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Heady Topper | The Alchemist

2,206 Reviews
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Heady TopperHeady Topper

Brewed by:
The Alchemist
Vermont, United States | website

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
"An American Double IPA" 75 IBU 8.0% ABV. "Drink from the can."

Added by scottum on 03-27-2004

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Reviews: 2,206 | Ratings: 12,364
Reviews by Doh-Kay:
Photo of Doh-Kay
4.75/5  rDev +1.9%

More User Reviews:
Photo of BEERchitect
4.67/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

So if your beer tastes like this, maybe you only need to make one. There's likely no way that you'll ever out do Heady-Topper so just stop right there!

With a controlled and creamy pour of medium gold elixir, this hazy and glowing ale constructs a creamy, cottony white head with substantial retention and islands of lace. Overall, this is one sexy beer!

Seductive and mouthwatering citrus aromas abound from from the rim of the glass. The straight-up juicy fruity scent of the freshly squeezed pulp of ripe ruby red grapefruit with elements of citric acids, fruit sweetness that seems of thin honey, and some softer tropical notes of mango and apricot. It's impossible to put your nose so close to the glass without taking a sip.

The delicious delight of a beer delivers the straight forward grapefruit flavor just as the nose promises. The sweet pulp of fresh-picked ruby reds couldn't be more spot-on. Resiny as the citrus flavors seem to coat the mouth while the stripping of enamel commences. Soft caramel malts support the hops with the supple and elegant sweetness of powdered sugar and honey, but do so without contrast- make no mistake about it, this is a hop-forward ale with the likes that rarely seen. A very delicate yet hop-dominant balance throughout. Any estery fruitiness would weave into the hop matrix and inform the beer with complementary notes of tropical mangoes, apricots, and pineapple. Succulent and savory throughout, even as the beer's elegant hop flavor develops into soft resiny bitterness that grips the gullet with kid gloves in finish and aftertaste. Only the strong taste of alcohol for moderate 8% that reminds me of super glue is the only slight defect in taste.

Very creamy and delicate on the palate from the initial sip and deep into the middle portion of the palate. All the while coating the mouth with citrusy acids, diluted pine resin, and light sticky honey. The beer's carbonation develops a malty-dry finish that retains its soft malty body while contributing pleasant alcohol warmth and an extended citrusy bitterness.

When you're convinced of the impossibility of ever tasting a better IPA, something like this comes along and shows new possibility in flavor intensity, dryness, drnkability, and absolute elegance and finesse. It's hard to keep this beer off of the "perfect" line score.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.17/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From BeerAdvocate magazine Issue #58 (November 2011):

LOOK: Unknown as we drank from the can as demanded by the can.

SMELL: Macerated oranges, minty, herbal, estery alcohol, excessively hoppy

TASTE: Raw, sweet, super bitter, semi-dry, kernel of malt sweetness, hop oil, orangey, mouthful of grass

Hop insanity in a can! Lots of talk about this brewski finally being canned. The greatness forgives the sheer rawness it brings to the palate. In our opinion, this is what sets it apart from other highly hopped ales in the US. Keep it tamed in the can, as pouring it out will only show the extreme rustic measures to make this beer.

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Photo of bracelet666
4.91/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Ok being an IPA lover for many years Iv wanted to try this for ever! my amazing girlfriend just got 2 4packs for me for christmas,I got it 2 days early! :)

The beer itself looks amazing in a glass,a very thick,non-clear unfiltered,straw colored beer,I like unfiltered:) as I poured into a dogfish head IPA glass is looked even better then I thought,the foamy heady grew and grew and stayed for days it seemed!

