Focal Banger | The Alchemist

347 Reviews
Focal BangerFocal Banger

Brewed by:
The Alchemist
Vermont, United States

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: 347 | Ratings: 2,859
Photo of a_andersen
4.97/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Although it's often overshadowed by its bigger brother, Focal Banger is worthy of your attention. Deep hop complexity is complemented by the Alchemist's signature malt balance. Minor points against because the loose sediment is a turnoff for some. I'm just glad it's not so murky I can't shine a flashlight through it. Then again, perhaps this is a moot point considering one is supposed to "drink from the can!"

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Photo of jAyRoC40
4.74/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Nice haze look to it with a bit of sediment suspended. Great piney bitterness to this beer. Clean finish that is well balanced. Really enjoyed this beer.

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Photo of Bluepitt1010
4.74/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Very nice taste to it. There is an instant aroma when you open the can. Smells a lot like Heady Topper and can arguably stand up to Heady as well. If you pour in a glass, you will see a lot of chunks float around. Doesn't leave that after taste either. Outstanding work of art.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
4.29/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Type: 16-oz. can
Glass: Beer Nerd tulip
From: My friend Charlie
Price: $3.13 (educated guess)
Purchased: N/A; Received Jan. 27, 2017
Consumed: Feb. 1, 2017
Reviewed as: American IPA
Misc.: No COD; Did not drink out of the can like it said

Was lucky enough to get 10 pretty sweet beers sent to me by a college buddy. Was really looking forward to this one, having head Heady Topper a few times. Thinking this would have to be in the 4.50 range.

Poured a light yellow hazy color with three fingers of rocky white head. Lots of light bubbles coming up from the bottom of the glass. Good foamy spotty lacing. Excellent foamy retention. (Sight - 4.00)

Smelled juicy mix of citrus and tropical from the first whiff. Got Citra up front, followed by grapefruit, tangerine, pineapple, lemon zest, subdued Mosaic, melon, mango, pine and herbal. Started out awesome, but flavor escaped rather quickly. (Smell - 4.25)

Tasted slightly better and more flavorful than the nose. Really and extension of the first whiffs. Got Citra, mango, pineapple, grapefruit pulp, bitter tangerine peel, melon, sharp pine, subdued Mosaic, herbal and hints of menthol. Tastes maybe even more than the 7 pct. ABV. (Taste - 4.50)

Medium body. Oily texture. Lively-to-fizzy carbonation. Juicy bitter finish. (Feel - 3.75)

This was a very good IPA overall, but not as good as advertised in my opinion. (Overall - 4.25)

4.29 | 95 | A

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Photo of THSdrummer
4.49/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a light hue somewhere between yellow and orange with a layer of haze and fog to it. Head formation is two fingers, with an aggressive start, and a conservative finish. Foaming action of the head is easily controlled. Great head retention followed by great lacing left behind after each sip. Off to a strong start. Aroma is citrus, papaya, and mango. Malts are well hidden, keeping the aroma centered on citrusy hops with little divergence from the bulls-eye. Flavor profile is a smooth induction of light citrusy hops, with not much else to finish it. It's very one dimension in that the flavor profile is all delicate citrus hops, and yet it refrains from being bitter or unbalanced. There is a hint of biscuit malts in the back. Mouth feel opens thin, with a feel that gets a little fizzy and thicker as the beer warms on the palate. Overall, a slightly fizzy, but otherwise smooth IPA. It drinks much smaller then a 7% IPA, and yet has plenty of powerful flavor. Nicely constructed and executed.

Served in a 12oz snifter.

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Photo of KillerJigger
4.35/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Nice haze look to it with a white head as well. Great pine like bitterness to this that hides the malt bill. Clean finish that is well balanced. Will try again.

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Photo of JayORear
4.96/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I’ve drunk quite a bit of Focal Banger before, so I’m coming to this review with a fair amount of bias, but I’m trying to approach it as though I’m drinking it for the first time. Also, as a writer who cares a lot about “authorial intent,” I’m extending that concept to “brewer’s intent” and drinking it out of the can. So there:)

Since I’m deferring to Mr. Kimmich’s wishes and drinking from the can, I can’t comment too much on appearance, although the drops that cling to the lip of the can when I remove it from my lips are golden straw in color. The aroma is singular; I’ve literally never smelled beers like the Alchemist’s—something like bright grapefruit/lemon rind, but with a simmering piney dankness underneath. The mere smell makes the tongue seize up a little in anticipation, like it knows something special is about to cross it. So many times, one looks for words other than “hops” to describe a beer’s smell, but one gets the feeling that Focal is somehow a Platonic expression of hops; i.e., if someone were to ask, “what do hops taste like?”, you could just hand them a Focal. Which kind of covers the taste aspect, although there’s an astringent, almost tannic aftertaste that I really love. It’s quite different from a beer like Swish, whose taste disappears almost completely upon drinking. The taste of Focal lingers long; for me, almost an hour after drinking. Mouthfeel-wise, it’s sort of a 360-degree attack on the inside of the mouth, not so much effervescent as needle-y, not subtle at all. But very pleasing, even welcome. It makes many other NE IPAs, especially the haze bombs, seem wimpy and soft.

