Avery Brewing Co., Maharaja Imperial IPA

Alright, I've been on a bit of a double IPA kick, sue me.

Pours with a decent, khaki colored head that foams up and stays put. Appearance is cloudy, orange and gold. Aroma is of aggressive hops and malt. Pine, spice, a hint of citrus, earth, toffee sweetness, toast, and bread. Mouthfeel is full and rich, coating the palate and punctuated only a little by the carbonation. There is fruit is the flavor, peaches, apricots, and other stone fruit. The hops carry this fruity sweetness, balancing it with some good resinous flavor and a present but not too firm bittering. The malts are there with their slightly alcoholic and sweet presence. In the finish the body stays with you, almost too much. The hops do their best to bitter at the back of the palate, to balance that malt sweetness, but it's not really enough. Hops aren't coming across quite as aggressively as I've had in other IPAs. While I appreciate the need for balance, I want to get smacked in the face with my hops in a double IPA. The alcohol, while present here isn't overpowering at all. In fact you only notice the 10.69% ABV from the warming sensation as you drink.

In the world of double IPAs, there isn't a lot of variation, at least when it comes to recipes. Put a ton of malt in, a ton of hops, and you're 90% there. The rest is where individual brewers put their stamp of originality on the beer. Avery has achieved an interesting result with the Maharaja, in that the sweetness comes across as a fruity ester. Most double IPAs will go the burnt caramel, molasses/brown sugar, raisin route. While this works for many of these beers, it can get kind of boring. Bright, fruity esters don't normally make their way into big IPAs like this, and that's something I find attractive about this beer. Overall it's a pleasant beer to sip, it does have an original element, but in the end I'm not getting the full hop experience. If your palate is up to it, include Avery Maharaja in a flight of double IPAs to share with your friends. Just don't order more than one pint of it at the bar, you'll end up being carried home.