Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Heady Topper | The Alchemist

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
2,277 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: 2,277 | Ratings: 12,797
Photo of FAT_mike
1.65/5  rDev -64.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.25 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.75

I live in Vermont and have had Heady Topper many times, mostly when its the only thing to drink at a party. I remember the first time, I gagged and I thought that someone had given me a beer and spiked it with fresh cut grass clippings. I know I'm in the minority up here but I'm tried of all the craft breweries trying to cram as many hops as they can into a can of beer.

 372 characters

Photo of Spamalot
4.09/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 1 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Consumed both fresh from the can and poured into a tulip glass. Review is based on from the can, which was the superior tasting experience.

L: Consumed from the can, per instructions printed extensively on the can, so not much to rate here
S: Wonderfully hoppy aroma, the smell you wish all IPA would have when you open them.
T: Hops, hops, and more hops. Hop bomb doesn't cover the half of it.
F: Nothing exceptional on the mouthfeel, just standard hoppy bitterness and pine mixed with a little fruit.

O: A very good IPA, but far to reliant on massive amounts of hops, rather then making a complex set of flavors.

 616 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.26/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

The Alchemist "Heady Topper"
1 PINT can, no freshness dating (but purchased on 6/6/16 so @ 3 weeks old)
$12.99/4-pk @ Healthy Living Market & Café, South Burlington, VT

This is not my first Heady Topper. I've had it super fresh and I've had it "aged" for a few weeks. I didn't understand the "drink it from the can" thing at first because it was fresh, and too aggressive. As it ages a bit I understand that better. And I have to admit, I don't like it fresh, there's too much vegetal character to it (green pepper, tomato stalk, and very grassy... but also somewhat resinous, and with some spruce). After two weeks it settles a bit, and smooths. However, without freshness dating there's no way to tell what you're getting until you've opened it.

I think what makes it work is that although it is so heavily laden with hops, and what I think of as "spent hop" character (that tobacco-like and muddy-vegetal taste) is that it's also got tropical fruit notes that pop up a bit don't really poke out, they're just threaded throughout the malt (bready, sugary, grainy), as are the rest of the hop notes (pine, pineapple, dank weed, mango, flowers, orange). So many hoppy beers seem like the hops are just resting on top of the malt, but Heady seems thoroughly amalgamated. And when it's got a few weeks on it it becomes quite smooth despite its kind of aggressive nature.

 1,371 characters

Photo of MamaHoney
4.3/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 1 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25


Always good to get my hands on some heady topper - whether at home in VT or away.
It packs a serious punch, but gets the job done.

 152 characters

Photo of Newbeergeek1
4.85/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

OMG!!! Love this beer and thank god I have a friend in Burlington that can get it to me here in Florida and Maine. I've got about 1/2 of a case in my beer fridge right now and I'm nurturing it along. So easy to drink. TOO damn easy to drink actually. I've even lined up an hour early (with about 75 people in front of me) at the Winooski Warehouse for, as it turned out a half case) of FRESH Heady. Happy to get that.

 423 characters

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

Had this many times but nothing compares to being in Vermont and the truck pulls up and the parade of hand trucks goes into the Craft Beer Cellar in Waterbury. Mouth dropped! Taste way different then ones I had back home, that where muled from Vermont. Drink from the CAN!

 272 characters

Photo of MattyTibbs
4.74/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 1 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Lived up to the hype, for real.

L - No "look rating" b/c they even tell you to drink from the can

S - When you pull that tab, you best be ready for that hop sucker-punch to your nose... amazing

T - Pine & citrus are solid in this beer, like a great IPA is known to have. Nice balance w/ malt profile

F - Smooth, good carbonation

O - Lucky enough to have had a couple of these bad boys. Looking forward to getting more

 426 characters

Photo of avas
4.53/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Updated 8/9/16; consumed from a can picked up same day from new brewery.

A: Pours a hazy straw gold with a puffy yellow-tinged white head of tiny bubbles. Thick lacing sticks to the edge of the glass.

S: Heavily citric with major notes of grapefruit and orange. Tons of green hop character, reminiscent of a fresh marijuana bud dankness. Bits of peppermint, earth, and honey underlie.

