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Heady Topper | The Alchemist

2,222 Reviews
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: 2,222 | Ratings: 12,484
Photo of herman77
4.72/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Big Thanks to MarkF150. Believe this was canned 8/9

A: Very cloudy honey orange with a cream colored head. Good retention. Very nice lacing.

S: Lots of sweet tropical fruits, mango, papaya, pineapple. Simcoe hops? Sweet malty backbone.

T: Follows the nose. Again, all those kinds of hop flavors I love and nice bitter bite in the finish. Not overpowering though. The sweetness helps balance it out as does the carmel malt backbone which I feel is bigger than it really tastes. Finishes fairly dry, maybe a little too dry. That would be only real complaint in the taste department.

M: Medium body. Average to lower carbonation. Feels really slick with all the hop oils.

O: Good drinkability. A world class IIPA. Right up there with Pliny, Hopslam, Abrasive and Apocalypse Cow in my book.

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Photo of waddellc2
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

In my top 3 all time favorite beers. FIghts for the number 1 spot But I think it might be one of the ebst beers

DOnt be decieved by the can!

IMPOSSIBLE to get outside of northern vermont (Stowe, Burlington, Montpelier)

Case costs $72 for 24 16 oz beers. WOrth every penny

Only on draft in 2 places that i know of. THe cannery in Waterbury, and Prohibition Pig, the onld brewery

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

I was able to buy a couple 4-packs of this cult legend during a recent trip to Stowe, Vermont. No buyer's remorse at all! I enjoyed Heady straight from the can–as recommended by the brewery right on the can–but I did have a single serving decanted into a wine glass (I do prefer drinking it straight from the can).

Appearance (5/5): Emblazoned right on the top rim of each Heady tallboy are the words "Drink From the Can!" The rationale is explained on the back of what I think may be the coolest looking can I've ever come across: the Heady Topper graphic, depicting a rosy-cheeked man downing a can of the brew whilst hops seem to be steaming from the top of his head, has such a classic look. Really cool stuff. If you pour the beer into your favorite glass, you'll find that Heady is an excellent looking beer: it is peach-hued, opaque (unfiltered and unpasteurized), and is topped by a pillowy, two-finger, white head of foam. Beautiful stuff, whether you decide to drink from the can or decant it.

Smell (4.5/5): The nose on this beer is very good: notes of pine, mango, pineapple, apricot, and, of course, grapefruit spring from the can. Floral. A little sweetness is mixed in there, too, and is reminiscent of dried tropical fruit. The nose isn't perfect, though; this being a canned brew that should be consumed from the can, it's a tad harder to smell the bouquet.

Taste (5/5): The flavor is super, super hoppy. Dominant flavors are: grapefruit, mango, pine, pineapple. It's fairly dry, but fruity hops lend a nice juiciness and mild sweetness. While heavily hopped, Heady isn't super bitter or abrasive; the bitterness comes on slowly and builds as the resinous hop oils–strong in this brew–coat the tongue with each sip. Though strong, alcohol is not noticeable at all in the flavor.

Mouthfeel (5/5): Heady's a remarkably smooth brew. Medium-light carbonation and medium body seem to suit the flavor profile perfectly. The superb, mildly creamy mouthfeel makes a high-flying hop journey as smooth and clean as possible.

Overall (5/5): An incredible hop experience, I must say. Big, big flavors all over the place. The most serious hop head will appreciate this beer the most and likely will be in a state of hop nirvana. Non-hop heads won't know what hit them.

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Photo of neophilus
4.89/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Yes I have enjoyed it straight from the can, but today I am reviewing in a glass.

Pours a straw colored gold, mostly clear with a little bit of haze. Foamy white head on top begins to fall quickly. Decent lacing.

Intensely pungent grapefruit aroma explodes out of the glass. You can smell it from 5 feet away. All citrus here, rich and thick in the air. Just a hint of malty sweetness underneath reminds me this in not in fact a freshly sliced grapefruit.

Sweet malt on the palate with sharp grapefruit citrus dominating the taste buds. Smooth even though my mouth is drenched in sweet citrus. There is hop bitterness in there but I forget all about it as I swim through the rich grapefruit flavors.

Slightly dry finish, crisp grapefruit aftertaste. Clean citrus lingers on the palate long after the previous sip.

There is an underlying sweetness to this beer that keeps it from being a straight up grapefruit bomb, but it finishes dry and it is not cloying. Extremely refreshing and nearly overwhelming with hop flavors - if there was a flavor I would want to drown in this would be it.

