I have heard a lot about Heady Topper, the Double IPA by The Alchemist brewery, and how it is a fantastic beer. Online reviews always rank it exceptionally high and everyone I have asked that has tried it has said it was good. However, I have also been told that it is fairly pricey; due to name, renown, and the exclusivity of it. Would it be worth trying to get or order some?
I've had it and I would say it's not really worth going out of your way for it. It's been overhyped, in my opinion, and while it's a good beer I don't think it's really as mind-breakingly good as many others seem to think.
I believe this discrepancy arises from the fact that Heady Topper is a relatively well balanced IPA. It has the hops bitterness to it that IPAs do, and the high alcohol content of a double, however it also has more of a malty body to it that most people are unused to when drinking IPAs. So lots of people are shocked when drinking it that it actually has some balance between the body and the aftertaste, so that's part of what leads to the high reviews (in my opinion).
So if the opportunity comes up to try it, sure, go for it. But I wouldn't really go out of my way to chase after it - there are other well balanced IPAs out there that are more readily available.
I live in Vermont and I've had quite a few cans of Heady Topper and some from cask. I really love Heady Topper and I haven't yet had another DIPA that tastes similar. First, it's not that expensive. It's $3.75 for a 16 oz can. $14 for a 4-pack. You can get it at local bars, pubs, and restaurants for $5/can. Around $78 for a case (24 x 16oz cans). Compared to other DIPA of similar quality, it's not that expensive (sure if you compared it to macro lagers...)
It's produced by a small family owned brewery that's went through 2 expansions which doubled their brewery in size each time over the last 2 years (cannery has only existed for 2 years, before that they brewed it at a brewpub until the brewpub was destroyed by Hurricane Irene). They are currently getting their paperwork finalized for construction of a second brewery which will expand their production even more than before.
For locals, it's not that difficult to acquire. If you visit Vermont and plan ahead, then you're sure to leave with a case or two.
I think it's worth trading for, but just remember that there's no beer that's life changing. Just a lot of really good tasting beer.
I was recently in Burlington and picked up a couple of cases.
Yes, it's a good beer. No, it's not as good as the hype suggests.
One of the previous posts hit the nail on the head. Heady Topper has a good balance between the strength and the hoppiness. It has what I call smooth strength.
But is it worth driving up from Pennsylvania and following the delivery truck around - probably not
Being in California, I have only been able to get my hands on one can. I did enjoy it, however I found it to be very common. In California we are bombarded with IPAs of this same ilk. High alcohol, created by adding sugar to lighten the body, and huge amounts of hops. Call me old school but I prefer IPAs that have about 7 ABV. and about as much hops as the average Pale Ale these days. Lagunitas just put out a beer that is 4.75 ABV with a bunch of hops. Maybe I can have two!