Focal Banger | The Alchemist

351 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: 351 | Ratings: 2,870
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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Photo of emount91
4.13/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

still believe Heady is the best beer I've had from these guys. pours a semi hazy orange, floaties seen so not sure how old my can was (no date, tsk tsk). smell was big on the mosaic, but also had an orange scent to it, no malt on the nose. taste was bigger on the orange, but also at the same time very resinous and almost west coasty in the IPA realm of things. feel was alright, though I feel it could have been a tad better. overall this is another decent offering from Alchemist, but it's no Heady Topper to me.

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Photo of Kadonny
4.5/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a can into a Tired Hands tulip glass.

L: A super hazy medium amber orange color with huge chunky floaties. I had the can stored upside down which obviously led to the massive yeast. Nice lacing.

S: Huge citrus, tropical fruit and alcohol on the nose. Some sweet biscuit malt.

T: Loads of fruity hops with huge tropical fruit, citrus and stone fruit. Mango, guava, pineapple, peach, melon, grapefruit, just a fruit assault on the mouth. The sweetness is there but biscuit and bready like with a huge full semi dry finish. Alcohol pokes through and mixes with some slight pine. Great beer.

M: Full, coating, prickly and alcoholic. Nice carbonation.

O: A fantastic beer! Is it better than Heady? To me, not quite since it shows more alcohol, but still it's a world class beer. Awesome.

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Photo of Umdrunner
4.68/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured very hazy deep straw colored with fluffy white head that had good retention. Scent was combo of citrus and tropical fruits - pineapple, lemon, grapefruit with a bit of pine. Flavor followed scent and had an impressive lingering effect on the palate. One of my favorite IPAs ever, I'd take this over Heady Topper.

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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 ELS
4.51/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I have to agree with many of the reviewers that this beer is better than heady. For me, it's way better! Focal Banger has more balance with the fruitiness (I taste a lot of peach) working well with a sustained bitterness. I find it pretty smooth/drinkable. Really enjoyed this one!

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Photo of Immortale25
4.27/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a teku pint. No freshness date.

A- Pours a slightly hazy medium amber color with a 1/2 inch off-white head that retains well before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a full sheet of surface foam. Sticky resilient lacing.

S- Juicy floral hop aroma that's a bit sweet brings to mind papaya, peach and mango. Also a bit of earthy yeast character.

T- Assertive bitterness dominates with a decent amount of hop flavor accompanying. Bright and citrusy but also very dry. ABV is hidden decently well.

M- Very sharp from the hops with medium carbonation and a lightish body.

O- Not sure why everyone's saying this is better than Heady. Unless I'm dealing with a not-so-fresh can (still have no clue as to why they don't provide canning dates), this falls short of Heady by a wide margin. Too much bitterness without enough actual hop flavor to back it up. Maybe my expectations were a bit high but, even with that taken into consideration, I still wouldn't call this any more than "very good."

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Photo of zizouandyuki
4.36/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I was excited to try this one, and I found it to be a wonderful beer. I drank this from both the can and a glass. Haziness is there, but nothing like some of the beers coming from TH. Smells of pine and pot. Taste is a bit light for my taste... nothing stood out distinctly. The bitterness lingered, although not overwhelming. Medium-light body with perfect carbonation. I prefer its bigger brother, but this was an absolutely wonderful treat.

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Photo of aac5269
4.85/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

First of all, I like this a lot more than Heady...yeah I'm that guy.

Appearance: Dark gold, getting towards orange-y, bubbly and moderate white head, mildly hazy (can see the shadow of my fingers through the glass)

Nose: More "juicy" than Heady, orange, juicy grapefruit pulp, sweetness, some light dank

Taste: Same wonderful carbonation, more sweet fruit that is balanced out by a subtle lingering bitterness on the finish (which both Focal and Heady seem to have)

I'd rather have Focal Banger than Heady any day of the week.

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

Poured from a 16oz can into a pint glass. Drank from the can countless times, but I had to pour it for appearance and aroma! Purchased at the brewery.

Lots of sediment in this can, golden body with a frothy white head that leaves a ton of retention and lacing, just how I remember alchemist beers.

