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Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery

Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

2,321 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2321
Reviews: 1399
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 10.92%

Brewed by:
Flying Dog Brewery visit their website
Maryland, United States

Style | ABV
Baltic Porter |  9.20% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
ABV varies.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-04-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,321 | Reviews: 1,399 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of cjgiant

District of Columbia

3.73/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance was almost perfect for a nitro, dark brown with significant head, retention, lacing. The nose is more nutty towards chocolate.

The taste is smooth to start, with some silky chocolatiness, but the ABV makes its presence felt quickly, but not overpoweringly so. There's a strange woody nature in the malty porter. As others have mentioned, there is a little more pull on the mouth, dry more so than bitter, than other porters.

I found the nitro version enjoyable if not exceptional. Flying Dog is usually hit or miss for me, this one bucked the trend to be a solid maybe for in the rotation.

Serving type: nitro-tap

12-19-2013 00:23:51 | More by cjgiant
Photo of UCLABrewN84


3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

On nitro tap at Boneyard Bistro in Sherman Oaks, CA.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. A foamy curtain of lace coats the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, slight coffee, and alcohol. Taste is much the same with a cookie dough flavor on the finish. There is a medium roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a low level of carbonation with an almost flat and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer but the nitro treatment isn't helping out very much.

Serving type: nitro-tap

11-22-2012 07:16:13 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of avaldivia


4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On Nitro at the Coddingtown Whole Foods Tap Room is Santa Rosa.

A; Pitch black. Really nice chocolate head. Excellent retention.

S: Roasted malts. Chocolate. A bit of caramel of toffee.

T: Same as nose, but a bit more intense. Good chocolate flavor. The roasted malts are prominent.

M: Creamy. Very creammy. Medium to light carbonation.

O: Excellent. This is the only offering from Flying dog I have ever really thought was exceptional. It is the only one by them I will order.

Serving type: nitro-tap

08-07-2011 15:21:32 | More by avaldivia
Photo of Luvzsurfrz


4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served on nitro-tap at Ojai Brewing Company in a fluted 12 oz glass.

A: Poured dark with a tannish-brown head that was creamy like a fluffy cloud. An overwhelming amount of bubbles dissipated over a 5 minute period. Great sticky lacing on the sides of the glass.

S: Smell is faint of coffee and creamy malt.

T: Nitro-tap did this pour good! SOOOO creamy and delicious! Coffee is strong through, yet with subtle notes of mocha.

M: Thick and creamy, very smooth. Nice carbonation to bubble ratio. Goes down nicely.

O: Overall, i thoroughly enjoyed this porter on nitro-tap. It enhanced the taste, and the overall feeling and experience.

Serving type: nitro-tap

05-08-2011 04:39:12 | More by Luvzsurfrz
Photo of dbmernin83


4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours jet black with a small khaki nitro head. nitro leaves great lacing.
only a very faint coffee aroma. nitro kills it.
coffee, dark chocolate, and more dark chocolate.
the nitro lightens the body and adds a creamy, milkshake quality to this excellent porter. booze makes an appearance but doesnt take away from the drinkability.
this is a great porter, one of my favorites

Serving type: nitro-tap

02-04-2011 07:35:19 | More by dbmernin83
Photo of Stigs


4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz pour from nitro tap at Fathead's as part of Flying Dog's firkin friday...

A - pitch black beer with a healthy two fingers of incredibly tight and rich, dark tan colored head. massive lacing, every sip leaves a hearty ring around the glass, like counting the rings on the inside of a tree. lovely.

S - everything is subtle because of the nitro pour, some toffee and roasted malts, bit of chocolate and dark fruit

T - yum. sweetness is balanced very nicely by some roasted malts and then a healthy kick of hops, bitter dark chocolate adds a whole new layer and really comes out in the nitro version. coffee also shows up that doesnt from the bottle or regular tap.

M - hard to describe how thick the head of this is, almost like a chocolate mousse. spot on carbonation levels and mouth coating. perfect dessert beer.

D - was curious about this coming in, ended up ordering a second. alcohol was completely hidden, flavors intense, feel perfect. loved it.

Serving type: nitro-tap

01-30-2010 23:41:19 | More by Stigs
Photo of donniecuffs

New Jersey

3.58/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured a rich dark color with a tan head and zero carbonation (e.g. nitro). The smell was dominated by dark chocolate, caramel, and roasted malts, but once again the flavor was a little more subtle; similar to the Road Dog Porter in that respect. The mouth was nice and creamy, likely due to the nitro aspect, but one of these is a meal. Definitely not a favorable session beer.

