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Focal Banger | The Alchemist

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279 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: 279 | Ratings: 2,486
Photo of Sammy
3.95/5  rDev -14.1%
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 StonedTrippin
4.41/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

kind of cool how this one is showing up all over the place in vermont now, locals are calling it heady light, but i totally disagree. while it is super drinkable (so is heady in my opinion), its got a totally different hop complexion going on, with the two varietals coming in waves. usually mixes of hops sort of all splash in at once, sometimes harmoniously, sometimes in cacophonous chaos, but this beer has two distinct stages, where the citra comes in first, middle of the beer, with preserved lemon and tart fruitiness, while the mosaic comes on much later, with an only southern hemisphere pineapple tropicality. really fun transition, and the sometimes one dimensional citra is elevated be coming first. the grain base of the beer seems to me relatively nondescript, engineered as a hop platform, not as a major contributor, but there are some light fresh cereals in this and enough texture to hold the hop resins. not as dry as anticipated, but its a fruity tasting sweetness thats left in the end, hoppy for sure, but not wickedly bitter. scary drinkable. i was worried these guys were never going to make anything but heady, so its nice to see this one out there, and its reassuring that its basically just as good as heady. well worth seeking out or trading for, you wont be disappointed.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.56/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

When it comes to hops, Alchemist knows how to get the good ones and knows how to use them once in the brewhouse. This IPA of ultimate dryness and utter hop dominance brings out a taste in pale ale that's likely not yet been seen, better yet- tasted.

Focal Banger jumps right out with a burst of citrus and a backing of tropical aroma and taste. Supporting malt sweetness is thin and honied, giving the fruit flavors a sense of dripping with sweet and tangy fructose nectar. The sweetness seems right at home with the hops.

And the beer simply blossoms over the middle, really opening up those tangy and tart red grapefruit, mandarin, lemon drop, pineapple, mango and juniper flavors. And as the sweetness gently fades, the hops stand out even more, releasing notes of lemon verbena, mild chive, grassy botanicals and a floral drift of honeysuckle perfume.

its massively dry backbone becomes a honeycomb of malt texture where its flavor presence has dropped off entirely. What's left is a creamy-dry hop bitterness that strips the palate of thirst with ease. Its light body throughout perfectly preserves the attitude of American IPA.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.28/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Can: Poured a clear light yellow color ale with a nice white foamy head with excellent retention and some great lacing. Aroma of huge floral notes of grass notes with some light resinous notes also perceptible. Taste is also dominated by an all-out hops assault with tons of grassy notes with light limey notes and some resinous hoppy notes. Residual sugar can be detected but doesn’t stray the taste from the hoppy notes. Body is about average with great carbonation. Very enjoyable but almost close to being unbalanced with those sharp hoppy notes.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.4/5  rDev -26.1%
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 nickfl
4.3/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Not a pretty beer, but we all know the alchemist likes to make them chunky. The aroma is nice, I mostly get mosaic, but not extraordinary. The flavor profile stands out quite a bit more with a similar level of hoppyness, but very restrained bitterness and a round, not quite sweet, but not dry finish. Very nice, drinkable, juicy... I think I like this more than heady.

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Photo of mothman
4.6/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

White head. Lace. Hazed golden yellow.

The mosaic hops show well. Very juicy. Nice nose. Tropical and fruity. Melon and mango. Orange.

Medium bodied. Nice bitterness and stickiness. A bit dank and resiny.

Very solid. Worth the hype.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.73/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 16oz can into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep gold color, with a thin off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains an excellent blend of fruity citrus, floral hops and caramelized malts.

T: The taste starts out with a quick burst of citrus and caramel sweetness. Then a strong but not over-powering floral hops bitterness comes in. The malt character is a bit on the thin side for the style but it works quite well for this beer and provides a very good balance. The after-taste is slightly hoppy and slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Very tasty, goes down quite easily, not too filling, good kick, excellent representation of style, this is a tremendous beer to drink for a very long time.

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Photo of Rifugium
4.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Blackback, Waterbury, VT.

Hazy yellow-orange pour into a Hill Farmstead wine glass (as is the way of things at Blackback), topped with a small, creamy, white head that retained well and left some strands of lacing on the glass. Aroma of citrusy hops, tropical fruit, some pine, fresh cut grass. An assertive hop bitterness right up front in the taste, all the qualities detected in the nose, grapefruit, mango, grass, some light floral notes, with a soft, bready, pale malt profile. It's about as hoppy/bitter as Heady Topper, but a bit lighter and softer, and at only 1%ABV less, it's pretty comparable overall. Light-medium body, crisp and dry, and easily drinkable. When this goes into bigger production, trying the two beers side by side will obviously be something I look forward to doing.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.87/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I picked this up at a pop up location where Beelzebub and Heady Topper were sold, enjoyed chilled from the can in a glass.

