Focal Banger
The Alchemist

Focal BangerFocal Banger
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New England IPA
Ranked #16
Ranked #51
4.6 | pDev: 7.17%
The Alchemist
Vermont, United States
Focal BangerFocal Banger
Notes: An American IPA, hopped judiciously with Citra and Mosaic.
Reviews: 576 | Ratings: 4,150 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Georgiabeer
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow! What a beer! I thought that Heady Topper would be my favorite beer from here, but I was wrong. To me, this is perfection. Heady Topper has a waxy smoothness (which I love) which gives it a moreishness, but Focal Banger is more in your face with the hops, that keep going and going and going, with a piney blast of bitterness, but always supported by a perfectly matched malt base that lends enough body and sweetness to allow the palate never to tire. Just a masterpiece.

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Photo of snaotheus
4.18/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

16oz can served in a crystal snifter. I think dated 04-20-2020. Got it from CraftShack.

Pours fairly hazy, light amber, pretty head, lots of carbonation. Smell is grapefruit pith, I think.

Taste is quite bitter -- honeysuckle and flowers up front. Pine and grapfruit zest in the finish.

Mouthfeel is medium and dry. Overall, really solid IPA.

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Photo of harrypowers
4.43/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Amazed to find this beer in my local Massachusetts market!

Pours a light hazy orange with a 1/2" white head.

Smells of pine and grapefruit upon opening.

My first several tastes were very dank and bitter up front with a tart citrus finish. After a while the bitterness diminished and the citrus took over. This is hoppier and less fruity than most NEIPA's I have tried.

Delicate and light body. Medium carbonation.

Very happy to have found this beer!

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Photo of johnInLA
4.45/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

16oz can dated 4/20/20 poured into a Spiegelau IPA glass

Yellow, medium white head, nice lacing, light haze.

Nose: Strong pine, with a touch of black pepper.

Taste: Flavors in nose carry through with some lemon kicking in

Feel: Medium oily feel, leading to a bold dry finish.

Excellant beer which gets better from look, to nose, to taste, to feel and finish.

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Photo of just1cho
4.79/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

*Poured into a Teku glass from a 16oz can*

*Canned on 4/20/20*

Drinking this in less than a month from the canning date, it was so awesome to be able to take in all of the dank hops that The Alchemist crammed into here. Having tried Heady before, I had high expectations for this one. I'm happy to say that I was not disappointed!

This poured a hazy pale yellow-orange into the glass. Had about a white colored finger thick head with a very solid head retention. There was also a nice diversity of micro and rocky bubbles. Satisfying to look at, with nothing to complain about here.

Immediately, not even having to put my nose to the glass, I could smell a massive hop aroma, as expected. I primarily got a lot of fruity esters, ranging from mangoes, passion fruit to citrus notes such as mandarin oranges, grapefruit. Wasn't too complex on the aroma but it was super solid and satisfying none-the-less.

For the most part, the taste follows the nose. Although this was very hop forward, there was a better balance here between the hops and the malts than Heady. There was a mellow mango taste upfront, which transitions seamlessly into flavors of the malt and dank pine. This all ends in a citrus and grapefruit bitterness, which wasn't strong or overwhelming, but it is definitely noticeable. The alcohol also very well hidden, making this super dangerously drinkable.

This had a dry start, but despite that, the feel of this beer finished smooth and silky making this extremely quaff-able. This was pretty medium bodied and had a medium to high amount of carbonation and a satisfyingly smooth finish. Really enjoyed this one and nothing to complain about here.

I honestly liked this more than Heady, it was super fruity, citrusy, and drinkable. There was more of a balance here than Heady and that's what I personally find more important than massive hop tastes or aroma.

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Photo of MacMalt
4.59/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Canned on 4/27/2020. Poured into a Spiegelau IPA glass. It pours a cloudy, dirty tangerine color with an enormous, volcanic, milk-white head and thick, creamy lacing. The fragrant smell features grapefruit rind, lemon peel, onion, pine needles, whiffs of sweet fruit - pineapple and ripe melon, and floral hops. The taste opens with a hint of sweet melon and pineapple that is quickly overwhelmed by a wave of tart grapefruit rind, resinous pine and bitter, biting Citra and Mosaic hops. If anything, it seems more bitter than 90 IBU. It has a creamy, full mouth feel with a pleasant level of carbonation, and it drinks big for 7% ABV. Overall, Focal Banger deserves all of the accolades it receives. It deftly bridges the gap between a hazy, fruity New England IPA and a bitter West Coast rendition. I think the whole exceeds the sum of its parts. It's at the very pinnacle of American brewing.

