On Tuesday June 5, 2012 a friend texted me that Rattle n Hum had cans of The Alchemist’s Heady Topper, a double IPA that has received much acclaim and hype. Luckily when I got there after going out to dinner, there were still three cans left. I should note that the addition of this beer to the beer menu was part of Rare Beer Night, which started at 4pm (I got their around 8:30pm). Being that they were selling Heady Topper at one 16oz can per person, both me and a friend each bought one to enjoy as our first beer of the night.
Upon opening the can and giving it a quick sniff I knew I was in for a treat. Although the brewery recommends drinking Heady Topper from the can I poured it into a glass. It poured a cloudy yellow orange color with a two finger head that left great lacing after it faded and added some creaminess to the beer’s mouthfeel. Aroma-wise I was in hophead heaven with pungent and resinous notes of tropical fruit, grapefruit, and sweet bready malt. The taste followed the nose with a huge sweet juicy hop character. While the bitterness was assertive on my palate, the malts lent balance to the overall drinking experience. Completing the drinking experience was a great juicy after taste with notes of ripe peach and apricot. The bitterness was consistent up until the halfway point where it began to build and leave resins on my tongue. At times the hop character reminded me of Avery Brewing Co.’s Maharajah double IPA and fresh Alesmith IPA. While I did pick up some piney and floral hop notes, as I drank this amazing beer the citrus notes made this beer taste primarily “west coast” in style. As a pretty fresh can, I didn’t taste much malt in the flavor and as the hop flavor and bitterness intensified, the sweet bready malt character became less apparent.
So in the end the big question is…Did The Alchemist’s Heady Topper live up to the hype? It definitely did live up to the hype. It is one of the juiciest double IPAs that I’ve ever tried. If I were to knock it I would say that it is not as smooth as some of my go to double IPAs, in that as a I drank more I could taste the 8% in the finish and body. Though it was never overwhelming, I would definitely call this one a sipper and a double IPA that does not have the dry or crisp (sometimes refreshing) finish that many well regarded west coast double IPAs have. For me drinking two cans in a sitting would be enough for a relaxed hoppy drinking session. Though I could see where others would be okay with just one can.
If you can find this beer by going to a bar, beer store, the brewery itself, or trading for it; I would definitely recommend doing so. Cheers!