Can you really go wrong with an Imperial?

I have only had a modest array of Imperial IPA, porters and stouts, but they all seem to score well. For me that is high 3s and the occasional 4. I am trying to convince myself that this is not just the alcohol content and that it reflects their innate complexity and range of flavours.
This is certainly true of some of the stouts, possibly less true of the IPA. Anyway I want to ask the connoisseurs - if I drink more Imperials will I find it hard to find a bad one? I can find blondes and lagers aplenty that are an insult to the form.

One word answer: no!

As a generous scorer I’m very frequently scoring most Imperial stuff I rate high 3s and often 4 or more. I think you’ve summed it up well about the complexity, flavours (and ABV) that are all the more apparent in them compared to other styles. I certainly find myself enjoying them much more than other styles, and especially in the case of stouts find myself able to write a much more detailed tasting notes.

Approximately a third of my current bottle stash is imperial stuff which says a lot on its own, but I just checked my ratings from those I’ve had already. That’s 94 Imperial IPAs, 37 Imperial Stouts and 5 Imperial Porters.
Literally every imperial strength beer I’ve had in these styles is well above the baseline of 3.0 (if we take that as “average”). In fact only 6 of the IPAs have an average score below 3.5, the lowest being 3.29. Absolutely none of the stouts and porters are below 3.5. Quite impressive really.

But of course, it could just be that we’re only drinking the good ones… And I do suspect there are plenty of bad examples out there, I just haven’t come across any myself.

hell yes, there are bad examples!


My worse Imp IPA was a 3.0. My worst stout wa 3.4. That means I have been lucky. Name and shame…

Southwark Peter’s Imperial - a 1.5 Can’t recall a worse Impy.

The brewery has improved to respectability now though and the BA version was decent.

I’ve had loads of sub 3.0 DIPAs.

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So when does an DIPA become an Imperial? I just wonder about the Stout/ Porter strand. It seems to reach another level in the Imperial range.

I’d love to know this myself. Until very recently I was under the impression that Double IPA was simply a synonym for Imperial IPA. It would get shortened to IIPA, but eye-eye-pee-ay is awkward to say, so people say double-eye pee-ay, which then became the DIPA acronym.

It was only when Cloudwater released both a DIPA and an IIPA at the same time earlier this year that I questioned their meaning, and apparently so did a lot of other people. I’m still none the wiser to be honest.

One explanation was DIPA = IPA with double the amount of hops. Implying the brewery already made an IPA and the recipe was kept the same other than quantity of hops used. While IIPA would simply mean a really strong IPA. If any of this is true then I suspect much if not all original meaning has since been lost as I feel most people (and probably most breweries?) are using the terms interchangeably, at least in marketing/naming of beers.

Wow. Just read some of those reviews lol. “tar” “vegetables” “blood” “soy sauce” “sour infection” “paint stripper”

Harrisoni got the only decent batch. And I resent the stain on my given name

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For me IIPA and DIPA are the same. Synonyms.

And to the question “are there bad imperial [X]?” Oh yes, plenty. My lowest:

RIS (1.5 or lower): 0.8-0.9-1.3-1.4-1.5-1.5-1.5. Worst is great notion peanut brother.
IIPA (1.7 or lower): 1.4-1.6-1.6-1.7. Worst is Bax Bier 050 Series #001 single hop rakau
ImpPorter (2.0 or lower): 1.3-1.7-1.9-2.0-2.0. Worst is brewbaker Berliner winter smoked porter

Can’t imagine anyone never encountering anything below a 3.4 or something. That’s just insane.

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Well, peanut butter has been the undoing of many a poor boy. And Single Hop for an Imperial IPA is folly. It is rare to find Imperial Porters around here but if you are heading in that direction, why on earth smoke it?!!
Smoke can add interest to mild and low abv.
i wonder if there will ever be a modern re-naming? Imperial isn’t likely to come back into fashion. I would advocate Pomp for all the high abv.

yeah, but Benzai is a contrarian nutcase - everyone at that tasting liked the Peanut Brother except him. Heck, I gave a 4!

My worst ImpStout is at a 2.2, but I remember it to be utterly terrible. Grml. Must be the appearance. Also, what a stupid name: “Яussian Imperial Stout”, using ya instead of R.

Worst IIPA also at 2.2, St Audell Big Job.


Not at all. ‘Imperial’ is absolutely not a synonym for ‘good’.

To me typical killers are adjuncts (peanut butter, coconut, cucumber, carrots etc.) but also too high abv.

And also infections don’t ask style…

And Single Hop for an Imperial IPA is folly.

Wat? You jest surely? There are many hops that make very good IIPAs or DIPAs or whatever they called today. Citra, Mosaic, Sorachi Ace, Nelson Sauvin etc

You are right but just occasionally they can be a bit one dimensional. And part of the pleasure of an Imperial is hopefully a multifaceted character.

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You can go wrong with Imperial Pils though…

I think i sometimes over rate a imperial due to

  1. cost of purchase, so I’m liking it before i start
  2. reputation, well it must be good…

however I’m tasting more and more soy in imp stouts recently. Is it my tastebuds or has it always been there?

Started reading this thread and checked my Imp scoring. All styles are at the top end of my ratings, only one or two individual beers have been howlers or rough. As others have mentioned my high scores maybe because of cost, rarity and reputation but I like to think that I rate fairly and objectively rather than subjectively and being swayed by other factors.


I agree, single hop beers are very often one dimensional and I think boring/bland. An Imp should have more than one hop variety in my opinion.