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Focal Banger | The Alchemist

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279 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: 279 | Ratings: 2,481
Photo of VelvetExtract
4.84/5  rDev +5.2%
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 Davepoolesque
4.41/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Super dank, tropical and delicious. Turbid as a VT ipa should be. Real good...........................................................................

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Photo of Stevedore
4.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12oz poured on tap in Waterbury, VT. Poured into a Hill Farmstead stemmed glass today, 2/12/2014.

App- hazy yellow-orange body, fair one finger white head, some retention, some lacing. Looks awfully identical to the Heady I had sitting next to it.

Smell- juicy citrus, mango, pineapple with just a hint of bread and biscuits backing it all up. Smells great and certainly promised to be a hop-forward beer.

Flavor- similar to the nose but even better. Insane juicy citrus and passion fruit notes with a nice semi-balanced biscuit and caramel sweetness. Not particularly bitter either.

Mouthfeel- medium bodied, similar to Heady Topper. Good carbonation. Not terribly bitter.

Overall- very juicy and more fruity than Heady Topper, and less bitter to boot. Excellent IPA. Glad this is coming into full production. Thanks Laura!

Re-reviewed: had this out of a tallboy can 5/7/2014. Thanks Joe. This one essentially supports my first impression based on a tap pour. So juicy, hop-forward with just the perfect amount of biscuity malt backbone that I prefer, with a great mouthfeel. Glorious IPA that I wish I could have more of.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.59/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Tallboy can poured into Duvel Tulip.

Appearance: translucent orange/yellow bodied beer with tons of suspended white chunks in the beer. 3 fingers worth of bone white head that leaves behind a thick lacing of head on the side of the glass. The head had alot of staying power and eventually drops to a thin cap.

Smell: sweet citrus mostly oranges are what I smell immediately. Grapefruit and resinous pine notes next. Hint of tropical fruits. Slighty biscuity malts and maybe even a hint of honey.

Taste: Mild almost moderate bitterness from this hoppy beer. Oranges and tropical fruits. Grapefruit and resinous pine. Hops taste dank and dirty; just like Heady Topper does. Finishes with mild bitterness; mostly grapefruit rind and resinous pine.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied beer with low carbonation. The beer is really really crushable, but its slightly watery. Just a slight fizz as the beer goes over your tongue. Needs more carbonation, but I will give it a decent score because of the drinkablity factor.

Overall: I like Focal banger better than heady topper. Citra and mosiac hops are always an outstanding combo!

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Photo of Brad007
4.77/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Acquired at a can sale today.

Pours a cloudy whitish-gold hue with a frothy head into my glass. Can is a generic can with the Focal Banger logo sticker.

Juicy with a floral/citrus profile due to the "copious additions of Mosaic and Citra hops". Indeed.

Acidic tart grapefruit greets the tongue, followed by just a touch of mango with a chewy texture.

To me, the finish is similar to what would happen if you gargled with hop juice. A long lasting bitterness.

All hail The Alchemist! Focal Banger will do for IPAs what Heady Topper did for DIPAs. It's just a matter of time before their second brewery comes on line.

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Photo of costanzo_mike
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy golden color, excellent lacing on the glass. Mosaic comes through beautifully on the nose and shines through on the taste. Smooth mouthfeel with a dank bitter feel. An excellent alternative to its brethren

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Photo of Jwale73
4.06/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a pale orange hue with a hazy clarity and a half-inch, tight, bright white head. Nose is floral, herbal and earthy with a trace of light toasted malts. Taste follows nose. Mouthfeel is light-medium in body (but closer to light) with a lively carbonation. Overall, quite quaffable. Another great Alchemist offering.

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Photo of maximum12
4.05/5  rDev -12%

Thanks again to Joe_Grizzly for drowning me in Alchemist, really looking forward to this one. I got your Silver Bullet right here, mother….16 oz. can dumped into my purty Kuhnhenn glass.

The thing I love about Alchemist IPAs is that when you pop the top, the smell hits your nose at the speed of light. No need to suck in copious amounts of air, wet your nose, or otherwise search for the aroma. It is PRESENT. Filet knife sharp citrus, honeysuckle, bunch of airy tropical notes. The brew is a light, dull orange, with a head that appears focused on sticking around until the weekend arrives.