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Photo of paltemose2303
4.48/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Lotta hype behind this one! Lived up to the hype for the most part!

L: Says drink from the can (which looks cool to begin with), but I poured out about 4 oz into a taster to get an idea. Hazy gold with a thick white head. Great retention and lacing too.

S: Tons of grapefruit, grapefruit rind, hops, pine, and floral elements. Smells great! Can smell the beer as soon as you open the can!

T: Packed with a ton of IBU, but balanced really nicely. Definitely a bitter beer, but evened out with a ton of grapefruit up front. Not a lot of malt flavor. Hop forward, and aggressive bitterness that sticks around a bit after drinking the beer. A nice mix of pithy grapefruit and pine on the finish, but that taste sticks around a while after drinking.

F: Pretty thick beer. Nice mouthfeel and moderate carbonation. Felt kind of chewy, but not sticky.

Great beer! I may pour my next one in a glass to see if its drastically different

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Photo of Beersnake1
4.34/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured at fridge temp. Pours a gorgeous murky yellow with considerable white head. Nose is so vibrant. Funky and hoppy to the extreme. Resin, grapefruit peel, peach, and some grass. Taste is super smooth - definitely hoppy, but not overwhelming at all. Tropical fruit, grapefruit (dominant), leather, and funky. Very worth a try.

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Photo of tone77
3.92/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A big thanks to a superb trader, woodychandler, for this beer. Poured from a 16 oz. can. Has a slightly hazy golden/orange color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is dank, citrus. Taste is of grapefruit, pine, some tropical fruits, significant bitterness. Feels medium/full bodied in the mouth and overall is a beer worth trying.

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Photo of PittBeerGirl
4.58/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I don't have a lot of access to this or heady so I am certainly not able to compare them side by side.

This IPA is full of citrus and white grapefruit flavor and has a nice bitter finish. The flavor profile and balance is exactly what I look for in an IPA.

The feel is pretty smooth but could be a little bit more oily.

Overall this is one of the best IPAs. Period.

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Photo of Lucular
4.34/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

16 oz can poured (I know) into a tulip pint glass. Pours a slightly cloudy yellow with floaties, chunks, etc. Not pretty at all. Piney, bitter, good amount of citrus and some tropical fruit. Not as "drinkable" as a NEIPA which is kind of what I was expecting. I enjoyed the second can I had (consumed two weeks later) much more than the first, possibly because I had a good idea what to expect. Definitely enjoyed this more than Heady but still a disappointment overall.

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Photo of Tomwarren66
4.89/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I know Heady gets all the hype, but Focal Banger is the beer I grab when I have both of them in the fridge. Not sure exactly why, but perhaps the extra bitterness and hoppiness, perhaps the fact that it's easier to crush two 7% Focal Bangers than two 8% Heady Toppers. In any event John Kimmich is simply a genius however you slice it.

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Photo of Specialmick
4.47/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look...I don't know. i am doing what I am supposed to do...Drink it and be glad... no I've had this before it is a hazy floatie mess
Smell...very nice pithy grapefruit and hop explosion mmmm
Taste...citrus bready malt with lingering bitterness...Nice, better as it warm as the usual with IPAs
Feel... Around fuzziness with moderate to high carbonation ...tickles the throat a little
Overall...Always nice to have one but the proximity is a problem...Man this beer is nice and has the bitterness of 5 years ago. Always a treat

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Photo of CraftConsumer_97
4.39/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The Alchemist did a good job differentiating this one from Heady Topper and thus carving out a distinguished identity for Focul Banger.

Smell: Pale (with a hint of wheat) yet bold (with Mosaic presence) with a lingering note of citrus scents.

Taste: Up front there is an aggresive citrusy fruit presence. As the taste settles there is a classic malt falvor which combines with a honey coated melon melody. It is as delicous as it is unique. After about half the can is down the piney and pithy resins really settle into the palate, giving the flavor profile depth, and taking it from being a beer to being an experience.

Mouth/Feel: Absolutely no fluff, just a subtle stickiness with a balanced amount of dry bite at the end. The Alchemist really knows how to craft an IPA with a unique, smooth feel to it.

