Heady Topper | The Alchemist

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BA SCORE
4.71/5
World-Class
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BEER INFO

Brewed by:
The Alchemist
Vermont, United States
alchemistbeer.com

Style: New England IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
An American Double IPA. Drink from the can.

75 IBU

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#6
Reviews:
2,529
Ratings:
14,523
pDev:
7.01%
 
 
Wants:
9,565
Gots:
6,398
Trade:
66
 
User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 2,529 | Ratings: 14,523
Photo of DanielGJ0
1.45/5  rDev -69.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

Honestly, I have either received two of the worst cans in the history of mankind, possibly infected, who knows but let's be honest, I tried this once before Sip of Sunshine and Once the following day after drinking Sip of Sunshine. The absolute worst double IPA I have ever had, and this is my favorite style!

Hops are barely existent, there is an inherent smoothness to the beer but it tastes of wet cigarettes. I wish I could say better things, but it almost tastes like a homebew that was not properly sanitized. But two cans from a two week old batch? What in the world. Now Sip of Sunshine from Lawsons was incredible, but this, not a chance. just awful.

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Photo of FAT_mike
1.65/5  rDev -65%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.25 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.75

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

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Photo of Znice21
2.06/5  rDev -56.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

This legendary eastern ipa is what inspired my signing up to ba to launch this bashing..err review. I like Maine beers, I like knee deep beers, i like mosaic hops. Honestly I was ecstatic when my buddy brought home a plethora of alchemist beers. Focal banger should be right up my alley but its so over the top i have to blend it but when i do i still enjoy big mosaic hops. Heady is just foul. I realize my opinion is an outlier but when I tell you I struggled to finish a can (ipa drinking wife included) Im very serious. I had it on 2 occasions to cement my feelings on it and they are this beer is soooooooooooooooo overrated I'm in awe of how lousy it was for me, really nothing redeeming to say other than at 8%abv if you can hold your nose and slam a few of these i guess you'll be in a happy place but i can give you myriad other options to better get you there.

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Photo of HoppyBastard1
2.56/5  rDev -45.6%
look: 1.75 | smell: 1.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Murkiest beer I've ever poured. I can see why they want you to drink from the can.
Smells of a used dirty ashtray. Not pleasant.
Taste is on par with most mediocre DIPA's as well as mouthfeel.
So many amazing beers out there, no way this should be rated best beer.

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Photo of wildfire275
2.65/5  rDev -43.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Let me begin with a precursor: I've had Heady on several occasions, my first being almost four years ago. I'm writing this review because this batch from early February when I purchased a case is simply a shell of its former self and must have something wrong with it (and not because it's been 3 months since it was canned; because it tasted the same right after I bought it and it's been refrigerated ever since and should still be plenty drinkable at this stage). Cracking a can brings an overwhelming smell and subsequent taste of peanut butter, peanut oil and peanuts. As I am not a homebrewer, though I work in beer retail, I do not know how to pinpoint this off-flavor/smell (i.e. diacetyl), but it is certainly not the Heady that blew my mind when I first had it four years ago. My main motivation in writing this review is to alert others to the possibility that clearly not all batches of Heady are created equal now. If this can be chalked up to mishandling (exposure to heat), and is not a fault of The Alchemist, I would certainly understand. But as I purchased this case in the midst of a bone-chilling winter, I find that possibility not very plausible. And don't get me wrong; this is not intended to throw The Alchemist, John and Jen or their staff under the bus. They are working tirelessly to bring this beer to the masses of VT, the U.S., and now--yes--the world. Hopefully this is simply an anomaly and their quality control only improves with further batches, yet now with their increased production and the new Stowe facility, this may only become more difficult in the future. As a die-hard craft drinker and one who knows where Heady belongs in the upper echelon of DIPAs, I hope this does not prove to be the case.

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Photo of acostuhhh
2.85/5  rDev -39.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

Sorry guys, the smell was good but I just do not like IPAs. I need some other flavor and after taste besides bitter hops. It wasnt smooth at all. ABV isnt noticeable though.

