I’ve waited too long to write about Heady Topper. I was given a can as a thank you present for a deed that was done back in September and couldn’t muster up a proper occasion to crack it until now…
When a brewer tells you to drink from the can and actually prints the words “drink from the can!” on the can, you do it. No glassware for this occasion. Why does John Kimmich, founder and head brewer of the Alchemist brew pub in Waterbury, VT want to you to drink it from the can? “Quite simply, to ensure a delightful, hop experience. The act of pouring it in a glass smells nice, but it releases the essential hop aromas that we have worked so hard to retain” claims the brewer on the back of the silver 16 oz can.
This beer is awesome. It is arguably the staple beer of the Alchemist. It’s a big American Double IPA but it’s smooth and balanced and not overly boozey or bitter. Yet it still clocks in at a fairly heavy 8% ABV and 120 IBUs, solidifying it as a hop-loaded beer. But because of all the hops and delicate malt recipe this beer is highly drinkable and refreshing…something that’s quite hard to come by when considering American Double IPAs. The beer is also left unfiltered and unpasteurized leaving even more hop flavor and aroma for the senses to enjoy.
When I was living in Vermont, stopping at the Alchemist on our way back from the mountain was an automatic. The place doesn’t open until 4 and would be packed by 4:01 and the demographics of the crowd ranged from stoned college kids, elderly locals to stay at home moms. The pub had a very unique feel to it, boasting local artwork and a lone billiards table in the back. And the food was delicious. The beer? I still believe the Alchemist is home to the best beer brewed in Vermont. Hands down. And even maybe New England…
On an unfortunate side note, on the night of August 28, 2011, Hurricane Irene ravaged downtown Waterbury and left the pub and the brewery beneath it submerged in nasty, muddy water, destroying everything inside. BUT, as the Kimmich family is hard at work restoring the building, an off-site cannery nearby had been established and opened one week later and the timing couldn’t have been better. Now Heady Topper, which was normally an on-tap/off-tap favorite can be purchased year round so Alchemist beer continues to be brewed despite the devastation caused by Irene.
Although Heady Topper is still hard to find outside Vermont, I can guarantee that this beer will propel itself to the top of the country’s most wanted beer list. It already boasts an overall A+ grade on BeerAdvocate and shows no signs of slowing down. And even though the brewery is closed indefinitely, the cannery is cranking out cans of this heavily sought-after beer. So go out there and get it (or give it) in the can-