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: 120
Gots: 246 | 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
Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.9/5  rDev -3%
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.

Photo of GRG1313
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown/black with a this tan head; appealing.

Light coffee and "sharp" carmel nose. Nose has an elegance to it with undertones of chocolate.

Nice medium creamy mouthfeel with pleasant flavors of sweet coffee, carmel and toffee.
Flavors and character a bit more like stout than porter.

Nice big finish of sweet coffee that goes to grapefruit/resin hops. Wonderful character in the middle and appears to be an excellent candidate for foods with big flavors. A very drinkable, consumer friendly porter (stout?)

Photo of metter98
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

Photo of Thorpe429
4.37/5  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.

Photo of brentk56
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
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)

Photo of BEERchitect
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

Photo of Phyl21ca
2.95/5  rDev -26.6%
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.

Photo of Knapp85
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.86/5  rDev -28.9%
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.

Photo of mikesgroove
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

Photo of emerge077
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
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.

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 womencantsail
3.63/5  rDev -9.7%
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.

Photo of zeff80
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
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.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.7/5  rDev -8%
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.

Photo of TMoney2591
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
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.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.48/5  rDev +11.4%
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.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.98/5  rDev -1%
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.

Photo of Kegatron
4.17/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a snifter.

Pours an inky black with a finger width of dark tan foam with doesn't retain very well and just left some minimal lacing. The aroma is deep with notes of chocolate, coffee, burnt roasted malts, light hops and a little heat.

Much like the aroma, the taste is full of burnt tones of roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, and dark fruits. It finishes with a combo of a burnt and hoppy bitterness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and silky with a slight alcohol burn but for the most part, it's more warming.

This is a pretty good Imperial Porter. The bold flavors and higher ABV keep things interesting but it still remains a rather approachable and quaffable brew. Great for warming up on a cold night.

Photo of jlindros
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
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.

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.72/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bought as part of the Canis Major mixed 4 pack ($9.49/4)

Well this is certainly an odd taste for a porter. Pours a jet black color with a nice looking tan head. The first sip I took was very sweet and flavorful and absolutely delicious. The following sips were not so lucky though. It seemed that the sweetness wore away and the alcohol was much more present. I've had many a beer over 10%ABV and this one has 10 times as much alcohol taste than them at only a hair over 9%. Granted, the little alcohol warming kick isn't too bad of a thing, just too much of a 'mixed drink' feeling for me. Would try again.

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.48/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours black as midnight with a thin tan head that does not stay around. Nose is molasses, but seems a bit mild. Flavor is thick. Molasses is definitely there. Just massive, thick malts. Very minor smoky edge on the back of my mouth. Feel is extremely smooth on liquid with a minor, but very well balanced carbonation. This is so drinkable. You don't notice at all that it is 9.2%. Very, very nice.

Photo of Slatetank
4.78/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

poured at 55degress into a Guiness Nonic
A - An inky shade w/ medium brown head that cascades from halfway down the glass up to about 2 finger height. Leaves a great deal of lacing and reduces to 1.5 finger head.

S - Piney hoppiness and malty chocolate dominate with minimal vanilla character and slighty rum like odors.

M - a definite blessing to hold in the mouth-the longer the better. I experienced a prickly charred and chocolate bitterness followed by a gentle hop bite for good measure.

T - A sweet vanilla caramel taste immediately gets knocked down by a French roast smokiness and black malt essence with a coffee accent. Lovely piney, woody hop backing is enjoyed next. Creaminess is less pronounced in draft version and hoppy bitterness also seems amplified giving more balance than the bottled version. A great flavor undulates in magnificent ways. Magikal in darkest liquid sweetness-either draft or bottled is luxurious, but draft has a sweeter fuller feel with more hops
So Lively!

D - Loved it even more in the growler. Drink this and feel massively euphoric.

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.

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