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Focal Banger | The Alchemist

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BA SCORE
100
world-class
304 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:
304
Ratings:
2,630
Avg:
4.59
pDev:
21.35%
 
 
Wants:
1,769
Gots:
636
For Trade:
14
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User Reviews
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Reviews: 304 | Ratings: 2,630
Photo of brewmeister1984
4.94/5  rDev +7.6%
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 MerriweatherRaven
4.93/5  rDev +7.4%
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 +7.2%
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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Photo of THANAT0PSIS
4.91/5  rDev +7%
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%
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 +6.8%
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 +6.8%
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 +6.8%
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 +6.5%
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 +6.5%
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 +6.5%
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 +6.5%
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 +6.5%
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 +6.5%
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 ScaryEd
4.88/5  rDev +6.3%
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 +6.3%
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 +6.3%
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 JohnG190
4.88/5  rDev +6.3%
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 +6.3%
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 +6.1%
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 +6.1%
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 +6.1%
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 +6.1%
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 +6.1%
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 +6.1%
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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Focal Banger from The Alchemist
4.59 out of 5 based on 2,630 ratings.
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