Focal Banger - The Alchemist

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Focal BangerFocal Banger

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world-class

110 Reviews
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Reviews: 110
Hads: 1,395
rAvg: 4.57
pDev: 8.1%
Wants: 1,173
Gots: 163 | FT: 2
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: 110 | Hads: 1,395
Photo of Ironstutz
4.98/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

so close to perfect! no booze flavor, just lovely hops and malt. beautiful, unfiltered look. followed by a lovely nose full of fruit and hops. and the taste that follows is such a impeccable balance of hops and malt. i highly recommend this one (244 characters)

Photo of yarnbomb
5/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Is it really that good? Yes. It certainly is. You want fruit? You got it. Want hops? They're there. Fancy bitter flavors, galore. It really is all that. (152 characters)

Photo of 31Sam13
5/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My new favorite, hands down. I think that this brewery has discovered what alchemy really is, 'cuz they turn aluminum into gold...wonderful. Tropical Cornucopia with a well-hidden earthiness that pops out at the finish. Heaven (226 characters)

Photo of MartzMimic
4.64/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours from the can a hazy gold with a bubbly white head. The nose is full of pineapple and mango, with floral notes and a touch of malt. The hops are more noticeable in the taste, but the tropical fruits are still there, along with hibiscus. There is an enticing dankness here. Medium light mouth, and the carbonation gives it a crispness. This is an excellent beer. (366 characters)

Photo of Stater
4.87/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Even after 2 months, this holds up to any IPA. Lots of pine and resin balanced with citrus in the background. Very glad there was one more behind this one. (156 characters)

Photo of ryan1788a5
4.51/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

16oz can poured into a globe.

A: Sunshine golden color with a heavy haze. Creamy fine-bubbled head retains at an inch in height throughout. Thin broken rings of lacing.

S: Pungent and heady. Pineapple, papaya, mashed mango, white grapefruit, sweet cannabis, Lemonhead candy, earthy, wet leaves. Rustic edge. Doughy.

T: Raw hops. Earthy, leafy, herbal, peppery. Sweet cannabis. Passion fruit. White grapefruit, mango, pineapple. Stiff bitterness. Doughy and slightly honeyed. Gritty and earthy hops lay down herbs and freshly cut grass on a long finish.

M: Medium-thick body. Round and velvety texture. Ridiculous smoothness. Acutely sharp carbonation. Gritty hop astringency is minor.

O: This is every bit as good as Heady Topper. Raw, rustic, and bursting with hop flavor. The Alchemist has really honed the art of crafting an excellent ipa. This is about as good as it gets. God I love Citra and Mosaic. (911 characters)

Photo of swedishmailman
4.61/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Drinking the first 1/3 or so from the can and then pouring the rest into a Dogfish IPA glass.

Appearance is a hazy golden, straw yellow with lots of sediment floating around. I can see through the beer the tiniest amount when I hold it up to the light. The head is slightly off white, with tight bubbles that cling and stick to the edges of the glass, but dissipates slightly from the initial pour. Lacing looks inviting. From the first glance, I wouldn't think this was an IPA.

Aroma is really pungent, lots of citrus; mostly orange. The aroma is just pouring out of the can. I get a bit of a malt backbone, but it's mostly just huge hops on the nose. Real dankness.

Taste has a nice hop bitterness up front, but nothing overwhelming. The middle of the mouth takes a huge turn into piney goodness that I wasn't getting on the nose. There's a lingering bitterness and pungent flavor on the finish. The flavor doesn't quite stick around in your mouth as long as Heady does, but it's still a fantastic beer.

Mouthfeel is medium, leaning towards the thinner side. Really creamy carbonation that is probably my favorite characteristic of this beer. Extremely drinkable. If it were just a little bit more full, I would give the mouthfeel a 5.

Overall this is definitely a super drinkable IPA that I would buy regularly if I were able to. Not quite up there with my favorite IPA's but definitely world class. Worth trading for and will continue to search for more. Cheers! (1,473 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.28/5  rDev -6.3%
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. (552 characters)

Photo of aleigator
4.56/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Can from Steve, many thanks to you!

Has a glowing, hazy apricot orange color, with a decent, stable head.

Aromas are defined by a dank fruitiness of both, pineapples and lemon. Also bread, as well as papaya shine through less intense, together with honeyed malt qualities.

