Focal Banger | The Alchemist

334 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: 334 | Ratings: 2,777
Photo of UtisTheLaw
2.42/5  rDev -47%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

We must have gotten an off can. The beer did not smell or taste right. I'd have to try it again to five it a fair shake, but this scoring reflects the can I tried.

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Photo of VetsPackage
3.39/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Glad they're making this in droves now and is easily acquired without trading an arm and a leg because it's really not worth the accolades. Inferior to just about anything being produced by treehouse, trillium, or hill.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.4/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Can courtesy of Schlimenhaumer. Regrettably brief notes below:

Subtle blueberry signals mosaic hops. Floral notes, citrus, pale malts. Great balance.

Smooth, wet, medium-bodied, well-carbonated.


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Photo of bol3by
3.47/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"Session Heady Topper"

Great beer for those who cannot handle the explosive taste from HT.. It's not a true "session" because Focal Banger still packs a lot of flavor. Were it a standalone, it would probably be rated higher but it's hard not to compare to the older brother.

Worth trying if in the area, but outside of that nothing that amazing that stands out

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Photo of Zonk
3.55/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Got a ton of onion on this unfortunately, Will definitely try it again soon. Think it may be a personal issue as I have been getting a lot of onion off beers recently.

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Photo of PintOh1759
3.56/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Good IIPA but coming from the almighty John KImmich of Alchemist Brewing this beer had a lot of hype behidn it and simply did not deliver like Heady does. That being said if you just simply respect quality IPAs then this is nothing short of a damn good IPA that is very drinkable.

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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 Prospero
3.75/5  rDev -17.9%

Nice white head, great golden straw color, aroma & flavor of citrus. Great overall beer with nice mouthfeel and think it's quite sessionable but the hop flavor and aroma seem a tad muted versus other IPAs that are similar. Much prefer Alpine IPAs, but good IPA regardless.

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Photo of Krishmish
3.75/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I was honestly let down by this beer. Crusher is one of my all time favorites and obviously Heady is one of the best out there, but focal banger was a huge let down. Too boozy without much flavors to offset it. It's not so bad that I would turn it down, but wouldn't go out of my way for it.

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Photo of BTVflatlander
3.92/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great deal of hype surrounding this one, much due to the notoriety of Heady Topper. If they can make such an outstanding DIPA, why not an AIPA? Well, I must say, as much as I wanted to love Focal Banger, it severely underwhelmed me unlike their previous draft release, Ourborous.

If you're from Vermont, you're probably familiar with Fiddlehead IPA. It's a very decent American IPA that I'd never turn down yet also never seek out. Focal Banger, to me, has all the trappings of Fiddlehead IPA with much, much, much higher expectations. As such, as my good friend put it, "it's everything that Heady Topper is not," and that's not necessarily a good thing.

Try it for yourself, but don't expect too much.

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Photo of Sammy
3.95/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Big hop aroma, the Citra has been tamed. Lasting head on yellow body, leaving a lace trail. Citra dominated taste, rounded out by subordinate tropical fruit. Fresh tasting, a good complement in the product line to the Heady Topper. Can from Tom, thank you.

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Photo of craftbeersweden
3.95/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

The beer pours hazy, yellow with a huge, four finger high, fluffy white head that leaves lacing clinging to the glass. (Spigelau IPA glass)

Nose: Hops, grapefruit, mango, peach, a bit of orange marmalade, pine and grass.
Taste: High bitterness in the taste! Grapefruit, orange, citrus, mango, sweet fruit, caramel malt and resin.
Mouth: Medium to full body. High carbonation. Dry and bitter ending that stays on my tongue for a long time.

This beer has been a big "hype" and I really looked forward to try it.
For the sake of it I have to tell you that i DID also drink from the can as stipulated!
Well, it is great but it’s not meeting my expectations.
Nowadays the brewers are getting better and better and a great IPA today is a F*cking Amazing IPA a few years ago.

That said you should not doubt the quality of this beer - I’m just waiting for more...

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Photo of gueuzedreg
3.95/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A- Golden honey, lots of head with medium retention.

S- Smells of fresh big piney hop character with malt backbone.

T- Little too hop forward for my pale liking. It is pretty hop focused, which many people love.

M- Somewhat creamy, medium carb

O- A well done pale by Alchemist, I am just not the hop forward pale guy

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Photo of mattmarch
3.98/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured a sample from the can and drank the rest straight.
Slightly hazy golden straw color.
Smell of strong pine and onion, earthy and maybe a little mango.
Taste of bitter pine sap, tropical fruit mango and orange peel. Very bitter piney finish.
Definitely a hop bomb.

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Photo of kevanb
3.99/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

16oz can, half poured into a blank tumbler glass, half kept in the can to compare as the can directly states "DRINK FROM THE CAN". Fresh can from the re-opening of The Alchemist's public retail space.

The beer pours a really hazy golden peach color, apricot and orange hues, cloudy but not turbid by any means. A massive, fluffy white head appears, about 2 or 3 fingers high with fantastic retention and beautiful swatches of lace left clinging to the glass. The aroma is pleasant, lots of tropical fruit, sharp pineapple, bitter grapefruit peel, dank pine, really green grassy hops, lots of earthiness coming out with some crisp cracker malt. The flavors are good, loads of bitter hops, grapefruit peel, pineapple juiciness, dank, weedy grass, earthy hop spice, very resinous, pale wheat and cereal grains linger with a light alcohol character and a stinging bitterness. The mouthfeel is okay, very coating, extremely dry, active carbonation, but not abrasive, medium body and a monster dry kick at the finish.

