Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery

Not Rated.
Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

2,715 Ratings
THE BROS
84
good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,715
Reviews: 1,440
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 10.95%
Wants: 121
Gots: 245 | FT: 4
Brewed by:
Flying Dog Brewery visit their website
Maryland, United States

Style | ABV
Baltic Porter |  9.20% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-04-2005

ABV varies.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,715 | Reviews: 1,440
Reviews by Gambrinus1184:
Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12-ounce bottle marked Vintage 08FA, 7.8% ABV, 85 IBU, into a tulip-shaped Duvel glass:

A: Poured a very rich and dark opaque brown color and raspberry highlights sporting a one-finger head of medium-brown foam. Some carbonation gathers at the bottom, and great, sticky tan lace clings to the glass.

S: Lavishly scented with hints of cocoa, toasted bread and cereal malts, layered with the subtleties of burnt chocolate, weak coffee, cherry and oak. Some nice spicy, herbal hops are noticeable as well.

T: Taste is semisweet, yet bitter at first, with a full hop flavor combined with deep charred malts. The malts let of the flavor of smoked wood, dark chocolate, creamy hot cocoa and a bit of raisin come through. The finish is bittersweet and warming.

M: Mouthfeel is full bodied, slightly bitter, yet smooth and rather tasty.

D: A high quality quaffing porter. You could session it easily, but it's probably better appreciated if you let it warm a bit and take it down slowly. Outstanding drinkability on this porter.

A delightful porter from Flying Dog. Rich and bold, of course, but smooth and very likable. Sort of reminds me of Hunter S. Thompson himself in some ways. This one will satisfy maltier porter lovers as well as hopheads, because it keeps it balanced and firing from both ends. One of the best indulgent porters I've ever had. Great!

More User Reviews:
Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Very dark brown, fine coffee head, no carbonation visible through the inkiness. Constellations of lacing.

S: Dark chocolate, roasted almost burnt malt, a hint of alcohol.

T: Bitter, dark malts, chocolate nibs, some hop-provided pine residue on the finish, also contributing to the lasting bitterness. Dark, heavy, lasting, but not overpowering.

M: A little filmy, but pretty fluid. Only slight carbonation, enough to keep it from flatness.

O: Powerful dark flavors, significant hops (for a dark beer), yet easily drinkable. Really impressed, this is my go-to when I need a dark beer in the summer months.

Photo of oberon
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

One of the new big beers popping up around NC thanks to hoppedup for the sample.Poured a deep brown near black color with a mocha colored head.Impressive aromas of smoked malt and wood chips almost like more of a Scottish wee heavy,very nice well rounded flavors headed by the smoked peat and tree bark with a real noticable herbal minty element letting you know the hops are there.Goes down very smooth for how big and robust it is,why cant Flying Dog make more like this?

Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ralph Steadman's bottle rockets and is a must have for any collector but will the beer inside prove to be more than just a gimcrack and worthy of the $9.50 a four-pack price? Let's see.

As it pours into a poboy's pint glass, my nose is instantly pounded by roasted, no burnt, chocolate malts. There's not much else going on so I let it warm a bit.

There it is: a hint of berries and some tobacco leaf. Still, the overwhelming portion of the aroma, upwards of 95%, is sweet, burnt chocolate malts.

The taste largely matches the nose only chocolatier but it is quickly overshadowed by the powerful mouthfeel.

This Gonzo rips your mouth wide open like an old Batman Comic fraught with: "POWS," "BLAMS," and "SLAPS."

It's so dry that it begins to resemble a Super Tuscan or some other big red in terms of mouthfeel. I'm not sure whether I love it or hate it but I'm sure impressed by it.

Very drinkable, dangerously drinkable even, every sip leaves my mouth thirsty for more. I'm drinking this way too fast.

All in all this beer lives up to the hype and the price, although not by much. Personally, I would like a little more for my cheddar.

Note: I'm currently drinking a bottle purchased on 9-26-05.
I thought that this was a one-off in honor of HST's death so I horded a ton of the first release. Today is 3-6-08. This beer is better than I remembered it. Lots of smoke, plenty of fruit, still well balanced, carbonated, with a great body. Overall, lots more smoke than I remember... Very nice. Oddly...this beer wasn't cellared. It has been in my fridge for over two and a half years...

Photo of ricke
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours with a basically black color and quite a big head. Head retention and lacings are quite impressive considering the relatively high ABV in this one.

S: A round and nicely composed smell. Lots of malts with a prominent chocolate character. Notes of dark fruit and vanilla. A pleasant hop kick. The alcohol becomes noticeable as the beer warms up.

