Chad9976 (1364) - Albany, New York, USA - JAN 1, 2012
4.6 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 19/20
For some reason unbeknownst to me, certain random beers manage to generate a huge buzz and become the hot beer of the moment. As of this writing, Heady Topper - a double IPA by the Alchemist Pub & Brewery out of Waterbury, Vermont - is the MUST HAVE beer. Those lucky enough to acquire it say itís the East Coast equivalent of Pliny The Elder, or the best IPA theyíve ever had, or the best beer theyíve ever had (or all three). A friend of mine actually made the 3-hour drive to pick up a case and gave me a can or two. Only a few sips in I understood why beer nerds are going crazy for it.
Despite the warning (or plea) "Drink From The Can!" I poured a 16oz can into a tulip glass.
Appearance: Orange to dark orange color; extremely cloudy but translucent. Forms a large, yellow, frothy head which retains and laces very well.
Smell: Massive tropical fruit juice aroma with distinct sweetness to the nose. Dank piney resin is also quite prominent.
Taste: The thing about India Pale Ales is that they donít tend to be very complex - just very hoppy and thatís about it. But Heady Topper proves you can have genuine complexity even while being a hop monster. As soon as the beer hits the tongue I get intense bitterness - itís slightly dry, but itís impossible to ignore. Itís a massive hop bite that wakes your mouth up. Itís immediately quenched by a delicious palate of tropical fruit juices. Grapefruit, passion fruit, guava, mango and orange are all individually detectable and make for a very refreshing taste, ironically enough.
The second half changes on a dime to something much more dank. Intense resin and pine sap emerge to give the palate a whole new type of bitterness. Supposedly the beer is over 120 IBUs and between the sharp tartness of the citrus flavors and the almost burnt rubber-like astringency of the resin I can definitely see that. The aftertaste is slightly sticky - an odd combination of bitter hops and fruit nectar. It never stops being delectable, though.
Mouthfeel: Slightly creamy texture, but otherwise soft and comfortable with noticeable carbonation and a full-bodied palate.
Drinkability: Alchemist Heady Topper is not a difficult beer to drink - it goes down very smooth with a noticeable, but tolerable dry hoppy aftertaste. The 8% ABV is the perfect mass for this beer: heftier than your average IPA, but nothing that only heavyweight drinkers can handle. A great beer to have with a meal or extra sharp cheese, although I think drinking it on its own is much more satisfying so that you can experience and appreciate all the flavor without any distraction.
hussinator (6) - Fergus Falls, Minnesota, USA - JAN 8, 2012 does not count
4.3 AROMA 10/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 17/20
poured out of a pint can, copper color with a light white head. Epic aroma of peaches, great hop flavor. Tasted just like eating a nugget hop pellet. Great Beer.
toxichop (437) - South Gate, California, USA - JAN 10, 2012
3.8 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 17/20
UPDATED: MAY 1, 2013 Finally gave in and bought me a 4 pack on ebay. A: Pours hazy orange maybe copper with a thin white head. S: Guava, papaya, mango, pineapple and some syrup malt. T: Very easy to drink dipa, with grapefruit, papaya, guava and some pine. There is also a honey malt presence but doesnt take away from the hops. Finishes sticky with some bitterness. M: Creamy with lively carbonation, lots of bitterness but as it warms up it taste more sweet. O: A great beer but thats really it, not mind blowing.
wilnatp (632) - Minnesota, USA - DEC 31, 2011
3.4 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
UPDATED: FEB 6, 2012 CAN at Darkness Day 10/22/2011. Orange pour with notes of pine and citrus. Bitter.
1more4dessert (333) - Upstate, New York, USA - JAN 20, 2012
4.8 AROMA 10/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 19/20
in the glass is looks like a heffe with a big rocky ledge on top. Iíd like to see the expression on one expecting a wheat beer. How they can pack so much pine and citrus into the nose? There is some sweet amphora like tobacco in the nose as well. Taste is all about the hops, enough malt to hold things up but not get in the way. This is the single best iipa I have ever had. Very dry and lingering hop presence which loves you all night.
dimenhetfield (2487) - , Florida, USA - JAN 6, 2012
4.6 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 18/20
Big boy can poured into glass. Finally got my chance to try this whale and man did it live up to the hype. Great aroma and flavor. Easy to drink. Wish I had more then a 4 pack. Donít want to say itís the "best" DIPA but itís damn close
CanIHave4Beers (3539) - Pouring Bus, Iowa, USA - JAN 19, 2012
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
I tip my hat to Jim at homebrew club for bringing this beer I thought Iíd never be able to try.
Pours a very hazy golden color with a lot of floaties, the head is medium sized, well retained, and leaves a little bit of lace on the glass.
The aroma is a good balance of fruity and pleasantly oniony hops. The beer is very pungent, very bright, and is loaded with fresh hop character. Somehow a little bit of crackery malt peeks through the big hop burst.
The beer is indeed bitter but not overbearingly so, the beer has a nice multi-layered snappy hoppiness, a little onion, a good dose of juicy grapefruit, a zippy spiciness. The beer is very well balanced even though itís so hop heavy, and the alcohol is basically unnoticeable.
This seems like the sort of beer I could drink a fair amount of.
Brigadier (3210) - Clevelandish, Ohio, USA - JAN 12, 2012
3.8 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
16 ounce bottle
A mysterious can from a unknown brewery with an eyecatching label sat in the fridge for only about a week before I couldnít take it any more. Cracking it open I had one of the best canned beers in a long time. I can only imagine how much better it is fresh from the source. This one should be high on anybodyís list who is in the Vermont region.
Aroma / Appearance - A bronze body shimmers with light carbonation. Golden rings curl around the edges like the tint of a warm sunset. Lemongrass, lawn clippings, and pine sol provide immediate evidence that this means business. Resiny holds it together like a pot of glue.
Flavor / Palate - Sourdough soaked in resin warms the palate almost immediately after the first sip. Refreshing and gentle it eases towards the throat. A great example of the imperial IPA style this is the type of introduction that I wish happened more often with new breweries. Alchemist is definitely a must stop if I ever make it to Vermont.
cfrancis (2673) - Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA - JAN 11, 2012
4.2 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
Thanks to Don for this. Pours a dark brownish gold with a nice white foam head and great lacing and some sediment in the glass. Aroma is a pine forest! Intense pine hops with a stickly sweetness. Taste is dry, pine hop but is well balanced with malt. Resinous and syrupy this is a monster of a DIPA.
BOLTZ7555 (2939) - Phoenix, Arizona, USA - JAN 18, 2012
4.1 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
Really solid offering that pours a murky honey hue with burnt tangerine at its core. Fluffy, bright-white head that left a small ring and a little lacing. Aroma is juicy citrus, candied orange, and lemon-zest. Flavor shows a little alcohol accompanied by earthy notes, freshly-cut grass, and grapefruit rind. Citrus sprays the palate like gnawing on tangelos. Again, a bit hotter than the 8% would indicate. Not as "bright" as a West Coast IIPA but nicely balanced.