Heady Topper | The Alchemist

2,324 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: 2,324 | Ratings: 13,097
Photo of glazeman
4.62/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Huge thanks to Sisuspeed for sending this my way in a recent trade! The bomber was split with a friend and poured into two snifters.

A: The color was more pale than I had anticipated. The beer poured a very murky pale amber and is clearly unfiltered. There was a nice 1 finger fluffy white head that had moderate retention and nice lacing.

S: A very intense and beautiful smell. Citrusy hops dominate, in particular tangerine. Probably the most intense tangerine smell I have encountered in a beer actually. A little bit of biscuty sweetness as well.

T: Truly a celebration of hops. The only way I could possibly knock this beer is to say that there is not quite enough balance, but the taste is amazing! Bitterness comes through from start to finish, which I like, as some DIPAs I've recently had the bitterness too focused on the finish. The middle of the drink has more of the citrus flavors, particularly tangerine and a bit of grapefruit, but not much. The finish has some earthiness to it, but is still mostly the citrus and bitterness. Only a faint malt presence, that I really had to search for.

M: Perfect level of carbonation, and a great aftertaste. The beer also has just the right viscosity.

D: Well, I wish I could get more of this. Unfortunately that's probably not going to happen. I could easily have polished off two bombers of this on my own. This 5.0 is in the hopes that they can it sometime in the future.

 1,432 characters

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

Poured to a tulip glass.

A: The body just a bit hazy, not like the New Englad IPA styles, not terribly juicy but hazy enough to provide some presence in the glass. The head, when poured, had a thickness of 1 finger but after the beer settled, it got very minimal showing yet lots of retention. No lacing.
S: The aroma is more fruity than expected. There's lots of mango and pineapple instead of the regularly expected earthy and resinous aromas. This is really cool for an intro. It smells a lot better coming from the can than when poured into a glass.
T: The taste is incredibly as it has a good fruity profile of almost no citrus but lots of mango and pineapple. After the first sip you finally the earthy and resinous profiles of this beer but they're not that strong. The hoppiness is awesome.
M: The mouthfeel of this beer is actually the thing that caught my 'eye'. It's incredibly smooth, being very very velvety, having an also perfect carbonation. Bitterness is not as high as expected but this beer has at least 4 weeks. Yet, it's just perfect.
O: Overall, it's not my favorite IPA but you can feel the hype on the mouthfeel. It's easily a Top5 though.

 1,164 characters

Photo of jmasher85
4.48/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've had to drink a few cans of this (yeah, I got a case!) before I felt like I was ready to write a review. After all, this is the legendary Heady. I didn't go gaga over it at first sip so I began to wonder if there was something wrong with my palate. Maybe I was missing something. Or maybe it is all just hype. I've decided it's probably a combination of the two. It's not my favorite style of beer, but it is admittedly one of the most interesting examples of the DIPA style I've had.

Lots of fruity, floral, chewy resinous hops in the nose and taste. It sticks in your mouth and makes your lips smack. It's a potpourri of every flavor that a hop knows how to impart - apart and simultaneously. Sweet at some points, bitter at others, and not always at the same time. This beer is like a Mozart symphony - full, busy, in perfect harmony and yet sometimes bewildering. It's a complicated beer, and yet, I just can't bring myself to fall in love with it. Oh well, more for everyone else. Worth getting a 4-pack and trying if you can, and sure, go nuts, get to the store early, hang out with some groovy hopheads like I did, and score a case to gift you friends - everyone wants some, believe me! Only downside is that it says to drink from the can, so I have no idea what it looks like...

 1,305 characters

Photo of dbalsock
4.95/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Having not logged into BA for the past few months, I've managed to miss the hype of Heady Topper. I went to the release with lpayette just for the heck of it and got to try the beer... so I imagine this review is pretty hype-free.

The appearance was perfect, two finger light sparkling head. It smelled and tasted like fresh hops, in a way that other IPA's try to acheive, but never really make it. I could taste a malt backbone, but it really was all about the hops, as the style should be.

The mouthfeel was incredible... so light and so exciting on the palate. However, I like a little more body. It was very similar to pliny the younger in its body and that just isn't how I would have liked it (although I realize it appeals to most others).

The drinkability was fantastic. I could have had glass after glass after glass and not tired of the brew. It went down so easily and once its in cans, it may be the only IIPA that I buy (up to this point I haven't bought any in the past few years because I've been disappointed since moving out of san diego... this tops the ones I used to drink back then for sure).

 1,117 characters

Photo of AaronHomoya
4.69/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks, Kristen.