Serving type: nitro-tap

08-27-2009 23:36:01 | More by donniecuffs
Photo of BeerisfoodLLC


3.98/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Served from a nitro tap:

A - Thick and dark with a thin but rich head. Lacing sticks around for the ride.

S - Intense toasted malt scents...hints of chocolate.

T - Intense roasty malt flavors yet balanced by a robust infusion of hops....complex, confusing to the pallet but awesome.

M - Chewy thick rich and lightly carbonated...the nitro adds and extra smoothness.

D - Better to sip and enjoy one rather than drinking all night

Serving type: nitro-tap

08-25-2009 01:23:20 | More by BeerisfoodLLC
Photo of jgasparine


3.93/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Completely opaque... it's probably brown in color, but so dark it looks black. A half-finger of head rests atop this nitro-pour, and it quickly dissipates, leaving no lacing behind. Interestingly, I'm not seeing any "settling" of the head like I would expect from a nitro-tap.

S- Smells very roasty, perhaps a bit of molasses, and some flowery hop aroma. Not getting much else off the nose.

T- As expected, it tastes sweet and roasty, with a touch of hop bitterness throughout. These flavors are quite big, but the three words "sweet, roasty, bitter" seem to sum it all up here. I guess in a literal sense that makes it three dimensional... but in a metaphoric sense I'd call it 1 or 2 dimensional. The Gonzo started out with promise of being a great big beer... don't get me wrong. It tastes mighty good... but I would like to see more going-on here... more nuances.

M- Keep in mind that this is a review of a nitro-pour. As such, I would expect some exceptional creaminess from this beer... and I'm just not getting as much as I thought I would.

Granted, the Gonzo is full-bodied, but most of this mouthfeel is coming from unatenuated sugar... I don't see much contribution from the nitrogen... and that's a disapointment (and not Flying Dog's issue- more of the bar's issue).

The carbonation is good enough, though, to keep this sweet brew from getting too sticky in the mouth.

D- All in all, I'd say this beer is quite drinkable, particularly given its ABV. A better nitro-pour would have helped in all areas... or perhaps I would have been better-off served the beer without the knowledge of it being on a nitro draft system...

Serving type: nitro-tap

08-02-2009 12:18:57 | More by jgasparine
Photo of tgdigital


4.68/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Had this beer on Nitro at several locations. Pours a deep black with a nice creamy nitro head. Nose is loaded with hops for a porter, and the taste is the same. Exceptional beer all around, but not a beer you can sit down and pound many at once. I've also had the oak barrel aged version, which I preferred.

Serving type: nitro-tap

06-17-2009 14:26:20 | More by tgdigital
Photo of Floydster


4.8/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

32 ounce mug at Bad Dog Ale House

Almost jet black color with a thick, dark brown head

Beer of choice at this bar and the reason why many people keep going back to the place

I have heard it is not as good from a bottle, but is arguably one of the best draft beers I have head

Strong chocolate and coffee taste

Almost looks like a milkshake it is so thick

These catch up to you fast though, so be careful when drinking this bad boy

Serving type: nitro-tap

09-03-2007 06:05:38 | More by Floydster
Photo of ISmith87


4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - 4 - Nice dark brown/black beer with a big mocha head on it, leaves nice lacing.
S - 4.25 - Roasty coffee, espresso, chocolate, oatmeal.
T - 4.5 - Chocolate, coffee, espresso, cafe mocha, vanilla, cream, oatmeal. Very wholesome and smooth. Reminds me of Bell's Expedition Stout.
M - 4.5 - very nice thick mouthfeel, like a chocolate milkshake, alc is completely covered. Aftertaste is roasty malts, coffee, and milk chocolate.
O - 4.5 - Great imperial porter! I think what some other people said about the alcohol taste may be changed due to this being the 2013 vintage. But then again maybe not. It's a great imperial porter, with no harsh bitter or alcohol flavors whatsoever.

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2014 23:26:36 | More by ISmith87
Photo of Jparker37


4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Vintage from 2010. 12oz poured into an oversized tulip.

A - Black but not opaque. Small cap of tan head from a strong pour. Spotty lacing.