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Photo of EmeraldMist
2.86/5  rDev -39.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Look - Pours a hazy honey color, two fingers of bone white head. Great retention, lacing all the way down the glass. Worthy of a picture.
Aroma - Citrus dominant. Sour grapefruit, pineapple, hint of pine, keef. Hop potpourri.
Taste - Bitter grapefruit, tangerine sweetness, aspirin, papaya, grassy. Malt is an afterthought, Vague cracker like malt body, low sweetness. All 75 IBU's are alive and kicking. Bitter.
Feel - Medium bodied, ample carbonation. No alcohol warmth, drinks smaller than it is.

Overall - Tastes like a glass of fruit juice with pine.

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Photo of mindfulmead
2.87/5  rDev -39.1%
look: 1 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Ok, another double IPA. Hoppy, we get it right? So what is so great abut THIS Ipa? If you were to break the rules and not "drink it IMMEDIATELY out of the can" you end up with a foggy IPA with chunks of hop pellets to chew on while they add to the hoppiness. As it sits, the trub gathers as gravity wins the battle to the bottom of my glass. Don't get me wrong, the hop particles that are suspended add a decent profile to the beer, but at what cost? I think it would be great as a "harvest IPA" if vegetal matter was the intention but there are another 11.5 months to use your hops in that case.

To me it seems like an unkept hop room. Interesting, nice, and Hoppy with some funkiness growing somewhere. I know from reading the can before I drink it I need to follow rules. I broke them all. I think that any homebrewer can create an equitable beer with a draft keggery and one weeks time.

J&J's Robust Porter in their restaurant was much better for my dollar and I just don't see what all the hubub is about. I think they should concentrate on making beer instead of money but I appear to be in the minority here. I do like the beer but know for a fact that there is more talent behind the curtain.

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Photo of amphion1065
2.88/5  rDev -38.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I've had many a can of Heady Topper over the past few months, and with each one I'd hoped that my opinion of the beer would change for the better. I'll review my inaugural taste here, as it hasn't changed at all really. 16 oz. can poured into a Duvel tulip. Reviewed from notes.

Pours a fairly dark orange with nice clarity, in spite of the small bit of suspended yeast. A one-finger white head recedes pretty quickly, leaving minimal lacing.

The nose is very, very nice. A lot of citrus fruits, bright oranges and mangoes. But there is an off-putting, lingering aroma of quasi-rotten fruit that I just can't shake. It's a very curious sweetness that just seems unnatural.

Hops seems oddly dead in the taste. Waves of malty sweetness seems to obscure any bitter hop bite. At the same time, a very strange vegetal flavor throws the balance of this beer out of whack. It seems disjointed, and though this can was very fresh, it just feels faded.

The carbonation is too low, and the mouthfeel is too heavy. Perhaps some more carbonation would help the flavors open up.

As a rejoinder, I'll add that I've drank Heady Topper straight from the can, though I didn't find that that method of presentation impacted the taste at all. In the end, I suppose it's just not for me, though certainly not terrible.

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Photo of McKinley
2.93/5  rDev -37.8%
look: 1 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

After all the hype, I expected more....too much? Pretty much like drinking grapefruit juice. I also question the instructions to drink from the can, a good beer should be able to be appreciated from a glass.

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Photo of derise
2.98/5  rDev -36.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Typical Double IPA. Had a great crisp citrus taste to it. It was not as smooth as I thought it was going to be. Notice the hops more on the after tastes. cloudy appearance. In my opinion not worth all the hype. I can easily say there are so many better IPA's out on the market.

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Photo of gory4d
3/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Two cans, one poured, the other straight up. Poured has a nice white head, no lacing. The smell is piney and flowery. The taste is totally raw and bitter, sweet upfront and that's the end, except for a chalky dry aftertaste. It's greasy with a good amount of fizz. Why is a beer like this necessary?

