In 2003 husband and wife duo John and Jen Kimmich opened Alchemist Brew Pub in downtown Waterbury, Vermont. Alchemist is different then most breweries for multiple reasons, but they are probably best known for only producing one regular beer - the almighty Heady Topper. Starting out with a 7-barrel system, Alchemist continued on its path to beer glory until the pub was hit by Hurricane Irene in 2011. It was at this time that the team built a separate cannery off of Vermont 100. The cannery produces Heady Topper, as well as cans that are only sold from a once-monthly exclusive truck sale. You'll wait in a line that wouldn't be out of place during peak New York brunch hours, and the cans go fast!
We were lucky enough to retrieve four Alchemist IPAs from a recent truck sale for this week's 2 O’Clock Tasting. To keep your hops happy and the flavor fresh, these IPAs are recommended straight from the can.
First on our list and currently rated the best beer on Beer Advocate is Alchemist's only regular beer, Heady Topper. A strong American Double IPA, this beer pours a hazy pineapple juice color. Brewed with a blend of six mysterious hops, the aroma is lush with hints of passionfruit, mango and white grape. The taste is refreshingly light with a mellow base that is juicy and slightly bitter.
Made with a combination of Mosaic and Citra hops, Focal Banger is an American IPA that glows a straw yellow color with fine carbonation. The aroma is similar to Heady Topper with the scent of pine and pineapple, but is also rather thick, farmy and dank. Focal Banger's flavor mirrored the nose, and had a bit more bite than expected.
The Crusher is the first of two Double IPAs we tried made with the same base. The Crusher poured a diffused orange or thick straw color, and the aroma is derived from being dry hopped with Citra, giving off notes of lemon, grapefruit and a little mint at the end. The taste is a perfect balance between the smooth malt and crisp bitterness.
Rapture! is the second Double IPA we tried, concocted with the same base as The Crusher. Rapture! is dry hopped with Mosaic, our September Hop of The Month. Rapture! was the clearest beer of the Alchemist bunch, but not completely translucent. The color resembled honey that was on the hazier side. The aroma gave off orange and pineapple notes while the taste was very hop forward with lots of citrus and a little pine.