Tasting the Lagunitas Maximus IPA

Lagunitas was one of the first breweries which introduced me to true India Pale Ales with their standard IPA. The Maximus IPA is a beefed up version with more hops, more body, it is richer, stronger and more bitter at 70 IBUs (International Bitter Units).

The Maximus was originally released for the summer to help quench the heat away from your palate and sooth that need for big fresh hops. Lagunitas even warns that this beer will take the enamel off your teeth! It is 7.5% abv (their regular IPA is 5.7) so relatively strong, but I don’t think its going to show up on anyone’s dental claim. All I can comment on are the delicious palate quenching effects that I have felt to far.

It comes in with huge hops and crisp bitter mouthfeel, but a perfect balance of rich malts floral aromas.

I’ve never seen it in Ontario beyond some great beer bars, but it is scattered thoroughly across the United States, along with several other of their yearly and seasonal beers. To me the Maxiumus fits in the category right between IPA and Double IPA. Really it should be the American-Style IPA. The Lagunitas IPA is built more along the lines of a traditional India Pale Ale; a bitter pale ale dry hopped with fresh crisp hops to increase bitter and slightly larger strength. But with time though, when the Americans started producing their IPAs, along the mentality commonplace to much of the country, they got bigger and more powerful. These American-Style IPAs have more than just pale malts creating richer, more complex malt character, as well, the amount of hops used in the boil and dry hopping are typically increased. At 7.5% it is not quite an Imperial or Double IPA, so lets consider it the front runner for American-Style IPAs.

Pour the Maximus preferably in a stemmed tulip around cool at 10C (50F) so you can enjoy both the cold refreshment of the hops, and the warmth of the malts as the beer relaxes. It pours a caramel orange with lots of shinning ambers and light brown peaking through. Its is slightly transparent with a thin and soft off white head which lasts for merely a minute.

The nose gushes at you with malts and hops, it’s hard to tell which one comes first, they are both very powerful. The hops do seem like they are the most dominant showing citrus, pine, earth, and hay fields. Caramel and toffee malt character is definitely resting there with some biscuity mellow sweetness also. Overall its very floral and perfume-like.

The flavor beautifully replicates the nose bringing bitter hops and rich malts across your whole palate immediately. After a moment, the caramel and biscuit flavors in the malts bring smooth sweet waves to your cheeks, and warmth over your tongue. The hops bring out more floral and herbal aromas. Really though, grapefruit, mango, lemon peel, grass and earth show rich fresh hops flavors and a crisp rich bitterness.

It is full bodied and has big and wide flavors that are balanced right between huge malts and powerful hops. The mouthfeel is slick and silky with an oil like consistency but still a relatively normal amount of carbonation. The finish is dry and malty with a crisp hop crack at the end. Very quenching and very refreshing. I want spicy food right now while enjoying this beer!

It is certainly not my favorite IPA, but I can’t go a summer without a few of them. They are available both in 650ml and 341ml bottles. I do love the big bottles.


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