Overall: Disagree with the 100 score that this one has, but this is for sure a FINE IPA, deserving of a minumum of a 90 score.

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Photo of RyanK252
4.32/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Some drank from the can, some poured into a snifter

A: Pours hazy golden amber with a creamy pale tan head that slowly settles to a firm layer and leaves some thick lacing. There were a couple floaties doing a cool lava lamp thing.

S: Dank herbal notes, spicy pine, citrus zest, tropical and stone fruit slowly comes out and begins to take over, lightly toasty bready malt, and a touch of caramel sweetness.

T: Zesty citrus, grapefruit, lemon, lime, and tangerine, resinous pine, slowly opens up to show a little tropical fruit, mango, apricot, peach, papaya, and passion fruit, definitely has a dank herbal side, grassy and floral notes, slightly toasty bready malt, and just a touch of sweetness.

M: Medium body, moderate carbonation, resinous with some lingering bitterness.

O: It's interesting hearing about this beer vs actually having it in hand and drinking it. I was expecting more of a juice bomb style, when in actuality, and as noted on the can, it's a well hopped American IPA. It actually has kind of a west coast flair to it. Once I shifted my brain into that zone I definitely appreciated it more. Would love to have regular access to this, but I'll take what precious little I can get and enjoy it thoroughly.

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Photo of j_r_levy
4.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a delightfully hazy golden color (in spite of the instructions). Smell is phenomenal, precisely what I want from a beer... fruity and floral as all hell. Taste is really something. A lot of IPAs 7% and over are just too sweet for me, but this one is nearly perfect. Just the right amount of bitterness. Very crisp!

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Photo of Bluecrow
4.55/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

-cloudy yellow-orange can pour with a 3 cm foam cap and a rich tropical nose and sprucy notes. The flavor is flush with mango, orange and melon. There is a resinous underbody and a bready malt line. This is a superb and enjoyable brew.

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Photo of SierraNevallagash
4.37/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

HUGE thanks to Chris S. for hooking me up with this after all these years.

Pint can - fresh - poured into an IPA pint at 45°F.

Pours a hazy translucent honey golden, with hundreds of chuncks of sediment just swimming in the glass, carried upwards by the effervescence, suspending, and slowly sinking down before the cycle repeats. I'm not going to lie, it looks pretty disgusting, and I can understand the whole, "drink from the can" thing. Three fingers of absolutely rocky, dense, peaky head sits atop the beer, and refuses to vanish, leaving some serious lacing as it slowly recedes. That part is pretty attractive.

Nose: Pale, biscuity malt, with some clean crackery, soft bread, and gently toasty notes set the base for the beer. Very English malty. Honey and biscuits. Definitely a more traditional malt base, without tons of oats, or flaked wheat. The hops are big, bright, and bold. There is a huge Mosaic presence in here, bringing aromas of green tea, fresh cut grass, starfruit, melon, and a slightly catty note. There's also tons of Citra as well, lending notes ot tangerine, papaya, a touch of mango, pineapple, and even a hint of white peach. It's the classic Mosaic-Citra aroma.

Palate: The beer greets the palate with the moderate sweetness of a very classic malt base. Just a touch of honey, a bit of cracker, and some fresh warm, doughy biscuit. Sweet, but not cloying or sticky. Almost a hint of some crystal malt as well. Hops enter quickly with a very nice, fairly prominent boiled hop bitterness that you rarely see in the New England IPAs of today. Pine resin and grapefruit pith. Fruity pineapple, white grapefruit pulp, tangerine, ripe melon, papaya, a hint of apricot, and that fresh green herbaceous Mosaic note. For a few moments, mid palate, this juicy acidity comes in, and it truly tastes like fresh pineapple and juicy grapefruit, and that is a magical moment with this beer. After all the juicy fruity fun, those piney, pithy resins come back in, and wash over the palate, taking over the flavour and biting down with their firmly bitter traits. The resinous bitterness builds to a delightfully high peak which is really only ever seen in big West Coast/old school IPAs these days. Some juicy pineapple sits on the back of the palate, while the beer ultimately finishes fairly dry, resinous, pithy, bitter, and piney, with a pine flavour that resembles pine more than any other beer I have ever had, which is extremely impressive.