S - Rich with an alcohol nose. Vanilla, graham cracker, toffee, caramel, oak, licorice, dark chocolate. Wonderfully bright. No big roasty qualities.

T - Tremendous vanilla and light caramel flavors upfront. Some graham cracker-like sweetness midway and finishes with an astringent flavor. Aftertaste is reminiscent of Brandy.

M - Medium-full body, medium-light carbonation, semi-dry.

O - The aroma hinted at more than the listed ABV but the flavor was warm yet easy to drink. Wildly complex at a relatively low ABV from Imperial status.

Recommendation - Buy a couple 6-packs to store and drink long after you've forgotten about them.

Serving type: bottle

03-25-2014 02:47:00 | More by Jparker37
Photo of alexk307


4.34/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a Gulden Draak snifter.

A: Jet black. Pours a creamy tan brown head that lasts the entire glass. Lacing throughout as well.

S: Not giving off any extreme scents. Picking up the malt with a little bit of the chocolate and sweet caramel. Reminiscent of an Oyster Stout. Also picking up some fresh citrusy hops.

T: Very hop forward with a wave of initial bitterness. Mellows out to a perfect balance of maltiness and chocolate. At the end you're left with a smokey malty finish that makes you want more.

M: About as thick as a Porter can get without encroaching into Stout territory. I usually don't like the thinness of Porters but this one has enough flavor to back it up.

O: Very surprised with this beer, perfectly balanced. Will purchase many, many more times.

Serving type: bottle

03-02-2014 23:58:32 | More by alexk307
Photo of RandomExile


3.41/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

A: deep ruby, almost indistinguishable from black; full brown fluffy head, tiers and spatters of foamy lacing
S: nutty, alcohol, herbal, brown sugar
T: sweet but not quite cloying; roasted malt; alcohol; nut; woody aftertaste
M: full-bodied; mouth-coating; sweet
O: I find the alcohol and caramel/herb flavor off-putting, so my overall impression is a bit conflicted, because it seems well-constructed but I'm not necessarily a fan of what they did with it.

355mL / Weizen Glass

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2014 01:48:24 | More by RandomExile
Photo of brewskifan55


3.96/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass

A: The darkest brown possible, melding into blackness. A tan one finger head that faded into a cherry-colored rim. Decent lacing.

S: Anise, leather, coffee, cocoa and chocolate.

T: Follows nose with a sweet, robust, brown sugar attitude. Malty and boozy, too. Take your time.

M: Medium to heavy with thick carbonation.

O: Hunter Thompson would be proud of this Gonzo creation. Sip slowly and enjoy the excessiveness. Why not throw in a chocolate chip cookie. Nice doggie.

Serving type: bottle

01-22-2014 17:49:19 | More by brewskifan55
Photo of gabedivision

New York

3.78/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 oz to a goblet

A- pours pitch black with a 1 finger mocha head

S- dark chocolate, cocoa, buttery coffee bean

T- chocolate, booze, sweet roasted malts, booze, sweet brown sugars

M- full bodied, nice and milky smooth, sweet, dry

O- good imp porter/stout nice flavors that seem to be haunted by bits of fusel alcohol that tend to creep in and out of the taste. but lots of flavor and comes at a decent $

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2014 03:31:06 | More by gabedivision
Photo of 57md


3.71/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Bottle marked "vintage 13KK"

Pours a dark brown with over two fingers of head that enjoyed really healthy retention and produced nice lacing on the glass. The nose is quite hoppy and not terribly roasty. The roasted malt flavor is present upfront, but the hop qualities of this offering stand out above the malt profile. This is more of a black ale than a Baltic porter. For example, the body is far too thin for a Baltic, but right on-point for a solid black ale.

Serving type: bottle

01-08-2014 05:02:14 | More by 57md
Photo of BeerFMAndy


3.76/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter.
9.2% ABV, Vintage 13JJ

A - Completely black, no light escapes this Gonzo while a massive tan head rises to tall, lumpy pile and lingers for what seems like forever. The huge cap of head eventually lowers leaving delicate lace coating the whole snifter.

S - Gonzo has an interesting aroma. At first is smells like walking into a cooler, then it starts smelling like a pack of refrigerated cheese and beef stick from the gas station but, finally as it warms up it takes shape. Subtle dark roasted malts bring morsels of milk chocolate to an otherwise hop-forward aroma of grassy earthiness.

