Holy Cow
The Alchemist

Holy CowHoly Cow
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
IPA - American
Ranked #122
Ranked #2,538
4.17 | pDev: 7.91%
The Alchemist
Vermont, United States
Holy CowHoly Cow
Notes: Holy Cow is an old favorite being revisited. When we opened our doors for business at the old pub, this was one of the initial offerings. Back then, I was testing the waters to see how people would respond to a truly hoppy IPA. Funny, right?

We soon started to refer to it as a Session IPA, as most of my other IPAs came in above 7% ABV. Through the years, Holy Cow went through countless changes before settling into a groove near the end. In that spirit, I am wiping the slate clean for this new recipe.

The malt bill is the same, but the hops are most defiantly different. Columbus and Amarillo are now joined by Huell Melon, a new and unique hop from Germany. So sit back, relax, and get into a little sesh with Holy Cow. Enjoy..
Reviews: 50 | Ratings: 321 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of RookieNumbers
RookieNumbers from Massachusetts

4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Holy cow surprised me to say the least. Drank from the can, this beer is low in ABV at 5% but it still has that delicious IPA flavor. One of the better IPA’s I’ve tasted and I do say with confidence it is neck and neck with the Heady Topper.

Nov 07, 2019
Photo of 5toutman75
5toutman75 from Illinois

4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I love the Hop bite on this. So much flavor for a 5.2% abv beer. Sure I’ll almost always pick a DIPA over a lower abv beer, but this is top in its class. Don’t pass it up.

Sep 14, 2019
Photo of BEERchitect
BEERchitect from Kentucky

4.27/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pushing forward and throwing back, the brewers at The Alchemist get a little retrospective with an old school IPA recipe that's gone under a few revisions for a modern hop loving audience. Huell Melon hops join Columbus and Amarillo for a taste that's old but new again.

I can hear Harry Carey now as "Holy Cow" rolls off of the label and into the glass. Reasonably hazy and with silten matter floating in the later subsequent pours, the honey gold beer just radiates with a bold hop perfume that's redolent with orchard and tropical fruit, laced with citrus and herb. Sweeter with a straight forward honey and light caramel maltiness, its basic grain profile is standard of West Coast IPA.

But as the ale rolls across the middle palate its focus shifts toward the hops. Peach, grapefruit, tangerine, honeydew and lychee offer a branch ripe fruit profile with the juiciness of sun kissed varieties for a succulent hop display before the flavors dive head first into a bitter, grassy and herbal taste late on the palate. Chive, fresh grass clippings and gripping pine resins ensure a West Coast type of bitterness in throwback fashion.

Medium bodied but drying beautifully on the finish, the bold resinous bitterness is a far departure from the New England styled trends of hop bombs as the moderate strength beer has a bold hop impact in a long, grassy and bitter aftertaste.

Sep 03, 2019
Photo of ChipChaight
ChipChaight from New York

4.24/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Can from the brewery in Stowe, VT. Smells and tastes like fresh cut grass soaked in pine resin with candied citrus, has a dank and nicely bitter pine finish, this beer is light and crisp. A low ABV beer with huge hop flavor, holy cow indeed.

Jul 28, 2019
Photo of scotorum
scotorum from Massachusetts

4.13/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25


Bought at the brewery 5/26. No canning date seen.

Poured from the 16 oz. can into an Alchemist stemmed tulip.

a: Translucent dark gold with an inch thick white head which receded to thin surface foam and spotty lacing.

s; Mainly pine resin

t: Follows the nose with a moderate hop bite over a dry finish with lingering bitterness. Occasionally the pineyness is so powerful it borders on catty or perhaps more appropriately, cowey.

m; Medium, good body and carbonation tingle.

o; Holy cow this is an exceptionally hoppy west coast-style session IPA, No shortage of flavor here but the bitterness seems at times a bit too much, if that's possible. At other times it's just stunningly hoppy for a session IPA. Reminiscent of past IPA glories before NEIPAs, albeit those with much higher ABVs, like Victory's Dirt Wolf and Green Flash's Palate Wrecker. Yes Holy Cow is that hoppy!

