Heady Topper | The Alchemist

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2,262 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: 2,262 | Ratings: 12,732
Photo of Scipio
4.89/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Heady Topper from The Alchemist is the counter-point to Pliny the Elder. It's brash, fun, and overpowering. This is not a subtle beer. Truth be told, I'm not sure I've had enough of it to rate it.

But every time I crack one, I am reminded that God loves us and wants us to be happy, whether we're up to our assholes in alligators, or sitting on the back porch watching the dogs play. I may prefer Pliny, but I can't shake the feeling that Heady Topper is better. It's hard to admit your favorite ain't the best.

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

Acquired in a trade from member on HBT Forum.

Appearance - Drank from can so nothing to report here.
Smell - Opened the can and was immediately hit by waves of grapefruit, peach, pine, lemon, and flowers. Aroma continued throughout the entire can.
Taste - Huge hop presence upfront that is balanced very well by the sweet flavors contributed from the tropical hops. No harsh or lingering bitterness to speak of. Get tastes of orange, grapefruit, lemon, peach, pine, mango.
Mouthfeel - Smooth bitterness with a soft carbonation on the tongue. Dry finish with a medium body that makes you instantly want to go back for more.
Overall - This a wonderful beer that is deceivingly strong as you get no sense of any alcohol in it. The amazing aroma paired with the fantastic tropical and piney flavors makes any hophead rejoice. I normally pour every beer into a glass to consume butnI chose to follow the instructions on the can and I do think it makes for a more enjoyable drinking experience. I will try pouring the next one into a glass to compare. Regardless, this beer has set a new bar for all IPAs moving forward. Well done!

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Photo of TheCuriograph
4.85/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This review is based on a couple Headys I've have over the last week (following a great trip with the girl up to northern Vermont). Drank one from the can, another from a snifter.

A - I can see why Alchemist encourages you to drink from the can. Heady pours a muddy amber, not the least bit of clarity, with a surprisingly robust fizzy head. The odd yeast floaty is visible. Resembles White Oak Jai Alia or Burton Baton, or some other barrel-aged IPA.

S - Now the substantive argument for drinking out of the can. Crap the top and you're smacked with a barrage of grand aromas: pine needle, passion fruit, tangerine and doughy malting. What's amazing is how each note is distinct and sharp. Really assured. Poured in a snifter, the nose dissipates quite a bit.

T - Heady is more salad than stew. The IPA flavors are bright and they don't so much meld as dance off each other. The grass, grapefruit, and lemon flavors are held together, it seems, from Alchemist's proprietary yeast and the slight malt back. Sweet and earthy, tart and succulent.

M - Dances that fine line between substantial and refreshing. This is a deviously drinkable IIPA.

Massively tasty IPA. I can simultaneously understand the fanaticism surrounding it and am perplexed that people speak of it as a total mold-breaker. What it is is incredibly well-made. Perhaps I'm being harder on it because of the hype, but Heady hasn't ruined all other IPAs for me. That said, pretty psyched to have a case of it.

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Photo of MattyBones
4.94/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The legendary Heady Topper! I was able to get my hands on this quite a few times at a local bar that was selling them in NYC. After having Pliny I was most definitely curious to see how heady ranked next to it. So....

Appearance: I chose to ignore the label and drink it out of a glass rather than the can. It pored an extremely cloudy golden color. The color and head it pored with made it extremely appealing, but it lost points to me as all the sediment floating around definitely takes away from it.

Smell: HOP BOMB loaded with citrus. Very strong nose which lead me to believe that my palate would soon be demolished. Beautifully potent smell.

Taste: An absolute explosion of flavors. Hops attack loaded with tangerine, grapefruit, a slight hint of pine. This is what I love about DIPA. The alcohol is almost non-existent which is extremely dangerous for something that tastes this good.

Mouthfeel: stick yet very smooth. Doesn't wreck the palate like I thought it would as it goes down 100% clean making me want more and more.

