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Heady Topper - The Alchemist

Not Rated.
Heady TopperHeady Topper

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

9,154 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 9,154
Reviews: 1,724
rAvg: 4.72
pDev: 8.47%
Wants: 6,007
Gots: 2,115 | FT: 37
Brewed by:
The Alchemist visit their website
Vermont, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  8.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
"An American Double IPA” 75 IBU 8.0% abv

(Beer added by: scottum on 03-27-2004)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 9,154 | Reviews: 1,724 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.15/5  rDev -12.1%
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.

BeerAdvocate, Apr 06, 2012
Photo of BEERchitect
4.65/5  rDev -1.5%
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.

BEERchitect, Mar 15, 2012
Photo of Thorpe429
4.72/5  rDev 0%
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.

Thorpe429, Dec 09, 2010
Photo of SemperIPA
4.75/5  rDev +0.6%

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!

SemperIPA, Aug 23, 2014
Photo of scottum
4.97/5  rDev +5.3%
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.

scottum, Mar 27, 2004
Photo of beerded_drunk
5/5  rDev +5.9%

Let me start this review by saying: it's been a long time coming and much anticipated to finally get my hands on this gem!!!!

LOOK: silver and black (absolutely spectacular)

SMELL: blown away, by far the best smelling DIPA I have ever been in the same room with. pine bark, pine sap, pine needles, pineapple, tangerine, orange, mango, earth, biscuits, fresh baked bread, christmas trees, fresh air, pennies, dank as fuq, there is a big, giant, humungous nose on this beer.

TASTE: this is truly the definition of a hop bomb. It's pine needles, pine sap, pine bark, tangerine, orange, pine sap, hop resin, definitely unfiltered, raw yet smooth, sweet, exact replica of the aroma, very fun to drink as you make your way down the can the flavors bounce around from sip to sip. simply genius, i finished this first Heady topper in about 13 mins and i don't regret a single impatient moment.

MOUTHFEEL: creamy, buttery, prickly, calm, very medium bodied, goes down easy and hangs out for a bit after you are done...

OVERALL: I Highly recommend this beer, there is a reason it is #1 in the country. Self explanatory, if you are researching this beer, then you already know. Its worth whatever it takes to get your hands on it. brilliant, simply brilliant!

beerded_drunk, Oct 23, 2014
Photo of mr-jj
4.81/5  rDev +1.9%
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.

mr-jj, Oct 21, 2014
Photo of ILMbrew
4.63/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pours a glowing orange somewhat hazy tint. One of the brightest beers I've ever seen in the glass. Smell is unlimited sweet citrusy hops. So incredibly sweet on the nose. Like hoppy candy. The taste is awesome. Great bursts of citrusy west coast hops but also a good bit of pine. Surprisingly balanced in terms of hop profile. Mouthfeel is pretty standard of a DIPA. Smooth and well carbonated. Overall this is such a great beer. Maybe not the greatest beer of all time but defimtiely something I wish I could keep in my fridge at all times.

ILMbrew, Oct 19, 2014
Photo of TheBrewologist
4.75/5  rDev +0.6%

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.

TheBrewologist, Oct 19, 2014
Photo of snaotheus
4.89/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pint can poured into a pint glass (because I wanted to look at it). No date that I can see -- but purchased a week ago today, and flown home in a friend's luggage. Another gift from him that elicited a nerdy gasp of delight when I found it on my desk.

Pours hazy golden with a perfect inch of surprisingly coarse head that stays standing for some time, and relaxes more than fades. Smell is excellent, beautiful bright floral and citrus notes with a strong pine note, clean fresh hop aroma (I'm not sure I've ever smelled a beer that smelled this similar to actual living hops).

Taste is so hop forward. Delightfully so. Resin, intensified grapefruit rind, pine, just enough honeysuckle and tangerine sweetness to balance. Bitter finish is ridiculously long.

Mouthfeel is thick and filmy, but the film is delicious. Overall, unsurprisingly, this is on my short list of best beers I've ever tasted. I would love to do a side by side comparison with some of the others.

snaotheus, Oct 16, 2014
Photo of UnionMade
4.5/5  rDev -4.7%

After driving all day through winding Vermont by-roads with my wife (she wasn't a problem, but endless construction was) and waiting in a long-ass line at Beverage Baron, you bet I was going to pour this into a glass. I could smell tangy hops as soon as I cracked the can, which was a good sign.

Looks an awful lot like a hefeweizen of some sort, with a nice, even cloudiness. Great head retention and gloppy lacing down the glass. I broke out my rather old Humble Patience 20oz nonic glass, for some Vermont nostalgia.

Really nice resinous hop aroma. Very floral with some fruity malt esters mingling well.

