Special Beer Review: Heady Topper

A friend was out east recently, and brought me back a can of Heady Topper! I’ve never had this legendary beer before, so I thought I would really slow down and savor the experience by doing a formal tasting. Here it is!

I disobeyed the directions on the can, and poured most of the contents into a glass. I left a bit in the can, though, and talk about the distinctions at the end of the post.

  • Appearance
    • Hazy light gold beer, with a thick and sticky cream-colored head that leaves some fine lacing on the glass.
  • Aroma
    • Piney and slightly dank aroma, with a hint of peach/apricot behind it. As the beer settles down, the aroma is milder.
  • Flavor
    • Definitely hop-forward, with a smooth and well-rounded bitterness that ramps up as I drink it. The hop character is quite resiny and piney. I don’t pick up much in the way of other flavors, but that might just be my palate. Malts are in the background; I can’t say anything in particular about them.
  • Mouthfeel
    • The beer has a medium body, with a slick mouthfeel; it really coats the tongue. I’m guessing that must be the hops.
  • Overall
    • This beer definitely lives up to the hype, although I am curious how I would view it in a blind tasting. The hype is probably part of the experience, and definitely set me up to want to enjoy it. It’s interesting reading reviews on Beer Advocate and places like that…there is a very subjective element (I think the technical term is “BS”). Really…passionfruit and cracker alongside 20 other flavors? I suppose…

Is it that different in the glass versus from the can? Not in flavor, certainly. I perceive the aroma as different, but I think that’s largely because of the metallic aroma from the can itself. This shifts the overall aroma more towards the citrusy side–very interesting, but definitely not a “real” character of the beer.