Heady Topper | The Alchemist

2,336 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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 2,336 | Ratings: 13,162
Photo of ZBR101
4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - pours beautiful hazy orange (I've poured it out and drank from that can, as advised). Amazing two finger head with slight lacing around the glass. A real work of art.

S - heavy citrus and floral notes. I got a slight pine cleaner scent.

T - the king of the double IPAs. Perfectly hopped. Was very surprised that it was everything and more than expected.

M - the most quaffable well balanced of the style (I've had)

O - A beer that truly lives up to the hype. Can't really add anything that hasn't been said. Big time beer! Perfect.

 539 characters

Photo of phuntasy
4.73/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

One of the best Double IPAs I've ever tasted.

Hoppy. Clearly. But not too bitter or over powering. You will like this even if your not an IPA/Double IPA fan.

Citrus notes such as orange and grapefruit. Little bit of pine as well.

I enjoy road trips to have you!

 265 characters

Photo of scotorum
4.4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I'd forgotten about the ranty feeling-sorry-for-myself review from last August (Reposted below.) But I am here to report I finally hit Heady paydirt. That is, my friend BigStein88 gave me two precious cans.

I HATE drinking beer out of cans, so I defied the recommendation from the brewer and poured my first can into a Samuel Smith English tulip glass, self-serving at just under fifty degrees fahrenheit out of my beer fridge. Not sure how fresh, but BigStein88 visits his old home state of Vermont fairly often, so I doubt if it's more than two months old.

a: Hazy dark gold, not as hazy as I expected though, although I do see some tiny floaties. Two inch tall white head receded slowly to rocky surface foam and dense lacing.

s: Intense citrus and pine. Later, lawn mower grass clippings. (!)

t: Do not find this as citrusy as on draft. In fact grassiness is the most prominent and persistent flavor, much stronger even than any wet hop ale I have had (yes I know this is not one of those). Moderate hop bite, but little in the way of lingering bitterness as the brewer's text on the can seems to suggest. Blindfolded, I'd have said this is the freshest wet hop IPA ever. 8% alcohol is well concealed in any event.

m: As on draft, moderate, slickish.

o: I want to say this is The Best I've Ever Had. But truth is, and heretical though it is for a New Englander to say, at this point the Pliny the Elder I had last night was even creamier and more enjoyable. Might be my own fault for not following the other part of the brewer's instructions, and pouring it all out into the glass at once rather than saving the yeasty last ounce for a final savory pour.

The intense grassy flavor is different and very good. Definitely unlike any DIPA I have had, but not what I expected, especially in light of my previous, citrusy rather than grassy taste experience with it fresh at the cannery last August and on draft at the Prohibition Pig in Waterbeery (sic).

Will add more to this essay on Heady when I crack the other can. I'll probably bite the bullet and drink at least part of that out of the can to see if it makes a difference.

In view of the above, am changing my original review ratings: a: 3.5-3.75; s:4-4.25; m: 4.5-4.25


8 oz. draft at the Prohibition Pig pub in Waterbury VT and several ounces more in a mini-snifter at the brewery the same day.

a: A hazy gold with a finger thick white head which dropped to a surface film.

t: Sweet citrusy goodness. Alcohol well hidden. Not as hoppy as I had expected, but very tasty indeed.

m: Moderate, slickish and almost chewy, an impression no doubt reinforced by the cloudiness. Probably why the brewer recommends drinking it straight from the can. Oh if only I had had that opporunity! But alas "CANS SOLD OUT" greeted me at the end of the entrance and the front door at the brewery.

o: Excellent, appealing, refreshing, all those good things. Whether I would concur it is the best I can't say for sure. I do feel a bit troubled by the fact that I liked Double Sunshine better at the same sitting at The Pig. But I had that first, and they were different.

