If there was a way to officially crown the most delicious beer in the United States, it would probably fall to the Alchemist Brewery's Heady Topper. Brewed in Waterbury, Vermont, this 8% ABV double IPA has a pretty commanding lead on Beer Advocate's Top 250. But none of this really matters, because you probably can't get it. Only sold in cans within a 30-mile radius of the brewery, you have to know the precise hour of delivery to the store, because at $3 per 16-ounce can, it goes fast.
Growing up in Vermont, Heady Topper was the only IPA I actually sought out because it's not so overrun by hoppy bitterness that it snuffs out the other flavors. Living now a good 300 miles away, my life has no Heady Topper—I won't buy it on the black market or for $17 at a Brooklyn bar. It's just not right, and I don't think the Alchemist himself would approve. Plus, $17 for a beer is outrageously stupid.
While the real thing is out of reach, there are some alternatives that can work get you your fix. I must stress, only Heady Topper is Heady Topper. But using friends, forums, and my hometown paper, I've rounded up a list of 10 beers that many have used to pinch hit. Some, of course, are also pretty darn tough to track down in their own right.