Focal Banger | The Alchemist

372 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: 372 | Ratings: 3,004
Photo of FalconCount
5/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

If you could give a 5+, smell deserves it. When fresh, it is euphoric. Nose is full of citrus. Taste has a fresh bitter taste, followed by piney, resinous flavors. Mouthfeel is crisp, but not overly bitter, allowing you to appreciate the next taste.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
5/5  rDev +9.4%
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 Coulombemj90
5/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I can't really say anything about look since it came directly from the can. When I first heard of the Alchemist I couldn't wait to try Heady Topper. The day I had my first Heady, my wife said I looked happier drinking that beer than I did on my wedding day. I can't say I agree but I was pretty pumped. During my most recent trip to Burlington I got to try Focal Banger for the first time. I was taken away by how good the beer was. I'd even go as far to say that it is better than Heady Topper. I just hope that when The Alchemist opens up their brewery that they put more of a focus on getting this beer distributed to places other than restaurants.

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Photo of lochraneg
5/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look: Hazy, beautiful, Golden color, Unfiltered look
Smell: Hop and Citrus Notes, smells like weed
Taste: More drinkable than Heady, could easily have 4 of these in a couple of hours
Feel: Good solid body, Hangs out with great after taste
Overall: Def my have Alchemist Beer, Wish they distributed this for case or 4 pack sale

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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

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Photo of allhoppedup2
5/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is exceptional, a rare 5.0 beer. I got the chance to taste this and Heady on a vacation trip to Vermont last week. I had the Heady first and will review it later. The local folks recommended I try the Focal since it was only available in restaurants. To my palate, it was sweeter than Heady. Excellent Hop Balance. Very smooth, no notice of alcohol. Do drink it in the can, the Alchemist folks really have mastered World Class beer in a can.

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Photo of SDRedDevil
5/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had cans in Stowe and Waterbury during a road trip. Great combo of Citra and Mosaic hops. Smells incredibly dank with great citrus notes as well. Tons of citrus hops on the front end, semi-creamy, with a nice dry bitter end. I think I like the hop forwardness more than Heady but I'm just splitting hairs....

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Photo of Scarfer_Brad
5/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

had out of a can for look going on person next to me who poured in a glass
A nice pale hazy orange, a 3/8" head and nice lacing

a very fruity and citrus smell jumps out of the can.

wow what a tasty. a smooth crisp sweet hoppy tasty .

Has a light feel good medium to light carbonation.

It is not a "heady Lite" as people say. it is a banging beer in it's own right. it drinks and tastes smooth as silk with a bang. has banging dank hops with each taste. it is something that i could drink every day. in my opinion it is better than Heady. Wow a pleasure to finally try it.

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Photo of MOVERTON1284
5/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Better than heady for me. I have had this beer 3-4 times and it never disappoints. Wish they would put a date on the can. Great aroma of citra and mosaic, light and smooth just how I like my IPAs

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Photo of msondel
4.99/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Reflecting on this awesome beer today and really glad I have a few extra in my fridge for my consumption after excluding certain BA reviewers (Brad) from the invite list of this party. Some people think the number of reviews make them more important, but everyone knows it's the number of beers consumed that differentiates the cool kids from the strange ones.

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Photo of Beerasaurus
4.99/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had Focal out of a can at the Mule Bar in Winooski. Did not pour any into a glass, so I'm assuming the look is as awesome as the rest of it. The aroma is an explosion of citrus smells, as good as any IPA out there. The taste that follows is well balanced between hops and citrus, with a great, smooth feel. Really enjoyed this beer. It exceeded my expectations, and I'd take this over Heady. I hope they distribute beyond bars. It's a keeper.

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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!

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Photo of TedStrosser
4.99/5  rDev +9.2%
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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Photo of dms
4.99/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This might be the best beer I've ever tasted. It's not a beer I could have more than one of at a time, though. I was lucky enough to acquire a 4 pack from a friend who made the trip to Vermont. Had one fresh the day he returned. This beer is very complex. Now having had all 4 over the last week I can say that it's different things to me at different times.

The smell: First impression - what is that? floral yeast like a Treehouse brew? No, something more. I smell grapefruit and spices - coriander, allspice . . . and Mosaic. Lot's of mosaic.

