Heady Topper Beer – The Alchemist
When it comes to beer, the options are wide and varied. All different producers from all different countries around the world have attempted to make some version of beer at one point in time; some have gone on to become easily recognisable whereas others are forgotten before the can is even finished. However, in recent years there is one name that has been on the lips of all beer lovers – Heady Topper.
After visiting Vermont in the mid-nineties, John Kimmich learnt all about the beer industry and began to work as head brewer in the state. Soon after, he and his wife opened ‘The Alchemist’ which was a brew pub back in 2003. Heady Topper was introduced here but only in small quantities; however, John found out that his regulars were taking the drink illegally off-site. After hearing of this occurring, he began to bottle his drink and produce it on a larger scale in just 2011. Sadly, the pub was destroyed by Hurricane Irene shortly after but word of Heady Topper had already spread.
Heady Topper is unfiltered, contains 8% ABV, and is principally a double India Pale Ale; the beer is unpasteurised and normally kept chilled until sold and consumed. The flavours of Heady Topper and the descriptions of the flavours have been wide and varied; ’skittles’ seems to be mentioned more than most. As a result of added citrus, the beer offers a real fruity kick and takes on a whole new avenue that beer rarely drifts down.
At the end of December 2015, Heady Topper was named as the fifth best beer in the world in Beer Advocate rankings which is rare considering it is and always has been a relatively small project. Although production has been rare in the past couple of years due to The Alchemist retail shop closing down and new premises being sought after, any batches that do come out generally sell within minutes. Even though it seems impossible for a beer, it has even sold out in seconds before leaving some customers overjoyed and others waiting for the next batch. In 2013, production reached 1,200 cases per week with plans to increase by 50% in the near future.
Heady Topper is very much a local drink and is now known through the majority of New England, even those who have never tasted it. In addition to this, if news spreads of more cases going on sale people have been known to drive long distances just to get their hands on a case or two. Sometimes called ‘The Heady’, the beer has come along way from just starting out in the one pub. Whether we see higher production in the future or not remains to be seen, however one thing is for certain; if they opened a huge production facility, the beer industry would go crazy. Although, would over-production ruin the appeal of Heady Topper? If you plan on visiting Vermont, try and get your hands on the beer and experience your own fruity, skittle-tasting, citrus-based slice of heaven!