Tag Archives: Alchemist

639. The Alchemist Focal Banger

 

The Alchemist Focal BangerSmall update to this post as The Alchemist has opened their new brewery in Stowe Vermont and with this new location Focal Banger is readily available for the first time. New can design but same great beer and in my opinion better than Heady Topper. Be sure to make a stop in Stowe next time you are passing through Vermont to check out the new space.

The Alchemist Focal BangerFocal Banger has been released in cans twice now so more people have had a chance to try this one than The Crusher and Holy Cow. I’ve heard this described by many as a lighter version of Heady and I tend to agree with this description.

Appearance is a nice pale orange with a thick white head. Aroma grapefruit, citrus and just a hint of pine. Very appealing beer in both appearance and smell. Taste does not disappoint either with plenty of juicy hops, but also some floral, pine and earthy notes. A lot going on with this beer but it all works well together.

I prefer Heady over Focal and Crusher more than any of them but they are all excellent. If you make the trip for a truck load sale buy all the beer you can as you will enjoy every sip. 
Pros:
Lots of complex hop flavor
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 7.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: The Alchemist
Brewers Description: An American IPA , hopped judiciously with Citra and Mosaic.

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638. The Alchemist Holy Cow

The Alchemist Holy CowI didn’t make the trip to Vermont for The Alchemist truck sale but a friend was nice enough to share a can of Holy Cow and Focal Banger with me.  It’s great that The Alchemist is starting to bring back more of the beers from the brew pub as I never visited the pub before it flooded and closed. This gives everyone a chance to try more quality beer in addition to Heady Topper.

Holy Cow is their “session” IPA and while I like to see beers in the 4.5% or less range to be a session beer when compared to the 8% Heady Topper, 9.6% The Crusher and 8.88% Ouroboros this is definitely the closest The Alchemist has come to a session IPA.

This beer pours a very nice orange color with a nice white head. Aroma is much less pungent than Heady or The Crusher but that is to be expected from a single IPA. There is some melon and citrus, pleasant but not very strong. Taste has the same melon, light citrus and a nice balance with the malts. Holy Cow is light, refreshing and only a very slight bitterness in the finish.

Really enjoyed this beer from The Alchemist and I hope the next truck load sale happens on a Saturday when I have nothing going on so I can make the trip.
Pros:
Sessionable and flavorful
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 5.1% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: The Alchemist
Brewers Description: Holy Cow is an old favorite being revisited. When we opened our doors for business at the old pub, this was one of the initial offerings. Back then, I was testing the waters to see how people would respond to a truly hoppy IPA. Funny, right? 

We soon started to refer to it as a Session IPA, as most of my other IPAs came in above 7% ABV. Through the years, Holy Cow went through countless changes before settling into a groove near the end. In that spirit, I am wiping the slate clean for this new recipe. 

The malt bill is the same, but the hops are most defiantly different. Columbus and Amarillo are now joined by Huell Melon, a new and unique hop from Germany. So sit back, relax, and get into a little sesh with Holy Cow. Enjoy..

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629. The Alchemist The Crusher

 

The Alchemist Crusher 1With the new brewery open in Stowe they have brought back The Crusher on a more regular basis. Since opening it has been available each day with a limit of 2 – four packs per person. Love this beer and so glad to be able to get it on a regular basis now. Be sure to check out The Alchemist in Stowe soon.

Alchemist CrusherI didn’t discover The Alchemist until after the flood so the only beers I had tried were Heady Topper and their gluten free beer, Celia. Last December when I went to Vermont for three days with my wife I tried Ouroboros at The Reservoir which was great. Then they started their truck sales occasionally releasing beers in plain cans with stickers to identify the beer. I didn’t make it out to Vermont for the sale but I was able to score a can of each.