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Photo of mikem0487
4.52/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

My buddy went up to Vermont this past month and was lucky enough to pick up a 6pack for himself and gave me one!

A-Two finger head dissipated quickly back into the beer. Not to much lacing going on either. Unfiltered beer with a off amber brown color. Looks heady for a unfiltered double IPA!

S-Earthy grapefruit aroma dominates. Mild lemon/citrus notes with the caramel malts behind it all. Smells great!

T-Get hops throughout the whole palate. The hops arent too overwhelming however. Everything is cohesive until the end where the hops hit the back of the tongue. Leaves great after taste. Get all that earthy citrus hops found in the nose. Has a nice caramel malt profile to help subdue the hoppiness in this beer!

M-Has great mouthfeel. Love unfiltered beers. Slighty chewy. Good carbonation in this.

O-Great beer. Has everything you are looking for in a double IPA! Only thing that its lacking is in the appearance with the minute head retention. As long as the beer smells appetizing and taste good I am happy so nothing to worry about in this beer!

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Photo of JackieTH
4.55/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Rob for acquiring this one. Really cool can, by the way, although I didn't heed the advice to drink from it.

Poured a very hazy orange with a big billowing head that receeded slowly with ample lacing.

Pine and ripe tropical fruit in the smell, and that's where the ride started and it didn't end until the glass was emptied, or nearly emptied sans the heavy sedimentation that had settled into the bottom of the glasses. Smells of pine, tropical fruits, peppery even..almost like the faint cordite that lingers in the air after fireworks.

Flavors of tropical elements, also mint, sap resin, canteloupe, star fruits, watermelon rind..this fella is chaotic, but oh it's flavorful. Hints of the alcohol poking through. Mouthfeel is firm and zesty, excellent carbonation, very well crafted.

This one takes you for quite a ride but in the end it's simply refreshing and tasty.

Very nice.

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

A - An awesome can - Drink from it.

S - A Beautiful strong sweet Smell

T - Hoppy explosion with gusto and wisdom

M - crisp and refreshing

O - It's simply the best 2xIPA out there.... I had a fun time tasting the beer in Waterbury and meeting the crew. Its a great beer made by good people. Enough said.

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Photo of mattbk
4.71/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - An orange, almost amber color. Quite cloudy. Limited carbonation.

S - Amazing smell. Rich and full of fruits. I immediately get pineapple (SImcoe?), mango, and pine. THe smell is luscious almost.

T - Same as the smell, with just a bit of hop bitterness, and a little bit of alcohol warming. But all very well balanced, with hop flavor taking center stage. The malt sweetness is there to balance it out also. This almost like eating a slice of peach pie - but also nothing like that. Frankly, it's delicious. There are no flaws at all.

M - Medium, definitely low carbonation, I would have preferred the carb just a tad higher; but maybe that would have masked the flavor.

O - If you can, please try this beer. I live on the right coast and don't trade, so I haven't been privy to Pliny, but it would be hard for me to imagine it being any better.

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

Between the Alchemist, Hill Farmstead, and Lawson's Finest, I feel very lucky to live in VT! IPAs are my favorite style of beer, but I usually find DIPAs to be too strongly tasting of alcohol. This beer is incredibly smooth and drinkable despite its high alcohol content and potent hopping. The smell of the heady topper alone is delicious, and the taste is even better, with passionfruit, mango, and piney hop aromas. The heady topper delivers the ultimate hops experience!

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Photo of beesy
4.47/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 16oz can into a Sam Adams nucleation glass. Thanks DonFrap for including it in the last trade.

A - pours a light orange with a one finger eggshell colored head that dissipates within minutes. It's really cloudy and looks more like chill haze cloudiness than non-filtered cloudiness. A fair bit of sediment apparent.

S - this is where this beer shines in my eyes. A hop explosion filled with tropical notes dominating(mango, pineapple and grapefruit) with a touch of pine. Oranges. A fair amount of alcohol/booze detected in the aroma.

T - hop dominated/hop forward as apparent in the nose. Same hops(appears to be lots of Simcoe) in the taste as in the nose. A fairly clean, firm bitterness lingers. Slightly boozy. A little letdown compared to the aroma, but still an excellent hoppy beer.

M - on the medium-light side.

D - not as easy to drink as I expected. The hight bitterness and boozy aspcect hinder the drinkability.

