Situated on Cottage Club Road in Stowe, Vermont is The Alchemist. Rising out of lush Vermont lawns, this behemoth of a brewery almost looks out of place, but the owners and architects did a tremendous job in creating a modern, yet quirky-looking structure that could pass as an art museum.
The flagship beer of The Alchemist, Heady Topper, is actually brewed at their Waterbury location and 4-packs of Heady are distributed within “25 miles” of the brewery (you can find ample quantities in the local beers shops). Because of this, the wait lines at the Stowe location have greatly diminished, and the experience is much more relaxing.
On this day, I immediately headed over to the tasting station where I was offered samples of Heady, Focal Banger, and Crusher. My take:
Heady Topper (8.0% ABV) This American Double IPA has taken home many an award. It’s thick and creamy, with a beautiful haze and loaded with hoppy fragrance and taste.
Appearance: 4.9 | Aroma: 4.5 | Feel: 4.9 | Taste: 4.8 | Overall: 4.8
Focal Banger (7.0% ABV) Brewed with Citra and Mosaic hops, this IPA has all of the flavor, but half of the heaviness of its big brother … and yet it still packs quite a punch.
Appearance: 4.5 | Aroma: 4.4 | Feel: 4.5 | Taste: 4.7 | Overall: 4.6
Crusher (8.0% ABV) Another Double IPA, Crusher is loaded with hops and loaded with fragrance and taste. When poured into a glass, the swirling haziness bedevils the eyes!
Appearance: 4.9 | Aroma: 4.5 | Feel: 4.5 | Taste: 4.7 | Overall: 4.7
The Cicerone says: a visit to The Alchemist during the summer months is special. After a few samples of some of the finest ales in the world (literally), hang out and play lawn games with other friendly beer-heads.