Monday, June 25, 2012

Imperialist Dogs

This past week my friend Casey was making a trip into darkest Pennsylvania, and asked if I'd like him to bring back a a few out-of-state brews. Obviously the answer was yes. He suggested Bell's Two Hearted Ale, and I asked him to keep an eye out for anything else unavailable in New York. He arrived, back from the Keystone State, and was at my doorstep first thing Saturday morning with a sixer of the Bells' and another of Tröegs Perpetual IPA. Job well done Mr. Seiler. Thanks to you, I have twelve, fine quality IPAs chilling comfortably, in my fridge.

I say IPA, but according to the Tröegs label, I should have said, six IPAs and six Imperial IPAs. My, uh, bad.

Beervana's Jeff Allworth recently stepped back into the contentious, shall I say, discussion on style—as did Alan. Casey's gift has led me there as well, although as more of a question on naming conventions rather than of that of style.

Imperial has come to mean strong, and I get that. Imperial Stout harkens to the days when the strongest black stuff made its way east out of London to chillier climates north. Stout (less strong) domestic, Imperial (stronger) Stout export—right, pretty simple. Even throwing Export (medium strong) Stout into the mix, it's all still pretty clear. Imperial IPA is where I get hung up. Aren't IPAs, by definition, imperialistic—regardless of strength? Weren't they created for the Indian market—a market that was built and fostered by British imperial colonialism? Adding "Imperial" to India Pale Ale, kind of makes the "India" part a bit redundant, doesn't it? I don't want to sound pedantic about all of this, but can't an IPA, just be an IPA. If it's pale, hoppy and bitter, who cares how strong it is—it's an IPA.

Beer Advocate now lists Imperial Pilsner as a beer style. We all do realize this shit is just being made up as they go along, right? 

I hope. 


  1. "Imperial Pilsner" is such a moronic thing that it doesn't even deserve being discussed because it should be called "Kaiserlich Pilsner"

    1. There are now eleven breweries making a Kaiserlich Pilsner on your suggestion. It happens that fast, man.

  2. Kaiserlich leads to k. u. k.
    Great stuff. Beer blogs are a university unto themselves [und, of course, a universe unto themselves].

    This morning I learnt diachronic [alt. diachronous] [over at McLeod's blog]
    :of, relating to, or dealing with phenomena (as of language or culture) as they occur or change over a period of time
    :from the Greek word Διαχρονικός

  3. Imperial pilsners are basically IPAs as lagers.

    Styles are only as important as the degree you hold them too.