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Avery Maharaja Imperial IPA

Where Spotted: Whole Foods, 1440 P St. NW

Price: $7.99/22 oz.

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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.

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