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Focal Banger - The Alchemist

Not Rated.
Focal BangerFocal Banger

Educational use only; do not reuse.

157 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 157
Hads: 1,652
Avg: 4.6
pDev: 7.39%
Wants: 1,385
Gots: 231 | 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 (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
Reviews: 157 | Hads: 1,652
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.

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Photo of mynie
4.31/5  rDev -6.3%

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 Stevedore
4.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12oz poured on tap in Waterbury, VT. Poured into a Hill Farmstead stemmed glass today, 2/12/2014.

App- hazy yellow-orange body, fair one finger white head, some retention, some lacing. Looks awfully identical to the Heady I had sitting next to it.

Smell- juicy citrus, mango, pineapple with just a hint of bread and biscuits backing it all up. Smells great and certainly promised to be a hop-forward beer.

Flavor- similar to the nose but even better. Insane juicy citrus and passion fruit notes with a nice semi-balanced biscuit and caramel sweetness. Not particularly bitter either.

Mouthfeel- medium bodied, similar to Heady Topper. Good carbonation. Not terribly bitter.

Overall- very juicy and more fruity than Heady Topper, and less bitter to boot. Excellent IPA. Glad this is coming into full production. Thanks Laura!

Re-reviewed: had this out of a tallboy can 5/7/2014. Thanks Joe. This one essentially supports my first impression based on a tap pour. So juicy, hop-forward with just the perfect amount of biscuity malt backbone that I prefer, with a great mouthfeel. Glorious IPA that I wish I could have more of.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.51/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes; sticker-labeled can from the first can release into a tulip.

A: Hazy pale amber body under a half inch of fine white head. Ok retention, light lace. Pretty nice.

S: Intense herbal, floral, and citrusy hoppiness. A bit of pine, too. Really dank, powerful aroma. Excellent.

T: Follows the nose at first, but with a bit more emphasis on grapefruit pith and pure bitterness. Long, bitter, herbal aftertaste. Really resinous.

M: Delicate body with some lively carbonation. Works well with the intense flavors.

O: Terrific IPA; not quite the masterpiece that I often find Heady to be, but a beer that I'd love to drink any time.


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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.

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Photo of FosterJM
4.17/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

1785th Review on BA
Can to Stemless Alchemist Glass
16 oz tall boy

Thanks to Jake and Mike

App- When I crack the can on this one, I do get a good solid IPA pour. The color reminds me of a orange and pineapple color combo with some decent orange and light yellows and a bit of gold. A smaller head was there and the disappears. The cling is nice down the glass and its a mix of bubbles and sediment coming towards me.

Smell- This was a good mix of tropical bursts from the hop combinations and then trails off into a bit of forest like pine and resin with a little bit of a skunk aroma to me. The prevailing citrus note is that of pineapple.

Taste- I will say I am quite enjoying this beer and I am aware its not meant to be a Heady. This was good and rated as such. The fruit and citrus forward taste from the hop combo is delicious. Prevailing fruits of orange, tangerine, pineapple dominate the front and the pine take center stage in the back.

Mouth- A creamy and airy medium body with a good medium carbonation behind. Silky like a stout, but bubbly like a DIPA. I enjoyed the balance quite a bit.

Drink- This was a treat. I never expected to land a can, because I dont trade that much, but that you fellas. This was a great tick. I love the dont be a Dbag sticker because they ran out of stickers. A good beer, could be great if not to be outdown by another beer from the same brewery.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.3/5  rDev -6.5%

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 Resuin
4.56/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 16 ounce can into a pint glass. This was released a week ago today so is quite fresh.

Appearance: Pours a very hazy, orange-tinted honey-amber and leaves a finger of slightly off-white head which lingers for a bit before fading to a layer atop the beer, leaving some lacing on the glass.

Smell: Big citrus/mango hops. Some resin, hint of pine. Lots of tropical notes. Really expressive and powerful aroma. Mouth-watering.

Taste: Matches the aroma well, but a bit more pine. Citrus, mango, pineapple, resin, a hint of honey, earthy notes, orange rinds. Huge hop presence. Finishes smooth and a little bitter.

Mouth-feel: Well carbonated with a medium, slightly creamy body. Finishes smooth - the 7% is well hidden.

Overall: Another really nice IPA from the Alchemist. Plenty of similarities to Heady Topper but definitely has its own personality. Refreshing, but with really big flavor. Really tears up the palate with the hop explosions.

