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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: 1,649
Avg: 4.6
pDev: 7.39%
Wants: 1,382
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: 1,649
Photo of SDRedDevil
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had cans in Stowe and Waterbury during a road trip. Great combo of Citra and Mosaic hops. Smells incredibly dank with great citrus notes as well. Tons of citrus hops on the front end, semi-creamy, with a nice dry bitter end. I think I like the hop forwardness more than Heady but I'm just splitting hairs....

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Photo of AlpacaAlpaca
4.79/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured it into a glass, and I'm glad I did. It had the same murky quality of Heady, but the head was beautiful, soft as a pillow, and generous in the lacing it left. The feel was thinner and the taste was pinier than Heady, but it still hit that wow mark that Heady does. Not quite as mindblowing as its older brother, but way closer than I expected it to be.

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Photo of Prospero
3.75/5  rDev -18.5%

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.

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Photo of SawDog505
4.97/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into my 13 oz tulip glass, I know it is fresh. Pours a hazy yellow orange with some floaties and a two inch white head that leaves loads of lace. Smell is tropical mango, passion fruit, tangerine, and a hint of grapefruit. Taste follows the knows, everything blends perfectly, maybe a little more grapefruit lingers on the tong then you would expect from the nose. Body is medium large for its abv, plenty of life, a touch dry, and amazing drinkability. One of the best ever, as I expected.

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Photo of TWStandley
4.32/5  rDev -6.1%

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 byronic
4.82/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A beautiful aroma from the can. Very balanced, very crisp and absolutely delicious. A nice blend of hops and fruits with a silk finish, Disappears in no time.

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Photo of 31Sam13
5/5  rDev +8.7%
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

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Photo of HeadyTheElder
4.8/5  rDev +4.3%
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.

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

The Alchemist - Focal Banger, poured into a Lawson's Tulip.

Look - Pours a cloudy protein coagulation sediment laden orange juice with a good sized foamy head that dissipates slowly. New batch, no more protein BS.

Smell - Aroma is ciltrus grapefruit and passion fruit, some sweet mango.

Taste - There it is! Nice blast of grapefruit and pine. Clean and finishes pine bitter. Got a nice tinge of that semi-ripe that some of the newer hops have in there.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Similar mouthfeel to Heady Topper here, juicy and drinkable, packs a punch. I prefer this to Heady, it's lower key and smoother, but doesn't sacrifice hop flavor at all.

Overall - Heady's litter brother. This is a great beer. They just need to clean up the coagulated proteins next time and I can rate it higher on appearance, didn't affect the taste in the least bit. Second review, this is still Heady's little brother, but I think it's better than Heady.

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Photo of BranfordBound
4.86/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had at a few locations during a trip to Vermont: Stowe Wine & Cheese (unexpected), Doc Ponds, and Hen of the Wood. Poured some out just to get an idea of looks but kept 95% of it in the can, as specified. Pours a hazy golden color with a decent head that sticks around. Smells of... sweet baby jesus: pure hops. I should call the police because my olfactory cells just got assaulted by an angry mob of hops. Grassy, super herbal, notes of stone fruit.

OK, let's drink this 16oz of elixir. Starts with the faintest sweetness from the english malts, but then it's blown away by the most epic wave of hops encountered. Very herbal and grassy, tons of stone fruit like peach and mango. Notes of citrus. Finishes ultra bitter with a mild carbonation kick to fight the hop oils which linger in the mouth for minutes afterward.

The body will get to you after a little bit and a the whole can will leave you feeling somewhat full, not as much as Heady, but this beer will defeat your taste buds. They will beg for mercy. They will never be the same after this, they'll need years of therapy of tasting pale lagers, hefeweizens, porters, and witbiers to recover.

Overall an amazing experience. I tried this next to Heady Topper and HT could not keep up. If you're in Northern VT and this is on the can list, don't even consider any other option.

