Monday, November 25, 2013

Heady Topper - The Taste of Hops

My good friend, Jeff, recently presented me with an awesome treat - a can of Heady Topper.  Heady Topper is a Double IPA that is brewed by The Alchemist Brewery, located in Vermont.  Its intense flavors and limited distribution have resulted in a cult-like status surrounding the beer.  Heady Topper has earned top marks on beer rating sites like ratebeer and beeradvocate.  The Alchemist was featured in the March/April 2013 issue of Brew Your Own (BYO) magazine, which provided interesting back story on the brewery and beer, some fun anecdotes of people trying to get cans of Heady Topper, and a clone recipe.

The beer pours a very hazy clover honey color with a thick white head that thinned relatively quickly.  My wife's glass had chunks at the bottom, which the can label identifies as hop resins.  The aroma features a huge burst of grapefruit, lemon zest, and pine tree resin.

The flavor of Heady Topper is as intense as its aroma.  It begins with a burst of citrus fruit character that slaps your taste buds around.  The middle of the flavor features a strong pine resin character, along with a hint of sweetness.  It also features a substantial mouth feel, including the prickly sensation of carbonation.  The beer has a long finish, with a bracing bitterness and alcohol warmth in the back of the throat.  The finish lasts for at least 30 seconds or more, but is not cloying in any way.

Heady Topper is certainly an intense tasting experience, but certainly not something I would have as an every day beer (my wife likely differs with me here).  I found the beer changed flavors as it warmed, featuring more citrus qualities over pine resin and more sweetness over the length of the tasting.

The labeling recommends that you drink it directly from the can to help reserved the intense hop aromas and present them directly to your palate.  An interesting thought, but I think I would rather see the beer in a glass than drink it from the can.

What a fantastic beer.  Given our enjoyment of Heady Topper, and my wife's love of hops, I think I may have to try the BYO clone recipe sometime in the future.  If you have already done so, please leave a comment to this post, as I would love to hear about it further.

Thanks again to Jeff for his incredibly generous gift.




  1. Glad you liked it. Skip the BYO recipe and check out the HBT thread. The guys there have done a ton of work to nail down an amazing Heady recipe.

  2. Thanks, I will follow that one instead. Now to start buying hops by the pound . . .


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