Author Topic: Alchemist Heady Topper  (Read 1886 times)

Offline erockrph

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Alchemist Heady Topper
« on: September 14, 2014, 04:03:17 AM »
First and foremost - heavily hyped beers rarely live up to the hype, but Heady Topper is definitely one of the best commercial IPA's I've ever tried.

Aroma is like burying your face in a bag of hops. There's plenty of fruit, but there's also this great hop cone/lupulin on your fingers smell that rarely makes it all the way into the finished beer. The flavor has some citrus, but is more skewed to the piny/herbal side. Bitterness is nice and firm on the middle of the tongue, but not harsh or abrasive. The hop aroma and flavor are clearly more the focus than the bitterness. The finish has plenty of hop flavor continuing on for a good while.

What I really like about Heady Topper is that the bitterness doesn't feel harsh or raw, and it doesn't feel like someone just painted hop resin on your tongue that's never going to wash off. As much as I enjoy beers like "Go To" and "Enjoy By", or my own IPA's for that matter, I get some bitterness character that's a bit rough (almost like raw hops) when trying to push the hop flavor envelope. Whatever they're doing at Alchemist, they really have it dialed in.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Alchemist Heady Topper
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2014, 12:29:08 PM »
I have heard all hops go on very late, or they all go on at whirlpool.  Then dry hop for 3-5 days.
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Offline BrodyR

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Re: Alchemist Heady Topper
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2014, 12:33:57 PM »
Nice, planning a trip to Vermont in October. Hoping I can score some.

Offline redbeerman

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Re: Alchemist Heady Topper
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2014, 03:32:58 PM »
I don't do a bittering charge per se any more on any beers.  I FWH and then all late additions.  DIPAs are amply hopped.  At least in my opinion.  ;)
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Alchemist Heady Topper
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2014, 03:58:31 PM »
Lately for APA and IPA I've been doing a bittering charge with no other boiling additions,and getting all my hop flavor and aroma from hop stands and dry hopping. I think it's gonna be my MO on these styles now. Really liking the results.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Alchemist Heady Topper
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2014, 04:20:25 PM »
I'm pretty sure they use a hop extract for bittering. I was thinking about cloning it but it just didn't blow me away to the point that i wanted to spend ~100 bucks on 5 gallons of it. I felt the same about this beer as I did the first time I had pliny the elder.

I very much enjoyed the Alchemist back when they were a brewpub/restaurant. I used to go there any chance I could get. It always bugged me a bit when I was getting together with folks in waterbury and the DIDN'T want to go to the Alchemist. I can't see waiting in line for anymore than about 10 minutes to buy some heady though.

To be fair, just this weekend I skipped the Russian River pub for the very same reason. There was a line half a block long to sit down for lunch and I just wasn't up for it.
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Offline theDarkSide

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Re: Alchemist Heady Topper
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2014, 05:12:53 PM »

I very much enjoyed the Alchemist back when they were a brewpub/restaurant. I used to go there any chance I could get. It always bugged me a bit when I was getting together with folks in waterbury and the DIDN'T want to go to the Alchemist. I can't see waiting in line for anymore than about 10 minutes to buy some heady though.

To be fair, just this weekend I skipped the Russian River pub for the very same reason. There was a line half a block long to sit down for lunch and I just wasn't up for it.
I never got to go to the brew pub.  I so missed the days when I could walk into the brewery and buy a case on a Sunday afternoon.  Damn you Ratebeer and Beer Advocate!!!

A guy from my club was just out at Russian River a couple weeks ago and said the same thing.  He got there just after 11am and by 11:45am there was a line.  And this was during the week.
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Offline pete b

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Re: Alchemist Heady Topper
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2014, 01:37:30 AM »
I had someone I know who was coming down from Stowe pick me up a 4 pack a few weeks ago so I could try it for the first time. I wasn't completely blown away but was impressed. In fairness I was having some pollen allergies going on so I don't think I was getting the full hop explosion people are blown away by. I was very impressed though by what Eric was talking about: it is one of the few hops dominant beers I've had that wasn't an affront to my taste buds. There was something about the bitterness aspect that was less over the top and smoother than most IPA's. Its like someone stepped backed and looked at where the style had gone and said " well this is stupid, let's fix it"
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Offline MDixon

