Heady Topper | The Alchemist

2,348 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: 2,348 | Ratings: 13,235
Photo of Siriusfisherman
4.35/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

L: What a beautiful can!

A: Big pine needle, zesty citrus, and soft fruit, very aromatic out of the can. Malt is noticeable as a slightly toasty breadiness and there is an amazing peach-like ester profile that melds with the hops.

T/M: Smooth bitterness upfront, moves into intense, pine needle and stonefruit hop character with tropical and spicy complexities. The malt character is slightly more prominent than the aroma, creating a light, toasty bread character that moves into a drying finish and a slick mouthfeel. Very complex, but the hops are always at the for-front, and the bitterness is never overly prominent. In a couple words, perfectly balanced.

Overall, this is one of the most well-balanced and complex IPAs I have ever had. I can totally understand why this is the highest rated beer on the site. The flavor is nearly perfect, and as long as you don't mind haze or drinking out of the can there is very little that you could find at fault about his beer. Every phase of the brewing process contributes to the flavor of the beer. Hops, malt, peachy esters from the 'Conan' yeast, as well as numerous intricacies I am sure only the brewing staff is aware of (ie water profile). This is a real ale, so many brewers seem to be taking the IPA away from the malt and yeast character and this one embraces them and finds balance with them. This beer is a true beer.

 1,379 characters

Photo of oldmankoch
4.63/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Had this tonight on tap at Prohibition Pig in Waterbury and can at my B&B in Stowe (the owner gets free misprints and gives them to guests on arrival if they're beer geeks)

The locals consider this the Miller Lite of VT but what a flipping awesome ML it is. I had this after 3 HF IPA/PAs and it still stood out as awesome on its own so that speaks to its epicness.

I have to say though the can is definitely the better route. It holds more of the hop profile that HT is known for.

Most already know the flavor specs so just thought Id share my experience and say the locals I spoke with rate this just behind Double Sunshine for the States best Double IPA...if only that wasn't an even more rare "whale." But whatever I'm just thrilled to have now had HT in my life.

 770 characters

Photo of Jpinoniemi
4.58/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this beer from a friend in New Hampshire.

This is definitely the best IPA I've ever had. It survived UPS shipping to Ohio and still was good cold the next day.

A friend of mine and I split a can together and each taste was better than the last.

Highly recommend and would drink again for sure.

 300 characters

Photo of JulioH
4.72/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I've had this a few times. This is the most bitter thing I have tasted, but surprisingly you quickly get accustomed to it, and actually enjoy it.

Pouring it reveals a normal yellow beer, nothing spectacular about the color, but the aroma that comes out of the can immediately after opening it is crazy. It releases a very strong aroma of pine and hops. Taste is very bitter, very piney, but refreshing and thin. You could drink a few of these and just think of how amazing this beer is.

 488 characters

Photo of StoneTSR
4.08/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

4/2/14 – consumed 5/5/14. Thanks to Scalawags for this awesome beer.

APPEARANCE: The color falls somewhere between straw pale and a very light orange. A strong head forms with the first pour and it sticks around for a while. Lacing is a little spotty, but still manages to cover a good 40% of the back of the glass.

SMELL: A lot of pine, a touch of grass and a good dose of grapefruity citrus with some hints of tropical fruit. Not as intense an aroma as I would have expected.

TASTE: This is a hoppy beer. The hops are there for the whole sip, from beginning to end, in full force. Early on there is a light toffee flavor to balance the aggressively orange citrus flavor. As the beer nears the finish the bitterer, grassy hop flavors kick in for a strong finish.

MOUTHFEEL: Medium to light in body, but more towards the medium side. The Heady Topper is dry all the way through, which makes me very happy. Carbonation is light, but with a nice little sparkle.

OVERALL: OK, the comparison must be made…I love this beer, but Pliny is better. And I may be a West Coast snob, but there are a few other West Coast IPAs that I would prefer to this. For lack of a better term this is not as “bright” a beer as some others in the category. It is certainly more balanced, but that is not always what I’m looking for in a Double IPA.

 1,339 characters

Photo of Dna_Infinity
4.12/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Can to glass

Appearance - Hazy orange colour with a medium size head. Left good lacing

Smell - Floral, grapefruit, dank pine and resin some more tropical fruits

Taste - Orange peel, pineapple, pine resin, tropical fruits, slight alcohol taste. Hops are major punch to the mouth

Overall - Glad I got to try this one once just to say I did. However I don't think it's worth the trouble that people go to to get it. While it is a great DIPA it's up to each person to decide whether its worth the hype

 502 characters

Photo of DCLAguy11
4.25/5  rDev -8.6%

Based on the last few cans of Heady Topper that I've had I have to down grade the rating a bit. I wish there was a better way of distinguishing which year or version of Heady Topper this is because it's not the same as it once was. Having said that, I did a blind tasting on 8/29/14 with the recent batches of Focal Banger, Rapture, The Crusher and Heady Topper.