Overall: Couldn't be more pleased with this beer. Definitely wish it was more readily available, but there is something cool about seeking it out and getting it on rare occasion. Like finding the holy grail. Is this better than Pliny? In my opinion, I remember enjoying Pliny a tad bit more, but would love to get a hold of each to do a side by side comparison.

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

Served from the can approximately one week after the canning date. The beer was kept cold from the initial purchase. The smell when you first crack the can is one of the best smells I've experienced while enjoying beers. The perfect balance of hops hits your palate with perfect balance. When poured from the can, the color is slightly hazy and beautiful. Overall one of the best beers I've had the pleasure of having.

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Photo of ArsMoriendiOU818
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I retried this beer this past weekend at The Reservoir in Waterbury, VT. Drank straight from the can. I still consider it the king of DIPA's. How this beer is so crushable yet 8% ABV is beyond me. Time always makes me forget. I'll try a Trillium or a Tree House here and there and think, is Heady really still #1? Every time I retry it I re-affirm "yes. Yes it is."

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Photo of JamieDuncan
4.49/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Christmas Heady muled down from Vermont by my sister in law. Broke rule number one and poured it into a glass. Outstanding looking beer, not that clear watery look that many have, looks full and rich, orangish color, impressive head that stuck around and lacing was ideal. I know I am supposed to drink it from the can but it is a great looking beer. The smell is unreal, the citrus really jumps out at you. The flavor follows and is also incredible, the juicy citrus jumps out at you, real smooth except for the bitter. May be just a bit to much for me (not a hop head). Plus, the bitterness lingers on the back of the tongue. Rich, full texture with great carbonation, the perfect amount. I did not notice any alcohol, it was an extremely easy to drink beer with the exception of the lingering bitterness. Not the top for me but I completely understand why the hop heads love it.

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Photo of sommersb
4.91/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Tasted On: 11-01-2013
Freshness: Canned on 10-29-2013
Packaging: 16 oz. can
Glassware: Tulip
Purchased: Sample brought from the Alchemist brewer

I shared a can of this during the Music City Brew Off where John Kimmich was the featured speaker.

The beer is a murky honey-colored affair, with a rich head and lacing. The aromas are delightful with tons of hop character but also a big malty presence. The hop smells are tropical fruits primarily, with also pine and citrus notes.

The taste is hop-forward as you'd expect, with a big juicy bitterness made up of grapefruit, mango and other tropical fruits. But this isn't a one-trick pony that just kills you with hops -- it's a complex and well-rounded beer despite focusing on the hops. The feel is creamy with a thick and chewy body.

The tasting we had left me wanting more of this world class double IPA!

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

Wow. An outstanding beer. This really lived up to the hype (which is really saying something). I felt like I could truly taste the varietals of hops and it was magnificent. I am sold on this beer. One of the best I've had. My favorite part about this is that it says in the can to drink this straight from the can! This place is progressive and has fully embraced the superioriority of the can to the bottle.

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Photo of gbgreg1
4.91/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is a great beer to pick apart.

When the beer hits your mouth you easily taste the malt and body of the beer. It is very full and has a silky feeling. After that's is a beautiful aroma of citrus and grapefruit. The hops are very distinct.

It was a great experience having this beer!

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Photo of JesseLV
4.99/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance - They say to drink it from the can, so that's what I did. Living fairly close by (in NH) I've had more than my fair share of Heady, and a few times I've shared it with friends that have poured it out. I've not seen the extreme cloudiness on these occasions, but you can definitely tell it is unfiltered.

Smell - Perhaps the best thing about this beer, once you pop open the can you get a big whiff of incredible hop aroma's. Citrus, big and bold. I like to take a little time to take it all in before I even start drinking.

Taste - Talk about balance! Many IIPA's try to bludgeon you over the head with hops or over the top IBUs, this gives you a full palate of hop flavor that isn't off putting. Not super bitter, lots of citrus hop notes, with some lingering pine afterwards.

