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Focal Banger | The Alchemist

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
100
world-class
185 Reviews
BEER STATS
Reviews:
185
Ratings:
1,917
Avg:
4.63
pDev:
7.34%
 
 
Wants:
1,770
Gots:
353
For Trade:
2
Focal BangerFocal Banger
BEER INFO

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

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Reviews: 185 | Ratings: 1,917
Photo of Rifugium
4.28/5  rDev -7.6%
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 -7.6%
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 -7.3%
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 -7.1%

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 -6.9%

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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Photo of TWStandley
4.32/5  rDev -6.7%

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.

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Photo of NAPO
4.34/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to RichOBrien for having the chance to drink this beer.

-Pours a really nice golden color with about a finger head. Nice looking beer.

-Smells nice. Citrus and piney scent. There is definitively a strong lime scent.

-Piney bitterness with Grapefruit and Lime taking the backseat

-Spectacular creamy bitterness with the citrus lingering in my mouth.

-Overall it's a pretty good hoppy beer from the Alchemist. I did had high hopes for this brew, but it was still a treat.

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Photo of papat444
4.35/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a totally hazy, gold/lemonade color. Long lasting head. Hoppy aromas jump out of the glass, juicy, sticky and fresh sliced fruit. Flavor has a crisp malt backbone but generous hops are piled on. The result is a damn tasty IPA but not as good as Heady.

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Photo of FondueVoodoo
4.36/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Huge thanks to hoppypocket for throwing in this as an amazing extra!

A: Pours a hazy golden wheat with 2 fingers of bone white head - slowly settles to a light film with clumps of lacing around the sides of the glass.

S: Upfront tropical fruit, mainly pineapple, together with floral notes, fresh cut pine and slightly skunky.

T: Dry and minerally that quickly opens up to a brisk woody pine and papaya then evolves to a sappy pine dry finish.

M: Medium bodied with active carbonation that leaves pin pricks on the tongue.

O: Another distinct and enjoyable beer from The Alchemist with big hops that are perfectly balanced by sweet malts. I would love the chance to get more of this.

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Photo of mjord23
4.37/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a can, third time trying this one.

Beautiful aroma, full of hops and that "typical" Heady smell. Really feels like a lighter version of Heady Topper, perhaps even a little more drinkable? Smooth, almost buttery mouthfeel.

Another excellent offering from The Alchemist!

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Photo of Jeffo
4.38/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

YoubrewIdrink brought some of this to the pre-Zeebra extravaganza at the vacation villa resort a few months ago. Good times in an exotic paradise! Cheers!

From a 16 oz can into a snifter
Citra and Mosaic hops

APPEARANCE: Pours a 2+ finger, medium looking, slightly foamy white head with good retention. Hazy opaque amber orange with lower levels of carbonation evident. Head fades to a foamy cap and leaves some foamy lacing on the glass. A splotchy wisp remains until the end leaving more foamy lace down the glass as it empties. Nice color, but really hazy and foamy.

SMELL: Lots of hops on the nose. Just piles. Lemon, citrus, mango, passion fruit, melon and pineapple on the nose. A bit of grapefruit as well. Lots of citrusy, fruity hop aromas. Really nice. Excellent.

TASTE: Melon, passion fruit and lemon notes up front. Lots of hops with a bitter swallow, then waves of hop flavor in the finish. Lingering grapefruit, lemon, passion fruit, some mango, citrus and lots of bitterness dance all over the place. Really nice stuff though perhaps a touch too bitter for perfection.

PALATE: Medium body and medium levels of carbonation. Semi-creamy on the palate, slightly foamy, goes down fine and finishes very dry. Lots of bitterness lingers.

OVERALL: This is awesome stuff. The aroma and flavor are spot on here, and make for a really wonderful hopped-up drinking experience. The look and feel are a bit too foamy for absolute top scores, that those are minor issues. We actually compared this to Heady Topper and both are world class, though the particular can of Heady Topper might have been slightly better executed. Regardless, this stuff is excellent and I'm very happy to have had the chance to give it a whirl. Thanks again Joe!

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Photo of SadMachine
4.39/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a mostly clear golden straw color with a good sized fluffy white head that retains pretty well and leaves patchy lacing.

S- The aroma is excellent, highlighted by dank tropical fruit, lemon zest, and biscuity malt. Mango, blueberry surprisingly, orange, some mossy/earthy/herbal notes, and some yeast at the end. Some peach as well.

