Imperial Beer- What is it?

Imperial beer

When you are browsing the beer section at the store or a menu at a brewery, you will often see “Imperial” in the title or the name. But what makes an imperial beer different than a regular beer? When it comes to beers, imperial means that it’s more potent than the regular brew. It essentially has more alcohol in it. This term has been borrowed from the English empire.  But there’s a history of how imperial beer got its name.

History of Imperial and Beer

During the 1700s, the usage of the term imperial was derived by Henry Thrale’s London Brewery from the Russian Imperial Stout. The imperial beer was explicitly brewed for Czarina Catherine from the imperial court of Russia. The barrels of beer had to travel far across Europe. So to stabilize and preserve the beer, they were brewed stronger, having 10% alcohol.

This started a trend in describing beer that had more alcohol in it than a regular beer. It can be used to describe any kind of style like IPAs, Porters, Stouts, and so on.

What can you expect from an Imperial beer?

Beer Label

When it comes to labeling beer, the word imperial is used to give the impression that it’s a type of beer stronger than average beer brew. It has a certain appeal, especially for beer drinkers who like their beer to have a more substantial effect.


Since imperial beers are brewed to have more alcohol content, you can expect that you can taste the difference between what’s in peril or regular beer brew. You will usually be able to tell by the taste that there is a higher level of alcohol in it.

When you ask for an imperial beer, you can expect that you will taste a more robust malty flavor since the brewing style is different. Although the term tasty is not enough to describe the taste of imperial beer, it’s close enough.


This is a hit or miss, but you may see it when you visit a brewery. When you go to a brewery and order an imperial beer, you might see them as being $1 more than the other beers. They could also be the same price, but served in a smaller glass.


Since beer is actually from malt, you can taste the malty flavor on the first sip of the imperial beer. That’s why when you see the word imperial from the beer brand, you can expect that you can get the malty flavor that you’re looking for.

The meaning of imperial when it comes to beer can vary, but the malt taste is undoubtedly intense. If you’re a beer drinker, you will enjoy the malty goodness of the imperial beer. However, some drinkers may not be able to handle it.

More filling

You might find it hard to chug back these beers. They will be heavy on the stomach and fill you up much faster. I personally would find it hard to drink more than three glasses. It is almost like a meal itself. It isn’t like drinking Bud Lite than can go down like water

Faster Buzz

Higher ABV means each sip has more alcohol in it. Some imperial beers are stronger than others. In some cases, one bottle can give you a buzz. In some cases, people report that they can get drunk off just a few beers. Some people also say that imperial beers will give them a hangover, when normal lagers don’t.

Most beer drinkers go for the imperial beer because they know that they will get what they are looking for. If you want to get a buzz right away, now you know what to look for.


The word imperial says a lot when it comes to beer. If you’re a beer enthusiast, then you should give it a try if you haven’t already. Drinking a lot of the regular beer can make you feel great. But drinking imperial beer can make you feel invincible in just one bottle. Now when you see Imperial in the name of a beer, you know what it refers to.

Dan Specht

Dan has been homebrewing beer for 8 years and holds a level 2 certifiication as a Cicerone.

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