After a quick trip up to Hill Farmstead for the PBS Weekends with Yankee shoot, it was back on the road home. My friend had an early day the next day, so he was a sport in agreeing to a quick stop at the Alchemist in Stowe. I wish I thought to take some pictures but it really was a quick grab and go. Next time. My haul was some Heady Topper, The Crusher, Focal Banger and a four pack of Skadoosh and Alena.
Beer #: 1,121
This nonsensical word was used by Po, the main character in Kung Fu Panda. Apparently, it means “goodbye” or “peace”. On-line references say that this term is often used right before you beat someone’s ass. So, I assume the assaulting bitterness of this brew are appropos. There are progressive versions of Skadoosh, I believe this is version 12 as I see some on-line commentary about number 12 at the same time this was purchased. I’ll give Skadoosh 88 points.
Neighborhood complaints shut down foot traffic to The Alchemist’s Waterbury, Vermont in 2013. A series of tent sales followed but The Alchemist consequently began planning a new facility. On June 30th, Stowe became the new retail home of The Alchemist. To no one’s surprise, the opening has been hugely popular. While Heady Topper for local stores and restaurants will still be produced in the Waterbury location, the Stowe location will solely be for walk in business.
Before the Stowe opening, the brewery boldly claimed that a customer would be able to buy two cases per visit. The forecasted limit called for one case of Focal Banger and a mixed case of Heady Topper and probably a rotating seasonal offering. Since the opening, it seems that the limits have been half or less than promised. I suspect they will ramp up production and begin to deliver on promised limits. The beer must flow.
Crusher was a customer favorite at the Waterbury pub before it got destroyed by a flood and it’s the first of the seasonal offerings of the new brewery. It’s exciting to think of the other beer that will see distribution from this new facility. I got two cans from a friend.
I expected some resin but this is more than I expected. Candy sweet in addition to being balanced off by an assertive bitterness. Not really crushing. I’d say Juicy. Citrus. Rich. As a result of its high gravity – somewhat boozy. Other Half All Green Everything comes to mind but that’s just from tastebud memory. In conclusion, Crusher gets 95 points.
Focal Banger and Heady Topper are past favorites and here are my thoughts on the other offerings from The Alchemist…
What’s interesting about Beelzebub Stout from The Alchemist?:
· How did I get it: Came to me from a friend that is obsessed (lucky for me) with The Alchemist and has made the 10 hour round trip to/from Burlington, VT a couple of times in the last few months.
· Vitals: 8.0% ABV, IBU unknown, Dry-hopped with Citra Hops
· Name: While Beezlebub is another name for the Devil, the bee-looking insect on the label is actually known as a Mallophora Leschenaulti or a Beezlebub Bee-Eater (actually it’s a fly – mimicking the appearance of a bumble bee).
· Availability: Beezlebub stout is limited to Vermont and only in a small area around Burlington, Vermont. Even at that – good luck finding it. Most people seek out its famous kin – Heady Topper.
· Other acclaim: 93 points Beer Advocate.
Surprisingly hoppy citrus busts its way through some very potent roasted grain flavor. No coffee, no chocolate – just roasted grains. Hoppy bitter finish. Totally digging it – 92 points.
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.