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Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery

Not Rated.
Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,447 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,447
Hads: 2,796
Avg: 4.02
pDev: 15.17%
Wants: 137
Gots: 304 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Flying Dog Brewery
Maryland, United States | website

Style | ABV
Baltic Porter | 9.20% ABV

Availability: Rotating

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

ABV varies.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Gonzo Imperial Porter Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,447 | Hads: 2,796
Photo of santoslhalper
4.31/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearence: Pours a nice dark black with a thick, creamy chocolate head that dies down a little but leaves stunning lacing.

Smell: The alcohol content is a bit noticable, but the other smells (chocolate, coffee, nuts, roasted malts, etc...) are well balanced and pleasent.

Taste and Mouthfeel: Very strong, powerful coffee and chocolate notes hit your mouth at first, playing with each other on the tounge. Following that is a bittersweet flavor, ending into an almost grassy, hay flavor with a touch of garlic. Garlic? Yes garlic. It tastes good. Smooth, well balanced, and creamy as hell. The alcohol is still kind of strong, but acceptable for a beer of 9.5% and one being this young. The mouthfeel is rich, full, and creamy.

Drinkability and Overall: A very nice Baltic Porter, and a very good tribute to Hunter Thompson. I think he would have whole heartedly approved of this beer bearing the "gonzo" name. Full of life and energy, both this beer and Hunter proved that being outgoing and independent is not only fun, but a very interesting journey, not for the weak of heart. And, so, I raise this chalice to a fallen soldier, a man who plunged deep into the world of the weird and never looked back. This one's for you, comrad.

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Photo of lou91
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured perfectly into a Guinness glass and looked and smelled like the old Guinness - dark, black but not opaque with scents of hops, chocolate and espresso. The taste matched the nose well at first tasting like a milk stout with its sweet silkiness and then morphing into a red ale. This is very good porter with an alcohol umph, rich depth of flavors and oh so drinkable. Matched up well with my Fuente short story cigar.

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

Portly dark black with nary a sliver of light getting through. Medium muffin batter thick cap of cocoa brown laps at the top. Breaks down fairly quickly though, eventually revealing a slight oily residue and splotchy lacing.

Aroma is calm and clean of slick melted chocolate from darker suited candy bars and a small roasted grain underbelly with evident hints of dark rum soaked dates and raisins.

Flavors are great. Nice chocolatey realm with all sorts of fun subtlities within making for a very dark enticing treat. Sensual chocolate coats deep and lasts long with a darker sense of the cocoa bean being leaned into. Slick and quickly chewy with a brownie-like dryness. Finish brings out lots of interestingly fun stuff with coffee roast and light burnt grains and cinnamon-raisin toast. A touch of hop spice and licorice dipped in nougat takes a late return after some of the roast leaves. Then more chocolate creeps back across the palate. A delightful and finely fanatastic finisher. Totally worth every sip just to get to it.

Feel is well textured in the porter realm of things. Bold, thick, lavish, and remarkably clean with a broad medium, sensible body. And the carbonation seems right on for a big chocolatey porter such as this. Quite nice. The 9.5% barely shows itself. Smooth and majorly drinkable. The 12oz'er isn't close to enough to satisfying as you'll want and need more of this, one time, finally kick ass, brew, by Flying Dog. By far, my first very impressionable beer by them. Kudos for trying something beyond their normal stuff that I tend to find too simple and boring.

Also, kudos to lostbearbrew for the samples!

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.32/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Served from the tap at the Farmhouse, Emmaus, PA during at trip there with BA Erica. This sample was actually Erica’s but I ended stealing most of her glass as it happens…my Bad.

Appearance: Dark beguiling brown-black body with a minimal initial head that disappeared completely to reveal distilled raisin colored fluid in the Goblet. Held to the light is has a gorgeous ruby hue. Minimal carbonation but enough to stop you thinking that this is prune juice.

Nose: Wow, very different to what Porters usually offer. Smoky malts with brunt brown paper aromas. Damp wood, medicinal peat and smokey bacon. Hints of dark chocolate and coffee.

Taste: Very solid taste profile. Bold flavors which are not shy at all. Roasty malts, dark chocolates and hint of rum & raisin throughout. Flashes of cocoa powder, roasted coffee beans and some smoked meats. Lovely.

Mouthfeel: Massive feel, the 9.5% is full front and square and it pulls no punches at all. Enjoyable alone, with a meal…..or as a meal.

Drinkability: This is one of those brews that would get the better of me and most certainly “take me out” before I get bored with it. Oh, it also gets better as it warms too…..bloody dangerous stuff.

