An Imperial Porter is an Extra-Strong Porter similar to and often referred to as a Baltic Porter. Although the beer falls somewhere between a Traditional Porter, Imperial Stout and a Baltic Porter, they are frequently categorized under the same style as a Baltic Porter.
The Imperial Porter is a hearty brew that was originally made as an aged, strong and hoppy version of the sweeter Brown London Ales during the 18th century. The smokey, almost stale qualities made the Porter a popular alternative to the sweeter beers available at the time. This style also got its name during this time by becoming the beer of choice for the street and dock workers known by the slang term as ‘porters’. The Imperial title came into use later on to describe the strongest beer a brewer had to offer.
Today, the Imperial Porter is more wide-spread and refined than its 18th century counterpart. The stand-out quality of these beers is the use of roasted barley which gives it a distinctive flavor and aroma profile. These beers have a heavier emphasis on the roasted barley or black malts used than the Baltic Porter or Traditional Porter but less so than an Imperial Stout. By using lower temperatures during fermentation, the brewer can accentuate the smokey characters as well as reveal hints of molasses, raisin, and licorice from the dark malts used. The color of an Imperial Porter can be dark red to almost black in appearance and tends to be heavier and more animated than the Baltic Porter, but less so than an Imperial Stout and has an ABV range from about 7.5 - 9.5%.
The Imperial Porter can be categorized a few different ways, including as a Specialty Beer, but everyone here at the Craft Beer Club thinks it deserves its own category! The Roebling Imperial Porter featured from Rivertown Brewery & Barrel House took it a step further by infusing coffee and chocolate into their brew for a unique and inventive twist on the classic Imperial Porter.