Focal Banger | The Alchemist

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253 Reviews
Focal BangerFocal Banger

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

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Reviews: 253 | Ratings: 2,346
Photo of Flounder57
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
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 Hootie159
4.79/5  rDev +4.1%
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 ArkyVaughan
5/5  rDev +8.7%
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 DCLAguy11
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%

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 Keananmichael5
4.56/5  rDev -0.9%
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 EyePeeAyBryan
4.01/5  rDev -12.8%
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 SpeedwayJim
4.48/5  rDev -2.6%
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 JMUbrewz
4.65/5  rDev +1.1%
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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Photo of Sabtos
4.06/5  rDev -11.7%
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 Mikeypnh
4.71/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from the can into a tulip glass. I like the looks of it. Murky, bright orange wih a nice one finger head. Smell is very vibrant, grapefruit and pine mostly. Very juicy. There is a lot of flavor in this ipa. Everything from the aroma comes through. Very resonious. Mouthfeel is very slick and creamy, hops just hang around for days on the taste buds. There isn't a ton of tropical flavors, or really anything special, but there is a ton of flavor here and I love it. Just a well done, grassy/piney ipa with a touch of grapefruit. Similar to HT, but not as heavy

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.51/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

16oz can poured into a globe.

A: Sunshine golden color with a heavy haze. Creamy fine-bubbled head retains at an inch in height throughout. Thin broken rings of lacing.

S: Pungent and heady. Pineapple, papaya, mashed mango, white grapefruit, sweet cannabis, Lemonhead candy, earthy, wet leaves. Rustic edge. Doughy.

T: Raw hops. Earthy, leafy, herbal, peppery. Sweet cannabis. Passion fruit. White grapefruit, mango, pineapple. Stiff bitterness. Doughy and slightly honeyed. Gritty and earthy hops lay down herbs and freshly cut grass on a long finish.

M: Medium-thick body. Round and velvety texture. Ridiculous smoothness. Acutely sharp carbonation. Gritty hop astringency is minor.

O: This is every bit as good as Heady Topper. Raw, rustic, and bursting with hop flavor. The Alchemist has really honed the art of crafting an excellent ipa. This is about as good as it gets. God I love Citra and Mosaic.

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Photo of SDRedDevil
5/5  rDev +8.7%
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 Furlinator
4.12/5  rDev -10.4%
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 BarrytheBear
4.51/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tallboy can courtesy of Mike.

Murky yellow with plenty of lace.

Smells of lemon cake with sugared icing.

Blueberries, lemons, cake, delicious.

Though it doesn't sound it, this is much like Heady's awesome and more approachable sibling. Very very good.

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Photo of Damian
4.94/5  rDev +7.4%
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 jaasen64
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

16oz silve can with just a sticker for a label, picked up yesterday at the outdoor Alchemist release. Poured into a willi becher pint glass.

A- Pours a nice translucent pale golden yellow with just a slight haze, perfect amount of carbonation with an awesome consistency, about a finger and half of white frothy head forms that has excellent retention slowly receding to a thin layer.

S- Nice hoppy pine resin aroma balanced with lots of citrus fruits of grapefruit, starfruit, pineapple, etc.. Nice aroma strength with the citra and mosaic coming out very nicely, possibly my two favorite hop aromatics.

T- Piney hop resin, lightly bitter grapefruit, lemon peel, star fruit, guava, and other tropical fruits, finishes with a light tropical zestiness. This tastes amazing, the citra comes out very nicely and is up there with all the top IPAs I've ever had, definitely rivals Heady.

M- Insanely drinkable, incredibly smooth, some light hop oils, no alcohol at all, possibly the best feel for an IPA that I've experienced.

O- This is the second can that I've opened, each sip I take it gets better and better. While Heady might be slightly more flavorful, Focal Banger definitely beats it in drinkability even though it's only 1% lower. I'm looking forward to this becoming a regular offering from The Alchemist and while they are still tweaking the malt bill for their final recipe, I think this is almost perfect already.

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Photo of PicoPapa
4.46/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

16oz can. Pours a super hazy bright pale orange with an inch plus of frothy white head. Lots of lacing. Ripe tropical fruit aroma. Grapefruit, pineapple, tangerines, and papaya. The taste is lots of grapefruit followed up by the papaya and tangerine. Some pine and floral notes as well. Grapefruit finish. Very drinkable with a moderate alcohol presence. Lots of carbonation with an oily mouthfeel. I had this years ago back when the brewpub still existed and was pumped to see it make its return. Overall, outstanding IPA.