I know you know this already, but the friendly gal who poured my sample at the brewery said weekdays are the time to get some in cans. This week they sold out on Thursday. Usually it's Friday. I was there on Saturday, after dinner, around 6 P.M. I had figured they'd be out. But I also visited half a dozen stores where HT was supposed to be available, and even saw two places had hanging signs which read stuff like "Head This Way To The Heady." Nope.

And Lawson's or Hill Farmstead anything? Forget that too. Trek up to Greesboro in the middle of Nowhere Vermont (sorry, I am sure it is very wonderful up in that part of the Kingdom, it just looks like Nowhereland on my maps) and buy Hill Farmstead at the farm if you want some (and I know you do, I can hear your heavy breathing). Call ahead to make sure they have some. Preferably from across the street.

Lawsons might show up at the Warren Store on Thursdays. You may have to haunt the place or get a job there. Or go early on the second Saturday to the Waitsfield Farmers Market. Get a ticket from the Lawson's booth. And Waits in the Field until your turn. Are we getting a bit frustrated with limited availability and frantic buying from craftier-than-thou beer connoisseurs yet? After driving a six hour round trip and coming home empty-handed, Yes.

UPDATE 4/7/15: Saved two cans until I could go up again to buy more but it's turned out to be almost a year so far. Good test of the theory that IPAs go bad quick. The old Heady I am having now from mid-April 1914 poured mostly foam over hazy orange, receded to thin surface foam and patterned lacing. Not as hoppy but with loads more grassy notes and added floral notes as well, making this still very enjoyable! The quality still shines. Raising my ratings A: 3.75 to 4.25.

 4,949 characters

Photo of BoardwalkBock
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

What is there to say about this beer that hasn't already said a million times?

I don't know the appearance because under strict orders from the can, I am gulping this sucker down out of the can. I don't care. Its that amazing. The aroma is explosive. Resin, pine, grapefruit, citrus, anything and everything you can imagine..and can't imagine. Same goes for the flavor. Huge hop explosiveness perfectly balanced by a huge malt backbone. Mouthfeel is absolutely perfect. This beer is so good I just want to ramble on all day about it.

All in all. Best DIPA I've ever had. Lived up to and beyond the hype.

 605 characters

Photo of 2ellas
4.99/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

When you go against the advice on the can, it pours a hazy orange and has a bright white creamy head.
smell is intensely hoppy with undertones of peach type fruit
flavor is waves of hops but not overly bitter. It's truly amazing how intense the hop flavor is without being over the top bitter
the mouthfeel is incredible, it just rolls off your tongue and down your throat. Coating everything in its path with the oily, hoppy deliciousness. I would give it a 5+ for mouthfeel if possible

overall, this beer is truly unique and there's not much out there that comes close. To me, it's amongst the best, beating out ALL of the big name (you know who you are) ipa's and iipa's hands down.

 690 characters

Photo of Qwest_35
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks has to go to nedvalton, a most generous BA'er for hooking me up with my first Heady Topper. As soon as I popped the top on that shiny silver and black can I got blasted with the dankest, hoppiest, fruitiest, hop bombiest goodness I have ever experienced. There's just so much going on with the smell, that I am having a hard time nailing it down. Here goes nothing, grapefruit, pineapple, citrus, Bubblegum surf wax, I swear I'm getting that. This stuff smells exactly like I imagined it would after reading so many of the reviews on here, an absolute delight. I poured about half into a tulip glass so that I could get a good look at it. Pours a super hazy and resinous golden orange hue, minimal head and lacing. It smelled amazing in the can, but the complex aroma really opened up once poured, now I'm even more intrigued. My first sip and all I can say is, YES! Worth all the hype, 100 percent! I've had a few other beers that come real close to this, but the mouthfeel and balance along with the juicy aftertaste make this an absolute work of art in a can! With each sip it gets better and better, the bitterness isn't overwhelming at all, and couple that with the citrusy/fruity/floral undertones that coat your tongue, it's easy to forget that theres alcohol in there. Just like it says on the can "so drinkable, it's scary" Overall I can see why this beer is ranked #1, because it just became my #1 as well. Thank you nedvalton, and thank you Alchemist!