As I opened the can,and heard that crack of it opening i was smiling ear to ear lol...
the smell is a strong hoppy hop field,with pine resins and more hops! easly the best beer Iv ever smelt! and although I love IPA's more then any other,and iv had some amazing ones before,the smell of this was notches above anything Iv ever had the chance to smell:)

Right after smelling it I was so excited! this is the momment Iv been waiting for,for years lol...my dreams have been answered!
It says to drink from the can,I did try the first sip from the can and then gently poured it into a nice IPA glass,spent for mins smelling it! lol...
The first taste was heaven in a glass! the best tasting beer on earth? probably!

does it live up to the hype?
Oh fuck ya! the best smelling and tasting IPA iv ever had the privlege to try! it was well worth the wait! I drank a can last night without a glass,and out of the can I wouldnt rate it as good,I think this beer needs to be in a glass!
Thanks to my wonderful and amazing girlfriend I now not only got to try the heady topper,I got a few extras as well! these cans are a day or 2 old from the brewery so im happy as can be,will be a great christmas:)

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Photo of TimG_0913
4.16/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Too over hyped. I think people rate this beer to high

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.74/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Damn, this is hoppy. That's about my first impression immediately upon popping the cap off of this. With that, I should say huge, huge thanks to rpstevens and kingcrowing for sending me bottles of this, the latter of which was a complete surprise. One bottle to be consumed tonight, the other to be shared with friends this weekend.

This bottle is shared with Amyliz4 and poured into two of our larger, unbranded tulips. The pour yields a slightly-hazed bright peach body with a two-finger head. Pretty good retention and plenty of spotty lacing as it makes its way down to a bit of rocky foam sitting atop the brew. A fairly-thick collar remains on the brew throughout as more spots settle on the sides of the glass.

As previously stated, the aroma on this is damn near epic and remains amazing throughout. The initial whiff slammed my nostrils with dominant notes of tropical fruit, citrus rind, and a bit of pine. Each swirl kicks up another bit of aroma with some mango skin and passion fruit taking hold at first. Behind that is a flock of citrus and an overload of ripe peaches. Following behind all this when you sniff really hard is a nice finish of some piney resin.

The flavor picks up where the nose left off, though doesn't quite dominate my senses like the nose did. With that said, this is some really, really incredible stuff. I'll start off with one of my only complaints, which is that the hop flavor isn't quite as pungent as the aroma is. Still, there is some fairly-radical hop flavor to balance the hop bitterness. Did you hear that many makers of East Coast IPAs? Malt sweetness doesn't provide balance to bitterness in a fantastic double IPA, lovely and luscious fruit flavors do.

Mango, passion fruit, and guava make their way into the mix. The strong, strong bitterness levels really elevate the citrus presence and make me think of some good grapefruit rind. The body on this does an absolutely remarkable job accentuating the hops. There's not an ounce of sweetness, but there's enough body to really pull everything together. The bitterness in the finish is uber-high and leaves my mouth quite dry. There's certainly a solution for that--have some more.

I've been waiting a long, long time to finally try this one. Unlike an unfortunately-large percentage of other beers with so much hype, I have enjoyed this immensely. Huge, huge thanks again to Ryan and Nick for the chance to finally try this. Cheers to both of you.

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Photo of Deshaies
4.88/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The most perfectly balanced IPA I have ever had. Pours pretty thick with a strong head. Smells very earthy with nice hop aromas. Waves of flavors from sweet to citrus with a crisp dry finish and never wrecks your palette. I went out of may way to tried not to buy into the hype. But in the end it won me over, best beer I have ever tasted.

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Photo of Minipork
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I don't know how a beer could be more perfect.

When you die, I'm pretty sure this is what Jesus serves at the pearly gates to remind you of all the good things you ever did in your life.

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Photo of mr-jj
4.82/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

16 oz can purchased at Craft Beer Cellar in Waterbury. Drank the first can in my hotel room and poured the second into a snifter just to see the color.

Poured a hazy straw color with a thick head of creamy foam.

The aroma was grapefruit and floral hops. And hops, And more hops. Wow.

Flavor is grapefruit rind and floral hops which almost, but not quite, hide the malt . Hop bitterness that lingers through the finish. Not a beer to be quickly quaffed.

Body was medium with a ton of hop resins left behind to coat my mouth. Its rare that I've tasted this much lingering hop presence. Maybe only on some of the Green Flash beers.

Overall, this is a great DIPA. Definitely deserves to be in the conversation of my top beers.

