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Focal Banger | The Alchemist

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
100
world-class
199 Reviews
Focal BangerFocal Banger
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
The Alchemist
Vermont, United States | website

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:
199
Ratings:
2,007
Avg:
4.62
pDev:
22.94%
 
 
Wants:
1,793
Gots:
403
For Trade:
6
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
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Reviews: 199 | Ratings: 2,007
Photo of mattsmith413
4.9/5  rDev +6.1%
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 +6.1%
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 rodmanfor3
4.9/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This beer is amazing. Consistently the best from the Alchemist collection, perhaps one of the best in the world.

I was hoping that this beer would continue to fly under the radar for selfish reasons, but now that the cans have officially been approved, it will be just a matter of time before Focal Banger becomes my regular go to beer.

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Photo of acread
4.89/5  rDev +5.8%
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 dar482
4.89/5  rDev +5.8%
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 bugzy3188
4.89/5  rDev +5.8%
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 eifster82
4.89/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From can and glass. Under a week old.

Light orange haze filled the glass. Aromas of sap, pine, resinous dank. That resin and pine stays with the taste along with citrus and tropical fruit flavors from the Citra + Mosaic hop. Medium mouthfeel. Very smooth and easy drinking after-taste. Something I could drink all sumer. It reminds of a juicer and more robust version of Tree House Sap. Great combination of best of the North West along with what is considered a New England easy-drinking, juicy haze brew. I like Heady Topper a lot, but I might just pick this if asked to pick between the two.

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Photo of ScaryEd
4.88/5  rDev +5.6%
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 JohnG190
4.88/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pours a pale orange with a thick white head. Aroma of grapefruit pith with a hint of pine. Lots of juicy hops on the palate with floral, pine and earthy notes. Light bodied with good carbonation. Overall, I'd call this Heady Light.

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Photo of hasher
4.88/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Got the chance to taste focal and heady side by side. Both delivered to the bar that day. If you like one you'll like the other. I found them to be similar except focal was less hoppy tasting and a bit smoother. I thought there was less fruit flavor in the focal. Overall another excellent beer from the alchemist.

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Photo of Stater
4.87/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Even after 2 months, this holds up to any IPA. Lots of pine and resin balanced with citrus in the background. Very glad there was one more behind this one.

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Photo of supaadam
4.87/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The best. Better than Heady, Pliny, or Crusher. Lots of hops, but not over the top. Not too thick like a lot of doubles. Just perfect.

Light color, huge smell, and epic taste and mouthfeel.

For me, Heady is too light. I call it "tine bubbles." This is thicker, but still retains the Alchemist character.

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Photo of MyThoughtsExactly
4.87/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a can (about a month old) into a tulip glass.
Look: Hazy yellow to peach color. Small head with a continuous stream of small bubbles percolating.
Aroma: Tons of grapefruit. Smells like fresh grapefruit juice. Also some lemon, peach and dank elements in the background.
Taste: Tropical fruit upfront (grapefruit, lemon, orange) followed by dankness (onion, basil, pine). Bitterness is all in the back of throat.
Feel: Great mouthfeel, has that biscuity NE IPA feel which leaves you lip smacking.
Overall great IPA, I prefer this over heady. Defiantly seek this out.

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Photo of Chrissythebeerlover
4.87/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Smelled like some citrus notes and possibly like grass or pine. Didn't taste much alcohol and it goes down really smooth. I would say it's really well balanced between all the sweetness and bitterness. Very hoppy and delicious!

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Photo of Givemebeer
4.87/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Hoppier than Heady Topper... And definitely better as well. Hopped with Citra and Mosaic and both of varieties best qualities showed. Tropical fades to juicy berries. Totally unbalanced with all flavor coming from the hops but a retstrained bitterness finishing dry. A treat to have.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.87/5  rDev +5.4%
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 BranfordBound
4.86/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had at a few locations during a trip to Vermont: Stowe Wine & Cheese (unexpected), Doc Ponds, and Hen of the Wood. Poured some out just to get an idea of looks but kept 95% of it in the can, as specified. Pours a hazy golden color with a decent head that sticks around. Smells of... sweet baby jesus: pure hops. I should call the police because my olfactory cells just got assaulted by an angry mob of hops. Grassy, super herbal, notes of stone fruit.

