1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

What does "Imperial" suggest?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by TastyAdventure, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Savant (405) New Mexico Jan 13, 2006

    In America it just means that it has more alcohol and usually more hops, and everybody knows that more of everything is automatically better.
     
    Gatch likes this.
  2. There is also mentioned the simple fact that if it's cold enough to freeze even a 6% ABV beer the sea would also be frozen and the ports would be shut. Neither is it of course cold all the year round!
    So the idea that it was brewed strong to prevent freezing is a non starter.
     
  3. Jparkanzky

    Jparkanzky Initiate (0) Ohio Apr 5, 2011

    I think it's used mostly as a marketing tool to signify "Bigger than usual" etc... mostly in terms of ABV.

    Doubling of ingredients etc... Look at "Imperial Red ale" they are usually just reds that have higher ABV than usual.
     
  4. ridglens

    ridglens Initiate (0) Indiana Jan 10, 2010

    Probably $1-5 more/ bottle or pour.
     
  5. Intended for me :D
     
  6. ThickNStout

    ThickNStout Savant (495) Georgia Mar 8, 2011

    Imperial means DELICIOUS!!

    I have a long standing joke with my friends about that.
     
  7. joelwlcx

    joelwlcx Savant (410) Minnesota Apr 23, 2007

    Stout to imperial stout is like American style adjunct lager to malt liquor.
     
  8. 12tb

    12tb Aficionado (125) Iowa May 18, 2011

    Bigger, double, awesomer...
     

  9. Good looks. Figured there were probably a few out there. I wasnt around for this one though. My dad wasnt even old enough to drink this legally, though he probably was at the time, haha.
     
  10. Starr Hill Cryptical Imperial Stout is 7.5% abv. And there was that Imperial Pilsner in the Sierra Nevada beer camp last year that was only like 6%. But yeah an imperial under 8% is rare, and those dont really feel like imperials to me.
     
  11. kingofhop

    kingofhop Savant (430) Oklahoma May 9, 2010

    In other words, nobody really knows, huh?
     
  12. It's like a dozen other terms used on this website.

    It once meant THIS
    Later it meant THAT
    Now it means whatever the BREWER of a beer who labels it as such
    Or the BA forum poster who decides to use the term
    Wants it to mean.
     
    Errto and jhartley like this.

  13. "When Peter the Great opened Czarist Russia to the West in the early 18th century, dark ales called "Porter" were all the rage in England. Porters, named after the working class who devoured them, were relatively easy-drinking brews with a small percentage of highly roasted malt. The result was a dark brown, toffee-flavored libation fit for mass consumption. Arthur Guinness took the idea to Ireland, increased the dark, coffee-tinted profile and added “Extra Stout” to his label, thus creating another new beer style.

    Peter the Great fell in love with stouts during his 1698 trip to England, and he requested that some be sent to the Imperial court in Russia. Much to the embarrassment of the English, the beer had spoiled somewhere along its tedious thousand-mile journey! Determined as always to save face, the Barclay brewery of London came to the rescue by rapidly increasing the amount of alcohol and hops for their second effort. The result was an inky black concoction with enough warmth and complexity to immediately become a sensation throughout Russia. The “Russian Imperial Stout” had been born and quickly became popular throughout European Russia.

    Empress Catherine the Great of Russia (1729-1796) was very much a fan of Imperial Stout. One notable supplier was Thrale’s Anchor Brewery in the parish [district] of Southwark, a mile or two up river from John Courage Brewery’s site. In 1796 Thrale’s supplied Imperial Stout "that would keep seven years" to the Empress of Russia. The author of The History and Antiquities of the Parish of St. Saviour, Southwark, said of Thrale’s beer at that time, "The reputation and enjoyment of Porter [Imperial Stout] is by no means confined to England. As proof of the truth of this assertion, this house exports annually very large quantities; so far extended are its commercial connections that Thrale’s Entire [a contemporary name for Imperial Stout] is well known, as a delicious beverage, from the frozen regions of Russia to the burning sands of Bengal and Sumatra. The Empress of All Russia is indeed so partial to Porter that she has ordered repeatedly very large quantities for her own drinking and that of her court." She also ordered some of her supply from The John Courage Brewery. The John Courage Brewery continued to brew its Imperial Stout, with the boast on its label that it was originally brewed by Imperial order of Catherine, up until the 1990s. While hugely popular through the 19th century, Porters had fallen away completely from consumer's tastes by the end of the 20th Century. The style may have disappeared altogether were it not for the newfound bravado and quirkiness of the emerging craft brewing scene in the U.S. Anxious to brew all things intense, extreme and obscure, many small batch American brewers began resurrecting and re-inventing the old Russian genre. Today’s versions are even bigger and bolder than the originals.

