Since imperial pilsners started popping up on the market a few years back—even more so over the last year—I’ve struggled a bit to figure how the style could possibly fit into my regular drinking schedule. A 9%-ABV pilsner? Sure, [insert I don’t know when] seems like a fine time to drink something like that. I’m not a strict seasonal consumer, but I do like sessionable, crisp pilsners in the summer and chewy, warming styles in the winter. Where does the imperial pilsner fit into that? I recently figured it out: Now.
This amped up specialty beer is a worthy style to complement the transition from summer to fall. Think of it as grasping onto the last remaining rays of summer while acknowledging, “winter is coming.” Boulevard Reverb, which clocks in at 7.7% ABV, maintains the lively grains, floral accents and crisp finish of the summer-ready base style, but its sneaky alcohol is a nice touch when the wind turns cold. To me, the Kansas City brewery’s version is a pinnacle example of the style. Terrapin, at 8.9% ABV, is a little louder but still fits the bill: Biscuity, grainy and a touch sweet, the beer still maintains the foundation of a pilsner but adds a noticeable alcohol bite—a snifter and fireplace would suit this beer.
While I can’t imagine cracking open a bottle beachside in June, I wouldn’t mind seeing the style join this time of year’s seasonal Oktoberfests and pumpkin ales. What about you? Do you love imperial pilsners or hate them?