Focal Banger | The Alchemist

369 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: 369 | Ratings: 2,987
Photo of buschbeer
4.2/5  rDev -8.1%
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 Sabtos
4.06/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bright orange-yellow, hazy with some microscopic floaters and a very large, foamy eggshell head. I see they are still not proud of the visual appearance of their beers considering the can art declaration that drinking from the can is still best. I'm a believer that aroma really makes a beer what it is, and if you can't smell the beer through the tiny hole in the car while drinking it, then you're not getting the full experience, period. Plus, it must be said, since nearly every brewery out their trying to keep pace with this style of IPA is doing the same thing, it's time to embrace the haze. After a few of these, I can definitively say they definitely have quite a bit of sediment in these cans--I've had one with an absolutely enormous colony of yeast clumped together and swirling around at one point. Definitely unseemly. You don't get this from Trillium or Tree House, ever. And Maine or Hill Farmstead, well they're on another level in regards to appearance.

Smell is nutty, cheesy tangerine, with a light dankness, light young pine, and a slight hint of apple cider vinegar.

Taste is tangy and spicy green pine, pink peppercorn, tangerine, grapefruit and cracker. Bitterness builds over time, with grassy, sharp pungent hops being the primary cause.

Focal is much more nuanced and balanced than I thought it would be. Fruity yet piney, juicy yet bitter. I do like it more than Heady, if only by a hair.

Finish is slow and steady to develop on the palate, but is dry with mild bitterness.

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Photo of Keananmichael5
4.56/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this before they designed the new can. I almost prefer it to Heady but both are very very good. I wish I could have it again. Dry hop smell, crisp flavor, very balanced beer.

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Photo of Jeffo
4.38/5  rDev -4.2%
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 Treyliff
4.74/5  rDev +3.7%
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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Photo of Hootie159
4.79/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Thick pillow head with great lacing. Pale golden orange. Citrus bouquet on the nose. Fresh juice. Delicious. Mango, orange, and lemon. Nice feel, some sticky tart, and good carb. Great beer, better than Topper.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.51/5  rDev -1.3%
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 ArkyVaughan
5/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is as good as it gets for an IPA for me. First had it from the October 2014 truck sale and it blew me away. Easily better than Heady and the Crusher. Can't wait until the Alchemist is able to crank out more of this wonderful stuff.

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Photo of FosterJM
4.17/5  rDev -8.8%
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 -8.8%
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 CHickman
4.45/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured half the can into a glass and got a hazy gold colored brew with a ton of sediment floating around in it which looked like a snow globe and went up to a 2 finger thick foamy/cloudy bright white colored head that was packed with bubbles of all sizes, dissipating very slowly and leaving good spotty lacing that slides down the glass, some sticking around.

Smells of pineapple, lemon, tangerine and grapefruit up front, with biscuits and grains coming through for a second before a wave of floral hops kick in that reminded me of dry weed, German hops like Saaz, fresh cut grass, peppery spices, some tropical fruit and trailing piney hops. There's an odd potpourri that took a little bit away from those other lovely hop aromas, otherwise it was top notch for a regular IPA.

Tastes like it smells but with a lot more floral notes, like dry hops, tea leaves, herbs and chalky yeast. It almost seems like spruce tips or something very earthy is in the mix, dulling some of the citrus notes out as this hop struggle goes back and forth. It's more floral and herbal, but still complex and full of citrus hop notes. Not nearly as smooth as Heady Topper, but still a hop bomb for sure.

Mouthfeel is full but on the smooth side with average to light carbonation, a medium body as well as a medium level of bitterness, and nice balance for such a hoppy brew which covers up the ABV masterfully.

I drank most from the can and I must say that I liked it better from the glass. From the glass it seemed to open up the fruit flavors and not seem so floral like dirty plants were dipped in the beer along with some Windex. Overall it was very good and enjoyable, but I disagree with John Kimmich here...drink from the glass, not the can.

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Photo of patre_tim
4.65/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sweet and fruity, pine, orange, blueberry bubble gum, cinnamon or holiday season home d├ęcor spray.

Yellow and cloudy with a lot of carbonation. Topped with 2 fingers of white, foamy head.

The taste is incredible. Pine and blueberry gum, sweet and floral and fruity in a berry kind of way, and bitter. Yes, a big solid bitterness on the finish.

Lots of foamy, frothy carbonation, medium body, and a balance of sweetness with tannic hop finish. Ruby red grapefruit in there too.

