Featured Contributor: Don Manfredi @
The summer of whales has continued and I was able to score a can of Heady Topper from The Alchemist in Vermont. Before I rave on and on about how incredible this beer was I want to marvel at what the Alchemist is. This is a true home town specialty that, according to their website brews 180 barrels a week and focuses on Heady Topper as their main beer. They don’t serve at their brewery and they don’t really distribute outside of Vermont (I have heard rumors of the odd sighting in Philly…and BTW why does Philly get so many special beers…have any of the brewers been there?).
No magic story about how I got this beer, buddy had one and gave it to me. However I offered to trade for it and gave him a Three Floyd’s Dreadnaught and a Troegs Nugget Nectar for the pint of Heady Topper and it was more than worth it. I can only say this – OMG (I am trying to make my posts more hip…how is it working so far?). Seriously this beer was absolutely ridiculous. First off, I did follow the rules and drank it straight from the can just like the label instructs you to.
When I cracked it, I was immediately greeted with an incredible floral and citrusy hop smell before I even got the can to my lips. It was almost like smelling hop syrup. At that point I did not know whether to drink this beer or drop to one knee and propose to it. I decided to drink it and boy am I glad I did. This was by far the most flavorful, balanced, and easy drinking double India Pale Ale (DIPA) I have ever drank by a long shot. I mean this is not even a fair fight. Everything about this beer was perfect and could have easily been followed by another (but maybe not another after that because it is 8% ABV). Here is the amazing thing, no bitterness whatsoever, and a really fruity finish. I don’t know what else to say except that I would move to Vermont for this beer…or would I?
Here is the thing, I spend so much time chasing beers like Heady Topper, Zombie Dust, and Pliny the Elder that I sometimes forget how lucky we have it in the Mitten. I am sure Vermont is a pretty place and Heady Topper is worth traveling there just to try it (although maybe not worth travelling to Philly), but they can’t get beer from Short’s, Bells, Greenbush, and Dark Horse to name a few. So I would not trade living by the Alchemist for living in Michigan, but I will try to get more Heady Topper any chance I can. I will also continue to stop or ask friends to stop at Three Floyd’s when they head to Chicago. I will also continue to remind myself not to take some of our breweries like Founders and New Holland for granted because they put out some amazing stuff. If I lived in a state where I could not get a Dragon’s Milk any time I wanted, I would be pretty bummed out.
I imagine the people who live by the Alchemist feel as lucky as the people who lived next to the first Ben & Jerry’s, another Vermont original, must have. I would not hold my breath but it would be nice if the same people who convinced Ben and Jerry to expand would make a visit to the Alchemist.
Comfort is the direct enemy of growth.
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