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Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery

Not Rated.
Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

2,463 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,463
Reviews: 1,405
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 10.92%
Wants: 84
Gots: 147 | 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: 2,463 | Reviews: 1,405 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of buschbeer


2.58/5  rDev -36%

12oz bottle

A - Served in pint glass. I'm gonna call this one black with a three inch cocoa head.

S - Grapefruit. Faint hints of roasted malt.

T - Grapefruit again. I'm really trying to get some roasted malt, and it's hard to find.

M - The mouthfeel is great. Thick and viscous.

D - I actually went back and read some other reviews after I started to see if I was crazy. A couple others seem to have found this beer hoppy as well. I'm not sure what's going on here but it doesn't taste or smell like a porter, way too hoppy. The alcohol is very well hidden though.

12-28-2010 00:06:18 | More by buschbeer
Photo of Sperzel

North Carolina

4.35/5  rDev +7.9%

12oz bottle from a 4-pack. 7.8% abv, 85 IBU.

Thick black pour right down the middle to get a nice dark tan head that disappeared surprisingly quickly. Lacing isn't too bad. Sticks to the glass OK at near-room temp.

Chocolate, semi-coffee smell with a bit of sweetness.

Big body and a sweet, burnt flavor. Has a sweetness akin to an oatmeal porter, though not quite as smooth. Leaves a stickiness on the lips that might suggest some caramelized brown sugar. The carbonation/alcohol level is a great mixture. Not overly fizzy, but enough for the bubbles to coat the palate with all the flavors and the alcohol warm in the throat. At 85 IBUs and it's sweetness, you would think this brew is dangerously close to Indian Brown territory, but it is balanced VERY well to keep in the ball park of a Baltic Porter. Hops are there just long enough for you to notice them drowning in the malty goodness!

Not sure how the more recent reviews have stated this beer as being 9.2% abv. This is only the 2nd year I have had this beer and it has been 7.8% since then. Maybe it was higher in years past? Either way, at 7.8%, it makes the cut as being an imperial porter. However, it's not as strong as the website description. As great as that would be, this a beer all of you dark beer lovers must keep in stock.

12-20-2010 00:01:53 | More by Sperzel
Photo of brown2cu


4.3/5  rDev +6.7%

Appearance: Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass. Pours an inky obsidian with a rocky beige head that cools down and leaves minuscule remnants of lacing. Hell, it's a porter what more can you say or want?

Smell: Not much here I am getting a fair amount of raisin and other dark fruits a lot of burnt malt. Maybe some cocoa way down. I feel that it is overridden by a fair amount alcohol that asserts itself.

Taste: A lot of malt presence hops come into the picture at the end. a little fruity in spots not citrus or anything but strong dark sweet fruits like plums and black grapes. The sweetness is slaughtered by the alcohol presence that pleases more than offends, the hops contribute a bitterness that really balances it off nicely.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and silky very little carbonation. Enjoyable, not a thirst quencher by any means but on a bitter cold winter evening on the preface of a huge winter storm, this is fitting. The alcohol warms you right up too (figuratively).

Drinkability: This stuff is deceptive. It isn't like an imperial stout it doesn't remind you how potent it is. I could easily put another down. Top notch stuff here.

12-16-2010 05:37:00 | More by brown2cu
Photo of basica


4.28/5  rDev +6.2%

A - Pours into my Samuel Adams Globe pint glass an intense dark brown-black with a thin, one-finger thick tan head that retains as poured with nice clingy lacing (4)

S - Slightly sweet nose of coffee, cocoa and some nuttiness; hints of alcohol present as well (4)

T - Sweet, caramel flavors upfront immediately decked with a good amount of roasted/toasted malts; notes of chocolate and coffee show up in the middle lasting towards the finish which is hoppy, moderately bitter and dashed with some dark fruits. A taste that's well-balanced and moderately complex on the palate (4.5)

M - Medium to full bodied on the mouthfeel with some perceived weight from the alcohol; moderately carbonated and creamy smooth with obvious alcohol warming (4.5)

D - Very Good flavors and feel adds to this being a sessionable brew for tasting/appreciation but the obvious "weight" from the noticeable 9.2% ABV detracts the drinkability a little. (4)

12-12-2010 16:39:29 | More by basica
Photo of bubseymour


3.55/5  rDev -11.9%

When I poured the bottle into my pint glass, it left a large 3 finger beautiful head.

