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Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery

Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

2,323 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2323
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: 2,323 | Reviews: 1,399 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of DoubleSimcoe

New York

3.53/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Gonzo on cask at Pony Bar in Hell's Kitchen, NYC, served in a 14-oz pint. I've had this beer in many different servings (tap, nitro, bottle, barrel-aged) but never cask. Let's see...

Appearance: Super cask-y head, like a souffle rising in the oven. Then it goes down and settles into just a mantle of bubbly mocha head. Serious lacing, decent retention, super dark looks.

Smell: Strangely aromatic, sort of like a bed of spring flowers submerged in fresh tar. Essential oils, rosemary, Herbes de Provence. Enticing and different, but way weird for an Imperial Porter. Cheap men's cologne from Wal-Mart, lemongrass.

Taste: Again the herb-and-perfume thing. WTF! Country ham, smoke, spices. Indian food cooked with Kentucky bacon, that's it. Very rosemary-y at the end. None of the roastiness and presence of "regular" Gonzo. This is more like a dark beer geared for women and processed in a lavender field in Provence.

Mouthfeel: Fine for cask, with low carbonation, full lavender-smoky flavor and a creamy finish. Not too dry.

Overall: I liked it enough, but if you're coming here thinking you're going to get Gonzo, forget about it. This is pretty much an entirely different beer.

Serving type: cask

04-19-2012 22:03:46 | More by DoubleSimcoe
Photo of johnmichaelsen


4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On firkin during the real ale festival at the Pratt Street Alehouse.

The beer pours the expected blackish brown color with OK head retention and minimal lacing. The beer doesn't look all that impressive, but then I took in the aroma. Mama mia! On the nose, this beer is just outrageous, smelling more like a black IPA then any porter I've ever tasted. There is a wonderful hoppy, perfumy, citrus aroma, coupled with coffee and licorise. On the palate, this beer is a beauty. Flavors replicate the nose, except I get more of a dark chocolate flavor profile to go with all the hoppy bitterness in the finish. There is some initial sweetness in this beer, but it's quickly pushed aside by the dry, bitter, hoppiness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied I guess, but there's plenty of flavor in this beer, and it has a long, bitter finish. The flavor from this excellent beer really lingers on the palate. Drinkability is likewise pretty good, with the alcohol well disguised. If you're a hophead, this is a very easy to drink porter.

OK. Couple of thoughts. I've had this beer on a number of occasions, and while it's been good, the version I had today was extraordinairy. Sorry flying dog, but you just can't convince me this is the normal recipe, just out of the firkin. This tastes like one of the finest black IPA's I've ever had, and I just wish it were more available. Excellent beer, but I'm still not convinced this wasn't something extra special I got to try today. Bravo!

Serving type: cask

03-20-2010 20:57:59 | More by johnmichaelsen
Photo of woodychandler


2.7/5  rDev -33%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 5 | overall: 1.5

Again, no mistake - I was drinking three different cask-conditioned ales as part of Lititz's General Sutter Inn's monthly Cask Night. This was the third of the three. How fitting for my 900th Beer Review in this site! For Dr. H. S. Thompson, this review's for you!

This was presented with a solid finger of dense deep-tan head with excellent retention. Color was a deep, dark, inky brownish-black with zero light penetration. This might have leaked out of the Exxon Valdez. Nose was redolent with dark chocolate and dark-roasted coffee. Mouthfeel was full, thick, silky smooth with a burnt wood taste on the tongue. Hmm. Dr. Thompson was cremated to ashes and intermingled into fireworks, but I begin to fade when it it this intense in its smokiness. Man, I just cannot get behind this beer. Too smoky and too charcoal driven for my taste. If they could just dial the roasting back a bit ...

Serving type: cask

11-25-2009 23:41:52 | More by woodychandler
Photo of capra12

New York

3.7/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed at the Gotham Cask festival on 9/12/09 from notes taken.

Appearance: Poured jet black with no head.

Smell: Dark chocolate and malts.

Taste: Opens malty as fresh coffee takes over from the middle to the end as a weird licorice flavor comes on at the finish leaving a weird coffee-like aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium bodied with minimal carbonation but smooth.

Drinkability: I would have this again but on another night... the licorice finish is something I was not a fan of.