Focal Banger is an underhanded, dishonest brew. My first sip I thought “What kind of sweet, malt-driven-ass IPA is this…” & then my thoughts scattered. A malty base of sweetness, clover, & honey gives way quickly to the mid-palate of hops that stick close to the nose. A moderate bitterness rides along with the tropical punch, roaring citrus, bit of spiciness, fragments of lemon & perhaps banana. The end is interesting, as the bitterness builds with every sip, until the top of my mouth is wallowing in spite. Grassy. Light. I would have to say this is one of the easiest-drinking beers I have ever had, I’m drinking this about twice as fast as I would a ‘normal’ brew.

I like to compare stuff, so I’m going to say this isn’t quite in the same league as All-Stars Heady & Crusher. Which is to say this is merely excellent, rather than amazingly superior. I’ll take that kind of third-string any day.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.3/5  rDev -6.5%

A-Cloudy deep orange, two finger head with nice lacing.

S-Citrus, tropical notes, grass and hops.

T-Citrus, tropical, grass with nice hops, a mild bitterness as well.

M-Medium bodied, nice carbonation with hop resins.

O-A solid IPA from the Alchemist, they know what they are doing with hops.

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Photo of Resuin
4.56/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 16 ounce can into a pint glass. This was released a week ago today so is quite fresh.

Appearance: Pours a very hazy, orange-tinted honey-amber and leaves a finger of slightly off-white head which lingers for a bit before fading to a layer atop the beer, leaving some lacing on the glass.

Smell: Big citrus/mango hops. Some resin, hint of pine. Lots of tropical notes. Really expressive and powerful aroma. Mouth-watering.

Taste: Matches the aroma well, but a bit more pine. Citrus, mango, pineapple, resin, a hint of honey, earthy notes, orange rinds. Huge hop presence. Finishes smooth and a little bitter.

Mouth-feel: Well carbonated with a medium, slightly creamy body. Finishes smooth - the 7% is well hidden.

Overall: Another really nice IPA from the Alchemist. Plenty of similarities to Heady Topper but definitely has its own personality. Refreshing, but with really big flavor. Really tears up the palate with the hop explosions.

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Photo of papat444
4.35/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a totally hazy, gold/lemonade color. Long lasting head. Hoppy aromas jump out of the glass, juicy, sticky and fresh sliced fruit. Flavor has a crisp malt backbone but generous hops are piled on. The result is a damn tasty IPA but not as good as Heady.

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Photo of cpetrone84
4.15/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Pour is reasonably hazed peachy gold with a tight white head. Nose is loads of citrus hops with grapefruit and peach. Taste follows the nose, loads citrus, peach and grapefruit. Very dry and clean, well carbonated and lighter body. A lot like a slightly lower alcohol heady with a bit more fruity punch but less bright hop flavor.

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Photo of mynie
4.31/5  rDev -6.3%

Apparently BA's "Phone friendly" interface refuses to post reviews written on iOS? Whatev...

Nutshell: this is like if Heady were a Citra bomb.

It's super intense and delicious: "decadent" is probably the best word. And while that's great, the lack of depth of hop profile holds it back from excellence. Heady can get away with its largeness because the hops come at you with wave after wave of cascading variegation. The relative simplicity of Focal makes its heft more salient, and finishing a can is a bit like trying to eat half a cheesecake in one sitting.

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Photo of Brenden
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The color is a very murky medium yellow, completely opaque except at the edges. The head is a fluffy, rocky and very dense one that's very close to pure white with the slightest yellow tint. IT finally rests at no less than 1/4 finger but it's a thick and heavy pillow that remains, dropping lace in a blend of spotting and netting as it does.
The bouquet is very nice, lots of citrus and earth, even a bit of must with, interesting, a crackery sort of note. There's even a touch of nut and herbal leaf riding underneath. It's very well hopped with no harshness resulting, more and more raw greenery developing as it sits. IT seems to develop a bit of acidity as time passes, dry and mildly sharp.
The taste brings out that herbal green right up front, and this beer's balance while relying on hops to carry the flavor meets expectations. A not-quite-piney note grows with the earthier undertones. The finish shows just a little rind and lingers with some dryness and a flash of wood.
The body is as firm a medium as it could be, lots of balance between crisp and smooth while running semi-dry from very beginning to lingering finish.

