Beer Review 0344: Avery The Maharaja Imperial IPA

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I haven’t reviewed many beers from Avery, which is something that needs to be improved upon, but I’ve heard a lot of great things about The Maharaja, a limited release high octane Imperial IPA. So much that you might could term it “hype.”

Avery Brewing Company is located in Boulder, Colorado, and began operations in 1993.  The brewer was Adam Avery, and the company was the result of his efforts to perfect several homebrew recipes. Enter a couple of gold medals from the Great American Beer Festival, and popularity quickly followed, as it often does.

Initially only offered in 22 oz. bomber bottles, Avery fired up 12 ounce bottles in 1996, which allowed them to sell six-packs. In the same year, Avery brewed an IPA, one of their bestsellers. (I rated Avery IPA 89 points.)

Part of their “Dictator Series,” The Maharaja is a big beer, coming in at 10.4% ABV (alcohol by volume). Employing Simcoe, Columbus, Centennial, and Chinook hops in the boil, Maharaja is dry-hopped with even more Simcoe and Centennial, bringing this brew to 102 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). Maharaja is released every January; for some reason, in my area, this bottle has a tendency to sit on the shelf a while despite all the raving reviews. I made sure to find a fresh bottle from the 2013 batch.

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Pouring produced a large, sort of soapy and frothy head, which had big bubbles, and was long lasting. The color was amber with lighter golden highlights, and the body was empty of particles and sediment, but did have a slight chill haze. Lacing was excellent, leaving behind weepy tear-like sheets all the way down my glass.

The aroma side had tons of vibrant and juicy hops; notably, pineapple and peach. You would almost swear this being a fruit smoothie at first — then, along comes a big hit of key lime pie, complete with the crust, and some grapefruit. The malt scents are here, too: light caramel and biscuit malts, which only increase as the drink warms. Overall, this beer comes off as quite sweet and fruit-juice like, and also very fresh and alive.

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On the taste, there’s a great mixture of grapefruit, pineapple, and peach up front, reminding me much of a fruity bubblegum. There’s even some mango, and Maharaja is so hoppy that it almost takes your breath! Subtle pine and grapefruit lead to a middle that gets more malty as it warms; decent amounts of dark caramel, biscuit, and even some milk chocolate! Wow! The finish continues with a sweet flavor, giving off a layer of grass, some pine resin, and hemp, before turning moderately bitter with some menthol and salty crackers. This brew is full-bodied with a medium mouthfeel, foamy when swirled around the tongue.

I was in awe of how drinkable this beer is for 10.4% — yes, you can taste the alcohol, but before I knew it, my glass was completely empty. If you like Imperial IPAs that lean a bit more on the sweeter side, this will be right up your alley, especially with the sugary tropical fruits. And don’t underestimate the malt backbone. As the brew warmed, the malt came out more and more, making this intense on sugary, tropical hops up front, and dark bitter pine with a milk chocolate hit on the back end. Color me impressed! I suggest you see this out, and make sure the bottle is fresh.

Avery The Maharaja Imperial IPA, 97 points. Price: $7.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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