Got at the Alchemist a few days ago while travelling through the area. Drinking Oct 1st, 2016 after 1am. Amazing brew. The hops are incredibly fresh, floral, dank and bitter. Nice sweetness in the balance. An amazing brew.

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Photo of Flounder57
4.49/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can was poured into a chalice.

Appearance: A one finger head was poured that reduced to a thin layer. It is a hazy yellow orange color with no vision of anything. Spotty lacing down the glass as as the beer was drank.

Smell: Wicked weed, grassy, herbal, spicy, lemon, tropical, bready, wheaty, and pale malts.

Taste: Awesome citra and Mosaic lasting hop flavor. Nice malt bill, a little chewy, and light tingly bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, light to medium bodied, medium carbonation, a little chewy, and light tingly bitterness. Very delicious.

Overall: A friend just gave me this can and drank it right away. Solid choice.

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.59/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pouring a cellar temp pounder can into a snifter. Guess Im going against the order to drink straight from the can.
The beer is a bright yet slightly hazy gold color with a frothy bleached white head that billows up and over the rim of the glass to a height of 4 cm easy even with a gentle pour. The foam recedes to some sticky islands and an edge layer.
The aroma is apparent straight from the pour with all hop with pine notes and citrus dominant, grapefruit and pineapple come up. I also get some general fruit with peaches maybe.
First sip reveals an average body with fine yet tingly carbonation that prickles my palate on each sip. Flavor is some brief hits of sweet graininess that rolls to a complex hop mash of citrus rind, grass notes and some general astringency. I also get some tropical fruit but no booze comes through anywhere making this bigger beer extremely drinkable. This is a hop forward complex beer and I really enjoy it.
Definitely worth a shot if you get it and a less aggressive brew than the Heady.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
4.29/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Type: 16-oz. can
Glass: Beer Nerd tulip
From: My friend Charlie
Price: $3.13 (educated guess)
Purchased: N/A; Received Jan. 27, 2017
Consumed: Feb. 1, 2017
Reviewed as: American IPA
Misc.: No COD; Did not drink out of the can like it said

Was lucky enough to get 10 pretty sweet beers sent to me by a college buddy. Was really looking forward to this one, having head Heady Topper a few times. Thinking this would have to be in the 4.50 range.

Poured a light yellow hazy color with three fingers of rocky white head. Lots of light bubbles coming up from the bottom of the glass. Good foamy spotty lacing. Excellent foamy retention. (Sight - 4.00)

Smelled juicy mix of citrus and tropical from the first whiff. Got Citra up front, followed by grapefruit, tangerine, pineapple, lemon zest, subdued Mosaic, melon, mango, pine and herbal. Started out awesome, but flavor escaped rather quickly. (Smell - 4.25)

Tasted slightly better and more flavorful than the nose. Really and extension of the first whiffs. Got Citra, mango, pineapple, grapefruit pulp, bitter tangerine peel, melon, sharp pine, subdued Mosaic, herbal and hints of menthol. Tastes maybe even more than the 7 pct. ABV. (Taste - 4.50)

Medium body. Oily texture. Lively-to-fizzy carbonation. Juicy bitter finish. (Feel - 3.75)

This was a very good IPA overall, but not as good as advertised in my opinion. (Overall - 4.25)

4.29 | 95 | A

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Photo of WanderingFool
4.53/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Focal Banger pours a hazy honey yellow with a small, creamy head on top. The foam fades quickly leaving spots of lace all over the glass.

The aroma is loaded with citrus and a little funk. Orange and grapefruit with tropical fruit and a little vegetal (garlic) note.

Each sip of this medium bodied beer is creamy with moderate carbonation. The flavor is nicely balanced between grapefruit and lemon citrus, pine and tropical fruit. Sweet malt balances all the hop bitterness. It finishes mildly bitter and dry with a little vegetal funk. Once gone the citrus and tropical fruit lingers on the palate.

Delicious, well balanced beer. Not as bitter as Heady Topper, but just as flavorful.

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Photo of Furlinator
4.12/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours cloudy straw gold with a big off-white head that remains as a thin cap on top and leaves strands of lace. There is visible floating hop resin. The smell is of subdued pine, faint tropical fruit, grass and, dare I say, sweat. The taste follows with grass, subtle pine, tropical fruit and, mild malt sweetness. Medium texture.

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Photo of Roguer
4.58/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful hazy orange-gold IPA, topped by a thick foamy snow-white head. Outstanding head retention, leaving behind blotchy patches of lacing.