I poured it into a glass. Cloudy, orange/gold/copper color. A thick, light tan head tops it off. Aroma is supper hoppy. Awesome, big piney and citrus smells. Like a bag of hops. The flavor has a light malt backbone with some noticeable caramel malt in there. This is a very smooth imperial IPA. The hop flavor does have some sour citrus rind notes, but mostly bright grapefruit and some tropical fruit sweetness. Also a bit of floral, vanilla notes.

Overall, really top notch, of course.

 507 characters

Photo of lurpy1
4.97/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Yesterday, HT was a beer I hoped to try some day. Today, after a tasting, HT is the best beer I've ever had. Thanks to Brandon for sharing a 4-pack, of which I greedily and surreptitiously consumed more than my fair share.

Utterly blown away that a beer can be this hoppy, this alcoholic, and this smooth and easy to drink. The first sip almost made me cry. There is not a lot I can add after 750+ reviews that hasn't been said. Is there such a thing as perfection? I don't know. But if perfection means a beer can't be improved on, this might be perfect. I don't know how you improve on it....except to relocate the Alchemist to Minnesota so I have easy and frequent access to it.

A day later I'm still thinking about this beer and trying to figure out how to get some. I suppose this is the way junkies feel about heroin. I wonder if that stuff's any good....

I'm agnostic, but if there is a (non-Mormon) God, may he bless the Alchemist, and watch over them so they can keep making this incredible beer.

 1,010 characters

Photo of rodkin
4.58/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This beer is a hazy orange with a nice fluffy head and excellent lacing. It does kind of look like there's dandruff in there, though (can says it's hop resins).

Huge hoppy smell. Orange, pine, pineapple, bit of peach, strong citrus. Some sweetness, too. No sign of malts. Really just a giant hop bomb.

Taste is similar. Ridiculous amount of hops, piney, grassy, then some citrus, a bit of orange, lemon, some light sweetness. No sign of malts at all.

Mouthfeel is great, medium thickness, decent carb, but not a ton. Might be better if it was just slightly thinner, but still excellent.

This thing is a hop monster. A top two DIPA for me. Will definitely be seeking this out again in the future.

 702 characters

Photo of tjkinate
4.42/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tasty brew and my first form The Alchemist.

Poured out of the can for one tasting and left in the can for the other. I preferred in the can, probably why the brewery recommends this.

A: 2 fingered, soapy, slightly off white head that exhibited good retention. Murky orange body with a deep orange core.

S: Wow, those hops are strong. Lots of floral, pine, grapefruit, lemon, and grassy notes. Sweet malts were also evident. I usually can't identify so many different smells!

T: Quite hoppy, with loads of grapefruit. Not as sweet as the smell led me to believe. However, the rest of the scents were evident in the tasting and were well balanced. Delicious.

M: Medium light, crisp yet silky.

O: A great brew, what else can I say.

 736 characters

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.

 2,676 characters

Photo of BergBeer
4.84/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I drank it in the can like everyone advised me too! Sent to me through a trade!

A: As I said before I drank it out of the can because I was too afraid I would some how not get the full heady experience out of a glass! So no appearance review from me!

S: Smell pops out of the can and makes the immediate area smell of pineapples, white peaches, tangerine, lemon, slight honey, and pine! Smells dank and clings to the nostrils!

T: First you get sweet white peach and nectarine that trails to green apple slice with honey on it. Then pineapples which melds into a piney citrus finish that lingers on the tongue! Taste amazing!

M: Medium body with good carbonation! Cloying and thick at first when it hits the tongue but thins out to a beautiful medium body that goes down extra smooth

O: Amazing brew! It really seems like other great DIPAs have just a piece of this ones overall complex puzzle. The fruity citrus of Sculpin, the smooth balance of Pliney, and the drink ability of Dorado are represented here and just as well as its counterparts! Top of it's class and damn near perfect!

 1,090 characters

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

Had this a few years back and did a 5 rating, back when you could just scroll an select a single rating. Got a 4-pack via trade. Gotta say, the 5 stands. This beer is soooo good. Immediately after finishing the last one, I was scheming on how I could get some more. The beer is very hazy in color, golden almost. Smells like a helicopter crashed in a gigantic field of hops and the blades spun around for 10 minutes. Taste is so unique: You do, as the can says, get wave after wave of hop flavor washing over your palate. Man, it is so delish. Feel is also fantastic. I can't wait to get me some more of this.

 620 characters

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

I was luck enough to land six in a trade recently and enjoyed 3 of them. One in the can, one in a glass, and one where I poured a few ounces into a glass at a time. Overall, best IPA/IIPA I've ever had. I'm still having olfactory hallucinations about the massive tropical fruit, mainly pineapple, aromas this beer displays. I will be trading for moe of this soon. Well worth the effort and lives up to all the hype.

