English brewers, brewing beer for the Russian Czar's court, brewed a beer with a high ABV to try and impress the royalty of Russia. Lots of hops were added to balance the malt, and survive the journey to russia. This was the original Russian Imperial Stout. American Craft breweries have now taken the term "Imperial" to put a spin on any beer that is higher alcohol than its traditional counterpart. It may also contain a lot more hops than normal. An Imperial IPA is an variant of an IPA that is stronger and hoppier.
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