Mouthfeel - Just right, not overly carbed.

Overall - I had heard lots about Heady before trying it, and I have to say I was expecting to be let down (as the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is). In this case the legends held true for me. An IIPA like no-other, the perfect balance of all things hoppy.

As a side note I was able to try Heady alongside Pliny, and have to say they both hold up incredibly well. Totally different beers that shine in different ways. Certain palates may prefer one over the other, but side by side you can really appreciate the different directions they take the IIPA style.

Serving type: Can.

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Photo of shadetree67
4.98/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Many thanks to shawnp for hooking me up with this one.

Appearance - A very cloudy straw colored beer. The cloudy appearance is expected as this is an unfiltered beer.

Smell - Hops, not much in the way of malts. Like citrus and grapefruits - smells fresh.

Taste - A perfect level of hops and the taste is similar to the smell - citrus and grapefruit. It is more sweet than bitter. Sometimes IIPAs can be overwhelming, but this is a very well balanced example of the style.

Mouthfeel - Medium amount of carbonation and it goes down smooth

Overall - This one lives up to the hype. It is very well balanced and quite drinkable. Would love to try it side by side with pliny and abrasive

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Photo of Guess2814
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I FINALLY went to Vermont and I got the Heady Topper! I felt like a little kid once it was in my hands. This beer is the best thing since slice bread.. If you haven't had the Heady Topper find a way to get this beer in your hands...I went on Saturday October 26. They were sold out of the cans.. The lady who was handing out the samples told me on Monday they will have more for sale.. Once I walked in to the brewery on that Monday... Wowww!! You can smell the hops once you walk in.. The machines were cranking! Bottles we're being filled and my smile grew. I bought myself two 4 packs.. I'm happy with what I bought BUT something is telling me I'm going to have to drive from Boston back to VT - this time I'm grabbing a case.

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Photo of drmcleod10
4.82/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Heady Topper is at the top of most DIPA lovers lists or beer aficionados lists and for good reason.

A - Poured half into a snifter and left the other half in a can each of the four times I drank this to compare. Beautiful bright sunshine orange with pale highlights and a half inch creamy foam head.

S - smell is by far the best smelling IPA i have had a chance to try. Fresh fruits, grapefruits, flowers, pine. Not to overpowering hoppy smell.

T- My favorite DIPA to date as it taste like it smells. THe balance between the fruit and the hops is perfect.

M - Overall amazing mouthfeel. THe alcohol is hidden perfectly within this monster.

O - Found a reliable source in Vermont to pick these up for me and will be buying more when the time arises. Now that it's getting colder its time to stick to the world class stouts! This is the cream of the crop of DIPAs!

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Photo of gillagorilla
4.49/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A regular at Max's brought in a can each day of Max's Hopfest (from notes, 8/16-18/13)

A: Cloudy golden blonde.

S: Sweet, citrus and floral.

T: Strong flavor. As unique as it smells. Even and nuanced. Flavorful. Lots of freshly mown grass and pine with malt sweetness. Big aftertaste.

M: Crispy and prickly and coarse. Nice mouthfeel. Smooth at the end.

O: One of the IPAs that tastes as good as it smells. I think a key component of any great beer, especially IPAs is the mouthfeel/carbonation/body and this one is great for conveying the flavors here.

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Photo of TheBiercast
4.73/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: Mysterious. No, I’m not trying to be cheesy. We drank it straight from the can, as suggested. Could see a little bit of golden liquid on the rim of the can as I drank it.
(Andrew did later pour one into a pint glass to solve the mystery. It is a very cloudy, deep golden yellow. There. Mystery solved, but this beer is obviously not about how pretty it looks.)

Smell: From the little punch top opening, upon popping, fragrant floral and slight citrus notes filled my immediate plane of smell-o-vision. It was very strong and helped make sense in why The Alchemist doesn’t want you to pour from the can to help contain those beautiful esters for the flavor you’re about to consume.

