Friday, March 6, 2015

My Ode to Heady Topper (The Beer)

I don't often write about beer.  I like to enjoy it.  I like to enjoy 3 or 4 of them with LC or my friends.  It's rare that I would actually sit down and write about a beer.  That's how special the Alchemist Brewery's Heady Topper is.  It has inspired me to write it about it.

The story is now a part of drinking lore.  Located in Waterbury, Vermont, Heady Topper was born out of this idea that canned beer made with quality is a great thing that should be enjoyed. A hoppy canned beer was actually the way to brew these kinds of beer to preserve the flavor and aroma.  Starting as a tavern, the Alchemist as a restaurant was destroyed by Hurricane Irene a couple of years ago.  Only the small brewery remained.  Pumping out a couple of hundred cases every day was not enough to meet demand, thus a legend was born.

People stand in line for hours at local central Vermont corner stores waiting for that days delivery of Heady Topper.  The closest one to me is the Hunger Mountain Coop in Montpelier, three hours away.  And yes, I have tried to plan going up there to wait in line like everyone else.  I have had a taste of these beers before; a friend of mine was given one can (ONE CAN!) by his uncle and knowing that I was a beer maven, he decided to bring it down to share with me.  ONE CAN!!

Who cares that you wait in line for a four pack of beer for 3 hours when it really comes down to it?  It's the experience and the journey in getting the beer that is more important than the beer itself.  I think they like it that way.  My story will be told with more detail some other time, suffice it to say though that I was able to score a case of the wonderful suds.

Which leads me to my review.  It's the number one rated beer in Beer Advocate. has it in the top 10.  But how does it taste?  How does it match up to some other imperial IPAs that are de rigeur around New England?    

The drinker is implored not to pour the beer into a glass and to drink it from the can.  I surreptitiously ignore that plea, look around to see if anyone is watching, and pour the heavenly beer into one of my favorite drinking glasses.  It pours out a bright cloudy orange, just like a good imperial IPA should.  You are immediately hit by the hop aroma as the beer comes out of the silver bullet can (the real silver bullet).  I throw the empty can into the recycling bin - it's a Vermont beer after all - and swirl the beer around.  The first taste is full of hoppy flavor, with some notes of citrus.  It's a classic Northeast IPA.  Not too bitter either.  It tastes like a wonderful ray of sunset sunshine attached to it.  And at 16 ounces, there is always an extra bonus of 4 ounces of beer when you think that it has gone away.  A truly wonderful beer.

Now don't get me wrong.  There are numerous beers that match up nice to Heady Topper and don't require you to sit in line for 3 hours to enjoy it.  But this is my ode and I'll enjoy it if I want to.   Three hours in line to sip a little sunset sunshine?  Count me in.

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