Overall: I’ve tried this one a couple of times now, but never reviewed it, which seemed rather tragic as its so damn good. Haven’t seen this in bottles anywhere near me yet, but when I do I’m picking up a 6-Pack of this stuff. Tasty and Recommended, don’t let other negative Flying Dog experiences put you off trying this one (as it nearly did with me). Nice Job.

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

Big black beer with a small chocolate head. Definitely looks like a souped up porter; it's opaque, completely lacking the usual ruby highlights. Smells like one too; there's some roasted, coffee, and chocolate notes, typical for a porter, but also a big alcoholic smack in the face, with some hops thrown in as well. Taste is wildly hoppy and alcoholic, but there's some sweet chocolate thrown in as a life preserver. Mouthfeel is nice and dense. Overall, a little too intense for me, but not unpleasant. Let it warm up a bit to bring out some balancing sweetness.

I think it's a miscategorization to call this a Baltic porter; while it's strong enough to be a Baltic, it's definitely American in its other characters, being roasty and chocolatey and lacking the prune/raisin tastes that I associate with Baltics. Why is there no "Imperial Porter" category?

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Photo of neonbrown82
4.52/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

After much anticipation, I am now the proud owner of 24 of these wonderful little bastards... well, make that 23 now...

The beer looks magnificent. Jet black with little chocolate jet streams that cling all the way up the side of the glass feeding the thin film-like head. You could shine a flashlight against the opposite end of the glass and still not be able to see through.

The smell is unparalleled. A huge burst of of hops dominate the nose. Smells very bubblegummy, like amarillo and perhaps even a bit of cascade. The malt aroma is virtually undetectable, though some chocolate does seep through into the nose.

The taste shows off the hops up front and then fades into a chocolate roasty malt. Still some hop flavor in the finish, but mainly just roast. It is definitely a one-of-a-kind taste, and I like it.

The mouthfeel is thick and chewy. As it coats the mouth, thin films of flavor burst from tastebuds I didn't even know existed. The more I drink, the more I enjoy. I should probably stop here before I end up giving away a 5.

Dangerously drinkable for such a rich and roasty brew. I'll have to toss back a few more in honor of the late doctor. Moderation is not what Dr. Gonzo was best known for, afterall.

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Photo of ALESwhatCURESya
3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"Don't stop here, this is bat country!"

A wonderful brew for a wonderful Doctor of Journalism. I made sure that I didn't miss out on this limited opportunity to try a beer dedicated to one of my favorite authors.

Pours out a deep black with a mocha head that disapated into a thin film rather quickly. The aroma has strong tones of dark fruit and bakers cocoa. Caramel and toffee sweetness made you realize that this is a perfect desert beer.

The taste was rather sweet the entire way through. There was not a lot of nutty, coffee characteristics that I would have loved to see. If this had a more expressive espresso kick, this would be a phenomenal beer. The nice hop bitterness made presence on the tongue very nicely and helped to round out the sweetness.

This is a very nice, high-powered porter with wonderful traits. Maybe a little off the mark in a few areas, but still very enjoyable.

R.I.P. You sick, magnificent bastard.

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Photo of garymuchow
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Aroma presents as a sweet dark malt with a slight roast (but pretty superficial). Some alcohol. A hoppy presence that's a bit grassy and offers an intensity. Interesting, but not overly impressive.
Black. Nice fine dark head. Decent lacing. Good appearance.
Taste is malty. Roasty. Hoppy in taste and bitterness. Bitterness intensifies with more sips and lends a long dryness (that combines from the roasty malts too).
Feel is fairly heavy, somewhat thick and full. Nicely carbonated with fine bubbles that helps lend some softness.
I'm just not sure about this mix of flavors. The roast and heavy hops somehow don't blend well for me, although individually I like them. Not sure about the roast flavors either. They just don't seem right, like somehow artificial or something. Regardless of my lower scores this is the most interesting drink from this brewery and I won't turn it down.

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Photo of euskera
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My first 6+% ABV purchase here in NC!!

Pours out a chocolately brown into my pint glass. Nice fluffy head with a nice staying power. Smell is intruiging; piney. hoppy, coffee-laden and a hint of chocolate. Taste is very close to a RIS, nice alcohol overtones along with a hoppy bite that's quite pleasant. The chocolate and roastes espresso beans meld with an almost molasses-type essence in there. Very drinkable for the ABV.