May 31, 2019
Photo of mpyle
mpyle from Maryland

4.04/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Thanks to my friend Jacob from bringing one back from VT for me.

Golden color, somewhat cloudy with the hops. Pours an impressive white head, creamy and lingering.

Huge hop aroma, with dank apricot and melon types of flavors.

As expected, not a lot of malt flavor or body. Is mostly a hop delivery system. Huge hop flavors from the start with some melon, and a slight nutty flavor. Bitterness a bit more aggressive than I expected, but not unwelcome. Hops become a bit overwhelming for me - hops are well done, but are so overpowering that it becomes a bit one dimensional.

Light-medium body, medium carbonation. Definitely a tongue coater, and slightly on the harsh/astringent side for my palate.

A wild one. Has the aroma and flavor of a new style hop burst IPA, yet also has the sharp bitterness of an old school west coast IPA. A whole lot of flavor for a 5% beer, and doesn't have the watery character that I see in some 4.x% session IPAs.

Apr 27, 2019
Photo of hoptheology
hoptheology from South Dakota

4.23/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

16 oz can traded from egrandfield poured into Odell Teku glass. Assumed can date of mid to late March.

Hazy, juicy golden color with a tall fluffy head of 2 fingers, receding to 1 finger with sparse lacing up the sides.

I'm always amazed by Alchemist's ability to put the raw hop into a can with such transparency and deliver it in liquid form. Aromas of pungent peach with tons of soaked, wet fresh hop leaves. Hash bowl. Lemons, oranges, and mango.

Wow. Flavor is juicy and ripe, very delicious, only a hint of the smokey herbaciousness (the only thing I really dislike about Alchemist beer). Loud mango, peach, and tangerine, with some white fleshy grapefruit, all of them shooting straight through the finish.

Feel is acidic and juicy, with tons of nice carbonation and pleasant resins.

Overall, a really delicious Alchemist IPA, easily on par with their best ones.

Apr 23, 2019
Photo of angrybabboon
angrybabboon from Massachusetts

4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Consumed 3/24/19

A: Tangerine gold - more clear than hazy, which is a nice change of pace - pours with a medium-large white head, fades to a nearly solid cap, leaves webs of lacing

S: Smells like The Alchemist Brewery and Visitors Center, to put it simply - the aromas are very reminiscent of other Alchemist beers, and I mean that has a compliment - tangerine, orange, and grapefruit juice, zest - floral citrus - herbal, leafy hops, hop pellets - dank aromas, weed - pine and some earthy, woodsy aromas - some notes of melon, maybe some berries - clean, pale malts at the base

T: Balanced and simultaneously old school and uniquely not - plenty of citrus, with some tangerine, orange, and grapefruit juice, zest - floral, lightly spicy citrus, maybe a touch of lemon - dank herbal notes, leafy, herbal hops, straight-up hop pellets - some fairly dry pine, woodsy flavors - nothing too tropical but a hint of melon - medium bitterness - clean pale malts at the base that are well integrated with everything else, dry overall

M: On the light side of medium, more crisp than smooth, clean

O: Holier than cow

It's lazy to say that this reminds me of Heady Topper, but I have to say it anyway. Many aspects of the flavor profile, from the lightly spicy citrus to the herbal, dank notes are very reminiscent of Heady. The difference is that this decidedly lighter in both intensity and alcohol. At this point in my life I can't drink more than one Heady without having a hangover, but I could see myself drinking a lot of Holy Cow.

Mar 25, 2019
Photo of egrandfield
egrandfield from Massachusetts

5/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I think this is, dare I say it, better than Heady Topper (which I rated highly). Really under-appreciated when compared to its brother and sister beers.

Mar 04, 2019
Photo of agreenman19
agreenman19 from Connecticut

4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

L - pours a hazy straw orange that I bet wasn't this hazy when they first started brewing this beer! As with all Alchemist beers, we see a surprisingly thick head and legs for days. On a fiver no less!