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Photo of jciampa123
3/5  rDev -36.3%

Well.... i live here in the great state of vermont. And i can get heady topper pretty much whene ever i want (im a chef, always have the stuff). This is a good IPA. I like it for its culture shock and I respect its cult folowing, however i actually do not like the beer. Its unbalanced, and dry hopped way to long for my taste. As a chef im always looking for balence and this just does not have it. But i do understand why hop heads around the country flock for it.

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Photo of Avool1960
3/5  rDev -36.3%

Well I finally had a chance to try the infamous Heady Topper. A friend was working in Vermont and came across a 4 pak at, of all places, a gas station convenience store. Well, with great anticipation, we sat down at my home bar, popped the top on a can and away we went. First thing to hit you was the aroma. Piney, hoppy. And that's where it ended for me. This beer is better suited to be an air freshener than a drink. I was sitting there tasting what in my opinion is way over the top flavor finished with bitterness. I just don't see what all the fuss is about. With all of the thousands of beers in the world this is the # 1? Not a chance. In the end I felt like a kid who got a beautifully wrapped gift only to discover a bag of sox or underwear inside. What a bummer.

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Photo of GormBrewhouse
3.04/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I do not think this is the best in the world at all, unless you like your DIPA very sweet.
Don't see what the hype is all about. I have drank better IPAs for less money!!!

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Photo of TheRossness
3.1/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

At the time of this review, Heady topper is ranked on Beer Advocate as the best beer in the world. I was up at Stowe in Vermont for a british car show and found a bar that served this infamous beer on tap. Overall, if I didn't know this beer was so highly ranked, I would have thought Its alright, but not memorable in the least. If anything, all the flavors are very well balanced. The only decreeable flavor i could pick out was mandarin orange. I think this would be a nice session beer, but this is absolutely not a memorable beer. For all the hype, this was a letdown as there's nothing memorable, special or unique about it. FWIW, I'm also not really an IPA guy.

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Photo of Original_Gravity
3.16/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I’ve tried Heady several times in the past, and have never been terribly impressed by it. I was willing to assume that allowing the cans to get warm, was to blame.

California just got cans for the first time; only 5 days old and kept cold during shipping, and I still can’t say that I care for it.

No aspect of this beer is reminiscent of a DIPA to me. The smell is very plain, lager-like. Taste is also bland, except for the over bitterness.

It feels wrong to tear down a beer with such a great reputation, but what can I say, this is just my impression/opinion.

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Photo of JackRWatkins
3.18/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 1 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From the can (this gimmick annoys me but for brewer suggestion I will comply)
A: it's in a can dammit what do you think
S: good intense aroma of hoppy bitterness, a tad tart but only ever so slightly
T: quite bitter, if i'm being honest I find the level of bitterness unpleasant in this beer, I suppose a bit piney and earthy, most of the DIPA's that I have had don't truly impress me with the amount of bitterness they claim to have, hint of melon, decent malt presence here but not overpowering, the bitterness is the strongest element present, sweet on the finish after the beer settles out a bit, at this point the hops help the beer remain crisp though the bitterness has dissipated, malt will come through more the more that it sits
M: silky, dry and clean
O: not bad but I really don't see what all of the fuss is about. This is a good DIPA but there are many that are better. Snake Handler from Good People comes to mind immediately. It is quite refreshing though, and of all of the beers that claim to be hoppy and bitter, this is one of the few I've had that actually lives up to the claims it makes in that regard. The flavor evolves (improves if you ask me) gradually as the beer settles, leaving less pine and more citrus notes. Not bad but tremendously over rated (I should note that if you are a hop head you will very much enjoy this beer), I'm sorry but I'll say it again, just not great

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Photo of Imakoniver
3.18/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

I am disappointed with this beer. I just don’t find that it lives up to the hype. Give me a Second Fiddle anytime. If you area fan of very bitter DIPA’s, this beer is for you. I love IPA’s and DIPA’s but I don’t care for this. It finishes like it was brewed with hockey pads.

