Heady Topper | The Alchemist

2,350 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: 2,350 | Ratings: 13,243
Photo of SkunkWorks
4.64/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap from a freshly tapped keg at the Alchemist Pub and Brewery in Waterbury, VT. Served in a 12 oz glass.

Look: great looking DIPA. Hazy amber color, but the Alchemist is a bit dim so its hard to tell exactly the color. A finger and a half worth of head sits atop the beer with excellent retention and excellent lacing.

Smell: huge hop aroma. Tropical fruit like pineapple, citrus with some grapefruit and lemon-lime, hints of pine and some caramel sweetness lurking around back there. Exceptional.

Taste: follows the nose with a huge hop flavor. Some resin, huge citrus flavor, bits of pineapple and grapefruit, orange, and lemon... everything you could want in a hop profile. There's a bit of caramel maltiness to balance but its not really pronounced. Exceptional taste.

Feel: medium bodied and feels about right at 8% alcohol by volume, with a moderate amount of carbonation that is perfect for the style, a bit of lingering hop bitterness in the finish but not so much that it kills your palate. Alcohol is nicely hidden.

Drink: great. I drank my glass a bit faster than I would've liked and you'll have to force yourself to savor this one. Could drink a few of these and its very sessionable for a DIPA, only coming in at 8% alcohol.

Overall, I am quite impressed by this one. This has become my favorite DIPA. Everything about it is great, from the hop profile, the meek presence of the malt, the way it looks, the way it smells... everything. The Alchemist did a great job with this one.

I should also add that I went into this one with a heavy dose of skepticism. Having had Pliny the Elder, which is generally promised to be the end all be all of DIPAs (excluding the Younger, of course) and being very disappointed I thought that Heady Topper would be a product of the BeerAdvocate hype machine. Well, its not. Its the ultimate DIPA and I recommend trying it as soon as you possibly can. Hopefully The Alchemist begins a production line soon because more people need to try this.


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Photo of davewlfpckfan29
4.64/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I journeyed North into the Green Mountain state to get it, and I would say the trip was well worth it.

This beer is everything that I expected it to be.

Had a sample glass right when I got to the Alchemist, showed a nice darker unfiltered yellow.

The smell it outstanding, so fresh. Strong hops. What I really liked was how even though its a douple IPA, the hops are not overpowering.

There is such a smooth texture to this beer. A raw texture which makes it far from watery. And oh my goodness!! It is easy to drink.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
4.64/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I got 2 bottles of this courtesy of Kelp, thanks a ton Jeremy. I had a preview at the Kuhnhenn Winter Solstice too, so I was really looking forward to opening these.

It pours a light golden orange with thick foam and spotty laceing, just a little haze. The aroma is heavy with citrus and tropical fruit, grapefruit + papaya + that type of thing. Honestly I would guess Deadnaught in a blind smell test.

Nice and abrasive taste, a little sweet in the middle, just about the perfect amount of malt. This deserves all of its reviews, wow it's good. A little burn but it feels hops-based rather than alcohol-based.

Light body, very dry in the mouth, I can't praise it enough. I love this beer, so glad I have another.

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Photo of barfootbandit
4.64/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I broke the rules poured from the can into a pint glass, oh no. First of all this is a really good IPA and I'm glad I drove to Vermont for it. Wonderful piney hop character and solid ABV at 8%. Very smooth too with great aromas and golden color. However I'm not so sure this is really the best IPA in the country. While it's certainly no run of the mill IPA I've had numerous IPAs that would compare to it or even be better. I'll agree with my man coffdaddy in his review, Jai Alai by Cigar City kicks its butt. And the directions were a bit excessive although I've had it from the can as well as a sniffer.

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Photo of HaightAshbury
4.64/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

The pine hoppy smell and taste just makes you want more after every sip. Just make sure you're home or have a dd as this also gives a happy glow buzz.

Equal to La Cumbre Elevated IPA and Pliny the Elder for my taste buds. I just wish I could try all three at the same sitting.

Update- the last few have not been as good or I've been exposed to better beers since. Still good, but better is out there.

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Photo of EMV
4.64/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a can into a Chimay tuip.