T: Lots of malty sweetness with just as much sweet dark chocolate. Big notes of vanilla. Some notes of dark fruits. Very restrained when in comes to roasted malts, which is the main thing setting this one apart from the imperial stouts. Quite a lot of spicy hops. The finish is quite bitter with gentle notes of soy sauce, wood and more somewhat spicy hops. As in the smell, the alcohol becomes more noticeable as the beer warms up. In general, it seems like the flavors get slightly rounder towards the end and the different components seem to get a better fit after a while.

M: Full-bodied, nice smooth mouthfeel and an almost semi-dry finish, but it still manages to leave a sticky feeling in the mouth after a while.

D: I like this beer, I just think it's tasty. However, I've had the opportunity to try the older version a few times, the one with a higher ABV, and it was way better. The older version where more potent, more living and daring, and it had much more character. It's a shame they turned it down a notch, doesn't seem to be in line with the Hunter S. Thompson way of life. Wonder what he would have thought about such rerouting of a bold departure.

Photo of newk340
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: nearly black, thick pour, with a slight reddish hue, very thin head that quickly dissipates which leaves minimal lacing.

S: like the faint coffee smell, certainly not overwhelming with hints of chocolate and not sour like a porter.

T: pleasant coffee/chocolate initiation fading into a faint sour porter trademark taste on the back end. very interesting combination.

MF/D: sizzle of carbonation that quickly recedes. definitely drinks more like a stout than a porter.

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours from the bottle a viscous deep black color with a nice bubbly tan head that lingers atop the brew and leaves strings of sticky lacing as it falls. Wow..hardly any light is getting through this brew. Aromas of dark, toasty roasted malt with some cinammon, cocoa and vanilla. An underlying citric, piney hoppiness is fresh and vibrant..giving this porter a unique nose...pretty heavy on the hops.

First sip brings dark, roasted maltiness featuring chunks of bakers chocolate along with some mild roasted coffee beans. Slight powdered cinammon midway through along with hints of dark fruits and vanilla bean. The brew follows through with a heavy dose of pine needle citric hop oils and finishes slightly chalky on the palate. Quite the enjoyable brew.

Mouthfeel is full with big creamy maltiness. Nice and chewy with a slight dry chalkiness. This brew is amazingly drinkable. I didn't know it was 9.5% until I checked the listing again...alcohol is very well hidden. Sort of reminds me of Alpha Klaus personally...which is definetly not a bad thing. A fitting tribute to the late Hunter S. Thompson (RIP) and probably the best Flying Dog brew I've tried. Thanks to dwvarner77 for bringing a few of these back to IL for me.

Photo of blitz134
3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pitch black. Initially had a 1 finger dark chocolate head, that reduced down a only a single bubble thick layer. Not much else, no lacing.

Fairly complex aroma. Semisweet chocolate with toffee and some coffee flavors. Dark fruits come through and present an overall sweet aroma. A bit of alcohol as well, but not overwhelming and certianly doesn't detract from the aroma.

Taste is roasted coffee and dark chocolate. Again sweet dark fruits add a subtleness to the flavor. Definately some alcohol notes come through. The alcohol presents itself with a bit of a burn and its flavor really lingers. Overall a good flavor but this hurts the drinkability aspect of this beer in my opinion.

Mouthfeel is medium or so. Nothing outstanding, but fits the style well. As mentioned above the alcohol flavors hurt the drinkability a bit. Still a tasty beer though.

Photo of nickadams2
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A_Pours a thick reddish brown with a thick khaki head that dissipates into a thin ring.Spotty lacing.

S_Caramel malt and hops.

T_Caramel,chocolate,coffee,roasted malt. Sweet wit a bitter hop finish. Very different from the on tap version.

M_Thick and chewy. Moderately carbonated.

D_Mouthful but very drinkable for such a high ABV. One of flying dogs best.

Photo of chOAKbarrell
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to a friend in Kentucky for mailing me this 12oz bottle, since there are none to be found in my area of Maryland.

The first thing I noticed about this thick, black beer is that it has the most beautiful, thick, creamy head on it. It dies down to a manageable height after a few moments. A lovely strong hop aroma greets you, and the taste! Oh my.

It seems there are about 5 different levels to this beer. There's the blast of hops, and the subtle roasty chocolate finish, and inbetween the two are all sorts of things going on that I cant even begin to identify.

The only reservation I have about imperial porters is their very noticeable alcohol scent & taste. But that's a personal opinion and not a reflection on any shortcomings of this beer.

The character illustration on the Gonza Imperial Porter bottle exclaims "Ok! Let's Party!!" And I agree. Pick of a 4-pack of this beer before they're gone.

Photo of JasonA
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an oil slick black. Solid finger of head, not much retnention, lacing present.

Roasted malt, rum raisin

Roasted malt finish, some sweet and bitter, maybe hops.

