Avery The Maharaja Imperial IPA

Part of Avery’s Dictator Series – Release No. 18, 2014

Maharaja is sanskrit for “great king” or “high king”.

102 IBUs, 10.2% ABV     Avery Brewing Co., Boulder, CO

By Bill Lau

March 28, 2014

Hops do I love thee, let me count the varieties! Cascade, Simcoe, Amarillo, Centennial, Chinook, Hallertau, East Kent Goldings, Fuggles (I had to throw that one in there, the name just makes me smile!), Saaz….

Say, Bill, you really seem to like hoppy beers a lot! (Why, thank you, Captain Obvious!)

Yes, ’tis true, I openly admit it. I do love hops and hoppy beers. I was not always this way, but if you’ve been following my blog, you may recall that Anchor Steam Beer, Anchor Liberty Ale, and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale all had a profound impact on my taste for beer, forever altering it and preparing me for ever-hoppier beers. I like intense hop aromas and flavors, and enjoy a pretty high level of bitterness, as long as I get enough hop flavor with it. I know these types of brews aren’t for everyone, and if they’re not your particular cup o’ tea (as they say, whoever “they” are), I understand if you instead browse the blog for other beer style reviews. There’s nothing wrong with preferring other beer styles, and you don’t have to “grow into” aggressive American-style IPAs. (Though you never know, you may one day run across one that has the character that your tastebuds prefer.) If, however, you are a fellow hophead and IPA lover, I hope you enjoy this review of one of my favorite imperial India pale ales.

The Maharaja pours out a brilliant, clear, coppery-orange. The head of pale beige foam starts out a little less than a finger’s width in height and reduces to a collar and patchy layer with some large bubbles.

The aroma of hops wafts from the glass and slaps you in the face, commanding your attention. There are piney, citrusy, and catty hop notes, with some alcohol behind, and a faint note of caramel and toasted malt.

Body is on the full side with a velvety texture and light carbonation tickle, a bit oily on the palate.

Big hoppy flavors up front. Citrus (grapefuit and bitter orange), pine, and tart pineapple are all present. Supporting malt underneath has toasty, caramelized notes. Firm bitterness balances but doesn’t overpower – doesn’t seem as intense as you might expect from a 102 IBU rating, but then perceived bitterness all depends on the balance with the malt, and this beauty has plenty of that. Bittersweet and tangy finish is lengthy, leaving a lingering aftertaste with citrus rind, hop resin, and a more prominent bitterness late. Alcohol becomes more noticeable as the beer loses chill and it becomes just a wee bit boozy.

Rating:     Appearance: 4.5/5     Aroma: 10/10     Palate: 5/5     Flavor: 9/10     Overall: 19/20

For a fun little exercise, check out my 2009 review of The Maharaja at Must Love Beer. Which brings up several interesting points: recipes can change over time (as brewers tweak recipes or adjust them due to hop availability), individual palates and flavor perceptions change over time, and (especially for hoppy beers) the flavor profile evolves over time, and the same beer will taste different when just bottled vs. a month after bottling vs. 6 months after bottling. A great illustration applies to this beer in particular – I love the really fresh hop character present when the beer is first released, but some aspects of that hoppiness are fairly volatile and tend to fade somewhat quickly; I know another fan of The Maharaja who prefers to let it rest for a month or 6 weeks at least, as he finds the initial hoppiness to be a little harsh. The old adage is certainly true here, YMMV.

Avery, thy name be hops!


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