 1,469 characters

Photo of Maurizio
3.99/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Good head but quick dissipation, mild lacing. Cloudy and golden in appearance. Nose is mild-moderate in strength, fruity with no hint of dank-type hop aromas. Taste is very smooth, silky mouthfeel, with moderate-strong but not overwhelming hop profile. It's all peach and grapefruit with no dank character at all, more intense and complex as the beer warms. Only a mild suggestion of the heat in the finish. This is a great beer but perhaps not as world-class a beer as Pliny, in my humble opinion.

 498 characters

Photo of bditty187
4/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

My can was said to be super fresh… poured into a New Belgium goblet the hazy and yeast debris was quite heavy. Otherwise, tawny-amber in hue with a sticky white head and plenty of subsequent lacing.

The nose was lovely, lots of tropical fruits… mango, pineapple and oranges, citrusy and juicy. Quite lovely and inviting.

The palate didn’t quite delivery the intense hoppiness I would have liked in a DIPA. Big fruit notes follow onto the palate, similar to the nose but with some added pine and a toasty/caramel malt at the finish. Delicious, complex but well-rounded and tasty as hell. Best DIPA on the planet, not IMO. It lacked a strong hop bitterness punch but had ample flavor. A lovely quaff.

Medium in body, modest carbonation… it’s the mouthfeel you’d expect in the style.

Overall, Heady Topper was a great beer and happy as hell I tried it. It won’t go down in my personal Top 10 DIPA. It’s not even an issue of hype because I don’t pay attention to that shit anymore. And excellent beer, tasty as hell and worthy of the praise.

 1,061 characters

Photo of Gfunk
4.66/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Heady Topper is by far one of my favorite beers ever sampled. I've had it probably over 20 times, very hard to get, but they always happen to show up at our beer tastings. I'm not a huge fan of the amount of yeast/sediment in the bottom, but if you pour it just right into a pint glass you can avoid most of the sludge. Very hoppy and very flavorful.

 350 characters

Photo of reebtaerG
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had drank from can except for a little bit to get appearance

A-Pours hazy orange amber, fluffy white head, sticky lacing clinging around the glass as it dies to the surface.

S-Aroma is concentrated orange, floral honey undertones, passion fruit and mild pulpy grapefruit, fresh pine and touch of toasted malts, citrus peel.

T-Taste is smooth grapefruit and citrus, floral tropical notes, light honey-like sweetness accenting lingering pine notes, soft finish.

M-Mouthfeel has a medium body, incredibly round and well-balanced. Get carbonation.

O-Delicious. If I could get this regularly, I would be buying everything I could! Don’t fear the hype. It is all true.

 673 characters

Photo of ChrisSegal
4.86/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This is easily the best DIPA or IPA that has ever come across my palette. Not being a fan of particularly hoppy beer, I was hesitant that this would be too much for me. I'm pleased that I gave it the chance it deserved. I've now opened up to these complex and floral offerings. Heady Topper is the gold standard. The pure evergreen-ness of this beer perfectly conveys the woods where it is brewed. Well done Alchemist.

 418 characters

Photo of JWU
4.91/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

16oz can. Drank it straight from the can. I did pour just a tiny bit in a small glass to get the appearance.

A- A hazy as heck golden/orange. Big fluffy white head. All sorts of sediment. Strangely beautiful.

S- Simcoe. Lots of it. Big astringency, orange, mango, and

T- Big hype, and it lives up to it. It's PERFECTLY bitter. Not too crushing, but just enough in your face. Orange, mango, some hoppy floral presence as well. A very slight sugary sweetness. It all melds just perfectly. The aftertaste is slightly sweet, and a present, but not overkill bitterness is there as well. Pine mostly on the finish. I could drink this stuff all the time.

M- Slick and creamy. Oily. Carbonation perfectly scrubs the palette.