Peppery herbal aroma, with light notes of mandarin orange, pineapple, flowers, and mango, along with a sweet pale malt base.

Crisp and thickly hoppy on the palate; fabulously clean. Chewy creamy body, yet still lively, really allowing you to savor the waves of hops. Fruit up front, more tropical but with a hint of citrus - mango, star fruit, and pineapple, balanced against light lemon and a hint of grapefruit rind (notably so on the finish). As the waves continue, the tropical fruit flavors grow in strength, adding a dank, earthy sweetness that complements and never overwhelms.

Somehow, the bitterness balances out the entire package, allowing the pale malt to just barely make an appearance, and lending a semi-dry finish to the sip - a remarkable contrast to the creamy body.

The Alchemist may as well be the old guard of the modern IPA, but this is as good as - if not better than - anything the new brewers at Trillium and Tree House are putting out. Really a fantastic, flavor-packed, and unbelievably creamy IPA.

As expected with these hops (Citra and Mosaic), the dank flavors recede with time. Depending on your preference for hop profiles, you should drink this beer at the appropriate time. For me, 2-3 weeks is better than fresh.

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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 SpeedwayJim
4.48/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

16oz. can into a Surly teku.

Nose is citrus, pine, grass and a fresh, juicy hop bitterness. More mellow than I thought it'd be but still very good. Beer opens citrus, grapefruit and cantaloupe up front with a bark and grass hop bitterness in the back. One of the driest IPAs I've ever had. More citrus with a big malt backbone balanced by a hop presence that's more dry and acrid than bitter. But it works. Feel is light bodied with moderate to low carbonation. Just perfectly silky and smooth in the mouth and bone dry going down, leaving the palate thirsting for more.

The balance between being overwhelmingly flavorful and extremely balanced is impressive here and the feel just can't be beat. An excellent beer all around. The fact that its only 7% is icing!

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Photo of EyePeeAyBryan
4.01/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

So much hype surrounding this brew and my body was ready. Had half in a glass and half in the can. Murky, more of a bright yellow/golden color. Really has that NE vermont taste that's sweet but dank and juicy. Wanted so much to fall in love but it just didn't happen...more of a one night stand.

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Photo of richj1970
4.63/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 16 oz can into snifter.

A: Hazy pale yellow with 1-2 finger white head. Lots of floating particles. If I had regular access to this, I would probably drink from the can. Decent retention and leaving some moderate lacing.

S: A punch of citrus aroma hit me as soon as I popped the top on the can. Pineapple, grapefruit, mango, and peaches.

T: Very citrus forward - tons of pineapple, grapefruit, and mango. Some pine and plentiful dank hops.

M: Medium body with average carbonation. Finish is juicy and lightly bitter.

O: Excellent IPA. I'm not sure it's possible to have a single favorite IPA these days with all that's out there, but this would certainly be near the top of my list.

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Photo of DIM
4.36/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very enticing, delicate tropical fruit and juicy citrus aromas with scant sugar cookie balance. Unfortunately that tropical fruit was largely missing behind some surprisingly strong citrus rind bitterness. This is a damn good ipa, just not on par with the other two ipa's I've had from the Alchemist.

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Photo of DCLAguy11
4.5/5  rDev -1.5%

Did a blind tasting on 8/29/14 with the recent batches of Focal Banger, Rapture, The Crusher and Heady Topper.

It was the lightest colored of the 4 beers with light yellow/golden hue. Almost like a lemonade. On the nose I got pine and floral notes, persimmon(?) and lot's of nice dankness.

Taste: Very delicate, refreshing (perfect for a hot sunny day), piney, enough bitterness and slight chewiness. This is a delicious beer and in my opinion (right now) superior to Heady Topper.

Overall, I had a hard time between this and The Crusher for top place but based on balance between bitterness and sweetness I placed it behind The Crusher. Oh, and this batch is much better than the previous one.

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Photo of JMUbrewz
4.65/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I'm not sure if this is a better beer than Heady, but it's definitely more up my alley in terms of what I'm looking for in an IPA. Lighter on the malt, heavier on the tropical fruits, and a beautiful dry finish. This is a top tier IPA, and manages to maintain high bitterness levels, while incorporating some of the softer flavors associated with these NE IPA's. Man, I can't wait until this is available by the case.

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Focal Banger from The Alchemist
4.57 out of 5 based on 2,987 ratings.
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