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Focal Banger | The Alchemist

201 Reviews
Focal BangerFocal Banger

Brewed by:
The Alchemist
Vermont, United States | website

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: 201 | Ratings: 2,032
Photo of Jcardish
4.81/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Heady Toppers little brother. Best described as the star quarterbacks younger brother that live on the coat tails while still having their own story. This is more fruit forward but that's very nice to make it different. Will absolutely grab whenever I possible can.

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Photo of bryanfox
4.66/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Split this with a good friend. i really like how The Alchemist encourages the consumer to drink out of the can for some very good reasons that are explained on the can.

The beer itself is hazy and the flavor is amazing. You get hints of very fresh citrus combined with other tropical fruits and plenty of dank.

A beer that lives up to the hype.

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Photo of OmahaKF
4.57/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Smell is passionfruit, guava, pineapple, citrus, a hint of lychee, and a hint of pine. This is maybe the most tropical fruit-forward IPAs I've ever smelled. Taste is pineapple citrus, passionfruit, a little bit of malt sweetness, and a mild hop bitterness that contrasts well with the tropical fruit flavors. Overall just a killer beer, and maybe better than Heady Topper.

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Photo of Dolphinsmarlins1
4.59/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

As someone said in line while waiting at The Alchemist, "Heady may be the beer that built this house, but Focal is king." I'm so happy this is becoming more readily available, and I think others will agree soon enough that this one rivals, if not bests Heady Topper.

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Photo of Whimpers
4.54/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Tasty IPA from the Alchemist. Slighty yellow color, bright aroma, medium mouthfeel. The can I had may have been a little older because it had a decent amount of particulate floating in the beer. Overall very nice and a worthy younger sibling to heady.

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Photo of eifster82
4.89/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From can and glass. Under a week old.

Light orange haze filled the glass. Aromas of sap, pine, resinous dank. That resin and pine stays with the taste along with citrus and tropical fruit flavors from the Citra + Mosaic hop. Medium mouthfeel. Very smooth and easy drinking after-taste. Something I could drink all sumer. It reminds of a juicer and more robust version of Tree House Sap. Great combination of best of the North West along with what is considered a New England easy-drinking, juicy haze brew. I like Heady Topper a lot, but I might just pick this if asked to pick between the two.

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Photo of Ikeithbot
5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is considered one of the best ipas in America. I was very happy to get a can from a friend and it is just that, one of the best ipas. Very citrusy, great mouthfeel, smells amazing. Overall, a great well-balanced beer with very fresh hop flavor

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Photo of Jay_P22
4.85/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Grabbed from the new brewery this weekend. Poured into a teku.

Look is a hazy yellowish brew. Nice lacing that sticks.

Smells is amazing. Citrus and mosaic hops bursting through the glass.

Taste follows the nose. So much citrus. Love the mosaic hops and the fruit hangs in the middle of the palate.

Mouth feel is medium bodied and damn near perfect.

Overall, love it. I've had Heady a few times and this is better. I could drink this every day. Great can, great name, great brew. #homerun

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Photo of daudelin2000
4.9/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Is it possible that the Alchemist can brew a beer better than Heady Topper? Yes! At least, in my opinion although I'm probably in the minority. The Alchemist doesn't offer much for variety so they can focus on a couple of beers and really perfect them. And perfect them they have.

Focal pours a light golden color and is very hazy, much like Heady. But that's where the similarities end. Aroma is citrus juice and candied fruits. Taste follows. Very juicy and very citrusy with a slight candied fruit taste. The finish is dry with a moderate bitterness. I get a lot of grass and pine from Heady, but not Focal. It's more of a straight up juice bomb. Mouthfeel is medium with perfect carbonation. What an amazing beer. It's a shame they don't distribute it to the same stores as Heady.

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Photo of Shaler_Tate
4.75/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

There is a reason this is considered one of the best beers in the world. I am not a major hop head, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It is very bitter and has tons of hops, but somehow it is very well balanced and juicy.

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Photo of Flounder57
4.49/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can was poured into a chalice.

Appearance: A one finger head was poured that reduced to a thin layer. It is a hazy yellow orange color with no vision of anything. Spotty lacing down the glass as as the beer was drank.

Smell: Wicked weed, grassy, herbal, spicy, lemon, tropical, bready, wheaty, and pale malts.

Taste: Awesome citra and Mosaic lasting hop flavor. Nice malt bill, a little chewy, and light tingly bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, light to medium bodied, medium carbonation, a little chewy, and light tingly bitterness. Very delicious.

Overall: A friend just gave me this can and drank it right away. Solid choice.

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Photo of kevanb
3.99/5  rDev -13.6%
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 avas
4.93/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Fresh can about a week old.

A: Pours a vibrant, opaque gold that transitions to a deeper orange as it sits. Ginormous fluffy head sticks around for a while, one of the most well-retained I’ve ever seen.

S: Ripe pineapple, grapefruit, orange. Smelling from the can is pretty much like sniffing a jar of Citra and Mosaic hops. Wow.

T: Starts of with a tropical burst of citrus. Transitions to a bridge that very much reminds me of Heady… Kind of herb-y, floral spiciness. Finishes dank and resinous with a lingering flowery pine taste that sticks to the tongue for a while.