S - massive aromas of scallion, onions, and toasted candied orange. Dank and malty with hints of lemon candy.

T - more balanced than the nose suggests. Rich and malt-forward, but loaded with dank, oniony, zesty hops. Razor-sharp pine and signature Alchemist hoppy flavor.

F - never woulda guessed this at 5%. Smooth, full, and supports the flavor very well.

O - jam-packed with flav. Strikes a nice balance between hoppiness and drinkability in a small package.

Feb 27, 2019
Photo of Naughead
Naughead from Massachusetts

4.37/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm always impressed by low-ABV beers which manage to pack a ton of flavor - this one may be the best. It has the same ABV as the typical yellow-fizz mega-brews on the market, but with the hoppy flavor of a traditional West Coast IPA. Alchemist certainly brews a great variety of offerings - from Heady Topper to Crusher, with Holy Cow as a great Session APA. A great way to end the night with flavor.

Jan 07, 2019
Photo of TheDoctor
TheDoctor from Canada

4.27/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Serving: Can
No date

Pours a flowing orange with a nice three fingers of white head. Very good retention; spider web lacing. (4.5)

Oranges, onion, mango, medicinal hop snap. (4.25)

Biting, green, forest-floor hoppiness. (4.25)

Fairly light body with fizzy carbonation and a dry, shellac-like finish practically drinks itself. (4.25)

Very nice, drinkable IPA.
I am a sucker for "old school" IPAs and this is definitely that. Lovely looking and feeling, it is fruity in the nose but in general is nice and bitter with citrus pith and orange rind. Super drinkable and great to have a beer that tastes like this and is only 5%. I would have It again. (4.25)

Dec 15, 2018
Photo of Hyptochrons
Hyptochrons from Massachusetts

4.42/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

what a beautiful looking beer, very slight hazed golden straw color. glowing vibrant color with a dense and creamy bright white head and some larger bubbles atop. aromas are sweet malts, earthy dankness, green and piney, herbal and floral grapefruity aromas dancing around.

palate follows for the most part, there is a bright candied orange and pink grapefruit flesh up front, sweet caramely malts, biscuity, honey soaked fruits, herbal and green, mellow floral spice, grassy, pine, resin, grapefruit peel.

overall has a ton of flavor for the abv, and i think the profile works nicely!

Dec 07, 2018
Photo of OKbrew89
OKbrew89 from Oklahoma

3.87/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Reviewed as a session IPA. It would be rated higher if it was classified as a APA, like I assumed it was when I had it. I thought it was underhopped for an IPA but good appearance and nose for an APA.

Dec 02, 2018
Photo of BEERMILER12
BEERMILER12 from Maine

4.27/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a golden yellow color with 2 fingers of head that slowly fades down to a nice cap that leaves good lacing

S: Lots of pine and citrus up front along with a solid malt backbone. Some earthiness and floral notes in there as well

T: Follows the nose. Pine and resin up front along with some citrus, floral, and earthy notes. Malt holds up well and balances nicely. Finishes with lingering light bitterness and pine

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation

O: A great session/APA/IPA that is super easy to drink. Definitely worth checking out if you can get some

Nov 09, 2018
Photo of SLeffler27
SLeffler27 from New York

4.21/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

An apricot orange hue (SRM 3-4) resides under a creamy, dense, white half-inch head that holds together for the duration.

Fresh mango dominates, ruling over lemon and lime. A late perfume of pine attempts a coup, but warmth replaces it with honeydew and possibly coriander. A IIPA Speiglau glass helps focus these aromas.

Holy Cow, this is quite bitter, similar to West Coast IPAs. Specific flavors are overwhelmed by the bitterness. Nevertheless, grapefruit pith and onion can be found within. This is the first time I clearly found onion present. Pine emerges with warmth. The long finish is astringent, accentuating lemongrass and that never-ending bitterness.

This beer has a smooth medium body with a hard metallic texture. The astringency is high, while fine carbonation is followed by alcohol well above expectations.

