Before I launch right into this, I think a quick note of introduction is in order. I spend a lot of my time writing and playing video games for work (and fun), but one of my other favorite things to do is make my own beer. When I don’t have time to do that, I enjoy imbibing craft beer made by others — though not in a “lets crack open a 30 rack of PBR and get shit-tanked” kind of way. No, I enjoy a good buzz like the next person, but homebrewing has opened up my palate to appreciate a wide range of beers. I love trying different brews, and for a long time I’ve been wanting to write about my tasting experiences. Hence: Beer Nerdistry.
For this first installment, I picked a semi-local Vermont-made brew that I was recently introduced to. Located up in Waterbury, The Alchemist – a reportedly slick brew pub – was wrecked by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene. However, their cannery was saved. Thank the heavens, because their flagship brew, Heady Topper, is amazing. [Hit the jump for my impressions].
Sold by the four-pack in 16oz cans, Heady Topper is a strong, unfiltered double IPA that packs an 8% ABV that delivers a nice level of fuzzy ooph after you finish a can, as is cleverly warned by the attractive black-on-aluminum artwork adorning the shiny cans.
Aroma/Appearance – While I’d normally pour into a pint glass, I elected to heed the printed message on the label urging me to “DRINK FROM THE CAN.” There’s a good reason for this, since popping one open blasts you with a nose full of piny, citrus-tinged goodness that lingers nicely when you leave it in the can. The hop-force is freakin’ strong with this one, and the potent grapefruit-like aroma makes the mouth water insantly. Since it’s an unfiltered brew, the other reason for keeping it in the can is for appearance. There’s a bit of haze/hop floaty action going on in here that may turn some folks off. I didn’t mind.
Taste – An explosion of tangy grapefruit citrus that’s countered by malty sweetness. For such a hoppy beer with a heavy IBU load, this is a *perfectly* balanced beer. Not too bitter, not too sweet. It’s dangerously drinkable. The taste lingers pleasantly on the palate, which encourages you to keep drinking. It’s hard to put this one down.
Overall– All I can say is WOW. This beer single-handedly turned me back on to strong IPAs – so much that I’m inspired to brew my own take on it. It’s like a grapefruit punch to the face without the pain or swelling.