Glorious hops! That’s what a sign inside the Alchemist viewing area proclaims, and it sets the tone for the entire brewing operation, where hops are practically worshipped. As any good Vermont beer fan knows, the Alchemist only does one thing, and they do it well; Heady Topper, a double IPA with complex hops flavor out the wazoo and 120 IBUs.
The good stuff is mostly only available in cans; the family that brews it insists that it helps develop the flavor. I’m already not a huge fan of IPAs in general, and even my three ounce sample was almost too bitter for me the day I visited, but hop heads everywhere rejoice in Heady Topper’s bitterness and flowery flavor with hints of tropical fruit. I’ve even heard that some can fans wait in the parking lots of certain beverage stores on delivery day until they see that hop-covered van.
When we visited the “cannery” in Waterbury, it was a brisk wintry morning with snow on the ground and already the dreaded “out of Heady Topper cans” sign was out front, which shows a glimpse of the brewery’s high demand. Before Hurricane Irene wiped it out, the Alchemist Pub and Brewery produced a wide variety of different brews. But since the completion of their new brewing space and canning line, they’ve focused on one thing and one thing only: getting the message of hops out to the thirsty public. If you’re craving some hoppy goodness but don’t want to drive to Waterbury, a lot of Vermont restaurants keep the cans on their menus.
It doesn’t matter if The Alchemist never brews another kind of beer again–Heady Topper has already sealed its place in Vermont craft beer history forever by being pure, simple, and unique.
The Alchemist Cannery