Heady Topper is a double India Pale Ale brewed by The Alchemist in Stowe, VT. It is unfiltered and contains 8% ABV, with hints of citrus flavors. Unpasteurized, it is kept refrigerated by authorized retailers until point of sale. As of December, 2015, it was rated the fifth best beer in the world by Beer Advocate, and has been described as "a complex web of genius." Sold only in limited production, it sells out within seconds or minutes of being released. As of the beginning of 2013, production was 1200 cases a week with plans to expand to 1800 during the following summer. Heady Topper is well known throughout New England, even by people who have never had the opportunity to drink it. It is common for people to travel long distances in an attempt to obtain the beer from retail establishments in Vermont. Most establishments have a limit of two four-packs per customer, including the brewery itself. The beer is sometimes referred to as "The Heady" by regular followers of The Alchemist brewery.
In November 2013, The Alchemist closed their retail shop citing traffic and public access issues, and moved to a larger space in Stowe, VT on June 30, 2016. The new, larger brewery and retail space opened the same day.
John Kimmich came to Vermont in 1994 to learn the craft beer industry from Greg Noonan. He worked as head brewer at Vermont Pub and Brewery in Burlington, VT., where he met his future wife, Jen. Together they opened The Alchemist as a brew pub in Waterbury in November 2003, with Heady Topper an occasional offering. After customers began illegally taking Heady Topper offsite, Kimmich began bottling the ale. The Kimmichs started the production brewery in August 2011, and Hurricane Irene destroyed the pub the same month. Despite no marketing effort outside of Vermont, it grew in popularity through personal recommendations and craft beer websites.
Heady Topper retails for $5-8 per 16 ounce can. In Vermont, a four pack costs $13.45 after tax and deposit from the brewery in Stowe.
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- Kimmich, John. "CraftBeer.com The Alchemist Pub & Brewery". Retrieved 2013-08-31.