Crusher is an even bigger DIPA than Heady with an ABV of 9.6% versus Heady at 8.0%. This beer has the radiant orange glow that I enjoy so much, unfiltered and a great white head. Tons of hops in the aroma with tropical, citrus, grapefruit; again all the things I like in my DIPAs. Taste is excellent with loads and loads of hops; citrus, tropical, grapefruit. A fair amount of bitterness but the alcohol is non-existent which is surprising for a such a big DIPA.

It was probably a good thing I only had a single can of this beer as I certainly would have finished a second and that probably would have been too much for one night.
Pros:
HOPS and no alcohol burn
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 9.6% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 

Brewers Website: The Alchemist
Brewers Description: The Crusher is an American Double IPA that I started making years ago at the old pub. Hop heads were constantly asking for more hops. So, in the words of Frank Zappa, “Did you say you want some more? Well here’s some more.” While I enjoy hops with the rest of them, I still try to maintain some semblance of balance and drinkability. This beer is oozing with hop flavor and aroma with a very dry finish. Enjoy responsibly, this one can sneak up on you.

The Alchemist Crusher 3 The Alchemist Crusher 2

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Vermont Beercation 7/4/2012

Last week I headed to Vermont for a 3-day trip with my wife, her sister and her husband. I spent a couple of days looking at reviews of places to visit and getting input from my Twitter and FB followers on places not to miss. After spending 3 days visiting 6 breweries and eating tons of great food I have to say the trip was as good as I have had.

We left Maine shortly after noon on July 4th and hit a micro burst just west of St Johnsbury. This was some of the worst weather I have ever driven in with huge amounts of rain, street flooding and multiple trees down. We had to detour several times and ended up many miles north before finally making our way back through Stowe to Waterbury. See photos and notes about the storm here.

After making it to Waterbury we were ready for supper and stopped at The Reservoir for dinner and drinks. At this point I had been driving for 4+ hours and needed a beer. Fortunately they had a great tap list as well as some great burgers. I had a Hill Farmstead Edward, then an Abner and ended with a Celia Saison from The Alchemist.

My brother in law opted for a sampler including; Lawson’s Knockout Blonde, Fiddlehead IPA, Harpoon Ginger Wheat and Hill Farmstead’s Abner. I tried each of these in addition to my 3 beers and enjoyed them all. I have reviewed Edward previously and will be reviewing Lawson’s Knockout Blonde in the near future. The others will have to wait for a future trip to Vermont as I did not take good pics or notes while drinking them. I can say the Celia Saison was different than anything I have had before. It is a Gluten free beer which may appeal to some people but for me the taste was a little too funky. The food was amazing with great chicken wings, sweet potato fries and burgers. After this stop we made our way to our hotel in Burlington for the night. It was a long drive and we needed our rest for the next three days.

On Thursday our first stop was The Beverage Warehouse in Winooski, VT just north or Burlington. They had a huge selection of beer, wine, glassware and pretty much anything else you would need. We ended up with 3 cases of Heady Topper, bottles from Dogfish Head, Founders (Double Trouble) and much more that we cannot get in Maine as well as some Lawson’s Finest Liquids glasses. They did not have a limit on the amount of Heady Topper which was great as I needed to bring home a bunch for my Maine beer drinking friends. After this we made our way back to Burlington and spent some time on Church Street for some shopping. This is a great little marketplace that has something for everyone. We came back to Church Street on Friday and I will post some info on the restaurant we went to shortly.

