You're right. Imperial is now days used as a "code word" and marketing term for a higher than average ABV of that style. I know first hand. I use it on my over the top red, or Imperial Red Ale which is 9% ABV and 80 IBU's. Most, but not all "imperials" are usually higher hopped like andyjr said to balance the extra malt and alcohol presence. but does it really matter what a beer is called as long as you enjoy drinking it?? I mean come on, I really enjoy Bear Republic's Red Rocket Ale. am I not gonna drink it because it says red rocket on it?? hell no, I actually bought it because of the name. It's all marketing.