Overall, this is one of my favorite beers, maybe even my favorite single IPA. Also, for whatever reason, it doesn’t matter how many of these I drink, I’m never hungover afterward. (Same with Heady, which makes me wonder about the Alchemist’s brewing process and/or water.) Do whatever you can to obtain it at least once.

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Photo of jwhancher
4.99/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow....I think I like this one better than Heady Topper. When you pop the can, it's just like opening up a pack of fresh hops. There is so much citrus and dank green hop aromas going on. Can't see what it looks like cuz I drank it straight from the can as instructed but the artwork is killer and top notch. Tastes great. So much ripe dank hop goodness. After this and a Heady Topper previous to this one, the alcohol is going straight to my head.

This is really an awesome beer. Glad I made the pilmagrige to the Alchemist today. John is really running a top-notch operation. Cheers!

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Photo of bowzer4birdie
4.94/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Awesome brew, got a can from about two weeks ago according to a trade partner...I like this one more than Heady in that it is a tad less bitter and more flavorful on the palette.

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Photo of Blackop555
4.61/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours hazy gold with suspended sediment. Medium, thick, white head that didn't last long.

Smells earthy, citrus, tropical, light vegetal and pine

Tastes melon, orange, grapefruit with light malt and hints of pine. Very faint hint of vinegar on finish linger pine dry finish. Medium body with velvety smooth carbonation

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Photo of moose1980
4.8/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Medium to dark golden with a white, airy head that leaves some beautiful lacing. Some floating sediments, but much more so the less fresh the beer is. Aromas of wet grass, pine, spicy green onions, with some fruitiness - almost grape-like? - playing more of a supporting role. Taste is bitter, but juicy. Like biting into a grapefruit, pith and all. Moderately carbed with a semi-dry finish. Overall, fanfuckingtastic. Per usual, drink fresh. (Had a case and after a few weeks the flavors fade noticeable, though the bitterness reamins.)

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Photo of Duff27
4.19/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A- Huge billowy bone-white head on a light dull orange body. Splotchy lacing. Cap and collar throughout.

S- Bright hop aromas, can say citra and mosaic. Enticing.

T- Leaves a bitterness on the tongue more than just about any IPA I can think of. Taste alone would lead be to believe this one to clock in around 6.5% to7%abv.

M- Big mouthfeel, adequate carbonation.

D/O- Really quite the easy drinker, a serial crusher if you will. Thanks for this long-time want Jon (@jhavs)!

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Photo of weakascheese
4.93/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Pungent, crisp, clean, balanced, vibrant. Fresh pineapple all freakin day.

I'm walking through a rainforest just minutes after rainfall. In a small, misty clearing there's a bowl of fresh, local fruit. Focal Banger tastes like I imagine how that would smell.

I heard the hype. I heard the praise. I thought it would be good, knew it would be good. Heck I knew it would be great. Did not expect it to be as wonderful as it was.

It surpasses the reputation it has. Find a way to get your hands on this one folks...

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Photo of Skrat45
5/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I might like this better than heady I can't decide

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Photo of GOBLIN
4/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm pretty sure I received an old can in a trade. Not a bad beer but I think this should be better than it is tonight. My score of 4 won't hurt this beers overall score of 100!!! Hope to revisit sometime.

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Photo of Boccu
4.38/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours golden with a ton of sediment. Nice head with nice lacing. Aroma is tropical fruits and earthy tones. Taste follows the nose withpineapple, melon,mango, hops. It's nice but not great. Strong IPA. Not worth the hype at all.

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Photo of sinclairbeergarden
4.58/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L- Light cloudy tangerine color, some particulates floating but not much

S- earthy, green, resin-y, tropical fruits for day, stone fruit in particular.

T- resin, hops and earth dominate the front palate for me. mid palate has a sweetness that is welcome. it finishes with a classic IPA bitterness.

F- great depth, thick, carbonation is good and strong. Especially out of the can it come alive blowing the hop flavors into your sensory.

O- This is a classic IPA and my second from Alchemist. Really very impressed with the depth of character in their beers, Definitely wish they got the beer outside of VT. The suggestion to drink it out of the can is spot on as I tried both (for the sake of science of course) and out of the can the carbonation is held longer which has the effect of pushing the flavors, especially the hop/resin notes up into the olfactory... killer beer, can't wait to go back!!!

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Photo of stonermouse
4.73/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

It's been a while since I enjoyed some of Alchemist's offerings, and this is my first Focal Banger.

Drank half/half can and glass. It pours as expected- some particulates, slightly hazy and juicy-looking.