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Photo of costanzo_mike
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy golden color, excellent lacing on the glass. Mosaic comes through beautifully on the nose and shines through on the taste. Smooth mouthfeel with a dank bitter feel. An excellent alternative to its brethren

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Photo of Jeffo
4.38/5  rDev -4.8%
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 KYGunner
4.17/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This poured with a brilliant pineapple yellow color with a thick head of densely knit, bright white foam.

The nose has a malty background but the Mosaic hops are very evident. The aroma has some honey, oranges and pineapple before turning earthy and grassy.

The flavor is sweet and sugary, like a citrus fructose, with the evident Mosaic hop character punching through. The hop finish is grassy, earthy, not overly bitter, with a spicy character.

The feel is so light, airy and smooth but it still has a good amount of heft.

Very well crafted IPA with some different aromas and tastes then the standard fare.

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Photo of WanderingFool
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Focal Banger pours a hazy honey yellow with a small, creamy head on top. The foam fades quickly leaving spots of lace all over the glass.

The aroma is loaded with citrus and a little funk. Orange and grapefruit with tropical fruit and a little vegetal (garlic) note.

Each sip of this medium bodied beer is creamy with moderate carbonation. The flavor is nicely balanced between grapefruit and lemon citrus, pine and tropical fruit. Sweet malt balances all the hop bitterness. It finishes mildly bitter and dry with a little vegetal funk. Once gone the citrus and tropical fruit lingers on the palate.

Delicious, well balanced beer. Not as bitter as Heady Topper, but just as flavorful.

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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.

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Photo of smb
4.94/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Fresh on tap, direct from The Alchemist at FW Invitational. Bright and radiant sunshine glow. Dank, delicious, pungent marijuana aroma with huge blasts of citrus. Next level shit. Consider my focal banged.

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Photo of Treyliff
4.74/5  rDev +3%
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

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Photo of EyePeeAyBryan
4.01/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

So much hype surrounding this brew and my body was ready. Had half in a glass and half in the can. Murky, more of a bright yellow/golden color. Really has that NE vermont taste that's sweet but dank and juicy. Wanted so much to fall in love but it just didn't happen...more of a one night stand.

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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.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.51/5  rDev -2%
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.

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Photo of MakeMineADoubleJack
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Enjoyed a 16oz pour on tap at the 11th Annual Hophead Throwdown this afternoon. I dare say this beer has Heady beat. It's crisper, fresher, and doesn't have that synthetic backend that Heady Topper has. Citra and Mosaic are two hops that fit well together. Beautiful notes of citrus and pine. This beer is dank, fruity, and drier than you'd expect. A fantastic brew that lives up to its hype.

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Photo of ArkyVaughan
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is as good as it gets for an IPA for me. First had it from the October 2014 truck sale and it blew me away. Easily better than Heady and the Crusher. Can't wait until the Alchemist is able to crank out more of this wonderful stuff.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
4.51/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tallboy can courtesy of Mike.

Murky yellow with plenty of lace.

Smells of lemon cake with sugared icing.

Blueberries, lemons, cake, delicious.

Though it doesn't sound it, this is much like Heady's awesome and more approachable sibling. Very very good.

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Photo of Mikeypnh
4.71/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from the can into a tulip glass. I like the looks of it. Murky, bright orange wih a nice one finger head. Smell is very vibrant, grapefruit and pine mostly. Very juicy. There is a lot of flavor in this ipa. Everything from the aroma comes through. Very resonious. Mouthfeel is very slick and creamy, hops just hang around for days on the taste buds. There isn't a ton of tropical flavors, or really anything special, but there is a ton of flavor here and I love it. Just a well done, grassy/piney ipa with a touch of grapefruit. Similar to HT, but not as heavy

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Photo of Keananmichael5
4.56/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this before they designed the new can. I almost prefer it to Heady but both are very very good. I wish I could have it again. Dry hop smell, crisp flavor, very balanced beer.

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Photo of Damian
4.94/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

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Photo of Brams17
5/5  rDev +8.7%

A: Poured into a tulip glass. Poured with a nice white head. The beer was light golden/straw colored with a good amount of haze. Nice looking beer.

S: Big aroma hit me as soon as I opened the can. Lots of citrus and tropical fruit. Lots of Pineapple, some mango, some lemon notes. Great aroma.

T: The initial taste follows the nose. Lots of fruit notes as described above. The finish was really nice though, it had a wonderful baked bread note that added some depth to the brew.

M: Medium carbonation and body. Nice sticky hop resins coat your mouth as you drink. Dry, but not overly so.

O: Between this and Heady, I'd never want to drink anything else if I had regular access to this brewery. I really can't imagine a standard IPA being better than this, though there are a few others in the same league too. Great beer!

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Focal Banger from The Alchemist
100 out of 100 based on 157 ratings.