Taste: Upon the first sip, my very first reaction was that this beer is not intentionally wrecking my taste buds like a Bell’s Hopslam. This is what I thought I was getting into and was slightly disappointed until the hops slowly creeped in and engulfed my entire sense of taste. Heady Topper is every bit of hoppy as Hopslam, but nowhere near as harsh making this extremely drinkable and enjoyable to the novice IPA drinker. As the nose suggests, there are tons of floral notes, and as the more a drink it, there are a lot of citrus notes, but they are not bright. The citrus comes from more of the oil from an orange rind to add slight sweetness and mellow out the big floral notes. As it warms up, I started noticing some honey sweetness, so you have that to look forward to as well.

Mouthfeel: This is the best part! It’s so smooth for how intensely hopped it is! It’s creamy, but it is not to the point that it’s dictating how fast you can enjoyably drink this beer. It’s so enjoyable for a hoppy, relatively higher ABV (8.0%) beer that I was quoted saying, “I could drink this on a hot, summer day after mowing the lawn.”

Overall: Overall, I’d say this might be my favorite IPA, in general. For how balanced it is, I could always enjoy one. This is not to say that if I had to choose, there would be times that I would much rather have a more harshly bitter beer as a Bell’s Hopslam or a Founder’s Double Trouble. It really comes down to how something can be so hoppy and so drinkable at the same time. Just remember, drink it from the can. It’s worth it.

I’ll give Heady Topper a 4.8 on the ol’ trusty 5.0 scale.

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Photo of Hophead21
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Absolute perfection in a can. Strong grapefruit aroma, and taste does not deviate from the scent. Mouthful loaded with grapefruit and sweet hop goodness, with a smooth finish. Beer actually gets better with each passing sip and is extremely drinkable. Straight from the can is the way to go as instructed .

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.52/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Trade from A generous trader. Thanks man!!!! Can poured to tulip so I can see it. Some sediment. This isn't super pretty, but the beautiful creaminess of the head brings the appearance up a bit, otherwise not a good look. Will go from can next time. Pours a hazy light golden copper color with just under one finger head. Big floral pineapple and grapefruit aromas, sweetness, mango. Yum. Flavor is heavier on the bitter pine up front, some earthy dirt (in a good way), with some beautiful tropical fruit lingering on the palate, and a pretty dry finish. Almost a creamy feel as I get through this. This highlights the tropical hops for sure. Slick mouthfeel but plenty of carbonation to lighten things up. Is this am excellent DIPA? Yes. Did it live up to the hype for me? Probably not. But very nice in a very different way from some other in the style. Would still likely go for Dreadnaught, Hopslam, Pliny, and Enjoy By before this one. But that's pretty good company. I will revisit tomorrow with a fresh palate to make sure, and try out of a can.

Have had a couple of disappointing cans of this recently and hoping it's not a trend in the wrong direction. Knocking the rating a bit for now, but will be in Vermont in June and perhaps some fresh from the tap experiments will lead to another readjustment.

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

Served on tap in a Tulip Glass at the brewery as a sample.

Appearance: Hazy amber color with a thick white head. Heavy lacing on the glass.

Smell: Hops and citrus were strong but not unpleasent. Very floral characteristics.

Mouthfeel/Taste: Smooth medium bodied. Taste was complex, bitter all around but a good sweetness to balance it out. Pine and citrus were the dominate flavors.

Overall: This beer certainly lived up to it's reputation. It was a complex beer and the taste got better with every sip. Very hard to get, if you want to get it be at the brewery just as it opens otherwise it sells out almost instantly.

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Photo of Treyliff
4.59/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a tulip glass, Taste rated from the can

A- Pours a murky golden-orange color, looks like the color of the sun, with some sediment and floaties swimming around near the bottom of the glass. Big foamy and pillowy white head that has great retention and leaves a few small patches of lace as it settles.

