We’re gearing up for a very special event at Hopjacks Filling Station next month, so as a lead-in to the date I’d like to get our readers’ minds on high-end, small-batch beer. Come Saturday, May 3, I want every beer nerd in the area to be thinking of nothing but top-notch ale.
There is a reason why America’s most revered breweries go out of their way to release limited runs of beer made with mega ingredients. There’s also a reason why beer enthusiasts go nutso for these daring recipes.
No snobbery intended, but beer can get boring. Yeah, I said it. Let’s face it; beer has been around for a really long time. Stylistically, there were no fundamental changes to beer until some California brewers began using Oregon hops circa early 80s.
The craft beer scene began to gain momentum and people began to realize that there was more to their suds than low-calorie, homogenized, fizzy tap water. With loyal fan bases growing it became a matter of, “Okay, what else you got?” Brewers began to think, tinker, experiment and collaborate.
We’ll explore beer utilizing non-traditional additives in the next couple of weeks. For now, let’s focus our attention on a beer that was crafted ultra-big but with “normal” ingredients. Avery Brewing has been serving up bold takes on the classics since 1993. Never one for the average offering, Avery has been exacerbating hop shortages since the beginning. A few years back, they began to wonder how far they could take hops, yeast and grain. The Dictator Series was born, its name owing to their new beers’ ingredients ruling with a heavy hand.
Due to the sheer volume of hops, malt, fermentation period and parental molly-coddling, these beers can only be released in small doses at specific times of the year so as to not interfere with the production of their core brands. Also, if you were given access to nothing but the best year-round, wouldn’t you get tired of it? Absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all.
An imperial IPA, Avery’s The Maharaja is the color of tarnished copper with an ample eggshell head that sticks around for the length of a reign. Hop oil intensity lords over its malt subjects in this one. Passion fruit, pine and bright citrus scents here due to the extensive Simcoe and Centennial dry-hopping. And while the hops shock the tongue like a 9-Volt battery, just enough caramel malt is present to balance off the intense grapefruit, pine, peach, apricot and lemon flavors. Even with its abundant carbonation it’s not enough to fully do away with the slick coating of flavors left behind.
Probably the only time I’ll choose a dictatorship over democracy. Bow to the Maharaja!