M: Insanely smooth and creamy. Bitterness on the finish leaves you yearning for another sip. Carbonation is spot-on.

O: I’m blown away by this one. First time after trying a few Heady and I must say that Focal blows its elder sibling out of the water. Just a perfect balance of fruity juiciness, floral dankness, and resiny bitterness. Can’t wait to try it again soon.

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Photo of agreenman19
4.68/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Freshly canned from the grand opening of The Alchemist's new location!

L - initial flow from the can was a crystal gold, but as it settles in the glass, I'm getting a curious, opaque lively orange. I know, I know, I shouldn't be pouring this, but hey, I'll save the second half for the can! Huge fluffy head fills the glass right away and slowly pops, bubble by bubble until a reasonably sized head remains.

S - monster aromatics from the moment I cracked the can. John Kimmich was right, pouring sure as hell smells nice. Ripe orange and pineapple. Tropical without being stupid juice. Crisp and crackery with a mosaic spiciness. A quick swirl and a sniff yields an acrid, acidic smell reminiscent of a burning orange peel. I know what this smells like because once upon a time I was doing that thing where you squish a peel through an open flame into my whisky and, well, one thing lead to another.

T - more dank that I had expected! Tingly tangy grapefruit and other pithy rindy fruits. Tropical citrus abounds, balanced by puckering spice. Piney, earthy, and floral. Primal. Resin on the finish... and what's that? Some juice? I can dig it. Slight mango and lemon under all the hoppy bitterness. Speaking of bitter, it leaves a nice tingle tangle to tip my tongue.

F - lush and creamy. This is the icing on the cake that reminds me of a clearing in a forest during the late morning hours.

O - probably like this better than Heady. Has loads of depth and complexity and a killer mouthfeel to top it all off. Mosaic is a strange beast and one can do some strange things, usually resulting in a unique and flavorful brew.

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Photo of VetsPackage
3.39/5  rDev -26.6%
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 MamaHoney
4.43/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 1 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75


I personally rate this one a tad higher than the Heady - and the reason being it's a bit on the lighter side. Not in flavor, but in drink-ability. I refer to it as a girly heady topper. As it is essentially, a fruitier version.

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Photo of TomAllen
4.49/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This is one where the sum is greater than the parts. Had it straight out of the can in a restaurant in Burlington, Vermont. To me, the grapefruit and pine smell and flavor really ran over everything else.

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Photo of fireazzi
4.25/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had this while I was in a restaurant in Vermont. Tasted really good, but I still like Heady Topper a bit more. Had a great smell and taste. Glad I got to try this one.

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Photo of JMUbrewz
4.65/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I'm not sure if this is a better beer than Heady, but it's definitely more up my alley in terms of what I'm looking for in an IPA. Lighter on the malt, heavier on the tropical fruits, and a beautiful dry finish. This is a top tier IPA, and manages to maintain high bitterness levels, while incorporating some of the softer flavors associated with these NE IPA's. Man, I can't wait until this is available by the case.

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Photo of RABouffard
5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Just wow. The absolute only thing that could be classified as a complaint is the tiny amount of floaties on the bottom of the can (which I personally see no problem with). It's the same tingly hoppy floral and citrus perfection as heady exception in a slightly lighter and less dry IPA form. Perfect malt backbone to catapult the hop character. A little bit less complex than Heady, but don't let that take anything away from this gem.

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Photo of Rammed96
4.77/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The smell is amazing. Smells like a wedding in the meadow. The color is a hazy gold. It is the after taste of floral notes that makes this beer top notch. Not as much bite as Heady.

It smells better from a glass.
But tastes better out of the can.

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Photo of IvoryFoxhole
4.51/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

FINALLY got one at the Prohibition Pig on April 9. Poured a little into glass to see what it looks like; otherwise drank from can.

L: Not unlike HT, a hazy pale golden. Minimal head and lacing.

S: Grapefruit, other citrus, mango (there's your Citra hops), light malt.

T: Generally follows nose. More light grapefruit than anything else. Resiny and piney on end.

F: Light to medium bodied, light to medium carbonation. Good drying with no bitterness and the famous Alchemist balance.

O: Definitely Heady Topper's little brother, more sessionable and a little less intense. Can't wait until they retail.

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Photo of ajcuster89
4.64/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Had this one straight from the can at Prohibition Pig in VT. This is a slightly better version of Heady Topper, the hops are juicier and the nose is stronger. Pro Pig almost always has it, so if you are in VT and want to tick this one, head to Pro Pig!

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Photo of pkalix
4.81/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

wow! been waiting to try this one.... drinking from the can like it commands, it tastes like Squirt. very delicious, very refreshing and very easy to drink! how does one rate it if one cant pour it into a glass, though? so i did. it actually may even taste a little different(?). slightly hazy, thin head. but yes, it DOES taste better from the can.

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Photo of TedStrosser
4.99/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Hard to rate how it looks as I drank right from the can as directed.
I think I like it better than Heady, can't wait for new brewery to open and hope for larger distribution.

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Focal Banger from The Alchemist
100 out of 100 based on 201 ratings.
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