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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 Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black with a minimal attractive head and lace. Coffee syrup, medium mouthfeel and not all that thick.Chocolate and other malts, cascade and other hops.The one-off best flying dog of them all, courtesy of Jan Biergeman.Surprising high alcohol, did not feel like 9.8%.Unobtrusive carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

05-22-2006 22:55:24 | More by Sammy
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 BuckeyeNation


2.8/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

"No man is so foolish but he may sometimes give another good counsel, and no man so wise that he may not easily err if he takes no other counsel than his own. He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master."

--Hunter S. Thompson

Vintage '05. Thanks in advance to bditty187 for the last beer that I'll drink in 2005. Lightless obsidian topped by a cascading head of dark golden sandstone. This is the darkest porter that I ever remember pouring and is darker than many stouts. The cap has the consistency of waterlogged sponge, deflates slowly and looks great while doing so. It's also no slacker in the lace department since a moderately thick, periodically pocked sheet covers most of the glassy surface area.

The nose struck me as potentially very good when I first cracked the crown. However, now that I'm focusing on it for real, it's merely above average. I can't quite put my finger on it, but something seems slightly askew. It isn't as mega-malty as I expected (or as it looks). Heavily roasted, espresso-tinged black malt is present, but is far from aggressive. It's met with equal, if not greater force by a green, fresh pine needle-like, sticky hop cone essence that gives me a clue what to expect on the palate.

The flavor is odd and unexpected. The malt side of the equation is reminiscent of saccharine sweetened diet chocolate bars soaked in dark Karo syrup, sour molasses and stale coffee grounds. The pine sappy hoppiness fails to blend in, and, as a result, the flavor profile has a disjointed, muddled quality. It's hard to figure out exactly what's going on. As I continue to sip, it's becoming increasingly obvious that the answer is: not much.

One reason my taste buds are having a hard time getting traction is that the flavor is so flat. By that I mean that it lacks that three dimensional quality that all good beer has, that allows one to delve into its various nooks and crannies and discover all sorts of interesting flavors, layers of flavor and flavor combinations. This one is broad and boldly flavored, but it's also stunningly shallow.

Part of the reason for the above is a curious lack of carbonation. It's curious because there was a normal release of gas on bottle opening and tremendous head formation on the pour. In the actual drinking, though, the near total lack of leavening hurts both the flavor and the mouthfeel. The mouthfeel is full and slighty slick, but feels too inert to be pleasurable.

Hunter S. Thompson defined gonzo as 'with total committment, total concentration and a mad sort of panache'. After hearing the buzz about Gonzo Imperial Porter, I thought Flying Dog had done those words justice by brewing a beer that is a fitting tribute to the larger than life character who wrote them. I was wrong.

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2005 01:16:06 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of mikesgroove

South Carolina

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

A - Poured a thick, black, with some light penetrating on the sides and bottom. One of the biggest tan colored heads I have ever scene. Actually had to wait a couple mins to pour the rest. Really nice spider web like lace was to follow. Good looker so far.

S - Very very strong smell was apparent from the start. Big aroma of coffee and caramel with a definate alcohol flavor to it. A slight sweetness could be detected as it warmed along with a very subtle hoppy presence. Maybe a but of chocolate at the end, very nice.

M & T - This was nice, feel was very rich and creamy, and very warming. Lots of carbonation made everything pop just right, and this went down like dessert. Some smoked flavors were readily apparent, but definatly not overwhelming. Very full flavored, sweet profile and a nice dry, long lingering smokey finish. Very full robust porter to say the least.

D - Overall I have to give this one its due. It was a perfect nightcap to the evening and very worthy of being a sipper. I had been wanting to try this one for a while and it did not dissapoint.

Serving type: bottle

04-04-2007 23:20:46 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of womencantsail


3.63/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: A 12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass. The beer is pretty much black and has a very fluffy tan colored foam that stays around forever.

S: The aroma is somewhat disappointing. Coffee, roasted malt, some mild chocolate.

T: The primary flavors in this one are the same as the nose: coffee and roasted malt. There is also a bitterness on the finish that could be due to the malts or the hops.

M: The body is medium and the carbonation is moderate as well.

D: Despite the fact that this beer is nearly 10% alcohol, the booze is quite well hidden until it really warms up.