L: Pours a semi-transparent deep golden color. 2 fingers of creamy white head... gorgeous lacing.

S: Citrusy... grapefruit and orange zest... pine notes underneath.

T/F: You get one heck of a one-two punch with this beer. Sweetness touches the tongue first... with tropical fruits and citrus teasing the palate before the bitter hops come roaring in to remind you that you are drinking an Imperial IPA. I absolutely loved the hop profile on this one... tropical fruits and just a hint of evergreen. Oily and resinous and entirely delicious. Surprisingly smooth for such a big beer... almost delicate.

O: A thing of beauty, and easy to see why this brew has such a dedicated following. The only question now remains... how does a Pennsylvanian acquire more?

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Photo of tewaris
4.64/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 1 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Although the can warns it will be hazy, it is way beyond that: murky and dirty looking with plenty of floaties and barely any head in spite of a very vigorous pour, Heady Topper does look BAD.

Fortunately appearance is the only unimpressive aspect of this beer. Smells dank and piney, with a freshness I have not encountered in any other DIPA. Some citrus-y fruitiness comes along later but this beer is seriously green, in the manner I like. Ok, finally some onion makes me reluctantly take half a point off.

And the taste is something to die for, and kill: an IPA can only get so much bitter without getting unpleasant, and Heady manages to stay very very pleasant. Fruity without the sweetness (!), and almost like chewing on pine needles and rind with a bone dry finish and long lingering bitterness. This is the perfect Double IPA. I don't like to make "Pliny killer" statements but I can safely say that this can is better than the bottle of Pliny I reviewed, and I gave that one a 5 on taste... so is this a 5.5 or what?!

Ah, Heady Topper is just what I need in my IPAs --- low alcohol (for a DIPA), clean and crisp character, mind blowing hoppiness, and palate killing bitterness. Looks aside, Heady is the perfect DIPA and the perfect beer.

So glad to have tried it, and I will trade for it again and again and again. In past I have been let down by IPAs I have traded for but this?! A-W-E-S-O-M-E. Thanks Dave!

1, 4.5, 5, 5, 5

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Photo of azdback
4.64/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Surly pint glass. A semi-hazy burnt orange color. Few and far between, large, carbonation bubbles lead to a very small head. As I swirl my glass I get just the smallest hint of, off white colored head. There isn't any lace to speak of.

Smell is fantastic. Green, wet, leafy hops. Citra I believe? Fresh, sweet citrus smells of an orange or pink grapefruit and some pine resin and perfume.

Taste is pretty citrus bitter. Yellow grapefruit in bitterness and orange or tangerine in sweetness. There is also some piney, wet, green, hop cone flavors. I think this is the closest to Abrasive I have tried. Hop Knot and Odell IPA come close, but this is right there. At end there is some alcohol warmness.

Mouth is smooth, with creamy carbonation. Medium body and a long, wet finish.

Overall I must say that I have really laid into the North Eastern folk for asking the world in trade for this, now, year round offering. It is quite fantastic beer and almost equal to Abrasive, but not worth a bomber of Canadian Breakfast Stout. I received this as an extra from a Midwestern trader. Thanks TIMMYJ21 for not being as stingy as the NE guys.

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Photo of Teleweizen2
4.64/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - pours a slightly hazey marigold color. A fingers worth of froathy white head which quickly dissipates to just a white ring around the rim. No lacing.

S - the aroma just permiates from the can as soon as its opened. The nose is bright and intoxicating in itself. Bright grapefruit, orange and lemon peel lead the charge followed by a basket of tropical fruit filled to the brim with candied pineapple and fleshy mango. The nose is rounded out by notes of fresh cut grass, and crusty bread.

T - taste follows the nose for the most part. At first it seems more on the dry side but seems to get sweeter as it warms. Dough and bread crust are first detected on the tip of the tongue. Lots of sweet fruit and malt character aid in keeping the grapefruit bitterness balanced. Pineapple and banana peel seem to be the predominant tropical fruits while the grassy flavors keep the flavors well rounded in the middle of the palate. A strong bitterness in the long finish as well as a touch of lemony acidity.

