Heady Topper by The Alchemist

Let me just start out by stating that in the craft beer spectrum of legendary, white whale, “Will I ever see it in my lifetime” brews, one that flies damn near the top of that list is Heady Topper from The Alchemist out of Vermont. This leprechaun of a beer is one of dreams that you talk about often with your friends. What if we can get some of that? Yeah, and what if I can get that pot of gold that comes with it? I live 6,000 miles give or take from the source, and the source don’t let it too far from its sight. Until…

A birthday is to be celebrated. What do you get the guy who doesn’t ask for anything, but has these conversations about the dream beer? You get on social media and find someone willing to ship a dream directly to your fridge, so that’s what happened. With great beer, comes great responsibility to share… and I got me some… as if it was my birthday. 

Beer in a can is as pure as it gets. The silver glow of the can is excitable and the literature, unlike the sometimes belittling rants on some Stone bottles, is informative at best. Meant to be enjoyed fresh, and if at all possible, straight from the can. Time to release the excess gasses and drink as instructed, and with a certain level of disbelief. 

The aromas are surprisingly subdued compared to other double IPA’s in the sense that the hop presence is more about balance than an end all, be all defining characteristic. The mouth feel is the same. Not overpowering, not over-anything really, just balanced. I couldn’t help myself and decided to pour the second half of the beer to reveal a surprisingly misty brew. They say to leave a little in the bottom of the can as the hop resins have settled there. I didn’t pour it into the glass but I’ll be damned if I let hop resins lay, so I slurped the rest back. I know, I know… blasphemer. As you drill deeper into the complexity of this hazy delight you start to understand what they are trying to do over there at The Alchemist. They created a beer that you want and all day, every second of the day, and never tire of. They created through their “alchemy” beer Nirvana, true balance. While Pliny the Elder is a style done perfectly, I feel that Heady Topper is “beer” done perfectly. And I do not say that with any exaggeration. 

So is it my favorite beer? No. That honor still belongs to the 120 Minute IPA from Delaware’s Dogfish Head, but a case can be made for this one to be top 5 of all time. Like 120 I will continue to yearn for and think fondly of, and now will have to add Vermont to my bucket list of places to go. 10/10 on the UrD scale. That’s right, 10…


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