It was the third lightest in color of the 4 beers with a hazy golden color. On the nose I got passion fruit, citrus peel, wet pine, orange pulp. I have to say these Alchemist beers are great on the nose.

The taste: I got some slight bitterness and some citrus. There wasn't a pop or anything special and at 8% I could still get a lot of the alcohol so the balance was a bit off for me.

Overall my blind guess was that this was Rapture but I was wrong. In my humble opinion I put Heady over Rapture but way behind The Crusher and Focal Banger. I think Heady needs to get it's act together. It is no longer the #1 beer in BA.

 997 characters

Photo of Bunk86
4.99/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I finally found a hookup that could get me these on a regular basis. Man, it was worth the effort. The Alchemist seriously nailed it. This beer is damn near the perfect IPA. For this big of an IPA the bitterness, or lack thereof is notable. The hops just keep coming. I read that there was some oatmeal added for mouthfeel. I get it. Perfect. Seriously, it's oneof the best IPA's I've ever had.

 394 characters

Photo of jageraholic
4.94/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Cant believe i havent reviewed this before. Half way through a can, nows the time...

A: fucking can is beautiful.

S: grapefruit rind, lemon, lime zest, mint, and pine. Mild breadiness. Very intense aroma as soon as the can is opened its a shotgun of aroma

T: a lot of grapefruit up front. Blend of complex citrus...orange lemon, lime. Finish is mostly citrus but mild herbs like mint and a balanced pine to keep the citrus in check. Mild malt bready background but hops are the main assault.

M: a creaminess floods the mouth and bubbles all around but dissipates to a nice wetness in the mouth and slowly a dryness settles in. Fantastic wave of complex mouthfeel that sets this apart.

O: they werent trying to make the hoppiest DIPA out there, but they did. This is a beast. Intense in aroma, taste and a creamy thick mouthfeel. But it remains very drinkable. A 4 pack would be too filling but whose drinking a 4 pack of this. Sip, savor, enjoy. Excellent excellent beer. So far, one of a kind and deserves the hype.

 1,021 characters

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

Poured into an IPA glass. Directly contrary to what the can says, I know, but it would be a shame not to see this beer. Super hazy pale orange color, with tons of bubbles rising up through the liquid, and a super thick off-white head that blankets the glass in lace as it slowly fades.

Aroma is an amazing array of hop flavors - pineapple, grapefruit, evergreen, cat pee, onion grass, etc. etc. etc. It seems like pretty much every descriptor of hop aroma could be attributed to this beer. A tiny bit of a light biscuity flavor makes itself known as well.

Follows the nose - just an amazing array of hop flavors. It really has every hop flavor you could desire in an IPA all rolled up into one, with none of the flavors overpowering any of the others. There is the perfect amount of biscuity malt to keep it from careening over the edge of hoppiness. Finish is just bitter enough, with a little less bitterness than the palate might suggest, and the aftertaste is pleasantly citrusy.

The mouthfeel is shockingly creamy and buttery. Moderately thick with lots of carbonation. Perfect for the flavor profile.

Overall, I feel a little ridiculous to be giving it a perfect 5, but there's really nothing I would change about this beer, and it embodies everything I love about IPAs. It definitely lives up to the hype, although I do have to admit I was disappointed on my first sip because I expected it to be God. And then I took another couple sips and all my disappointment faded away. I should mention that this was pretty fresh - cans purchased on 4/25/14, so I imagine they were brewed pretty soon before that, but unfortunately, there's no date.

 1,650 characters

Photo of ljthiesse
4.2/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Big, fresh hop aromas right out of the can - tons of pine and some nice citrus. Flavor is quite bitter, yet beautifully balanced, managing to be easy drinking while still full-bodied and packing a huge hoppy punch. Great mouthfeel, nicely complex, very tasty. Thoroughly enjoyable.

 281 characters

Photo of CraftyJoseph
4.74/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Drank it straight out of the can!

You definitely get hit with an intense Hop aroma once you open the can!

Perfect balance of bitterness and hops

Definitely one of my favorite beers!

Can was about 2 weeks old, no hops had dropped off yet!

Can't wait to drink it again

 271 characters

Photo of Bosoxfan20
4.35/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Not 100% sure of the age, but my trader (TPSReport...big thanks) says it is about 3-4 weeks old.