The color is pale golden with white head with great retention. The smell is a lemon-lime like mix of hop odors with slight dank herbal accent. The feel is excellent nice level of bitterness with support of malt and practically no alcohol presence with low astringency.

The taste is as close to perfection as an IPA gets for me -some pleasant dank hop flavors mixed with a moderate amount of citrus and tropical fruit with a light malt sweetness to provide a foundation for the semi-bitter hops as the flavor finishes on the dry side. Overall I have yet to find an IPA I would like to drink more than this

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Photo of Kurmaraja
4.28/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

People giving this high ratings for appearance are smoking crack. The number of particles floating in this is like OJ pulp. The color isn't very vibrant but it's fine. Head doesn't stick around long and the lacing is pretty weak. There's no getting around this with a subjective "I like hazy beers". The smell is nuanced but subtle. Definitely citrus - mineola tangerine, lemon and orange pith - and a funky vegetation element - wet grass / crushed leaves, maybe even something like zuchini. Flavor delivers more of the same with the vegetation becoming a bit too pronounced, like silage. Body is creamy, almost chewy, soft and round, coating rather than crisp. Finish is a bit flat. I'm picking on this beer a bit simply because I think a lot of the reviews are blind accolades. It's good. It's very good. But it's distinctly ugly and the nose and feel have some serious flaws.

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Photo of Jason
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

STYLE American IPA | ABV 7.0% | AVAILABILITY Year-round

Bitter, Grassy, Rind, Piney

Yeah, I know, “Drink From The Can!” I had to take a look though. Pours very hazy with a beautiful dense head. Smells and tastes like fresh squeezed hops if that was even possible. Bitterness is there but never reaches the level of no return and the palate has to deal with wave after wave of extra juicy, citrusy, piney and grassy hop flavor. Yes, it’s better than Heady Topper.

Review from BeerAdvocate magazine issue #102 (JUL 2015)

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Photo of mdfb79
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review #4000.

Pours a hazy yellow-orange color with two inches of white head.
Lots of pine, resin, bitter grapefruit. and citrus hops. Light bitter bite but pretty easy to drink.

Overall really good. I put it slightly ahead of The Crusher but below Heady due to HT's smoothness.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Finally getting around to writing a review for this one. I've been fortunate enough to have had several cans of this over the last year. Consumed right out of the can. Upon opening, a huge blast of fresh hops and grapefruit hit the olfactory senses. Unapologetic and assertive hops. Dank and resinous. Juicy and delicious. I'm not saying that this is better than Heady Topper, but like Heady Topper, I feel that this beer is essentially flawless. Every single time I have had it, I have been most impressed. My highest recommendation.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
4.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Hazy pale color with foamy head. Aroma is somehow spicy with dill and oregano notes. Taste follows with the same herbal notes and some dankness. Bitterness shows up in the finish and follows in the aftertaste but does not overwhelm. Body is quite light and dry. Really easy drinking and refreshing IPA with an interesting hop profile.

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Photo of stakem
4.22/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thank you mymrnngjckt for the surprise hookup on this. Pounder can poured into a pint glass appears a light golden yellow color with a soapy white cap that fades leaving spotty lace.

Aroma is like brie - cheesy with hops. Somewhat fruity/floral and citrusy with a hint of tropical appeal.

Taste includes plenty of fruity hop qualities that are pulpy and resinous with a clean bitterness that has a mild tropical feel long into the aftertaste like pineapple.

Light in body with moderate to lower carbonation. There is a mild alcohol feel to this that blends nicely into the hoppy bitterness. This is quite a fine brew that seemingly evaporated out of my glass in no time. Id certainly drink it again.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.23/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16 oz. can poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Hazy bright orange. Decent white head. Medium collar.

Smell - Grapefruit hops. Some orange. Musty. Pale malt.

Taste - Great hop flavor. Some sweet orange hops. Grainy cracker malt and a hint of pale malt sweetness. Finishes with a medium bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Medium body. Bitter, but nothing overwhelming.

Overall - Excellent. The Mosaic differentiates it from just being Heady Jr.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.05/5  rDev -12%
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 smakawhat
4.8/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Can taken from Sunset Grille in Stowe VT and poured about 60% of contents into a shaker.

Turbid lemon yellow slightly, with a pineapple like color. Bit of a glow too it, good body and not wet looking. Creamy top forming two controlled fingers with ease. A bit of styrofoam like appearance but also hangs well.

Aroma is just incredible and big. Thick notes of peach, pineapple, orange, mango.. and a big fruit smorgasborg going on. Airy mint and strangely dried smelling herbs of lavender and lemongrass on top of it. Just a hop aroma dream.

Palate is just not what I was expecting at all. Incredibly supper juiced tropical flavored bomb that takes a big turn. Huge notes of melon and peaches, the big hop quality comes through... all of it from tropical to citrus hinted at the nose, iit's the malt character that blows my mind. Biscuit cookie notes, even a little bit of toast and dryness. Chewy almost wheat like.. it's almost as I am tasting every different kind of grain in a mash bill or something. Palate feel manages to give a boost but it's the last thing you notice and does provide a bit of boost.