For lunch we made our way to American Flatbread which is within walking distance of Church Street and they have their own brewery. The food there was amazing with my wife and her sister getting a very nice salad and then splitting a couple of pizzas. The small pizza was enough for two people to share even though the waitstaff encouraged us to get a large. We also had several beers from their tap list and since they serve halfs we were able to enjoy a bunch of different styles without drinking too much at lunch. We also ended up taking home a growler from Zero Gravity (their in house brewery) which I will review soon. (Read more after the break)

After American Flatbread we did a little more shopping before heading to Magic Hat for a tour, tasting and the experience of visiting “The Artifactory”. The brewery had a great setup with a nice retail/tasting area however it was a little too touristy for me. I prefer the small breweries where you actually get to go out on the brewery floor and see the process. Magic Hat has a video for the history of the company (lame) and a loft that you can look down on brewery floor but you get no where near the actual process. Tastings were nice and I got to try a Honey Wheat IPA which is only available at the brewery. Not terribly impressed with this beer so don’t feel like you are missing something by not trying it. Also tried their Imperial Pilsner which was not too exciting. Of course I do not like pilsners so that should not be a surprise.

If you like brewery tours I have to say that Allagash in Portland probably has the best tour of all the breweries I have visited.

Unfortunately we missed Switchback Brewery as they close at 5:00 but that evening we went to Vermont Pub & Brewery for dinner. After a short wait we were seated outside on a beautiful evening and enjoyed some great food. I had the pulled pork sandwich, wife had a steak sandwich and we also got sweet potato fries and wings. You might start to see a pattern regarding the fries and wings by the end of this post. The beer was good but not excellent and again they had samples, halfs and full pints available so we sampled many beers. A few that stood out are the Green Tea Beer and Forbidden Fruit. Both were excellent and different than most other beers out there. I like it when brewers test the limits of beer and both of these certainly do.

Overall this was a great place for dinner and drinks and if you find yourself in Burlington you should definitely go there for lunch or dinner.

On Friday we started the day by visiting the Warren Store in Warren, VT in search of Lawson’s Double Sunshine. They had 2 bottles left so I bought both as well as a couple of bottles of Knockout Blonde, reviews on each coming soon. We also had lunch there which was great, homemade bread and top quality turkey. The store is certainly out of the way but worth a visit. They also have lots of clothing which is very expensive but great quality.

After the Warren Store we headed back to Waterbury with the intention of taking a tour at Ben & Jerry’s. We arrived at a very busy Ben & Jerry’s facility with more people than any of us could stand. Also the tours that were supposed to start every 30 minutes were not going to start for 45 minutes. We quickly left Ben & Jerry’s and headed just down the road to The Alchemist Brewery. The retail store was small but offered samples, t-shirts, stickers and glassware. There really was not a tour but you can enter a small viewing area near the fermentation tanks to look around. Not a lot going on the day we were there other than some bubbles in buckets from happy yeast. Unlike Ben & Jerry’s the brewery was almost empty which was a nice change after the mob scene down the road.

At this point it was Friday afternoon and our short vacation was more than half over.

We needed a place for supper so I polled my FB and Twitter friends and received many suggestions. We opted to head back to Church Street and see what we could find. Ended up at Sweetwaters which was excellent. Enjoyed a Switchback Ale and a Mountain Ale by Shed Brewing. Both were excellent and went well the wings, sandwiches and sweet potato fries. More great food and beer. After supper the wives went off to do some shopping and my brother in law and I headed back to American Flatbread for another beer. Tried their London Calling which is a very low ABV session beer. The place was packed and we never actually made it to the bar or table before finishing our beer, meeting up with our wives and heading home for the night.

Saturday morning we went to the Burlington Farmer’s Market which was excellent. Lots of vendors with fresh fruit and produce and several places selling wine and spirits. We found lots of stuff to buy and then headed out to Montpelier to visit the Hunger Mountain Co-op in search of more Lawson’s Double Sunshine. We arrived shortly before lunch and found a great selection of beer including all the Double Sunshine we could buy as there was a 2 bottle per person limit. We also ended up buying lunch and a few other things from the co-op. This is a great place and I wish there was something similar in my area. At this point the car was overloaded with luggage, purchases and lots and lots of beer but we headed north to Hill Farmstead.