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Photo of Px2GrafX
4.28/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

presentation: 12oz. bottle with an illustration by ralph steadman on the bottle. illustration depicts a smokin' skull-faced cowboy who's ready to party! vintage is displayed at '05. proceeds from this brew go towards building the gonzo memorial fist. go to the website for more info.

appearance: pours a black, almost red-violet with a tan 1 inch head into a tulip glass. head drops to a thin cap and laces very well down the glass. after swirling, an orange circle of head rings the top of the liquid.

smell: citrus, grassy hops and sweet caramel. piney and fruity.

taste: earthy with hop flavors up front. good bitterness. roasted maltiness with a chocolate espresso as it warms. dry bitter finish. leaves a chocolatey flavored residue on my lips.

mouthfeel: light resin on my tongue. porter light-medium body with a smooth swallow and good carbonation.

drinkability: tasty, dry bitter finish begs for more. very little noticible alcohol.

overall: very hoppy for a porter. love it! thanks to tastytaste for sending me a bottle of this as i've been lookin' for it. not perfectly a baltic/imperial porter, but an excellent brew.

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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?

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Photo of charlottebeerguy
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

served in 12oz brown bottle

Pours a nice even black color with slight amber outlines. Leaves a nice 1/4 inch head. Smells of roasted malts carmel. You can really smell those hops wanting to bust through its like they are just waiting to explode in your mouth. The texture is actually pretty creamy, I was really surprised by this. The 9.2 percent you cant really taste but you can feel it a little in your nose, provides for a little tickle.

The taste is of coffe beans wraped in toffee and then wraped in hops mmm. The finish is nice with a nice hop bitterness between each sip. I drank this beer in a chalice at about 55degrees to let the flavors go crazy which they did. This brew will not disappoint.

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Photo of bubrewer
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Great label; took a few minutes just checking out the artwork.

Gonzo pours opaque; and the solid head lits out a great hoppy aroma - more than expected from a porter. Smells like beautiful fresh English hops - fuggle or Willamette maybe.

This beer is definitely big, but also very well balanced. Firm bitterness balanced by sweetness, with raisin/plum flavors. Maybe a little licorice? The flavors swirl and dance so harmoniously that it is hard to pick out individual flavors, like is it sometimes hard to pick out individual instruments from a symphony.

Very nice beer, well liked around the whole table. one of the stars of the evening.

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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.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.06/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

(Served in an American pint glass)

A-This beer pours a thick black inky body with a tan-brown creamy head.

S- The smell of citrus and green hops is strong with a very faint roasted malt background.

T- This beer has a big deep roasted malt bill with some black roasted unmalted barley aswell. There is a bit of sourness and the hop finish is very faint.

M- This has a medium-full mouthfeel with lots of creaminess.

D-This is an interesting version of a Baltic Porter. It has a lot of roasted grain but it could use more depth with some more malty flavors and more complexity. It’s interesting that it has a big hop nose but very little hop in the taste. I hope with age this beer will offer a lot more complexity and character.

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

Appearance: Opaque, black. Nice creamy frothly tan head with good retention.

Aroma: Roasty, coffee flavors. Hints of an herbal hop variety. Smoke is lingering in the aroma. The hop aromas are definately present.

Taste: The first sip is roasty and bitter from the roasted malt. The finish is bitter from hops and from the coffee characteristics of this one. The mouthfeel is solid. The roasty bitterness seems to mask the alcohol in the beer a bit, but it still is somewhat obvious. There is a bit of wineyness on the middle of the tongue. And the smokeyness from the aroma shows through as the beer warms up.

Notes: This is a good one. One of the first from Flying Dog in a long time that I've really enjoyed. Give it a shot if you can find it.

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

Purchased as a four pack from Avalon Liquors for $6.80 this past weekend. I was the first one to ever buy the stuff, they didn't even know what to charge me. Quite a bit of writing in and around the bottle labeling and four pack. "Okay, lets party" came off a bit cheesy.
Poured black, with only a bubbles attached to the sides of the glass really visible. Great three fingered head of dark brown foam with an even mixture of small and large bubbles. Excellent retention and lacing.
Aroma was heavily bitter, both from piney hops and charred malt. Flavor was initially bitter (smoothed out a bit once it warmed and would probably do for some aging...) as with the aroma, this seemed to come from extra piney hops thrown in with the bitter espresso. A light and watery maltiness was there in the background, but it really couldn't hold up that well. Mouthfeel was a light medium, coming off lighter than expected. It didn't have any oily aftertaste, the carbonation left it slightly airy. A lasting dry, bitterness was left on the tongue.

So far, probably the best flying dog brew I've had--Maybe they should keep from filtering all their beers. Was more of a weaker version of Perkuno's Hammer than the classic Baltic porter style.

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Photo of Golden2wenty1
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a single at Riley's here in Madison.

