Wednesday night was glorious. Smack-dab in the middle of a week that sees me struggling to move out of my house, Wednesday brought an evening of frivolous bliss. The mighty Walker Texas Rangers were in the spring softball championship game, which gave me an excuse to get out of packing/boxing/cleaning for the evening. We, of course, whupped the competition, securing the title that had been rightly ours since the 1st week of the season. Winning, as should be expected, leads to celebration, which found me at the local excuse for a "sports bar." Surprisingly enough, Avery's Maharajah was on tap.
In retrospect, maybe it shouldn't be a surprise that Avery's "great king" of Imperial IPA's was on tap; the brewery is just down the street after all. Never-the-less, flushed with post-championship adrenalin, I could barely contain my excitement as I ordered (along with the requisite wings and chili-cheese-fries). I have always enjoyed Maharaja. It's wonderful IIPA, especially because of the balance between the large amounts of hops and malt. Typically, you can only find Maharaja in 22oz bottles, so finding it, at a sports bar no less, on tap was a delightful find.
The first thing I notice when tasting the "great-king" is the light fruity/citrus flavors of the hops. Compared with other IPA offerings from Avery, specifically the impactfull Dugana, the hop flavors are allowed to "sing," rather than "punch." Don't get me wrong, there is bitterness, and acids floating around in there, it's just that the high malt content covers them up so that the higher fruity and floral notes can shine through (I tasted lots of musk-melon along with the typical citrus). The same effect can be said of the high (can be 10%+, depending on year) alcohol content. The balance between the hops and malt is such that you don't notice the alcohol. On the same vein I had Oskar Blues "Gubna" (another Imperial IPA) last night, and the high alcohol content, along with the strong bitter hop flavors was almost too much. Through this, you can really see where balance and craftsmanship comes into play (Although I believe that absurdity was what OB was going for with Gubna, so take that with a grain of salt).
Maharaja made for a great cap to my evening. On tap it is very drinkable, and the pint-sized pour is perfect for session consumption (22oz is almost too much for one go, even over the course of a full evening). In addition, I find that the sharper hop flavors are muted slightly when tapped, making it more enjoyable. If you find it on tap, get it and thank me later.