Stylin’ & Profilin’: What Is An Imperial IPA?

Stylin’ & Profilin’ is a brief look at different beer styles that will help you learn whether they’re right for you. Ultimately, words can’t truly turn you on to a solid craft beer. You have to smell, taste, and savor each sip to truly discover if it’s one you’ll come back to in the future. But the background info obtained in this post won’t hurt anything either.

What Is An Imperial IPA?

Imperial IPAAn Imperial IPA is an extremely hoppy, very high alcohol rendition (typically ranging between 7.0% to 14.0% ABV) of the India Pale Ale (IPA). Think IPA in Beast Mode. The Imperial IPA, or Double IPA as it is also referred to, is an American invention created by brewers on a mission to push the envelope with strong beers and further revolutionize the craft beer spectrum.

Although the Imperial IPA falls into the same classifications as a “regular” IPA, the final product you consume will be more robust, undoubtedly stronger, and bursting with a hop profile that puts it over the top. The word “imperial” comes from the Russian Imperial stout style, which is a strong stout whose origins date back to the late 1700s when it was brewed in England for the Russian Imperial Court. Imperial IPAs are known to have their roots on the West Coast of the United States.

In present-day American craft beer culture, the IPA is the standout style to which brewers stake their claim and consumers cement their love affair with artisanal libations. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a craft brewery who isn’t producing a staple IPA to satiate the demand of their customer base. It breeds innovation and crushes complacency, keeping brewers on the forefront of producing high-quality, high-test ales and making it an incredible time to be fan of hoppy beers!

The said, the Imperial IPA takes brewing ingenuity to the next level as brewers, through their uncontrollable desire to break new ground and stand out, have basically created a whole new beer style equipped front to back with hop bitterness and malt sweetness. The hops are typically of the American variety, and the addition of a generous amount of malts and higher alcohol levels obtained through the entire brewing and fermentation process provide the drinkable, yet complex, balance you desire when kicking back with a freshly-poured beer.

In my encounters, I’ve yet to come across an Imperial IPA I didn’t enjoy. The list of Imperials is extensive and, from a hop head’s perspective, a true work of art. Many of the beers found on this list represent holy grails when they’re not available in your geographic area of the country and often spawn celebration when they enter your possession.  

In your own encounters, you’ve most likely had an Imperial IPA and not even realized it. Or, you did realize it…and totally loved the crap out of it! It’s truly a beer style a novice craft beer drinker won’t cherish at first due to an inexperienced palate. But as time goes on, your palate refines itself, and you assimilate yourself to the wonderfulness of a hoppy adult beverage, an Imperial IPA will become one of your most sought-after beer styles.

Below is a sample of some of the top Imperial IPAs according to Beer Advocate. Click on the picture to view the entire list. As always, drink responsibly…especially when consuming a beer of this magnitude and ABV. Trust me…it’s easy to drink more than one!


Imperial IPA Offerings











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