Dismiss Notice
Get 12 monthly issues of BeerAdvocate magazine and save $5 when you select "auto-renew."

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join our email list →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.

Focal Banger - The Alchemist

Not Rated.
Focal BangerFocal Banger

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

168 Reviews
THE BROS
99
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 168
Hads: 1,746
Avg: 4.61
pDev: 24.08%
Wants: 1,546
Gots: 290 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
The Alchemist
Vermont, United States | website

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
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 168 | Hads: 1,746
Photo of LordSMAF
4.95/5  rDev +7.4%
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 +8.5%
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 -8.7%
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 +5.9%
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 +8.5%
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 -24.7%
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
4.7/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | 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 -7.8%
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 +8.5%
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

Photo of Gajo74
4.53/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look- Not sure how to rate the look as I got it out of a can. I'm sure it's a pretty brew. Cool artwork.
Smell- Delicious and intoxicating tropical fruit and dank resiny hops. This one is so juicy!
Taste- Very interesting and complex. I get a lot of bitter passionfruit, alcohol infused papaya and grapefruit rind. Big buttering hops and citric/grapefruit hops in the finish leaves you almost bone dry.
Feel- medium bodied but a bit lighter than some other more malt forward IPAs. Good balance.
A great brew. It provides an interesting counterpoint to Heady Topper. While HT has an intense smoky and tobacco leaf type hops feel and generally bigger malt body, this one has a thinner bodied and slightly softer hops complexion. I love both!

 739 characters

Photo of Back_in_the_Saddle
4.63/5  rDev +0.4%
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.

 1,083 characters

Photo of PintOh1759
3.56/5  rDev -22.8%
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.

 280 characters

Photo of MonkeyKnfeFight
4.75/5  rDev +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.

 285 characters

Photo of tmbgnicu
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
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.

 303 characters

Photo of macher0
4.69/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

 462 characters

Photo of hardysf
4.62/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

 211 characters

Photo of allhoppedup2
5/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

 451 characters

Photo of captainsdaughter
4.94/5  rDev +7.2%
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.

 956 characters

Photo of hasher
4.88/5  rDev +5.9%
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.

 320 characters

Photo of Damian
4.94/5  rDev +7.2%
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.

 1,297 characters

Photo of Hopglow
5/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

 180 characters

Photo of ChrisP802
4.79/5  rDev +3.9%
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

 366 characters

Photo of NiceTaps
4.78/5  rDev +3.7%
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.

 812 characters

Photo of BranfordBound
4.86/5  rDev +5.4%
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.

 1,342 characters

Photo of SDRedDevil
5/5  rDev +8.5%
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....

 308 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Focal Banger from The Alchemist
100 out of 100 based on 168 ratings.