This review may make my fellow Texans unhappy with me… For that, I apologize. However, due to the chance to try a beer of such rarity and deliciousness, I revoke said prior apology. First off, the Heady Topper can specifically says “DRINK FROM THE CAN”
in all caps, all the way around the top. Seeing as I can’t review it properly without pouring a tiny bit into a glass, I went ahead, broke the rules just a bit, and poured a finger into my trusty Dogfish Head Tulip glass. Here goes nothing.
Alchemist’s Heady Topper pours a murky golden-yellow, extremely similar to a true german hefeweizen in appearance. A quick swirl kicks up almost no head whatsoever, and leaves almost no lacing on the glass. Taking a sip shows that although there is no decent lacing, the film of fine bubbles that dance down the bowl of my tulip makes high levels of Alpha-acids apparent. It’s also heavily carbonated, showing loads of fine bubbles, somewhat akin to a bit of champagne that has been left forgotten in the glass for an hour or so. Beautiful to look at.
The nose is pretty much what you would expect from a big-ass DIPA… HOPS. Lots of hops. That being said, Heady shows layers of wonderful nuance. Hints of Lemon-rind, mango, white peach, persimmon, and grassy herbal hop-aromas leap out of the glass to punch your nose right in the face. (Is that a thing??? If not, it SHOULD be a thing. Just saying.) The booze is pretty well hidden, without any fusel alcohol aromas to ruin this monster, and only serves to warm the sinuses a tiny little bit. I’m glad I cheated, and poured a little bit of this puppy into a glass. You know why I poured it into a glass? Because I’m and adult, and I do what I want!!!
The palate is awash in, you probably guessed it, loads of grassy hops and citrus fruits. Pineapple runs the show up front, chased across the tongue by pine, basil, and some more lemon-peel. A crazy, almost overwhelming and prickly carbonation continues to dominate the mouth, finishing up the body of this beast with light-roasted, bready malt, stone-fruit, and more warming booze.
I could drink this beer over and over, and not nail down all the high-points inherent in the pure, unadulterated majesty that is Heady Topper. In a way, it kind of reminds me of what some of Lagunitas’ beers wish they could be, but not in a bad way. (Don’t get me wrong, Lagunitas makes some amazingly sublime libations, some that are better than Heady Topper, in their own right. But they ain’t Heady Topper.) If for some wonderful, magical reason, you find yourself with a can of this unexplainably mind-blowing beer in your hand, for once in your life, be selfish. Hide in the darkest, quietest part of your home, and greedily consume every last drop. (And if you’re so inclined, save the last little bit, and culture the yeast from the can, and save a slant for me. I’ll swap you some Bells’ house-yeast culture for it!) As always, Stay classy Texas, and thanks for stopping by!
Matt The Beer-Guy