Heady Topper | The Alchemist

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
BA SCORE
100
world-class
2,242 Reviews
Heady TopperHeady Topper
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
The Alchemist
Vermont, United States | website

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
2,242
Ratings:
12,623
Avg:
4.66
pDev:
16.74%
 
 
Wants:
9,055
Gots:
4,920
For Trade:
70
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 2,242 | Ratings: 12,623
Photo of Infiniteingest
4.25/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First of all, I want to say that I am excited about finally tasting this beer. It has been on my hit-list for a year and, my stars, I was gifted a can this afternoon by a co-worker (danke schön, Mike). The only potential downside is that it was canned in June, it's October, and I have been cautioned by both John Kimmich and devotees to drink it immediately after canning. Any subsequent lapses in enthusiasm are likely owing to this shortcoming.

And we're off!

Generally: Unfiltered, unpasteurized DIPA that is regarded by many as the apotheosis of ultra hoppy, high ABV IPAs. Interestingly, the can admonishes the consumer to "Drink From The Can!" I'm of the school that the color, clarity and head are a significant part of enjoying (or not) a beer. So, I poured half into a glass designed by Dogfishhead specifically for IPAs, and left the rest in the can. There's definitely more aromatic concentration in the can, but a swirl in the glass unleashes nearly the same notes.

The Pour: Especially when backlit, this is a pretty beer. Hazy golden, slightly orange in color with an excellent, though not too terribly long lasting, bone-white head. Some minimal lacing on the head.

Face in the glass: First off, I want to taste a fresh one already because my socks are still on...
In the can, it is definitely brighter and cleaner. The pineapple that everyone talks about is not subtle, which makes it awesome. It smells stinking delicious out of the can. There's a classic array of hop notes embracing that tropical fruit. Now, out of the glass: At 64 degrees it smells better than it did at 55, and it's getting close to the concentration I found in the can. The hops are more apparent here, but I'm not getting anything with the word "malt" in it. To be expected...

With Regard to Taste: I find this inexplicable, but I actually prefer it out of the can. Anyway, I drank what was left in the can so onto the poured bit! It's not quite as bright as I was expecting, but the mouthfeel is soft as a pig's nose, which is a good thing. Beautiful resinous and citric hop notes that linger for ever... for EVER... in a sea of alternately mouth watering honey notes and "my-teeth-are-stuck-to-my-gums!" bitterness. It's almost tannic. Perhaps the best thing about this DIPA is the linger... it goes on for days and keeps getting more interesting. Easily one of the most complex beers in this style that I have ever tasted.

Abstract: There's something organic and mildly anarchic about this beers personality. It's extremely interesting to me that J. Kimmich is constantly working on its recipe. I'd regard that as the only philosophy an artisan in the craft beer world could defend. Personally, I am a little tired of formerly great beers being dumbed down for mass consumption and the attendant need for mass production... no names will be mentioned.

Epitoma: Well, I haven't had a fresh one yet (send beer!) but I am impressed. It's a delicious and heady (wink wink) DIPA. For glass enthusiasts, I get the same aromas at 70 degrees that I got out of the can. Surprisingly, this huge monstah drinks nicely at nearly room temperature.

Note: Bitter!! Dry!! Give me fat food to eat!

Serving type: can (old can)

 3,215 characters

Photo of HopHeadRaleigh
4.91/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I just made my monthly trip to The Alchemist and figured it is finally time to write a review.

Heady Topper is getting a ton of national attention...and for good reason. This is a complex imperial IPA with great citrus smell and flavor and the right balance of hoppiness and maltyness (yes I know neither is a real word!)

This DIPA is very smooth, well balanced and very easy to drink. It's a relatively high ABV at 8.0%, but you can still enjoy a few in a sitting. While they suggest drinking it from the can you can definitely enjoy when you pour it into a glass, but it does change the flavor profile and you will notice a lot of hop residue since HT is unfiltered.

I am a hop-head and can honestly say that this is among the best I have had.

Cheers!

 759 characters

Photo of maDUECEgunner
4.93/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: golden yellow with small white head (only poured a little bit into a glass)

Smell: Huge hop aroma. Loads of pine and citrus.

Taste: loads of citrus and pine. Perfect combination of hops.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly really smooth for a DIPA. Still enough bitterness though.

