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Imperial my ass!

The first time I cam across the phrase "Imperial Pilsner" was on the label of Mikkeller Draft Bear, the beer I drank to welcome the new year. though I thought the name was quite silly, I figured it was a bit of a joke.

A few days later I saw a Dutch Imperial Pilsner reviewed in a Spanish beer blog. And a couple of weeks after, Stan Hieronymus wrote that Orval's Brew Master had also made an Imperial Pilsner in collaboration with an American Brewery.

I turned out Mikkel wasn't joking, at least not intentionally. An exhaustive Google search (all the way to the second page of the results) showed me several references to "Imperial Pilsner", in fact, according to a blog I can't remember, they seem to be everywhere.

But what is an Imperial Pilsner, I'm sure many of you are asking? A strong Pale Lager with an ABV around 8%.

WOW!!! A strong Pale Lager!!! How innovative! How come nobody had ever thought of it before?!?!

Wait a second! They have! And long ago. Here you have two examples from the Czech Republic: Primátor Rytířský 21% and 9%ABV and Jihlavksý Grand with 18º Plato and 8%ABV, both have been brewed for quite a long time, already. And actually, after re-reading the post on Draft Bear I see that I commented it was similar to Grand, but with different hops.
There's been some debate in the beer community about new styles, with some in favour and some against. Myself, I agree with Thisty Pilgrim when he says: "All brewers ought to have the freedom to play around with various hops and yeasts without it suddenly being nailed down and pigeonholed into some imaginary style."

Anyway, something like Black India Pale Ale might make no semantic sense, but at least it is something new. Imperial Pilsner, on the other hand, isn't.

But this leaves me with two questions: Will the BJCP include Imperial Pilsner in their list of styles? And, who will be the first idiot to say that a beer so labeled isn't "true to style"?

Na Zdraví!

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  1. Isn't it Central European Strong Lager per excellence?

  2. I don't know about the rest, but those two on the picture are labeled as Světlý Speciál, just like every other Czech Pale Lager with over 13°Plato.

  3. One thing that constantly shocks me over here is the near total ignorance of the history and development of the pilsner style. The number of times I have seen beers pigeon holed as "bock" despite the label saying "doppelbock", and yes there has been a seperate space for the doppels.

    Perhaps part of the problem is the dearth of quality Czech lager in the US, so that the only Czech lager most Americans have had is Pilsner Urquell, which really doesn't travel well.

    Mind you, I am starting to think that all this imperialising of various beer styles is just people getting their knobs out to compare length.

    Cynical? Moi?

  4. I've suggested this before, but will again. Somebody should open an Imperial Brewing Company.

    Then we could have Imperial Wit, Imperial Hefeweizen, Imperial Pale Ale, Imperial Pumpkin Ale, followed by Imperial Imperial IPA and Imperial Imperial Stout.

    Wait, we already have those "styles."

  5. Surely it should be "k.u.k." Pilsner anyway?

  6. I'm afraid to ask, but can resist the temptation, what is k.u.k.?

    "Mind you, I am starting to think that all this imperialising of various beer styles is just people getting their knobs out to compare length."

    Al, that is in a way what I think much of this "Extreme Beer" craze is about. A pissing contest among brewers with a lout minority of geeks cheering like teenage girls at (insert name of newest plastic pretty boy pop-star) concert.

  7. This whole extreme beer shite is one of the reasons I love the idea of the Session Beer Project. Sure a bottle of some weird and wonderful stuff is fun now and again, but I want beers I can sit in Zly Casy or PK and down pint after pint while putting the world to rights with friends.

    Perhaps extreme beer is a product of a really shitty pub culture, and I am too much of a pub lover to get all that excited by something you can't drink 15 pints of without feeling like death?

  8. That, mate, is a very insightful comment. Either you write a post about it, or I will do, taking all the credit :)

  9. k.u.k., kaiserlich und königlich (or the other way around, can't remember), used in the Austrian Empire.

  10. Ah! Good, I thought the answer was going to be something that would make me look silly with my fans...:)

    Kaiserlich Pilsner. Now, that would make a lot more sense!


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