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

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Reviews: 2,336 | Ratings: 13,163
Photo of JBowenGeorgia
4.78/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Finally acquired a couple cans in a trade. It was quite tasty! Had the first can from a glass, beautiful hazy orange gold, nice hoppy aroma, citrusy piney taste but a little weaker than expected. Second can from the can and definitely much better, taste lingered on the palate, very smooth texture. A very good brew!

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Photo of Lonborgski
4.42/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From a 16oz can at a Burlington restaurant. I had to ask for a glass to look at it, which received a scornful look from the waitress. They do take "Drink from the Can" seriously.
Overall, not my favorite New England Double IPA. My first, Epiphany on tap at the Foundation brewery was eye-opening. The fruity smell, the cloudy unfiltered haze, the balanced crisp but not bitter taste showed me what the hype was about fresh double IPA's. Epiphany is still my standard, but my favorite is now Florens around the other side of 1 Industrial Way--you have to root for the little guy.
Back to Heady Topper, by the time I poured my can and sipped from it too, there wasn't much fruitiness and the pour was clear, not cloudy. The taste was pleasant, balanced and enjoyable, but not like a fresh double at the brewery. I'll stick to my neighborhood and stop chasing something better.

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Photo of Phippsj10
4.98/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Seriously amazing. I was surprised at how smooth and drinkable this beer truly was. I will absolutely seek out again. One thing I did pick up was a faint cucumber taste, but holy cow this thing is amazing.

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Photo of Amguerra305
4.27/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a hazy golden yellow with a tinge towards the red spectrum with a good amount of things suspended in the beer. The smell is rather complex and smells like tropical fruit punch. Notes of papaya and mango with just a hint of peach. The taste does not entirely follow the smell but is not nearly as complex. Tropical fruit juice in the middle but finishes with mango. The back end is a tad too bitter for my tastes but most would enjoy it. feel is medium bodied. Overall this is a really good beer that is a tad too bitter for my own tastes.

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Photo of TechTriumph
4.69/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Live review. Consumed 32 days after bought in store. No canned date, but I imagine the time between being canned and hitting the shelf was minimal.

A - Poured fairly vigorously into a snifter glass. Billowy, egg shell colored head with a nice level of retention. Some lacing left behind, but not a ton. The color is right in that typical zone for IPA's with a lean towards the orange hues. Pretty hazy appearance which could be from my strong pour, or suspended hop resins, or both.

S - Surprisingly not overpowering, but it's certainly pure hops. Nearly like putting your face into a handful of fresh hop cones. Nice bouquet of tropical fruits, also floral, a faint touch of spice, and even fainter biscuity malts. The tropical and floral combo is divine. Pineapple, papaya, mango, grapefruit, lime, sweet candied fruits. The beauty of the aroma is not that it blows you away with strength, but in how it harmoniously comes together.

T - Big time hop flavor as advertised, but it finds a way to maintain balance, and avoid being one dimensional. Hop profile is quite complex. There's no note that truly outshines another, but it's a symphony of flavors. Tropical flavors are present, like in the nose, as are flavors of sweet candied fruits, pine, grass, freshly crushed black pepper, and a fairly big, pleasant onion-like pungency. Bitterness is moderate and lingers just a bit. Beer steps to another level as it warms. Still enjoying the bottom third of the glass as much as the initial sips.

M - Mouthfeel might actually be the best aspect of the beer. Drinkability is off the charts. Very hard to keep the glass down for long. Perfect level of effervescence on the tongue. Velvety mouthfeel that just consumes the tongue with hop oils. Overall, a fairly dry finish. Only sign of the 8% ABV is the touch of warmth, but it's not detracting. It works extremely well with everything.

O - Waited patiently for many years to get a chance to enjoy Heady Topper. It was THE beer I most wanted to try. And thanks to some fortunate circumstances, a great friend, and a little luck, the opportunity finally arrived. I can't really say that the very lofty expectations I had placed on this beer were completely met. It wasn't a total game changer as I had convinced myself it would be. Just getting that part out of the way. But I'm in no way complaining. Seriously, it's a ridiculously damn good beer. Superbly crafted. World class drinkability. Nothing else quite like it. And after reading John Kimmich's message on the back of the can, I think Heady Topper succeeds in what it was set to do, which is taking the consumer on an incredible journey to hop heaven.

