Focal Banger - The Alchemist

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Focal BangerFocal Banger

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BA SCORE
100
world-class

110 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 110
Hads: 1,394
rAvg: 4.57
pDev: 8.1%
Wants: 1,172
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: 1,394
Photo of Luk13
4.1/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can, thanks to blckout20! Appearance: Nice pale golden pour with thin white head. Aroma is very fruity (mango, banana, oranges), some light dank hops and some biscuit malts / graham crackers. Taste is fruity, moderate to high bitterness and a tad too sweet. Carbonation is rather low. I'm being picky here as I'm comparing it to HT. Not nearly as powerful and resinous as Heady, but a very good highly drinkable IPA. (416 characters)

Photo of MNishCT77
5/5  rDev +9.4%

16 oz. can gifted from GMRFx, unknown can date but purchased at the most recent Alchemist tent sale on 08/11/2014, poured into a small plastic glass at a BJCP study group, drank 08/27/2014 over an hour.

A: 3/3 - bright golden coloration, minimal clarity (can see or read through), off-white head dissipates into a glass lacing that persisted throughout the drinking session; small alcohol legs

S: 11/12 - as expected, huge hop aroma right up front: super intense citrus and tropical fruit - mango, pineapple and papaya predominate; there is some fruitiness as well - blackberry, apricot and Meyer lemon; some alcohol and malt notes are also present but the hops are clearly the star

T: 19/20 - on the anterior tongue, there's a slight bitterness but is quickly overpowered in the middle of the mouth by huge tropical fruit and berries; the alcohol is present in the taste with some minor malt characters to hint at balancing; this is just dumb juicy and super drinkable

M: 5/5 - moderate bodied with thick hop oils coating the tongue, 7% ABV is present but not overbearing; high carbonation for style/ABV and moderate carbonation

O: 10/10 - definitely one of the best IPAs that I've ever tasted; it's like biting into a perfectly ripe juicy fruit pineapple; I wish that I can offer a flaw with this beer but, alas, I'm coming up totally short; highly, highly recommended!

TOTAL = 48/50 (1,391 characters)

Photo of Seanniek91
4.77/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Served from a pint can with a sticker on it into a Alchemist Becher glass.

Appearance- Cloudy orange with lots of yeast floating around. Quick one finger white head left some nice lacing.

Smell- Peaches for days. So much tropical fruit! Tangerine, nectarine, oranges. Very fruit forward with some mild grassiness. Smells like a peach ring.

Taste- Peaches, pears, oranges, floral herbacuesness. Lightly piney with similar earthy notes, but again, very fruit forward. No booze hint either.

Mouthfeel- Pretty spot on. Good medium-full carbonation with a medium body and no booze heat.

Overall- I really hope they start canning this soon. Love that mosaic! (657 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 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 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 stella77artois
4.36/5  rDev -4.6%
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 RocketCityVol
4.68/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: hazy dull golden-yellow.

S: Tropical and Citrus aromas.

T: Very tropical with a hint of citrus with a very creamy bitter finish.

M: Extremely creamy, very smooth. Very similar to Heady Topper.

O: Amazing DIPA. I liked it almost as much as heady. Has one of the best mouthfeels I have ever had. (300 characters)

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

had out of a can for look going on person next to me who poured in a glass
A nice pale hazy orange, a 3/8" head and nice lacing

a very fruity and citrus smell jumps out of the can.

wow what a tasty. a smooth crisp sweet hoppy tasty .

Has a light feel good medium to light carbonation.

It is not a "heady Lite" as people say. it is a banging beer in it's own right. it drinks and tastes smooth as silk with a bang. has banging dank hops with each taste. it is something that i could drink every day. in my opinion it is better than Heady. Wow a pleasure to finally try it. (576 characters)