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Photo of popery
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to frenchyraoul. It says to drink from the can, but I took my chances and poured some into a glass. The new can design is quite nice, though. The beer is yellow, fairly pale, with just a bit of orange to it. Pretty hazy. Big white head. Lots of lacing and very good retention. Big juicy hop aroma. Lots of tropical and citrus fruitiness with a solid resiny backbone running through it. It’s big on pineapple, tangerine, grapefruit, pine, mango. Good stuff. The taste has moderate to medium bitterness. Lots of hop flavor. Mild pale malt character. A nice mineral note. Finishes pretty dry. Easy drink. Soft, full mouthfeel. Packs a lot of flavor. It’s a very satisfying IPA. Excellent work from Vermont.

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Photo of bubseymour
4.61/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Really nice citrus forward IPA. I thought the aroma was about as pleasant as it could get but the taste was a little one dimensional and felt it needed a little more malt balance and also was a touch bitter in finish. Still a fantastic IPA none the less.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.51/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes; sticker-labeled can from the first can release into a tulip.

A: Hazy pale amber body under a half inch of fine white head. Ok retention, light lace. Pretty nice.

S: Intense herbal, floral, and citrusy hoppiness. A bit of pine, too. Really dank, powerful aroma. Excellent.

T: Follows the nose at first, but with a bit more emphasis on grapefruit pith and pure bitterness. Long, bitter, herbal aftertaste. Really resinous.

M: Delicate body with some lively carbonation. Works well with the intense flavors.

O: Terrific IPA; not quite the masterpiece that I often find Heady to be, but a beer that I'd love to drink any time.


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Photo of smb
4.87/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | 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 Jeffo
4.38/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

YoubrewIdrink brought some of this to the pre-Zeebra extravaganza at the vacation villa resort a few months ago. Good times in an exotic paradise! Cheers!

From a 16 oz can into a snifter
Citra and Mosaic hops

APPEARANCE: Pours a 2+ finger, medium looking, slightly foamy white head with good retention. Hazy opaque amber orange with lower levels of carbonation evident. Head fades to a foamy cap and leaves some foamy lacing on the glass. A splotchy wisp remains until the end leaving more foamy lace down the glass as it empties. Nice color, but really hazy and foamy.

SMELL: Lots of hops on the nose. Just piles. Lemon, citrus, mango, passion fruit, melon and pineapple on the nose. A bit of grapefruit as well. Lots of citrusy, fruity hop aromas. Really nice. Excellent.

TASTE: Melon, passion fruit and lemon notes up front. Lots of hops with a bitter swallow, then waves of hop flavor in the finish. Lingering grapefruit, lemon, passion fruit, some mango, citrus and lots of bitterness dance all over the place. Really nice stuff though perhaps a touch too bitter for perfection.

PALATE: Medium body and medium levels of carbonation. Semi-creamy on the palate, slightly foamy, goes down fine and finishes very dry. Lots of bitterness lingers.

OVERALL: This is awesome stuff. The aroma and flavor are spot on here, and make for a really wonderful hopped-up drinking experience. The look and feel are a bit too foamy for absolute top scores, that those are minor issues. We actually compared this to Heady Topper and both are world class, though the particular can of Heady Topper might have been slightly better executed. Regardless, this stuff is excellent and I'm very happy to have had the chance to give it a whirl. Thanks again Joe!

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Photo of buschbeer
4.2/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

1 PINT can
Served in a tulip glass

This beer pours pale yellow and is cloudy. It looks like pineapple juice. It is topped with several inches of fluffy, white head that leaves chunks of lacing as it recedes.

The aroma is loaded with tropical and citrus fruit. It smells more tropical than citrus. Very nice.