Sits bitter, sweet ABV

Drinks well for 9.2. The bitter aspect is refrehing for Porters. Much sweeter than most. Ill drink some, but only so much.

Photo of Beaver13
3.81/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. Pours an opaque black with a smallish fine dark brown head that goes to a thin film and leaves some lacing. Looks pretty thick as it pours out.

The aroma is piney hops, some chocolate, coffee and anise. Smells a little off (alcohol / medicinal?).

The flavor is anise and some slightly sweet chocolate malts initially with a nice bitter hop bite at the finish. The alcohol is very well hidden. The mouthfeel is lighter than I expected. It's still medium bodied and light on carbonation.

Overall, a very fine imperial porter. Plus it's for a good cause...a big memorial fist!

Photo of FatheadBrew
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a deep brown with some small ruby highlights. Two fingers of tan head linger decently.

S: I get an earthy/grassy hop aroma along with a hint of alcohol and roast qualities.

T: Sweet taste upfront with a slight alcohol twang. Bitter and hoppy finish with a little roast barley character.

M: Full to medium full with a good level of carbonation.

D: Decent, I could have maybe two or three.

Overall, this was a good beer if you like stronger alcohol beers. The porter flavors get somewhat lost in the strength of it.

Photo of bishopdc0
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer is very dark with a creamy tan head. The smell is hints of chocolate and coffee not to big with some almost root beer aromas. This starts smooth and malty and it takes 3-5 seconds before the roasted barley taste appears. This beer is meant to be drank slowly so it can warm up. It becomes more complex and more flavors appear as it warms up.

Photo of Doomcifer
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm not a big Flying Dog fan at all, but when I saw they had released an Imperial Porter named after Hunter S. Thompson, I had to pick it up. Besides, I love me a good porter. Looks like I was pouring out my 5,000 mile used motor oil from the bottle. Topped off with a beautiful, creamy, light brown head that sticks to the glass and I was excited!

Smells of dark malts, bitter chocolate, coffee...reminds me of Old Rasputin Imperial Stout. Taste is more of the same yumminess. Dark, roasted roasty malts, bitter chocolate, french roast coffee, finishing off dry and a bit hoppy but nothing overwhelming. Slight alcohol warming going on as well and would be expected from a 9.2% brewha.

This is a HUGE porter, to say the least. And the first Flying Dog beer to impress me. Thoroughly impress me actually. I will be picking up more of this while it's still on the shelf.

Photo of Jason
3.7/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz brown bottle with a vintage date on the label "06A".

A- Pours out like thin used motor oil, very little carbonation only leaves behind a wafer like tan lace that has very little retention.

S- Choco-roasted malt twang in the nose, hints of dark fruit and very faint solvent alcohol in the back.

T&M- Full bodied with a slight smoothness and crispness. Hard bite of charcoal burnt malt, black strap molasses sweetness, big dark fruitiness. Warming alcohol hits around half way down the glass. Herbal / citric hops flare a quick bitterness and flavor within the burnt malt character although the hop flavor does show up again the burnt bitter-sweet finish.

D- I could see sipping this one to end the night off. Definitely worth a try if you are into very strong dark beers. The 9.5% is pretty tame.

Photo of merlin48
4.36/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Finally found some of these in a 4 pack, at the Vintage Cellar, in Blacksburg, Virginia, where they were literally flying off the shelf.
Pours a dark, dark, ebony flow(bats swarming out of a cavern) that produces an opaque body, topped by two fingers of cocoa shaded head. Ruby geometric shapes emanate from the body when backlit. Must be a pharmaceutical flashback. Excellent head retention and an abundance of clingy patch lace completes the exceptional presentation.

A stark assault of grassy hops surprises the nose, before traditional porter aromas of roasty dark malts slides in. Plenty of chocolate and cheap diner coffee here.

Mouthfeel begins with a nearly full body, but thins into extreme drinkability as it warms. Whew! A hop zing is unusual for a porter, but it's a nice addition to the ideal low medium carbonation.

Taste begins with scalded dark malty notes of burnt coffee and bakers chocolate. Those grassy hops add an interesting dimension. Well balanced! Wet and juicy finish, with an occasional dry touch from the roasted dark malts and grassy hops. As noted, the body thins considerably near the finish, making this a very dangerous sipper. Alcohol is nonexistent on the palate, but at 9.5%, must go straight to the brain. Nah....

Drinkability is excellent, but exercise due caution. Some of you older folks might get some flashbacks from this fitting tribute to the Master of the Gonzo. Best offering that Flying Dog has produced to date. Tis a shame that the untimely death of an excellent writer and noted eccentric had to be the inspiration for this brewery to get off its arse and produce a world class brew.