Overall, a very fine beer. I think the hype factor drives up the ratings of this guy a little, but it's very very good. A little more boozy than I liked for the fairly low IIPA 8%abv. The appearance turned me off a bit - it's almost like the brewery knows they hit on all the other aspects and got lazy with the visuals. Glad I got to try it and will pick some up when I have the opportunity.

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Photo of eric5bellies
4.38/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Drank from my Gulden Draak tulip.

Big thanks to Nick6217

A - Pours a nice cloudy honeycomb colour with a thick frothy head that stays around. Beautiful colour.

S - Heaps of piney hop, and small green grape.

T - Nice hoppy flavour up front with a mango flavour. Reasonable malty finish with no hint of booze.

M - Medium to full body with medium carbonation

O - Very enjoyable beer, past its best but still very drinkable

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Photo of gory4d
3/5  rDev -35.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Two cans, one poured, the other straight up. Poured has a nice white head, no lacing. The smell is piney and flowery. The taste is totally raw and bitter, sweet upfront and that's the end, except for a chalky dry aftertaste. It's greasy with a good amount of fizz. Why is a beer like this necessary?

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Photo of patm1986
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

thank you.

A--the first time i had this beer it was actually on tap at blind tiger several months ago.
i was meeting a friend who works up the street from the tiger, and i had been at some museums all day fucking around.
i had no idea that the tiger did VSK on mondays; that is, a very special keg--had i known, i would've had my ass in there a lot earlier.
i was five or so minutes late to meet my buddy for 6pm, so when i entered he was already there, set up close to the door as it was crammed in the joint.
entering i noticed two things: 1) it was SO PACKED. it's near a happy hour of sorts probably, and everyone is still in here drownin' a glass or five, i thought. and 2) everyone, i mean EVERYONE, was swirling, smelling, even quaffing, what looked like a flame held within a lantern. it was, however, a tulip of some cloudy, intensely bright orange liquid.
my friend, as well, was holding one, and before salutations, he just stuck it in my face, "drink!"
i could not, however, get over the color, which really looked like a flame lantern.
i did the obligatory swirl and sniff. and drank. it altered, startled me. he said, "heady topper!"
i tell this story, because, since that day, i've had a lot of this beer, yet each of those subsequent experiences were from out of the can.
i have not viewed the appearance of this beer ever since, and due to that amazing experience and the brewers' directions, unless it's tapped, i will not ever again.

S--MANGO. mangoes gone mad; over-, over-ripened lemons and oranges; the earthy rinds of oranges and lemons; grass and grass; the hop madness of chinook, simcoe, centennial. potent.

T--it's like juice. it's so unbelievably refreshing. i'd have this after a run. not too bitter, earthy, piney, biting, aggressive, yet it is all of those things at the same time. it is one of the most pleasant IPAs i've had despite being one of the most hoppy. citrusy, like lemon, grapefruit galore, orange. the mango, tropical flavor profile rocks your shit, too.

M--Smooth. so refreshing. not a hop milkshake, which is the definitive separation in comparison with the west coast DIPAs. they are so thick, they're fatty--i have found this to be true with MAINE BREW CO., LAWSON'S, etc also. this is smooth as silk despite its profile. amazing.

O--and out of the coolest tall boy i've ever seen.

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Photo of Jimmys
4.72/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

scored a couple 4-packs and smuggled them back to PA. pint can into flying dog tulip. no canned on date.

A: a very hazy body that is a pale orange color. head is white, but not bright. big bubbles. good retention and lacing. almost too hazy, but i guess it must be fresh then.

S: pine. grapefruit. very inviting. kiwis. melon. but mostly pine. lots and lots of pine. very good.

T: a very american hop profile is thorough. the palate is actually sticky. enough sweet malt/caramel flavor is back there, but just detectable towards the finish. a little vanilla? bitterness lingers into the finish but is not over-cloying.

M: mild carbonation on a full bodied IPA.

D: like the can says, dangerously drinkable. hands down top 3 DIPA's i can just pick up and enjoy several without being overwhelmed. just lovely.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.94/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is incredible stuff, this beer was drank mostly from the can... only poured a sample of it out to enjoy the orange yellow color of it with a nice looking white head on top. Had a nice unfiltered cloudiness to it also. The smell of the beer is very hoppy, lots of pine aromas in it with the delicate floral and citrusy notes in there as well. The taste is probably worthy of a 5.5 honestly. There is no doubt that this has some of the best transitions of flavors I've had from any IPA. There is a huge rush of floral sweet citrus notes on the tongue in the very beginning, as the liquid settles there is a very subtle burst of malts on the tongue right before the aggressive pine resin starts to claw away at your taste buds. The mouthfeel is smoothly carbonated making this beer very easy to drink, it's medium bodied and has a nice dry finish to it. Overall this is something very special, The people up at Alchemist aren't screwing around here, they are setting out to make the best IPA in the world and I would say that they just might have it. This is a beer I would drive to Vermont to get cases of. I thoroughly enjoyed this beer. Looking forward to drinking the next 3 in the pack.