The aroma from both the can and glass was solid, if a bit muted. Fruit salad with a touch of vinaigrette.

The flavor is a grand slam. We've done it- humanity has created the perfect IPA. Mild melon flavors, complemented perfectly with a pineapple bite and flowery, dandelion, moderately bitter finish. This has it all in perfect harmony.

The flavors ride on the wave of the Alchemist's perfect, proprietary mouthfeel, like a light piece of yellow cake. Just a touch of sweetness.

This beer is overwhelming. It's nearly perfect.

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Photo of qrazvan
4.4/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Golden pale colour, although I drank it directly from the can, as suggested.
The smell is immediately striking you right after opening - herbal, hoppy, fruity (quince, grapefruit, pineapple,) and a bit flowery. So is the taste, with an overall pleasant bitter feel. It has a balance in it that's not so easy to attain.
I think it's a reference beer for the IPA fans.

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Photo of q33jeff
3.67/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Drank most from the can as suggested. Poured the middle third into a snifter to better assess aroma and appearance.

LOOK: clear yellow color, small white head.
AROMA: tropical fruits, mango, pineapple, grapefruit, lemon,

TASTE: some floral and and fruity notes, but mostly dry hair spray.

FEEL: good carbonation, light to medium body, easy drinking.

I thought i was starting to understand some of the ipa craze, but this is one beer I thought I would really like, but I think it is only ok. It is certainly not bad, the mosaic hops give it decent flavor, but not what I would expect from the 30th highest rated beer on BA.


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Photo of dd43
4.49/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another incredible double IPA from The Alchemist. I wish this was as available in package stores as Heady has become over the years.

Pours hazy like Heady but slightly less so. Bright white head is aggressive if you don't pour carefully. Absolutely massive hop bomb in the aroma. Dry hopped for days. Stinky pineapple and peach, a little melon as well. Flavors combine those with orange citrus and bitter pith. Some pine in the back end as you swallow and take in the crisp mouthfeel that includes some malt creaminess. Superb.

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Photo of remingtonsteele1987
4.34/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a 16oz can into a snifter, sorry not consumed out of the can. Nice, light orange color and slightly hazy appearance with a white two finger head. Loads of pine, resin, yeast, and papaya aromas. Some lemon, orange and dankness breaks through as it warms in the glass. Flavors totally mirror the aroma with hoppy bitterness and subtle fruit sweetness. Nice, hoppy bitterness lingers for some time. Great IPA!

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Photo of Datdubj1988
4.03/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Drank first couple of sips from the can out of respect and finished in a glass.
Look: "curdled" comes to mind. Heavy particles floating and accumulating at the bottom of the glass
Smell: pleasant but very muted.
Taste: similar to smell, this was very enjoyable but somewhat more subtle than I had expected based on the BA reviews. Noted the typical citrus flavors with a little more balance/spice than what is typicall of IPAs from that region.
Feel: the highlight of this beer for me - very drinkable and smooth with a pretty full mouthfeel
Overall: enjoyed but underwhelmed. If this was local, I'd likely stock the fridge but would not seek out through trade again. Shipped fresh but consumed after Swish - this may have contributed to my experiance. Will open a 2nd can soon and revisit.

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Photo of h0wdy
4.09/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Look: There are a lot of floating materials in this beer that appear to be parts of a lemon.
Smell: As soon as I popped the can I got a WOW nose full of fruits in the orange family. The more I smell this drink I notice more lemon in it.
Taste: Mostly lemon and there were some peachy notes to it.
Feel: A very tickle-y feeling in my mouth. It felt for me to be more of a kick from the fruit aspect of the drink (every part of this drink) as opposed to a high alcohol content to it.
Overall: Would only recommend to drink this if you really enjoy fruit drinks. Overall, I feel that The Alchemist makes better drinks then this and I would recommend to look elsewhere if you're considering to purchase this beverage. That's just my two cents though.

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Photo of Mongrel
4.4/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Nose just barely hints at the peachy stone fruit melange that is to come, providing a seamless transition from aroma to flavor.

Tangerine/lemon-lime/pine bomb blows up the palate. Big, juicy stone fruit up front, and then almost minty with cool, herbaceous hops. Pretty stiff bitterness, although not as much as Heady. Hints of guava, peach and papaya emerge as it opens up and the palate softens. Second time around reveals some big, savory onion/garlic notes.

Full, yet dry in body. Some mouth coating resin. Some of the tropical flavors that are reminiscent of Sip of Sunshine, but without the sweetness.

Overall, this is a real serious hoppy treat that continues to unfurl its flavor as it warms in the glass. At turns, deeply piney, deeply bitter, and deeply pink-fruit tropical. Clearly all about the hops, with no malts getting in the way.

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Focal Banger from The Alchemist
4.57 out of 5 based on 2,859 ratings.
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