Heady Topper gone bad?

Discussion in 'New England' started by eb1610, May 3, 2014.

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  1. eb1610

    eb1610 Disciple (366) Jan 3, 2014 Massachusetts
    Trader

    I was at the most recent truck sale and was able to purchase a case of HT. It has been stored properly and was great until earlier this week. A guy I traded with sent me a message out of nowhere and asked how old it was because it tasted old and oxidized (It was purchased about 10 days prior). I opened a couple cans from 2 separate 4pks and they were exactly has he described. Just wondering if anyone has experienced this with HT recently? Thanks
     
  2. jamvt

    jamvt Disciple (377) Aug 5, 2005 Massachusetts
    Trader

    Still drinking HT from the truck sale and it tastes as good as ever. I pick heady up monthly and this batch is no different from previous batches.
     
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  3. pjs234

    pjs234 Devotee (469) Jun 29, 2008 Connecticut

    Been waiting for this thread... I have noticed a difference, although I would not call it old/oxidized. I feel like the last two cans i have tried have been different than what i was used to. These cans were about 2 months apart and both were consumed fresh. The first was just a tad bitter and was missing that earthy/grassy taste that I love about heady. The most recent can, which i had last week, was better, but still not the same. I actually had a 6mo can in the fridge and did a side by side with the fresh one. While you could tell the 6mo can was not fresh, it still had that grassy taste that was clearly missing from the two newer cans i tried. Not sure if they changed something in their brewing process, but the current version is not the same. I have a friend who feels the same way. Still a great beer, but it seemed, at least for me, to have lost some of its epicness.
     
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  4. jhurleyzgb

    jhurleyzgb Initiate (0) Jan 24, 2009 Massachusetts

    So far, cans from the case I bought at the last truck sale are tasting as good as ever.
     
  5. BoldRulerVT

    BoldRulerVT Champion (895) Oct 2, 2013 Vermont

    I just bought fresh Heady last week and it tastes fresh and delicious. I would reach out and post on the Alchemist's FB page, as Jen is super responsive. Maybe it's an issue they aren't aware of. Maybe there isn't an issue at all. I don't know.
     
  6. seanwhite

    seanwhite Disciple (369) Jan 31, 2008 Massachusetts
    Trader

    It always amazes me how many people know what the flavor of grass is! I know what grass smells like, but I sure as hell don't know what it tastes like, and not sure I want it in my beer!
     
  7. BoldRulerVT

    BoldRulerVT Champion (895) Oct 2, 2013 Vermont

    I dunno. Some people call it 'piney' instead of 'grassy'. ?
     
  8. ChrisChagnon

    ChrisChagnon Initiate (0) Jul 9, 2013 Connecticut

    The last 2 cans I had, about a month apart and both fresh, both tasted so plain and boring. Maybe its just me idk
     
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  9. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Zealot (524) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont


    Are you on drugs? Seriously... spring pollen season is beginning and some allergy meds can really mess with your palate. I agree that there is some inconsistency between batches but I have not encountered staleness.
     
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  10. Flashy

    Flashy Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2003 Vermont

    a friend of mine is a flavor chemist and says that most people cannot taste the difference between flavors (try it with Jelly beans one day) unless they are told what the flavor is first. It amazes me that people taste "chocolate mangoes" in beer- I just think alot of the tasting stuff is ridiculous.
     
  11. chrisvt

    chrisvt Initiate (0) Aug 16, 2010 Vermont

    I've considered starting this same thread a half dozen times in the past few months. I live about a mile from the cannery and always buy heady the day it hits the waterbury stores. I've noticed that it tastes less fresh and more mellow. Not necessarily in a bad way and I wouldn't describe it as heady "gone bad" but it tastes similar to when i let a can sit around for a few weeks.

    I thought it was something with my palate but interesting that others are having similar experiences.
     
  12. pjs234

    pjs234 Devotee (469) Jun 29, 2008 Connecticut

    At first I thought it was the power of suggestion, as the friend who gave me the cans said that he thought it was different. But when i did the side by side with an older can, there was clearly a difference. Definitely not gone bad, not even sure i would say less fresh, but something is different.
     
  13. CTJman

    CTJman Champion (827) Jan 14, 2013 Connecticut
    Trader

    im not going to lie - a buddy got me some fresh ht and brought it to me w/in a weeks time. i stated that it was off. he said glad he wasnt the only one. handed a can off to another buddy who said the same. now was it? i dunno but i had the same notion as stated above.
     
