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Heady Topper | The Alchemist

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2,295 Reviews
Heady TopperHeady Topper

Brewed by:
The Alchemist
Vermont, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
"An American Double IPA" 75 IBU 8.0% ABV. "Drink from the can."

Added by scottum on 03-27-2004

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Reviews: 2,295 | Ratings: 12,896
Photo of bigfnjoe
3.83/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a can into a Dogfish snifter

A- pours a really dark, murky shade of dark orange with a one finger offwhite head. Looks....ugly, actually

S- nice aroma of tropical fruits, getting a lot of mango out of this

T- taste is a little muted, so I'm not sure how fresh this is...nice bit of citrus with a slight bitter finish. But man, is it muted. Can't be fresh

M- medium bodied. Fine for a DIPA

O- I was assured this was fresh...with no dating, I can't be sure. It's still good, but is it world class? Not in this state, it's not

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Photo of smcolw
3.83/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sorry, I had to pour into the glass despite the can's pleading to drink directly. Thick, slowly receding head. Leaves plenty of chunky, blanketing lace. Cloudy, dark gold color.

Very strong evergreen hop smell. Prickly with a touch of citrus rind. Like smelling a bag of hop pellets.

Extraordinarily bitter. Starts off fairly neutrally with a bit of mild pale malt. Still this is a bitter, bitter hop bomb. Be prepared to pucker up. Hop heads shall rejoice, but I think this might be too much of a good thing (and I lean towards more hoppy beers). The body is predictable and appropriate for the style.

I was very excited to find this beer in Boston, but its hype exceeds my expectations.

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Photo of paulmack69
3.83/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Got these via a trade with someone from New Hampshire so I'm not sure how fresh they are. I believe he bought them before he shipped them to me. My first impression was not that great for an IPA. It initially tasted just liked steeped hops. Almost like someone just made tea with a bag of hops. Maybe I was drinking it too cold. My second and third cans seemed much better. Maybe I just had to appreciate it more. I still think there are other better DIPA's out there in my opinion. If you love hops then this is the beer for you as it is all hops and nothing else.

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Photo of maximum12
3.83/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to baconsausage for shipping this towards the Arctic Circle along with a slate of other great beers. The IPA fiend in me has really been looking forward to this one. 22 oz. bottle split into two pint glasses, with the floaties & several ounces left for later potential rumination.

Pour is wide-mouth orange, clear without the hop poop left in the bottom of the bottle. Smell is startlingly bitter, citrus, pine, & touches of raw onion.

Heady Topper is perhaps the oiliest IPA that's crossed my mucous barrier. Bitterness street-sweeps the senses, separating into grapefruit, citrus, & a knifeful of onion. Strangely reminiscent of Gubna. Definite tang in the back-end, astringent, before the bitterness throttles the life out of everything else in the finish. Strangely, it affects my tongue more than anything else. Bizarre.

Very drying, invitingly sippable, this is a very good beer, but not sure what all the hoopla is about. Not to say I'd ever turn one down!

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Photo of beertunes
3.83/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Thanks to Johnmichaelson and Kurmaraja! 2 cans of Heady in one week! I prefer the glass, and the brewery wants you to drink straight from the can. What do you do? Have them side-by-side! This will be a combined review from a straight pint glass, and the 16oz can, switching between sips as I watched the Talladega NASCAR race.

Big piney and citrusy hops wafted out of both cans, whetting my appetite for this much hyped brew. The beer poured a very cloudy, barely translucent, orange color with about 1/2 inch of just off-white head that moderate retention and low lacing.

As mentioned, lots of citrus and pine hops upfront in the aroma, with a low, almost nonexistent malt profile. The taste was the same, tons of hops and low malts. The beer from the can seemed harsher and more bitter, not in an entirely pleasant way, than the beer from the glass. The flavors were smoother and more even from the glass.

The body was fairly typical for the style, but this is one of the driest finishing beers I've ever had. I'm almost thirsty after finishing each drink. Drinkability was dangerously good, I could see a 4-pack disappearing before you realize it. Overall, a very good brew, one that almost matches the hype that surrounds it (which is not the fault of either the beer or the brewery). Certainly a must try if given the chance. Thanks again Ryan and John!

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Photo of AleWatcher
3.85/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Can shared by Whitemomba-- thanks Jason!
Served in tulip pint.