O- I've had plenty of big hype beers that didn't deliver. Heady delivers. In spades.

 807 characters

Photo of eshivel1
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My first post on BA. While a seasoned IPA drinker, this beer is simply the best. I have recently had FRESH GROWLERS OF firestone union jack, sierra nevvada torpedo, nugget necctar, Hop Stupid, Hop Nosh, etc... it had been 2 months since my last heady topper. Very Lucky to have a friend pick me up 12 of these unreal IPA's . while I like hoppy beers I like balanced IPA's not overly bitter. . This beer is perfect. Drinkability is unreal for an 8% IPA. Flavor is fruity but not overly so, hoppy, but not overly so, simply the best. No contest.

 543 characters

Photo of Beer4B
4.73/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours a beautiful hazy and golden light orange. The nose jumps out of the can as soon as you crack it open. A bouquet of hops tickle your nose hairs. Wave after wave of hops delicately balanced with malts overtake your palate. Drinks really easily for 8% and has a fantastic finish.

 286 characters

Photo of RobbDogg
4.8/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Easily the best beer I have had the good fortune to taste, so it is appropriate that it be my first review on BA. Living in NH, my close proximity has allowed me to enjoy it fairly regularly. A wonderful smelling beer that when fresh can literally fill a room with a floral citrus hop aroma. It pours with a nice head, and has a typical cloudy appearance in the glass for the style. The alcohol is well masked. This beer has a nice balance of heavy citrus hops and bitterness. My only wish is that the alchohol content were a little less so I could enjoy more than one in an evening. However, it is the kind of beer you can drink slowly and savor each sip. If you have not had it, make a trade to get it, as it deserves the #1 rating it currently holds.

 753 characters

Photo of FightinIrish88
4.35/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

If you are a person who likes hops this is a beer for you. This beer is a nicely brewed DIPA which explodes your palate. a well balanced floral/fruit aroma and hoppiness flavor and a citrus bite to it. overall this was a great beer. if you can get your hands on this beer you'll be in heaven.

 292 characters

Photo of Phil_Holmgren
4.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Outstanding. This beer was a about a month and a half old, but was still extremely hoppy and fragrant. I can only imagine how much better it would have been if it were fresher. Nevertheless, this was a great beer. Kudos Alchemist Brewery, ku-fucking-dos.

 254 characters

Photo of Oktobergirl
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Heady topper has all that a hop lover would appreciate and more. The unfiltered, strong flavor of the hops overpowers the flavor of the alcohol. This beer recommends that you drink it from the can to allow unfiltered parts at the bottom to remain. The most flavorful and delicious beer of this type that I have had.

 315 characters

Photo of jackpritchard
4.86/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Top beer. Although it says drink from the can, I enjoy it from a glass much better. Full grapefruit smell. High hop taste. Mouthfeel is OK. Little to no bitter aftertaste. Ages ok, but best fresh. Got mine from the brewery before they closed the retail shop.

 258 characters

Photo of RWW0013
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- Cloudy, golden, 1/2 inch collar of foam

A- Heavy aroma of citrus, grapefruit, pine

T- Citrus, grapefruit, very fresh

M- Slightly carbonated, lingers on palette for an unbelievable amount of time

F- Outstanding IPA, while unbelievably hard to get fresh, very much worth all the hype.

 290 characters

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

I'm honestly not sure what all the hype is about. I think the fact that it's hard to get and really hoppy makes it a winner in most people's books. For me though it had a weird background taste every sip that I wasn't really used to I guess. After about the 3rd or 4th can though I started to like the beer a lot more.

 318 characters

Photo of jonathanturf
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Drank from the can.

Nose is awesome on this beer.

Immediate hop explosion after a tiny bit of sweetness upfront.

Golden strawlike appearance.

Mouthfeel is full with taste buds going crazy.

Finish leaves great hop residue on the tongue begging for more.

Recycle the can and repeat!