Aromas are piney and citrusy, floral with the distinct alchemist creamy malt. Taste matches the nose with a lightly bitter aftertaste. More citrusy and floral than heady topper with lots of pine and creamy malt. Medium carbonation and body.

A classic masterpiece.

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Photo of joe1510
4.13/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz Can

Thanks Mark for passing a few cans my way. Focal Banger sports a grimey golden body verging on tarnished bronze. It looks mildly hazy but upon closer inspection there's a nearly infinite number of floaties suspended throughout the body. The foam grows to a finger on the pour and recedes fairly quickly to a skimming and ring. A spot or two of lace is left clinging to the glass after each drink but it falls right back into the body.

The nose is bright and vibrant. Tropical notes that are a little tough to pick out specifically are equally intermingled with forest floor and parmesan cheese rind, a little dank and funky in the hop department. Sweaty. Underripe mango and dried apricot make their presence known over the top of a softly sweet candied malt base with a caramel swirl. The nose certainly is inviting.

The dried apricot and peppery mango kick it off while a wave of unidentifiable tropical fruits was through the middle. The dank and funkiness come through in the middle. It's got that loamy/pine needle thing going on with that sharp parmesan cheese rind leading into the sugar cookie sweetness. There is a swirl of caramel and a touch of honey but the malt base is pretty clean.

The body weighs in at moderate with a lively carbonation. The bubbles make it feel lighter overall. It's spritzy on the back of the tongue with a bitterness that falls just short of moderate. The finish is fairly dry and it leaves me wanting another drink. This is an easy one to put away, that's for sure.

There's a reason you're supposed to drink this beer from a can. It's unappealing. The nose is bright and vibrant and it's pungent and dank on the palate. An easy beer to put away. I'd happily drink some more of these in the future. Thanks again, Mark!

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Photo of BigGold
4.5/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First had at The Alchemist Brewery and Visitor’s Center, Stowe, Vermont, on draft sample into footless goblet, and again poured from pint can, purchased at The Alchemist, Stowe, into TEKU. Sharper initial bite than Heady, but possibly more hop flavors. And dangerously drinkable.

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Photo of manfromanotherplace
4.24/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A very nice IPA, better than Heady Topper for sure, there's a lot more going on in here than Heady and its definitely a little fruitier, however this is still overrated and simply usnt up to the standard of ipa being set by the likes of treehouse, grimm, finback etc. How this is #8 in the world is baffling. Very good but seek out the breweries i mentioned and you'll find better alternatives.

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Photo of aquabears
4.66/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Golden/straw but a ton of yeast particulates. Pretty clear. I can't place the smell really. It isn't "bright" or "dank" or really any other thing I can put my finger on, but it is strong. Taste is spicy and grassy, a little stonefruit. Moderate carbonation, lovely feel.

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Photo of Drvitlkeyustolit80
4.37/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

First had 8/12/16 at Musikfest courtesy of my friend Eric L. Slightly juicier and more refreshing than the infamous Heady topper. I prefer this or Crusher over Heady any day.

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Photo of Mikedhoppy
4.84/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Was lucky to score a single can a couple weeks back. Following directions and drinking from can so no comments on appearance. Nice mouthfeel. Taste is great! Not malty just a super hopped IPA that lives up to its reputation.

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Photo of Meyers1023
4.71/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured a golden wheat color with ample amounts of white head. The smell has a ton of pine in it mixed with citrus fruits and a good bit of malt. The flavor is very balanced. The combination of piney dankness, fruity sweetness, and malty bread works perfectly in this beer. The hype around this one is well deserved.

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Photo of c_tails
4.63/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

had in can at Owl Farm NYC around a day after they got a delivery of it.

bar tender poured it into a wine glass but left a few ounces left in the can

not sure what there is to say about this that hasn't already been said but i was excited to try it.

i didn't intensely scan it, but i didn't see any floaties that a number of reviews have mentioned.

with all the dankness, bitterness I loved how smooth it was. nice medium mouthfeel. crisp. really bright and lively feeling of freshness.

its an intense beer that i thoroughly enjoyed, i'd gladly drink it again if i could find it. hopefully they are more available at bars in NYC now!