T: Straight up red grapefruit juice up front followed by a mid-mouth caramel flavor from the malt base. Resinous, earthy freshly cut flowers/grass on the finish along with a lingering honey sweetness.

M: Extremely creamy and softly carbonated, this one just rolls down off the tongue way too easily. Just the slightest touch of alcohol reminds you that you're drinking an 8% beer, but the fullness and medium- bitterness makes Heady ultra drinkable.

O: Fresh is best. I've had Heady a few times before, but drinking a can on the day I picked it up from the brewery makes a big difference. The hops take center stage; the fresh hop aromas really pop out of the glass, and the grapefruit and earth flavors is potent on the mouth. It's a bit sweeter and greener than I like my IPAs, but the unique hop profile, complemented by a thick and creamy mouthfeel, make this a fantastic beer, one very worthy of the hype it continues to draw.

 1,321 characters

Photo of willricewillsweep
4.2/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Drank out of the can, so no 'look' rating here. Heavy heavy hops, thick mouthfeel and lots of malt. Overall hop flavor is not super juicy or aromatic like a Julius or PseudoSue, but great quality nonetheless.

 208 characters

Photo of dhitchcox
4.78/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Look: Amber. Mostly translucent but a slight haze; 20% opacity. Little creamy head; most dissipated fairly quickly but held at the rim throughout the drink.
Smell: Rich caramel. Piney. Slight over ripened fruit, especially mango.
Taste: Very piney. Resinous. Just great.
Feel: Pretty smooth and creamy up front. Little bitter bite at the end but not unpleasing.
Overall: Nice to try this world class beer again and be more critical. Makes me realize how much better it is than all the tropical bombs out there right now. Best of the piney IPAs I've had.

 554 characters

Photo of GeeL
4.62/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thick, smells like hops, and tastes like heaven.
But, it's a heavy, rich beer. I have to be in the mood.
I wouldn't drink this before operating machinery, including the lawn mower. Sometimes I drink it after mowing the lawn but it's not a lawnmower beer. I always drink it after my thirst was quenched or I drink it too fast and it creeps up on me.
It's strong and hoppy with a strong and notable backbone. It is surprisingly sweet. The taste lingers.

 451 characters

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

Poured into a snifter/tulip/wine hybrid glass from a 16.9oz can

A - A beautiful hazy copper sunset, a barely-off-white frothy head and some sugar legs/lacing

S - The hops, malt and yeast smell as fresh as a cooled boil and as crisp as a just carbed conditioned bottle. The yeast funk is awesome -- just wish I could put my NOSE on it... the sugar is awesome, nice booze, lots of live green earth, citrus (sweet and rind), pineapple, sap, the sweetest of sweet malt/grains, smells like the mountain air with island fruits and flowers.

T - Huge sweet malt/grain, vibrant pine, pineapple (pineapple tastes so fresh) and citrus, some funky (awesome) dank, bitter citrus rinds, sweet citrus and some slight island/tropics hops/flowers/green earth, clean (young soil), fresh crisp water, bread yeast and may taste better than the wine Jesus made.

M - Full bodied, awesome balance, amazing complexity, perfect carbonation, slightly over the top acidity and a joy from start to finish.

D/O - There are many things in life that are hyped and even over-hyped, this ale is not one of them -- heck, this ale is not to be reckoned with. Flavor, freshness, balance and refreshment. The can says it perfectly as well, "drink from the can", I can't tell the difference, it is that good. 365 days a year in any climate with guano you'll be stoked this is being paired with it. Legendary.

Final thoughts - The price I am unsure of as this was a gift, the 8% ABV is spectacular and the only con with this beer, I can't buy it in CA.

 1,522 characters

Photo of Barracudas
4.9/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Heady Topper lived up to its name. A very well mad beer that has a strong punch. I'm glad that I tried this beer and look forward to enjoying it again.

 151 characters

Photo of nola1988
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

L: hazy, straw
S: big sweetness, fruity
T: follows smell with risen staying around afterwards.
F: sticky, full. Medium carb.
O: What to add? I believe the hype.

 160 characters

Photo of aadkins0331
4.87/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

One of the best DIPA!! My only complaint is having to drive 2hrs to get and there have been times it was sold out. When will this be distributed in NH???

