Woah… my brain is killing me. I need a beer. Symptoms… my head is a little stuffy, my mouth slightly parched. Ahhhh Heady Topper. As soon as I took one sip, I instantly felt better, oh yeah, and my brain exploded with hops that spewed everywhere. Sounds like a clip from Animal House mixed with the Exorcist. That scene on a cryptic black and silver beer can only mean one of two things. 1) Al Davis is designing beer cans from beyond the grave, or 2) this beer will be so mind-blowingly good that my frontal cortex will be covered in hop vines. Clearly, there are no other options. Curious to see which one is accurate? Me too, time to run them numbers.
Appearance: Before I begin the number crunching, I must give a shout out to my buddy Adam for giving this beer to me; how often are you just handed one of the best brews in the world? Big thank you to him. So back to looks – it pours a typical golden IPA color – nothing floating around in here (although you can’t see through it – definitely unfiltered) and the head is pretty much white. So why the heck am I pouring it into my Cisco brewery tour glass? To obey the can of course… which clearly states: “DRINK FROM THE CAN!” Already I’m hugely skeptical of this beer… (insert eye roll here). If you need your beer to be drank from the can to achieve the best quality taste, then that’s pretty pathetic. I never bought into the whole, “it tastes metallicy” if you drink anything from a can… the people who shout this from the mountain tops are the same people checking the born on dates of Michelob Ultra – nor do I buy the fact that a can improves the quality of a beer. If you make a good beer, it should taste like a good beer in a can, out of a glass, or from a keg. Christ.
Smell: Well, I’m only smelling the shot glass here (to obey the can), but it smells much like citrus, lemon, hops, tropical/acidic fruit. No hop pungency or bitter beer face going on, smells like a very promising brew. Not as floral as I was expecting, but still smells wonderful.
Taste: So this is what I get out of the glass: lemon, orange citrus up front with hints of other acidic fruits (kiwi/pineapple), then a piney middle, followed by a sweeter finish. This is a really vibrant IPA with a refreshing taste. Out of the can: those flavors are still there but it tastes a little blander. Piney citrus is what shines out of the can, the other flavors – I can’t really pick up on so much. I’m shocked to see that this brew is 8% ABV – you can’t even detect the alcohol at all in this. As I make my way through the can, really the citrus is the star of the show here. I love my citrus IPAs and this is certainly one of them… it’s unbelievable. What’s really noteworthy about the beer is it’s lack of flaws. I’m trying to find any off flavors, but this beer really doesn’t have any. It’s very easy to drink, perfectly carbonated, and tastes great.
The hop explosion, as pictured on the can, doesn’t really exist. What I mean is that you can certainly tell this beer is a supped up IPA, but the aggressive bitterness and resin flavor doesn’t overwhelm this beer; the hops have a more pleasant, fruitiness to them which truly makes this beer one of the best in the world. If you are a fan of west coast, citrus IPAs, then you should get your hands on this somehow. It’s the only beer that The Alchemist makes, and they recently had to stop selling it at the brewery due to bombardment.
Overall: So what grade will I give the number one rated beverage on Beer Advocate? A. I really, really didn’t want to give this beer that high of a grade, but good God, is this beer awesome. The one gripe I have against this brew is the whole “DRINK FROM THE CAN!” nonsense at the top of the packaging. I’m definitely holding a grudge against Alchemist about this, and it is petty, but shit. If this is a way to defend itself from putting the beer in a can, then they need to let their guard down a bit. If they honestly think that it improves the flavor, then they need to tweak the brew. Go get some. It’s good.