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Photo of Das_Reh
4.92/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Finally, getting to try the legendary Heady Topper. Sent to me by BigStein here on BA. Thanks!

Canned less than 10 days ago, reviewed 8/31/2015

A = Hazy bright orange color, 1 finger of off white head, visible hop sediment in suspension

S = Oh my god... I can smell this from 3 feet away. Popping the tab on the can immediately filled the air with the aroma of sweet fruit juice. Resinous, orangey, piney hops, so juicy and sweet, lots of tropical fruit notes such as mango, papaya, pineapple, maybe some tangerine. This is heavenly.

T = If you had told me this was fruit juice, I would have believed you. Orange, pine, more tropical fruit, coating your tongue in waves of oily, resinous hoppiness. Bitterness is restrained, letting the flavor and aroma of the hops shine through. Malts take a backseat in this beer for sure. Estery alcohols shine through at the end.

M = Slick and wet, super juicy, soft medium mouthfeel. Very drinkable.

O = The hype is real, folks. This beer deserves it's cult status, and I am so happy I was sent not one, but two of these. Worth seeking out and trading for!

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Photo of SemperIPA
4.75/5  rDev +1.9%

Long time awaiting this masterpiece -- was the fortunate recipient of this tremendous beer from a fellow patriot and beer guy from Vermont that hand carried it back to Germany from the Northeast Craft Beer Mecca! Poured into and enjoyed from a Spiegelau IPA glass – sorry, John, I just can’t drink this White Whale from the can.

APPEARANCE -- Cloudy, light amber and alive w/ carbonation. Thick off-white, sticky head that left strong rings of lacing w/ each and every sip – MOTO!

SMELL – Powerful floral & herbal aroma that motivates – GET SOME!

TASTE – Wonderful citrus & flowery hop flavor that is surprisingly NOT overpowering but well balanced and unquestionably an epic DIPA – OORAH!

MOUTHFEEL – Nice smooth feel w/ a carbonized refreshing finish – GOOD PIECE OF GEAR, LAMINATE IT AND TAKE IT TO THE FIELD!

OVERALL – A Top Notch DIPA that absolutely lived up to the hype! A long time waiting for this beer, but w/out a doubt worth the wait! Would love to do a head-to-head w/ PtY and RuinTen to determine who the King of IPAs really is, but in the end a great beer that makes me proud to be an American – SEMPER IPA MAC!

It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under!

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Photo of TheSixthRing
4.27/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Canning date unknown, but purchased on October 23rd, presumably from the 10/22 delivery day.

Appearance - Poured a few ounces into a glass to give a description of the appearance, but the rest of the review will be from the can as requested to be drank by the brewer. The brew is hazy and kind of a dull golden orange color, like watered down orange juice. Very little head that is quick to dissipate, leaving a mostly barren surface and thin ring around the edge of the glass. Lace consists of a few small spots around the glass, with fair stick.

Smell - Strong citrus and minty/leafy character. Light pine. Very subtle caramel note.

Taste - Follows the nose. Caramel malt underbody is more noticeable, and play wonderfully off the prominent, but controlled hop profile. Leafy/minty hops nearly outshine the citrus, grapefruit punch, while undertones of pine pop through. There's also a hint of pineapple zing, though it's quick and fading. Finish is leafy and slightly minty with a touch of citrus.

Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation. Texture is smooth, oily slick and dangerously chuggable with a semi-dry finish. Possibly the best attribute here.

Overall - I can see how this is a popular beer, but it's nearly impossible to live up to the legendary expectations that precede it; an awesome brew with very little distribution makes for a hell of a whale. That's what I've found. If this were more widely distributed I don't think it'd quite have the fanatical following it has, but by that same token it's one of the better DIPA's I've had. My advice: don't go Ahab for it.