Pours crude oil black, with a nice coffee head. Nose is a little pruney at first, but then coffee/chocolate malts. Taste starts with the dark fruits but transitions nicely into roasted bitter espresso and baker's chocolate. The aftertaste reminded me distinctly of Founder's Breakfast Stout, so bonus points there. Mouthfeel was rich and creamy with smooth unobtrusive carbonation. Alcohol was not harsh at all, very well hidden for 9.5%. A nice little porter here.

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Photo of fandgale
3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I bought this for reasons that I have herd of this beer for awhile
It pours very dark, but an Imperial Porter must be good?.
A nice brown head that did not dissipate.
The taste of roasted malt, chocolate, roasted almonds,
Burnt comes to mind but that is not it.
Maybe toasted malt, but quit good. Maybe Just two beers in one sitting.
I’ll send the rest to my brother her can’ t get it where is is at.

Gary D.

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Photo of silenius
4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I have not been overly impressed with other Flying Dog offerings, but I had to try this one as it was named after the good Doctor Thompson.

The "OK, Let's Party" line on the bottle struck me as a little cheesy and not quite something HST might have said on a regular basis, although the sentiment is true.

Pours a dark dark brown that beats out the modern day Guinness the greedhead marketers are forcing on us. The head is quite frothy and laces the glass like it was poured in Brugge.

Smell is predominately hops right now. I'd have to imagine that it will tone down after a while. There is a slight malty background, but based on the smell I would have thought it was an IPA or a very hoppy rye ale.

Taste is quite hoppy and roasty sweet. There is a coffee-chocolate character to it that lends some bitterness to the balance. I really rather enjoy this one. No alcohol on the nose or tasted.

Creamy mouth feel with some bittering and dryness toward the way end.

Very drinkable. Glad I have 3 more in the fridge.

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

Pours an inky, deep, dark walnut tree brown/black. I wonder if it will permanently stain my glass? A little dark espresso crema rises above the liquid. Pretty.

Smell is porter-y, with nice solid fudge and bittersweet cocoa. Then, all the sudden -- BOOM go the hops! Ooh! Very nice. Bracing, clean, and overwhelmingly fresh, like taking a deep inhale from a bag of fresh hop flowers. Very, very nice.

Taste continues the marriage, but here the crack of the hops starts to overwhelm the porter a bit. Some American-style stouts and porters can withstand this type of assault...Shakespeare Stout, Storm King come to mind...but I just don't know if this porter can stay on its feet. Still delicious -- but I know that with a little less flavoring additions, the nice porter that's underneath could really shine, and they'd still get that great aroma.

Mouthfeel is appropriate, keeps the brew from ever being too heavy, but stays out of the way as needed.

Drinkability is pretty good, but I think more than one of these at a time wouldn't be as enjoyable as having one, and looking forward to the next experience with it in the future.

The Good Doctor would have approved, I think. Good stuff here from Flying Dog.

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Photo of russpowell
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
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!

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Photo of Stubbie1
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark black in color with a tan head, foamy and thick at first but dwindles down to a thin layer but constant through the beer. Aroma threw me for a tilt. Hops, bitter and piney are up front with faint wisps of chocolate and coffee with a hint of malt in the background. Taste is sweet up front, malt and a bitter coffee (but nice) flavor with the hops come out and give it a dry finish.

Sticky and sweet on the lips, smooth and creamy in the mouth makes this an enjoyable porter. Has to be one of the best from Flying Dog!

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Photo of Bierguy5
3.63/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours very dark, dark as night. Thick tan creamy head. Good lacing on the glass as the beer disappears. Roasty aroma like coffee, along with a huge citrusy hop nose. Nice chocolate and coffee malt flavor combined with a great amount of citrus and pine hop flavors. Bitterness is pretty high, and takes away slightly from the balance. This seems to be pretty close to full-bodied. Not the most drinakble due to the lack of balance. Overall, a good special batch, but a bit too piney for me. Good malt flavor. Worth a shot.

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

For appearance, well... it's pretty black, maybe dark chocolate colored at the lightest. Nice coffee with cream head with average retention. The smell is pretty fantastic: rich roasted malts, burnt coffee, hop and little spice I think. Taste is smoked, almost woody, and with a bit more hop than I expected. Shockingly, it has almost zero alcohol flavor, with a lingering after taste of hops and chocolate. Mouth feel is a bit oily, but with plenty of carbonation to off set it, and makes for a good balnce. One sip of this beer leaves more flavor on your lips than a 6 pack of most beers do. Drinkability is pretty high for a 9.5%, and probalby a bit higher than it needs to be, in truth. A fitting tribute to the good doctor.

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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 1,447 ratings.