    “The Czar” from Avery Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado is an excellent example of the new American rendition. At nearly 12 percent alcohol, the Czar will warm the cockles of any Russian heart in the dead of winter. Enjoy with Stilton cheese, gourmet chocolates or a nice maduro cigar. Whatever you do, take your time and indulge like royalty."

    http://www.alexanderpalace.org/palace/ImperialStout.html

     
  14. On the other hand from the OCBCommentary Wiki entry for "Imperial" (which I'd guess was written by Martin Cornell, based on his blog entry Imperial Stout-Russian or Irish which is even more in depth):

     
  15. Too much hops
     
  16. Quite a lot of utter nonsense in this.Porters were sent all over the globe and found excellent on arrival.
    "Our Malt liquors have answerd extreemly well: we have now both small beer and Porter upon tap as good as I ever drank them, especialy the latter which was bought of Sam. & Jno. Curtiss at Wapping New Stairs. The Small beer had some art usd to make it keep, it was bought of Bruff & Taylor in Hog Lane near St Giles's".(Sir Joseph Banks, 1769 after over a year at sea)
    As for the section on Guinness, where on Earth did it come from? It's a mixture of some facts and pure folklore.
     
  17. No that's exactly how the style imperial was invented. Before that you had lambics being made around Brussels using open-vat fermentation. Ales being shipped around India got added hops so they didn't go bad on long journeys. Alcohol really started to diversify once weather came into play. As Madeira was shipped, the heat completely changed the plain fortified wine into something great...today we synthesis that process. Yes, in 1698, Peter The Great began the journey to create Russian Imperial Stout. There may be another imperial that was invented before this, but to my knowledge this is where RIS comes from.
     
  18. Suggest you read Martyn Cornell's article again. He can find no early record of "Imperial" being used in this way.
    I quote "The earliest use of “Imperial” to describe a beer that I have found comes from the Caledonian Mercury of February 1821"
     
  19. hornsup

    hornsup Savant (335) Virginia Nov 29, 2012

    Well, I could be wrong, but I believe it is an old, old wooden ship that was used during the Civil War era.
     
  20. Dude I am talking about 1698. The Civil War was one or two years later.
     
  21. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/18/AR2007121800412.html
    "This was the first beer style to bear the adjective "imperial," and its pedigree dates to the glory days of Russia's Romanov dynasty. Peter the Great, who ruled from 1682 to 1725, opened his country to the West, and visitors began returning with tales of the Russian nobility's tremendous thirst -- and tolerance -- for alcohol. Might they enjoy beer as well as vodka? By the late 18th century, 10 London breweries were exporting to the Baltic lands."
     
  22. hornsup

    hornsup Savant (335) Virginia Nov 29, 2012

    #tooseriousaboutasimplequestion
     
  23. patto1ro

    patto1ro Advocate (500) Netherlands Apr 26, 2004

    That article is total bullshit. Porter wasn't developed until a couple of decades after Peter the Great was in Britian. 18th century Porters didn't contain a small amount of roasted malt - they were 100% brown malt.He didn't order Porter for his court in Russia. It was Tsarina Catherine the Great who did.

    Barclay Perkins managed to send a standard-strength Porter all the way to India, a much more difficult journey that the hop acrss the Baltic.

    Entire is not the same thing as Imperial Stout. Entire was the name given to aged standard-strength Porter.

    The John Courage only started brewing Russian Stout after Barclay Perkins Park Street brewery clased in the late 1960's. Coutrage did have their own Imperial Stout at one time, but it has no connection with Thrale's beer.

    It's amazing how many glaring inaccuracies there are in that short piece.
     
  24. patto1ro

    patto1ro Advocate (500) Netherlands Apr 26, 2004

    A quote from that article: "An ordinary porter wouldn't survive the long sea voyage in Arctic weather, so English brewers made a version with extra hops and more alcohol, brewed to appeal to distilled-spirits drinkers." total and utter bullshit. The beer was going via the Baltic , not the Arctic. The journey is actually a piece of piss, easier than crossing the North Atlantic.
     