M - slick textured medium verging on full bodied with a light bubbly carbonation.

O - excellent. Almost everything I love about IPAs in a single can. Alchemist really hit the nail on the head with this one.

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Photo of Respect_For_Saaz
4.64/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is a phenomenal IPA, but falls short of all of the hype it receives in my opinion. Each time I have had it, I am expecting to be completely wow'd, however, it ends up being just a beer that I greatly enjoy drinking.

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Photo of jbwimer
4.64/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Received two 4-packs in a trade with bostonbeans originating on the other site. Purchased a week ago, so this beer is fresh to deff... Whatever that means. First time drinking, and I'm pretty excited. Thanks, Vini!

A- Drank the majority of this beer from the can, but I wanted to see what it looked like, so I poured a few ounces into a snifter. Looks like grapefruit juice with a bit of orange juice poured into it. Pretty friggin' cloudy. A small head, that I'm sure would expand had I poured the whole can. Overall, not too impressive. I can see why "DRINK FROM THE CAN!" is exclaimed on the label in all caps.

S- Wow. Could I just smell this beer forever? So pungent, and so delightful. Huge citrus (specifically grapefruit and clementine), pine, and floral notes with a hint of sweetness. You're not gonna make a beer that smells better than this. You're just not. So don't even try.

T- Hops on hops on hops. Juicy, fruity sweetness balanced out by the hop bitterness. Hops, citrus, sweetness. In that order. And me likey that order. The bitterness lingers, requiring a solid smacking of the lips. Love that. The taste is not quite as phenomenal as the nose, but quite lovely nonetheless.

M- Not the best mouthfeel I've had in an IPA. Feels just a little bet empty. Maybe a little watery at some points. Doesn't detract too much from the beer, but could be improved. Pretty good amount of carbonation, with a dry finish. Hop oils totally coat the tongue.

O- I think I'm understanding the hype. This was a really enjoyable beer. Only room for improvement would be on the appearance and the mouthfeel. But where it really counts, this beer delivers. And I have 7 more in the refrigerator. You lucky dog.

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Photo of lnashsig
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beenitty is a total badass and a quality human being. I received this surprise package of 2 very fresh Heady Topper cans in the mail this morning, and could not wait for them to get cold to drink them. This is super fresh- about 11 days old total. What an amazing cool thing for him to do- Beenitty I will get you back man!

Poured from can into my DFH snifter. Nice fluffy head that recedes very slowly. Dank piney and sweet citrus hops announce themselves when the can pops. Smell on further inspection: resinous, piney hops, and there is a bready sweetness to it too. Taste- wow. heaven. the hop oils hit the back of my throat with a burst of bitterness, but it is followed by a tropical sweet flavor that still sits on my lips. Waves of piney and floral hoppiness all over my mouth. If I were to compare this to something, it might be Surly Abrasive. Just a huge hoppy celebration in a can. Super fresh, it probably isnt as balanced as others say it is, the hops are just so pronounced, they are definitely the focus of this beer.

Overall, this is up there with the best of them. I won't call it my all time best IIPA, but it is close. And so kickass that its in a can....I am going to try to do a trade for a full box of this soon.

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Photo of Kinsman
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice hazy orange a with a big creamy white head on top. A fair amount of sticky lace left behind.

Wonderfully aromatic with a boatload of citrusy hop character. Grapefruit and orange stick right out there. A fair bit of sweetness with even a slight vanilla-like note that is certainly unexpected but rather pleasant.

The bright and citrusy hop aromas cary over well into the palate. Deliciously hoppy without the mouth puckering bitterness you often find in DIPAs. Sweeter than your typical IPA/DIPA but not cloying at all.

Mouthfeel comes across with a nice smooth and creamy medium body feel. Overall, Heady Topper is hard to beat. I might just have to make more trips to Vermont from now on.

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Photo of Mongrel
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

It may sound blasphemous, but really not much separates a lot of the top American IPAs - Sculpin, Resin, Double Jack, etc. They're extremely good, but somewhat similar. But Heady Topper has that x factor that keeps you wanting more. Not sure if it's the well-rounded mouthfeel or supremely fresh taste. It's just infinitely drinkable.