Overall just an incredibly controlled brew, with so much things you can dissect without being sledgehammered either. Doesn't even taste like a high ABV IPA either. Just a big winner.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a can into a shaker pint, the beer is a bright, hazy, lemon yellow coloring with a dense, foamy, frothy, bright white head. Aromas of key lime, tangerine, pine resin, and a solid bitterness, all on a light, toasted backbone. Flavors are tremendous, with a blast of tart lime and grapefruit, followed by a solid, rich, sticky, dank blast of resinous bitter. Holy hell. There is a subtle cracker backbone, but this is a compliment at best to the barrage of citrus and sticky hops characteristics coming at you. Wow. Robust, yet light bodied, which keeps the drinkability through the roof. The aftertaste is surprisingly subtle, in comparison, with subtle grass, tart grapefruit, and hints of bitterness. Smooth, slightly dry finish. Just a damn near perfect beer in this can right here!

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Photo of SadMachine
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a mostly clear golden straw color with a good sized fluffy white head that retains pretty well and leaves patchy lacing.

S- The aroma is excellent, highlighted by dank tropical fruit, lemon zest, and biscuity malt. Mango, blueberry surprisingly, orange, some mossy/earthy/herbal notes, and some yeast at the end. Some peach as well.

T- Pretty dank, juicy, and earthy. Actually hits a lot of notes that Heady does, which must be attributed to the yeast. Bitter citrus is prominent, but some sweeter peach and mango notes are there as well. Herbal and resinous, this coats the mouth and is bitter from the middle through the finish. The biscuity malt backbone is nice and crisp.

M- Coating, dry, bitter, and biscuity. Plentiful carbonation, and a medium body.

O- Very good IPA! The tropical fruits in the nose would make this world class if they were as prominent as in the flavor, but still an excellent beer!

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Photo of stevoj
4.32/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

16oz can thanks to Jeremy. Followed The Crusher with this, which is also but stands just in the shadow of the Crusher. Pale golden with small airy head., A melange of malts and hops with some floral notes, carries over to the taste, a bit lighter than the former, and more savory to boot. The Alchemist has it going on!

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Photo of John_M
4.46/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a a slightly hazy golden amber color with excellent head retention and considerable lacing. The nose is attractive as well, as I pick up considerable dry citrus, onion, grassy hops, light tropical fruit, pepper and a dash of clove. The flavor profile replicates the nose pretty closely, with a huge dose of hoppy bitterness on the finish. The citra hops in this ipa are very prominent. There's a hint of heat from the alcohol on the finish, but otherwise, there's not much to complain about in this hop bomb of an ipa. Mouthfeel is pretty full bodied in this no holds bared ipa, and the finish is hugely bitter. I guess this could be a bit better balanced, but that's obviously not what the brewer is going for here.

Not sure I could pound down more than one or two of these at a sitting, but this one tasty ipa for sure. Impressive.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.79/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Can brought back to me from the truck sale, and poured into my Hill Farmstead stemware.

Pours a deep golden yellow, almost opaque, with some orange tints. 2 inch fizzy head slowly recedes into lots of sticky lacing on the glass. Really a beautiful sight, knocks the appearance of Heady out of the water.

Smells so pure and juicy, thanks to the large amounts of two of my favorite hops, Citra and Mosaic. Orange, pineapple, and a bit of grapefruit.

Tastes like a bitter dank orange creamsicle. Just pure hop goodness, they wrung some nice flavors out of the hops here. Not a whole lot of malt flavor, the malt manifests itself as the caramelized sugar on the oranges and pineapples. A little bit of pine, and some pleasant bitterness. I honestly wish this was a bit more bitter, but it's hardly a huge complaint.

Medium bodied, just unbelievably drinkable. No noticeable alcohol, a small amount of carbonation, really the perfect amount.

This isn't quite up to the level of Heady Topper, but it's pretty close. A juicy, hoppy delight.

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Photo of dar482
4.89/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The beer comes in a bright golden orange with tons of particle matter in there.

The aroma is definitely a mix of Citra and Mosaic. There’s sweet peaches, apricot, orange peel, tangerine along with this bubble gum note of Mosaic along with its big dankness on the back end.

On the flavor, its follows with much more similarities to Heady Topper than the aroma. In the front. The front hits of peaches, papaya, guava, citrus peel, with the main flavor being grapefruit bitterness. A signature malt quality of Heady with a creamy body and a light breadiness, but still really crisp. The finish is very Heady Topper with this herbacious, floral, piney dankness.

In the end, despite the different hops, this beer follows Heady Topper very closely. Kimmich just cannot disappoint. A really hoppy and easy drinking brew along with a big dank herbacious quality in the back.

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Focal Banger from The Alchemist
4.6 out of 5 based on 2,486 ratings.
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