The taste begins with tropical fruit that gives way to bitter grapefruit. It finishes with fresh pine needles.

Medium to full mouthfeel

It was great to start out. The pine flavor began to build the more I drank it leaving a bitter taste in my mouth. It is a two and a half week old can.

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Photo of FosterJM
4.17/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

1785th Review on BA
Can to Stemless Alchemist Glass
16 oz tall boy

Thanks to Jake and Mike

App- When I crack the can on this one, I do get a good solid IPA pour. The color reminds me of a orange and pineapple color combo with some decent orange and light yellows and a bit of gold. A smaller head was there and the disappears. The cling is nice down the glass and its a mix of bubbles and sediment coming towards me.

Smell- This was a good mix of tropical bursts from the hop combinations and then trails off into a bit of forest like pine and resin with a little bit of a skunk aroma to me. The prevailing citrus note is that of pineapple.

Taste- I will say I am quite enjoying this beer and I am aware its not meant to be a Heady. This was good and rated as such. The fruit and citrus forward taste from the hop combo is delicious. Prevailing fruits of orange, tangerine, pineapple dominate the front and the pine take center stage in the back.

Mouth- A creamy and airy medium body with a good medium carbonation behind. Silky like a stout, but bubbly like a DIPA. I enjoyed the balance quite a bit.

Drink- This was a treat. I never expected to land a can, because I dont trade that much, but that you fellas. This was a great tick. I love the dont be a Dbag sticker because they ran out of stickers. A good beer, could be great if not to be outdown by another beer from the same brewery.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.17/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This poured with a brilliant pineapple yellow color with a thick head of densely knit, bright white foam.

The nose has a malty background but the Mosaic hops are very evident. The aroma has some honey, oranges and pineapple before turning earthy and grassy.

The flavor is sweet and sugary, like a citrus fructose, with the evident Mosaic hop character punching through. The hop finish is grassy, earthy, not overly bitter, with a spicy character.

The feel is so light, airy and smooth but it still has a good amount of heft.

Very well crafted IPA with some different aromas and tastes then the standard fare.

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Photo of pkalix
4.81/5  rDev +4.6%
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 cjgiant
4.7/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Can (couldn't see a date):
Hazy yellow golden, decent white head volume, but nice sustaining power.

Nose was powerful from the can, but faded in the glass a bit. Strong bitter green pine, dank and fresh. Little green onion in the glass, but also a funky citrus note that is familiar to my nose as Citra hops.

Taste is like the nose, but there is a nice malt backbone (I want to go biscuit - a little bit of sweetness than meekly stands up to the hops). The fruit flavor is more tropical after the opening malt note, and is constantly morphing until the pith, pine, dank notes start to take over and rip at my tongue a tad. But the bitter notes never get in a clean punch, and the feel is a bit more well-rounded than I would expect. The blows are powerful, but not to the point of being a knockout.

Lovely beer - one of the better ones I have ever had. Up there with the very fresh Dirt Wolf I had at Victory. In profile, it is similar to a few Ocelot IPAs, though this beer is a little more full and well rounded.

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Photo of Treyliff
4.74/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

16oz can, poured into a tulip glass

A- pours a bright golden-yellow color with a slight haze, creamy two-finger white head that retains nicely, eventually settling down to a film skimming the top

S- loads of tropical fruity hop aromas with notes of mango, pasionfruit, papaya, melon & apricot. Also picking up some earthy pine, fresh grass, and herbal spice. Malty undertones let the hops shine

T- tropical hop explosion hits the tongue with a plethora of peach, mango, pineapple, grapefruit, papaya & melon. Mid-palate gives flavors of fresh cut grass, leafy, & earthy. Big resinous notes close it out with a linger of pine, fresh mint & citrus juice

M- medium body with low carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel that finishes creamy, crisp and dry. Highly drinkable

O- quite simply, this is the best single IPA that I've tried. The amount of hops that are packed into a 7% ABV IPA is remarkable and it lingers on the palate long after consumption. The usage of citra & mosaic is definitely a big plus for me, an outstanding beer

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Focal Banger from The Alchemist
4.6 out of 5 based on 2,481 ratings.
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