Focal Banger | The Alchemist

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BA SCORE
100
world-class
182 Reviews
BEER STATS
Reviews:
182
Ratings:
1,866
Avg:
4.63
pDev:
23.54%
 
 
Wants:
1,697
Gots:
332
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: 182 | Ratings: 1,866
Photo of MakeMineADoubleJack
4.75/5  rDev +2.6%
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 Damian
4.94/5  rDev +6.7%
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 SDRedDevil
5/5  rDev +8%
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 ScaryEd
4.88/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Consumed from a can purchased at the Three Penny Taproom in Montpelier, VT.

I give the appearance a neutral 3 because I drank the beer from the can.

The aroma brings an absolutely absurd amount of citrus. Smelling this beer is like taking a walk through Odin's orange grove wearing a Smell-O-Scope. There's so much juicy grapefruit, and orange rind, but just enough bitter, grassy hop resin to balance everything out. Absolutely incredible.

The taste follows the nose with an atomic explosion of grapefruit and tropical fruits, followed by some bitter, earthy hop resin. Bitterness lingers for a while after each sip.

The mouth is medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Extremely creamy, smooth and lightly bitter.

Overall, I simply need more of this beer. It is incredible. It is every bit as good as Heady and the flavors and aromas really stand out on their own. Can't wait for this to start getting retail distribution.

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Photo of jbertsch
4.21/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Definitely enjoyable, but I thought it tasted a bit like Heady's just-a-little-younger brother rather than something that offered its own personality. Lemon and lime were the primary aromas and flavors extracted from the hop profile. Tastes like the conan yeast strain is in there as well.

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Photo of AlpacaAlpaca
4.79/5  rDev +3.5%
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 Brams17
5/5  rDev +8%

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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Photo of SawDog505
4.97/5  rDev +7.3%
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 lanciloti
5/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The dankest of the dank, hits the pallet soft and juicy, then it thrashes it with hops. Can almost feel your enamel being stripped. Truly a hop lovers dream.

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Photo of byronic
4.82/5  rDev +4.1%
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 Prospero
3.75/5  rDev -19%

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 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 Sintech
4.75/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

16 ounce can poured into a pint glass.

Appearance - Hazy golden yellow hues.

Smell - Dank, citrus, resin and pine nose. Very good!

Taste - Big citrus and pine notes...delicious!

Mouthfeel - Medium body. Medium carbonation.

Overall - Oh my god this shit is good! Highly recommended!

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Photo of 31Sam13
5/5  rDev +8%
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 BranfordBound
4.86/5  rDev +5%
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 RBrenchak
5/5  rDev +8%
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!

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Photo of JMScowcroft
5/5  rDev +8%
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 HeadyTheElder
4.8/5  rDev +3.7%
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 breadwinner
4.01/5  rDev -13.4%
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 Beerasaurus
4.99/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had Focal out of a can at the Mule Bar in Winooski. Did not pour any into a glass, so I'm assuming the look is as awesome as the rest of it. The aroma is an explosion of citrus smells, as good as any IPA out there. The taste that follows is well balanced between hops and citrus, with a great, smooth feel. Really enjoyed this beer. It exceeded my expectations, and I'd take this over Heady. I hope they distribute beyond bars. It's a keeper.

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Photo of rodmanfor3
4.9/5  rDev +5.8%
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 mattsmith413
4.9/5  rDev +5.8%
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 Gajo74
4.53/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look- Not sure how to rate the look as I got it out of a can. I'm sure it's a pretty brew. Cool artwork.
Smell- Delicious and intoxicating tropical fruit and dank resiny hops. This one is so juicy!
Taste- Very interesting and complex. I get a lot of bitter passionfruit, alcohol infused papaya and grapefruit rind. Big buttering hops and citric/grapefruit hops in the finish leaves you almost bone dry.
Feel- medium bodied but a bit lighter than some other more malt forward IPAs. Good balance.
A great brew. It provides an interesting counterpoint to Heady Topper. While HT has an intense smoky and tobacco leaf type hops feel and generally bigger malt body, this one has a thinner bodied and slightly softer hops complexion. I love both!

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Photo of aleigator
4.56/5  rDev -1.5%
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 OleDixie
4.65/5  rDev +0.4%
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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Focal Banger from The Alchemist
100 out of 100 based on 182 ratings.