It’s a 5.2% beer described on the bottle as “brewed to commemorate 21 years of Robert Deuchar’s Insirational Pale Ale being reborn at the Caledonian Brewery”. Indeed, it comes across very much as a big brother of the standard Deuchar’s IPA which is 4.4% in bottle.
In the 1990s, the cask version of Deuchar’s IPA became something of a cult beer, but as with many others seemed to become too popular for its own good and eventually appeared to lose a lot of its character. Whether this resulted from a dumbing-down of the recipe, or simply from being put into pubs that didn’t look after their beer well, is hard to say, but nowadays it’s certainly not a beer that would leap out at me from the bar.
The Imperial is fairly pale in colour, with good head retention. It has the unmistakeable Caledonian flavour, but within that taste palette is quite hoppy and well-attenuated. It is fairly light-bodied, so you could easily down more than one, but does have a noticeable alcohol kick
All Caledonian beers have a distinctive character with full, soft mouthfeel and notes of vanilla and butterscotch, which isn’t necessarily to everyone’s liking. But it certainly appeals to my tastebuds and surely it is a good thing that the products of a brewery have their own “signature”. Definitely a beer I will buy again if there’s any left in stock.