This is a good beer, just not great. I'm glad I picked one up to try, but nothing terribly special.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2009 06:30:48 | More by womencantsail
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

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

Appearance: Pours a dark, dark brown color with a tan head that persists for quite a while and leaves plenty of lacing

Smell: The nose is citrus/piney with undertones of dark fruit and cocoa

Taste: Starts out a bit sweet, with rum soaked dark fruit; then the bitter hops kick in and provide a strong challenge; chocolate and coffee appear after the swallow; the finish is roasted and bitter with a good bit of alcohol

Mouthfeel: Thick and luscious; moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Nice for a nightcap; lots of flavor, but the opposite of Lay's (you can only drink one)

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2005 02:40:46 | More by brentk56
Photo of Phyl21ca

Quebec (Canada)

2.95/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bottle courtesy of Hogtownharry: Poured a pitch-black color porter with a medium foamy head with average retention. Aroma of roasted malt with some coffee and some vegetable kind of leave me puzzled. Taste is also a weird mix between roasted malt and a weird vegetable finish which doesn’t really fit in there and I am still unsure where it came from (hops?). Body is too light for the style but alcohol is well hidden. I’m not sure why this is rated so highly as I didn’t see anything memorable in here.

Serving type: bottle

11-28-2006 17:56:03 | More by Phyl21ca
Photo of BEERchitect


4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Looks good for a porter. Perhaps a bit thicker and richer looker, more like a sweet stout. A stubborn tan head laces well and shows some legs. Low carbonation.

Smells like fresh cut grass, and fresh cut pine cones, and fresh cut roasted malt. Picking up major hoppiness found in IPA's and classic porter chocolates and toastedness. A mellow sourness lurks in the background. My guess it's from the lager yeast and roasted barley.

Tastes like the fresh cut stuff in the aroma. Sweetness is quickly swamped by the hops and roasted grain. Creamy and thick through the body. Finishes warming and a bit dry.

Aftertaste: Hops, coffee, a bit of liqorice. Lingers for quite some time. Remains alcoholic, but never completely drys out; stays sweet.

Impression: Hops overwhelm many of the porter characteristics (no supprise from Flying Dog Brewery) I appreciate the taste, it's new and vibrant to the palate--makes you think. Never thought I'd say this--it's a great summertime porter.

Serving type: bottle

06-20-2005 02:20:44 | More by BEERchitect
Photo of Thorpe429


4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown with a nice tan head. The small is of roasted malt with a little bit of coffee. The taste is quite malty, with a nice robust feel and slight dryness. Coffee undertones exist throughout, and there is a little bit of bittersweet chocolate. Quite drinkable, and increases in complexity as it warms up.

Serving type: on-tap

10-19-2009 15:29:46 | More by Thorpe429
Photo of metter98

New York

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

A: The beer poured jet black in color with a mocha colored head; a thin layer of bubbles consistently covered the surface. A light amount of carbonation is visible from the rising bubbles near the edges of the glass.
S: There is a moderate aroma of dark roasted malts and chocolate in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and has flavors of dark roasted malts, bitter chocolate and burnt coffee beans. There is a mild amount of bitterness from the hops.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate. The beer is very smooth and a bit thin; there are some warming sensations from the alcohol.
D: This is an excellent beer to sip and savor--I will definitely try another one of these again. It's rather drinkable and the bitterness is not overpowering.

Serving type: bottle

07-07-2010 01:03:20 | More by metter98
Photo of ChainGangGuy


3.73/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. single - $2.79 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia. Listed as "Vintage 09".

Appearance: Pours a black body topped with a frothed, tan-colored head.

Smell: Cutting aroma of charred black malts, dark chocolate, fragrant colophony, and even chiffonade mint leaves.

Taste: Bittersweet, fudge-like chocolaty malts coupled with sharply roasty black maltiness and its taste of fire-scorched coffee grinds. Strongly sweet, though this is tempered somewhat by the bitter qualities of the roasted malts blended with the bitterness of the earthy, resinous, pine-tinged hops. As with the nose, there's a touch of spicy mint. Drying, bitterish finish with a final lingering taste of creosote.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation. Soft, creamy mouthfeel.

Drinkability: It's certainly one of Flying Dog's better offerings. Paired well with the bittersweet, oft melancholy tones of the Kings of Convenience and Pedro the Lion. It makes me a bit wistful for the barrel-aged Gonzo.

Serving type: bottle

02-15-2009 01:13:26 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of oberon

North Carolina

3.98/5  rDev -1.2%
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?

Serving type: bottle

08-29-2005 02:12:05 | More by oberon
Photo of TMoney2591


4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a GameWorks shaker pint glass.