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

Poured from the 16 oz. can into a large tulip.
Pours a slightly blonder hue than Heady. Hazy, light golden with a finger of head that dissipates.
Smell has some pine on the front end and a whole lot of Citra comes barreling in with juicy aromas.
Taste is delicious. It's juicy with more mango, pineapple, even a touch of peach. Felt the grapefruit was there but is not as pronounced as it is with Heady. The taste of Focal Banger is a clean and juicy and drinkable IPA.
The mouthfeel was maybe a touch more thin than with Heady, not as silky. But refreshing!
Overall, Focal Banger is certainly an amazing IPA. This beer is going to be canned regularly once the second brewery is opened. Once more people get to enjoy this beer, Focal Banger will be one of the best reviewed beers on BA. Book it. (795 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 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 HopBomb515
4.73/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Deep golden with orange hues, big white fluffy head and tons of lacing. Big nose filled with citrus, tropical notes, slight sweetness, big resinous hop aroma. Taste doesn't disappoint. Citrus ranging from grapefruit to orange and even some lemon. Tropical, pineapple and mango notes. Honey like sweetness to the malt bill which stands perfectly to the huge hop flavors. Great finish of hop flavor, not overly bitter. Fuller side of medium body with a sticky sweetness, starts creamy smooth and finishes dry. This is an amazing IPA, Alchemist has a way with hops. (562 characters)

Photo of winningwes91
5/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow. Seriously blown away. Easily the best ipa I've ever had. So juicy and hoppy, and dangerously drinkable. Pours a beautiful hazy orange color. Smells like sticking my nose in a bag of hops and passion fruit. Taste follows suit with a wonderful creamy mouthfeel. Seriously my new favorite ipa, and yes, better than heady! (323 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 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 supaadam
4.87/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The best. Better than Heady, Pliny, or Crusher. Lots of hops, but not over the top. Not too thick like a lot of doubles. Just perfect.

Light color, huge smell, and epic taste and mouthfeel.

For me, Heady is too light. I call it "tine bubbles." This is thicker, but still retains the Alchemist character. (305 characters)

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

16oz can, 1/4 into tasting glass, 3/4 from can.

A: Hazy orange with a nice 1/2in white head. As the head receded it left nice lacing on glass.

S: Juicy citra and mosaic hop aroma. Lots of citrus fruits, and maybe a tiny bit of hop resin.

T: Taste follows the nose in a great way. Citrusy hoppy goodness. Conan yeast comes through plain as day, so there are some definite similarities to Heady, but Focal does not have the malt backbone of Heady, the flavor is all hops and that yeast.

M: Good carbonation, similar in feel to Heady IMO. Maybe a even a bit more drinkable.

O: Excellent IPA. This, HF Susan, and fresh Lawson's Triple Play are all in a dead heat for best IPA to my palate. Looking forward to when this is more regularly available. I know this is still a work in progress and they are still finalizing the malt bill, so I'll be curious to try the final version, but this is pretty close to perfect for me. (923 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 RBrenchak
5/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is off the charts. Piney, sweet & balanced. Almost TOO drinkable. I can't wait until the new brewhouse is online so this becomes more widely available! (164 characters)

Photo of JordonHoltzman
4.68/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Drank from the can, so appearance is based on the nice can design.
Very hop forward aroma, big flavor, juicy and strong pine.
Tastes fantastic. The hop flavor is dank and so damn fresh. The finish is very smooth, leaving you wanting more.
One of the best beers I've ever had (279 characters)

Photo of Willytee3
4.68/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an apricot-orange with pure white foamy head.
Smells chalky with fresh mashed tropical fruits and orange sherbet with a hint of vanilla.
Taste follows the nose, citrusy hop forward, dry, chalky, grapefruit crush and a hop bitter finish.
Medium body ale with a light fleeting foam feel.
Overall a bit sharp on the grapefruit that kind of thins it out. (356 characters)

Photo of JulioH
4.29/5  rDev -6.1%
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. (350 characters)

Photo of Guess2814
4.85/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The first words that came out my mouth when I drank this beer was Whoaaaa!!!..This might be the closest your going to get to The Header.. I hate comparing everything to the highest rated beer BUT.. When you had the best??? This beer had a nice fruity IPA taste to it.. Leaves a great taste lingering in your mouth.. The Alchemist Brewery nailed it with this one.. (363 characters)

Photo of BTVflatlander
3.92/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great deal of hype surrounding this one, much due to the notoriety of Heady Topper. If they can make such an outstanding DIPA, why not an AIPA? Well, I must say, as much as I wanted to love Focal Banger, it severely underwhelmed me unlike their previous draft release, Ourborous.

If you're from Vermont, you're probably familiar with Fiddlehead IPA. It's a very decent American IPA that I'd never turn down yet also never seek out. Focal Banger, to me, has all the trappings of Fiddlehead IPA with much, much, much higher expectations. As such, as my good friend put it, "it's everything that Heady Topper is not," and that's not necessarily a good thing.

Try it for yourself, but don't expect too much. (706 characters)

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