 415 characters

Photo of muttyd
4.42/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16 oz. can poured into a Portsmouth Brewery tulip. Deep golden, almost amber body with a fluffy white head that fades into a faint ring. Lots of floaties and other things dancing around in my glass.

Aroma is big on the grapefruit / tropical fruit characteristics. Some floral / grassy notes cut through the fruity sweet aroma as it warms up. Flavor assaults (but in a good way) the palate with even more tropical fruit, citrus, and floral hop oilyness. Big chewy malty flavor in there as well to balance it all out. Some warming alcohol is noticeable in the finish. Light, less carbonated body, but for some reason it works for this beer. Leaves a sticky coating in the mouth.

Love this beer, glad I got 2 four-packs of this.

 727 characters

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

My first shot at HT and I have to say, it wasn't what I expected. I was expecting a hop bomb being a dipa at 8% abv but it wasn't. Definitely the most well balanced ipa/dipa I have ever had. Taste and mouth feel were definitely great (alcohol was very well hidden). Appearance and smell were very good but not the best. Overall it was an awesome beer and I can't wait to have it again!

 385 characters

Photo of roger617
4.69/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Original review 9/8/13:
I acquired 2 of these in a trade with abilow33 - I'll be reviewing the first which I'm drinking in the can per recommendations.

A: 4.0 I can't bring myself to give a 5 in appearance when I can't see it...
S: 5.0 Huge citrus and hop bomb immediately after opening the can.
T: 4.75 Very sweet, citrusy, floraly with pine on the back end. There is a slight dryness on the tongue in the aftertaste.
M: 4.5 Well carbed, smooth, but the dryness in the end prevents this from being perfect.
O: 4.5 Lots of hype around this one, understandable so. I can name a couple beers which I've had recently which compare to this more so than the ratings would suggest. I am very glad I was able to get a couple of these, but it's nothing that I would trade for again - not when readily available are Stone Ruination, FFF Dreadnaught and Bells Two Hearted.

Edit: rereview on 2/21/14
Acquired more via trade. While drinking and reviewing my original review, I can't bring myself to change any ratings. Surprisingly. I can however, and obviously, say that it is worth trading for more than 1 time. Having had more beer than I care to count in between my original review and now, I can say that Heady is one that I have consistently looked forward to. There just aren't any other IPAs that can capture the essence of hops the way The Alchemist does with Heady. Cheers, 'till the next one!

 1,394 characters

Photo of jcflorian
4.32/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Is it a very good beer? 100% yes.

Is it the best imperial ipa out now. In the ball park, but cannot say it def is.

There are prob 10 other imp ipas I would say are just as good.

 188 characters

Photo of beerandcycling88
4.59/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Review from tasting notes.

A Pours a hazy copper color with a pretty good white head.

S Lots of pine and resin with a bit of grapefruit. Malt really not noticable.

T By far the best part, lots of pine and grapefruit and other citrus type fruits. There is just enough of a bready malt presence to provide some balance.

M Nice medium body that's easy to drink.

Overall this is an amazing IPA that I think is one of the best of the style and actually lived up to the hype. I wish this was easier to get here in WA

 519 characters

Photo of output01x
4.44/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to beerhan for this awesome extra.

Partially poured from a 16 oz. can (no date) into a pint glass.

A moderate pour yields a 1 1/2-finger cream-colored head that slowly fades after a couple minutes to a thin coating and thick foam ring. The body is a hazy orange amber with a light number of random carbonation bubbles. Some light lacing can be seen clinging sporadically to the glass throughout consumption but does not stick around long.

The nose is a delicious and even combination of citrus and pine. Sweet and tropical, notes of grapefruit, tangerine, and mango all come forward and make themselves known.

Sweet acidity cuts the tongue at the beginning of each sip. Strong tropical flavors of tangerine, mandarin oranges, and grapefruit meet a strong pine flavor. Upon swallowing, the citrus and pine flavors kick it up a notch, Emeril style. These flavors linger and slowly transform into a slight bitterness.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation, this beer is easy sipping, easy swallowing, and easy to enjoy. The body is thick and coating, and allows the flavors to not only stand out but to take hold of your palate. The carbonation is barely noticeable but is certainly doing more than its fair share to contribute to the drinkability.

Consuming this beer from the can (as opposed to from out of a glass) has multiple benefits. The carbonation becomes stronger which adds to both the mouthfeel and the drinkability. The flavor becomes a bit more citrusy and loses a bit of the bitterness.

 1,518 characters

Photo of Sark
4.64/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Brought all the way to Montana from Vermont... extremely excited to try this.

Appearance - Slightly opaque beige-orange with hints of yellow around the glass. Wispy eggshell pebbled head with lacing.

