Sunday, December 11, 2011

Beer Review: Heady Topper

Reviewing the Heady Topper from The Alchemist.
Score (Can): 97
Score (Duvel tulip): 92

2011 can, courtesy as an extra from FrankenBrew (BeerAdvocate trade)! Been wanting to try this forever. It's rumored to taste/smell different from a can, so I'm doing this brew half-and-half. The half I drank out a glass was from a Duvel tulip.

Appearance (Can): Silver colored can with black artwork etched on the front. The can has a thrice repeated warning around the upper edge that reads, in all caps, "DRINK FROM THE CAN!" I don't like it when beer tells me what to do. Whatever, I'll do what I want!

Appearance (Duvel tulip): Pours a super hazy orange-amber color with a finger of super foamy cream-colored head that sticks around for a couple of minutes until it settles into a ring around the glass and thin clump in the middle. Above average lacing. 4/5

Smell (Can): Huge citrus and floral aromas. LOTS of intense, fresh tropical fruits -- oranges, grapefruits, pineapple and mangoes. Fresh grass clippings and dank resin. The nose is absolutely packed with bright, floral hops. Let's be honest -- it's like a sunshine of citrus-hops. This is hands down the best IPA, potentially the best beer, I have ever smelled in my life. I wish I could buy an air-freshener that smelled just like this! 5/5

Smell (Duvel tulip): A lot of the intensity of the citrus-hops aromas is lost when you pour this out of the can -- even into the infamously aromatic tulip glass! The aroma is a lot earthier, mellower and maltier. Reminds me a lot of Zombie Dust. Still getting zesty oranges and some lemons with big whiffs. You need to smell with much more effort to get the deliciousness once its poured. This one is absolutely better from the can -- no joke! 4/5

Taste (Can): A lot more mellow and subdued than the aroma would have you believe. Very earthy, dank hop bitterness. Orange pulp and lemon hit up front too, almost like a mellowed out Zombie Dust. Malty, bittersweet citrus builds on the mid-palate as the beer layers. Alas, it's not the front or midpalate that defines this beer -- it's the finish. The finish is zesty, bitter oranges and hops, and BOY does it linger! 5/5

Taste (Duvel tulip): Like the aroma, a lot of the intensity of the flavors are lost when you pour this from the can. The lingering orange-citrus bitterness largely disappears, and turns into a very average IPA-like finish. Since aroma makes up a main component of taste, this is not too surprising. A lot of the bright citrus flavors are lost and replaced by dank, earthy tones. When poured from the can, Heady Topper turns into an earthier Daisy Cutter with mid-palate flavor. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel (Can): Medium bodied, medium carbonation. It feels a little under-carbonated at first, preventing the citrusy bitterness from popping on the tongue, but the trade-off of a heavy lingering flavor on the tongue for the finish is absolutely worth it. Finish is a little oily, a little stick, and bittersweet. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel (Duvel tulip): No difference.

Overall: This one should ABSOLUTELY be enjoyed from the can. From what I read, a lot of the volatiles that make this beer so special quickly escape from the glass, whereas the can maximizes their presence through lower exposure and retention. Who would have thought that drinking from the can could be so wonderful? Maybe those tailgaters have it right after all! If I could get consistent access to this beer, it would be my go to non-stout brew.

Recommendation: This is an absolutely must-seek out imperial IPA. Just make sure to drink it from the can. I wish I could pour it back in and undo the mistake I made, questioning the wisdom of the can.

Food Pairings: Kuma's Corner hamburgers. Spicy food would be pretty great with this too.

Cost: $12 for a four pack.

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