Overall: one of the best beers I have had, if not the best. So happy another 4 pack will land on my doorstep tomorrow.

 403 characters

Photo of hopsolutely
4.81/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Canned only 3 days ago (!), this was an incredibly generous trade surprise from mtomlins and a beer I've been hoping to try for ages. It is just plain stunning and actually lives up to my (unduly high) expectations...

Pours a hazy golden orange colour with a respectable white head that has good retention. As the instructions are clearly not to pour it all, am rating appearance mostly on that very attractive can. The aroma is a brilliant blend of my favourite hop-forward elements; resiny pine and citrus with an initial alcohol burn that dissipates dangerously quickly.

The taste is the epitome of its style and I believe it to be the first "5" I can remember giving?! This may well be the ultimate DIPA. A hop-centric ride from start to finish that is strangely well balanced, despite being so hop-forward. The malt backbone respectfully supports the hop lover's ride and that finish is one to savour. It has a delightful blend of bitterness and citrus that lingers...

It's been often discussed, but we may now be well enough motivated to make that pilgrimage trek to Vermont!!

 1,087 characters

Photo of BoldRulerVT
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Cracking open a fresh Heady...

The smell is glorious. It's piney, and citrusey...vague sweetness, beautiful hop aromas.
I take my first sip and let it wash over my tongue and swallow. Grapefruit dominates the back of my tongue, just the right level of carbonation creates wonderful mouthfeel. A second sip starts to reveal sweeter noted toward the tip of my tongue.

This beer is complex. As John writes on the can, it is not meant to dominate you with hop bitterness. There is just the right level of bitterness mixed with the right amount of sweetness. Citrus, piney, and some alcohol forward notes.

One can and I can feel this beer working it's magic in my head. It has amazing drinkability that really belies how complex it is.

It is perfect. The perfect beer.

 767 characters

Photo of ajramirez1
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Received this can from my good friend DWitt. Good looking out, even though u r a g damn Sander.

Poured 3oz into a taster and drank the rest from the can. Initial taste is awesome, get that nice hit of hops. Aftertaste, smooth as fluck. Wow. Very well balanced iipa. Very impressed, lived up to the hype like PtY.

I need to get my hands on more of this amazing beer...

Oden!

A-

 381 characters

Photo of beerdrifter
4.47/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked this baby up from a great friend at the Borefts Bier Fest! It's a little over a week since it was canned so it's super fresh. Cloudy amber-orange pour with a huge 2+ finger fluffy white head with decent retention and lacing. Fresh, dank, resiny hops totally dominate the nose along with some great perfumey, floral and citrus notes. This is one of those really special smelling beers that you'll always remember. The taste is just as big and bold. It starts off like the nose as a total fresh hop monster, full of resiny pine and bitter grapefruit along with some nice tropical notes. About midway through there's a measure of balance as some of the caramel malt sweetness emerges along with some orange peel, tangerine, and a bit of grassiness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and oddly creamy for an IPA. Surprisingly balanced and incredibly drinkable for such a big, hoppy beer. Overall, not sure it lived up to all the hype, but still one hell of a beer!

 964 characters

Photo of jd18
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

What else really needs to be said? Had a taste from the tap but reviewing based on 1 pint cans.Both are my first experiences with Heady. It's perfect. Beautiful pale hazy yellow when poured, which I did with 1 of 4 cans I've had so far. Delicious, smooth and flavor-filled. Hits all the right notes. Little floral, little citrus and a little pine lumped together into a spectacular punch of flavor. Spent 10 hrs in a car to bring this home and it was worth every second.

 470 characters

Photo of wedge
4.39/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Murky golden orange color with a fat layer of off-white foam on the surface. Deep, dank, fresh bag-o-hops smell...spicy, resinous pine, pungent, juicy citrus, and peaches. An almost toffee-ish malt profile lurks underneath. Huge hoppy flavor (obviously): fresh floral hop cones, grapefruit, pine needles, stone fruit, maybe some tropical fruit. Seems kind of like a lot of Simcoe to me. Dry, smooth,and textured. Bitter, but nothing crazy. This is a great, supremely hopped-up DIPA that manages to stay really drinkable. A bit too hyped up, but undeniably impressive.

 567 characters

Photo of SSS
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Religious experience. I went to the brewery on a Saturday, opens at 11am, and by that time there were, 40 people behind me, from all over the continent!