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Photo of kfh227
3.2/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

I had one of these in Burlington, Vermont at a bar straight from the can.

I was pleasantly surprised that they had it.

I only care about taste so here it goes. I generally don't like IPAS because they are bitter. Some bitterness is OK. There are two things to know. 1) This one is not bitter at all. 2) this is very hoppy.

Having said that, this is one of the best IPAs that I have ever had. But it is in all honesty, just a good version of Budweiser. A very good version. Point being that I don't understand all the fuss. I could name 20 beers that I'd rather have than drink this ever again. It's honestly not all that special unless you prefer IPAs above all else..

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Photo of sanhedrin
3.23/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I don't get it. Maybe I'm daft but the reasons for the over-the-top love for this beer elude me. It's a very nice, refreshing, not terribly complex brew. Good quaffer on a hot summer day, with a light grapefruity bitterness and a clean finish. It's fine. It's nice. I'll drink it again for $4 a can, but I won't drive to Vermont to get it or pay a scalper $14 for it. If I don't see it again, no big deal, there are hundreds of equally good, similar brews out there.

This seems like one of those "the harder to get the better it tastes" situations.

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Photo of steve_r405
3.25/5  rDev -31%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

what am I missing? this is just a slightly above average ipa, yet they come into our market, not allowing sales of cans.. really? who needs them? there are so many outstanding ipas now being made in the northeast. I think Alchemist needs to put more effort into their beer..

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Photo of TheBungyo
3.32/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

When a beer reaches the lofty heights of a Heady Topper it feels almost unfair to pen a review. After all, how could I possibly review it based solely on it's merits and deficiencies? Most everyone will either praise it's strengths whilst ignoring the faults or harp on flaws and turn a blind eye toward the many amazing things this drink does so superbly.

If I'm honest, and I'm certainly making a valiant attempt, the color is spectacular. It really is the perfect color for a double IPA. Any darker and it'd be obvious this beer would be far too sweet. Sadly though, it's just too damn cloudy. I can't express the amount of pride I feel as a homebrewer when I pour something I brewed and the body is the proper color and you can see through it like a window. This doesn't happen with this one. Great? Yes. Flawed? Well, that's a second yes.

Fortunately the nose ups the game even more. The malt is assertive, whilst the hops fight for dominance. It's nothing short of a tapestry of aromas: orange, peach, pineapple, and maybe some mango. A sip reveals some pleasant booze, while maintaining hop presence. Lots of tropical notes dance seductively alongside malty sugary caramel. The big problem arises in the finish. Where it should be bitter the sweetness slams on the gas floods the palate like an uninvited guest. After half a can or so, the sweetness becomes overpowering for me.

One of the great things about this brew is the price. The Alchemist could have taken the opportunity to charge through the nose for a beer with this reputation but it certainly is fair. I'm sure if I lived in the distribution area I'd come back to Heady Topper again since the price is very reasonable. That's despite the fact that it doesn't wow me like it does most people. Certainly worth a shot to see if it ever clicks with me.

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Photo of greg1973
3.33/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Had side by side with Surly Abrasive and Pliny. By far finished last! Sorry, good for an east coast IPA, but no match for west coast. Pours a cloudy opaque orange color, odd chalky mouthfeel, and a little thick for the style. Prefer a cleaner, crisper, more bitter, hop forward IPA. I see why they want you to drink from the can, not a good looking beer at all! Taste not too far off. Not even in my top ten. Sorry.
Maybe I received an old can, would love to try again, but not gonna trade across the country for another one. No date, hard to determine freshness.

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Photo of Gig2828
3.33/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Was lucky enough to try fresh Heady. Perhaps its all the talk or maybe it is all the beer that is available now, but I like others much better. This is a great beer just not one I would search out. I am very glad I had the chance to try it and would encourage others to do so as the beauty of beer is everyone has a different palate and even that changes over time.

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Heady Topper from The Alchemist
Beer rating: 4.71 out of 5 with 14,523 ratings