I've had a lot of big IPA in my day, but this one is pretty singular. It's neither too oily, too malty, or too hoppy. It has almost an orange juice sweet n' tangy thing going up front, with a surprisingly creamy mouthfeel that somehow makes me think of milk or a rootbeer float. The carbonation is perfect. The brew is very hop forward of course, but in an unusually gentle, somehow elegant way. Sweetness is always there, but somehow hops are presented and showcased throughout the entire sip without ever being shocking or abrasive. There's a lot of juiciness in the finish, with a really pleasant citric/resin hop scent wafting up into my sinuses. It's a big beer, but has such an impossibly mellow demeanor that you can easily forget you're drinking an 8% beer.

I had more than a little pessimism about how good this beer really is, mostly attributing the hype to scarcity and mythology, but it really is pretty outstanding. I was skeptical about Westy 12 when it ruled the roost, and was largely let down, but I think the reviews are accurate in this case. I don't think I'd drive 8 hours round trip to wait in line at a specific time to buy it again, but it is worthy of the hype.

Of all the beer styles in the world, a double IPA is one that I'd never expect to call gentle and smooth, but this one certainly is. My only complaint is a touch of alcohol heat, especially on the first sip. It creates a dissonant tone after such a perfect first experience. Its not very bothersome, and I don't even notice it halfway through the beer, but it was a bit of an off note after a surprisingly great first sip. After drinking this beer, I have a new perspective on double IPA, and I'm realizing that there's a lot of really bad ones out there. For me, it's sort of like the first time I heard Metallica's Master of Puppets album at age 11-12. I realized that most of the other heavy metal I thought I liked was absolute garbage or at least not as good as I thought it was.

UnionMade, Oct 14, 2014
Photo of PBRmeasap1980
4/5  rDev -15.3%

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"

PBRmeasap1980, Oct 13, 2014
Photo of jciampa123
3/5  rDev -36.4%

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.

jciampa123, Oct 11, 2014
Photo of TheRossness
4.5/5  rDev -4.7%

At the time of this review, Heady topper is ranked on Beer Advocate as the best beer in the world. I was up at Stowe in Vermont for a british car show and found a bar that served this infamous beer on tap. Overall, if I didn't know this beer was so highly ranked, I would have thought Its good, but not memorable. If anything, all the flavors are very well balanced. The only decreeable flavor i could pick out was mandarin orange. I think this would be a nice session beer, but this is absolutely not a memorable beer. For all the hype, this was a letdown as there's nothing memorable, special or unique about it. FWIW, I'm also not really an IPA guy.

TheRossness, Sep 25, 2014
Photo of RancidAggro
5/5  rDev +5.9%

World class. Finding one can be a bit tricky though. My friend got me one at a phish concert but I was left with a feeling of disappointment. I think they had allowed it to get warm which affected the taste. I then took a trip to Vermont and headed straight for Waterbury. I thought it would be easy to find once I got to the home town but I may as well have been in California. I struck gold at the best Western hotel I stayed at because their cafe had some in stock. I did end up finding some to bring home after following multiple leeds taking me to multiple towns.

RancidAggro, Sep 18, 2014
Photo of brianlapointe
4.25/5  rDev -10%

poured a orange/yellowish color with a bubbly white head. smells like like grapefruit and earthy pine. taste was almost so grapefruity it was tart and sour. amazingly smooth and each sip grew with more hops. Texture was kind of thick. Def overrated in my eyes for a double ipa but I would say this is top 15 dipas in my book

brianlapointe, Sep 10, 2014
Photo of LittleDon
4.5/5  rDev -4.7%

By far, the nicest look and feel of a bottled/canned IIPA. Big fluffy white head and oodles of glass sticking lace. Low-medium carbonation give it a very soft and creamy feel, particularly when pared with the medium+ body. Aroma and flavor are as good as you could want for the style. Lots of pine and a long lasting bitter finish. Residual sugars lean it a click toward the sweet side and there's a touch of alcohol in the finish. Big thanks to Chuk for securing this one for me.

LittleDon, Sep 07, 2014
Photo of OliOxenFree
5/5  rDev +5.9%

First and foremost, gotta give a BIG thanks to DCLAguy11 for hooking me up with this brew I've been wanting to quaff for over a year. Seriously, thank you. I was really excited to try this. Re-he-he-heally excited.

So, to begin with, I drank this within 24 hours, making sure it was chilled. Drank straight from the can because, duh, it says 3 times around the rim, "DRINK FROM THE CAN!" With that, no color description.

The smell is best described as hop heaven. So tropical. Pineapple, grapefruit, some pine, peach, guava... Amazing.

The tasting? ... Oh man... Oh, man... OH MAN! So delicious! Trying my best not to be affected by hype and hopes, but it is very well balanced and like it says on the can, "wave after wave of hoppy goodness." The first sip gives off a very tropical dry hop taste. Guava, peach, ever so slight, along with papaya and pineapple. Then after the dry tropical taste, I get this wet, traditional IPA flavor; so full of grapefruit, pine, light lemon. That "second wave" is juicy. Finally, it just ends with a nice resiny mouthfeel that grows like a ghost pepper: more and more hops as you drink, but ever so subtle and leaves a craving for more sips.

