This is post #500 on Hoppy Boston (thank you WordPress for keeping track of stuff like that, I lost count by week 3). I had no idea where the blog would go when I started writing it over three years ago, or if anyone would read it, but I am still having fun writing about beer and chatting with my readers, so cheers to the next 500! As I saw the posts ticking towards this big round number I hoped to review something special, which isn’t easy to plan since I maintain my outspoken stance against chasing whalz. Fortunately a big whale dropped right into my lap that was perfect for this post.
Every year on the weekend before Thanksgiving a group of my friends from college get together for a guys weekend centered around a wild game dinner. We eat a diverse array of wild game, then drink a more than a few delicious beers. It’s a rotating group of guys that attend, 4-5 of us make it almost every year while a large number of others make it occasionally. Our friend Truc has been invited every year for over a decade and never made the trip for one reason or another until replying yes to the invite this year. He showed my in style, with a case of beer from Alchemist Brewing Company, featuring both of their highly prized IPAs, Heady Topper and Focal Banger. I’ve had Heady on multiple occasions, but this was my first time trying Focal Banger. Quite a few beers from that case were taken down that night, but there were many left over that Truc gave to us to take home. I told him he set a high bar and we would expect big things next November. Alchemist Focal Banger is available year-round on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.
Alchemist Focal Banger is meant to be drunk from a can, it is explicitly stated in big letter right on said can, but if you cheat and pour it into a glass it is a murky yellow with a solid white head. Alchemist gets credit for helping start the trend of New England style turbid, low bitterness, hop-bomb IPAs and this is a fine example of the style. The scent is a large burst of fruity hops. The flavor is predictably hop-forward, notes of grapefruit, pineapple, mango and lemon along with a crisp but mild bitterness. There is just enough malt for balance, touches of white bread and honey. The beer is medium bodied and very easy to drink, and at 7% ABV it is around the standard for the modern take on the style. The finish is very smooth, the combination of hop flavor and low bitterness really set these Alchemist beers apart when they were first released. The Alchemist Focal Banger is a stellar beer, extremely high quality. I am not sure that I would make a special trip to Vermont just to grab some, but I will definitely drink this when it’s available. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.