I’D TAP THAT: The King of IPA’s

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First Posted: 7/1/2013

Beer: Maharaja

Brewer: Avery Brewing Company

Style: Imperial IPA

ABV: 10.40%

What makes it “Imperial?” The use of the term “imperial” in relation to beer dates back some time to the Russian empire, but that is a story for another time. Just remember that when you see “imperial” before beer styles, expect a more flavorful and higher ABV beer due to the higher quantities of ingredients used to make the beer, and with IPA’s, it typically means a higher IBU (International Bittering Units). Maharaja follows suit, weighing in with 102 IBU’s!

Description: Avery’s Maharaja pours a clear copper color with beige rocky head that dissolves quickly, but leaves a thick beautiful lacing on the glass. The aroma is dominated by what you may expect with an imperial IPA: hops, hops, and more hops! The hop aromas that dominate are resin, floral, and a whole lot of citrus: think lemon and grapefruit. This gives it a very sweet and enticing quality, but it is also balanced with hints of sweet malt aroma. The taste shadows the nose, however; surprisingly, it might be reversed. The first flavor to hit the taste buds is that of malty caramel sweetness that is almost creamy in texture, and it is then quickly hit with the citrus hop bitterness; notes of lemon and grapefruit just attack the palate in the best way possible. However, the beer leaves an almost sticky quality in the mouth and the taste lingers, a bit much for a style which traditionally calls for a dry finish, but I am certainly not complaining. The word “Maharaja” is derived from the Sanskrit words mahat, meaning “great,” and rajan, meaning “king,” and I cannot think of a better way to describe this wonderful beer. So step aside “King of Beers” and make way for the “Great King of Beers,” or specifically IPA’s!

Food pairing: The rich, malty, sweet, and hoppy character of this beer makes it a great match with a wide variety of foods. If you are looking for a light lunch pairing, then try this with a shrimp cocktail dish; you may be surprised at how wonderfully the grapefruit character of this beer matches with the shrimp. This is also a wonderful beer to pair with a cheeseburger, but not just a plain cheeseburger; this is a beer that would be great with a loaded cheeseburger, so pile on the jalapeños, onion rings, and sauce of your choosing. The spice from the peppers is flawless with the hop character of Maharaja, and the sweetness quells the spices and keeps them from dominating and seamlessly melds with the caramelized character of the meat. Feel like dessert? Well try Maharaja with a delicious slice of rich carrot cake and just enjoy the sweetness of life!

Is it worth trying? Do you even need to ask? If the review alone has not convinced you to grab this beer, then I do not know what will! Although the high IBU’s may put off someone new to IPA’s, if you are a huge fan of IPA’s, then do not be afraid of this one. The best way to enjoy this IPA, as with all, is fresh. The fresher the better, and the hoppier the beer will be, so check the dates on the bottle and get the freshest one possible. There is absolutely nothing better than enjoying an IPA on a hot summer day, and it is even better to enjoy this high ABV IPA at the end of a long, hot summer day to unwind. So get yourself a bottle and be the Great King yourself!

Rating: W W W W W

Where can I get it? Currently available on in bottles at: Arena Bar and Grill, Wilkes-Barre; J & H Beer, Plains; Goldstein’s Deli, Kingston; and Krugel’s Georgetown Deli & Beer, Wilkes-Barre.

Remember, enjoy responsibly! Cheers!

-Derek Warren is a beer expert, avid homebrewer, and beer historian. Follow Derek’s beer blog at idtapthat.org.