Monday, April 20, 2009

The Maharaja

The Mahraja is my favorite beer name. It conjures something grand and imperial, and slightly exotic. And most important, it's just fun to say. THE MAHARAJA. I saw it hit beer store shelves a few weeks ago and I started to get nervous. As a beer blogger I knew I needed to taste it, but I just did not want too. Every time I went to the store I'd debate whether to buy it, and always think of an excuse to buy something else. I have bought a few Maharajas in past years, but saved them for the "right" occasion, and when I finally opened them they were well past their prime - and I am being kind. (Few beer drinking experiences are more disappointing than trying to drink an old IPA.)

My beer education has improved over the years. My former assumption that a higher alcohol beer will "age," has been replaced by the reality that high hopped beers, regardless of ABV, need to be consumed as soon as possible. Age your Stone Vertical Epics, drink your IPAs and DIPAs. I took this advice with Avery's The Maharaja. I drank this year's The Maharaja right away when I finally broke down and bought it last Saturday evening.

The Maharaja I had (as seen in the picture above - nice pour!) was Batch 9 from February 2009, which indicated that it was still fresh. This is a much better beer fresh. I had already written this post in my head before I tried The Maharaja and was ready to bash it and every non-California brewer that dares to brew DIPAs. But I can't bash The Maharaja. It was good, real good - an Imperial IPA at every step, and would make any California DIPA brewer proud. This year's version weighs in at a whopping 10.5%-plus ABV. Like all great DIPAs it was a hop bomb, but the hop bitterness was offset by plenty of malts, and it exuded the sweetness that characterizes a well made DIPA. The alcohol was present on every sip, and the beer left a film in my mouth - it was almost sticky. While this is a top-notch DIPA, I don't think I could drink it regularly. It is just too big. It dominated my food - pizza with ham and artichokes - and due to its hops and alcohol, it was a sipping beer - an evening stopper.

1 comment:

Dave said...

This is such a fantastic beer. And you're right, high abv beers don't always mean they age great. IPAs need to drank while they are still fresh.