Really hazy... Small particulates floating around... Creamy tan head, decent retention, thick legs leave nice bubbles.
Smells waaaay more piney than I remember... Nice grapefruit, some grassy and floral notes too. There's a little earthy dank quality on the back of the nose that has an odd character to it...
The taste follows the nose; dry, bready/crackery malts with big hops at the back end. Citrusy grapefruit, big pine, some floral and grassy notes.
The dank note I got on the nose translates to a VERY strange hint of cedar chips/hamster cage substrate... It is a combination of the hops character blending with the dry malts. It hurts the overall and flavor a bit, but still doesn't make the beer undrinkable.

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Photo of readbaron
3.85/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to KickInTheChalice for the pour.

Pours out golden orange with a finger of frothy white head. Limited lacing, and decent retention.

Smells hoppy - piney and bitter - but with a strong tint of copper/metal in the nose. For an east coast DIPA, not as much malt as I would have expected. The hops and copper do fade into a bit of honey sweetness, but this is a hop forward beer.

Taste is better than the nose - there's still something metalic/copper going on, but it's not as overwhelming as it smelled. Starts off with Sweet honey caramel malts, followed by dank hoppy bitterness.

Feel is solid - medium bodied, crisp and dry.

Overall - I don't get the hype for this beer - actually for all the Vermont DIPAs. Not a bad beer, but certainly not world class.

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Photo of BrownNut
3.86/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Straight from can as recommended, 10 min out of the fridge.

A - ?

S - Smells alternately nice and piney and something sort of chemical-y sweet, partly like sunscreen. Not bad but unusual.

T - That sunscreeny/piney element carries through on the palate. It seems a more green and planty overall now, with the sunscreen aspect leaning more toward something buttery sweet that you'd find in baked goods. It's a very pleasant and smooth taste overall. It's definitely an accomplishment in fresh tasting flavor. It pops. I'm glad the bitterness isn't stunt-grade. It's just enough to give it substantial bite to this fairly lupulin-tolerant palate of mine without becoming that distracting kind of bitter that must be partially tolerated while being partially enjoyed. This bitterness was all enjoy and a pleasant complement to the flavors.

M - Nothing special. Just sort of normal beery, a bit sharp. Leaves some mild hop abrasion on the tongue afterwards for a good while.

O - I knew the hype on this one but have trained myself to go into these things now just expecting a very good beer instead of ecstasy and in that respect I was not disappointed. It's a very good beer. I'll try the next one out of a pint glass and adjust/refine this review. A tornado was coming when I drank this and I figured I'd better go ahead and try the top rated beer in the world before I maybe died (didn't). So next time will be calmer.

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Photo of putonyourwalkingshoes
3.86/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Nice. I wouldn't drink from the can. It has some herbal borderline soupy qualities not fond of. Thick and very full bodied. Lacks citrus. Very crushable but this just lacks all the hoppy fruity qualities I want in a double IPA. It's a good beer but I guess I'm spoiled with west coast ipas. I don't get the hype.

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Photo of JamesShoemaker
3.87/5  rDev -17%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16 oz can poured into my snifter. Huge thanks to Urbancaver for sending four of these, along with some KRE and HF. Good trade, let's do it again. Can is seventeen days old.

A - yeah, it's godawful looking. Of course, if the instructions on the can were followed, to drink it straight from the can, repeated emphatically around the top, then I'd have nothing to say in this category. Two sips from the can, not much nose, so into the glass it went. Opaque, murky, pissy, orange-yellow with some lingering foam on the forced pour. Sediment is pervasive and really disgusting, but not unprecedented (thinking specifically of Weyerbacher Insanity). My score would be lower, but as I drink it, I realize that the appearance really doesn't affect my opinion, but as a monolithic category, it deserves the hate. The brewery should really take it as a compliment that it's so highly rated despite this.

S - the first thing that pops up is honey, followed by some resinous, floral notes. Fruit comes at the very end, but it's weak on the nose, more prominent in the taste.

T - not a great balance, as I've heard it described. The bitterness overwhelms the fruity flavors, including the citrus. Bitterness recedes to resin, resin to stickiness, and things are capped off by another lingering bitterness. Points for a progression of tastes, but the hop profile isn't to my liking.

M - bitter and sticky, but not totally unpleasant. Can't find any alcohol, but I didn't expect to at only 8%.