First you get juicy hops and it's almost a little too bitter. Then after a couple sips the bitterness mellows out a bit, yielding to a wide range of fruity hop flavors -- citrus, grapefruit, mango and apple. There's also a big, green piney/grassy/herbal hop presence. The mouthfeel is big, round, creamy and balanced, but also resinous and sappy at times. Combined with the tangy fruit profile, it's somewhat reminiscent of a sophisticated cider or champagne. Really dry, bitter finish.

It's a thoroughly American IPA and there is a distinct lack of nutty/biscuity/malty characteristics that you might find in more internationally-inspired brews. That's the only negative thing I can think of to say. But it's surely better off as is.

This beer just keeps giving and giving and it's difficult to pin down why you enjoy it so much. You just keep reaching for cans until you realize that it's still an 8% abv brew and you should probably not kill that precious 4-pack by yourself tonight.

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Photo of yamar68
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I decided to go for this long awaited treat from The Alchemist for my 200th review.

Poured from 16oz can to imperial Surly pint glass...

Pours a hazy honey gold, gorgeously unfiltered. I like my orange juice with pulp, I like my beer with floaties. A big, rocky off-white head swells to fill the 20oz glass. Spotty, sticky lacing. Great looking beer, I don't really understand why this beer is suppose to be hidden inside of a can.

The nose is stuffed with fresh hop aromas - tangerine, orange peel, fresh floral bits, plenty of evergreen harshness to balance the heavy citrus. Not really any detectable malts here.

On the tongue... hop abrasion like I've never really experienced. Grapefruit, orange peel, massive flavors. Exceedingly hoppy and bitter. The super dry, bitter afterburn keeps me going for more. What a delicious thing this is.

Overall, I can see why people go nuts over this stuff. A unique, aggressive, very satisfying drink.

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Photo of Greywulfken
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: tried from the can initially (mandated on the can) - "cold but not ice cold" - but then gave in - I had to see what I'm drinking (we are visual creatures): cloudy medium gold beer kicked up a couple of fingers of off-white head from a near-center pour into a tulip. Left some lace behind.

S: mostly hoppy (as expected): floral, herbal, citric, resinous; sublte pale malt in the background

T: again, hop-forward: lots of bitter citrus (is that a contradiction in terms?) and resiny pine; a little tart; bitter not sweet - some undercurrents of honey'd malt; some medicinal notes

M: crisp, slight tartness, bittering, light-to-medoim weight, moderate carbonation on the tongue

O: a good DIPA, but the best, #1 ranked beer on the site? I don't agree. I've had too many great DIPAs and IPAs to jump onboard here (*ducks the hurled vegetables and garbage*). I'd say its a good buy, a MUST try, but nothing to lose sleep over if its not available in your area.

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Photo of Treb0R
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I have tasted this by glass and from the can...

Orange, slightly hazy body. Appears to be 8 SRM. Thick foamy head with tons of sticky lacing. Carbonation is on the low side.

Smells dank, fruity, peachy, and citrusy. Lots of orange and pine.

Tastes way more piney and dank than the aroma fortells. It's richer/juicier/hoppier than Pliny the Elder with a tad more residual sweetness (1.012-1.014 FG). Hop heaven in a can.

Mouthfeel is somewhat creamy and a perfect medium-body, probably more because of the sheer amount of hops and malt used, and less because of a high FG.

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Photo of BeerZombies1
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

American double/Imperial IPA
8% ABV
75 IBU

APPEARANCE: drink from the can like I was told right on the top!

AROMA: once I cracked the can I got my nose as close to in it as I could. Lots of hops, dark pine, more earthy and vegetal then the bright citrusy west coast ipa's I've been tasting.

TASTE: the hops for sure hit your mouth like a punch from Mike Tyson. Dank, grassy bitterness in there. Herbal spiciness, lite citrus and floral notes.

MOUTHFEEL: medium to heavy body, oily and slick that coats your mouth with a hop resin. Has a very creamy texture to it.

OVERALL: I do believe this is a great IPA and understand the hype behind it. For my palate personally I still put this right under Pliny the Elder.