I gotta say, this is indeed the best DIPA I've ever had. Here in Texas, I've had good Double IPAs, such as Deep Ellum's Dream Crusher & Karbach's Rodeo Clown (which are very very good), which are both amazing (can't help but praise), but this one takes the cake. It's just head and shoulders above the rest, and if I could get it here, I would probably go broke. Immediately after I drank this, I needed to continue the amazing feeling it left, a blonde ale I consider solid tasted like swill. This is both good and bad; it goes to showcase how well crafted Heady Topper is. This whole heartedly deserves the hype.

Citizens of Vermont: consider yourselves blessed.

OliOxenFree, Sep 07, 2014
Photo of weaf
4.5/5  rDev -4.7%

Had never heard of this before but my local place got it on tap and wow it was excellent with a bit heavy on the froth but still a great pour. Not in your face like many imperials but smooth with a ton of hops and flavor. Didn't realize it was 8% until it started to hit me as I finished it as I hadn't eaten yet.

weaf, Aug 31, 2014
Photo of Scipio3
5/5  rDev +5.9%

For my tastes, this beer is the perfect IPA.

The Hops explode in your mouth. There is just enough citrus and alcohol flavor. If you are looking for subtlety, this is not for you.

Scipio3, Aug 23, 2014
Photo of argock
4.5/5  rDev -4.7%

Consumed directly out of the can as directed on the labeling. No canned on or best by date present. Purchased at Bueno Y Sano (Burlington, VT).

A: Unknown other than the little dribbles on the brim of the can which is golden.

S: Aroma is readily assessed through said can opening with a gamma ray like propulsion of tropical fruit including passionfruit, mango, and pineapple topped off with grapefruit and lime citrus and finished with a blast of pine and some floral notes as well. Pale maltiness is one-dimensional and a bit crackery without much residual sweetness. (4.5)

T: An extremely well-executed beer with a mirror of the aroma, yet intensified with tropical fruit and citrus notes blending with pine resin, floral, and a bit of grassy-herbal honeysuckle in there as well. Pale maltiness is light caramel and crackery, but it mainly serves as a vehicle for abundant hops assault. No yeast or alcohol and bitterness is surprisingly medium -- I think I consumed the entire tallboy in about 12 minutes. It is a very good American DIPA, but I still think there are a few more unique (ST Oak Aged Unearthly) and more aromatic and flavorful (KR Citra DIPA). (4.5)

M: Extremely smooth without being creamy, more slick related to the medium body and lowish carbonation. (4.5)

O: I really enjoyed my first experience with Heady Topper -- it is an exceptional beer and I trust it was fresh since I was close to the source. It was worth the trouble to track it down, and I found it in an off-the-beaten-path place in Burlington. Check it out for sure.

argock, Aug 20, 2014
Photo of Dietter
4.24/5  rDev -10.2%

I have been waiting a year to grab this beer. Even though I hate IPAs, I wanted to see if this beer is worth the hype. I wasn't disappointed, an IPA I actually didn't mind drinking, which is the ultimate sign of respect from anti-IPA drinker. I can see why you "hop heads" dream over it

Dietter, Aug 18, 2014
Photo of getkrunkhoe
5/5  rDev +5.9%

Amazing Aroma. Had from Can as well as Glass. And man o Man, THis shit is bANging. Very nice lush mouthfeel, smooth drinking, and just overall balanced and well madE.

getkrunkhoe, Aug 15, 2014
Photo of fgmiele
4.68/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Damn, finally my excessive beer drinking has paid off and I have been granted the opportunity to at last taste the topper. Served in a can as the label so duly instructs, I did pour a smidge into a snifter for the sole purpose of being able to rate the appearance. And so here it goes...

Appearance.. Seems cloudy enough. I am surprised that the hue is pale gold as opposed to dark like some IPAs. Has the look of a wheat beer almost with a sudsy head, little lacing.

Nose.. This is the cornucopia of IPAs.. Tropical, fruity, floral, bitter. Yes.

Taste.. Follows the nose and more. The right amount of bitterness and heat doing just the trick. All the qualities of a desirable ipa.

Mouthfeel.. Slick and powerful

Overall... Now I know what the hype is about. It's for certain to me now why this brew is so coveted. Not to say I haven't had other excellent IPAs similar to this style. In fact, all things said and done I have had several that could give heady a run for its money. But! An amazing beer. Must get more.

fgmiele, Aug 14, 2014
Photo of PSU_Mike
4.35/5  rDev -7.8%
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.

PSU_Mike, Aug 11, 2014
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Heady Topper from The Alchemist
100 out of 100 based on 9,154 ratings.