Looking through the fridge tonight, I was thinking about William Brand. I’ve been doing this a lot lately. I’ve met him in person a grand total of two times, but I feel like he’s been a friend for many years, regularly exchanging texts and emails about beer and life. While searching for the right beer to toast tonight, I came across one that just screamed out Bill, so I had to have it.
A few weeks back, the topic came up of aging Imperial IPAs. Bill took a rather diplomatic stance that typically you drink them fresh, but sometimes, you should give them some age. The reason I mention this is because the bottle of Avery’s Maharaja Imperial IPA in my fridge has a little piece of text on the front label that reads “Bottled in Feb 2008.” Obviously this bottle has been aged a full year, but not because I did the aging. I bought this bottle last weekend after the Lagunitas Beer Circus in the middle of a serious hop binge. So, how did this Imperial IPA age?
The Maharaja pours a hazy range with a soft white head. The aroma ismalty with a stiff hoppiness to it. The flavor starts off with sweet malt and a touch of diacetyl. The hops are quite noticeable and hit you with a stiff citrus kick in the finish.
At first taste, this is a malty monster, 10.5%, and rather cakey. But after a few sips, the hops and alcohol start to beat on your taste buds. The malt flavor fades away as you’re inundated with the sensation of fresh lemons and pepper. Even after a year of mellowing in the bottle, this beer still packs an immense hop punch.
In the end, I have to agree with Bill. This is an Imperial IPA that stood up to the time in the bottle, and if anything, might be up for another 6 months. I think I’ll need to go back to the store and grab another bottle, as this will be one to share with Bill once he’s recovered. Here’s to you Bill. We’ll be drinking this bottle together in no time.
And update on Bill’s condition: The last report on his condition was that he’s stable, but still having trouble breathing. Daryl, Bill’s wife, says that sadly, Bill is not getting better. Hang in there Bill.