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Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

Focal Banger - The Alchemist

Not Rated.
Focal BangerFocal Banger

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

133 Reviews
THE BROS
99
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 133
Hads: 1,487
rAvg: 4.6
pDev: 2.39%
Wants: 1,259
Gots: 189 | 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: 133 | Hads: 1,487
Photo of NAPO
4.34/5  rDev -5.7%
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. (481 characters)

Photo of papat444
4.35/5  rDev -5.4%
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. (257 characters)

Photo of FondueVoodoo
4.36/5  rDev -5.2%
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. (689 characters)

Photo of stella77artois
4.36/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

16 oz can poured into a Belgian Ale glass.

A - Pours a rather light (for an IPA) amber. Fair head, average amount of lacing.

S - Citrus. Lemon, slight hint of mango. Some pine cone and earth, too.

T - Rather light for an IPA, but still has a tasty malt backbone. Slightly sweet. Citra hops are certainly noticeable. Mango, citrus (especially lime) in good amounts. Bit of pine and an almost perfect level of hoppy bitterness for an IPA.

F - Incredibly drinkable. Dangerous, actually. Crisp, but still enough kick from the malt where it doesn't venture into IPL territory. Not that IPL's are a bad thing, but it's certainly IPA feel.

O - An outstanding beer by The Alchemist (would we expect anything different? Hell no). Not Heady quality, but you can't expect that. An outstanding beer, loved it. (803 characters)

Photo of mjord23
4.37/5  rDev -5%
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! (283 characters)

Photo of SadMachine
4.39/5  rDev -4.6%
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! (921 characters)

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.39/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Tallboy can poured into Duvel Tulip.

Appearance: translucent orange/yellow bodied beer with tons of suspended white chunks in the beer. 3 fingers worth of bone white head that leaves behind a thick lacing of head on the side of the glass. The head had alot of staying power and eventually drops to a thin cap.

Smell: sweet citrus mostly oranges are what I smell immediately. Grapefruit and resinous pine notes next. Hint of tropical fruits. Slighty biscuity malts and maybe even a hint of honey.

Taste: Mild almost moderate bitterness from this hoppy beer. Oranges and tropical fruits. Grapefruit and resinous pine. Hops taste dank and dirty; just like Heady Topper does. Finishes with mild bitterness; mostly grapefruit rind and resinous pine.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied beer with low carbonation. The beer is really really crushable, but its slightly watery. Just a slight fizz as the beer goes over your tongue. Needs more carbonation, but I will give it a decent score because of the drinkablity factor.

Overall: I like heady topper better. If you could get the mouthfeel on heady topper in this beer it would vastly improve the beer. Still a great hoppy beer by the Alchemist. It will be a great beer for hot weather. (1,226 characters)

Photo of MA_hops
4.39/5  rDev -4.6%
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 (168 characters)

Photo of BEERchitect
4.39/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

When it comes to hops, Alchemist knows how to get the good ones and knows how to use them once in the brewhouse. This IPA of ultimate dryness and utter hop dominance brings out a taste in pale ale that's likely not yet been seen, better yet- tasted.

Focal Banger jumps right out with a burst of citrus and a backing of tropical aroma and taste. Supporting malt sweetness is thin and honied, giving the fruit flavors a sense of dripping with sweet and tangy fructose nectar. The sweetness seems right at home with the hops.

And the beer simply blossoms over the middle, really opening up those tangy and tart red grapefruit, mandarin, lemon drop, pineapple, mango and juniper flavors. And as the sweetness gently fades, the hops stand out even more, releasing notes of lemon verbena, mild chive, grassy botanicals and a floral drift of honeysuckle perfume.

its massively dry backbone becomes a honeycomb of malt texture where its flavor presence has dropped off entirely. What's left is a creamy-dry hop bitterness that strips the palate of thirst with ease. Its light body throughout perfectly preserves the attitude of American IPA. (1,136 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.41/5  rDev -4.1%
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. (1,298 characters)

Photo of mrz200
4.45/5  rDev -3.3%
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. (443 characters)

Photo of Jason
4.46/5  rDev -3%
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) (528 characters)

Photo of surfcaster
4.46/5  rDev -3%
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 (160 characters)

Photo of SteveB24
4.46/5  rDev -3%
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. (616 characters)

Photo of NolaHopHead
4.47/5  rDev -2.8%
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. (273 characters)

Photo of Brenden
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
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 GarthDanielson
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
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! (796 characters)

Photo of jaasen64
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
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. (1,427 characters)

Photo of popery
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
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. (714 characters)

Photo of hillvt4me
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- cloudy golden hue with undertones of orange. Light white and moderately dense
Head. Some solid lacing around glass.

S- citrus fruit, mild spiceand herbal aromas are present

T- bitter, citrus, pine and some balanced spice.

M- moderate carbonation, body and feel.

O- really solid and complex American IPA (309 characters)

Photo of RobbDogg
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a can obtained at the Alchemist truckload sale. Cloudy yellow/orange color with a creamy head that lingered to the end, with nice lacing. A big bouquet of fresh citrus, and truly original scent. Smooth with a bit of carbonation. Grapefruit, and pine, subdued malt and grain, and a nice bitter finish. Another home run from the Alchemist, which I would gladly stock in the fridge if readily available. Heady light? No way. Get it, try it. (450 characters)

Photo of DCLAguy11
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%

Did a blind tasting on 8/29/14 with the recent batches of Focal Banger, Rapture, The Crusher and Heady Topper.

It was the lightest colored of the 4 beers with light yellow/golden hue. Almost like a lemonade. On the nose I got pine and floral notes, persimmon(?) and lot's of nice dankness.

Taste: Very delicate, refreshing (perfect for a hot sunny day), piney, enough bitterness and slight chewiness. This is a delicious beer and in my opinion (right now) superior to Heady Topper.

Overall, I had a hard time between this and The Crusher for top place but based on balance between bitterness and sweetness I placed it behind The Crusher. Oh, and this batch is much better than the previous one. (699 characters)

Photo of hudsonheat
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%

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 Badliverglen
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%

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 zookerman182
4.51/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Appearance is a cloudy yellow color with a one finger fluffy head.
Aroma is heavy tropical fruit and some sweetness.
Flavor is a nice balance between tropical fruit and citrus. Also some slight sweetness.
Mouthfeel is full and creamy. Coats the mouth and leaves a nice bitterness.
Overall this is a fantastic beer.
It is everything I feel like main beer company dinner should have been.
Great balance between citrus, tropics fruit, bitterness and creaminess.
Gets even better as it warms.
Well done (499 characters)

Focal Banger from The Alchemist
100 out of 100 based on 133 ratings.