The Alchemist’s Heady Topper is one of the most coveted beers in America. Beer fans drive from all over the country for the chance to get “Heady” straight from the brewery in Waterbury, VT, and it’s not uncommon for people to line up for hours outside their favorite beer retailer in anticipation of a delivery of this ridiculously hoppy American Double IPA.
With any beer this popular, homebrewers naturally want to clone it. On the homebrewing website HomebrewTalk, there’s one thread with nearly 3000 comments from people trying to develop their own Heady Topper recipe!
Luckily, I have a friend who has brewed several batches to dial in his own Heady Topper double IPA clone recipe. When I visited him last winter, we did a side-by-side blind tasting and the two beers were nearly indistinguishable. With his permission, I’ve shared the recipe below. But first, some considerations.
Many homebrewers believe that the single most important part of cloning this beer is to use the same yeast as the Alchemist uses in Heady Topper, but since it’s a proprietary strain, this is easier said than done. One option is to harvest yeast from a can of Heady (see How to Harvest Yeast from a Commercial Beer), but even obtaining a can of Heady can be a challenge. There are a few boutique yeast shops that offer cultured strains of the famous “Conan” yeast. The easiest option is to use a similar strain. I’ve included Wyeast’s London Ale 1028 as a substitute. Just be sure to build a yeast starter!
This beer uses a lot of hops! Most of them are added at the end of the boil during the whirlpool. If you read our recent post about hop oils, you know that many of the aromatic oils are driven off at higher temperatures. To preserve those oils, allow the wort to cool slightly before adding the whirlpool hops. If your brew kettle has a ball valve, you may want to invest in a torpedo screen to prevent all those hops from clogging it.
Ready to brew this Heady Topper Clone? Try this all-grain recipe, or use the partial mash option below. Happy brewing!
Sam’s Heady Topper Double IPA Clone Recipe
(5-gallon batch, all-grain)
- 8 lbs. American two-row malt
- 5 lbs. German pilsner malt
- 1 lb. Carapils malt
- 1 lb. wheat malt
- .75 lb. honey malt
HOPS – This beer uses a lot of hops! You’ll need a total of:
- 4.75 oz. Summit hops,
- 3 oz. Centennial hops,
- 1 oz. Cascade hops,
- 1 oz. Citra hops,
- 1 oz. Amarillo hops)
2.5 oz. Summit at :60
.25 oz. Amarillo at :5
.25 oz. Cascade at :5
.25 oz. Centennial at :5
.25 oz. Summit at :5
1.5 oz. Centennial at :0
1 oz. Summit at :0
.5 oz. Citra at :0
.25 oz. Cascade at :0
.25 oz. Amarillo at :0
.75 oz. Centennial, dry-hopped for 8 days
.5 oz. Citra, dry-hopped for 8 days
.5 oz. Summit, dry-hopped for 8 days
.5 oz. Amarillo, dry-hopped for 8 days
.5 oz. Centennial, dry-hopped for 4 days
.5 oz. Cascade, dry-hopped for 4 days
.5 oz. Summit, dry-hopped for 4 days
“Conan” yeast harvested from a can of Heady Topper or Wyeast 1028: London Ale – prepare a 2L starter
Mash crushed grains in about 6 gallons of clean, chlorine-free water at 150˚F for 60 minutes. Sparge to collect about 7 gallons of wort in the kettle, then bring wort to a boil. Add hops according to schedule above. For the 0 minute additions, add the hops gradually after cutting off the heat, allowing the hops to steep in the wort as you chill it down, at least 30 minutes, or for as long as an hour. When the wort temperature reaches 68˚F, transfer to a fermenter and pitch the yeast starter. Ferment for 7 days at 68˚F, then pitch first round of dry hops. After 4 days, transfer to secondary fermenter and pitch second round of dry hops. After four days, bottle or keg. Beer will be ready to drink in 1-2 weeks.
Partial Mash Option: Replace the two-row and pilsner malts with 9 lbs. light DME. If boiling in a five-gallon kettle, add half the DME at the end of the boil.
Do you have a Heady Topper double IPA clone recipe you’d like to share? Just leave it in the comments below.
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.