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Re: Alchemist Heady Topper
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2014, 11:45:28 AM »
I thought it was good, but it certainly didn't change my world. I find most of the hyped beers are very good when I get to have them, but after consumption I always seem to notice my socks are still on my feet. ;)
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Alchemist Heady Topper
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2014, 12:22:35 PM »
I thought it was good, but it certainly didn't change my world. I find most of the hyped beers are very good when I get to have them, but after consumption I always seem to notice my socks are still on my feet. ;)

+1.  The lack of availability gives a very good or excellent beer the 'legendary' cult status. I've had Westy 12, Pliny, and Heady - they're all excellent beers, but not so much better than the competition to justify the excess hype IMO.
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Offline Stevie

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Re: Alchemist Heady Topper
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2014, 12:53:19 PM »

...my socks are still on my feet. ;)

Maybe that is a testament to the quality of sock you buy.

Offline lbond2

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Re: Alchemist Heady Topper
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2014, 09:08:30 PM »
Let me chime in please....The first (and only) time I tried Heady Topper I was blown away...I am hugely obsessed with IPAs and know what is good.  Most IPAs these days are way over the top with harsh bitterness and weird hop combos that leave a strange smell and flavor.  Heady Was silky smooth, very clean bitter, and the piny/fruity, juicy, peachy combo an IPA should be.  I have became so obsessed with Heady it is my new mission to create this beer using the famous Conan Yeast. This is definitely one of the best commercial IPAs ever made...
You guys mention Russian River Pliny the Elder and I must agree, It did not blow my hair back.  Their marketing department is the reason that beer is "so great."

Offline blatz

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Re: Alchemist Heady Topper
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2014, 09:28:39 PM »
eric

i've made a clone with yeast cultured up from several cans from a friend.  Clone was very good, almost as good as the real deal, though when the punch of the dryhop started to fade, it went downhill to just a 'good beer'  very quickly.  same goes for the real deal - it has about a month lifespan.  i think the less harsh bitterness is a product of the yeast used - clone calced at 300 or so ibus, with 6oz/12gal  of ultra high AA (apollo?) at the beginning and it still was a smooth bitterness.

lbond2 -lets be fair here, RR's 'marketing department' is about the same size as the Alchemist's.  what causes the hype is the beerheads on BA and RateBeer. Pliny has been around longer so it may seem that its got more 'behind it' but I don't think RR is producing all that much more than Alchemist who just expanded, relatively speaking.  They're private family businesses that are focused on making good product and just so happen to both be very popular right now, and while it sucks for some of us that demand>supply, its pretty cool that they're so successful 
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Alchemist Heady Topper
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2014, 10:27:54 PM »
eric

i've made a clone with yeast cultured up from several cans from a friend.  Clone was very good, almost as good as the real deal, though when the punch of the dryhop started to fade, it went downhill to just a 'good beer'  very quickly.  same goes for the real deal - it has about a month lifespan.  i think the less harsh bitterness is a product of the yeast used - clone calced at 300 or so ibus, with 6oz/12gal  of ultra high AA (apollo?) at the beginning and it still was a smooth bitterness.


Sounds like a hell of a good clone, Paul !  And I agree with the 'month lifespan', having had HT. Honestly I feel the same about my IPAs too, though - it's why I arrange to have enough friends over to kill them in a month or less.
Jon H.

Offline majorvices

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Re: Alchemist Heady Topper
« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2014, 10:43:02 PM »

You guys mention Russian River Pliny the Elder and I must agree, It did not blow my hair back.  Their marketing department is the reason that beer is "so great."

Pliny is a great beer, but it is highly over hyped. Helps to remember that it was one of the very first IIPAs (some argue the first) out there - it literally paved the way for Heady Topper. Also, as with all IPAs - if its not fresh it won't live up to the hype. I drank it at the source and it was a very excellent beer. Not the best IIPA I ever had, but brewery fresh and fantastic non-the-less.