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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

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Photo of gueuzedreg
3.95/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A- Golden honey, lots of head with medium retention.

S- Smells of fresh big piney hop character with malt backbone.

T- Little too hop forward for my pale liking. It is pretty hop focused, which many people love.

M- Somewhat creamy, medium carb

O- A well done pale by Alchemist, I am just not the hop forward pale guy

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Photo of mattsmith413
4.9/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

On a aroma scale of 5, I would give this a 10. I think this is better than (dare I say it) Heady Topper. Easily my favor beer from The Alchemist.

Great citrus flavors plus floaties... match made in heaven.

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Photo of breadwinner
4.01/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A case study in hopping the ever loving shit out of a beer with Citra. Sure, it smells nice. But, its body has an off-putting thinness, and though I understand the desire to go bare bones and basic with the malt backdrop, it creates a certain astringency that I do not enjoy.

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Photo of OleDixie
4.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Did not follow instructions with this can. 8 ozs. in a teku to rate the look. Did not factor into my overall score for the beer because instructions say to drink from the can

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Photo of rodmanfor3
4.9/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This beer is amazing. Consistently the best from the Alchemist collection, perhaps one of the best in the world.

I was hoping that this beer would continue to fly under the radar for selfish reasons, but now that the cans have officially been approved, it will be just a matter of time before Focal Banger becomes my regular go to beer.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of NiceTaps
4.78/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I drank it right from the can, as ordered.

I give it a "3" for looks, though I never saw what it looks like. I thought about a "4", but The Alchemist overcooks the goofy beer commands: "Don't be a D-bag", "Drink from the can"....enough, already. It's not the message, just the way it's sent.

Super fresh hop aroma, like fresh pressed hop fluid. Its cousin, marijuana, pays an aromatic visit. Lot of pine, too. The aroma is very pleasant and opens the nasal passages, refreshingly.

Lots of citrus hop flavor, strong grapefruit. A bit piney, a bit tropical. Enough malt to balance and keep it a beer.

Full feel, clean and refreshing. Not a trace of the 7% abv. Lasting bitterness and tongue tickle but not overly bitter.

I'm not getting the "dank" that I read in other reviews. I'll take it over a Heady, TY.

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Photo of MarcWP
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Can into Alchemist stemless.

Pours hazy, dirty gold color with soapy eggshell head that settles to a nice layer. Looks like an Alchemist.

Aroma is bright juicy orchard fruits with peach, nectarine, tangerine, apricot, and pink grapefruit. Tropical mango and guava to top it off. Just juicy all around.

The palate explodes with grapefruit rind, pineapple, peach, Meyer lemon, spice, some dank junior, and just a touch of crisp malt to round things off. Very much in style with its big brother Heady, there is a ton of hop character with a clean malt profile and a fruity, spicy yeast ester base. It takes you in so many directions, wanting to go fruity, spicy, earthy, dank, and floral all at the same time but overall maintains a central focus. Top notch.

Mouthfeel is perfect for an IPA. Slightly heavier side of light body with a fluffy carbonation that sits well on the palate and makes you go for another drink.

This is one of the best single IPA's I've had. Such potent hop character and a great use of the Citra and Mosaic hop variants. The similarity to Heady must come from the malt bill and yeast strain used. I might have actually enjoyed this a bit more than Heady. Hope this gets canned on a regular!

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Photo of Jslay013
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Glad to finally be able to try this. Had side to side with Heady and while both are great, I prefer this just a tad more. The hop profile seems a bit more complex and I get a bit more citrus. Both are awesome, but given a choice, I would take Focal. Hoping this becomes more available as the new brewery gets up and running.

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Photo of aleigator
4.56/5  rDev -0.9%
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.

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Photo of Luk13
4.1/5  rDev -10.9%
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.

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Photo of MNishCT77
5/5  rDev +8.7%

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

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Photo of Scarfer_Brad
5/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

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