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Photo of PBRmeasap1980
4/5  rDev -14.2%

16 oz can... 1/2 drank from can (as directed), 1/2 from tulip

A- Hazy goldn, light head
S- Dank, grass, orange creamcicle, grapefruit peel
T- Grass. pine bitterness, citrus peel bitterness. Obviously very hop forward, but well balanced
M- Medium. Slightly creamy

O- Good and glad I tried it, but it doesn't live up to the hype for me. Probably in my top 5 IIPAs, but I wouldn't call it "the best beer in the world"

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Photo of ftla69
3.97/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Don't believe the hype. Is it a good Imperial IPA? Yes? Is it worth all the hullabalo no. Is it the best? Not even close. Honestly don't understand the big deal with this beer. There are many better imperial IPA's out there. I think it being hard to get adds to the mystique of it but honestly there are other Vermont beers that are just as good. Do I regret buying it? No because going to this store allowed me to select a bunch of other delicious choices.

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Photo of TheIPAHunter
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

L - Kate Upton in a glass. In other words, a 20-something babe who's voluptuous and will never look this good again. Yet, here's the difference: Heady Topper will always look this good because Alchemist has gone to great lengths to perfect this beer. Super turbid, excellent head retention and brilliant variations of orange when held to the light. Only poured to extract a true interpretation of the look. This isn't my first dance with Heady. Drink from the can!
S - I want to apologize to my daughter's mother in advance, because I've never smelled anything like this. I used to smell her when I was at work; I could smell her on the pillow weeks after she was gone. This f*cking beer. Where do I even begin? People brag about opening something and smelling it clear across the room. I have gotten hints of that before, yet not on this level. You crack the can and it consumes your area. It doesn't exist in your space; you exist in the confines of it, which is far reaching. The absolute perfect blend of grapefruit and grass character. The best smelling beer of all-time, period.
T - Let's be real, if the nose doesn't hit the tongue equally, the beer isn't shit. This beer caresses the palate like young lovers exploring each other for the first time. The grapefruit character is the first thing that hits your tongue, along with faint hints of grainy cracker. Mid-palate I get the slightest dose of pineapple, with a gentle wisp of orange peel. The entire time it's so fucking balanced that Mary Lou Retton keeps texting me about her gold medals. Relax, girl. They aren't going anywhere! I could literally drink this for the rest of my life.
F - Tongue smacking bitterness, yet mastered. It's not a full on assault; actually, every time I reach for that OMG moment, there's a soft pillow of excellence that caresses my head to remind me how much effort was put into this beer.

There was a time when PtE and HT were compared to each other. Then the new wave IPAs started to appear. This isn't my first encounter with Heady, nor my last. I, for one, am a fan of the modern day interpretation of the IPA and it begins and ends with this one. I haven't had them all, but I've had enough to know what I like and don't like. This is a masterpiece. They will never have to release a 2.0 or modify the recipe slightly. It doesn't stand toe-to-toe; it stands above anything I've ever drank.

Can you hear that sound? It's the f*cking angels singing. Or maybe it's Lauryn Hill. Heady-la-la. That's the way Kimmich sound when he's doing his thing!

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Photo of scottum
4.97/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served a pale amber with a small light head. Hops are the flavor of choice here, but they are done right. Such a yummy bite. Actually does live up to it's name as the hops are strong enough to give off the heady within the buzz. Hops are not overly complex, yet not too simple either. This is one of the best IPAs I've ever had. Served only in 12oz glasses, the abv is not at all apparent. Sooo smooth. I'm sad that El Jefe is no longer on the menu, but I'd take the Heady Topper over the chief anyday.

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Photo of mklever42
4.57/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Aroma: pineapple, citrus, pine, little bit of onion
Appearance: Nice, bright orange. Hazy and chunky
Taste: tropical fruits, pine and some onion.

Now that New England is booming with some serious hops, Heady is one that I won't track down anymore. I would rather drink Trillium, TreeHouse and HF IPAs.

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Photo of HopfordBeerham
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The beer that changed beer drinking for me. This is by far my favorite beer. Complex hop flavors that hit you over and over! I can't get enough of it! Every time I crack one open its like the gates of Heaven are opening for me, while simultaneously my scalp is exploding off the top of my head. Delicious!! Quite difficult to come by, luckily my Grandma lives in Vermont and is able to get a "somewhat" steady supply to me. Salud!!

