An Imperial Ale Inspiration

Posted on: September 7th 2017

Our story begins more than 200 years ago, and half a world away, in the heart of 18th– century Russia. In 1766, Catherine the Great signed a commercial treaty with Britain, and soon after a London brewery began transporting a strong, dark “extra stout” to the Czarina and her court.

Thus, an imperial brew was born.

The term ‘imperial’ historically refers to bigger and stronger beers with more hops and higher alcohol content, meant for royalty and rulers. As the American craft beer revolution took hold in the 1980s, brewers looked to history-inspired beer recipes, and an imperial style made a resurgence for all.

Today, an imperial generally means a beer that is stronger than usual, with an ABV of more than 7%. Often it is not just alcohol that is bigger, but also flavor and bitterness. Imperial IPAs, such as Sagefight Imperial IPA and Hop Henge Imperial IPA, offer a tasty example both bold in flavor and hops (oh, and weighs in over whopping 8-9% ABV!)

The terms ‘imperial’ and ‘double’ are often used interchangeably, with a double referring to a mashing technique that occurs during brewing to produce more fermentable sugars. These ‘double’ batches of beers are also a strong foundation for barrel aged beers. Have you tried The Abyss or a Black Butte Anniversary beer? Both of those are generally ‘double’ batches of our Obsidian Stout and Black Butte Porter, respectively.

On the other side of the spectrum, brewers are also brewing up sessionable beer, which refers to the liquid containing no more than 5% ABV.

The good news with all of this? There are craft beers for every season, every experience, and every moment. We look forward to trying them all with you!

—- Guest Blogger, Kimberly Bowker

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2 Responses to “An Imperial Ale Inspiration”

  1. Bryan
    September 26, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    What’s this “double mashing technique”?

    • Erika Sommer
      September 28, 2017 at 9:25 am

      You ask a great question. Double and Imperial are interchangeable terms but technically a beer dubbed as “double” or Imperial isn’t always going to involve two mashes. Most of Deschutes’ beers that you would call Imperial or double, like SageFight, Hop Henge, the BBXX series actually don’t have double mashes. But their use of malt and hops can approach double that of their regular strength counterparts!

      The one beer we do that does have a double mash is the Abyss Imperial Stout. In this case, two mashes are needed in order to create a volume of beer with a high enough sugar content to meet our lofty alcohol expectations. Thanks for reading and let us know if you have any more questions.

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