O - worth the hype? Not at all in my opinion. I know how often this comparison is made, but fresh Abrasive really blows all other DIPAs out of the water, including this one. Very glad I got to try it for the tick (I'm not a ticker, I swear!), but I won't be seeking it out regularly.

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Photo of wedgie9
3.88/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted on 11/11/11 from a can shared by ryan585, thanks Ryan. Pours murky orange with a very thin white head that leaves a thin collar of lace, with some chunky sediment. The nose is intense orange peel citrus, resin bitterness, chewable kids vitamins, caramel malt, and a touch of earthy yeast. The flavor is orange and grapefruit peel, bitter resin, chewable kids vitamins, the same earthy yeast, and just enough caramel malt to keep everything in balance. The body is medium with an oily texture, lighter than average carbonation, and a very long resin and citrus peel bitter finish.

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Photo of shleepy
3.89/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from can into snifter glasses.

A: Golden color. Very hazy, with plenty of sediment floating around.

S: Some floral hops, but mainly tons of citrus.

T: Tastes pretty dry (in a good way). The bitterness is not extreme, though some stays in the aftertaste. The main flavors are very pleasant - floral and citrusy (though less citrusy than I expected from the smell). Any bready malt flavor is masked or balanced quite well by the hops.

M: Medium body and carbonation. Certainly not as heavy as would be expected based on the ABV.

O: Quite a nice IPA. I wasn't expecting much, given that it's an East Coast brewery (no offense, but the hoppy beers are not necessarily as world-renowned as some of the West Coast ones), but I was pleasantly surprised.

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Photo of Sarlacc83
3.9/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Trade from JMRSN. Thanks!

4oz poured into glass to get a view of the appearance. The rest tasted from the can as per instructions.

A: Cloudy straw color. My previous can had some floaters in it, but this is devoid of the blobs.

N: Missing the hop blast I'd hoped for. Grapefruit, pineapple, pine. This falls really short of the high water mark of Sculpin, IMO.

T: Bitter hop goodness. Plenty of earth and pine with pineapple, mango, and pineapple laced through. This is well balanced and the 8% is muted if not non-existent altogether. Definitely finishes bone dry.

Mouthfeel: Expands across the palate. No complaints here.

Overall: Definitely enjoyable, and a beer I'll be glad to have time and time again. I just wish I got more than a whisper of hop on the nose.

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Photo of ssman4432
3.9/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Was lucky enough to have this one at Sam Horne's Hop Rodeo. The only bad thing was, this was the "mystery beer" and it was consumed after Pliny The Younger. While it was a very good beer, I believe it's slightly over-hyped. I'm a West Coast IPA guy, so that might also be why. This was good, not great. Both Plinys blow this beer out of the water. But, hey, I got to cross this one off my bucket list. Never thought I'd get this on the West Coast, and glad I did.

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Photo of BNLTandem
3.91/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: pours a pale straw yellow color, which is interesting because my friend, another drink it from the can rule breaker said his poured almost orange. A very fine bubbled head that dissipates quickly to a thin line where beer meets glass.

Aroma: whoa. A fruity smell. Almost like apricot nectar or pineapple juice followed with spruce.

Taste: there's that fruitiness again. Maybe a bit tart compared to the nose. A "fresh" flavor. Bitter but not gratuitously so. Not much discernable yeast or malt notes. This is ipa all the way. Hops are the star.

Feel: a thin, somewhat slick, almost oily feel on the pallet. Possibly explains the anemic head. Not off putting, but not rich at all. Again, ipa, period. No nod to head retention or mouth feel necessary. Thats not what this beer is.

Overall: nice balance between that trendy bitterness and some really pleasing, unusual hop flavors. I love the unique flavors and nose this beer shows. Would have preferred a richer experience, but I get it. It's disappointing actually. Such interesting flavors but so little attention to the overall experience. Just guessing these brewers could do even better if they weren't pandering to one dimensional hopheads.