This was a bit of a drive but so worth it. The brewery is about 3 miles down a dirt road in the middle of no where Vermont. However since I live in the middle of no where Maine we found it quite easily. The brewery was quite busy with cars from New York, Mass, Maine and other states. They had a small tasting area setup outside – any of the beers on tap – tasting for $1 and 2 of them you could buy a cup for $5. I went right into the brewery as I knew I was buying a bit of everything. Line was about 4 deep when we entered and remained at least that busy the entire time we were there. I ended up with 8 – 750 ml bottles and 3 stem glasses. Shaun (owner/brewer) and another employee were filling bottles as fast as the taps would allow. Everyone agreed that Hill Farmstead was the best beer of the trip and the total haul was 12 – 750 ml and a 2 liter growler.

You would think at this point we would be done as this was brewery #5 in 3 days and huge amounts of beer purchased and consumed but I had a gift card from Woodstock Inn & Brewery in Woodstock NH so off we went for one last stop. Again we ordered pub appetizers; wings, nachos, onion rings and some stuffed mushroom thing. We also had a sampler of beer and some pints but after our stop at Hill Farmstead the beer here seemed a bit of a let down. After our time at the bar we purchased a couple of growlers of beer, bombers of their 4000’er IPA and a couple of growlers of root beer for the kids. This was a neat little addition that I had never seen before and something fun to bring home for the kids we left behind with grandma.

That was our final stop of our beercation and we headed back to Maine via the scenic Kancamagus Highway. The car was so loaded down at this point the hills were rather difficult to climb. Total beer haul for the trip;

  • The Alchemist – Heady Topper – 72 (3 cases) / 16 oz cans
  • Hill Farmstead – Various – 12 / 750 ml bottles & 1 / 2 liter growler
  • Lawson’s Finest – 10 bottles of Double Sunshine & 2 bottles of Knockout Blonde
  • Magic Hat – 2 growlers
  • Zero Gravity – 2 growlers
  • Vermont Pub & Brewery – 2 growlers
  • Woodstock Inn & Brewery – 2 growlers and 2 bombers (plus 2 growlers of root beer)
  • Founders – 2 / 4 packs of Double Trouble
  • 5 other bombers and about a few 12 oz bottles

This was an amazing 3-day voyage hitting 6 breweries/brew pubs as well as a few restaurants with amazing tap lists. We had some great food and spent lots of quality time with my wife. Will certainly be heading to Vermont again soon. If you are planning a trip to Vermont you may be able to find a few places we did not hit in our three days but if you follow our path you will not be disappointed.

 

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212. Alchemist Brewery Heady Topper

The Alchemist Heady TopperIf you live in New England and pay attention to the craft beer scene than I am sure you have heard of Heady Topper from The Alchemist Brewery in Vermont. After months of wanting to get my hands on this beer and almost making the 3+ hour drive from Maine to Vermont on at least one occasion I was able to get 2 4-packs sent to me from a fellow craft beer enthusiast in Vermont. I ended up giving one 4-pack to a follower of my blog (actually traded for a very tasty lunch at Run of the Mill) and split the second 4-pack with another follower of my blog (although we have not connected yet for him to receive his 2 cans). The other 2 cans were enjoyed after long days at work and I have to say this is one beer that lives up to the hype.

Appearance is unassuming but nice unfiltered orange color with slight head. The aroma makes up for the appearance with tons of citrus hops and a bit of pine, a truly great smelling beer. Taste is a bit more reserved than the smell but still has plenty of hops and some malts there to balance things out. This is what a DIPA should be with a fair amount of carbonation to help smooth things out and finishes dry making it very easy to drink and it does not drink like an 8% ABV beer. Really enjoyed this one, nice can with good artwork. Makes me want to visit Vermont so I can buy more.
Pros: Easy to drink, well balanced, hoppy!
Cons: Hard to get outside Vermont
Alcohol Content: 8% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 120
Rating:  ★★★★
Brewers Website: The Alchemist
Brewers Description: Is our double I.P.A.! Loaded with hops, this one will put hair on your chest.

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