Tasting: May 3, 2014
Beer #: 531
The Alchemist is a small brewery located in Waterbury, Vermont that essentially concentrates on brewing and canning one beer — and a hell of a beer it is — Heady Topper (# 3 – 97 points) . They began brewing Heady Topper for their brew pub in Waterbury in 2003 and it was served exclusively in the pub for eight years. In 2011, they (luckily) moved their brewing operations to a brewing facility just two days before Tropical Storm Irene destroyed the pub. When the pub was operational, The Alchemist would occasionally produce other beers and I was pleased to read that this past January they planned to can some of these old pub favorites – Beelzebub, Petite Mutant and Focal Banger.
Being that Heady Topper is so rare, I really had no expectation of ever seeing any of these other offerings. A friend texted me that he had two Heady Toppers waiting for me at his store. As if that wasn’t enough, I was totally floored to see this can of Focal Banger and Beelzebub to go along with the two Heady Toppers. Wow – I really got hooked up. Love the handwritten label on this can of Focal Banger it’s certainly going to be added to my collection.
As with Heady Topper, Focal Banger comes in a sixteen ounce can. No label vitals but a web check tells me that it is 7% alcohol by volume made with Citra and Mosaic hops. Right out of the can – very pungent citrus hops. Focal Banger is not as syrupy or sweet as Heady Topper but that’s what makes Heady a classic. Hops are certainly bitter and remind of tangerine rind or grapefruit. Dank and resinous. That bitterness builds as I work my way through my glass but it is a pleasant lingering bitterness. Some sweetness tucked way in the back but this definitely a hop-centric beauty. I’ll park Focal Banger a few ticks behind Heady Topper at 93 points.