So you like beer, do ya?

You like soft, subtle, luscious bubbles that meet your lips in an oh so caring manner? Nice balanced malts, a tender kiss of hops that bring home memories of a simpler time? Well, if that’s your idea of beer you may want to steer clear of Avery Brewing out of Boulder, Colorado. You can use words like “Big”, probably “Bold”, maybe even “Extreme” if you want, but that doesn’t begin to describe what you’re getting yourself into with Avery.

Okay, Avery also puts out some of the finest session ales and lagers that you’ll find West of the Mississippi (Or East of it for that matter). Their 14er ESB, named after the 54 fourteen-thousand+ foot peaks in CO, is as subtle as they come and is really the antithesis of my last argument. Where I look to Avery though is for their over-the-top, bigger beers that have a tendency to torture your tongue in the best of ways. Today, ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the Avery Maharaja Imperial IPA.

Part of the Dictator Series (Along with the Kaiser Imperial Lager and Czar Imperial Stout), Avery’s interpretation of an Imperial IPA is spot on. Traditionally, an Imperial or Double IPA will be an amped up version of an India Pale Ale with a stronger, more assertive hop profile and a higher ABV. The style is a study in balance between malt and hops, with each addition of the former causing another addition of the latter. Avery starts out with an obscene malt backbone that pushes this brew up over 10% ABV. To balance the sweetness they toss in 4 varieties of of West Coast American hops to reach a level of 102 IBU’s (Sierra’s Pale Ale is 37 IBU’s by comparison). The bitterness from the hops is extremely high, but the malty presence brings your mouth back down to Earth (Albeit with a few lasting burns).

Poured from a 22oz bomber into whatever clean glass I had left from my house being flooded for days on end, the Maharaja presented with an amber hue and a clean off-white head. Citrus, floral, pungent – The nose was filled with hops upon hops upon hops. The first sip scorches the tongue a bit, but you’re immediately reminded of the care that Avery takes to their craft as all is balanced out in the finish. There’s a certain tangy, lip-puckering effect that you’d get from sucking on a lemon. I call it akin to shucking the lime before you take the shot of Tequila instead of at the end. Many Imperial IPA’s seek to cave your face in with an enormous amount of hops, but Avery takes the right approach by punching you in the teeth but giving you a nice little hug right after. Again, balance. Mouthfeel is hefty, to the point that you can tell how many ingredients actually had to go into this beer to get it up to the bittering and alcohol levels.

If you can hold your own with the alcohol demons, the drinkability would be pretty high with the Maharaja. At just over 10% ABV though, I wouldn’t recommend taking down the whole 22oz unless you’re not doing anything for the rest of the night. Aside from the alcohol, you won’t be able to taste anything after anyway. You can pair this beer with stinky blue cheese or a glass of water. It really doesn’t matter, all you’ll taste is beer. I feel like I’m being too liberal with giving away another 4 hop rating, but what can I say, I know how to pick good beers. This beer is seasonal, but if your package store carries Avery you may be able to find it year-round. Imperial IPA’s running $10 a bottle tend to stick around for a bit.



  1. I’m glad you’re a fan…I was second-guessing myself for selecting Avery as the top ale-factory in the Rocky Mountain region (especially after trying all of the Oskar Blues brews). But it’s good to have a second opinion supporting that claim. I celebrate Avery’s entire catalog…

  2. […] Maharaja (See my tasting notes here) Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Capture the Flagship – Complete ListIn the […]

  3. […] 10. Avery Maharaja: For the last slot on the list, I vacillated between the Maharaja and the Great Divide Hercules. Both are exceptional beers from Colorado-based brewing rivals. But as is often the case, Avery squeaked out just ahead. The Maharaja is a bold Imperial with a big malt profile and excellent hop usage. I rarely venture to my local taproom without snagging one of these beauties on draft. 9. Southern Tier Iniquity: I made the choice to limit myself to a single offering from any one brewery. That turned out to be a key decision when it came to Southern Tier since their Gemini and Unearthly are both excellent Imperial IPAs in their own right. But the Iniquity, an Imperial “Black” Ale, is their finest Double in my mind. Big roasted malt flavors and a ridiculously well-incorporated hop profile make this unusual beer one of my favorites of the style. 8. Founder’s Devil Dancer: I could just as easily have put their Double Trouble in this spot, but the Devil Dancer has the edge for me because it somehow manages to tame 112 IBUs into something highly drinkable and smooth. Awesome beer. 7. Ninkasi Tricerahops: I literally JUST sampled my first Tricerahops last week thanks to faithful reader, Beerford McBrewin’. There’s no turning back now. I’m hooked on this phenomenal beer. Can’t wait to plan a trip to Oregon to crush more of these brews. The Tricerahops gets the edge over a rival brewery’s beer, the Deschutes Hop Henge. While I loved the latter, the former is on a whole ‘nother level. 6. Moylan’s Hopsickle: Probably the hoppiest session beer I’ve ever had. Face-meltingly bitter and yet strangely drinkable. Moylan’s Moylander gets huge praise from me as well (especially the few times I’ve had it on cask), but the Hopsickle is their clear winner. I haven’t had one in a month and I can still taste it on the back of my tongue. 5. Bear Republic Racer X: One of Sudsy’s favorites. Their Racer 5 is one of the best IPAs and their Racer X (or Ten) is one of the best Imperials. I would say that Bear Republic has a pretty good handle on this whole “hop” thing. 4. Oskar Blues Gordon: Kind of a cheat here since it’s more of an Imperial Red Ale, but it’s my list, so screw it. The Gordon is sticky, luscious, sweet, bitter, and oh-so drinkable. If a four-pack of cans lasts me more than an hour, I’m either dead or in a coma. 3. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA: I’m willing to bet this is the beer most Aleheads think of when they hear the phrase “Imperial IPA”. The pure embodiment of an American Double. One of DFH’s finest. 2. Russian River Pliny the Elder: To many folks, it’s the best beer on Earth. I’ve only had it once, but that was enough. It will make a believer out of anyone who doubts in the awe-inspiring power of the humble humulus lupulus. The only reason it’s number 2 on my list is because of my sadly limited relationship with the beer. 1. Bell’s HopSlam: Founders may win the battle against their fierce Michigan rival in most beer styles, but when it comes to Imperial IPAs, Bell’s bows to no one. Their HopSlam is a perfect example of the style. A robust, massive malt body. A wonderfully incorporated boozy finish. A touch of honey to smooth everything out. And a hop profile so fresh, vibrant, and pungent it’s like you’re chewing on the plant as you drink. Until I can revisit the Pliny in San Fran next month, the HopSlam will sit pretty in first place. […]

  4. […] everyday IPA, but I ordered a double IPA. Think Pliny the Edler! Think Bell’s Hopslam! Think Avery Maharaja! I’m expecting more, damnit! Just mentioning those other beers in the same sentence as the […]

  5. robert berkoff · · Reply

    Just picked up another 6 bombers at bevmo.. How about that awesome new label… It even tastes different….even better…..

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