A- Deep hazy golden with a dense as can be. Intense lacing. Absolutely love the unfiltered look.

S- Wow. Can be picked up from 3 feet away. Huge citrus aroma. Grapefruit pith with biscuity pale malts.

T- Hop forward of course, but the balance impeccable. Finishes dry and bitter without roasting your taste buds. A few waves of west coast hop character dance over the tongue. Quite resinous and pith-like.

M- Mid body, creamy to a degree, with a lingering dryness with each sip.

O- A beer that my wife and I enjoyed on our second anniversary. It is a serious IPA that brings it with the hops, but remains so balanced. I would still prefer PtE and a handful of other IPAs over this one, but I can see why this one gets so much love.

 837 characters

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.

 403 characters

Photo of Ieatlambfries
4.89/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Had to revisit this beer as all my previous examples were gifted to me, and never completely fresh. So, took a trip to VT, and grabbed myself a fresh case. So I'm re-reviewing.

Hazy, unfiltered, fluffy off white head which clings to my glass. Yes, I used a glass.

Dank resinous hop smell. spicy woodsy pine, and citric oils.

Explosion of resinous pine and citrus rinds. Mixture of grapefruit and lemon. Spicy, musky, and full of depth. Rare a call a beer dank, but it applies here. Malt back bone, although not cloying or sweet like some DIPAs, does an amazingly job at balancing out the huge complex hop profile.

Mouthfeel is full, carbonation is biting.

Overall, having one of these fresh as opposed to a few months old is a game changer. I wrote my previous experiences off as a beer with too much hype. But being able to enjoy fresh examples has made me into a believer.

 884 characters

Photo of untitledeuphoria
4.72/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased 2.22.14 from the Montpelier Discount Beverage and Redemption Center.

Drank 4.26.14, poured from a can into a Lagunitas Mason Glass.

We were on a mission to find this beer, and after a grueling drive up from NYC through blizzard conditions we were barely able to acquire anything to bring back with us. Luckily, the local bars of Montpelier had more than enough supply to keep a half dozen thirsty beer guys from burning down the capital of Vermont after discovering they purchased the last six 4-packs in a ten mile radius.

However, when you hear (after the fact) that a line forms on Friday mornings at Hunger Mountain Coop, two hours before opening, and that they sold out their entire 4,320 can delivery in less than 90 minutes, you realize you never stood a chance, and to be thankful you found anything to bring back, and even more thankful than McGillicuddy's Pub not only doesnt overcharge for Heady, but that they have tons of it. Anyways, on to the important stuff...

A: Cloudy honey coloring, no visible particulates, lots of visible carbonation immediately after pouring, one finger of crisp white head, leaves a few small traces of lacing.

S: I never seem to pinpoint much of the aromas found in DIPAs, but if I had to try, I would say Tangerine, Grapefruit zest, Lemon grass, and a few other tropical notes... maybe Mango. Whatever you 'think' it smells like, it smells fantastic, and is definitely a beer built for the nose.

T: Immediate taste of pine, then the aforementioned tropical fruits, and then finally, a lingering hop heavy, but malty finish. Not enough to overwhelm, but just enough to remind you that yes, this is a DIPA loaded with savory hops for your enjoyment, but also big enough to knock you on your ass after two pints.

M: Medium body, medium carbonation, with a slight oily retainer. The residue remains long after the initial sip, enough to remind you that you need to keep drinking, but not enough to ruin your tastebuds. Just what I want, and expect out of a high end DIPA.

O: A beer that suffers from its own success. Make no mistake, Heady is a fantastic beer, one of the best I have ever had, but the hype machine is far too powerful. I would put it in the same category as Double Sunshine, Hopslam, Double Daisy Cutter, and Dreadnaught, with no clear winner...and I dont consider that a slight. That is heavy company.

 2,377 characters

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

Poured from a can into a pub glass.
Excited to finally try this beer.

A- Pours a murky orange about two fingers of head that settles to just a small top layer. They say to drink from the can but I am one of those people who prefer an unfiltered beer that is cloudy. Im not a big clear beer person so this gets high scores for me. Such a beautiful beer.

S- Hop bomb. Tropical citrus fruit notes, Big bold Peach, Little bit of resiny pine/grass. Everything seems to be in perfect balance. This beer smells like the creater brewed it hundreds of times just to get the right smell ratio.

T- Oranges, Grapefruit,Peach,lemon, slight pine/grass aftertaste. Sweet malt backing up all the hops. This beer is a showcase for the hops, nothing more nothing less. You get everything from the smell except even better. If I could give this a 5.25 I would.