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Photo of ScaryEd
4.88/5  rDev +6.1%
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 leroybrown10
4.38/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours pale gold and quite hazy, a bit of an orange hue to it. Large white bubbles on the 2 finger head. Pretty good retention and nice lacing.

Quite dank aroma. Pine and citrus in the form of lemon and orange. Bread dough and caramel malt. Straw, cut grass, and grapefruit.

Not much of the pine from the nose shows up in the taste. Orange and grapefruit. Some thing floral going to herbal. Blueberry, honey dew, and pineapple. Doughy malt, not as strong as the nose but still a strong complement.

Medium body with medium carbonation. Moderate bitterness overall but a bit more on the aftertaste. A bit of dryness.

Great IPA here which I prefer to Heady. Love the mix of citrus, tropical and floral I picked up on the taste.

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

Enjoyed a 16oz pour on tap at the 11th Annual Hophead Throwdown this afternoon. I dare say this beer has Heady beat. It's crisper, fresher, and doesn't have that synthetic backend that Heady Topper has. Citra and Mosaic are two hops that fit well together. Beautiful notes of citrus and pine. This beer is dank, fruity, and drier than you'd expect. A fantastic brew that lives up to its hype.

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Photo of agreenman19
4.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Freshly canned from the grand opening of The Alchemist's new location!

L - initial flow from the can was a crystal gold, but as it settles in the glass, I'm getting a curious, opaque lively orange. I know, I know, I shouldn't be pouring this, but hey, I'll save the second half for the can! Huge fluffy head fills the glass right away and slowly pops, bubble by bubble until a reasonably sized head remains.

S - monster aromatics from the moment I cracked the can. John Kimmich was right, pouring sure as hell smells nice. Ripe orange and pineapple. Tropical without being stupid juice. Crisp and crackery with a mosaic spiciness. A quick swirl and a sniff yields an acrid, acidic smell reminiscent of a burning orange peel. I know what this smells like because once upon a time I was doing that thing where you squish a peel through an open flame into my whisky and, well, one thing lead to another.

T - more dank that I had expected! Tingly tangy grapefruit and other pithy rindy fruits. Tropical citrus abounds, balanced by puckering spice. Piney, earthy, and floral. Primal. Resin on the finish... and what's that? Some juice? I can dig it. Slight mango and lemon under all the hoppy bitterness. Speaking of bitter, it leaves a nice tingle tangle to tip my tongue.

F - lush and creamy. This is the icing on the cake that reminds me of a clearing in a forest during the late morning hours.

O - probably like this better than Heady. Has loads of depth and complexity and a killer mouthfeel to top it all off. Mosaic is a strange beast and one can do some strange things, usually resulting in a unique and flavorful brew.

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Photo of AlpacaAlpaca
4.79/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured it into a glass, and I'm glad I did. It had the same murky quality of Heady, but the head was beautiful, soft as a pillow, and generous in the lacing it left. The feel was thinner and the taste was pinier than Heady, but it still hit that wow mark that Heady does. Not quite as mindblowing as its older brother, but way closer than I expected it to be.

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Photo of larryi86
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Thank you jhavs for this
16 oz can, half in a teku, half in the the can.

A- A hazy golden copper with a large white head.

S- Pineapple, mango, tropical fruits, some grapefruit, very dank, hints of malt sweetness.

T- Super dank resin hops, very bitter finish, nice pineapple/mango thing going on, hints of caramel malts, some grapefruit/citrus. Probably the dankest beer I've tried.

M- Smooth, medium body.

O- A great IPA worth seeking out. With that being said it is not the fruitest IPA out there, definitely considering it is brewed with citra and mosiac, but isn't as overwhelmingly dank from the can. Very drinkable, taste lingers beautifully.

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Photo of SawDog505
4.97/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into my 13 oz tulip glass, I know it is fresh. Pours a hazy yellow orange with some floaties and a two inch white head that leaves loads of lace. Smell is tropical mango, passion fruit, tangerine, and a hint of grapefruit. Taste follows the nose everything thing blends perfectly, maybe a little more grapefruit lingers on the tong then you would expect from the nose. Body is medium large for its abv, plenty of life, a touch dry, and amazing drinkability. One of the best ever, as I expected.

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Photo of lanciloti
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The dankest of the dank, hits the pallet soft and juicy, then it thrashes it with hops. Can almost feel your enamel being stripped. Truly a hop lovers dream.

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Focal Banger from The Alchemist
4.6 out of 5 based on 2,346 ratings.
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