Smell - Unavoidable hop burst. It's balanced though, with the malts sharing the same space in the room. Earthy and citrus plays with the sweets. A bit of tangerine, lemon peel, and spice with the breads.

Taste - Woa. No kidding around here with the flavor composition. Sip, think. Sip, think. There's a lot going on in there. From the citrus first noted in the smell to the very smooth boozy warmth on the finish, it's quite complete. The grapefruit and tangerine are there and persist as the malt sweetness fills the entire mouth.

Mouthfeel - Medium/full body, carbonation is quite spot on to still play with the tongue.

Overall - says NOT to pour into a glass, but I think even if you do it's incredibly satisfying. I'd like to compare this with Pliny the Younger, the day will soon come.

 995 characters

Photo of jlisuk
4.62/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Brought eight cans back from a trip to the cannery in March of 2013.

Pale yellow, slightly cloudy appearance.

Great hoppy aroma - hard to beat. Lots of citrus and pine on the nose.

The flavor is just as good. Nice clean, slightly sweet flavor. Big hop flavor, but not overly bitter and very little aftertaste.

On par with Pliny, but different flavors- sweeter, more citrus in the hop profile. In a side by side tasting, they both stood up well, although Pliny won out on appearance.

Great beer! I'm sad my stockpile is gone.

(note: I also had it on draft ate the cannery and saw no noticeable difference in quality.)

 625 characters

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

Lives up to the hype. Thank heavens for this beer and the alchemist brewers. The only part of the beer that I felt didn't live up to the IIPA standard of greatness for me was the aroma. It was beautiful - but it was not as much of an explosion as Pliny or SoS. Otherwise - truly an experience of a beer.

 303 characters

Photo of Haydn-Juby
5/5  rDev +7.5%

The last of days arrived.
Your goodness I now deprived
Last of my splendid ale
Hazy, foamy, yet pale.
Thine lacing be most thick
But never fading soon or quick.
With head, bold as cream
caps this beer of mine dream.
Smells rich of hop and flower,
Within this beer doth tower,
With potency unknown
till confused drinker stumbles home.
Thine experience smooth,
For my gentle palate thou soothe.
Note of peach so strong
Thou make the ales tasteful song.
Can of silver thou shine
When opened; aromas slow time
Thine embrace of hops I recommend
For your can: a gift gods did send.

So yah, it's that good.

 605 characters

Photo of Rizalini
4.91/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Received in a trade from Jeremy6566. Thanks for letting me get my first taste of Heady, greatly appreciated. Poured a little from the can just to see what it looks like, and consumed the rest from the can as advised.

A - Pours a very hazy golden yellow color with 1 finger of white head that hangs around for a while.

S - Smell is pure hoppy goodness! The majority of the hop smell is of the tropical fruit variety... mango, passionfruit.

T/M - The taste of citrus is very dominant on the first taste. On second taste, I get the mango and papaya. Get combination of flavors, and a great resinous hop flavor left on my tongue. Medium mouthfeel, really good carbonation.

O - Winner winner, chicken dinner! This beer is the real deal for any hop head out there. This brew hits all the right notes with me, and I have a hard time finding any flaws with it. Great smell, amazing taste, no alcohol burn. If I could only have 1 IPA to drink for the rest of my life, this would be the one. Cheers to you Jeremy, for without you this awesome expierence would not be possible.

 1,070 characters

Photo of doppelmeup
4/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was kind of hard to review. The can is stamped all over with "Drink from can" so that is how I had it. Very hard to rate appearance with a beer in a can. So, I'll give it a 4.0, assuming from the rest of the characteristics that it would look good in a glass.

Aroma coming out the can was almost all grapefruit.

Taste was full of hops, yet had a nice caramel base underneath that really added balance. Very citrusy, some pine and cut grass.

Mouthfeel was very thick. Lots of hop-oils that left a lasting sticky, dry feeling.

Overall, I liked this beer a lot - not sure about drinking from the can instead of pouring into a glass, however that is how the brewer recommended so who am I to argue?

 709 characters

Photo of JMD
4.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A: Hazy cloudy golden yellow with foamy white head. I only poured a small amount out since its meant to drank right from the can

S: All hops. Big citrus with pineapple, mandarin orange and tangy lemon zest. Some pine and earthy hop resin as well.

T: A hop explosion. Think of every adjective used to describe a hoppy a beer, and this has it. Citrus, pine, floral, earthy, you name it, its in this beer.

M: Juicy, oily and delicious.

O: This beer lives up the hype. Worth seeking out if you have the opportunity.

 518 characters

Heady Topper from The Alchemist
4.65 out of 5 based on 13,097 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

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.