M-Substantial high end of medium bodied. fruity, then bitter. Not a harsh bitterness though this is a carefully calculated bitterness. It's very pleasant. Is the bittering addition all hop extract?

O-Some reviews may be skewed because the hype behind this beer. It has a lot to live up to before you even try it. That may seem unfair but this beer surpassed my expectations. This is the Michael Jordan of beers circa 89-97 It is going to score 30 a night on you and not give a shit if you planned on stopping it. Is it the best beer in the world? I have no clue I haven't tried every beer yet. I do know its the best beer I have ever had, and I've had a lot of them. John is a Hop Whisperer and I will drink his beers anytime I get a chance to.

 1,593 characters

Photo of kfh227
3.2/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

I had one of these in Burlington, Vermont at a bar straight from the can.

I was pleasantly surprised that they had it.

I only care about taste so here it goes. I generally don't like IPAS because they are bitter. Some bitterness is OK. There are two things to know. 1) This one is not bitter at all. 2) this is very hoppy.

Having said that, this is one of the best IPAs that I have ever had. But it is in all honesty, just a good version of Budweiser. A very good version. Point being that I don't understand all the fuss. I could name 20 beers that I'd rather have than drink this ever again. It's honestly not all that special unless you prefer IPAs above all else..

 671 characters

Photo of jsunj
4.74/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Although residing in the west coast, I've had the pleasure of trying this beer multiple times due to awesome friends. The first time I had this beer it was split three-ways, poured into glasses. At that time i felt that this beer was overhyped and couldn't stand up to the likes of PtE. However upon having a can to myself, straight from the can, I can definitely see why HT is so highly regarded.

 397 characters

Photo of tylerstravis
4.4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Did it live up to the hype? No, nothing ever does. Was it good? Hell yeah! I actually enjoyed my second one more as I knew what to expect. This was was more of a hop juice than something like a west coast IPA. I personally liked this with a couple of months on it more than fresh.

 286 characters

Photo of Kramerwtmf
4.79/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Lucky enough to find a local shop that gets it shipped by a Vermont local. This beer is amazing a few weeks old, I can only imagine how good it tastes fresh! Even though it says to enjoy out of the can I prefer it poured into a glass. Helps me capture the amazing aroma.

 270 characters

Photo of beer456
4.74/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured into a glass yesterday at the Farmhouse Taphouse in Burlington yesterday. $8.00 to taste what is now a cult followed beer. I enjoyed enough to skip over to 240 Pearl Street and buy a case of 24 for roughly $88 USD. In case anybody wants to load up, delivery for Heady Topper is on Tuesday, so make sure you go when a delivery is imminent or shortly thereafter. Sitting around today and on my third can right now, and each one sheds more light on why this beer is so popular. It tastes light...fresh...and just bottom line - a real nice IPA.

Drink it from the can !

 572 characters

Photo of SovietBear1982
4.98/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

What can I say about this beer, it is everything people say it is and the hype is spot on. Although, the level if IBU's have been consistent at times I can have one where the hoppiness really comes through while other times it is more gradual and the notes are released with perfection. I know that the brewery has other brews that it releases in limited quantities, but I hope they can try and produce the other options with a bit more releases then they currently offer. But no complaints they are staying true to their brew and "Heady Topper" is always on my list of brews that I would have on any given day.

 611 characters

Photo of mabermud
4.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is an extremely, well-crafted beer. It is wonderfully balanced and well-hopped. Truly made by an Alchemist, or the devil himself.

I now understand why it is the #1 beer on BA. My favorites were always Pliny the Elder and Enjoy by. This one boasts them both. I immediately opened a Pliny to compare while I still had some Heady left at the bottom of my glass. To me, the Heady looks much better. The PtE is clear and the Heady is cloudy with yummy goodness. The Heady smells scrumptious and emits a better aroma. The PtE is crisp and clean and the Heady is complex tasting. PtE is a bit more carbonated than the Heady, however, I believe this Heady is nowhere near as fresh as the PtE. In the end, I love them both.

If I were to be stranded in the mountains for any amount of time and I had to select one of these to keep me company, I would have to select the Heady, and the PtE would be his backup.

Nauseatingly good.

 927 characters

Photo of jvf1970
4.49/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I drank Heady Topper a couple times from cans only, never on tap. I thought it was a great beer but not the best in the world. If I went out to a pub and they had HT , I would order and drink it over probably others because it's so hard to get anywhere outside Vermont.

 269 characters

Heady Topper from The Alchemist
4.65 out of 5 based on 13,235 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.