Revisiting: Heady Topper (The Alchemist)

Style: Imperial IPA

8% ABV

From: Waterbury, VT


Yes, that infamous golden nectar that all the hop heads gush over. If I’m being honest with you folk, I’ve had Heady quite a few times since I first wrote that quaint review way back at the start of this blog.  I was young in my quest for beer, and was even naïve to just how sacred Heady Topper was to the beer community. I actually found Heady on a shelf at Kappy’s in Peabody, MA… Peabody, MA! That doesn’t happen anymore, but it did back then. I, as a shining and bright eyed beer enthusiast saw the can and was like: “Oh Heady Topper, I’ve heard of that beer I think, I guess I’ll purchase it to see how it is, durpa durr.” Little did I know that would be the last time that Massachusetts as a whole saw a can of Heady Topper. Any ways, to make a long story short, my palate has changed drastically since those early days of this blog (and they continue to change every day) so I decided it was time to revisit Heady.


(Yes I can read the can. No don’t care. Yes I do have several other cans that I might also be enjoying tonight that can let me know how the can varies from a glass. Thank you)


The beer pours a chunky, dehydrated yellow with some serious clouding and color gradient. The beer looks orange on its top, save for the massive head of creamy white bubbles that form a smooth sand dune over the beer and sit nearly three finger widths above the glass with some very nice retention. When the bubbles do leave, Heady spots my glass with a perfect topographical map of foamy, dry lacing. In body, the beer is a cloudy, hazy mess, as a completely honest reviewer Heady would only score decently in an appearance score due to its massive and everlasting head of bubbles. It’s not as pretty as it could be, but it was designed that way so we’ll let it be. On the nose, the beer smells of Heady Topper. If you’ve never smelled Heady Topper before then it smells like a very pungent DIPA. Mango, lemon, tangerine, a bag of weed, a big old juniper bush, (and even some metallic can when I sniff it out of the can…) slap across my nostrils no matter how far I place them from the can and glass. Heady is a beast to be reckoned with when it comes to smell. Sure, other beers have reached this pinnacle, but that doesn’t diminish the beauty of this beer’s smell at all. On the tongue, this beer tastes bitter. There is some balancing malty sweetness just at the back and finish, but this is a DIPA and it revels in its complex bitterness. Bright acidity can be sensed on the mid palate, providing a nice pop to the bitter pine. In flavor, this tastes like a DIPA. A nice bit of pith, tangerine, pinecone, pine sap, and subtle cracker malt tango on the tongue alongside a slight burp of juicy fruit as the beer finishes. The aftertaste is rather clean, but resonates with bitter pine and medicine. In the mouth, the beer feels on the plus side of medium with a prickle and tickle from the carbonation suggesting a medium level within the beer. The mouthfeel is crisp yet smooth, with a certain amount of fluff evident from the pillowy head atop the beer. Overall, this is Heady Topper and is obviously good. If I’m being honest, I think my can is a little old as far as purists go, but it still tasted delicious. The hop flavors have mellowed slightly and the malt is more balancing and a touch buttery, but it still is a damn good beer. Is it the best beer in the world? That is a subjective question, but for me personally, no. Is it better than Pliny the Elder? Again, a subjective question, but for me I appreciated Pliny a little more because of how damn balanced it was. Heady is a little aggressive with its hops and is a hop head’s dream, whereas Pliny builds beautiful hop flavor and aroma into a balanced package that even non-hop-lovers can appreciate. Still Heady is quite balanced in terms of other DIPA’s and IPA’s on the market, and is a true gem. The market is becoming flooded with similar beers, making its craze a little silly, but it still is beautiful and full of flavor. If you desire it then go get yourself a Heady. If you are near a place that has it, definitely give it a sip. In terms of my original review, I actually mostly agree. Sure, my descriptive vocabulary has broadened, and I no longer consider the beer “watery,” but my overall scoring of it (4.28/5) is just around where I would place it today. It’s a great beer that deserves its praise.

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