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Photo of harrymel
3.92/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Review 17JUL13
Once again. Here we go. Canned 08JUL13
Looks ugly as ever, but at this point I respect that in it's merit 4. Nice nose with some fruits, resin and lots of herbals 3.75. Flavor is certainly very hoppy without being bitter as fuck, multilayered with the fruits and herbals 4. Medium on heavy with moderately hi carb and an off dry finish 3.75. I think this beer is excellent, but I'm not quite sold on the overall exquisite rating it gets here so regularly. I predict this will fall like Pliney in the next few years as the hype dies down (slowly due to distro). 4

Review 05FEB12
Thanks Keith!
3/3.5/4/3/3.5 - 3.53
Pours a cloudy apricot with some off-white foam formation. This falls to a broken sheet of the same. (3) Smells of fruits, resin, pineapple. The nose is a little bit raw and harsh, but not bad. (3.5) The flavor is really nice with a sweetness that is collaborative with the bitterness. There are flavors of resin, pine, mango. Decent enough. (4) Mouthfeel is a bit thin for the style with moderate carb and a dry finish. A little too dry of a finish. (3). This beer is not nearly as wonderful as it was the first time I tried it, maybe it's the fact that I've had it multiple times, or that I'm now immune to it's glory, but it is a far cry from the initial tastes I had. Maybe it's the new brewery, whatever the case is, I will likely not be seeking this out again any time soon. too bad. (3.5)

Review: 21SEP11
Dave, you did this. Thanks man.
Can date: not listed, but I know it to be recent.
A: Pours a hazy apricot ale with no domineering head formation, but a night sheet of honey cream foam. Spotty lace.
S: Oh yeah, pine, resin, citrus, pineapple, tropical fruits with a touch of feline urine. Very complex and the underbelly is a sweet malt foundation.
T: Plenty more of what happened in my olfactory: sweetened honey, aggressively bitter with many, many differing fruits on the palate. There are some wood tones as well. This is complex and refreshing.
M: Medium bodied with moderate on hi carb with a semi dry finish.
O: Well, I can see what all the hulla balloo is all about. This beer is hardcore hops and proves its value in my mouth. There have been some discussions about the comparison between pliny and this beer. Simply put, they cannot be compared, they are both outstanding beers with unique and ingenious characteristics which shine to each's own. Simply put: drink this beer, it will make you happy. 4/4.5/4.5/4/4.5 (~4.5)

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Photo of PhunkLover
3.92/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks Spence. Pint Can. Super haxzy orange ameber with a medium sized white head. Nose is full of hop resin, some sweetness, citrus. Flavor is similarly super resinous, sweet, mild bitterness. Pretty tasty, alcohol slightly noticeable. This is a very good beer and if you like super resinous double ipa's than this is probably your thing. To me, it was a little too sweet and green and lacked complexity.

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Photo of d3brewing
3.93/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Another all hype beer in my opinion. Do t get me wrong, it's a tasty beer and not your typical malt forward East Coast IPA but I was left wanting more. More body, more aroma, more hop flavors, he'll even more bitter hops. It all seemed a little muted to me. I'll definately try it again, maybe mine were older or didn't ship well?

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Photo of TheBrewBrotha
3.93/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Decent beer. I'm on the westcoast and know PtE and HT to hand for hand but after finally trying it'll be trading identical beers. HT has more floral on the nose than PtE's nutty aroma. HT was more Hoppy than PtE IMO but not more harsh on the swallow. Overall I like PtE slightly better

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Photo of Oxymoron
3.93/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.75

An east coast DIPA trying to be an west coast DIPA. Pours a very cloudy light amber to dark golden color. A good carbonation with good retention through the tasting.

The nose offers a lot of complexity and very malt forward. A nice citrus forward aroma with notes of orange mango and lemon. Some minor grapefruit, more comes out as you taste it. Some piney and hint of herbal undertones as well but more citrus forward. A hint of bready malts but no off yeast notes.

The taste is a bit one dimensional. Hoppy flavors up front with good citrus and orangy flavors. The grapefruit comes out a bit more versus the nose. But the bitterness is a bit lacking and the malt/body is hidden. Some piney and over resiny notes come out as well into the finish. But I would have liked a bit more complexity in the taste.

The body is moderately light. Has more of a single IPA character instead of the DIPA complexity. Carbonation is good.

I do feel like Im nit picking this beer, and there are some fantastic hop notes that really come out, but I am really looking for a bit more character here. Well it's a good thing no one really reads these reviews anyways.

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Photo of pwoods
3.94/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Big thanks to rpstevens for the bottle in Secret Santa '10.

22oz. brown bomber poured into a Russian River tuliip.

A: Pours a very hazy dark apricot color. Moderate head on the pour but with plenty of retention and lacing.

S: Aroma is heavenly. Amarillo, Simcoe, Centennial. Some pineapple in there as well.. so maybe Citra? A candy like sweet aroma from all of the tropical fruit and citrus fruit hops. Malt is there a bit but this is all hops.

