Dream wrote:Balance is the opposite of what IPA actually means
I'd disagree. They're not very one dimensional beers. In any I've ever tried from both sides of the pond, there's a fairly balanced malty sweetness and backbone with the hops. Sure, they're quite hoppy and cover up more of the malt when compared to say a pale ale or bitter, but they're not so overpowering the malt to the degree it's practically non-existent where you're drinking liquid hops, unlike in some Imperial IPAs.
While I haven't tried any of the beers listed as Imperial IPA, from the
descriptions they sound exactly like what I described: very alcoholic,
particularly bitter IPA. But still IPA.
An Imperial IPA is often described as tasting liquid hops, it's not just a bigger standard IPA. They can be fairly bitter, or not, and that's often offset by sweetness so it's not seemingly bitter often. Much of the time, Imperial IPA is
more about last minute flavor/aroma and dry hop additions and less about bitterness. It's about capturing and highlighting the flavor of the hops and making it way over the top hoppy. These are also very easy drinking beers, not sippers like other high alcohol styles tend to be, such as barley wine.
The amount of hops in an Imperial IPA makes a regular IPA look like a Pale Ale or Bitter.
Most "export" and "foreign" stouts are more than similar enough to be in the same category.
Which is why they're in the stout style category...
Overall, I wonder how narrowly you define these categories.
I don't really, beyond historical and regional styles and the common naming conventions used among the majority of brewers. I brew myself.
To me, every style of beer has a very broad definition, in order to include the vastly different
expressions possible with the very same ingredients and processes.
And I don't disagree.
If you dump a load of hops into an IPA brew and ferment it out to total dryness, it's going
to have a very particular flavour. However, it will most likely be recognisably
IPA style, and certainly so when compared to other styles.
You, and the BJCP seem to have categories the way the Grammys have categories. Everyone who's
just a little different gets their own special niche, because otherwise it just
wouldn't be fair.
I guess? I mean, when I taste a British IPA and an American one they're both IPA, but there's clear and distinct differences, enough to warrant a substyle name.
To compare it to music, since we all loooovvvveeee the Grammys, we'll say Rock Music is Ale.
Within rock music there's the sub genre Heavy Metal, or we'll say BJCP's India Pale Ale category.
Now within Heavy Metal there's quite a few substyles, traditional metal bands, say your Iron Maiden and Judas Priest (English IPA), there's thrash bands like Metallica and Megadeth (American IPA), and there's death metal bands like Cannibal Corpse which took influences from the other bands and created music in a more extreme way (Imperial IPA). All three styles of metal or beer are uniquely different in their own right, yet they're all recognizably the same style at the core, Heavy Metal and IPA.
While the BJCP might not give you a broad definition of what an IPA is, they instead break it up into substyles based on traditional and regional differences, help define the differences and give current commercial examples of the style from which you should be able to figure out what the overall style exactly is about.
Also, If you look at each individual substyle, there's a broad range of gravities, IBUs, colors, etc., thse are reflecting traditional and current commercial examples of the style. They're meant to be descriptive of current and traditional trends where if you were to go to the store and buy a bunch of beer in those styles, most all would probably fall into those ranges or very close, not proscriptive rules you have to follow to fit in the style.
You can take an IPA, ferment it out to total dryness and dump a ton of hops in it, and it will probably recognizably taste like an IPA as you said, and it will probably be one, but it might not typify what the average beer labeled an IPA will probably be like. The guidelines are very general guidelines, they're not saying if you're outside them you don't fit in, the guidelines themselves also evolve with the times. What people were brewing and calling an IPA 25 years ago is different than what it is now.