Mouthfeel/Body: The beer is squarely in medium-bodied IPA territory, but there is a true crispness about it. No fluffiness, no pillowy malts, and very restrained stickiness. Nothing about this beer is heavy or full. Effervescence is right where it should be for an 8% ABV hoppy beer, and there are some hop oils that nicely cling to the palate. Definitely some resinous drying/biting in the finish from the bitterness, but the beer is ultimately clean, crisp, drinkable, and refreshing for its size.

Overall: I'm a no-nonsense kind of guy, and I take my reviews seriously. Hype can be hard to ignore, and even I recognise that. I've waiting over 5 years to drink this beer. Is it the 17th best IPA I've ever had? Well no, it isnt. Is it the 52nd best BEER I've ever had? Not even close. Is it a particularly fine IPA with some serious character and delicious traits? Absolutely 100%. I can understand how this could have been a big deal beer years ago. It still is, and I can understand. Blind, I wouldn't pick this as some crazy amazing beer, but I'd sure as hell drink it again, and I'm incredibly happy I have three more. It's a necessary beer to try, and it's very well-crafted, but today, right here, right now - is the best time to be into hoppy beer. There are so many killer options that this just doesn't stand a chance as being a unique beer. A great beer, absolutely. It's just a great beer with a lot of great competition.

Now on to see what Heady is all about!

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Photo of dele
4.74/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

My first Alchemist beer. Purchased at a roadside liquor store in southern VT, where I was pleasantly surprised to find this in the cooler.

Despite the can's instructions, I poured this beer into a tulip glass. It's a hazy orange beer, but less turbid than the juice bomb style offerings from other New England breweries. A pretty big head lasts for quite a while, leaving nice lacing along the rim of the glass.

The nose on this beer is awesome. I can't imagine leaving it in the can because you'd be missing out on a powerful punch of hop aroma that shows pine, grapefruit, and a touch of tropical fruit.

The flavor is superb. It's a perfect blend of east and west coast styles - fruity but not sweet, bitter but balanced.

A phenomenal beer.

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Photo of Bshaw22
4.26/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a hazy orange with 1 finger solid white head. Has a few floaters that more or less sink to the bottom. Not dense but hazy. Especially when one considers this is one of the trailblazer beers.
Smell is pungent dank grapefruit pine.
Flavor follows suit with dank grapefruit and citrus. Super dry finish. Great blend of new school east coast meets west coast.
Very refreshing to drink a beer like this with all of the juice bombs around these days. This will stand the test of time.
Good beer!

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Photo of Vetbidder
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The nose on this brew is very much like Heady Topper: sweet , citric and fruity. Lighter in color I’d call it light golden and hazy with a thick white head. Dank and fruity flavor with some hops bite on the end. Less sticky than Heady with a more balanced flavor. A bit less creamy when compared to Heady but well appointed. Just as good if not better.

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Photo of bret27
4.39/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Can courtesy of yllib.
Golden slight haze.
Nice mostly citrusy nose. Not super strong.
Taste is what I think of as a west coast hop profile but with some slight tropical flavors in the background.
Really nice thick body.
Had heady topper for the first time a couple weeks ago and can’t help but compare. Where heady seemed to be pushing the balanced hop flavor as far as it could go, this is more restrained and pleasant.
If I had to pick one to drink regularity it would actually be this one.

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Photo of Wattie83
4.71/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Hazy gold color with white head leaving a nice lacing behind. Smells of melon and lots of citrus especially grapefruit. Taste is melons and citrus again, but a nice bitterness to keep it even. More bitter than I thought It'd be, but not overly aggressive. Feel is between light and medium. Nice carbonation and interesting on the tongue as there are lots of flavors bouncing around. Overall, I'm glad I grabbed it when I could. This is a real nice beer that I'd love to keep stocked in the fridge! Not overly sweet, not too bitter. Everything is in balance here.

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Photo of elNopalero
4.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The ever elusive Focal Banger!

Despite what the can says I ended up pouring it into a glass.

It's cloudy, but ever so slightly. In many ways this OG NEIPA is refreshingly clear. There's a pleasant and inviting melony note on the nose, with melony and citrusy flavors standing out on the palate. Tartly bitter, with a nice drying finish. What's there not to love?

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Photo of Craig-er
4.24/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Nice head that reduced in a few minutes. complex flavor that lingered on the pallet. Very nice overall. I will add an addendum when I taste the rest of my four pack.

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Focal Banger from The Alchemist
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 4150 ratings