 286 characters

Photo of Duffman79
4.68/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Serving: Out of the can as instructed by Alchemist Brewery

S: Hits you like a ton of hop bricks. Overwhelmingly citrus, very nice.

T: Is amazing and totally lives up to the hype.

M: Thick enough to leave a nice hop resin coating on your tongue, but not chewy.

O: Yes, I had to drive about three hundred miles to get this beer. But, once I was in VT... I consumed over a dozen cans (I was there for five days) and brought two cases back with me.

Many people say that THEIR regional IPA is "better than Heady", I've heard it said about Hopslam, Gandhi-bot, Zombie Dust, Pliny the Elder, Jai Alai, etc. But when put head to head (no pun intended) it is (A.) Heady Topper that it is being compared to and (B.) the Heady Topper that comes out on top (given the taster is unbiased).

 785 characters

Photo of BattleRoadBrewer
4.31/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served cold from a 16 oz can into a 7 oz taster. This is contrary to instruction from the brewer to drink straight from the can.

Pours with light-medium body and a modest white head. The room fills with fresh hop aroma as you pour!

Nose is hops. Perfect hop perfection. Usually the nose of an IPA is citrusy, piney, grapefruity, catty, grassy--describable. Heady Topper smells in the glass (or straight from the can) exactly like when you take cones and rub them between your palms! I've never smelled another beer like it; no other beer effuses that overwhelming essence of fresh cones ready to brew with.

Color is hazy straw, almost green, suggestive of a white ale or hefe.

Taste is hop forward but not overwhelming. I've sampled and brewed IPAs with extraordinary flavoring hops, this one does not deaden the tongue, instead it excites the tongue! Neutral to dry finish, no sweetness to mar the hop-forward nectar.

Edit: Myoriginal review sadly sufferd from grade inflation. Tasted side by side with Pliny, the Toppa is missing the clarity and bitterness that make a more perfect beer.

Mouthfeel is light-moderate, smooth, easy-drinking, with no evidence of alcohol warmth or fusels. Bitterness is light.

As it warms in the glass, it perfectly maintains its balance. It is a pleasure to drink from start to finish, goes down very easy and smoothly. Wish it had a hint more bitterness, but flavor and aroma are dead on.

Overall an amazingly drinkable beer, one that I enjoy again and again. Literally, because you can actually buy this--any time you want as much as you want (well I saw somebody buy 10 cases the other day--I suppose you could want more...)

I must taste this head to head with PtE--have case will travel, need to hook up with BAs when The Elder is on tap.

12/22/11 edit:
Quoting from the can: "Drink this beer immediately, we are always making more."

This is a no b.s. warning to the wise. If you're drinking old Topper, you're not really drinking Topper. It changes character so much in just a few weeks, loses a lot of the raw-hop-cones-shoved-up-your-nostrils sensation.

Vinnie counsels regarding Pliny the Elder: "Drink fresh, do not age! Pliny the Elder is a historical figure, don't make the beer inside this bottle one ... Age your cheese, not your Pliny ... Pliny is for savoring, not for saving! ... Respect hops, consume fresh!"

This admonishment for Pliny the Elder applies likewise to Heady Topper.

 2,443 characters

Photo of TaylorMade2014
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Is there really a perfect beer? Absolutely!! This was well worth the wait. I got my hands on 2 4-packs and opened one as soon as I got home.

Poured it into a tulip glass - Nice orange appearance with a firm, white head.

Smell was pure grapefruit, lemon and pine. Still don't understand why The Alchemist says to drink from the can? Why cheat ourselves out of the smell of this masterpiece?

The taste was equally full of citrus: grapefruit, pineapple, lemon zest and mango. Nice bitter end - awesome!

The mouthfeel was of medium body with a bit of carbonation. Smooth.

Drinkability? Hell yeah!! This is a MUST HAVE beer. Can't wait to open the next one, and the one after that...

 686 characters

Heady Topper from The Alchemist
4.65 out of 5 based on 13,162 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.