Serving type: cask

11-05-2009 04:16:58 | More by capra12
Photo of carps12


3.28/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On cask at rattle and hum NYC. Smell of booze and malt with some chocolate. Taste is very boozy with sweet malt and a whole lot of roastiness. Goes down pretty easy, but the alcohol taste gets to you. Not my cup of tea. Mouthfeel is slick leaving a burnt malt alcoholic aftertaste.

Serving type: cask

08-29-2009 00:12:06 | More by carps12
Photo of ReadyFireAim


4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had during a sampling tour of their brewing facility in Frederick, MD. The first beer I tried of theirs before the tour started was their tripel. It was decent, but didn't exactly hit the spot. Right before the tour started the bartender asked us for last orders (so we'd have something to sip on while the tour guide walked us around the facility). I chose their cask-conditioned Gonzo - what a treat!

I had tried their Gonzo before and thought it was pretty good (good - not great); however, this beer is something else. The earthy, vanilla, and bright coffee flavors that the barrel aging process gave this beer sat very well with the rest of the beer's profile. A very malty brew with rich chocolate notes, and the vanilla/coffee edges help sum up the beer quite nicely and deliver a very neat package to the belly. Also, the aromas are heavenly. Wonderful!

It's quite strong (if I remember right it was about 10.5% ABV) so I could only see having a couple of these unless I was planning on chilling awhile somewhere to let the alcohol run its course.

Overall very pleased with this one. Probably the best that Flying Dog has hit me with (their double IPA coming behind in a close second place).


Serving type: cask

09-30-2008 18:54:58 | More by ReadyFireAim
Photo of aerozeppl

New York

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

Was wonderfully surprised to find this on cask at the Lazy Boy in White Plains. Best part only $6 a pint!

A: Jet black in color with one finger of tan head. The lacing on this beer was incredible. I was able to count how many sips it took me to finish the beer.

S: Roasted malt, Warm alcohol. Chocolate.

T: So complex. The first rush is all sweetness/bitterness from all the roast. Then you get the chocolate. Finally a toasty finish.

M: Thick and chewy. Typical cask carbonation which really worked well for this beer.

D:No hint of ABV and every sip was a pleasure. This beer is great in the bottle. On cask it was Earth shattering. While drinking it I remarked that it was perfect and it was. If near White Plains please go and get this before it is too late.

Serving type: cask

02-05-2008 13:49:21 | More by aerozeppl
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 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 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
Photo of MCain04


4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle was cellared for just shy of 2 years. Poured into a FFF Teku at around cellar temp.

Pours a dark brown, near black body, medium and large bubbles in the head which actually has good retention and lacing.

Not too much aroma, but roast and chocolate are the main flavors, maybe some dark fruits.

Flavor is dark fruits with some roasty character, a little bit of stale taste, dark chocolate, hoppy bitterness, lingering roasty malts.

Mouthfeel is medium to full, smooth, dry and sticky finish, carbonation is moderate.

This held up well over 2 years and may have actually improved, as the dark fruit flavors have evolved and add an extra element to this brew. Was happy with the results of this aging.

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2013 05:43:12 | More by MCain04
Photo of KYGunner


3.83/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This pours so dark brown that it appears black but for a tinge of light that shines through the bottom. The head was thick, frothy and brown that dissipated slowly and never really left.

The scent is light with cocoa powder, dried prunes, malty tea leaves and an unfortunate phenolic duct tape scent.

The flavor holds much more cocoa powder, coffee char, grassy malt and a finish of floral pine.

The feel is so silky, with a bit of fullness and not a stitch of alcohol despite the high ABV.

I found this improved greatly after it warmed and had time to air and settle, so if you read this it will help the experience.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2013 22:38:59 | More by KYGunner
Photo of alaimoa


2.74/5  rDev -32%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.25

Overall unimpressed with the smell, taste, depth of flavor and wouldn't buy again. Disappointed by the tangy alcohol in the back end of the sip and has a bit of a one dimensional feel to it

Poured black with not much head and a bit of spotty lace but nothing special
Smells of a salty and somewhat metallic alcohol
Taste a bit one dimensional hints of roasted coffee and malt but mostly a strange alcohol aggressiveness but not hot

Serving type: bottle

11-03-2013 21:28:00 | More by alaimoa
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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,323 ratings.