T - Bittersweet chocolate candy bar teeters the line of milky sweetness and dry cocoa bitterness but finishes balanced and followed up with a slow dribble of molasses and kiss of earthy hops.

M - Gonzo's heavy feel is welcome with open arms, cascading across the tongue with sticky sweetness that's cut short by dry, bitter cocoa and a heavy-handed pile of hops.

O - I can't recall ever having a bottle of Gonzo develop the way this fresh one has. More often than not they're hop-forward with a subtle but beefy malt backbone that balances nicely but this bottle in particular, starting with the weird aroma, is throwing me off. Usually better than this, unfortunately.

Serving type: bottle

01-07-2014 00:22:19 | More by BeerFMAndy
Photo of keithmurray

New York

4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - dark brown mahogany color with mocha colored head

Smell - vanilla, dark chocolate, expresso

Taste - dark chocolate, vanilla, expresso, molasses

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, high carbonation, slight sweetness upfront, good bitterness at the back end

Overall - not as good as others within the genre, but a decent beer that's worth a try

Price Point - $3/12 oz single

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2014 18:23:09 | More by keithmurray
Photo of Crafts_and_recreation


4.46/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rich, dark black/brown with a fluffy, rocky tan head of just over 2 fingers in a tulip glass, maintains a nice lacing but a touch oily

Aroma isn't as strong as I'd expected, surprised by the presence of fresh, citrusy hops at the nose, followed by dark fruits and some coffee

Flavor is somewhat unbalanced bitterness with roasted chocolate and coffee notes in the background. Has a tangy, alcohol flavor throughout a touch of smoke, and finishes with a noticeable earthy bitterness.

The mouthfeel is medium with slight carbonation and a bit of a dry finish. Lingers on the palate.

Overall, this is an interesting beer. On a completely superficial note, I love the Hunter S. Thompson quotes and Steadman art on the bottle (so much that I'll be keeping it around). With such a high ABV I can't see drinking more than 1-2 at a time, but it is a nice switch from the sweeter more chocolatey porters I'm used to. It may not be for everyone, but I'd recommend giving it a try. Also, there is quite a difference in aroma and flavor after letting the beer warm for a few moments, much smoother and less sharp alcohol flavors.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2013 13:35:32 | More by Crafts_and_recreation
Photo of Ozzylizard


3.83/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle at cellar temp, vintage 13DD, into goblet
Aroma none
Head average (3 cm), light brown, creamy, mostly lasting.
Lacing good.
Body dark brown, clear.
Begins slightly sweet, no diacetyl, no fruity esters.
Ends slightly sweet, no astringency, no hoppiness at all.
Medium to full body, creamy, creamy, soft carbonation.

Overall, a good breakfast beer without coffee. Flying Dog sometimes uses this as a base for more extreme beers.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2013 12:32:43 | More by Ozzylizard
Photo of IAmAPenguin


4.01/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Aroma: chalky cocoa nibs, coffee beans, subtle hops and resin. Appearance: Deep brownish appearance with a two finger head and very beautiful lacing. Taste: Oily in texture with well balanced flavors of coffee beans, fudge, cocoa nibs, toffee, roasted caramel and subtle dark chocolate. Overall, the alcohol is really well masked but you can definitely feel it. The finish leaves a dry, bitter chocolate (almost like taking a bite of a hershey bar. This is a really nice tasting beer, the balance is very impressive.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2013 04:38:48 | More by IAmAPenguin
Photo of TeamMathis

West Virginia

4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Black. Tan head.
Smell: Sweet chocolate and coffee.
Taste: Some fruit, chocolate, coffee, and alcohol.

This is so tasty. It's completely black, with no light getting through. The sweet smell sets the tone for the taste. The taste has such a sweet quality to it, with hints of chocolate, some type of fruit, and maybe a bit of coffee. The aftertaste is a little bitter, almost a vodka feel to it. I would get this again.

Serving type: bottle

11-30-2013 03:38:22 | More by TeamMathis
Photo of PAhopHead717


4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer turned me on to porters. Ive tried a few different porters but never enjoyed them. Perhaps its the artwork or hunter s thompson quote, but this strong stuff goes down good. Had it fairly fresh and it had a decent hoppy taste for a porter. Perhaps the reason i enjoyed it more than other porters. If your a fan of flying dog, ralph steadman, or hunter thompson this is a must try. Keep it gonzo!

Serving type: bottle

11-28-2013 19:22:14 | More by PAhopHead717
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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,321 ratings.