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Focus on Imperial IPA


Style Focus on Imperial IPA


What makes an IPA imperial? Let’s discuss this hopped up brew and what it means to be imperial in the world of IPA. begin with, an IPA is an India Pale Ale, which is a hoppier version of a pale ale. When discussing the American IPA style (which is the majority of our product) you will notice distinct hop notes due to the predominant use of Northwestern Pacific hops. These hops lend floral, citrus, grapefruit, resinous and piney notes, as well as grassy and fruity notes at times.


The term “imperial” originated in the 19th century and referred to beer Britain shipped to the Russian Empire. Imperial stouts are one example of the use of this term. However, in America, the term evolved to designate the alcohol strength of a beer. In general, imperial beers are strong with imperial IPAs often made with twice the amount of hops and malts, which is why they are also called double IPAs instead of imperial IPAs.


The imperial IPA style is often very complex, with a huge hop aroma due to the prevalence of dry hopping in this category. Flavor-wise, hop bitterness is strong, although a hefty malt backbone is typically used to balance the beer while providing caramel and toasty flavor components. Some alcohol flavor is noticeable with the finish, which typically ends dry. Imperial IPAs tend to be golden amber to medium copper and have a medium-light to medium body. 


Although very hoppy and high in alcohol content, I’ve noticed many tasters who are not fans of a typical IPA will actually prefer imperial IPAs. My impression is that this is due to the strong malt background and the care many brewers put into creating balance in these heavy hitting brews by creating a balance between the ABV and IBU levels.


If after reading all of this you feel a bit thirsty here are a few suggestions for an Imperial IPA.



Sixpoint Brewing Resin

9.1% ABV 103 IBU


Oskar Blues Brewery Gubna

10% ABV 100 IBU


Blue Point Brewing No Apologies

10% ABV 93 IBU


New Belgium Rampant

8.5% ABV 85 IBU

Arcadia Ales Hop Rocket

9% ABV 111 IBU  

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