A - No idea, BECAUSE I DRANK FROM THE CAN LIKE ANY GOOD STANDING CITIZEN WOULD
S - Like heaven, floral perfume of hops and mild citrus and sweet sweet good times to come
M - Carbonation is perfect, does not take away, but adds to the flavor
T - Absolutely glorious, bitter, yet sweet and citrus, pine, fruity, crisp and fresh...this needs a poem to describe it with any real value...

I drank one right after picking them up from the brewery and then others a week later. Haven't noticed a big change, perhaps very slightly less juicy, if that makes any sense.

Take care not to get carried away, after one, you are good, nice buzz for at least one hour...attempt any more and you are waiting for a pounding, or in my case, a four hour nap!

If you are having a bad day, open a can of Heady and all your problems instantly disappear, seriously!

Jesus would turn wine into this if he only knew!

 1,048 characters

Photo of Kdana
4.84/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Absolutely love this beer. Just had it for the first time in Vermont. I'm used to Belgians for this high of alcohol contents. Absolutely love the flowery smell.

Bought a case and down to my last 4-pack. Actually, I'll sell you my last 4-pack! Just got it 2 weeks ago.

 268 characters

Photo of Augustiner719
4.98/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured from a 16oz can into a tulip glass.

Pours a very murky, glowing orange color, similar to a hefeweizen. looks very pulpy. The aroma is similar to smelling a handful of fresh hop pellets on a brewery tour. resinous, out of control sharp hop notes of grapefruit, pine, some pineapple maybe and fresh cut peaches. Really great nose. The taste is much of the same as the aroma but with a big juicy feel to it that makes this drinkable. not overly bitter as i would have expected which adds to the drinkability. The mouthfeel is medium bodied since its unfiltered and has a chewy character to it. Really great beer, perfect for all seasons for sure.

 652 characters

Photo of TheBigJohnson
4.91/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

To date, one of the most enjoyable beers that I've ever drank.

The only thing you need to know is that you must try it. Perfect balance of powerful hops with the perfect combination of finishing flavors like grapefruit, pineapple, peach, and caramel.

It's amazing how easy it is to drink, but it's just that good.

 315 characters

Photo of enulcwww
4.8/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This is everything a beer should be amazing drinkability great odor and taste this is just everything that I could possibly want in a beer experience. The presentation of the can is perfect and well worth the journey into the middle of no where Vermont. While 72 for a case may seem high I would be willing to spend over and over again.

 336 characters

Photo of kkoehnlein
4.97/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Nice hazy orange color. Very nice off-white head.

Smell: Incredible hop aroma! Everything you love about the smell of fresh hops.

Taste: Perfect balance and harmony...bitter but not too bitter...wonderful hop flavors but not too much...malty but not too malty...wow!

Mouthfeel: Nice carbonation. Much smoother/thinner than I anticipated...very drinkable. The can says it perfectly...So drinkable, it's scary

Drinkability: I feel very fortunate to have tried this beer as it is very hard to get. If you get a chance you have got to give it a try. Hard not to sound cliche with this beer but it is nearly perfect...I think I could drink it exclusively and be happy.

Serving type: can (and a cool can at that)

 723 characters

Photo of SebD
4.89/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: It has a nice hazy golden/orange color to it. It has a nice off-white head that dies down moderately and leaves lovely lacing.

Smell: Holy freakin hops. It has a very fresh tropical smell of citrus, pineapple, grapefruit, piney resins, buttery malts and sweet caramel.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has alot of citrus upfront, grapefruit, pineapple, a very nice resiny pine bitterness, bready/buttery malts, sweet caramel. The flavors all work so well together. Can't ask for a better balance.

Mouthfeel: It has a medium carbonation with a great overall balance and feel. I can't get enough of it.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with great flavors and aromas. This is a world class beer, if you ever get the chance to try it don't hesitate. It's near perfection in a can.

 816 characters

Photo of jimmaay
4.5/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First time having this brew. I must say it lived up to the hype for sure. great hoppy taste and not too bitter. very easily drinkable. I would choose this over any other ipa/dipa available. the only negative thing I can say about it is it's availability. I wish I didn't have to have it shipped out to Las Vegas! Cheers!