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Photo of jciampa123
3/5  rDev -35.6%

Well.... i live here in the great state of vermont. And i can get heady topper pretty much whene ever i want (im a chef, always have the stuff). This is a good IPA. I like it for its culture shock and I respect its cult folowing, however i actually do not like the beer. Its unbalanced, and dry hopped way to long for my taste. As a chef im always looking for balence and this just does not have it. But i do understand why hop heads around the country flock for it.

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Photo of Adel
4.95/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I wish my farts didn't smell so bad after drinking this gift from the gods

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Photo of InternMike
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From the can. Wonderful complexity in the taste profile - so much citrus flavor and aroma (especially grapefruit) in the beginning, then the sweet/bitter hoppy taste as the sip goes down. When fresh, this, in my opinion, is the epitome of Double IPA VT. beers.

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4.18/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Ok. Here I go. Got this from beerme330, big ups dude. Thank you. Drank it from the can other than a small amount poured to get a look at it. Looks like a floaty filled home brew. Smell was hops, tho they didn't eminate from the can as other have stated. Taste was quite hoppy with a bit of bitterness but it had an overwhelming booziness to it I didn't expect for 8%. Some citrus and tropical fruits present, but not nearly the life altering menagerie of lupulin I expected/hoped for.
Feel and carbonation were spot on for DIPA. OVERALL A VERY GOOD BEER, but not something I'd kill someone, in front of they own grandma for. Maybe I'm in the minority but...

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Photo of Marius
4.3/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Got this one from De Hopduvel in Ghent, BE. The next one I will drink from the can, but this one I had to dissect. No idea how fresh it is.
Golden-orange pour, hazy, with very little head and no retention. It does give way to a very fine and sticky lacing, but is in no way impressive looking - the focus must be on the taste.
The smell is like a typical west-coast IPA, lots of pine, citrus (grapefruit mostly, and some lime) and tropical fruit aromas, some dankness, maybe some green apples, a bit of honey and a slight funkiness.
Moderately complex and balanced taste. Pine notes up front, citrus (grapefruit and lime again), followed by the sweeter notes of pineapple, papaya, mango. Bitter-sweet aftertaste, and a surprisingly light body. On the down side, it does have a strong herbal bitterness in the end, and the alcohol is a bit too present in the aftertaste, but maybe I had an old can, not sure.
Decent beer, definitely one I would try again, but not the best IPA out there.

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Photo of TheBrewologist
4.75/5  rDev +1.9%

Huge beer with an enticing nose and massive, complex flavor. Ignoring the print around the top of the can, "Drink From the Can," I poured this into my usual tasting glass and enjoyed the soft aromas of bitter orange, sweet malt and citrus, with spicy and earthy notes. The flavor was intriguing and seemed perfectly balanced.

Tasting from the can I noticed more of a tingle and an edgier hop nose that settled down as it sat.

Is it worth all the hype? The Alchemist is brewing a great beer but I think the limited availability bolsters the mystique. Still, it is one heck of a delicious American Double IPA.

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Photo of PSU_Mike
4.33/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

What better way to break in my brand new snifter than with a can of Heady Topper, the #1 rated beer on Beer Advocate.

A - It pours a very hazy light orange with a one finger, white head that retains well.

S - The nose is a bouquet of citrusy goodness. Mangos, passion fruit, grapefruit, pineapple, with a slight touch of pine on the finish. I was quite surprised however at how subdued the nose was. The can is fresh so I was expecting an explosion of flavor that I didn't get.

T - There's the explosion I was waiting for. Follows the nose very closely. Flavor is intense and bright with the aforementioned citrusy notes shining through. Mid-palate turns to pine. Finish is a bready malt backbone that shows its head but doesn't overshadow the hops.

M - Great feel. Medium bodied, light bitterness, relatively dry, and very drinkable.

O - Great beer? Hell yes. Excellent beer? Yes. Best beer I've ever had? A resounding no. Worth the trouble of getting it but just barely.

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Heady Topper from The Alchemist
100 out of 100 based on 2,206 ratings.