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Photo of brewale4me
4.89/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Appearance: light gold, white head
Aroma: fruity, grassy fresh hop, mango, grapefruit, pine, yeasty biscuit
Taste: grassy, dank, grapefruit, pine, mango, sticky lupulin resinous, biscuit malts
Mouth feel: medium to full bodied. The carbonation brings the experience to your senses.
Overall impression: YUM!!! GREAT FOR ANY HOP HEAD.

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4.91/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The Alchemist Focal Banger

A: This single IPA from the legendary Vermont brewery that arguably started the NE IPA craze pours a pale, lightly hazy golden yellow. Lacing is excellent, and the two fingers of virgin snow head stick around forever, eventually settling into a densely-packed half finger of foam. This would be a perfect appearance of it were not for the ridiculous levels of yeasty, hoppy detritus; it looks like a beer snow globe as it is tossed around by the above average carbonation, and if it all were to settle, there would be over a finger of sediment at the bottom. Many will find this off-putting, and it is less aesthetically pleasing than the truly hazy (as opposed to packed with chunks on chunks on chunks of floaties) NE IPAs that have come around since The Alchemist (arguably) first broke that ground. 3.5/5

A: Even though this uses two of the fruitiest hops around in Mosaic and Citra, what wafts from the glass and empty can is pure, resinous dankness. Pine, grass, pungent marijuana, and earthy spiciness lead the way, but it is not all brutality. Juicy grapefruit, orange flesh, citrus peel, bitter pith, white grapes, blueberries, mango, pineapple, passion fruit, lemon, and lime. Lightly honeyed malt is hardly present at all, as this is a clear showcase for the hops and nothing else. 5/5

T: Shockingly, the flavor comes off significantly fruitier up front than the aroma led on, but the balance remains impeccable. Candied pineapple, juicy mango, orange, white grapes, white grape skin, tangerine, clementine, papaya, passion fruit, ruby grapefruit, mandarin, lemon, lime, and blueberries are all noticeable. There is a surprising amount of sweetness that really makes the fruitiness pop. Building throughout each sip is that moderately high dank, piney, earthy bitterness, which had added a hint of garlic and onion to cover basically every hop flavor possible. Truly a magnum opus of hoppiness. 5/5

M: Continuing perfection, Focal is on the lighter side of medium, yet it still comes off creamy, slick, and slightly sticky. The finish is almost entirely dry with the above moderate bitterness. Carbonation is moderate, right where it should be. Each sip remains interesting for the duration and beckons for another drink. Wonderful. 5/5

O: For my money, no single IPA is better than this. Some are equal (Hill Farmstead offerings mainly), but apart from the comparably lackluster appearance, there are no flaws to be found here. This beer contains the best of both sides of the IPA spectrum and everything in between in aroma, taste, and mouthfeel. It is bitter enough to satisfy West Coast hop heads yet juicy enough to hang with the best NE IPAs. Additionally, this is also better than Heady Topper thanks to the more svelte malt bill (which also helps it crush The Crusher). The Alchemist is still king, accept no substitutes. Pair with the similarly ahead of its time high watermark "Obscura" by the inimitable Gorguts. 5/5

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Photo of bigdaddymick
4.88/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is much better than heady topper in my opinion. If you have to pick between the two, I would opt for this one. Can't review the look because it's supposed to be drunk from a can but the smell is very intense and pungent hop notes with citrusy characteristics. This beer strikes the perfect balance between flavor and carbonation. Shyttt is bomb

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Photo of JohnnieB71
4.44/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a fantastic NE IPA. A delightful hop bomb with a crisp mouth feel. I could probably drink these all day on a hot summer day and not get tired of it.

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Photo of Amguerra305
4.58/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had this back to back with Heady and this one is better. Pours a very hazy orangey golden color with a bunch of thing suspended in the beer. Smell is generalized citrus with grapefruit predominating. Whereas Heady had the more complex smell, this one has the more complex taste. Taste follows right along with smell. Citrus yet it has a dry finish and is not at all sweet. Very balanced and not overly bitter on the back end. Feel is medium. Overall this is a great beer, mostly due to the hop profile. Classic NE IPA.

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Focal Banger from The Alchemist
4.57 out of 5 based on 2,870 ratings.
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