Beer Review: Heady Topper (The Alchemist)

Beer Review: Heady Topper (The Alchemist)

Heady Topper (by The Alchemist Brewing Company)

Heady Topper

Heady Topper | ABV 8%

BJCP Style: Double IPA Style: Imperial IPA Sensory Style: Hoppy & Bitter

Hops: Proprietary blend of six hops

Malts: Proprietary

Brewery: The Alchemist

City: Stowe, VT

Beer Review

Appearance: Clear, light amber (unfiltered) with fluffy white head, good retention

Aroma: Pine, citrus & tropical fruit and woody/musty.

Flavor & Aftertaste: Alcohol noticeable. Citrus & resinous pine prominent with spicy notes mixed in. Aggressive bitterness on a low to moderate sweet malt backbone.

Palate: Highly astringent with a lengthy dry finish. Bitterness builds and lingers well into the finish.

Do you have a Bucket List of beers you’d like to try? I technically don’t have a formal list, but there are some beers out there I’d love to try at some point. High on that list is The Alchemist’s Heady Topper. It’s definitely a hype beer, one of those coveted beers that people stand in line at the brewery to get. Considering The Alchemist is out of Vermont (I rarely travel to that area of the country) and its not distributed down in Georgia, the odds of me getting to try it were pretty slim. As my good fortune would have it, I am active on Beer Advocate and BA buddy saw a post about me hoping to try it some day and contact me about sending me a can. I was blown away and offered a trade, but he insisted that I didn’t have to send him anything, he’s just happy to send me some. Sure enough, a few days later a package arrived with it and a can of Bearded Iris Attention Please DIPA. Wow, amazingly generous. Needless to say, I still plan to return the favor with some interesting local product. Let’s take a look at Heady Topper.

John Kimmich keeps his Heady Topper recipe close to the vest, but a little digging reveals it utilizes over six different hops. With that many hop varieties involved, it’s tough for one to really stand out. That being said, you will experience layers of hops aroma and flavors. Some are quite subtle, others very prominent. I believe this is what makes it such a popular beer. There are a number of beers out in the market place today that utilize multiple hops varieties, but this was among the first. Upon opening the can, the pine aroma will be the first thing you notice, followed by tropical fruit, citrus fruit, and a woody/must note (some refer to it as dank). Dankness is not one of my personal favorite beer aromas, but a lot of people like that. Something you’ll appreciate about this DIPA is that it is not too heavy. In today’s market place, the overuse of adjuncts to boost the mouth-feel of many IPA’s causes the beer make you feel full sooner.

What’s my final take? I’m not a big drinker of DIPA. I prefer something more sessionable, less bitter and less overwhelming. That being said, if I were a big fan of DIPA, this would definitely be one of my favorites. While the malt bill is simple, the layered hops characteristics make this a delight to the senses. It’s easy to see why this is a craft beer drinker favorite.

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