smooth and piney, and I was able to drink these all night without getting really messed up like from the HT. Highly recommended.

 208 characters

Photo of bugzy3188
4.89/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

L: If you like your beers clear, you may want to keep this one in the can. Opaque with minimal head, and lots of floating hop goodness. Minimal alcohol legs but this is to be expected with a %7 brew.

S: Right off the bat I get punched with orange and lemon peel, there is some pineapple that pokes it's head through supporting the citrus tones perfectly. There is a touch of dankness behind all of this but the citrus tones take front stage.

T: This one really is an assault on the pallet, the taste doesn't carry as much of the citrus peel flavors but rather gives way to some of the underlying pineapple and mango that rests beneath. Directly after the fruit juice bombardment I was hit with a metric S-ton of bitterness that did not overstay it's welcome falling off clean giving way for the pineapple/mango to resinate.

F: This brew has an amazing mouthfeel, it is smooth as can be and has an almost creamy quality to it. This was one of my favorite aspects of Heady and this is right up there with its older brother.

O: This is an absolutely amazing beer, it can be hard to get but is definitely worth seeking out if you are a hop head such as myself. It is hard for me to do justice with words just how good this beer really is, I honestly can't think of a single flaw.

 1,280 characters

Photo of mothman
4.6/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

White head. Lace. Hazed golden yellow.

The mosaic hops show well. Very juicy. Nice nose. Tropical and fruity. Melon and mango. Orange.

Medium bodied. Nice bitterness and stickiness. A bit dank and resiny.

Very solid. Worth the hype.

 235 characters

Photo of lanciloti
5/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The dankest of the dank, hits the pallet soft and juicy, then it thrashes it with hops. Can almost feel your enamel being stripped. Truly a hop lovers dream.

 157 characters

Photo of Dopen993
4.57/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can into tulip. No can date.

L. Dark yellow, light orange with full on haze. Very light fluffy, white head 2 fingers. Moderate lacing.
S. Lots of citrus and pine, definitely getting a good amount mosiac.
T. Lots of citrus right of the bat. Mixes in with tropical fruit mid palate (getting a good amount of orange) and then on the finish there is a lot of great grapefruit, bitte, pine.
F. Lighter creamy mouthfeel with nice carbonation.

 447 characters

Photo of Beerasaurus
4.99/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had Focal out of a can at the Mule Bar in Winooski. Did not pour any into a glass, so I'm assuming the look is as awesome as the rest of it. The aroma is an explosion of citrus smells, as good as any IPA out there. The taste that follows is well balanced between hops and citrus, with a great, smooth feel. Really enjoyed this beer. It exceeded my expectations, and I'd take this over Heady. I hope they distribute beyond bars. It's a keeper.

 449 characters

Photo of rorykanderson
4.63/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Thanks, Kara! Enjoyed 50/50 from the can first and then poured into a glass. In hindsight, I preferred it from the can; as you would expect, there were floaties galore in the glass - doesn't bother me one bit. Not overly turbid or murky. A nice cloudy orange gold. It's such a balanced IPA, it's beautiful. Part crisp citrus, bushy pine, tropical fruit and exquisite bitters, this IPA sings a balanced tune from start to finish. Not too juicy, resiny, bitter or hot. It's the beer that Goldilocks would drink after breaking into the bear's house. Fucking hard to find, for sure, but it really is a treat when you do track it down.

 630 characters

Photo of LordSMAF
4.95/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Simply put one of the best IPAs I have had. Consumed from a fresh 16oz can.

Tons of dank goodness with the right balance of bitter and citrus. Smooth.

 151 characters

Photo of Troybrewing
5/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Awesome smell of juiciness ,citra & mosaic hops. Med. mouth feel and nice bitterness . Had this beer when I was in Vermont. I think you only get it in pubs,but that may changed since Oct when I was there. VERY SCARY EASY DRINKING goes down fast.

 245 characters

Photo of jbertsch
4.21/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Definitely enjoyable, but I thought it tasted a bit like Heady's just-a-little-younger brother rather than something that offered its own personality. Lemon and lime were the primary aromas and flavors extracted from the hop profile. Tastes like the conan yeast strain is in there as well.

 289 characters

Photo of ScaryEd
4.88/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Consumed from a can purchased at the Three Penny Taproom in Montpelier, VT.

I give the appearance a neutral 3 because I drank the beer from the can.

The aroma brings an absolutely absurd amount of citrus. Smelling this beer is like taking a walk through Odin's orange grove wearing a Smell-O-Scope. There's so much juicy grapefruit, and orange rind, but just enough bitter, grassy hop resin to balance everything out. Absolutely incredible.

The taste follows the nose with an atomic explosion of grapefruit and tropical fruits, followed by some bitter, earthy hop resin. Bitterness lingers for a while after each sip.

The mouth is medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Extremely creamy, smooth and lightly bitter.

Overall, I simply need more of this beer. It is incredible. It is every bit as good as Heady and the flavors and aromas really stand out on their own. Can't wait for this to start getting retail distribution.

 934 characters

Photo of Hopislovehopislife
5/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Probably my favorite single IPA I've had to day. In my opinion it's better than heady topper.very resinous, lots of tropical fruit and citrus. Its a very dry IPA as well. Very crisp another winner from the alchemist.

 216 characters

Photo of bol3by
3.47/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"Session Heady Topper"

Great beer for those who cannot handle the explosive taste from HT.. It's not a true "session" because Focal Banger still packs a lot of flavor. Were it a standalone, it would probably be rated higher but it's hard not to compare to the older brother.

Worth trying if in the area, but outside of that nothing that amazing that stands out

 362 characters

Photo of CayseyW
4.76/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

L: Hazy gold body with a bubbly white head; decent lacing. Looks great out of the can, but drinks better in the can.
S: big citrus aromas with perfume florals. The hop notes are intense out of the can, so much that it muddies the aromas and it ends up smelling like a lot of citra and mosaic ipas. Inside the can, however, its more subdued and much more elegant.
T: Citrus, herbals and subtle tropical notes dominate the palate.
F: Soft, sticky, prickly and perfect bitterness.
O: maybe not quite the masterpiece HT is, but I prefer this one. I wouldn't say I was becoming bored with HT, because I still haven't had that much of it, but this beer reminded me why it blew me away in the first place--The Alchemist's totally unique style. FB takes a hope blend I LOVE and put a totally new spin on it. Bravo!

 809 characters

Photo of SmittyinNY
4.25/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

After drinking HT, figured this we be ...meh. Wrong! Another great tasting Alchemist brew.

Nice aroma from the can.
Not sure exactly how to explain it, but it definitely had that familiar mouth feel...like HT, but a touch thinner.
Another delicious IPA I could drink all day.

 277 characters

Photo of Coulombemj90
5/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I can't really say anything about look since it came directly from the can. When I first heard of the Alchemist I couldn't wait to try Heady Topper. The day I had my first Heady, my wife said I looked happier drinking that beer than I did on my wedding day. I can't say I agree but I was pretty pumped. During my most recent trip to Burlington I got to try Focal Banger for the first time. I was taken away by how good the beer was. I'd even go as far to say that it is better than Heady Topper. I just hope that when The Alchemist opens up their brewery that they put more of a focus on getting this beer distributed to places other than restaurants.

 651 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Focal Banger from The Alchemist
100 out of 100 based on 185 ratings.