OK, let's drink this 16oz of elixir. Starts with the faintest sweetness from the english malts, but then it's blown away by the most epic wave of hops encountered. Very herbal and grassy, tons of stone fruit like peach and mango. Notes of citrus. Finishes ultra bitter with a mild carbonation kick to fight the hop oils which linger in the mouth for minutes afterward.

The body will get to you after a little bit and a the whole can will leave you feeling somewhat full, not as much as Heady, but this beer will defeat your taste buds. They will beg for mercy. They will never be the same after this, they'll need years of therapy of tasting pale lagers, hefeweizens, porters, and witbiers to recover.

Overall an amazing experience. I tried this next to Heady Topper and HT could not keep up. If you're in Northern VT and this is on the can list, don't even consider any other option.

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

Fresh out of a can on delivery day in Burlington.

A- can't say much here other than the can looks cool. I didn't pour this one out, but had it other times and can say it looks basically like Heady.

S- lots of fruit jumping out of the can. Pineapple, pear, mango, and others. Maybe a small hint of biscuit or grainy bread. Basically the citrus fruits take control of the nose.

T- wow, tastes similar to heady but has it's own little tartness thing going on. Tastes very fruity and crisp

M- great mouthfeel. Nice crispness but also has a beautiful medium bodied texture. A little more of a bite on the finish in comparison to Heady, which I drank side by side with this one.

O- outstanding beer. Was stoked to see this on the menu where we stopped and it certainly did not disappoint.

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Photo of Jay_P22
4.85/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Grabbed from the new brewery this weekend. Poured into a teku.

Look is a hazy yellowish brew. Nice lacing that sticks.

Smells is amazing. Citrus and mosaic hops bursting through the glass.

Taste follows the nose. So much citrus. Love the mosaic hops and the fruit hangs in the middle of the palate.

Mouth feel is medium bodied and damn near perfect.

Overall, love it. I've had Heady a few times and this is better. I could drink this every day. Great can, great name, great brew. #homerun

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.84/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A-Pours a murky, pale yellow color. Looks like fruit juice. Smaller head sits atop the hop oil-laden body. Very light lace.

S-Oh my goodness, Mosaic and Citra blow the skin off my face here. Full citrus bouquet, peaches, sweet pineapple. Some earthy and viny hoppiness. Papaya! Pure, ripe fruit-juice medley of hops. I would wear this as cologne.

T-The flavor just rolls over the tongue and the hoppiness oozes into my taste buds. Mango, papaya, peach, pineapple and medley of citrus. Some bitter flower stems. Even a bit of lemon. The malt is tasty in its own right; it provides a pleasurable sweetness that pairs so convincingly with all the juicy hop goodness. Citra and Mosaic in perfect harmony.

M-Resiny. Bitterness doesn't melt the palate. Lingering flavor. Medium bodied and a bit creamy. Very drinkable; it was made to be in my mouth at all times.

O-An obvious gem. The brewery that does hops the best nails an IPA, what a surprise. So lucky to try a can of this. It is simply stellar. I love this goddamn beer.

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Photo of byronic
4.82/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | 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 pkalix
4.81/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

wow! been waiting to try this one.... drinking from the can like it commands, it tastes like Squirt. very delicious, very refreshing and very easy to drink! how does one rate it if one cant pour it into a glass, though? so i did. it actually may even taste a little different(?). slightly hazy, thin head. but yes, it DOES taste better from the can.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.8/5  rDev +3.9%
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 HeadyTheElder
4.8/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

16 oz. can from the 10/4/14 Alchemist Truck sale. Poured into a snifter glass on 10/26/14.

A - Opaque, sunny amber. Slight head retention.

S - Lots of juicy fruit. Definitely some tropical notes like mango and pineapple. But also some citrus and berry fruit.

T - Follows the aroma. Lots of wonderful, juicy fruit up front. A little bit of dank resin. Packs a ton of flavor for a single IPA. The mild hoppy bitterness makes this one incredibly drinkable. Very little malt presence, similar to other Alchemist hoppy beers. Absolutely delicious.

M - Fairly light for the style. Carbonation is appropriate. Smooth and refreshing.

O - A truly wonderful American IPA. Brings out all the bright, juicy hop flavors from citra and mosaic together quite nicely. Nothing but hops here with still a refreshingly smooth finish. This may be my favorite of the The Alchemist's hoppy beers, though they are all great in their own way. I'm looking forward to The Alchemist being able to make this more regularly, once the new cannery is up and running.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.79/5  rDev +3.7%
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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Focal Banger from The Alchemist
100 out of 100 based on 199 ratings.
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