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  14. franklinn

    franklinn Aspirant (219) May 29, 2012 Vermont

    I'm soooo glad heady topper isn't good any more. Maybe I can buy it on the weekends now!!
     
  15. Sean802

    Sean802 Initiate (0) Jul 14, 2013 Vermont

    They do say the flavor can change as the yeast generations go up. I just had one at a restaurant and it was as good as ever.
     
  16. Pahn

    Pahn Meyvn (1,454) Dec 2, 2009 New York

    they mean it tastes like grass smells, obviously. big patronizing emphasis on the 'obviously'.
     
  17. Hiwattowner

    Hiwattowner Devotee (470) Feb 23, 2008 Massachusetts

    Feel free to ship all this bad Heady to me. I'd be happy to dispose of it.
     
  18. MenardMa

    MenardMa Initiate (0) Feb 6, 2011 Connecticut

    I mean...the guy specifically said "grassy taste", not like...notes of grass or whatever...it IS a little weird.
     
  19. bleakies

    bleakies Disciple (363) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    Grazing's easy.

    Try licking a dirty ashtray.
     
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  20. Pahn

    Pahn Meyvn (1,454) Dec 2, 2009 New York

    no, it's not. not sure why people don't want to accept that people say "this tastes like x," where x is an aroma, but people say it *all the time*. if you talk to people about food you'll hear the same thing. it's not weird, not a big deal, and surely not something to embarrass oneself about online ("LOL YOU DRINK CATPISS WHAT???? HOW DO U KNOW WHAT IT TASTES LIKE LMAO").
     
  21. Satchboogie

    Satchboogie Savant (956) Oct 16, 2010 New Hampshire
    Trader

    Come on people, your smell is tied in to taste. Your brain connects the two (not to mention the necessity of breathing through your nose to taste...), so yes, you can actually "taste" smells and "Smell" tastes... Nothing new.

    Anywho, I'm finishing off my last can of Heady from my VT run 2 weeks ago ( :slight_frown:) and it's still as sublime as ever.
     
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  22. scotorum

    scotorum Poo-Bah (1,591) May 28, 2013 Massachusetts

    I don't, to me they are two different tastes. Piney is like pine resin smells, grassy is more like a new mowed lawn. The first time I had Heady in a can, it tasted grassy. I like a grassy note in wet hop and fresh hop IPAs, to me it is a sign that they did indeed use wet or fresh hops, but this was the strongest grassy note I have ever tasted in any beer. Since my personal reaction was that it was too strong to be strictly pleasant (I'd rather it was piney or even better, citrusy), I have only given Heady a 4.39 when the BA average is 4.71. I didn't notice enough of a difference from the two fourpacks I bought in Waterbury April 19th to agree that Heady has changed. But I still have some left and will keep this thread in mind.
     
  23. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Zealot (524) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    Another thing to consider is that Heady itself really pounds your palate and will diminish your sensitivity to hops if you drink it very often; this means other flavor notes will pop up more easily, including lots of 'green beer' flavor if it's very fresh.

    I'm a BJCP judge and I won't drink any Heady for about a week before judging because it destroys my ability to pick out more subtle hop flavor and aroma.
     
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  24. pjs234

    pjs234 Devotee (469) Jun 29, 2008 Connecticut

    I see where you're coming from, and I actually thought that might be the case, but then i did a side by side with an older can. The older can still had some of the characteristics that were missing from the brand new can. I was really amazed by how well the old can held up and how it confirmed my impression of the new can. Either way, Heady is still freaking good, just missing, at least to me, that taste/smell component that set it way apart from everything else. Hopefully it is just something unique to the current batch.
     
  25. TheGator321

    TheGator321 Initiate (0) May 29, 2013 Connecticut

    apparently some one:rolling_eyes: doesn't like my anti-HT comments. lol
     
  26. FFreak

    FFreak Defender (645) Nov 10, 2013 Vermont

    I shared a fresh 4-pack of HT with friends about a week ago and we noticed a softer profile and maybe slightly less hop aroma. I wonder if the water has changed, either due to seasonal fluctuation, or by changing their adjustments. I believe they use a lot of gypsum. A softer profile could be due to a higher chloride to sulfate ratio.
     
  27. threephase

    threephase Initiate (0) Mar 21, 2013 Connecticut

    I could have sworn I posted about liking the same age Gandhi much better than heady of recent batches. Guess it wasn't that I didn't post it, must have been deleted. Dafuq???
     