Begins well balanced, with resinous lemon among a distinct biscuity maltiness. Then a crisp, almost sharp, bitter lime hoppiness emerges on the palate, supported by grassy herbs. This brew has a very pronounced maltiness which blends flawlessly into the the hops, beginning with honeyed, biscuity notes, turning into a bready, earthy direction. Helps to bring out the hops, which start grassy and a bit resinous, heading into a more and more fruity direction, with a slick lime and orange ending. Drinks outstandingly smooth, with a bitter, incredibly hoppy finish. (841 characters)

Photo of humuloner22
4.71/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This is a good IPA, very nice flavor profile. Its definitely a hoppy beer. Its not as fruity as I like my IPA's to be. But it is well made. It has the blend of malts and hops but leans on the side of earthy hoppiness rather the fruity juicy flavors.

Color: Golden hazy, nice head retention that sticks around.

Smell: Floral earthy hops. This one is very aromatic.

Taste: Its on the very floral earthy side of the IPA scale. It is definitely not too malty or too hoppy but well blended.

Overall: This is not Heady Topper but it certainly is a solid IPA. Its not the best I have had but it certainly is not the worst either. Top 20 I would say, anyway. (659 characters)

Photo of IPAGeorge
4.75/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a tulip from a can

A. Pours a 90% opaque lemon rind yellow color with a white 2 finger head.

S. Big citrus tropical fruit fills the nose. Slight biscuity malt.

T. This is delicious. Citrus fruit presence very balanced with malt and a perfect amount of bitterness. Aftertones of pine and leafy greens almost like b a by spinach. Very nice!

M. Medium bodied with a crisp carbonation that doesn't chase the swallow much. Lingers on the tongue for a couple seconds. Pleasant.

O. Definitely am digging this over Heady. This beer is well balanced. Perfect amount of bitterness, malt and fruity hop with a nice grassy/piney aftertaste. The mouthfeel and carbonation is great for the style. Aromas of tropical fruit fill the nose. And it's beautiful and curious to look at. You just want to know what this beer will be like when you look at it. Highly recommended and I am a very satisfied recipient. (918 characters)

Photo of Brenden
4.49/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The color is a very murky medium yellow, completely opaque except at the edges. The head is a fluffy, rocky and very dense one that's very close to pure white with the slightest yellow tint. IT finally rests at no less than 1/4 finger but it's a thick and heavy pillow that remains, dropping lace in a blend of spotting and netting as it does.
The bouquet is very nice, lots of citrus and earth, even a bit of must with, interesting, a crackery sort of note. There's even a touch of nut and herbal leaf riding underneath. It's very well hopped with no harshness resulting, more and more raw greenery developing as it sits. IT seems to develop a bit of acidity as time passes, dry and mildly sharp.
The taste brings out that herbal green right up front, and this beer's balance while relying on hops to carry the flavor meets expectations. A not-quite-piney note grows with the earthier undertones. The finish shows just a little rind and lingers with some dryness and a flash of wood.
The body is as firm a medium as it could be, lots of balance between crisp and smooth while running semi-dry from very beginning to lingering finish. (1,141 characters)

Photo of rynegne
5/5  rDev +9.4%

This is the perfect IPA. Well-balanced, hop-forward without being obnoxiously so, pours with incredible white head and a citrusy taste with the lightest pine bite that completely disappears almost as quick as it pops up. If I was to bring one beer on a desert island, this would be it. I didn't think much could tango with Heady, but this takes the cake for me. (361 characters)

Photo of Badliverglen
4.5/5  rDev -1.5%

It's fantastic. Second only to the crusher in my opinion. My wife keeps giving cans to people for gifts since it's holiday time. I had to hide it in the garage.

Pours great, so drinkable, the aroma is wonderful and I hope it's made more regular.

It makes me sad when the beer is done in my mind that's the best testament I can give anything. (343 characters)

Photo of mynie
4.31/5  rDev -5.7%

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. (569 characters)

Photo of JohnG190
4.88/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pours a pale orange with a thick white head. Aroma of grapefruit pith with a hint of pine. Lots of juicy hops on the palate with floral, pine and earthy notes. Light bodied with good carbonation. Overall, I'd call this Heady Light. (232 characters)

Photo of maximum12
4.05/5  rDev -11.4%

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. (1,523 characters)

Photo of HeadyTheElder
4.8/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

16 oz. can from the 10/4/14 Alchemist Truck sale. Poured into a snifter glass on 10/26/14.

