Pouring into a specialty glass, Focal Banger reveals a slightly hazy, beautiful straw to light golden color, topped with a generous cream-colored foam. The visual presentation is inviting and reminiscent of other local favorites.


Cracking open the can, a burst of hop aroma emerges, though not as intense or ripe as its sibling, Heady Topper. Focal Banger delivers a brighter profile with notes of fresh pineapple, grassy hop pellets, and sourdough bread. While familiar, the aroma lacks the juiciness found in other hazy IPAs.


Diverging from Heady Topper, Focal Banger offers a crisp, malty backbone with a more traditional IPA bitterness. The flavor profile showcases freshly cut pineapple melding with juicy grapefruit-style hops, reaching an 8/10 intensity in apparent bitterness. The sweetness is dialed back to 4/10, contributing to a distinctive hop-forward character and a relative dryness. The 7% alcohol content plays a minimal role, allowing the beer’s flavors to shine.


A return of the odd graininess noted in Heady Topper surfaces in Focal Banger, suggesting a consistent element in their brewing style. However, in this iteration, the graininess adds personality, reminiscent of raw and farmy notes, with corn grits and white wheat layered over a sourdough base. A subtle powderiness in the mouthfeel, possibly from the West Coast shipment, adds to the overall texture.


Transitioning to a glass enhances the experience, allowing for a more concentrated aroma and a fuller appreciation of the beer’s characteristics. The slightly chewier malt base and thicker body distinguish Focal Banger from its sibling, providing a richer and sharper profile. In comparison, Focal Banger stands out as a refined masterpiece, offering a complete and everyday IPA experience. While Heady Topper may embrace an intentionally unfinished, experimental quality, Focal Banger asserts itself as a more polished and enjoyable choice.

In summary, Focal Banger impresses with its visual appeal, distinctive aroma, and a well-balanced flavor profile. Personal preferences may lean towards enjoying it out of a glass, showcasing its color and foam. After spending time savoring this brew, it confidently secures a spot in the Top 5 IPAs of all time for this reviewer.