1. Avery Maharaja IPA
I recently read that Avery is pulling distribution out of a handful of states. Thankfully, Pennsylvania was not on that list. They have a few beers as part of their "Dictator Series." I've had the Maharaja IPA before and not only did having it again confirm that it is one of the best IPAs I've ever had, but it also confirmed that it's one of the most unique-tasting. Strong hop aromas and flavor are the common denominator in IPAs, but the malty flavor in IPAs is usually faint, if there at all. The Maharaja (by the way, try typing that after a few beers) has a strong upfront malt flavor, which is complemented by the hop presence you'd expect. I can confidently say that this beer has the most caramel flavor I've gotten from an IPA. Very carbonated. Very good.
Overall Rating: A-
2. Mikkeller Coffee IPA
I hesitate to say that a foreign brewery is becoming one of my favorites because I aim to support local or at least domestic, but it's hard to resist the stellar lineup that Mikkeller is putting out. I won't make a dumb analogy about this; I'll just get down to the beer. Coffee IPA. If I see a style of beer on the shelf that I've never tried, I'm most likely going to buy it, even if this beer could probably just as well be named a black IPA. Especially since the coffee flavor isn't very strong. However, I'm jumping on the black IPA trend train, and this one didn't slow me down. I would have liked to taste an extreme balance of hops and coffee but was surprised by the subtlety displayed by these crazy Danes. Subtlety isn't always a bad thing in beer though, especially if you're downing a 25 oz bomber solo. I might just name this one IPA (with "brewed with coffee" in small print) based on the taste though. This is the tricky thing about reviewing a beer when you have expectations and you're evaluating the name of the beer. Personally, I'm looking beyond it this time and judging this beer for how it tastes, which is very good. That said, I like the idea of a coffee IPA and hope that I see someone else take a stab at brewing it a little bolder.
Overall Rating: B+