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Photo of welldigger888
4.67/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to a great friend for sharing with me.

Nice frothy snow white head, leaves brief sheets of lacing down glass. Opaque orangish hue with a charming rustic feel to it.

WOWY WOW WOW WOW! This is a citrus bomb in a can, me likey. Orangey pineapple mango piney resony goodness.

This like an adult version of a creamcicle, abundant sweet orange grapefruity goodness. Packs a wallop on the bitterness too. Touch of booze (in a good way) gives way to a hint of grainy malt. Long citrus finish and smoooth bittering.

Creamy smooth with excellant carbonation.

Loved it, ranks up with the exsellant boyking batches and the pliney I had last fathers day. I need a friend in that part of the country to ship.

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Photo of DogfishIPA
4.59/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: golden straw colored with a light eggshell colored head

S: smelled strongly of hops, also scents of grass, citrus, lemongrass, light scents of orange peel

T: the taste of fresh hops really come through, with hints sweet pine and grass each sip starts off lightly sweet and ends crisp and bitter

M: great balanced mouthfeel, on the thinner side considering an 8% abv

O: overall a great D-IPA, very well balanced not too much alcohol taste, perfect on a hot summer day, wish it was more readily available

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

I got no bad words about it. But this is theee best beer that I ever drink in my holler life of travelling the world. And I have to say that the alchemist brewery did an exceptional job on this unique beer. For those that can handle the heady topper, maybe you should try the walden. That is a brew made by the alchemist and hill farm brewery together. Very similar to heady topper but much lite. I wish the alchemist made more then 1800 cans of week so that other stores closer to my house would be able to have them.
Thank you.

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Photo of smcolw
3.83/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sorry, I had to pour into the glass despite the can's pleading to drink directly. Thick, slowly receding head. Leaves plenty of chunky, blanketing lace. Cloudy, dark gold color.

Very strong evergreen hop smell. Prickly with a touch of citrus rind. Like smelling a bag of hop pellets.

Extraordinarily bitter. Starts off fairly neutrally with a bit of mild pale malt. Still this is a bitter, bitter hop bomb. Be prepared to pucker up. Hop heads shall rejoice, but I think this might be too much of a good thing (and I lean towards more hoppy beers). The body is predictable and appropriate for the style.

I was very excited to find this beer in Boston, but its hype exceeds my expectations.

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

As instructed, I drank this AMAZING beer directly from the can as well as from a tulip glass. Hands-down, no-doubt one of my Top 3 IPAs of all-time...

Appearance - 4.5 only because the beer does show a lot of sediment that settles at the bottom of the can/glass, but I actually love a beer that has a little "meat on the bones". After pouring in a tulip glass, there was a 2 finger, slightly off-white, tight bubble formation head.

Smell - OUT OF THIS WORLD! There are huge wafts of pineapple and grapefruit to this beer. Heady Topper has an uncanny ability to perfectly mesh the fruit scent with fresh, piney hops. If I were a Genie, I would love to live in this can as my bottle.

Taste - Explosion of hops that resonates in your mouth, perfectly balanced by the slightly-bready malts. And when I say "balanced", I am generously favoring the highly-potent fruity hoppy goodness of this beer. A MUST have. I forgot to mention, one can't even taste the whopping 8% ABV from this beer due to its' heavenly hops.

Mouthfeel - This unpasturized beer has a medium-bodied mouthfeel. Certainly not as light as your typical APA/IPA or as heavy and thick as a Porter/Bock, etc... but it does feel semi-dry after drinking. Mouthfeel and Appearance are overwhelmed by this beer's IMMENSE smell and taste.

Overall, in my opinion, any beer connoisseur needs to add this beer to their beer-"bucket list"... ESPECIALLY for hopheads.

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Photo of lurpy1
4.97/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Yesterday, HT was a beer I hoped to try some day. Today, after a tasting, HT is the best beer I've ever had. Thanks to Brandon for sharing a 4-pack, of which I greedily and surreptitiously consumed more than my fair share.