RATING: 4.9/5 Zombie Heads!

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Photo of camil1mj
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fresh can. I did not follow the instructions on the can. I poured it at fridge temp into an imperial pint glass at.

A: Cloudy, brownish-orange. Minimal white head. You can tell this one us unfiltered.

S: Lots of fruity, floral hops. Wonderful!

T: Immediate punch of hops followed by wonderful fruit notes.

M: Perfect to the style. Medium body and carbonation. Refreshing.

O: Great DIPA. Lives up to the hype. Would love for this to be available at the local store.

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Photo of wethorseblanket
4.65/5  rDev 0%

Reviewed from notes. Sixteen ounce can shared by Dan - thanks.

A: Pours a slightly hazed yellow with a nice one-inch thick white head which lingers and settles to a thin cap yielding splotchy lace.

N: Juicy grapefruit, tangerine, orange fruits, floral.

T: Resiny, citrusy, mildly sweet malt for a good balance, some faint dankness.

M: Moderate body and medium carbonation. Dry, bitter, citrusy, sticky and resiny finish.

O: Well, after having this a few times I've noticed some variation from can to can probably due to factors such a travel to west coast, temperature, etc. This is definitely a top DIPA, but I'm just not convinced it is the best. The ABV is well hidden and is a creeper, though I'd love to have another and continue the research.

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Photo of DTalley33
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I had Heady several times. I do think it is a really good beer, don't get me wrong. It is a world class beer. It is by far the best beer that Alchemist brewery has to offer. I just feel like there are a lot of beers in New England that gives heady a run for its money without the hassle of trying to get your hands on it.

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Photo of alexpcat13
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

So I did half of Focal from a Can and half from glass, as a result I did the whole of Heady from the Can.

That being said, smell is citrusy and woodsy. Taste is nice balance of malt and hop: starts with a nice pop of fresh pine/woods with a nice bit of tangerine/orange, that fades out and a nice biscuity flavor sits in. Really nice.

The complete DIPA

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Photo of Nugganooch
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big Thanks to spwalshesq for the trade. Huge want of mine! And so worthy...
Cheers Shaun!

Notes from 09/27/11
Tried w/ pint as well as straight from the can.

A: Heady Topper is exactly that. Pours a darker gold color with an orangish hue and just a great big 3 finger head of pure white foam. Amazing retention with a cascading lace all down the glass.

S: Huge grapefruit and massive mango attack at immediate pop of the top. Awesome Awesome Awesome aroma. Very fruity with hints of kiwi and lime. Barely pick up some light sugary sweet bits of malt.

T: Fruity tropical blasts of hop goodness. Spikes with bitter melon, grapefruit and mangoes. Nice hop bitterness overall. Resinous and lingering sticky-icky deliciousness. Some caramel malt background but light and sugary pronouncing the hops. Slight alcohol flavs. Really danky stuff. This is true hop juice.

M: Great creamy texture. Nice carbonation. Lighter body and an oily slick mouthcoat with a refreshingly crisp finish.

D: A fantastic exhibition of hops with great balance. Enough caramel sugar base but just superhoppy and very drinkable. Really great stuff.

Glad to have the chance to try and will definitely be seeking out again. Highly recommended. A contender with Abrasive for sure.

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Photo of CiscoKid
4.65/5  rDev 0%

I tried a few ounces in a tulip, and the rest out of the can. I have to say I enjoyed the tulip better as I consumed it as the bouquet was opening. In the end, it was simply a delicious beer.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Traded big for this one - a '11 DL for a four pack of this delicious stuff. Glad the brewery decided to can this beer! Pours a slightly cloudy deep golden color with a stingy white head that dissipates quickly. Smells of pine, resin, and a slight bit of citrus and dankness. Taste is mildly sweet bready biscuity malt being assassinated by an onslaught of hops. Medium to thin body and level of carbonation, resinous bitter mouthfeel. There is a bitterness finish, but it is pleasant, aromatic and not harsh at all. Tried this out of a can, but ended up too dangerously drinkable that way.

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Heady Topper from The Alchemist
4.65 out of 5 based on 13,243 ratings.
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