West Berkshire Maharaja IPA (500ml can, 5.1% ABV)
Taste is a funny thing, isn’t it? I’m not talking about taste in music or films or books. That’s simple – my taste is better than yours and that’s the end of it.* No, I’m talking about taste as in flavour.
To give some examples: there is some evidence that men and women taste hops differently; Marmite is famously divisive; and Icelanders reckon that hákarl (fermented shark) is a delicacy, although I have my suspicions this might be a national joke perpetrated on the rest of the world.
The reason I mention all this is that West Berkshire Brewery describe their Maharaja IPA as having flavours of pine and tropical fruit, giving the impression it’s an American take on the famous IPA. I tried to experience these tastes, really I did, but I found it was very much in the English style.
Mind you, I had just downed half a kilo of hákarl.
The Maharaja greets you in full regalia – a gloriously golden beer with a modest decoration of lacy foam. The aroma is of honey and fresh white bread. It tastes of honey and oranges with a hint of herbal hops. It gets better and better as you drink, with a firm body provided by the alcohol and malt, and a surprisingly thick and bubbly texture given the lack of head. It ends, appropriately enough, with a tea-like finish, refreshing but substantial.
So, did the Maharaja deliver on his promise? Not judging by my tastebuds (which are the only ones I’ve got). Did it taste good? Absolutely.
Written by Richard Salsbury
* A quarter of all arguments on the Internet are devoted to proving this principle.