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What’s with Imperial Stouts?

If you haven’t noticed, I am a bit of a beer geek. Watching me shop for beer, writing/running this site, and a number of other things make this “news” very apparent. Because of my geekiness I tend to look at the two largest beer rating sites from time to time; Rate Beer and Beer Advocate. On these sites I don’t really tend to read the reviews because people tend to be really harsh on beers for no apparent reason or taste things that I can’t. Needless to say they are not helpful in that respect.

Even though I don’t read the reviews, I do look at the top beer lists. Rate Beer’s is simply titled the “Top 50 Beers” while Beer Advocates goes as far as to call it the “Top Beers on Planet Earth.” The two sites do largely agree on the good beers. What I find interesting is that most of the beers at Imperial Stouts. I don’t know why, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of love for other styles. Sure you get the Belgian beers in there and the occasional Double IPA, but Imperial Stouts take the cake.

While they are wonderful, why is it that “experienced” craft beer drinkers gravitate to the big beers? I must be missing a good segment of website traffic because I tend to stay away from the big beers. It is not becasue I don’t like them but I like so many different styles that I rarely grab the big guys. I am just wondering why the Imperial Stouts have become the beer style of the beer rating sites. Anyone have any ideas?

4 thoughts on “What’s with Imperial Stouts?

  1. Good question. In a lot of ways I’m with you. I really like Stouts, but I’m not a big fan of most Imperials. I think some are done well, but a lot of them have an overly pronounced alcohol flavor that I just think throws it all out of balance.

    It could be like the mega-IPA trend that has been going on for awhile, or that brewers find the style challenging to do, or, brewers have found that people just like them and buy everything that they can pump out. Give the people what they want!

  2. I can appreciate the beers, but I do agree that there is usually too much heat for me in them. I just find it odd that craft beer drinkers tend to gravitate towards those types of beer and leave others along.

    Maybe it is a backlash to the Light American Lager. It is on the total opposite end of the spectrum on more than one scale. You know when you are a kid and told not to do something, you just want to do it that much more. We have been force fed Light beers for so long that our response is to “shock” the drinkers of those types of beers.

  3. Funny that I open your site and read this while I’m drinking a Great Divide Espresso Oak Aged Yeti. Nate, you know how much I love Imperial stouts, but even I still wouldn’t put them at the top of my list. And I’m not even sure a certain style would be there, or that it would be the same top beers a month from now. I think this really just falls under “if it’s more expensive or rare, it’s better.” A $10 bottle of beer that’s only out a month a year will make anyone think they’re drinking something better than if you gave them the same bottle for $2 year-round.

  4. I just checked my own reviews and you’re right, I tend to give the bigger, bolder beers a better review than the simpler beers. One thing I like in a beer is a lot of flavour and I don’t find that in subtler beers. It doesn’t need to be an ‘Imperial’ style to appeal to me though, many of my favorites tend to be English Ales of low alcohol content but of high flavour content.

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