Focal Banger | The Alchemist

371 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: 371 | Ratings: 2,992
Photo of IMWizzy
4.94/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I really wanted to see and smell this beer, so I ignored the rules and poured it into a tulip glass.
It is visually stunning! The perfect color. I imagine that the brewer doesn't want you to see the collection of "Beer Floaties" ( yeast? ), but I think it only adds to the value of the brew.
It has a tremendous taste. Very full in flavor. I don't really taste the mix of all the tropical fruits that others claim. Just a very bold IPA that is crisp, extremely well balanced and not at all bitter.

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Photo of beerjunky413
4.94/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

All hail the Alchemist. This is THE example of an excellent IPA in the single/low double range. Pours a hazy yellow with strong head retention. Sipping on this is like riding a hop rollercoaster. As the sip works its way down the flavor changes a few times, starting as an intense yet well rounded piney citrus to mellow grassy notes to an intense, full, life altering multi-hop finish. One of my all time favorites, if you like IPAs you will love this. If heady is a 100 focal banger is a 101!

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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.

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Photo of Damian
4.94/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Drank from a 1 pint can at Hen of the Wood, Waterbury, VT
Served in a snifter

Cloudy, amber-tinged straw yellow appearance. The beer was topped by an inch-plus tall cap of bubbly froth that quickly dissolved. Droplets of lacing trickled down the glass.

The aroma was amazingly hoppy and bright. Super fruity. Tropical fruit notes dominated. Loads of musty passionfruit, papaya and mango. Uber juicy. Orange juice definitely came to mind. Tangerine as well. Fairly sweet. There was also an intensely dank, weed-like quality. Really fantastic. The passionfruit notes intensified as the beer warmed.

The flavor profile was very similar to the nose and just as incredible. Loads of tripical fruits. Mango, papaya and passionfruit were most apparent. Citrus notes played a bigger role here than in the aroma. Very orange-y. Orange peel appeared on the back end. The beer finished with notes of white grapefruit rind. Just the right amount of bitterness for balance. Piney, resiny notes lingered after the swallow.

The mouthfeel was amazingly creamy and supple. Fluffy and almost cloud-like. A fine, zippy effervescence made the liquid seem much lighter than it actually was.

Focal Banger definitely lived up to the hype. As much as I love Heady Topper, I have to say that this beer is even better.

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Photo of captainsdaughter
4.94/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

L: Had to give it a 4 because I drank it from the can like it was recommended and have no idea what it looks like in a tulip glass.
S: Smells like papaya, fresh pineapple and mango, with hops hops and more hops that burst through your nostrils just like in the picture on the can.
T: Best IPA I've ever had IMO. Blows SOS out of the water. The power of the hops and dominating citrus without over doing it makes this simply the most drinkable and pronounced IPA I have had. At 7% the drinkability is scary. No alcohol presence whatsoever.
F: This and Heady are in a class of their own when it comes to mouthfeel. The hops just roll down the back of your throat and it's not so overpoweringly bitter like most other IPA's are when they try to mimic this style. Similar mouthfeel to Heady but not as strong.
O: Like I said best IPA I will probably be able to enjoy, perfect beer that I would drink every day if I had the chance. Even better than Alter Ego.

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Photo of brewmeister1984
4.94/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Finally got my hands on this whale. Definitely lived up to expectations in my opinion. Can't beat the OG. Fantastically drinkable and the mosaic and citra hops blend amazing together.

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

This is a quintessential beer. Out of the can or pour into a glass. Perfection. All flavors perfect pleasantly bitter, a touch sweet, strong hops not overbearing ... very little if any booze. Just the perfect beer. This is a must try. So good when it hits your lips haha. Thanks Alchemist

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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...

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Photo of MerriweatherRaven
4.93/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

It's better than Heady Topper.
It's like Topper light - a bit easier to drink, and every single bit as tasty and delicious. It also has that HUGE Hop aroma.

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Photo of tmbgnicu
4.92/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Finally got to try this at prohibition pig last thursday with dinner. Lives up to ALL of the hype in my opinion, a perfect IPA, has all of the great characteristics of Heady but adds "otherworldly drinkability" to the mix. Ended up ordering 3 of them. Cannot wait until this is mass manufactured.

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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 Kdouble
4.91/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured a little into a glass but drank most from the 16 oz. can. Bought it directly from the brewery.

A hazy yellowish look with a little over a finger of beautiful white head. Head lasted a while and left a lot of lacing.

The smell is phenomenal as soon as you open the can. The citrus aroma is everywhere. Grapefruit with pineapple and maybe a little peach in there or mango.

The taste matches the smell with all of the citrus flavors coming through. The mosaic hops blend superbly with the malt. It seemed like every drink left me wanting one more.