As "low ABV" IPAs go, this is a fine alternative to a West Coast IPA. It is refreshing, interesting, and pairs nicely after work on a mild Spring afternoon. Thank you Robert for bringing some back for me.

Oct 07, 2018
Photo of dacrza1
dacrza1 from New Jersey

4.18/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

DATE: August 31, 2018... OCCASION: watching more Battlebots with Shan and the kids... GLASSWARE: HopDevil nonick... another gift from Jeff, though after a night of Heady Topper and Focal Banger, I am not sure how fairly I can appreciate "just" the Holy Cow... pours a cloudy, fleck-suspended orange brown body that permits some light at its base... its head is nice and white, fluffy, puffy, and creamy, with bubble clusters stacked high at the glass--a picture-perfect IPA... immediate, thick melon, mango, and orange, with brightly toasted bread malts, oats and caramel--as the label proclaims, this one desires variety... a gentle creaminess imparts smoothness and easy drinking, despite its complex aroma... its aftertaste resonates well at 85 IBUs, providing a salve to the notable crunch at the teeth... a beer that one could either lose himself or the beer in--a pub setting could find me three deep within an hour, without any malicious intent, it's that drinkable... its bitterness raises mango, pineapple, and tropical citrus, while the caramel malts make this a m more balanced offering than HT or FB.... the toasted malts make a strong end statement, leaving a beer whose coast is decidedly undecided... the glass drains with attractive lacing...I may go through both four-packs Jeff sent and not find a weak one--but this brewery has garnered serious attention for a reason....

Sep 01, 2018
Photo of jlindros
jlindros from Massachusetts

4.1/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big foamy head, hazy, good lacing

Nose big grassy, floral little citrus fruity,

Taste mild grassy floral, more noble hops, little spicy too, nice citrus fruity,

Mouth is med bod, decent carb

Overall not bad

Aug 18, 2018
Photo of farrago
farrago from New Jersey

3.64/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Close to three finger head, great density with a very slow dissolve, dimpling some along the way, just off white hue, the lacing is like little tufts of clouds stuck here and there. Hazy liquid, zinc orange darkens the basic gold color, up close you see there’s a lot of fine particulate in the glass, good amount of bubbles but no rhyme nor reason to where they rest in the glass. Angular nose of orange pith, pine cones, cracker, bread crusts and white pepper, not grassy in a clean and obvious way, toasted cocoa powder and malts, turns somewhat tarry at the end inhibiting the final blossoming of peach, apricot, yellow apple to green melon fruit scents. Medium-bodied, the carbonation comes off as short and thus it’s marked most by density and immobility. Dry and tacky mouth feel, not much going on to relieve the constant bitterness. Tart lemon to mandarin orange citrus, pine tar, more earthy and metallic than herbaceous although there’s something vaguely vegetal going on. Here too modicum of white pit fruit, pear and apple. No appreciable change as it warms. The intensity of the dryness will appeal to some but not doing it for this imbiber.

Aug 15, 2018
Photo of IvoryFoxhole
IvoryFoxhole from Virginia

4.12/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

16 oz. can purchased 7/28/18 at brewery. No date. Poured into a Belgian ale glass.

L: Big foamy head with lots of foamy lacing and a cap and ring. Beer is hazy and golden.

S: Very hoppy tropical fruit and melon on the nose, with grassy and earthy notes. Smells pretty big for a session IPA..

T: More grassy and earthy than fruity as far as taste goes. Definitely more of an old school IPA. Slightly bitter finish.

F: Light bodied, light to moderate carbonation, but still comes off nice and crisp, which helps with the bitter finish. Nicely constructed.

O: A nice flashback to the early IPA days and a nice summer drink.