 155 characters

Photo of Masonz223
4.69/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Smell: tropical fruit notes grapefruit orange pine perfume
Taste: upfront a big hit of grapefruit bitterness and a big juicy orange juice flavor middle of the mouth a syrupy sweet malt taste comes in and balances the initial bitterness out mellow tropical fruit note fnishes with a Floral hop perfume flavor more orange juice some dankness and a grassy sharp pine needle bitterness.
Feel: thick syrupy chewy big bodied beer.
Overall: I love the body on this beer so full and chewy. This beer is crazy it pretty much has everything you would look for in a dipa. Awesome stuff!

Note: I don't know if it's just me but I poured some in a glass and drank some from the can. There almost two different beers it's crazy! Way more citrusy and hoppy out of the can. Better out of the can!

 781 characters

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

I never liked IPA's until I had a Heady. Now, I'll never go back to flat tasteless beers. This beer is just bursting with fresh hoppy goodness, there is nothing like it.

 171 characters

Photo of Nightmare1972
4.55/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Says "Drink from the can" so I did, but I also poured my next one, floral, citrus armoa, taste again is very earthy like, super bitter. Looking forward to comparing with Pliny the Elder but I feel like I will still prefer heady.

 228 characters

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

Tasted from a 16 oz can on May 29, 2016. Look is unknown. Smell is hoppy with ester, herb, mint and orange aromas. Taste is bitter citrus, hop oil and orange with some sweet malt flavors. Feel is medium in body with a bitter and somewhat dry finish.

 253 characters

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

Drank straight from the can--just superb in all the sense, the mouthfeel was rich and creamy. The perceived bitterness was immediately countered by the incredible mouthfeel, completely relaxed my palate and left me totally satisfied.

 233 characters

Photo of goblue30
4.28/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A solid IPA for sure, but definitely not a top 5 beer. Had this as fresh as you could get it (and numerous subsequently) and never found this to be anything special. If I end in VT again, I will definitely drink it, but will not go out of my way to seek it out.

 263 characters

Photo of eifster82
4.74/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Drank from can and glass. Under week old.

Beautiful yellow hazy beer with medium foam generation for a DIPA. Smell is of pine, sap, resin and marijuana dank. Taste follows the smell but with a citrus note underlying. Aftertaste has this 'grassy/earthy' flavor at the end with nice super smooth and easy drinking finish.

Great beer. Comparing to Tree House IPAs/DIPAs, this has a much different initial taste focus (more of a North-West piney taste than typical TH citrus-tropical fruit) but the hazy look and super easy drinking finish is comparable.

 555 characters

Photo of DirtyDawg10
4.9/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The look of this beer is very nice, a slightly hazy yellow wheat in color with a full white head. The smell is amazing, fruity, citrus, lemon peel. The taste is even better. Starting with the fruity and citrus flavor and ending with a little more bitter pine flavor. Definitely not overly bitter for my palate and it hangs on the tongue for the perfect finish. Mouth feel is very close to perfection and extremely smooth. Overall this is one of the greatest IPAs out there. It still holds its own against the newer "juicy" style of IPA. It is a must try for any beer lover.

 573 characters

Photo of mattmarch
4.74/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Yep, I cheated and poured 1 of my 4 cans into glasses.
Last one ;(
Still so awesome.
Love the malty breadiness to it.
Smells somewhat dank, but like an aged cheese with honey.
Tastes like grapefruit, orange and pine.

 218 characters

Photo of sakayus
4.32/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

So I tested this, julius, haze, and SOS at the same time and these were the results (with all being canned within 7 days of each other)
Heady topper was 2nd from the bottom with most people preferring haze followed by julius and SOS last.

Heady's taste is very well balanced yet it wasn't very extraordinary in any field. In terms of smell, the other's were greater, in terms of taste it was rather muted compared to the rest. It did excel in the after taste as it didn't last too long nor to short (as in SOS). The smell is in the middle of the bunch, but wasn't of particular note. The smoothness was near the top, but overall for whatever reason I would have preferred any of the other more.

I think I disagree on the malt to hop balance and I don't taste any of the malt and am left with only hops and the taste of the yeast.

 833 characters

Heady Topper from The Alchemist
4.66 out of 5 based on 12,797 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.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!