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  28. Flashy

    Flashy Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2003 Vermont

    Well I guess I'll wade in. Went to the brewery in November just before they closed, a buddy and I each got a case and it was hop heaven. My buddy not a craft beer guy until that point fell in love with DIPA's. Drove up to Barre in maybe February and got cases there- he takes a sip of his HT and says "this is not the same beer." I found it be not as startlingly good as the last time, but still great. I will reevaluate in two weeks when I return.
     
    #28 Flashy, May 8, 2014
    Last edited: May 8, 2014
  29. Crowthern

    Crowthern Initiate (0) May 15, 2014 Massachusetts

    I've had some recent purchases go bad very quickly. The hop aroma and flavor diminish and it gets quite malty and skunky. The skunky flavor tastes very similar to the after taste in their recent focal banger. Since the brewery closed and other beers are being produced, Heady has definitely changed.

    I tried inquiring very kindly on their Facebook page, but they just delete my posts. That just pisses me off because I love heady.....

    Can't say I have ever had a bad Lawson's or hill farmstead
     
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  30. Flashy

    Flashy Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2003 Vermont

    I don't think they actually closed the brewery, it's just closed to the public. IMHO Lawson's is the finest brewery in The States.
     
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  31. JenKimmich

    JenKimmich Initiate (0) Feb 17, 2014 Vermont


    I would like to take this opportunity to respond to some BAs' recent perception of Heady Topper. First, I can say, in no way whatsoever, have we changed our recipe, the brewing process or our water. In fact, John and our brew staff have worked very hard to get our dissolved oxygen levels as low as possible. At this point, there is barely any dissolved oxygen in a can of Heady Topper- much lower than you will find in other packaged beers. With this said, it will hold up with time better than ever before. If it is kept cold, it will not go 'bad'.
    We understand that people's tastes change over time. We drink Heady from every single canning run and have never had a bad one. Of course, it is alive and unfiltered and will change over time. Also, because it is unfiltered, as with any fresh IPA, it will vary slightly due to different batches of hops and barley and the generation of the yeast (we start with fresh yeast every 10 generations).
    Crowthern- Yes- I did delete your post from our Facebook page. The reason I did this was because you made a post asking if anyone else had 'bad' cans of Heady Topper. This is our Facebook page- we use it much like our website. It isn't a forum for people to complain about our beer. If you had messaged us through Facebook we would have gladly responded to you. You can also always e-mail or call us as well with any concerns. If we still had a restaurant and someone complained about our food, we certainly wouldn't put it on our website or Facebook page. I think this forum makes evident of the fact that are plenty of places for people to complain about breweries and beer publicly.
    We stand by Heady Topper 100% and if anyone ever has feedback, negative or otherwise, we are very approachable- please message or e-mail us.
    Thanks to everyone for all of the feedback- this is a great resource for breweries.
     
  32. threephase

    threephase Initiate (0) Mar 21, 2013 Connecticut

    I think the concept of "bad" is wrong here. I would not call more recent batchs "bad" at all. Still a world class IPA that I would put over most IPA's on the market. I think most people here are saying it tastes different than some previous batches. Some of the flavor's I liked personally seemed a little more muted while others seemed more pronounced. I think most people on here realize the myriad of factors that play into how you taste something. Not every batch of hops is the same, allergies can contribute, palate shift, hormones, slight changes in water chemistry, solar flares, earths proximity to mars, and the argument as to whether or not the voyager probe has exited our solar system.
    Jen and John thanks for all the world class beer you create for the world.
     
  33. jakeaustin

    jakeaustin Aspirant (277) Dec 23, 2007 Maine
    Industry

    had a can last week that was spot and tasted just like I remember.
     
