“Caution,” warn the happy, hoppy sadists at Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma, California. “May remove enamel from teeth.” Even as the son of a dental hygienist, that’s a risk I’m willing to take for IPA Maximus. Anything for a lupulin fix like that.
Hello, my name is Mike, and I am a hophead. In decades past, such a declaration might have gotten me locked up for being an incurable reprobate. But happily, the term has lost currency as slang for a twitchy drug addict. Instead, hopheads regularly proclaim their proclivity for Fuggles and Hersbrucker and Hallertau, for Cascade and Centennial and Chinook. And we often gather in public places — beer bars, brewing festivals, and such — to indulge our habit.
Lagunitas claims the IPA Maximus is “homicidally hoppy.” I’m still alive. But weighing in at a whopping 72 IBUs — those are International Bitterness Units, the technical limit for which is around the 100 mark — the Maximus doesn’t mess around.
But far more than just being brutally, bracingly bitter — a good thing, in case you’re wondering — Maximus is delicious. It pours a refulgent golden with the deep chlorophyll aroma of leafy greens. The head billows tenaciously, clinging to the side of the glass as the drink disappears. And it may well disappear quickly, as you tuck into its thick, almost chewy consistency, luxuriating in the sharp astringency of those pungent, piney, flowery, and citrus-y hops.
At 7.5 percent alcohol by volume, it’s the perfect potency for the waning summer swelter. (Other similarly hoppy beers could have ABVs in excess of 10 percent, and might leave you a bit logy.) The people of Lagunitas have the right idea: “At the height of the heat in the heart of the summer, we felt the only cure was a raging mouthful of fresh hops and malt.” More of the former than the latter, please.
Available for $4.99 for a 22-ounce bottle at Bauer Wine & Spirits, 330 Newbury Street, in Boston. Call 617.262.0363.