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Old 08-22-2008, 02:57 PM   #1
Aug 2007
Southern Maine
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In general, to get an Imperial version of a given style, does one just increase the base malt to the desired OG and increase the hops to keep the BU:GU ratio the same?

In other words, does the specialty grain amounts typically stay the same? One would think you would increase those as well, but maybe not.

Just wondering what the general rule is....this seems to be the case in the recipes I've come across (admittedly not many).


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Old 08-22-2008, 05:01 PM   #2
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I've been curious about this for a long time and I'd like to know.
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Old 08-22-2008, 05:28 PM   #3
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I'm not sure there's necessarily a "right" answer, especially if talking about "Imperializing" a recipe that doesn't have a tradition of being made ultra-big (like making imperial stouts and I-IPAs).

The way that I would approach it is to consider really what I was trying to ultimately accomplish. Thinking about an imperial pilsner, for example. If I were doing something like that, the "pilsner" characteristics I would be looking to maximize would be perhaps the hopping and some of the malt flavor, but I would not want it to be too sweet/cloying or too thick (I'd approach it completely differently than DogFish Head). That would mean that I would *not* bump any specialty malts (not that there would be many), and I'd take steps to maximize the attenuation of what would be a greater amount of base malt. I'd think about low mash temps, longer mash times, the introduction of simple sugars, etc. I'd add a lot more hops and a lot more later hop additions, keeping to classic varieties like Saaz so that it remains somewhat identifiable as "Pilsner." I'd keep the yeast choice as clean as I could, I'd pitch a HUGE starter so as to minimize ester production.

But, those are all steps I would take based on the beer I ultimately envisioned. If I wanted to make an Imperial English Brown, I'd be maximizing some of the fruity notes, probably increasing some of the crystal malts, making it even sweeter than usual.

Philisophically, to me making something "Imperial" means identifying the core characteristic of that beer and then taking that to the n-th degree. For different beers, that key characteristic is different; malty, hoppy, fruity, sweet, etc. So, I think you need to approach this on a beer-by-beer basis.

But, that's just how I would approach this question, philisophically.
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Old 08-22-2008, 06:35 PM   #4
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Mar 2007
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Originally Posted by the_bird View Post

Philisophically, to me making something "Imperial" means identifying the core characteristic of that beer and then taking that to the n-th degree. For different beers, that key characteristic is different; malty, hoppy, fruity, sweet, etc. So, I think you need to approach this on a beer-by-beer basis.
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Old 08-23-2008, 03:29 AM   #5
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It's not really imperializing, but if you look at the range of Scottish styles as an example and Jamil's podcast recommendation, he says to only increase the base malt and hops in proportion to balance. It sounded odd to me as I would have thought that you would want to increase the Scottish characteristics (sweetness) and add extra of the non-base malt ingredients. I don't exactly follow his advice. I do add some of the non-base malts, but not in the same proportion as in the base recipe. More like a third as much (if non-base malts made up 15% of my grain bill, they would make up 5% of part that I am adding to imperialize (the other 10% then becomes more base malt).
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Old 08-23-2008, 03:43 AM   #6
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Apr 2007
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I've seen a couple examples of commercial breweries who just state they double the regular recipe. For example, Double Dog Pale Ale (Flying Dog) is just Doggiestyle x 2 and Terrapin's Rye Squared is just Rye Pale Ale x 2.

However, it is all about balance in the long run. I personally wouldn't want to be doubling up boatloads of crystal malt, but that's just because I like drier beers.

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