Author Topic: What makes a beer "Imperial"  (Read 4892 times)

Offline dean

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What makes a beer "Imperial"
« on: November 11, 2011, 02:54:08 PM »
Most people assume that any "Imperial" type brew has to have quite a substantial amount of bittering units.... to have survived the long sea voyages.  Wouldn't later kettle hops have accomplished exactly the same thing without all the harsh bittering and probably been more effective in "keeping" the beer due to greater amounts of late hops having been used?  I like IPA's but I think I'm finding that I like them simply because they are bigger beers with more hop aroma and flavor... the bitterness isn't really what I look for or enjoy in a good IPA.  Jmo.... what do you all think about the subject?

Offline corkybstewart

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Re: What makes a beer "Imperial"
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2011, 03:01:32 PM »
Today it's a marketing tool that means "this beer has way too much alcohol and hops to be good, but the hype helps sell it to the denizens of beeradvocate and ratebeer".
Try to give a traditional imperial stout like Samuel Smith to a 25 year old "beer geek" and he'll spit it out.  Not neraly enough excess to make a statement, you can't brag about being able to handle "3 Sammy Smith Imperial stouts in one sitting".
Sorry about the rant but I just had this same discussion with a new employee who thinks Old Rasputin is a bland old school beer with no real flavor.
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Offline weithman5

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Re: What makes a beer "Imperial"
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2011, 03:20:52 PM »
some dude with a label maker. ;D
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: What makes a beer "Imperial"
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2011, 03:31:45 PM »
In my opinion, its along the line of Imperial Stout...a recipe that has been boosted in its alcohol content beyond the normal limits for that style. 
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Offline corkybstewart

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Re: What makes a beer "Imperial"
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2011, 03:40:37 PM »
Most people assume that any "Imperial" type brew has to have quite a substantial amount of bittering units.... to have survived the long sea voyages.  Wouldn't later kettle hops have accomplished exactly the same thing without all the harsh bittering and probably been more effective in "keeping" the beer due to greater amounts of late hops having been used?  I like IPA's but I think I'm finding that I like them simply because they are bigger beers with more hop aroma and flavor... the bitterness isn't really what I look for or enjoy in a good IPA.  Jmo.... what do you all think about the subject?
If you want a true IPA, not the Americanized versions, look to Samuel Smith or Left Hand brewery's 400 Pound Monkey.  They are not "imperial" by any means, and don't claim to be, but they are both fairly traditional India pale Ales*(for what that's worth) and are very pleasant to drink.
I'd really just rather be brewing in sunny Carlsbad New Mexico

Offline pinnah

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Re: What makes a beer "Imperial"
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2011, 06:43:45 PM »
a recipe that has been boosted in its alcohol content beyond the normal limits for that style. 

+1. 

Offline euge

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Re: What makes a beer "Imperial"
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2011, 12:32:38 AM »
a recipe that has been boosted in its alcohol content beyond the normal limits for that style. 

+1. 

It is a beer that has been turned up to eleven. ;D

Though it doesn't necessarily have to be extremely hoppy IMO- just a boosted up version of a standard.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: What makes a beer "Imperial"
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2011, 08:40:14 AM »
In my opinion, its along the line of Imperial Stout...a recipe that has been boosted in its alcohol content beyond the normal limits for that style. 

+1

A recipe that is scaled up in ABV.
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Offline denny

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Re: What makes a beer "Imperial"
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2011, 09:10:02 AM »
In my opinion, its along the line of Imperial Stout...a recipe that has been boosted in its alcohol content beyond the normal limits for that style.  

That's the way I think of it, too.  Not necessarily hoppier as Dean mentioned in his original post, but definitely higher gravity.  But it certainly can be bigger in all regards.
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Offline bonjour

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Re: What makes a beer "Imperial"
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2011, 11:06:32 AM »
In my opinion, its along the line of Imperial Stout...a recipe that has been boosted in its alcohol content beyond the normal limits for that style.  

That's the way I think of it, too.  Not necessarily hoppier as Dean mentioned in his original post, but definitely higher gravity.  But it certainly can be bigger in all regards.
+1
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: What makes a beer "Imperial"
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2011, 11:48:47 AM »
The challenge is to still achieve some balance with the beer - I made an imperial Kolsch and the extra alcohol affected the taste more than expected.
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Offline Al Equihua

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Re: What makes a beer "Imperial"
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2011, 12:16:46 PM »
curiosly, this morning i was thinking what to call my batch that i tooked the final gravity just before to go to work: American Brown Ale with a 7.6% aproximate ABV in the  FG, i know is to way of the style, so, it is a Imperial American Brown Ale?
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Offline bonjour

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Re: What makes a beer "Imperial"
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2011, 12:27:46 PM »
What does it taste like?  Taste is the ultimate qualifier, not the recipe.  Style guides define styles by taste, not recipe.

That said you could call it imperial.

I'd name it Big Bad Leroy Brown.
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Offline beersk

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Re: What makes a beer "Imperial"
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2011, 12:40:25 PM »

Sorry about the rant but I just had this same discussion with a new employee who thinks Old Rasputin is a bland old school beer with no real flavor.

That's just ridonkulous. 

I'm registered to BeerAdvocate also and I get pretty annoyed at all the hype around oak aged or barrel aged beers over there and this thing called "WHALES".  It's like these dudes can't appreciate a 6% IPA or 5% pale ale, it's the more extreme the better.  And no one talks about lagers.  At all.  The rating websites, "ticking", and reviews those dudes get way into is a bunch of sh*t in my opinion. 
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I feel like a lot of these beer advocates don't actually like beer, they just like the idea of beer.
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Re: What makes a beer "Imperial"
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2011, 02:17:41 PM »

Sorry about the rant but I just had this same discussion with a new employee who thinks Old Rasputin is a bland old school beer with no real flavor.

That's just ridonkulous. 

I'm registered to BeerAdvocate also and I get pretty annoyed at all the hype around oak aged or barrel aged beers over there and this thing called "WHALES".  It's like these dudes can't appreciate a 6% IPA or 5% pale ale, it's the more extreme the better.  And no one talks about lagers.  At all.  The rating websites, "ticking", and reviews those dudes get way into is a bunch of sh*t in my opinion. 
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I feel like a lot of these beer advocates don't actually like beer, they just like the idea of beer.

here here! Two of my favorite beers right now are north coast acme pale ale (around 5% I would guess) and my own ordinary bitter which clocks in a a wopping 3.2% I like them cause I can drink my bitter all evening and not get drunk! three pints and I am just slightly happier than I might otherwise be. (and sleepier as it is heavily late hopped). Course I also have a 10+% barley wine that I just transfered to an oak barrel so...
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