Had to revisit this guy after having the BA version. It pours an opaque black-brown topped by a nice finger of dark-ish tan foam. Quite lovely, I should say. The nose is dominated by roasted malts, with some chocolate and maple syrup picking up whatever slack is left them. The taste reprises this roast domination, with the additional additions of dark chocolate and coffee, bringing in some nice bitterness. The body is a heavy medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a somewhat thick feel. Overall, a very nice Baltic, not quite as strong as the BA version but very tasty nonetheless.

Serving type: bottle

10-09-2010 00:41:11 | More by TMoney2591
Photo of NeroFiddled


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

Another label by Ralph Steadman, as expected, and almost required. This one pictures Hunter himself, ready to party in death. Weighty. I want to be positive about it, and it does seem to embody his spirit, but it still kind of brings me down. I'll enjoy the beer in memorium. And the label also mentions that some of the proceeds will go to erect the Gonzo Memorial Fist on Thompson's estate, so I support that. Finally, it also reads "VINTAGE" where a bottling date would normally be.

Carefully decanted to leave the yeast behind, it streams from the bottle a very dark, but clear, mahogany. Once the glass is filled, however, the greater volume of liquid cuts out the ability for any light to pass through and it appears as black as death. The yeast pour adds some fairly large chunks of yeast that both settle to the bottom, and float almost stationary in the darkness mid-glass. The head is a dark, yellowed tan with some orange accents around the edges. The retention is impressive, and it not only holds a solid, creamy 1/8" lid, but leaves walls of lace around the glass as well

The nose is roasty, coffeeish, piney, grassy, and citrusy.

In the mouth its quite creamy with a full body and very fine-bubbled, natural carbonation that's around 2.3 volumes.

The flavor remarkably combines its coffee-like and chocolatey maltiness with bursts of pine, spruce, and mildly citrusy hops. There's also a molasses/burnt caramel side to it, as well as some toasty bread crust, and a surprisingly mild dark roast acidity given its intense color and level of roastiness.

It finishes with some pine upfront, followed by a some sprinkled brown sugar, a spritz of citrus, and finally black coffee. The alcohol never reveals itself; and it's remarkably drinkable given its size.

Now to address the Imperial Porter designation, which has been questioned recently. It's not a Baltic Porter, by origin or specification - but it can certainly be called an Imperial Porter. That's a style that's just emerging in the US right now, and if anything, this is one of the first! Kudos!

Very nice indeed, and IMHO, the best beer to come out of Flying Dog yet.

Serving type: bottle

07-03-2005 19:32:14 | More by NeroFiddled
Photo of feloniousmonk


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

Gonzo sits in the glass a solid black, a rueful raiment, pitch perfect for a porter, with a thick cake of cocoa-toned froth floating atop.

Bittersweet and meaty in the nose, chocolate and coffee, blended with cinnamon and cumin, gentle, though, more suggestive than forthright, pleasant, if not profound.

Slides gamely onto the palate, fully in force, playing all the parts of a porter. Full-bodied, darkly flavorful, silky and even sophisticated. A sleek alcoholic edge oozes through in the middle, feels more like a dark, syrupy liqeuer now.
And I like it!

A slow drinker brew, best kept for cold nights, or nightcaps...get cozy with this brew in a snifter, and pull out the good doctor's works and say good night to that batshit bastard genius, one of the last American rebels, through and through.

*this bottle was reviewed very warm, a bottle at room temperature drunk just after returning from the store, where it was stacked on the floor....on a hot, hot, hot July day...I'll try it again in different conditions, colder, perhaps...

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2005 20:04:35 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of TheManiacalOne

Rhode Island

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

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is deep dark black with a large brown foamy head that fades very slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of chocolate, dark fruit, coffee and hops.

T: Dark chocolate dominates in the taste. There are some hops and a touch of fruitiness as well, along with an alcohol warmth, as to be expected given the ABV of this range. As everything else fades, the after-taste is rich that bitter-sweet flavor of dark chocolate.

M: Very smooth and slick, medium-to-heavy body, light-to-medium carbonation, finish is a little sticky.

D: Tasty, especially if you like the dark chocolate flavor, a little bit filling and has a good kick to it. It’s more of a sipper, but you could conceivably pound this one for a little while.

Serving type: bottle

09-07-2006 04:12:41 | More by TheManiacalOne
Photo of emerge077


4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 vintage bottle.

Jet black pour, with a cap of mocha-tinged foam. A very faint and feathery webbed ring of lacing is left behind as the level recedes in the glass.

Chocolatey, herbal, nearly medicinal aroma. Not much left to indicate the hop level of a fresh bottle. A little woody and lactic sweetness also.