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Photo of Hagenmccombs
4.41/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Was very excited to try this benchmark IPA and am not at all disappointed. It is delicious.
L: golden orange/yellow. Huge fluffy head. Not as hazy as I expected.
S: Orange peels, freshly cut carrots, bit of grass, white crackers
T: Very citrusy and hint of pine with a sweet cracker malt as it warms. Slightly more bitter than I expected. Similar hop character to Sticky Hands.
F: Super resinous and oily with very foamy carbonation
O: Absolutely delicious. Very happy to have finally tried this.

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Photo of Drvitlkeyustolit80
4.25/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

First had 8/30/13 at a friends house. One of many, and hopefully many more. The water in Vermont plays a huge role in all of these fantastic beers that come out of that area. Or it could be something else, either way, I love when friends go up and bring me some home.

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Photo of Dukies222001
4.86/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

As good as advertised. Amazing taste lingers on your toungue. Great aroma upon pour into pint glass. I actually wasn't blown away by the look but still very pleasant. Lighter than I expected. Great feel and aftertaste. Plus beer as I expected.

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Photo of TheWolf
4.59/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Finally. A beautiful looking unfiltered beer. The nose was more tame than I expected. Great taste. Super well balanced Silky smooth feel. A very solid beer. But not the best. Maybe the hype was too much.

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

Bit underwhelming.... maybe too much hype, maybe my expectations were to high, or maybe there are just a lot of other great IPAs out there these days. It's a great beer, but mostly just a tick off the list.

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Photo of MikeyMcD86
4.72/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Super excited to try the venerable Heady Topper! I did not drink from the can but I did pour it without rolling the can so as not to disturb the sediment.

Look: Light golden color with lots of haze. poured out with a finger of head. Nice tight bubble structure.

Smell: Pine and spruce jumps out of the glass but it definitely has that yeasty "smell of the brewery" thing that really good IPAs have. Some lemongrass in there as well but it is definitely the pine and spruce that stand out.

Taste: Super grapefruity on the front of the palate, nice and pithy. Lemongrass on the palate as well. finishes with a piney refreshing bitterness. Disguises its alcohol content well.

Mouthfeel: Wonderful medium plus creaminess. Not too heavy. Dries out on the back which helps make this beer super crushable.

Overall(style points): This beer gets all the hype and I can see why. In a world before New England style IPA were everywhere this must have been mind blowing. In today's world though, the game has moved on. It's still a great beer but it just doesn't blow me away the way I wanted it to. 95.25 points.

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Photo of LAp
4.67/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Finally tried it. Had (of course) in the can, though I poured an ounce or two into a teku to get the appearance. Poured a hazy yellow (thicker, and hazier than most DIPAs). Pine and citrus on the nose, though not to the incredible extreme of The Crusher. Palate is tremendously dank, bitter hops. Pine is more present than citrus, though both certainly play a role in the palate here. Solid medium mouthfeel. An exceptional DIPA, but in the world of extremely good IPAs, this one is not so singular as the hype would imply. Tremendous? Of course. Best in its class? Sadly not.

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Photo of Pray_For_Mojo
4.34/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: yellow-golden with a white head with good retention that fades to a thin lacing.

Aroma: a bit of citrus in the hops. Inviting. The nose by itself lets you know this is going to be a good one.

Flavor: yea, I like this one. The hops hit you right in the face, but not overwhelmingly so. Despite the high bitterness, it isn’t “spicy.” The hop flavors fade to a light citrus and saw dust. Piney resin comes to mind. The malt is sweet, but really serves only as the canvas to showcase the hops.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied or just a hair shy. You could drink multiple of these.

Overall: damn good, but I don’t feel it deserves quite its BA score. I traded Pliny for HT. If offered the choice between the two, I’d opt for the Pliny.

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Photo of Inca64
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I have drank almost everything from #1 to #25 and others on the list. I drive to VT every so often to pick up 2 cases and drive back to MA. Why? Simply said, this is the best beer (DIPA) in America. I also drive to the TH and drink all their beers too. I have not had Pliney The Younger so I can't comment on that, but it's only in a keg form and can't get the CA to try it. I have had Pliney the Elder though. Heady, as it's affectionately called, when fresh, far exceeds anything in its class. I have had many of the Tree house beers, and they are really good and deserve spots on the list but no IPA or DIPA from TH is as good as Heady. King Julius is close. I have both Heady and TH beers in my frig at all times and enjoy them all. I wont comment on what I taste or how it pours because it's different for most people. Find someone that has fresh heady and trade with them and you will see why a large majority of people think it's the best they ever had.