A - Opaque, sunny amber. Slight head retention.

S - Lots of juicy fruit. Definitely some tropical notes like mango and pineapple. But also some citrus and berry fruit.

T - Follows the aroma. Lots of wonderful, juicy fruit up front. A little bit of dank resin. Packs a ton of flavor for a single IPA. The mild hoppy bitterness makes this one incredibly drinkable. Very little malt presence, similar to other Alchemist hoppy beers. Absolutely delicious.

M - Fairly light for the style. Carbonation is appropriate. Smooth and refreshing.

O - A truly wonderful American IPA. Brings out all the bright, juicy hop flavors from citra and mosaic together quite nicely. Nothing but hops here with still a refreshingly smooth finish. This may be my favorite of the The Alchemist's hoppy beers, though they are all great in their own way. I'm looking forward to The Alchemist being able to make this more regularly, once the new cannery is up and running. (1,058 characters)

Photo of FFreak
4.68/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 16 oz can into pint glass.

Appearance is a hazy, bright creamy yellow, with a finger of white dissipating head, and average lacing
Aroma is citrus, mostly grapefruit, and pine
Taste is dominated by the pine, but followed up with citrus (white grapefruit) and some tropical notes. Up front bitterness slowly fades, leaving mostly the hop aromas and some malt in the finish.
Mouthfeel is nice and dry with perfect carbonation, just right for the alcohol level.
Overall, a super tasty American IPA. Not really a surprise, being from the Alchemist. With the described abundance of Citra and Mosaic hops, I sort of expected more tropical fruit rather than pine, but a wonderful beer nonetheless. (710 characters)

Photo of Treyliff
4.74/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

16oz can, poured into a tulip glass

A- pours a bright golden-yellow color with a slight haze, creamy two-finger white head that retains nicely, eventually settling down to a film skimming the top

S- loads of tropical fruity hop aromas with notes of mango, pasionfruit, papaya, melon & apricot. Also picking up some earthy pine, fresh grass, and herbal spice. Malty undertones let the hops shine

T- tropical hop explosion hits the tongue with a plethora of peach, mango, pineapple, grapefruit, papaya & melon. Mid-palate gives flavors of fresh cut grass, leafy, & earthy. Big resinous notes close it out with a linger of pine, fresh mint & citrus juice

M- medium body with low carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel that finishes creamy, crisp and dry. Highly drinkable

O- quite simply, this is the best single IPA that I've tried. The amount of hops that are packed into a 7% ABV IPA is remarkable and it lingers on the palate long after consumption. The usage of citra & mosaic is definitely a big plus for me, an outstanding beer (1,043 characters)

Photo of Ready4aHeady
5/5  rDev +9.4%

Pours a light straw yellow with white soapy foam--
smell and taste collide with funky spice and herb flavors-- all funk, not much fruit...
hard to qualify what the flavors are...
Creamy (not quite Lawson's DS creamy), juicy, funky....delicious!!
Get yerslef some! (265 characters)

Photo of TWStandley
4.32/5  rDev -5.5%

Poured from the can into a pint glass.

Appears a bright, golden hazy color with a thick, 2 finger white head.

Nose is heavy on citrus, slight floral scents.

Grapefruit, Lemons and Oranges dominate the taste. Slight bitterness and almost a bit of saltiness to it.

Overall a solid IPA but in my opinion, not even close to as good as Heady. (342 characters)

Photo of rlee1390
4.3/5  rDev -5.9%

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. (296 characters)

Photo of hudsonheat
4.5/5  rDev -1.5%

I've heard by many that this beer surpasses Heady Topper. I'm a huge fan of anything brewed with Citra or Mosaic so I had to give it a try. While quite good, I find something very slightly off with the way the hops mingle in the after taste. Will definitely drink again, but IMO, I still prefer Heady. (304 characters)

Photo of Prospero
3.75/5  rDev -17.9%

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. (274 characters)

Focal Banger from The Alchemist
100 out of 100 based on 110 ratings.