S- LOTS of hop resin up front with a leafy and dank aroma, notes of fresh cut grass, herbal & earthy hop aromas, pine and just a hint of sugary malt sweetness

T- Right off, the first thing I notice is the freshness of the flavor of the hops, big leafy and grassy notes are complimented by some danky herbal/medicinalflavors, there's a touch of malty sweetness that kicks in mid-palalte but only as an underlying addition. The finish is piney and dry with an inviting hop linger

M- Medium body and moderate carbonation leads to a big foamy and creamy mouthfeel, finishing smooth and crisp. Probably the most drinkable DIPA I've ever had

O- We've all heard the hype, was it the best beer I've ever had? No. But it is world class and one that I would seek out again. The biggest thing that sets this and Pliny apart from other DIPA's are their amazing drinkability. The hops are packed in, but they are not overbearing. I could drink a 4pack of this in one setting, which is nearly unheard of when it comes to this style

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

Canned early october. About 2 weeks old. I have had this numerous times, but thought i'd give it a proper review, fresh, at proper temperature.

Pours the hazy light orange. Small bubbles hanging around the edge. Looks really nice.

The smell is super piney with a twist of tropical fruit, or what I would call the "heady topper smell."
It is a mix of the old school and new school. A little bit of alcohol coming through actually. Not as pungent as I remember.

A little different than I remember. A very nice balance of bitterness, pine, citrus, and breadiness. Not as sticky and juicy as some other batches. But still really nice. Bitterness lingers a little as well.

It has a nice creaminess to it that helps emphasize the oils from the hops. It kind of sticks to the inside of your mouth, keeping the resinous character around longer.

Overall, very good. Every batch seems to be just a little different. Some are solid, some are other-wordly. This one is somewhere in-between.

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

One of the most amazing beers I have ever experienced. From the pour it looks great, a carmel brown. The smell is crisp hopps, the taste starts in one place and ends in another ( to me a sharp grapefruity finish), that leaves you ready to open the next one because the first one is gone! One of the best beers I have ever tasted.

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Photo of beertunes
3.83/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Thanks to Johnmichaelson and Kurmaraja! 2 cans of Heady in one week! I prefer the glass, and the brewery wants you to drink straight from the can. What do you do? Have them side-by-side! This will be a combined review from a straight pint glass, and the 16oz can, switching between sips as I watched the Talladega NASCAR race.

Big piney and citrusy hops wafted out of both cans, whetting my appetite for this much hyped brew. The beer poured a very cloudy, barely translucent, orange color with about 1/2 inch of just off-white head that moderate retention and low lacing.

As mentioned, lots of citrus and pine hops upfront in the aroma, with a low, almost nonexistent malt profile. The taste was the same, tons of hops and low malts. The beer from the can seemed harsher and more bitter, not in an entirely pleasant way, than the beer from the glass. The flavors were smoother and more even from the glass.

The body was fairly typical for the style, but this is one of the driest finishing beers I've ever had. I'm almost thirsty after finishing each drink. Drinkability was dangerously good, I could see a 4-pack disappearing before you realize it. Overall, a very good brew, one that almost matches the hype that surrounds it (which is not the fault of either the beer or the brewery). Certainly a must try if given the chance. Thanks again Ryan and John!

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Photo of GeneralSpecific
4.8/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Wow I finally get to try the Topper!

Heard so much about this beer I was afraid it may have been over-hyped and the expectations would not be met but fears were gone after the first sip.

It really is an amazing beer with incredible mouthfeel, balance and aroma.

Cheers to the brewers at the Alchemist I just wish it was available in Canada.

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Photo of Mbager1114
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One of the best beers or let alone double ipa i have ever had very resiny sticky mouthfeel, balanced with citrusy piney hop flavors and a nice sweet subtle malt backbone. Very comparable to pliney the elder in taste maybe just a little more heavy and flavorful both really amazing.

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Heady Topper from The Alchemist
4.66 out of 5 based on 12,732 ratings.
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