Smell - strange...but it smells of citrus hops. Nothing chocolatey, coffee or malty as I would expect. All IPA in the smell. Did they brew a wrong batch or is this how it goes?

Most porters I've had were smooth and chocolaty/malty. This one was just a hopped up IPA that was black with nice head. Very bitter, more than most IPA's in fact. On the flying dog box, this was listed as very mild hops on their scale but I would put this at least an 8 out of 10 on the hop scale (IBU). Some roastiness in the finish, but it tastes way more like and IPA than a porter/stout.

Mouthfeel - very full bodied and smooth.

Overall - I do agree with others, the 9.5 ABV was well disguised and I liked the strongness of this beer. I still wonder if this was brewed properly though. Overall flavors were weak and hops stole the show.

12-11-2010 23:53:20 | More by bubseymour
Photo of BeerLover99


4.28/5  rDev +6.2%

A - A dark stout like color and pours thick with a lasting head.

S - hint of nuts, cocoa, coffee, hops in background.

T - nutty, roasted, chocolate, mild coffee, hint of toffee.

M - smooth, creamy, medium/heavy, the alcohol will sneak up on you.

D - Outstanding, this is a big SIPPER! Share a 4 pack with a friend, the price and the intensity won't be so much then; this is an outstanding Baltic Porter.

12-10-2010 19:45:25 | More by BeerLover99
Photo of airheadmtrcycle


4.35/5  rDev +7.9%

Big-time porter fan here. My first try of this ale is poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint glass. Absolutely beautiful pour: 3 fingers of tan foam, leaving behind tons of lacing on top of a very dark beer.

Smell is malty, with dark fruit and sweet chocolate. Alcohol is noticeable once the beer warmed. The taste leans to the sweet chocolate side rather than the burnt coffee style present in many porters. The alcohol is well hidden except for a slightly, and I mean slightly, spicy finish. Quite smooth for a porter. They definitely left out the 85 IBUs alleged on the bottle. Tastes more like in the 20-30 IBU range. Addendum: Subsequent bottles have revealed much more of the bitterness, which I really like.

Mouthfeel is smooth, not too thick, but coats the inside of my mouth in a creamy way. The carbonation is appropriately low.

The alcohol is very warming on a cold night. It's a very easy drinking beer, especially one with a relatively high ABV.

A very good porter. My only complaint is I would prefer a little more bite somewhere. It's perhaps a little too smooth for a porter, particularly one named after Hunter S. Thompson. I could not pick up on the claimed bitterness. See addendum above. My complaints have been silenced. But a must try for anyone who likes porters.

12-10-2010 00:33:54 | More by airheadmtrcycle
Photo of VMWhelan


4.25/5  rDev +5.5%

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a completely opaque chocolatey brown with a two finger frothy mocha head which shrinks down to one finger after a few sips. Excellent lacing and fairly good head retention. Overall a very nice looking porter, though it looks more like a stout.

S: Hop aroma dominates with some malty characteristics in the background. Not picking up the chocolate as much as everyone else seems to unless I take a big whiff, but it's definitely there.

T: Taste is a very roasty/smokey malt with some chocolate notes. Chocolate is more noticeable in the taste than the smell which is nice. Nice hop bitterness which lingers for a while. Overall it seems fairly balanced.

M: Smooth medium body with a dry finish (probably from the hoppiness).

D: Goes down pretty easily and very enjoyable. I could have a few of these.

12-09-2010 01:19:01 | More by VMWhelan
Photo of TheGarvenator


2.68/5  rDev -33.5%

A - A dark stout like color and pours thick with a lasting head.

S - smells malty with a small sweet scent...smells like most of Flying Dog's beers...

T - very thick and extremely malty

M - strong and bitter

D - extremely bitter and filling....i would probably only be able to drink a couple before feeling full.

Im not a porter guy and this was my first one so I can really say it does porters justice...Its very bitter and reminds me of a stout being so dark and filling. I might buy this particular one again but only time will tell or if I find a better tasting porter.

12-07-2010 00:38:27 | More by TheGarvenator
Photo of bwan15

New York

3.35/5  rDev -16.9%

Appearance: Pours black as midnight on a moonless night. I can see my reflection in the glass. Tan head is luxuriously thick and foamy, shrinking from two fingers to half a finger over the course of a couple minutes.

Smell: The bouquet is underwhelming but has hints of sweet, pungent cocoa wafting up. There are also trace notes of alcohol stabbing through the relatively mellow nose.

Taste: Initial impression is of an astringent top-layer shrinking the middle of my tongue. Roasted malt reeking of burnt coffee anchors this beer at the bottom, and there are hints of brandy or whiskey stirring around just above it, but they are faint. There is a ghost of salt lurking in there somewhere.

Mouthfeel: Not crazy about the acidic tongue-buzzing. Otherwise smooth and pleasant; coats the mouth and palate just enough to live up to its Imperial claim.

Drinkability: The last time I had this beer I was sitting in a life-guard chair on a deserted beach just near Montauk, watching a roiling blue sea fade to grey with the dimming autumn light. Maybe it was the romance of the place, or the fact that I was pretty high, but I was fucking in love with this beer. Now, over a year later, I am underwhelmed. It's interesting and big (not huge), but lacks complexity and nuance. This porter was brewed in honor of Hunter S. Thompson, the best-known champion of Gonzo journalism, which was a type of writing in which the authors immersed themselves in whatever their subjects were so that they could write from an experiential point of view. It was all about putting your ass on the line and your guts into the writing, and I think that if the fellows at Flying Dog want to truly honor Mr. Thompson, they should go stir up their guts by picking a fight with the Hell's Angels, partake in a protest in the Pacific Northwest, and experiment heavily with several psychoactive drugs. That way, when they drag their broken heads and bodies back into the ol' brewery think-tank, they'll have some heady fodder to ferment into something worthy of the late great Hunter S.

12-03-2010 18:39:17 | More by bwan15
Photo of ztaylor1


4.1/5  rDev +1.7%

Appearance- dark chocolate brown with a tan/brown head that lingers nicely

Smell- less chocolate than expected, but very rich malt and roast aromas.

Taste- bitter chocolate followed by a burnt malt with a little coffee in the finish. Very subtle hops.

Mouthfeel- smooth and silky

Drinkability- the mouthfeel makes this beer pretty tough to stop drinking.

A very well balanced beer, I'm very stoked on it and I will definitely be buying again.

11-30-2010 03:59:59 | More by ztaylor1
Photo of beerdown77

North Carolina

4.03/5  rDev 0%

This poured a nice dark brown, almost black with two fingers of brown head. This was medium bodied for the ABV, but it was a little sweeter than I prefer. This was definitely more chocolaty than coffee-y. This beer had a really unique smokiness that I really enjoyed. I could drink another one of these, but the sweetness would get to me.

11-27-2010 00:34:50 | More by beerdown77
Photo of BamaViper1


4.22/5  rDev +4.7%

Poured from the 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

The Gonzo pours opaque chocolate brown into the glass forming a mocha-brown colored head. The head dissipates rather quickly leaving little whisps of lacing, and swirling causes a 'soap bubble' ring to form.

This beer has a moment of hoppy aroma that's followed by a strong malt backbone with hints of espresso and chocolate. There is also a woodiness or earthiness mixed possibly with currant lending a supporting role. Its overall aroma is quite rich.

This beer opens with a strong malt character with the rich chocolate and light coffee flavors previewed in the smell. This fades into a hoppy bitterness that forms the basis of the end notes and finish along with a marked but nice presence of alcohol, and that bitterness is supported and balanced with all of those flavors first experienced on the nose.

This beer is pretty full bodied with nice carbonation. The finish mouthfeel is quite clean as well.

I like this beer a lot and could probably drink a good bit of it. Overall, this is one of, if not my favorite, Flying Dog beer.

11-25-2010 06:11:55 | More by BamaViper1
Photo of arboristfish


4.83/5  rDev +19.9%

This beer pours a thick black color. Holding it against a light, I dont see any amber color to it at all, there is no light that shines through. The head is tan almost brown. The aroma smells of citrus hops and a hint of roasted malts. The taste is a full roasted malt flavor. There is a good balance between roasted malts and the hops. The mouthfeel is heavy, and yet it is a very drinkable beer!

11-17-2010 23:30:53 | More by arboristfish
Photo of djbreezy


4.35/5  rDev +7.9%

On-tap at By the Bottle in Vancouver, WA.

appearance - dark as mud, tan head, prominent lacing

smell - big chocolate and roasted malts

taste - tastes like a stout but has some of the porter characteristics, chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, the standard fodder here...not too bitter, very tasty

mouthfeel - medium body, smooth, good carbonation balance (medium)

drinkability - flavorful and delicious, great brew to sip, good complexity

11-17-2010 22:09:35 | More by djbreezy
Photo of yankiac


4.4/5  rDev +9.2%

A - Very dark brown, almost black, with a nice brown lace.

S - Roasted malts and chocolate

T - Roasted malts and a strong Dark Chocolate flavor. Hints of alcohol.

M - Robust and filling

D - Slows you down after a few

Finally a flying dog beer that I actually enjoy!

11-16-2010 00:52:42 | More by yankiac
Photo of beancounter

New Hampshire

3.9/5  rDev -3.2%

A-Pour dark and think almost like motor oil

S-Smell of alcohol but no smell of chocolate/black patent malt.

T-Chocolate and alcohol, not much else

M-Medium to heavy

D- Very drinkable. Not quite as complex as you would expect from a porter as the booze tends to dominate.

11-14-2010 00:41:39 | More by beancounter
Photo of mithrascruor


4.38/5  rDev +8.7%

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a nice solid black color with a somewhat dense yellowish-tan head. Good lacing and decent retention.

Smell: Sweet roasted malts with a bit of spice.

Taste: Cream flavor up front followed by some sweetness, and then roasted malts. Quite tasty.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and medium-bodied.

Drinkability: High ABV, but no alcohol in the taste. Very drinkable; nothing too strong or "out there" in the taste.

A great tasting and very drinkable porter! One of the better Flying Dog beers; I'll get this again.

11-11-2010 04:04:38 | More by mithrascruor
Photo of ccahoon22


3.95/5  rDev -2%

A - Pours a very dark brown, close to black. Head is small but thick and tan.

S - Almost like a sweet, light coffee smell. There is no dominant smell though

T - Dark and very smooth considering how dark it is. A very well balanced taste

Overall a pretty good beer that tastes much smoother than it looks.

11-11-2010 01:34:02 | More by ccahoon22
Photo of nickhiller


3.93/5  rDev -2.5%

A: pours black, opaque and crude oily with a thick khaki-colored 1/2 finger head vanishes lightning fast, leaving behind thin ring at the edges and no lacing.

S: cooking sherry, sweet citrus like mandarin oranges, molasses, shockingly fruity for this style of beer, no suggestion of roast, smoke or dryness you would expect.

T: sweet roasty malt dried fruit--prunes, dates, figs--char, black coffee, semi sweet chocolate. The finish delivers on the roast and smoke I was looking for in the nose.

M: as thick and oily as it looks with low carbonation and a warm, mouth-and-throat-coating dry finish that is hard to shake.

D: Interesting, I don't think I've ever had an imperial porter. This was much sweeter than I thought it would be but this was balanced out by the bitter roast and somewhat dry finish. Definitely worth trying and probably worth trying again.

11-09-2010 00:47:11 | More by nickhiller
Photo of afinepilsner


3.9/5  rDev -3.2%

12oz bottle

Gonzo Imperial Porter was opaque black. It had a mocha head with good retention and lacing. The smell was dark malt, coffee, and toffee. The taste was sweet dark malts upfront, quickly followed by some bitterness and more coffee like flavors. The finish was dry with coffee and hop flavors coming through. The mouthfeel was good with a full body and medium carbonation. Drinkability was good, especially considering the alcohol content. This is a good beer and definitely worth a try.

11-08-2010 00:29:12 | More by afinepilsner
Photo of haddon


3.48/5  rDev -13.6%

Got this on tap at Gambrinus in Owensoboro, KY.

Pours dark as night with a nice frothy mocha head that lingers with lacing all the way down the glass. Prob best part of beer.

Malty notes come through as sour notes that almost smell metallic. Faint espresso bean and dark chocolate but everything is overpowered by that off putting sourness.

OK, beer improves a bit on the taste. Dark chocolate and coffee bean with a nice bitter aftertaste. There is also a sweet twang that reminds me of artificial sweeteneer. Makes me wonder if that comes from the same place as the sour smell?

Medium body with a nice velvety body true to the style. Not a bad beer but not something I would run to in the future... In other words, average.

Drinkability suffers because of the imbalanced smells and flavors.

11-07-2010 02:53:46 | More by haddon
Photo of Duff27


3.7/5  rDev -8.2%

A- Pours a midnight black with a one-inch thick mocha head. Lacing is incredible with this one. A wonderful appearance.

S- Smells sweet with hints of cocoa.

T- Sweet, sweet chocolate/cocoa. Not overpowering per sip but overpowering (cloying) per 12 ounce pint glass worth.

M- Mouthfeel is silky and smooth. Very nice.

D/O- Drinkability takes a huge hit due to the dominating sweetness...too bad because this is a very pleasant beer, just maybe in smaller doses.

11-03-2010 04:23:19 | More by Duff27
Photo of climax


4.25/5  rDev +5.5%

Took two 7 oz bottles, one room temp, one from the fridge, and combined into a snifter. The appearance was no slouch. Next to black, the dark brown/purple hue to the light had a massive mocha head. The retention and lace are excellent given a higher ABV.

The aroma offers a big raisin and coffee character. Wood aged, wine-like character, and an appropriate alcohol warmth comes through. Inviting, but I was anticipating more... am I foolish for that?

The flavor is loaded, yet quite smooth. The finish is definitely roasty and dry, very dry, taking another sip now. Brown sugar, grape tannin, chocolate, and cinnamon butter flavors do an excellent job of keeping me interested.

The body is medium to full, but never felt too heavy. It was nice and soft, maybe doughy .The finish is definitely roasty and dry, very dry, taking another sip now dry. While the ABV sneaks up... I'm quaffing this one down.

10-29-2010 01:34:03 | More by climax
Photo of grizzly700


3.9/5  rDev -3.2%

Poured into twenty two ounce glass.. Brown head slowly dissolves into this dark beer... Leaves lace on glass that stays for a while... Taste is good for a dark beer and one with a high alcohol percentage...a good sipping beer that really has no bitter taste.. Taste is of chocolate, malt and a coffee combination.... Will have to pick up some more, reminds me of great lakes Edmund Fitzgerald but better in my opinion...

10-28-2010 01:07:06 | More by grizzly700
Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,463 ratings.