  25. Trouble is, Ron, that for every writer like you and Martyn who actually check your facts there are innumerable "writers" who simply regurgitate garbage like this one. Including many I'm afraid highly respected writers who end up giving the garbage the ring of authenticity.
     
  26. 19etz55

    19etz55 Savant (345) New Jersey Aug 12, 2007

    http://beer.about.com/od/ale/p/IPAProfile.htm
    Didn't know this about the term Imperial. Sounds similar to the English sending ale to India ( India Pale Ale ) which had more hops brewed in it to make the journey to India without spoiling. Thanks for the info. Beer on!
     
  27. This article is the most unmitigated drivel I've ever seen written about IPA and that's saying plenty.
    1) Britain had no colonial troops in India in the early 1700s.
    2) When we did have troops they drank Porter not IPA.
    3) Ales and beers were routinely shipped out without spoilage.
    4) Which ship was it which was wrecked in 1827?
    5) When was IPA regarded as anything other than a Pale Ale? There was no such thing as a beer style till the late 20th century.
    That's just the introduction. I didn't bother to click onto the main article.
     
    jhartley likes this.
  28. taxman

    taxman Savant (255) Illinois Feb 22, 2012

    Any and all of the above!
     
  29. Imperial suggests...the force is strong with this one.
     
    jhartley likes this.
  30. Honestly though, I really don't care about being right or wrong. I posted the article from The Washington Post to help get to the bottom of it. I'm trying to study and if someone finds something better please post and keep it civil.
     
  31. Gatch

    Gatch Savant (450) Massachusetts Nov 29, 2006

    In my opinion, and I wish this was standard protocol, Imperial IPAs should be high in alcohol and Double IPAs should have twice as many hops as the original recipe. But that's just me.
     
  32. TNGabe

    TNGabe Initiate (0) Tennessee Feb 6, 2012

    An empire?

    Or marketing hype for unimaginative beer.
     
  33. Crusader

    Crusader Savant (345) Sweden Feb 4, 2011

    Trade has been plentiful across the baltic sea for centuries, with the Hanseatic leauge as perhaps the most obvious example and attestament to this. German beer has also been imported to Sweden, primarily Stockholm, for centuries across the baltic sea. But one thing to consider might be the beer brewing calendar and the propensity for certain parts of the baltic sea to freeze over during the midsts of winter (the Gulf of Finland for one thing), as well as shifts in power over certain parts of the baltic coast during centuries of warfare inbetween Sweden and Russia. These factors may have complicated the seemingly easy route across the Baltic sea. Additionally, transporting bulky wooden vats of beer across land to Moscow, where the Royal court presided as far as I know, might have added to the shipping time considerably. This is not to say that ordinary beer wouldn't have survived the trip, I couldn't possibly claim to know anything to that effect, but if I combine what I know about the general history of this region (which certainly is on the level of a layperson rather than an expert) with what I know about the historical production and trade of beer (which is equally on the level of a layperson), I could see why it would take more of an effort to transport beer across this distance rather than across a distance which was open for shipping all the way.
     
  34. at least 50% more ABV
     
  35. Crusader

    Crusader Savant (345) Sweden Feb 4, 2011

    After refreshing my Russian history I realize that St. Petersburg would have been the capital during this period of time, giving the royal court a port to the baltic sea during the period of time in which beer was shipped to Russia.
     
    sloany likes this.
  36. C2H5

    C2H5 Savant (435) Illinois Jan 7, 2012

    I thought it meant double (x2) the grain/hop bill in the recipe for the beer

    For example
    Union jack is a pale ale, but double jack is imperial pale ale

    Or is union jack already an imperial and double jack a double imperial? Great, now I'm confused...
     
  37. sloany

    sloany Aficionado (125) Minnesota Jan 13, 2013

    My understanding is that it refers to traditional English beers that were exported to Czarist Russia (hence the Imperial). Like traditional EIPA's, the ABV was bumped up to withstand variances in shipping.
     
  38. Double and Imperial are the same thing, Double I = Imperial India Pale Ale.

    Edit: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/140
     
    C2H5 likes this.
  39. Gatch

    Gatch Savant (450) Massachusetts Nov 29, 2006

    Yes, of course I understand that. But from my experience and in my opinion, they should be independent.
     
  40. bellce0

    bellce0 Aficionado (220) Georgia Feb 20, 2010

    Yep...
     

Share This Page