Made by Avery Brewing Co. in Boulder, Colo., Maharaja is so powerful, so incredibly hoppy, that even a two-year-old bottle of it is better than many fresh double IPAs. I know this because a few months ago a friend brought to my house a 22-ounce bomber of Maharaja that had been bottled in March 2009, and we didn't notice the date on the label until we were well into the bottle. It never occurred to us that the beer might not be fresh.
Beer experts will tell you that IPAs ought to be consumed within a few months of bottling, or else they lose much of their hop character. And they're right. But Maharaja is so intense that it can lose more than most IPAs before going bland or turning into a syrupy mess.
Happily, Avery has released a new batch of Maharaja, and it's as aggressive as ever. With a glowing amber color and a small head that dissipates into an oily sheen, the beer emits a pungent aroma of floral hops and tropical fruits -- pineapple, grapefruit, orange, mango, papaya, you name it. Resiny and bitter (the IBU count is 102), Maharaja deploys a massive hops ordnance into the nose, mouth, and throat.
Style: Imperial IPA. ABV: 10.5 percent. Price: $9 for a 22-ounce bottle.