Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings!

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

What does "Imperial" suggest?

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

  1. TastyAdventure

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2012
    Posts:
    386
    Likes Received:
    57
    Location:
    Kentucky
    there are imperial stouts, imperial IPAs, others....

    what's the word "imperial" mean when infront of a beer style name?
     
  2. mikeburd1128

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2011
    Posts:
    955
    Likes Received:
    1,487
    Location:
    New Jersey
    double digit ABV
     
  3. kzoobrew

    Joined:
    May 8, 2006
    Posts:
    2,791
    Likes Received:
    7,342
    Location:
    Michigan
    Bigger, grander, more robust. Of outstanding size or quality.
     
  4. smitherz22

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    160
    Likes Received:
    135
    Location:
    California
    I think, and im probably mistaken, but didnt imperial have to do with beers needing tp travel to Russia, so they needed more Hops and other flavor additives so that the flavor would travel? ...i think that in general, it just means bigger...
     
    TWStandley and Zach136 like this.
  5. stealth

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2011
    Posts:
    1,442
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Dates back to when brewers were making beer for russian royalty made them high abv brews to try and impress them. Usually pretty hoppy to allow the stuff to make it to Russia without going bad. Hence, the RIS. Now its a spin to infer high abv, or more hops, than their traditional counterparts.
     
  6. rodlavers

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2012
    Posts:
    262
    Likes Received:
    408
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    best ingredients
     
  7. AndyAvalanche

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2008
    Posts:
    238
    Likes Received:
    133
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Intended for Royalty
     
    jhartley, mintjellie and JxExM like this.
  8. mudbug

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Posts:
    1,831
    Likes Received:
    3,093
    Location:
    Oregon
    marketing hype
     
  9. devlishdamsel

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2009
    Posts:
    1,034
    Likes Received:
    1,183
    Location:
    Washington
    taken from http://www.thekitchn.com/beer-labeling-what-does-imperi-112370
    Browse through the beer section of any well-stocked store and you'll notice the word "imperial" showing up in front of many of your favorite beers: imperial stout, imperial pale ale, imperial pilsner and who knows what else. That word might actually mean something different than you think!
    The term "imperial" was used in the 1800's for beer (usually stout) that was brewed in England but then shipped to Russia - specifically the imperial court of Russia! Brewers later started using the term more generally to indicate their top-of-the-line luxury beers.
    With beers coming from American craft brewers these days, "imperial" is an indication that the beer is going to be big and bold regardless of the style. The hops and malts used during brewing are doubled or even tripled, and the resulting beer can pack quite an alcoholic punch ranging from 8% to 12% ABV.
    These beers are definitely worth a try whenever you see them. If you like the basic style (stout, IPA, etc.), chances are that you'll enjoy the amped up imperialized version as well. They go well with rich, strongly flavored foods, and they make an excellent after-dinner sipping beer. Because they're so high in alcohol, one or two is usually our limit!
    A few good ones to try are Left Hand's Imperial Stout, Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA (or 120 Minute IPA, if you can find it), and Rogue Ale's Imperial Pilsner.
     
    Dtrain4, Stout_Combo, dsal89 and 2 others like this.
  10. devlishdamsel

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2009
    Posts:
    1,034
    Likes Received:
    1,183
    Location:
    Washington
    Or Green flash Imperial IPA!
     
  11. incapacitant

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2011
    Posts:
    79
    Likes Received:
    270
    Location:
    New York
    Inflated attributes given its style.
     
    jlenik and rocdoc1 like this.
  12. JamesMN

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2012
    Posts:
    163
    Likes Received:
    76
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Bigger ABV than you'd expect from the usual version of the style. Craft beer 101.
     
    jglowe77 likes this.
  13. xxbillay

    Joined:
    May 31, 2012
    Posts:
    220
    Likes Received:
    608
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Imperial suggests that I will enjoy it.
     
  14. lsummers

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2010
    Posts:
    827
    Likes Received:
    1,279
    Location:
    California
    To me it means the flavors more intense (to some is great or bad), and a higher abv. Other than that I like to take note of the difficulties the brewery had to bring me such a beer. Also it means special (costs more). :)
     
  15. basscram

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Posts:
    339
    Likes Received:
    112
    Location:
    Maine
    means its going to be bad ass, expensive, tasty, sure to give you a good time, not disappointed, hoppy,malty,buzzed after one beer.
     
    DelMontiac likes this.
  16. gcamparone

    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2011
    Posts:
    779
    Likes Received:
    2,392
    Location:
    Rhode Island
  17. drtth

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Posts:
    9,013
    Likes Received:
    14,870
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/140

    Read the descriptions in beer styles listings.
     
  18. supermodified

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2012
    Posts:
    228
    Likes Received:
    1,081
    Location:
    Ohio
    The word for that is "premium," which is ambiguous enough to be applied to anything.
     
    TastyAdventure likes this.
  19. Moose90

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2012
    Posts:
    655
    Likes Received:
    2,186
    Location:
    Washington
    Strong, Big, Robust. Doesn't have to meet any ABV but should be ≥8% IMO. Kind of a gray area now.
     
  20. marquis

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Posts:
    4,451
    Likes Received:
    6,336
    Location:
    United Kingdom (England)
  21. BEERchitect

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2005
    Posts:
    101
    Likes Received:
    258
    Location:
    Kentucky
    In very general terms, I refer to beers as "imperial" when they exceed the common characteristics of a widely accepted style. (By the way, I loosely use the word "style") But let's take the IPA profile for example. It has a range of hop and malt ranges, balances, and alcohol perceptions that are widely understood and accepted. When a beer exceeds those characteristics, I begin to describe them as "imperial"-- that's all. (And, by the way- I shy away from the term "double" unless I actually know that the beer is double something. And that's rarely the case). I know that my delineation for "imperial" is very open ended and flexible but I think it's ok, at least for my understanding.
     
