Focal Banger | The Alchemist

BA SCORE
100
world-class
359 Reviews
Focal BangerFocal Banger
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
The Alchemist
Vermont, United States
alchemistbeer.com

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
359
Ratings:
2,918
Avg:
4.57
pDev:
7.22%
 
 
Wants:
1,780
Gots:
752
For Trade:
15
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 359 | Ratings: 2,918
Photo of Jrodsmrs51
4.44/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Looks wise, this beer might as well be Coors light. Obviously, I usually drink these out of the can, but I poured a little out to get a feel for its look.

That's honestly the only knock you can really have on this beer, and it's the part I care about the least. This beer has great mouth feel, and that perfect combo of Mosaic and Citra. Arguably better than Heady, but it depends on my mood haha

 399 characters

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

Beautiful hazy orange-gold IPA, topped by a thick foamy snow-white head. Outstanding head retention, leaving behind blotchy patches of lacing.

Peppery herbal aroma, with light notes of mandarin orange, pineapple, flowers, and mango, along with a sweet pale malt base.

Crisp and thickly hoppy on the palate; fabulously clean. Chewy creamy body, yet still lively, really allowing you to savor the waves of hops. Fruit up front, more tropical but with a hint of citrus - mango, star fruit, and pineapple, balanced against light lemon and a hint of grapefruit rind (notably so on the finish). As the waves continue, the tropical fruit flavors grow in strength, adding a dank, earthy sweetness that complements and never overwhelms.

Somehow, the bitterness balances out the entire package, allowing the pale malt to just barely make an appearance, and lending a semi-dry finish to the sip - a remarkable contrast to the creamy body.

The Alchemist may as well be the old guard of the modern IPA, but this is as good as - if not better than - anything the new brewers at Trillium and Tree House are putting out. Really a fantastic, flavor-packed, and unbelievably creamy IPA.

 1,173 characters

Photo of Scott17Taylor
4.79/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This beer is lifechangingly awesome, it's just so juicy, I get tons of grapefruit, orange, pineapple, and lemon drop with a malty sweetness that keeps it very well balanced. Then you get a nice dry finish leaving you wanting your next sip. I'm going to be seeking this out regularly, I'm not a regular trade, but I will be now.

 327 characters

Photo of Prager62
4.59/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A pint can with no visible date but it was part of a fresh box that fellow BA jhavs recently sent. I'm disregarding the 'drink from the can' and pouring it in a 13oz. tulip for the review.

Look- Pours a transparent brilliant gold leaving a couple fingers of frothy white lingering foam. Heavy lacing is left in it's wake and many floaties can be seen.

Smell- Passion fruit, grapefruit, fresh rubber and some floral.

Taste- Passion fruit, mango, grapefruit, fresh rubber and floral esters in the finish along with a kiss of malt.

Feel- Resiny slick and creamy with a crisp, slightly bitter dry finish.

Overall- It may not look as pretty as Heady when poured in a glass, but it delivers on every other level. A wonderful array of citrus and floral with a magnificent drinkability. I wish I could drink this every day!

 825 characters

Photo of mnj21655
4.49/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a lightly hazy pale yellow straw in color with maybe a quarter inch of white head. Aroma isn't as strong as I would have expected but it is complex; I get pine, citrus, stone fruit, and tropical fruits. Taste hits the same notes as the aroma; pine upfront, tangerine, grass, smooth mango, and some nectarine. Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Quite a tasty beer, I preferred the Heady that I had last night but this isn't far behind.

 446 characters

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

Pours pale, little hazy with off white head.
Aroma is tropical fruit, peach, pine, malt, banana, really hoppy.
Taste is tropical fruits, pine, dank, velvet smooth and a big mouthfeel, big hoppy bitter finish.

 210 characters

Photo of KidDoc
4.3/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The first time I had this, I thought there was something wrong with the can. It was after a few Tree House Beers and this one came across as excessively bitter and harsh. I have since had it on a fresh palate and like it a lot. It is assertively hopped and more bitter than other Alchemist beers but still nicely balanced. It is a palate wrecker and you will have trouble properly judging any beers consumed immediately after. Personally, I like Heady better but that is what makes this all so much fun. Try one if you can.

 528 characters

Photo of TripleSun
4.34/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Drinking from can as instructed

S - Lemon, pineapple, orange and has a resin aroma
T - Slight bitterness with floral notes and citrus flavors like the nose had
F - Full-bodied, juicy IPA!

My 2nd offering from Alchemist and I must have had some bad cans of Heady because this one soars way above it!

 300 characters

Photo of CHickman
4.45/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured half the can into a glass and got a hazy gold colored brew with a ton of sediment floating around in it which looked like a snow globe and went up to a 2 finger thick foamy/cloudy bright white colored head that was packed with bubbles of all sizes, dissipating very slowly and leaving good spotty lacing that slides down the glass, some sticking around.

Smells of pineapple, lemon, tangerine and grapefruit up front, with biscuits and grains coming through for a second before a wave of floral hops kick in that reminded me of dry weed, German hops like Saaz, fresh cut grass, peppery spices, some tropical fruit and trailing piney hops. There's an odd potpourri that took a little bit away from those other lovely hop aromas, otherwise it was top notch for a regular IPA.

Tastes like it smells but with a lot more floral notes, like dry hops, tea leaves, herbs and chalky yeast. It almost seems like spruce tips or something very earthy is in the mix, dulling some of the citrus notes out as this hop struggle goes back and forth. It's more floral and herbal, but still complex and full of citrus hop notes. Not nearly as smooth as Heady Topper, but still a hop bomb for sure.

Mouthfeel is full but on the smooth side with average to light carbonation, a medium body as well as a medium level of bitterness, and nice balance for such a hoppy brew which covers up the ABV masterfully.

I drank most from the can and I must say that I liked it better from the glass. From the glass it seemed to open up the fruit flavors and not seem so floral like dirty plants were dipped in the beer along with some Windex. Overall it was very good and enjoyable, but I disagree with John Kimmich here...drink from the glass, not the can.

 1,734 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.3/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a hazed light golden color with tons of sediment. It's natural but there is so much here it's kinda gross.

Aroma is citrusy, resinous, with lots of pine too. Pretty dank smelling.

The taste is resinous, piney and has a lot of citrus rind to it as well. Fresh tasting and refreshing IPA with loads of flavor.

Full bodied, well carbonated and a bit chalky due to the floaters. Satisfying hoppy finish.

This is a raw beer, simply put. The appearance is not the best, but the beer scores highly in other categories. I heard stories of people filtering out the floaters themselves, and I can see why. Still, it is a very tasty, intense and drinkable beer.

 666 characters

Photo of joaopmgoncalves
4.62/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured to a tulip glass.

A: The body is glowy yellow, being translucid until I poured the end of the can, where lots of yeast turned the beer very solid, aspect-wise. But until that, perfect. The head was one to two fingers thick, white.
S: Focal's aroma is a more northeast aroma, having a less fruity and malty tones to get instead a earthy, resinous and fruitless aromas. So this beer's presents itself being more green than expected, but still shows a fantastic pillar to activate taste buds. It's very good indeed.
T: On the mouth, it has a fruity beginning of citrus, turning and having a very good connection with the hops bitterness, coming from the citrus. There's also a big grassy and resinous profile here again.
M: Body is medium to medium high. Carbonation is perfect. Bitterness is high.
O: Amazing.

 815 characters

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!"

 414 characters

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.

 153 characters

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.

 277 characters

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

 1,406 characters

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.

 1,032 characters

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.

 163 characters

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.

 2,005 characters

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!

 586 characters

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.

 178 characters

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

 320 characters

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.)

 537 characters

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)!

 482 characters

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...

 520 characters

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

 384 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Focal Banger from The Alchemist
4.57 out of 5 based on 2,918 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Subscribe