Fantastic IPA with such a juicy taste. Definitely a world class IPA. I could have this everyday.

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Photo of Guess2814
4.9/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

The first words that came out my mouth when I drank this beer was Whoaaaa!!!..This might be the closest your going to get to The Header.. I hate comparing everything to the highest rated beer BUT.. When you had the best??? This beer had a nice fruity IPA taste to it.. Leaves a great taste lingering in your mouth.. The Alchemist Brewery nailed it with this one..

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Photo of mattsmith413
4.9/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

On a aroma scale of 5, I would give this a 10. I think this is better than (dare I say it) Heady Topper. Easily my favor beer from The Alchemist.

Great citrus flavors plus floaties... match made in heaven.

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Photo of daudelin2000
4.9/5  rDev +7.2%
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 acread
4.89/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

We all have our opinions, so take this with a grain of salt, but this is my favorite non-Hill Farmstead IPA coming out of Vermont. Heady Topper is amazing, but this brings all of the luscious goodness of HT with a little less resiny richness and a little more refreshing fruit quality. Simply beautiful.

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Photo of wulfie85
4.89/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This lived up to the hype amazingly. Great pale color with Citra and Mosaic aromas that exploded out of the glass. The flavors completely backed up those aromas on the palate as well. Absolutely delicious beer

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Photo of dar482
4.89/5  rDev +7%
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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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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Photo of LAp
4.89/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Nosed from the can, it's straight pine and marijuana. Poured into two separate teku glasses (yes, yes, I know, flaunting the instructions on the can), we see a hazy orange beer, with a one-finger white head. Nosed from the teku, it's dank as dank can be. This beer smells like pure marijuana, in a way that is unlike any DIPA I've ever tried before. The palate......wait. Wut? This beer tastes like week. I think they replaced humulus lupulus with cannabis for this canning. Pine and weed blend in an incredibly savory beer, accented by a faint undercurrent of honey-sweetness from marginal malt addition. Mouthfeel is solid medium.

I'm pretty sure this beer could be poured into a bong, smoked, and would induce a high. This beer is unique. Unlike anything I've tried before (even The Crusher and Heady Topper don't have the same bold MJ note of this beer). It's singular. It's incredible. It's absolutely world class.

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Photo of bugzy3188
4.89/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

L: If you like your beers clear, you may want to keep this one in the can. Opaque with minimal head, and lots of floating hop goodness. Minimal alcohol legs but this is to be expected with a %7 brew.

S: Right off the bat I get punched with orange and lemon peel, there is some pineapple that pokes it's head through supporting the citrus tones perfectly. There is a touch of dankness behind all of this but the citrus tones take front stage.

T: This one really is an assault on the pallet, the taste doesn't carry as much of the citrus peel flavors but rather gives way to some of the underlying pineapple and mango that rests beneath. Directly after the fruit juice bombardment I was hit with a metric S-ton of bitterness that did not overstay it's welcome falling off clean giving way for the pineapple/mango to resinate.

F: This brew has an amazing mouthfeel, it is smooth as can be and has an almost creamy quality to it. This was one of my favorite aspects of Heady and this is right up there with its older brother.

O: This is an absolutely amazing beer, it can be hard to get but is definitely worth seeking out if you are a hop head such as myself. It is hard for me to do justice with words just how good this beer really is, I honestly can't think of a single flaw.

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Photo of mig100
4.89/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Fresh on tap, direct from The Alchemist at FW Invitational. Bright and radiant sunshine glow with dense 3 finger head and sticky, bubbly lacing remaining all over the glass. Dank, delicious, pungent marijuana aroma with huge blasts of tropical citrus and resinous earthy hops that coat the palate and linger forever. Next level shit. Consider my focal banged.

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

Consumed from a can purchased at the Three Penny Taproom in Montpelier, VT.

I give the appearance a neutral 3 because I drank the beer from the can.

The aroma brings an absolutely absurd amount of citrus. Smelling this beer is like taking a walk through Odin's orange grove wearing a Smell-O-Scope. There's so much juicy grapefruit, and orange rind, but just enough bitter, grassy hop resin to balance everything out. Absolutely incredible.

The taste follows the nose with an atomic explosion of grapefruit and tropical fruits, followed by some bitter, earthy hop resin. Bitterness lingers for a while after each sip.

The mouth is medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Extremely creamy, smooth and lightly bitter.

Overall, I simply need more of this beer. It is incredible. It is every bit as good as Heady and the flavors and aromas really stand out on their own. Can't wait for this to start getting retail distribution.

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Photo of byronic
4.88/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A beautiful aroma from the can. Very balanced, very crisp and absolutely delicious. A nice blend of hops and fruits with a silk finish, Disappears in no time.

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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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Focal Banger from The Alchemist
4.57 out of 5 based on 2,992 ratings.
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