 320 characters

Photo of kidrogers
4.76/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Was everything I hoped it to be. Thank you Danny Mac for sharing! I wish I had just one more sip, then one more can. Everyone can write more descriptive reviews, I just wanted to tell about the experience. Read a ton of opinions and this was one of the few that I whole heartedly agree with. If you have it, I am jealous, if you can find it, count yer blessings! If you have an extra share it with a friend. Drink, be fat and happy all!

 436 characters

Photo of northbywest
4.44/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It's heady topper... everyone wants a piece of it. Here in burlington, people still stand in line for it and it sells out quite quickly when it hits the shelf.

A great beer- I don't do the whole 5 point review- but it's a top-notch beer. Best in the world? That's a really tough claim to validate. Scarcity drives demand, however wonderful a beer it may be.

People are definitely feeding the demand down south- the demand drives those lines at the stores around here- people are shipping it out/transporting it down to the metropolitan areas (obviously).

As far as aroma- solid, almost like pot-like. Flavor is wonderful, it hangs in your mouth, rolls off the tongue with weight but not too much. Definitely a fun beer.

As comparison, I'm partial to Lawson's double IPA (yeah, even harder to get). Never tried the Pliny's, but I'm guessing it's a toss up.

One thing my buddy -a true brewer/connoisseur- more so than myself- pointed out: the whole "Drink from the can" thing is somewhat BS- because the obvious reason is that the appearance/color is, well, pretty mediocre for beer, and somewhat crap for a beer this highly regarded. Who really cares about aesthetics, though?

I'll take a crappy appearance (don't tell us to hide it, Alchemist) for great nose!

Again, the #1 beer in the world ranking is recognized, at least around here by people that sell the stuff, as somewhat inflated by hype and scarcity- we all love it, but it's almost a hysteria for the stuff...

edit: the girlfriend made a point- 2 cans of heady topper is the max you want to drink- diminishing returns on the pleasure of drinking this scarce commodity of a beer. Two leaves you satisfied.

 1,677 characters

Photo of boilermakerbrew
4.71/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A- Pours a medium bright orange golden color. Not quite brilliant, but far from dull in color. Big, frothy head that retains and laces tremendously. Hazy and beautiful in the glass.

S- Big, resinous, piney hops are the foremost and only scent on this one. Kind of sticky in the nose with all the hops. Slight hint of underlying mild sweetness.

T- Bitter hops flavor off the bat. Sticky, resinous hops are upfront and foremost on the palate. Towards the middle of the drink, a slight sweetness of the base malts come through. Hops make a comeback at the end with a primarily pine flavor that really stings the back of the tongue. Ends with the lingering hops bitterness.

M- Thick, sticky, and smooth as hell. This thing drinks more like a stout than an IPA, but goes down quite smooth. The weight is on the heavier side, but man it goes down easy.

Overall, do I think this is the best IIPA or IPA I've ever had? Probably not. The hype train oversells this one a bit, but it is a damn good beer. I will seek it out again in trades and savor this one while I have it.

 1,068 characters

Photo of Beechner719
4.68/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured from the can. Aroma is very strong, lots of floral hops. Pours a nice golden color and white head. Taste is very strong hops that take over the more you sip it. It is one of the cloudiest beers I have ever seen. You can taste the resin right away and it is not a bad thing! This is my favorite DIPA to date.

 314 characters

Photo of daledeee
4.63/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

A can traded to me by a fellow BA. What a nice gesture! A 16 oz can of the top rated beer and they tell you to drink it from the can.

Well...the first thing I did was ignore that rule because I wanted to see it and smell it. IT didn't have much head but is the cloudiest IPA I have ever seen. A very peachy color.

Nose is along the pine side with oils and caramel. Very distinct once again.

Taste: I have had lots of IPAs like everybody else. And I have had all ends of the flavor spectrum. This one falls deeply into the citrus and tropical end in my book. At the end of the drink there is a more west coast hope profile. Very complex and very balanced but yet not with the typical malts. This is really a distinct beer and really enjoyable to drink. Isn't that what matters? Something new and different and not over the edge?

The mouth feel is quite mellow and the alcohol is warming.

I must say this beer is a nice treat and would buy it constantly if it were available around here. Definitely worthy of it's head of the class rating.

 1,044 characters

Photo of Duane_Opfer
4.91/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Special thanks to Jake Holland for providing this delicious beverage...

One pint can. Mostly consumed from the can (according to instructions on the can), but I poured a small amount into an IPA glass to review appearance. No date on can, but it was fresh...

