Avery Maharaja Imperial IPA

Where Spotted: Whole Foods, 1440 P St. NW

Price: $7.99/22 oz.

Maha Moment: If Bell’s Hopslam is the ambassador of hops’ nectar sweetness, Maharaja is its bitter, angry cousin. With alcohol burn and needling hops, each mouthful is like rinsing with a mild ammonia—somehow delicious ammonia, with fiery orange and apricot sweetness that settles in after your palate recovers. Just don’t expect to taste any other beers afterward.

Raja Against the Machine: Hop oils are volatile organic compounds—that’s why you can smell them as a beer warms up. However, it also means that the flavors fade over time, so a fresh IPA will have brighter, more floral aromas than one that’s been kicking around a closet for a few months. Avery knows this, which is why this seasonal beer’s label proclaims “Bottled in March 2010.” When you’re celebrating hops like Maharaja does, best to do it right away.


More from WCP