Photo of Billolick
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ouncer , label tells me it's vintage '05, Pours allmost jet black, dark tan head, fine wispy lacing, tich nose of malt, powdered sugar, vanilla, rich powerful beer , lots of roasted malts, alcohol, vanilla, cocoa and drying hops late. Bold and potent sipper, support Dr. Gonzo, seek out and slug down this fine brew.

Photo of warriorsoul
3.91/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up this one at Downtown W&S in Davis Square.
A deep, dark black color w/ two full fingers of cocoa colored head...real thick and produces fantastic lacing on the side of my tulip glass.
Very serious aroma...tons of dark chocolate, some coffee and just a hint of alcohol.
Taste is baking chocolate, subtle malt sweetness w/ a generous amount of hops to it...again, just a hint of alcohol and a smoked aftertaste.
Mouthfeel is quite wet and thick...does not finish as dry as I was expecting. Carbonation if decent...I could enjoy a couple of these w/ out any effort.
So far, its Wild Dog, Gonzo, and then their IPA...three solid brews from Flying Dog that I truly enjoy.

Photo of tigg924
3.96/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: 3/4 inch head, black in color, opaque

Smell: roasted malt, cocoa, and alcohol

Taste: dark and sweet chocolate, roasted malt, caramel, and some nuttiness

Mouthfeel: moderate carbonation, medium-heavy body, sweet with light bitterness and a slight bitter aftertaste.

Overall:Very malty and tasty. So far the only beer from this brewery that has blown me away. I wish the finish was not as dry, but a very good beer. The taste is way better than the smell--I would look for this again.

Photo of Mora2000
4.32/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours solid black with a large, brownish head. There are brown highlights along the edges when held up to the light.

Smell is lots of roasted malt as well as dark fruit. Taste is similar to the smell, with a heavy roasted flavor as well as a little bit of alcohol. For a beer with this much alcohol, it is very drinkable and something I really enjoyed.

Photo of mattster
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Opened 12 Fluid Ounce Bottle (Vintage "07k"), poured into snifter.

Pours a dark coffee brown brew with little to no head - ring of lace around top of brew. Slight legs on glass when agitated.

Smells of dark malts with dark chocolate and slight coffee hints. Taste is much more intense with dark fruit and slight chocolate notes. Much dryer than the smell would lead one to believe. Actually has sort of a coffee finish - much similar to having coffee at 3 A.M. in a diner while smoking Lucky Strikes. All in all, a really great beer, unique taste. While I have never feared nor loathed, I did enjoy this.

Photo of jakester
4.7/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got this as a single at Union Jack's on the Manatawny. Marked with "Vintage 05" on the extremely bizarre Ralph Steadman label.

Pours very slowly, like Olde Engine Oil from Harveytowne. Looks like used motor oil with a tannish brown head of tight foam. The head eventually drops to islands and a ring, but there is good lacing on the glass.

Aroma is strong grassy hops with pine needles, kinda weird but fantastic. Big black roasty malts with notes of mocha. I have never smelled a beer quite like this. As it warms, you can pick up alcohol, though it's pretty well muted.

Flavor at first is big and fruity sweet coffee and chocolate. Then a huge hop bitterness hits your throat, followed by grassy and piney hop flavor. This beer is tough to describe. There is a huge hop presence to go along with the huge dark roasted malt presence. Lots of residual sugar, but not cloying. The grassiness in this beer goes very well with the sweet dark malts. Aftertaste is sweet dark chocolate and grassy hops and alcohol.

Mouthfeel is very smooth and creamy with a big, full, dark sweetness, and a big bitter grab at your throat. Finish is sweet and dark, with a thick resiny coat in your mouth.

This is a truly wonderful beer, so chock full of flavor you would probably give a different review every time you drank it. Deeply rich and complex, this is one for the ages.

Photo of bsp77
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Very dark brown with strong tan head initially that mostly dissipates.

Smell: Dark chocolate, molasses, alcohol. Smells fairly dry and bitter.

Taste: Dark chocolate is prominent with molasses, roasted malt and light coffee. Turns more bitter at the end from the roasted malts and a nice smattering of hops.

Feel: Thick, chewy body that is smooth but slightly chalky. Low carbonation with a very dry finish.

Drinkability: Really does taste like a bigger, higher abv Porter than an Imperial Stout - nice that it is not the same thing. Very good overall.

Photo of magictrokini
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Okay, one more shot with Flying Dog. This is actually really good. Nearly black pour with brown edges, short tan head. Coffee and chocolate in the aroma mixed with smoke and burning rubber. Huge taste. Lots of coffee and chococlate again, but mixed with a generous amount of hops. The bitterness of the hops, coffee, and crystal malt is excellent, but somehow kept balanced with a sweet back. Tasty.

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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,715 ratings.