Big flavor of licorice and residual earthy charred malt. A leafy herbal quality in the background is all that remains from the initial load of hops. A dry bitterness in the finish is also attributed to the residual traces of hops. It has an extremely smooth and full body that encourages slow savoring. Easy to have one or two, paired well with a chocolate brownie.

Serving type: bottle

01-31-2008 02:05:54 | More by emerge077
Photo of russpowell


4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Head is fluffy and brown to tan, flattens out to a thin layer of foam. Ruby brown coloration to black with some serious light blockage! Slight hinsts of malt & alcohol on the nose. Amos getting trashed sniffing it. Great fruitty/leather taste along with bitterness on the tip of the tounge finishes with alcohol & raisins on the back of the throat. Too bad they can't ressurect Hunter, so Flying dog can come up with a beer to commerate that!

Serving type: bottle

08-16-2005 03:33:27 | More by russpowell
Photo of WesWes

New York

4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep, dark black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great. It has a nice, black patent and chocolate malt scent along with some hops in there as well. The taste is good. It seems to have a pretty intense hop bitterness that really peaks through the black and chocolate malts. It gives the beer tremendous complexity and a unique flavor. The mouthfeel is good. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn fine beer. I like the concept and the beer in general. This is a good drinking beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2006 02:33:16 | More by WesWes
Photo of drabmuh


4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured this stout errr I mean baltic porter errr I mean stout into a tulip...I may have meant porter afterall. Forms a thick head, brown bubbles small, some lacing on the glass. Looks good for a stout or a porter....

Molasses, chocolate, malt, alcohol. Its all in there.

Pretty smooth. Slight roast in the back, medium body, not much carbonation in the mouth, overall nice finish, no aftertaste. Second taste, no heat, some malt sweetness up front, drinkability high and mouthfeel good. I like this beer.

Serving type: bottle

04-08-2010 01:17:31 | More by drabmuh
Photo of Mora2000


4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-31-2009 03:38:47 | More by Mora2000
Photo of zeff80


4.18/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a opaque, jet black color with a tan, foamy, two-finger head. It left wide, sticky rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of tons of malt (caramel and chocolate). It also had an earthy/grassy aroma.

T - Great malt flavor with hints of chocolate and caramel. It was bittersweet and had a coffee-like taste.

M - It was crisp and sharp with a warm alcohol presence. A medium to heavy-bodied beer.

D - This is an outstanding porter. It is a heavy beer and deserves some slow sipping.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2007 18:40:41 | More by zeff80
Photo of jlindros


4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 7oz sampler into snifter glass.

A: Big dark rich head, pitch black color

N: Nose dominated by noble hops and slight chocolate malt

T: Taste starts with a tangy stout like malt with chocolate and crystal malts, it has a slight chalky stout quality, some hops also come out at the start, little spicey bitterness shines through the middle that is followed with alcohol, some smoked malt

M: Lots of carbonation and somewhat thick mouthfeel,

F: Finishes with a dry and tangy bitterness with some spice, alcohol and stout, it starts lighter than expected, but finishes strong and dry with bitterness and spice, has some nice stoutiness in the middle as well, almost would have called this imperial stout instead of porter, but that's opinionated, its really good, but the oaked version just goes over the top.

Serving type: bottle

07-24-2009 00:09:13 | More by jlindros
Photo of Gueuzedude


3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a creamy, slightly frothy brown head that sits atop a midnight black beer. The aroma has a spicy hop note to it up front. There is an intermingling of pine and citrus hop notes with espresso & roasted malt notes, as well as a bit of chocolate. The beer has a thickish, creamy body. This beer is aggressively hopped, at least considering that I was not expecting much in the way of hop character in this beer. The fresh, herbal hop notes actually are the most distinctive part of this beer. Running throughout is a sweet, malty chocolate note that finishes out with an astringent sharp espresso note. This beer has notes of bergamot, grapefruit, and pine. This beer is perhaps a little on the light side, and could of course use a bit more malty notes to help tame the hop notes, but I am definitely enjoying this right now. This was a surprisingly pleasant beer, from a brewery that I honestly have not been all too fond of.

Serving type: bottle

06-12-2005 04:31:55 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of Knapp85


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

This is one really dark brew. This porter could easily be a stout just by looking at it. The color is pitch black with a creamy looking mocha colored head on top. The smell is rich and very roasted, with some chocolate on the nose also. The taste of the beer is heavly roasted with some dark chocolate bitterness in there too. The mouthfeel of the beer is heavy but silkty smooth in texture. Overall it's one of the better porters out there in my opinion. I would drink this one again.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2011 04:38:40 | More by Knapp85
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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,323 ratings.