The Taste: Starts out with that warm, sweet floral Treehouse flavor but then it quickly turns bitter. This is more complex than any Treehouse I've had. The bitter lingers perfectly, just the right amount. Finally, I'm left with Mosaic; lots of it, that weedy/sour pucker tang.

The feel: Tight carbonation. It's not juicy. It's not like syrup. It feels very light and effervescent.

I think the best way to describe this is to say that it is something like a cross between a TH Alter Ego and a NEBCO Supernaut.

What's funny is that I didn't notice the Mosaic with my first one. At that point I was totally focused on the up-front floral yeast character and the bitter finish. Tonight, having my 4th and final it's all Mosaic to me, the smell, the taste.

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Photo of Ironstutz
4.98/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

so close to perfect! no booze flavor, just lovely hops and malt. beautiful, unfiltered look. followed by a lovely nose full of fruit and hops. and the taste that follows is such a impeccable balance of hops and malt. i highly recommend this one

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Photo of ryno6616
4.98/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Just exceptional - hands down a top beer of all I've had.
Like Heady's little brother. But that doesn't mean it is a secondary beer by any means. 100% deserving of its 100 rating
If you've had it, you know.
If you haven't had it, get it.

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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!"

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Photo of SawDog505
4.97/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into my 13 oz tulip glass, I know it is fresh. Pours a hazy yellow orange with some floaties and a two inch white head that leaves loads of lace. Smell is tropical mango, passion fruit, tangerine, and a hint of grapefruit. Taste follows the nose everything thing blends perfectly, maybe a little more grapefruit lingers on the tong then you would expect from the nose. Body is medium large for its abv, plenty of life, a touch dry, and amazing drinkability. One of the best ever, as I expected.

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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.

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Photo of elvisdoc
4.96/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I think I prefer Focal Banger even to Heady. It is a little less ABV and so drinkable. Very hoppy with a nice clean finish and mouthfeel. I wish they would distro this beer as I have only found it in VT restaurants and hotels and would love to buy by the case. Much recommended.

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Photo of unclejimmyjim
4.96/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I wasn't able to get any of the canned release on Saturday, Feb. 15, so I consoled myself over a fresh pour at The Reservoir in Waterbury while watching the Canada/ Finland hockey game.

This may be the best beer (iPAs are my specialty) I have ever enjoyed. It combines the best of my two favorite beers into one beer that is eminently quaffable. I liken it to the perfect combination of Heady Topper and Lawson's Double Sunshine.

Sometimes a Heady (more often than not, at these times it is my second, third, or fourth Heady) is just a bit too citrussy for my palate. Those are times when a Double Sunshine will cut through the flavor of a Heady to deliver a cleaner, sharper hop-high.

Now i am too respectful of the integrity of the brewers and their brews ever to mix myself...and now that temptation is forever removed. I cannot wait for more to appear in cans.

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Photo of curtis6290
4.95/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Lighter than the Heady Topper, but you get the same flavor profile. This one is smooth and piney, and I was able to drink these all night without getting really messed up like from the HT. Highly recommended.

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Photo of LordSMAF
4.95/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Simply put one of the best IPAs I have had. Consumed from a fresh 16oz can.

Tons of dank goodness with the right balance of bitter and citrus. Smooth.

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Photo of spacecake9
4.94/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - I know they say drink from the can. But I really like to see my beer. Pours a golden orange with an inch of foamy white head that never completely goes away.
S - The aroma is orange and grapefruit.
T - The flavor is really strong grapefruit zest. The bitterness is just perfect.
M - Medium mouth feel and carbonation.
O - I'm a huge fan of all 3 Alchemist beers. Nothing better than drinking all 3 in a row and comparing with friends. Depending on my mood, any one can be the best beer I've ever tasted. Focal Banger is almost perfect, would love a stronger aroma but hey, it's the flavor that counts and this is a big winner.

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Photo of tapperm
4.94/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Amazing beer. Better than Heady in my opinion. I really like mosaic hops though. Nice dank, dryish taste. Thinner feel. Overall, one of the best beers in the NE.

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Focal Banger from The Alchemist
4.57 out of 5 based on 3,004 ratings.
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