  34. Elshockaro

    Elshockaro Initiate (72) Feb 3, 2012 Connecticut

    I’ve had a similar experience with Heady that some of the people are posting. I was able to get my hands on a case that was purchased on March 13th by a friend that happened to be in VT at the time. I live in CT so I got it on the 15th. It was cold when I got it from her and I keep it in a beer fridge that is opened more often than it should be due to consumption. I opened a can, took a sip and noticed that the backbone was still there but the wave after wave of hoppy goodness was not as affluent as it was in past cans. By backbone I mean the barley and yeast characteristics seemed to be the same. I agree with the comments that many factors can attribute to differences. However, I was a chef in Manhattan for over 12 years and worked for some of the best chefs in the world (Jean Georges and Alain Ducasse to be specific). That being said, I wouldn’t say I have the most sophisticated palate but I am pretty good with flavor consistencies and the cans purchased in March were different than ones I have had previously. In April I made a trip myself up to VT. While there I ordered a Heady on draft from a restaurant in Waterbury and it too was similar to the beer I got back in March. I decided that it was not worth the trouble of searching around for a case. My problem was all the previous times I’ve had Heady had been so amazing I couldn’t give up on it. I decided to go to one of the smaller stores that sells it and got a four pack. When I got home I had put off drinking one for almost a week. When I opened it I had been drinking some other hoppy beers before the Heady so I was expecting my palate to be overwhelmed. When I cracked opened the can I got the rush of hops essence I’d remembered previously. I thought to myself this is going to be a good night! Took a sip and realized my old friend was back. In order to verify my conclusion I was able to do a side by side with a can from September and one from April. To me there were small differences but they were both very similar and definitely not enough to say it was bad. When I did the side by side a friend of mine who was with me was able to tell the difference between the two doing a blind taste test. I thought it was due to the age of the beer not the brewing differences. That being said, something was up with the case I got in March but by April it seemed to have worked itself out.
     
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  35. dasenebler

    dasenebler Initiate (0) Jan 26, 2008 Maine

    Allow me to preface this by saying that Heady Topper is a fantastic beer. It is THE best DIPA I've ever had: huge aroma, tons of hop complexity, clean fermentation profile, and great drinkability. Whenever I'm around Burlington, I try to get some.

    The problem with packaging (canning/bottling/kegging) is that there is nothing you can do that will make the beer "better" at this point in the brewing process. Excluding bottle-conditioned beer, fresh beer flavor can really only get worse from here on out. The dissolved oxygen level can be incredibly low in a beer tank, but when you move the beer through to a package, there are many vectors for oxygen ingress. It sounds like the people at HT do a great job limiting these points of ingress, but no brewery is perfect, especially smaller craft brewers. A bad seal here/a leaky gasket there/a low-fill or two there, and all of a sudden you've got a bunch of beer that is not going to be as shelf-stable as it could be. And if you're not measuring the D.O. or headspace airs in the package, then you really have no idea what your beer is going to be like out on the market. Oxidation is inevitable, and, unfortunately, it's especially unpleasant in hoppy beers, most likely due to the metal ions in the hops.
     
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  36. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Zealot (524) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    Just a crazy thought that is most likely totally unfounded: what if some of the March truck sale 4 packs froze and subsequently thawed out? The freezing itself wouldn't hurt the beer that much but the thaw could, depending on how it happened. Probably not what happened, if anything, but there's another rumor to spread.

    I didn't personally taste any beer from this batch so take what I say with a grain of salt (as you always should anyway...).
     
  37. HRamz3

    HRamz3 Initiate (0) Feb 9, 2010 Pitcairn

    Funny how none of these comments are from people who drink a HT everyday...
     
  38. pjs234

    pjs234 Devotee (469) Jun 29, 2008 Connecticut

    Is it funny? I find if you have or see something every day, you may not notice changes that may develop over time. Think about the spouse or friend that gains a couple of pounds per month over a course of a year... you never really notice till you see a picture of them from 12 months ago... then the extra weight is pretty apparent. Would have to imagine the same is true with taste. Assuming the taste has been changing a little here and a little there, then the daily drinkers might never notice it. Where I had gone 5 months or so between batches, the taste change was very noticeable... as i said before, i had a can from 5 months ago to compare to it and the 5 month old can tasted better and exactly how i remembered heady tasting.
     
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  39. brownswisscow

    brownswisscow Initiate (0) Feb 9, 2012 Vermont

    10:1 what people are tasting is older generations of yeast. I don't believe they are oxidized at all.

    Believe it or not, the 'juiciness' in HT comes largely from Conan and not from the hops.
    As the generations of yeast used get older, the play between the hops and the yeast produces a beer that lacks much of the aroma and flavor punch you are used to.

    That is my conclusion based on drinking >100 4pk's from various batches over the past 2+ years.
     
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  40. pjs234

    pjs234 Devotee (469) Jun 29, 2008 Connecticut

    I'ld buy that... I never thought it was oxidized, just tasted different. Good to know it is that, rather than an unfavorable tweak in the recipe.
     
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