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

Can Date: purchased 10/14/16
Palate Contaminants: none

The look is a nice translucent amber with moderate head. The light actually changes colors if I move it to indirect light, never seen that.

I got a great whiff when I cracked open the can. The principal smell is savory fruit. And even though they're savory, they're mostly acidic. I can pick out red grapefruit, pineapple, orange, sweet melon, and cactus fruit. It's also lactic, even trending toward salty.

The taste canvas is savory malt. The citrus elements are less, with mostly the red grapefruit coming through. The lactic element is stronger, though. There's also a vegetable/herb tilt here, it's one of those beers that might go well with a salad. Actually, it probably goes well with everything. It's very well balanced.

I don't get much bitter until the aftertaste, but it has enough savory and sweet to make it enjoyable. The carbonation is very well integrated.

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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 jdhilt
3.56/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a five finger white head that fades slowly to a ring leaving a good lace. Hazy light amber color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Pine hop nose and flavor is pine and grapefruit, occasional hints of caramel. Lingering pine hop bitterness. With most raters saying this DIPA is the best I expected more. Dogfish 90 minute is better. $15.03 for a 4-pak of 16oz cans from Montpelier Discount Beverage Montpelier, VT.

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Photo of Boff101
3.36/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Acquired in a trade. I was told the canned date was 10/8. I have a hard time believing this with the lack of hop aroma and taste. I could speculate what it'd be like fresh as I've had many fresh IPAs and IPAs past their prime. Rating this off of the told canned date. Doesn't hold up well at all if the canned date is 10/8. Smell and taste of fresh hop aromas was non-existent. Malty flavor, tasted like an old IPA.

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Photo of mickmanhattan
4.38/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

So, when a friend offered to sell me 12 fresh cans at face price, I had to jump on it. I was surprised to see the disclaimer on the can that encouraged one to drink it directly from the can. I'm actually a fan of that practice. Overall, this beer is very well-balanced. It's excellent. I would drink it again. I probably wouldn't drive 12 hours to get it though. Not sure I understand how this is #6 on the all time list.

The mouthfeel and overall balance are transcendent. The hop aroma is middle of the road, IMO. IDENTICAL to the hop plant I bought at Meijer superstore and planted by our back door. The execution was definitely there though. The fresh aroma was preserved perfectly. I feel I've accomplished something by trying this.

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Photo of GuyFawkes
4.25/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Unknown vintage; drank 2/7/15 @ California Split.

Poured from the can into a glass (sorry John).

Cloudy pineapple appearance.

Bright white head; frothy lace.

Fresh soap, mild pine & tangerine nose.

Medium thin mouthfeel.

Pine, soap & bitter grapefruit flavors; a resin-y dankness emerged as this warmed. Not my DIPA profile, but nice enough.

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Photo of jp32
4.04/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Citrusy, herbal, hoppy flavor. FULL of hops, in both it's aroma and flavor. Behind the citrusy, bitter, grassy, herbal, dank hops, it has notes of pear and light tropical fruit. Creamy, almost foamy mouthfeel. It was a great tasting, enjoyable beer, but with all the great IPA's out there, I don't see exactly what sets this one so far above the rest.

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Photo of Kdouble
4.96/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Had this at Manhattan Pizza in Burlington from a can.

Lots of white head and lacing which hung around.

The smell was fresh and sweet. Grapefruit and some pine with some other citrus.

Very complex taste that blended together fantastically. The flavors were layered and rather difficult to describe.

Nice clean finish and left me wanting one more.

Overall one of the best double IPAs I have ever had.

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Photo of aquabears
4.69/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Orange! Smells sweet and piney and fresh. Taste is sweet grapefruit and herbal, resinous, mild bitterness on the back end, very smooth. Lighter bodied and moderate carbonation

...as I drink, more citrus is coming through. So well balanced and delicious.

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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 CRyan603
4.94/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Waited in a gas station convenience store in the middle of nowhere Vermont on a Wednesday afternoon in a line that was 50 people deep to get one case of this stuff. Let me tell you, worth the wait and it lives up to all the hype. I've had a lot of hoppy IPAs, but this is unique and the only way I can describe it is that it is very floral. You immediately smell the hops, like you took a big handful of the freshest hops and crushed it up in your hands and stuffed your nose in it. The taste matches it, very floral and bright, but not too bitter in the back. Smooth finish and makes you crave more. Guess I'm going to have to head back up to the middle of nowhere Vermont to get some more as soon as it's gone, definitely worth it.

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Heady Topper from The Alchemist
4.65 out of 5 based on 13,163 ratings.
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