Verdict: A nice IPA from The Alchemist, but boy this is intensely bitter and doesn't offer much in the way of sweetness or juiciness to offset the bitterness. This was definitely a nice treat after some housework, but I'd hardly put this up with any of the other world class IPAs that the region can produce.

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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 breadwinner
4.01/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A case study in hopping the ever loving shit out of a beer with Citra. Sure, it smells nice. But, its body has an off-putting thinness, and though I understand the desire to go bare bones and basic with the malt backdrop, it creates a certain astringency that I do not enjoy.

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Photo of EyePeeAyBryan
4.01/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

So much hype surrounding this brew and my body was ready. Had half in a glass and half in the can. Murky, more of a bright yellow/golden color. Really has that NE vermont taste that's sweet but dank and juicy. Wanted so much to fall in love but it just didn't happen...more of a one night stand.

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

2 week old can. Drank half from a snifter, half from from the can.

L - Gold in color with some chill haze. One and a half fingers of white head.

S - Tropical fruit, mostly papaya. Very resinous, some dankness, sweet fruit, and a decent amount caramel malt presence.

T - Follows the nose with notes of pine and a very dry bitter finish; more bitter than I would like it to be.

M - Medium full, very pleasant.

O - Too hyped, I think; but I need to give it a second try. Not a fan of so much malt presence and the extremely bitter finish. Still a good beer, but with so many other great options out there, I wouldn't try too hard to try to find this one.

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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 johnnnniee
4.05/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can from MrBarleywine, thanks for the hookup Mike!
Cloudy hazy lemon orange color with a huge frothy bubbly bone white head that persists forever. Citrusy tropical fruit lemony pine and resin dominate the aroma with just a bit of sweet bread deep underneath. The flavor holds a touch of lemon with lots more citrus and tropical flavors like the aroma suggested. Bread and light caramel maltiness bring in a hint of balance. Moderate level of hop bitterness with a lingering bite at the end of every sip. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation and a resinous sweet watery mouthfeel. Quite easy to drink and very flavorful, its a great beer. I prefer the depth of flavors from Heady, but I could drink this one regularly with ease.

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Photo of maximum12
4.05/5  rDev -11.4%

Thanks again to Joe_Grizzly for drowning me in Alchemist, really looking forward to this one. I got your Silver Bullet right here, mother….16 oz. can dumped into my purty Kuhnhenn glass.

The thing I love about Alchemist IPAs is that when you pop the top, the smell hits your nose at the speed of light. No need to suck in copious amounts of air, wet your nose, or otherwise search for the aroma. It is PRESENT. Filet knife sharp citrus, honeysuckle, bunch of airy tropical notes. The brew is a light, dull orange, with a head that appears focused on sticking around until the weekend arrives.

Focal Banger is an underhanded, dishonest brew. My first sip I thought “What kind of sweet, malt-driven-ass IPA is this…” & then my thoughts scattered. A malty base of sweetness, clover, & honey gives way quickly to the mid-palate of hops that stick close to the nose. A moderate bitterness rides along with the tropical punch, roaring citrus, bit of spiciness, fragments of lemon & perhaps banana. The end is interesting, as the bitterness builds with every sip, until the top of my mouth is wallowing in spite. Grassy. Light. I would have to say this is one of the easiest-drinking beers I have ever had, I’m drinking this about twice as fast as I would a ‘normal’ brew.

I like to compare stuff, so I’m going to say this isn’t quite in the same league as All-Stars Heady & Crusher. Which is to say this is merely excellent, rather than amazingly superior. I’ll take that kind of third-string any day.

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Photo of Sabtos
4.06/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bright orange-yellow, hazy with some microscopic floaters and a very large, foamy eggshell head. I see they are still not proud of the visual appearance of their beers considering the can art declaration that drinking from the can is still best. I'm a believer that aroma really makes a beer what it is, and if you can't smell the beer through the tiny hole in the car while drinking it, then you're not getting the full experience, period. Plus, it must be said, since nearly every brewery out their trying to keep pace with this style of IPA is doing the same thing, it's time to embrace the haze. After a few of these, I can definitively say they definitely have quite a bit of sediment in these cans--I've had one with an absolutely enormous colony of yeast clumped together and swirling around at one point. Definitely unseemly. You don't get this from Trillium or Tree House, ever. And Maine or Hill Farmstead, well they're on another level in regards to appearance.

Smell is nutty, cheesy tangerine, with a light dankness, light young pine, and a slight hint of apple cider vinegar.

Taste is tangy and spicy green pine, pink peppercorn, tangerine, grapefruit and cracker. Bitterness builds over time, with grassy, sharp pungent hops being the primary cause.

Focal is much more nuanced and balanced than I thought it would be. Fruity yet piney, juicy yet bitter. I do like it more than Heady, if only by a hair.

Finish is slow and steady to develop on the palate, but is dry with mild bitterness.

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Photo of Jwale73
4.06/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a pale orange hue with a hazy clarity and a half-inch, tight, bright white head. Nose is floral, herbal and earthy with a trace of light toasted malts. Taste follows nose. Mouthfeel is light-medium in body (but closer to light) with a lively carbonation. Overall, quite quaffable. Another great Alchemist offering.

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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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Focal Banger from The Alchemist
4.57 out of 5 based on 2,777 ratings.
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