    TheBeerAlmanac likes this.
  22. jesskidden

    Subscriber

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2005
    Posts:
    7,780
    Likes Received:
    18,012
    Location:
    New Jersey
    re: The Russian Imperial Court-
    Allsop's called their East India Pale Ale "Imperial" even when they exported it to democratic Brooklyn.

    [​IMG]
    Brooklyn Eagle April 12, 1856​
     
    cavedave, jglowe77 and bozodogbreath like this.
  23. sunkistxsudafed

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2010
    Posts:
    376
    Likes Received:
    130
    Location:
    New Mexico
    I can't speak much to its historical meaning, but in modern (american) craft tradition it means that it's stronger. usually expect higher ABV and IBU.
     
  24. GuyIncognito

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2012
    Posts:
    11
    Likes Received:
    26
    Location:
    Maine
    It means an extra $3 per 4-pack.
     
  25. dirtyfab

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2004
    Posts:
    66
    Likes Received:
    95
    Location:
    New York
    Way over-used term.
     
  26. marquis

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Posts:
    4,451
    Likes Received:
    6,336
    Location:
    United Kingdom (England)
    The Imperial in this case could simply be a reference to the fact that the beer was brewed to go to the Indian Empire.
    I'm sure Ron will put me right if necessary but it's unlikely that it would be strong.IPA was usually weaker than domestic beer.
     
  27. Dennoman

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2011
    Posts:
    1,077
    Likes Received:
    1,823
    Location:
    Belgium
    http://zythophile.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/imperial-stout-–-russian-or-irish/

    In this article, Martyn Cornell suggests there's no direct evidence to link the term "imperial" to any historical court, be it Indian or Russian. It seems to be a generic term to indicate the strongest/best we make.

    He does mention he himself believes it to be a reference to the Russian tsarist court, despite the lack of evidence in that direction.
     
  28. lurpy1

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2010
    Posts:
    188
    Likes Received:
    1,192
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Total throwaway word that is not backed by anything. Kind of like a deluxe taco at Taco Bell, although in that case you 20 cents gets you a taco fit for royalty, sour cream and meat that is at least 40% beef.
     
  29. jesskidden

    Subscriber

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2005
    Posts:
    7,780
    Likes Received:
    18,012
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Note that I didn't claim it was strong ;) (though others in thread have stated that's the original meaning of the term).

    I'm merely showing that an "Imperial" labeled IPA (and not an RIS) was being exported to the US in the pre-Civil War era, only a bit more than three decades after their initial exports to India (< according to Amber, Black and Gold).
     
  30. WhatANicePub

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2009
    Posts:
    463
    Likes Received:
    456
    Location:
    United Kingdom (Scotland)
    It takes less than a week to get from England to Russia by ship.
     
  31. BigCheese

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2009
    Posts:
    800
    Likes Received:
    669
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    This, never seen an imperial below 8%.
     
  32. Ravenacht

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2012
    Posts:
    897
    Likes Received:
    5,893
    Location:
    Florida
    I believe they were English stouts shipped to the Czar's but brewed with a higher ABV so as not to freeze/spoil on the long trips. The Czar's were some obviously impressed BA's :)
     
    Dtrain4 likes this.
  33. xxbillay

    Joined:
    May 31, 2012
    Posts:
    220
    Likes Received:
    608
    Location:
    New Jersey

    Troegs perpetual "imperial" pale ale at 7.5%

    ;)
     
  34. Thirstygoat

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2012
    Posts:
    761
    Likes Received:
    2,686
    Location:
    Illinois
    Imperial seems in many , if not most cases, to mean double. DIPA = IIPA .....
     
  35. DCgolfpro

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2011
    Posts:
    539
    Likes Received:
    517
    Location:
    Maryland
    It's a fancy of way of saying, "A shit ton of"
     
  36. mychalg9

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    Posts:
    2,349
    Likes Received:
    1,594
    Location:
    Illinois
    Basically it means "more"
     
  37. EnronCFO

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2007
    Posts:
    1,896
    Likes Received:
    2,661
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    It means it was better last year, before anyone else had heard of it.
     
    Photekut and Reagan1984 like this.
  38. jesskidden

    Subscriber

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2005
    Posts:
    7,780
    Likes Received:
    18,012
    Location:
    New Jersey
    I guess you missed out on Horlacher's Imperial Pilsener? Circa 1975 and mostly likely in the 4-6% range (as were most US beers at the time).

    [​IMG]
     
    BigCheese likes this.
  39. bleakies

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2011
    Posts:
    2,263
    Likes Received:
    6,862
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    An "imperial" is typically a large, powerful beer that has extended its authority over neighboring smaller, weaker beers.

    A corollary to this occurs when the imperial's influence prompts changes to these smaller, weaker beers, as in the case of pale ales that become hoppier and hoppier over time. In contrast to imperials, such pale ales are said to have become "colonized."

    You can learn more by checking out that book cowritten by Michael Jackson and Antonio Gramsci.
     
    nogophers and arfenhouse like this.
  40. Schwantz

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2012
    Posts:
    481
    Likes Received:
    1,866
    Location:
    Florida
    It's a double!
     
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe