Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery

Not Rated.
Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter

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2,612 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,612
Reviews: 1,426
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 10.95%
Wants: 100
Gots: 184 | FT: 2
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: 2,612 | Reviews: 1,426 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of CaptJackHarkness
2.48/5  rDev -38.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

I was hoping to like this, anything with a cowboy skull on the label and a Thompson Hunter quote should be good, right?
The main problem with this beer is the bitter lingering aftertaste! The color is nicely dark, the aroma not overpowering; but as usual: it all comes down to taste!

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter, vintage 2010 I.

This pours a thick dark blackish color with a large mocha head, densely packed with lots of compact small bubbles, good retention, very nice. The smell is mostly of roasted malts, coffee, dark chocolate, very good. The feel is medium to thick and creamy. The taste is of dark chocolate and roasted malts, there is a little hop bite at the end but with this being aged for over a year its died down a bunch, I'd love to also try this fresh. In any case a might fine beer and the first Flying Dog beer I've had which I've actually loved and not just liked.

Photo of ummswimmin
3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Typically the flavors in a Flying Dog beer are pretty muted. That makes sense because their audience is so big. You can't please that many people with a DFH styled beer.

This beer has very strong, loud flavors. There is good amounts of stout and hop flavors. You can also pick up a decent amount of alcohol flavor.

I gave the mouthfeel a lower score due to the extremely bitter after-taste and the thin-ness of the body.

This is good beer. This is the first beer I have really enjoyed by Flying Dog. Good job!

Photo of fields336
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

vintage 2008
served in SN Snifter

A: Dark brownish red/black with 2.5 fingers khaki head. leaves a nice lacing on the sides of the glass.

S: Huge chocolate and coffee notes, slight alcohol burn present, and a slight yeast presence. Some dark fruits/sugars. Huge Bready/biscuity malt notes too.

T: Bitter on the front of the tongue and a ton of chocolate and breayd malt on the middle and back of the tongue. leaves a nice espresso/chocolate aftertaste on the tongue.

M: Medium/large bodied beer, the carbonation is nice in this one for being 3 years old. clears your palate with a semi dry finish and a nice hop presence.

Photo of jazzyjeff13
4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A delicious brew for my 200th review - ooohh yeah!

A 355ml bottle with a BB of Sept 2011. The ABV is stated as 8.7%, with 85 IBUs. Bought quite a long time ago, but has been carefully stored in my garage. As always, I love Ralph Steadman's artwork on the label.

Poured into a Delirium chalice. So dark it's like staring into a black hole - no light escapes. Carbonation invisible, but it produces a huge brown head of creamy foam with great staying power; his eventually subsides to a surface layer. A powerful aroma of rich, sweet malt with lots of piny hops. Hints of molasses, brown sugar, liquorice, citrus and a warm, boozy hit of alcohol.

Tastes of dark, roasted malt with plenty of aromatic hops. Overwhelming notes of spicy pine on the tongue - resinous and astringent. Hints of burnt sugar, molasses, coffee, liquorice, dried citrus peel and spice. A warming alcoholic finish. Mouthfeel is rich, spicy and astringent. Aftertaste of piny hops with a hint of dark malt.

Very impressive - a big beer with a big flavour. Smooth and delicious, with a great blend of malt and pine. The age on this bottle may have attenuated the hops somewhat, but it still packs a punch. Essential drinking - don't die without trying this...

Photo of camil1mj
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Kegged in April. Served cold from my kegerator.

A: Deep, dark brown. 2 finger cocoa colored head. Lots of lacing. Beautiful, simply beautiful.

S: Heavy chocolate malts.

T: Great example of the style. Lots of chocolate malt with some mild hop undertones.

M: Medium body and carbonation.

O: Great brew. Glad to be able to get this in legged form! Flying dog has a winner on it's hands.

Photo of skibumma70
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This big beer pours a thick tan/brownish head that clings to the glass. The smell is of strong roasted chocolate and coffee. Tasting is very smooth,it is a strong, aggressive beer at 9% and you can sense it in the aftertaste. It does mellow out after hitting the palate quickly. This beer tastes better when it is warned a bit at room temperature rather than drinking it cold. I drank this while eating a piece of dark triple layer chocolate cake, and what a great match! It it is a perfect dessert beer. The strongness and bitter coffee taste complimented it perfectly. This is now one of my favorite porters.

Photo of DUBinMIA
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured into a mug from a bottle. about 1/2 to 3/4 in. tan colored head that is not as foamy as i would like to see but still decent.

smell is common of a porter with sweet burnt malt characteristics and piney hop notes.

taste is good.. but something is left desired ... i really want to love this beer but i just like it... finished with an astringent alcohol taste. malt is good but the balance is off with the hops... i don't know how to explain...

kinda watery for a porter lighter bodied i would say with good carbonation

overall it was an good beer... not bad by any means at all!! but kinda of a let down for me... and i feel bad for saying that. i would like to try the oak aged version of this brew... i think that would give it a sweeter vanilla like flavor or woody finesse that this beer is missing... worth picking it up if you have never had it!

Photo of J0E
3.58/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter, it is a dark coffee brown with about an inch, maybe inch and a half of khaki tan head. I let it sit and warm up in the glass a bit, and there's some good lacing on the sides. The smell is very malty, bread-like with a hint of sweetness. The taste is similar to the nose, but as it coats my palate there's a good amount of bitter chocolate at the end. Slight amount of hops in there too, as well as some subtle coffee flavor. I don't get much of the 9.2%; very well hidden within it all.

I bought a single to find out if I should buy more from a store that has a sale. I'll be picking up at least one 4 pk and seeing how it does with some age.

Photo of ryantho00
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours deep black with a coffee roasted 1 finger head that laces the glass nicely.

I smell coffee, chocolate, some musty dark fruits with slight pines hop aroma.

Instantly after sipping this, I get that mocha coffee chocolate maltiness that leads way to small bitterness of hops and pines floral and hints of fig or dark cherry. Alcohol is masked well for the potency of the beer. There's a small warming as it smoothly goes down.

Its a full bodied porter that has a slight smokiness to it and for the high gravity is well balanced and nicely constructed with multiple flavors blended well, that leads to a smooth full beer that you'd better be careful with!

I would recommend this to anyone who likes porters, comparable to Founders porter (which I prefer slightly more-no disrespect to this gonzo).


Photo of nickthetick
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours an opaque black into an american shaker with a solid finger of dark khaki head that leaves nice lacing.

S: dark chocolate, sweet toffee malt, and a musty quality.

T: bitter coffee and grassy. Those are the two head liners but there is a good big of fig, dark candy sugar and licorice/ anise.

MF: good medium body with a great effervescence, smooth.

O: a good porter, made a little better for me cause' its local, even better considering the flavor profile.

Photo of jondeelee
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Boasts a rich, complex nose, full of bold dark fruits, caramelized brown sugars, toffees, and deeply toasted grains--in essence, much the same aromas that would be expected in a standard porter, but on steroids.

The flavor is similarly cranked up, providing a lovely beginning of sugary dark fruit esters (prunes, raisins), caramels, hints of maple syrup, vanillas and toffees. The hops play around with these sugars, providing a nice background bitter fuzz, as well as hints of rosewater. Halfway through, however, the sugars die off and reveal a deep undercurrent of darkly toasted grains, bordering on burnt. Here may be found tobaccos, hints of charcoal, even some flavors slightly reminiscent of whiskey. Such darker fare continues into the aftertaste, overwhelming anything else, including the 80 IBUs. Mouthfeel is surprisingly light, given the richness of the flavors, and comes across as only slightly heavier than water.

Except for this unexpectedly tame mouthfeel, I thoroughly enjoyed this brew, finding the flavors complex and nuanced, and nicely balanced.

Photo of pmarlowe
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tulip glass.

Pours a very dark coffee brown, two fingers of dense, fluffy khaki foam, which covers the glass with nice lattice of lace. Decent retention. Smell is very bright, creamy roasted malt, some dark chocolate and vanilla undertones. On the palate, there's a punch of smoked and roasted malt up front, dark chocolate folded in there, finishing dry with a moderate acidity/sourness on the back of the tongue. There's an almost harsh, off flavor at the end. Mouthfeel is pretty good, although the carbonation (medium) is a bit higher than would be ideal. Medium-full body. Overall, this is a decent example of the style. I remember liking it a lot more on draft, though.

Photo of Wreckoncile
3.58/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into nonic pint glass.

A - Opaque and pitch black liquid bleanketed with a solid finger decently stable foam that leaves a noticable lacing as it disappates.

S - When I first poured it, it jumped out at me as hoppier than I expected, but the hops in the nose subsided quickly and gave way to more of that rich malty roastiness.

T - A good rich, coffee like roastiness upon tasting with a citrusy hop finish that seems a bit misplaced in the roasted malt. The malt seems to blanket back over the hop finish to smooth it out a little bit, but it something just didn't seem right to me.

M - An overall smooth mouthfeel that I was hoping for with a bit of a residual acidity that struck me as abrasive.

O - It felt more concerned with being the hop forward Imperial and less concerned with being the roasty porter. The roastiness still comes through, but it seems to be overwhelmed at points by the hops profile. All in all I liked it, but was hoping the hops would be a little more subdued and subtle while the malt starred, and I felt that eventhough the malt flavor on this is great, the hops that didn't compliment it as much as subtracted from it.

Photo of clint1019
4.85/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance-It is pitch black in color with a wonderfully thick chocolaty head.

Smell-Has a rich roasted malt aroma, almost coffeelike.

Taste-Has a very rich roasted malt flavor with some woody/oaky tones. Also, has a nice hop bitterness aftertaste.

Mouthfeel-Full bodied.

Overall-This is a great beer. Has a great roasty flavor and aroma. I can see myself drinking more of these in the winter months.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

poured from a 12oz bottle.

pours deep brown, nearly black. nice, robust head, sticks around for days. the nose is a big mix of chocolate, warm alcohol, some oak and roasted malts.

gonzo is gonzo on the taste buds. huge explosion of flavors - chocolate bits, coffee, caramel, lots of woody alcohol...i could go on and on. oh yeah, some nice hops on the back end and the mouthfeel is excellent.

drank with a pulled-pork sammich for dinner tonight...culinary bliss.

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

I didn’t really want to drink a beer tonight. I have had a LONG day… and it’s only Tuesday! Regardless, we are dedicated to this project and to you, the beer drinker. That being said, I know it’s late but we popped a bottle of Gonzo Imperial Porter. It’s classified as a “black porter”, even though the bottle says it’s an imperial porter. No idea what the difference is, but I like a good porter… especially one that has such a strong nose as this beer does.

When the beer is poured into the glass, it has a very thick tan head and sits in the glass almost like a soda… not beer. But before I can even finish pouring my glass, I can smell the chocolate notes coming off this thing. It is just screaming to get out of the glass and into my belly. After smelling ti a few more times in the glass, I can tell that this beer will get better as it reaches room temperature. We pour all these cold, right from the fridge, but some of them need time to settle in, if you know what I mean. Let’s see what this puppy tastes like.

You are immediately hit with carbonation on the back half of the tongue. Then the typical porter notes squeeze out over the first swallow. Then it hits you with some bitterness, then almost sour… a lot is going on here. I mean that though… it’s not just a one and done flavor. Your entire palate really gets hit with flavor here. And the aftertaste, while it’s not all that powerful, it’s always present on your tongue… it sticks around for a good two, three minutes after your first sip.

The beer has a pretty big ABV, but it has come down over the years. I would love to have tried this when it was at 9%. Regardless, a 7.8% is still pretty big and after a few pints of this you would be feeling good.

This beer is not a typical porter… but that’s okay. It’s good. It’s really good. I like this beer a lot, and I think the aftertaste is my favorite part. You just experience so many different flavors in one sip. I would totally order this again… bottoms up people.

Photo of Janderson91
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2011 vintage. Enjoyed on 07/22/11.

A - Pitch black with some dark red around the sides. A good one finger light brown head forms and recedes at a normal pace. Leaves good lacing down the side.

S - Coffee, dark chocolate, vanilla, wood, cola, roased malts, a light hoppiness. Aroma is excellent.

T - Similar to the nose. Lots of coffee, cocoa powder, vanilla, and some very roasty malts. Leaves a bitter aftertaste on the tongue long after the swallow of coffee and roasted malt. Very good imperial porter, could be a little sweeter.

M - Mouthfeel is a little thin. This one would benefit from a little less carbonation.

O - Overall, I really enjoyed this one. Probably the best offering I've had from Flying Dog. Can't wait to see what this does with some age.

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

Serving Type - Bottle

Appearance - Dark black,impressive 2 inch creamy thick head, tons of lacing, this look slike a winner.

Smell - Roasted malts, nut, barley, coffee, vanilla, some hops, alcohol. Even some wood and oak comes out.

Taste - Strong malts, nut, coffee and some brown sugar kick off this brew. Alcohol is present as is the chocolate and hops. Plenty of malts mixed with sugar add to flavor. Has a vanilla/oaked/nut flavor also.

Mouthfeel - Its strong, malty, and alcoholish. Thick and coats mouth, warms tounge, and leaves mouth a little dry.

Overall - Very tasty and strong, a true baltic porter. One bottle is enough to sip on for sure. Might be flying dogs best beer.

Photo of perrymarcus
3.45/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle served in an oversized wineglass.
(review from notes.)

pours a dark chestnut/mahogany tone with maybe a finger of foamy tan head. good retention and lacing.

bold nose offers notes of coffee, dark chocolate, maybe some caramel and roasted malt... secondary hoppy characters.

flavor opens with a sweetness, coffee and a bit of dark chocolate, with some hoppiness working its way into the profile mid-palate; not really as smooth or well-blended as i would prefer. not terrible, just sort of average. medium-full mouthfeel with average carbonation.

overall this one was a bit of a disappointment; the flavor profile just doesn't really work for me. it's OK at best - not going to trip over myself getting more.

Photo of threeviews
4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


A- The appearance is ALMOST as black as night...but a lighter, toffee shade appears at the extremities of the glass...a true porter by my definition (as opposed to being midnight black the entire way through)

S-Caramel, chocolate, dark fruits and toffee all find their way into my olfactory hues. Wonderfully complex and balanced for a brew this bold.

T-Chocolate, caramel, coffee, wood...maybe even some vanilla but there is a definite hop presence to finish the experience...an amazing trip for the taste buds. Despite the 9.2ABV, it is never known during consumption...so watch out!

M-Smooth and finishes dry as expected (based on my previous definitions). Moderate carbonation leaves a very clean, unadulterated feel...there is no mistaking this brew for a stout (despite some of the same smells/flavors found in both)

O-Any exceptional and complex brew that I would definitely purchase again! Certainly not a session beer, it is a sipper to enjoy in a snifter...I encourage everyone a fan of dark, complex and robust beers to give this a shot, as you will not be disappointed.

Photo of garuda
3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz brown bottle "Vintage 11EE"

A - Viscous, black pour with a tightly packed brown head that has good retention and lacing.

S/T - Creamed coffee, dark chocolate, big roasted malts and finishes with an alcohol/pine hop bite. A little weak in the nose, but nice bold flavors in the taste.

M - Full body, low carbonation, creamy smooth across the palate, finishes a little more like a stout than a porter with an alcohol dryness.

O - Resembles a stout more than a porter, but its good. I'd get it again.

Photo of tigg924
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: 3/4 inch head, black in color, opaque

Smell: roasted malt, cocoa, and alcohol

Taste: dark and sweet chocolate, roasted malt, caramel, and some nuttiness

Mouthfeel: moderate carbonation, medium-heavy body, sweet with light bitterness and a slight bitter aftertaste.

Overall:Very malty and tasty. So far the only beer from this brewery that has blown me away. I wish the finish was not as dry, but a very good beer. The taste is way better than the smell--I would look for this again.

Photo of colforbin73
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

this is an imperial black beer -- i think the distinction between an I stout and I porter is slim.... whatever this black beer is -- I like it!

pours a jet black with hello/goodbye tan froth -- OKOK it drinks like a porter -- more ale like, not too thick -- but this black beer is roastey and bitter -- the aroma is black roasted, near smoked -- if Imperial means "kicked up" this beer is it.

kicked up aroma, deep kicked up roasted malt flavor, kicked in hops, good and bitter brew.

i would buy this again -- it is not the most refined Imperial Black Beer i have ever had -- but it is a mighty fine american craft beer. as the beer warms the sweetness from the malts rounds out, the bitter smooths -- and the drink is easy. 3 + stars

Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,612 ratings.