A - Hazy mango colored liquid with a thick head. Plenty of carbonation. Cloudy, but no particulate. Delicate lacing as beer receded.

S - Intensely fragrant. Orange and some tropical fruit. Honestly, I poured very little into the glass, so I could experience the majority of it from the can. Very likely more scents to detect. Maybe next time if I get a case, I'll spend more time developing this area of the review...

T - WOW. INTENSE FLAVOR. Tart mango, lemon, and pine followed by a delicious hops bath. Significant emphasis on the wonderful hops in every swig. Very well balanced with some bready malts. Orange-rind finish. ABV is not completely hidden and compliments beer very well.

M - Luxurious foamy hop bath (had to say that again). Felt light and foamy in the mouth, but also very filling. Can't imagine it could be improved.

O - I am ruined for life. I will now continuously explore more opportunities to get my hands on more of this sweet nectar.

 1,223 characters

Photo of Gsantollo
4.83/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I really don't feel the is anything I "can" add to this wonderful beer the only reason it feel short of perfect is because I can't drink any other beer with it, nothing before and nothing after. If I drink something before I simply don't enjoy heady as much and if I drink something after I lose the desire for beer. Other then that it is wonderful, But I have to session it by itself have 2 or 3 and call it a night.

 417 characters

Photo of artoolemomo
4.66/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Appearance- Pours up a more than a fair amount of head and seems to have pretty good retention. The head is a pure cotton white while the body is a hazy, pale to medium amber with weak grapefruit notes which glows a pale amber with hints of orange when held up to the light. Hazy but I haven't detected any of the infamous floaters. Some lacing is left behind.

Nose- Not the strongest scent that I've encountered from an IPA/DIPA but still fairly warm and inviting. Rings with citrus- grapefruit, orange, and lemon. Mellow to moldy peach. Cherries, some honey. Nice floral and perfume notes. Some banana. Quite complex but very subtle at the same time. Some papaya after swirling.

Taste- Reflective of the nose in both complexity and subtlety. Armpit and funk start off with a mixture of citrus and honey following. Some onion with lots of grapefruit and both orange and lemon peel. Very subdued matchstick which borders on sublime. The hops are incredibly fresh (this is a 3 day old can) and well rounded. The yeast and hops lend an incredible spiciness to the finish. Honey and caramel provide a sweetness that blend well with the bold citrus, tropical fruit, and mild pine and resin of the hop profile. This is very mellow and incredibly smooth for the style. Nectar seems to be the one word which bind together the entire description of this beer. Some vinous characteristics- some white grape. As this opens up, it becomes more delightful and boozy. But the booze is warm and inviting and seems to attach the flavors to your palate (or perhaps this is more the mouthfeel which seems to coat your tongue in film). Peaches, melons, banana, orange, and lemon. So many fruits and so much juiciness with the right amount of pine and resin to balance it all out. Makes me think of a less messy 120. Not sure how this ranks against the Plinys but they're all pretty close. Some funk that evokes moldy cheese and mushrooms. A hint of cinnamon.

Mouthfeel- Incredibly smooth and creamy for an IPA. This is definitely a large part of the appeal of this beer. It's almost buttery, a little bit greasy with somewhat of a dry finish which does cleanse the palate but allows the spice and wood of the finish to linger. Even the middle parts of the profile linger. Good amount of carbonation. There's tons of juice and syrup on the texture- this is pretty heavy for an DIPA. Medium bodied. Somewhat silky as well. The more it opens up, the more you mouth tingles.

Drinkability- This is extremely accessible for an IPA. I had a Boneyard RPM earlier and thought that was approachable but it doesn't even hold a candle to the near sublimity that defines this beer. 3 bucks a can is a steal for this can. I feel pretty good about paying 60 bucks for the 12 cans I was able to get.

Overall- Great beer. It isn't my favorite beer in the world but I understand why it resides at the top of the rankings. If you nitpick the flavor profile, you can judge it to be just like any other world class or outstanding IPA/DIPA. However, this beer needs to be considered as more than the sum of its parts. It is constantly involving in the mouth even after a drink has been taken. It never even approaches boring- there are different notes constantly appearing. Definitely worth a try if you can get some.

 3,287 characters

Heady Topper from The Alchemist
100 out of 100 based on 2,242 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.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe