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Beer Reviews

Avery Brewing Co., ‘Maharaja IPA’ Imperial India Pale Ale, 10% ABV

 

 

Avery Brewing is a well-known craft brewery in picturesque Colorado. Established back in 1993, the company has carved its niche in the craft beer industry with an ethos that marries audacious innovation with a reverent adherence to traditional brewing techniques.

The journey began with a young, 27-year-old Adam Avery in Boulder, Colorado who discovered that he had a talent and passion for homebrewing. At the same time, Avery stood at a crossroads – he had just been accepted into law school, only to realised that his true calling was in beer brewing. Funnily enough, his friends from the legal industry saw Adam’s passion and convinced Adam to trade legal briefs for brewing vats. Adam thus made the bold decision to step away from law school. After his son’s persuasion, his father, Larry, also made the bold decision to gamble a portion of his retirement savings on a brewing venture that was anything but certain.

 

 

This bold decision set the stage for what would become one of the most successful breweries in the United States, which was so successful that the Spain-based brewing giant San Miguel and Michigan-based Founders Brewing Company both made sizable investments in Avery Brewing to acquire stakes in it.

 

 

A defining characteristic of Avery Brewing is its pioneering work with high-gravity beers, a term that refers to beers with a higher alcohol content, typically north of 8-10% ABV, pushing the boundaries of beer styles. Focusing on high-gravity beers requires a lot of skill and finesse, requiring a delicate balance of increasing fermentable sugars without overwhelming the flavour, and meticulously managing fermentation conditions to ensure the yeast thrives despite the higher alcohol levels where yeast tends to die. Finally, high-gravity beers often benefit from some barrel aging to mellow out the alcohol's harshness and integrate flavours – managing this aging process is another challenge and requires a deep understanding of how these beers evolve over time.

 

 

The brewery is one of the pioneers of the barrel-aging process for American craft beers, and experiments with aging beers in barrels that previously held a range of different spirits like bourbon, rum, tequila and Irish whiskey.

All these technical feats achieved by the company are a testament to Avery's mastery over the beer-making process.

We’re reviewing one of Avery's crowning achievements, The Maharaja, an Imperial India Pale Ale that exemplifies the brewery's flair for high-gravity, hop-forward beers. The iconic beer clocks in at 10% ABV and promises a bold, hop-forward character.

Let’s give this a taste.

Avery Brewing Co., ‘Maharaja IPA’ Imperial India Pale Ale, 10% ABV – Review

 

Nose: Rich and indulgent, popping with sweetness and florals. Opens with rich maltiness, leading into layers of caramel, crème brulee, vanilla and butter cake. There’s heady aromatic florals, lavender and rose syrup. There’s also a mild oakiness akin to that found in bourbon.

Palate: Wow! This is incredibly rich, thick and viscous. Bursts with vibrant hoppiness, followed by malt and cereal notes forming the backbone, with a dry cereal and grist-like quality. Segues into caramel sweetness, praline and subtle nuttiness weaving through, all with an ever present background music of aromatic hoppiness.

Finish: Long and robust, and carries on with the intensity of the palate. Hoppiness continues to linger but there begins to be a growing zinginess or bite – like a mild punchiness that reminds me of malt whisky.

 

My Thoughts

This is incredibly potent and strong – its intensity is both intimidating and exhilarating. This is a beer that demands your undivided attention. You might have this with a hearty meal, but take a sip of it and you’ll be reminded of what you’re drinking.

This would be delicious to any IPA lover. But the high bitterness would certainly be an acquired taste to new drinkers of IPA, or even put off people who do not like anything with the name “Imperial” on it. The sheer potency of the beer might also feel a little bit overwhelming for casual drinkers – so a can of this shouldn’t be wasted on these folks!

My Rating: 7/10

Score/Rating Scale :

  • 9-10 : Exceptional, highly memorable, 10/10 would buy if I could.
  • 7-8 : Excellent, well above most in its category, worth considering buy-zone.
  • 4-6 : Good, okay, alright; a few flaws, but acceptable; not bad, but not my personal preference; still worth trying, could be a buy if the price is right.
  • 1-3 : Not good; really did not enjoy; wouldn't even recommend trying.
  • 0 : Un-scored, might be damaged, new make, or very unusual.

For Singaporean readers, this beer is available on Thirsty.com! Search “Maharaja IPA” to locate this product.

@CharsiuCharlie