T/M: Massive hop flavor, mostly dominated by the citrus and tropical fruits. Not much bitterness here... it's there but not to the level that I was expecting. Malts don't bring a whole lot here either. There's a good amount of sweetness but more from the fruity hop character and the lack of a firm bitterness. It doesn't finish very dry, either, and I think the low-ish carbonation(which the label says is intentional) adds to the lack of perceived dryness.

D: Pretty easy to drink but a bit one dimensional with only hop flavor and not much bitterness or dryness.

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Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.94/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance -- Pours a gently hazed golden toast hue with amber highlights and a slim sudsy white head. Not much in the lacing department.

Smell -- Firm honey malt base, lots of floral aromatic hops, and pine forest. There is a definitive whiff of diacetyl - slightly strong, though not too off-putting.

Taste -- Big flavors. Primarily pine resin from the hops along with floral and lychee flavors, There is a none-too-subtle caramel malt sweetness underlying all of the hop flavors. Diacetyl is perceptible in the flavor, though not as intensely as in the nose; think Alpine Brewing. Incredibly long resinous finish with lingering flavors of caramel malt sweetness and flowers. I should also add that the alcohol is frighteningly well-hidden.

Mouthfeel -- Medium-bodied, slightly light carbonation. A definite oily feel is on the tongue. It's good, but not stunning.

Overall -- This was a beer I was very excited to try, and while it's very good, I'm not sure if it necessarily deserves the unwavering praise it receives. Good flavors overall, and if it were distributed around me I'd consider picking it up whenever I needed a lupulin fix, but the lingering oily/bitter finish made me keep going back to my glass to get the taste out of my mouth.

If I had a blind tasting with Heady Topper and the Alpine Brewing IPA lineup, I don't know that I'd be able to pick it out of the bunch. I'm not sure if this says more about Alchemist or Alpine...

Additional Notes - The first can I opened was so full of sediment that I couldn't finish it. It looked like somebody had dumped sand into my glass. Pour carefully.

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Photo of Guinnesslover
3.94/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

As a VTer, I have been fortunate to purchase this on a regular basis directly from the brewery.

It appears slightly cloudy and light in color, though if you drink it from the can as advised you will scarcely notice the color.

It smells glorious, with a strong hop presence on many notes.

Those hops come through in the taste - hops rendolent of citrus (namely grapefruit) give a clean, sharp flavor.

The flavor clings to the tongue, saturating the senses with the layers of hops. Despite this, the flavor cleans exits with each swallow.

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Photo of siege06nd
3.95/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my Jackie O's snifter. Shared with IrishColonial.

A: Heady Topper pours a darky, rusty orange color. Fairly cloudy. A massive, fluffy three finger head erupts from a fairly aggressive pour. The head color is somewhere between eggshell white and cream. Fantastic lacing and head retention. Excellent.

S: Mmmm, pineapple, creamy citrus, and just a faint touch of pine resin. Very balanced and smooth bouquet going on here. Simply bursting with the promise of a massive (yet balanced) hop bomb.

T: Contrary to the smell, I'm getting a prominent pine resin flavor here. Fairly bitter, but not harshly so. I prefer mine a little creamier and citrusier, the finish here is too bitter.

M: Really nice. Flavors are well-balanced. Relatively light carbonation and an ever so slight malt shine. Nicely done.

O: This is a fine IPA. Well-balanced, hits the right notes, and has a nose that rivals any out there. An overly-bitter finish holds it back, but I wouldn't dissuade anyone from picking this one up.

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Photo of jmdrpi
3.96/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

**2015 update with better score. No floated, better mouthfeel.

16 oz can, no date.

appears a hazy rust orange color with tons of floaties. bright white head that fades. obviously this is why they want you to drink from the can.

aroma is hop forward obviously. orange, lemon, cut grass, slightly earthy too. taste is super cirtusy. a touch of biscuity sweet malt, but not much. tasty though if you're looking for fruity citrus hop flavors.

medium thickness, but it coats the tongue, a bit oily. good carbonation level, but I'm not a fan about the oily feel.

good, but not sure it lives up to the crazy hype and higher price. seems quite similar to other citrusy DIPA's. still glad I got to try it though.

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Heady Topper from The Alchemist
4.66 out of 5 based on 12,896 ratings.
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