T- Pretty dank, juicy, and earthy. Actually hits a lot of notes that Heady does, which must be attributed to the yeast. Bitter citrus is prominent, but some sweeter peach and mango notes are there as well. Herbal and resinous, this coats the mouth and is bitter from the middle through the finish. The biscuity malt backbone is nice and crisp.

M- Coating, dry, bitter, and biscuity. Plentiful carbonation, and a medium body.

O- Very good IPA! The tropical fruits in the nose would make this world class if they were as prominent as in the flavor, but still an excellent beer!

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Photo of MA_hops
4.39/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Solid IPA, I wouldn't categorize it as a citrus bomb, more of a dank, dry grapefruit/piney, solid hoppy kind of beer. Solid, above average! Best of the best?? Debatable

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Photo of Davepoolesque
4.41/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Super dank, tropical and delicious. Turbid as a VT ipa should be. Real good...........................................................................

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.41/5  rDev -4.8%
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.

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Photo of mrz200
4.45/5  rDev -3.9%
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.

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Photo of Jason
4.46/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

STYLE American IPA | ABV 7.0% | AVAILABILITY Year-round

Bitter, Grassy, Rind, Piney

Yeah, I know, “Drink From The Can!” I had to take a look though. Pours very hazy with a beautiful dense head. Smells and tastes like fresh squeezed hops if that was even possible. Bitterness is there but never reaches the level of no return and the palate has to deal with wave after wave of extra juicy, citrusy, piney and grassy hop flavor. Yes, it’s better than Heady Topper.

Review from BeerAdvocate magazine issue #102 (JUL 2015)

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Photo of surfcaster
4.46/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A superb IPA--big nose.

lots of similarities to HT here in look and taste--super juicy.

Call it Heady slightly lite.

Hits that perfect 6-8% sweet spot for me

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Photo of SteveB24
4.46/5  rDev -3.7%
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.

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Photo of NolaHopHead
4.47/5  rDev -3.5%
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.

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Photo of Brenden
4.49/5  rDev -3%
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.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.49/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a can into a shaker pint, the beer is a bright, hazy, lemon yellow coloring with a dense, foamy, frothy, bright white head. Aromas of key lime, tangerine, pine resin, and a solid bitterness, all on a light, toasted backbone. Flavors are tremendous, with a blast of tart lime and grapefruit, followed by a solid, rich, sticky, dank blast of resinous bitter. Holy hell. There is a subtle cracker backbone, but this is a compliment at best to the barrage of citrus and sticky hops characteristics coming at you. Wow. Robust, yet light bodied, which keeps the drinkability through the roof. The aftertaste is surprisingly subtle, in comparison, with subtle grass, tart grapefruit, and hints of bitterness. Smooth, slightly dry finish. Just a damn near perfect beer in this can right here!

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Photo of jaasen64
4.49/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

16oz silve can with just a sticker for a label, picked up yesterday at the outdoor Alchemist release. Poured into a willi becher pint glass.

A- Pours a nice translucent pale golden yellow with just a slight haze, perfect amount of carbonation with an awesome consistency, about a finger and half of white frothy head forms that has excellent retention slowly receding to a thin layer.

S- Nice hoppy pine resin aroma balanced with lots of citrus fruits of grapefruit, starfruit, pineapple, etc.. Nice aroma strength with the citra and mosaic coming out very nicely, possibly my two favorite hop aromatics.

T- Piney hop resin, lightly bitter grapefruit, lemon peel, star fruit, guava, and other tropical fruits, finishes with a light tropical zestiness. This tastes amazing, the citra comes out very nicely and is up there with all the top IPAs I've ever had, definitely rivals Heady.

M- Insanely drinkable, incredibly smooth, some light hop oils, no alcohol at all, possibly the best feel for an IPA that I've experienced.

O- This is the second can that I've opened, each sip I take it gets better and better. While Heady might be slightly more flavorful, Focal Banger definitely beats it in drinkability even though it's only 1% lower. I'm looking forward to this becoming a regular offering from The Alchemist and while they are still tweaking the malt bill for their final recipe, I think this is almost perfect already.

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Photo of popery
4.49/5  rDev -3%
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.

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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.

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Focal Banger from The Alchemist
100 out of 100 based on 185 ratings.