Utterly blown away that a beer can be this hoppy, this alcoholic, and this smooth and easy to drink. The first sip almost made me cry. There is not a lot I can add after 750+ reviews that hasn't been said. Is there such a thing as perfection? I don't know. But if perfection means a beer can't be improved on, this might be perfect. I don't know how you improve on it....except to relocate the Alchemist to Minnesota so I have easy and frequent access to it.

A day later I'm still thinking about this beer and trying to figure out how to get some. I suppose this is the way junkies feel about heroin. I wonder if that stuff's any good....

I'm agnostic, but if there is a (non-Mormon) God, may he bless the Alchemist, and watch over them so they can keep making this incredible beer.

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Photo of Hopfenpeter
4.82/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

What a beer!!!
Could not help, but to pour it for a review.
It has a cloudy medium gold color and builds a creamy white head, witch leaves good lacing.
The smell is full of citrusy, fruity and flowery hops.
The taste is an incredible abundance of hop flavors, yet balanced be just enough malt, not to be overpowering. Great mouthfeel and drinkability makes this one probably the best I have tasted yet.
Fantastic beer and I think my personal beer high score!!!

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Photo of kdb150
4.43/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Reviewed as drank from the can, as it is made abundantly clear that this is the way to drink it.

A - Since I've had this before and poured it into a glass, and I'm forced to give an appearance score, AND I'm not inclined to base an appearance score off of can art, I recall it being good as far as head, color, and lacing, but a bit cloudy, likely since the can makes it hard to see when to stop pouring to keep the sediment out of the glass.

The rest of this review is from the current can.

S - You get a hint of complex hop aroma from the mouth of the can that smells quite good, but it is obscured by the metallic smell of the can. Points off for that.

T - Whoa. This is the best tasting IPA I've had. It manages to be dank, resiny, citrusy, bright, and with enough of a backbone to not have the hops overwhelm. The hops linger for a minute or so, and then they give way to the honey malt flavor, which lingers a good while longer. You can't really peg a particular hop flavor on this one; the hop profile is far too complex, but it melds together so well that you get all of the flavors without anything sticking out as unbalanced or out of place. Truly remarkable.

M - Nice carbonation, not thick by any means. Perfect mouthfeel to deliver the experience.

O - This is a wonderful beer, head and shoulders above any other IIPA I've had. It loses points for the can thing not really being my bag, and because the amazing flavors don't quite translate to the nose, but this is still the IIPA that beats all the others. Totally worth the hype, and worth seeking out. This beer was painstakingly crafted to not be too boozy, nor too hoppy, nor too malty, and they've absolutely nailed it. The taste is incomparable for the style.

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Photo of ChicagoJohn
4.7/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had on Tap at the Blind Tiger some months back... from notes

A- Cloudy orange appearance with some good head developed. Looks like grapefruit juice that has settled and is sitting out.

S- Tons of tropical fruit smells in the nose. This is a very good smelling DIPA.

T- Love the fact that there isn't too much of that caramel backbone in most DIPAs that I avoid and that the hops are in the forefront of the beer's taste. It's a tad bit unbalanced but I don't mind it if I'm drinking one can but I would have to stop after the 2nd can because the alcohol isn't completely hidden.

M- Heavy, almost syrupy beer. Love it.

O- This isn't the perfect beer to me. The only issue I have with it is the fact that I can taste the alcohol prominently due to the fact that they put in less malts to balance. It would have killed if it had no alcohol trace like the Pliny but at the same time the taste and nose blows virtually all other DIPAs. But it's still damn tasty but I will stop at only drinking one per session and then focus on a more balanced IPA or DIPA such as what Hill Farmstead occurs.

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Photo of doppelmeup
4/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was kind of hard to review. The can is stamped all over with "Drink from can" so that is how I had it. Very hard to rate appearance with a beer in a can. So, I'll give it a 4.0, assuming from the rest of the characteristics that it would look good in a glass.

Aroma coming out the can was almost all grapefruit.

Taste was full of hops, yet had a nice caramel base underneath that really added balance. Very citrusy, some pine and cut grass.

Mouthfeel was very thick. Lots of hop-oils that left a lasting sticky, dry feeling.

Overall, I liked this beer a lot - not sure about drinking from the can instead of pouring into a glass, however that is how the brewer recommended so who am I to argue?

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Heady Topper from The Alchemist
100 out of 100 based on 2,222 ratings.