Aug 07, 2018
Photo of AyatollahGold
AyatollahGold from Indiana

4.48/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Really excited for this. Just like any Alchemist beer I get to try. I'm pouring from a 16 oz. can into a tulip glass. The beer is a golden orange color with lemon highlights and one finger worth of white sporadic crown sitting on top. Small sediment floating throughout. The smell is citrus and prominent stone fruit notes along with pleasing berry smells. Has a nice sweetness to it as well. The taste brings in a nice and quite unexpected amount of bitterness to break up the juicy fruit notes. It's almost a resin bitterness. I like it though. The mouthfeel is dry and leaves the resin on your lips. Overall, I love what they did with this brew. It's different than all the other NEipas and actually shakes things up in a different way. Would definitely have it again.

Jul 04, 2018
Photo of VABA
VABA from Virginia

4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Revisited 10/29/30

A-Pours a hazy dirty orange color with a nice head and lacing
A-Aroma has citrus and piney hints
T-The taste follows the nose with citrus and piney flavors
M-A medium bodied decently carbonated beer
O-A decently made NE IPA

Jul 01, 2018
Photo of hopley
hopley from Massachusetts

4.32/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Look - nice head, pretty clear, just a pretty beer

Smell - grapefruit and pine like everyone else is saying but for me it was on the lighter side

Taste - quenching and quaffable IPA at 5%, really tasty without going into specifics (again, grapefruit and pine heavy), only thing I'm slightly down on is some bitterness at the way back end that made me think the hops were old, but they weren't. so think this is just part of the taste, which is ok, just not as much to my liking.

Feel - heavy and just right.

Overall - I don't like to rate a beer much higher than the taste but I'm tempted to do so with this one - it's a really nice, yet somewhat overlooked beer put out by the Alchemist considering all the others that overshadow it. Cheers!

Jun 07, 2018
Photo of Lone_Freighter
Lone_Freighter from Vermont

3.07/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Picked this up last Tuesday, May 29th from the brewery.
Went through all four cans and only decided to say something after the last one.
This was in a becher pint glass, figured only 5.0%, so a becher is worthy.
The appearance was a semi-clear ruddy golden color. Some carbonation could be seen rising at a moderate pace. Nice speckled lace ran around my glass.
The aroma spoke of unspeakable deathly muddy to dirty hops slaying a oniony/chive-like spiciness. It's hard to muster a bit in the nose, but with a bit of warmth what I just said continues to come out ever so strong.
The flavor was semi-danky sweet with a stifled bittering dose of earthy hops. Ample amount of spiciness lingers in fairly hard. Aftertaste was very earthy, spicy, muddy and dirty.
The mouthfeel was about medium bodied with a bold spicy yearning to peck at it's ability to distract from the sessionability. This is a sipper because of the spicy harshness imparted. Carbonation felt fine. Finish was semi-oily with some earthy spicy harshness.
Overall, am I the only one on beer advocate seeing this as a cleaned up English IPA? Eh, don't mind old farts like me, maybe it's time for me to hang all of this up.

Jun 06, 2018
Photo of ScaryEd
ScaryEd from New Hampshire

4.48/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 16 oz can into a spiegelau glass.

Pours a lightly cloudy golden orange color with 3 solid fingers of soapy, effervescent white head. The head has modest retention, leaving a good amount of sticky cobweb lacing before settling into a foam. Lots of suspended sediment but that is to be expected.

The aroma brings a wave of lemon and sweet orange citrus, followed by grapefruit and pineapple. The back end is earthy, piney, and surprisingly dank, like your grandmother's closet.

The taste starts off with grapefruit, orange, and honeydew melon. Then comes the complex and protuberant malt bill, bringing flavors of freshly baked bread, caramel, and honey grains leading into an earthy, piney finish. Exceptional flavor and balance.

The mouthfeel is actually the best part of this beer. It's medium-bodied with moderate carbonation. Crisp, yet exquisitely soft, smooth and creamy. The only negative is the slightly oily and astringent finish. Otherwise, perfection.

Overall, this beer blew past my expectations like Usain Bolt running leisurely past myself running at full throttle. This is easily one of the most flavorful 5% beers I've ever had, and certainly one of the most balanced IPA's I've had.

May 30, 2018
Holy Cow from The Alchemist
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 321 ratings