Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Alchemist Focal Banger IPA

Beer Name: Focal Banger
Brewery: The Alchemist (Stowe, VT)
ABV: 7.0%
How sold: 16 oz tallboy cans
Where bought: Craft Shack (San Diego, CA)  ****bought online
Price: $6.99(!) for 16 oz. tallboy can

Date Purchased: May 17, 2018
Date Received: May 30, 2018
Date Drank: June 5, 2018
When brewed? Year-round beer.
IBUs: 90 ( per Untappd)

Black pull tab

What's on the Can: "Focal Banger is an American India Pale Ale. We have a real love for IPAs here at The Alchemist, and we strive to offer you the best hop experience that we possibly can.

"This beer is brewed using Citra and Mosaic hops and our favorite British malts. Truly, an abundance of hoppy goodness...

"Freshness and control have always been my main concern when it comes to our beer. We are committed to providing you with an unfiltered and unapsteurized hop experience.

"Why do I recommend that you drink it from the can? Quite simply, to ensure a delightful hop experience. The act of pouring it in a glass smells nice, but it releases the essential hop aromas that we have worked so hard to retain.

"If you MUST pour it into a glass, you may find that some of the hop resins have settled to the bottom - leave them in the can when pouring. This beer is perishable and at its best when young, fresh and hazy. Keep it cold, but not ice cold.

"Drink this beer today, you could be dead tomorrow...."

Where distributed: The Alchemist usually distributes their beers only in Vermont, which is why I was surprised to see Southern California get cases of Crusher, Heady Topper, and Focal Banger back in May 2018. For the longest time, the Alchemist only distributed within Vermont, within a 20-mile radius of Waterbury. Click here for where and when to buy Alchemist beers!

Appearance (5%): Poured hazy golden (perhaps golden-orange) into a pint glass. Unfiltered, significant sediment suspended in the beer and at the bottom of the glass. Frothy white head, trace lacing. 4.5/5

Smell (25%): Balanced assertive hoppy grapefruit and other citrus with dank/resinous notes. Very appealing. 4.75/5

Taste (40%): Large tropical citrus presence from start to finish, includes grapefruit, tangerine, and orange. Hoppy bitterness there, but wonderfully kept in check given the high IBU. Dank/resinous presence is there, but more balanced with the tropical. Tropical on the aftertaste. Full of flavor. 4.75/5

Mouthfeel (10%): Medium-bodied, good carbonation. Some juiciness and stickiness, maybe slightly dry on the tongue. 4.5/5

Overall (20%): An outstanding IPA. I also was fortunate to try Focal Banger at the Stowe brewery last summer (read the blog post here). Upon second tasting, I prefer this one over Crusher because it feels more balanced, yet assertive in its tropical grapefruit presence. To be clear, it's not the New England-style IPA that has become so popular. The Alchemist tends to brew more hop-forward IPAs (with high IBU) that are simply hazy and unfiltered. I love the sediment in there, and I still believe that gives this added flavor. Again, a steep price to pay for one can. but I definitely recommend trying The Alchemist's beers at least once.

Oh, and for the record, I poured the unfiltered resins into the glass anyway and drank them because science. I did drink a sip from the can and it definitely is delightful. but for photographic purposes, you get the beer poured in a pint glass. 4.5/5

Final Weighted Rating: 4.663/5

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