For any fan of hopped up beers there are certain brews that need no introduction. Beers with that perfect combination of reputation and rarity that grants them an allure so strong it really doesn’t make sense if you stop to think about it. Okay it’s not just beer, this kinda applies to most things tbh. Anyhoo, Heady Topper by Vermont’s The Alchemist is one of these, and yeah I’m one of those who go all googly eyed at every damn picture of it on my Tumblr and Instagram feeds. As storied as Heady is, it has a very real home state rival in Lawson’s Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine, a brew many claim surpasses its more famous neighbour. My desire for these two beers was immense but I was resigned to daydreaming about partaking of their juicy delights. Then outa nowhere the fine gentleman that is Instagram’s blue__zulu was all “Got spare cans of Heady and SoS from my holls, barely a month old, they’re yours if you want ‘em”. The online craft beer community really is something else, and Neil is a particularly bright light. And so, on a rainy Monday afternoon somewhere in the UK I actually got to try ‘em!
First up, The Alchemist Heady Topper (8% abv), a beer as weighed down with plaudits as it’s possible to get. Gulped straight from the can, ‘cause they know more than me, that glorious “tchssshh” releases a burst of potent tropical fruit aromas directly into my nose holes. A sip confirms the potency of this DIPA’s delightful hop profile, bright with wind tussled spruce, juicy grapefruit, mixed citrus zest, and a hint of fresh cut grass, there’s perfume like undertones and just a shadow of a hint of a whisper of a well subdued grainy malt base lurking somewhere within. Med sweet up front to pretty damn bitter and dry at the end, it’s almost resin free and stunningly easy to drink. A real class act and a joy to drink, a beer that lives up to the hype.
Before I’d finished Heady I was already opening Lawson’s Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine (8% abv). Coming in at the same abv but declaring itself an IPA rather than a double IPA, the delightful floral and resinous aromas continue into the taste, juicy with mandarin, grapefruit, passionfruit, and mango, the hop oils rule absolutely, the caramelised biscuit malts typically beat down into grovelling servitude. There’s a kinda rounded sweetness here, less bitingly bitter on the back end than Heady and more oily and resinous throughout. It’s another truly delicious beer, and substantially different in tone to Heady to offer a cracking alternative to those lucky enough to get access to them.
By the time I’d finished this pair of hoppy delights the rain had disappeared and the sun was beaming, if only for a short while. A respectful nod if you will. Which you’d prefer outa these two finely crafted brews would predictably be down to what you’re looking for from an IPA (I know Heady’s labelled a DIPA, but things change and in 2015 it has far more of an IPA feel about it than a DIPA, to my mind at any rate), the bright, juicy, and breezy nature of Heady or the more resinous and oily leanings of Sip of Sunshine. Me? If I could get an instant refill on just one can I’d pick Heady Topper. At least I would today. Tomorrow it may be an entirely different story. Yeah I’m awkward I know. Cheers m’dears!