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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.

2,578 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,578
Reviews: 1,420
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 11.19%
Wants: 96
Gots: 176 | FT: 3
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: 2,578 | Reviews: 1,420 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of IMincedTheKing
3.7/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an impressive solid black with a big, brown head that leaves behind a wall of lace.

The nose is mostly hops and roasted malts. It's not a complex smell, but it's... it's a deep smell.

Tastes of roasty malts and some hops. The flavor is way too smokey for my taste, and I can't pick out anything in particular I'd call chocolate or coffee. There might be some fruit in there somewhere, though. The aftertaste is lemony and hoppy. It feels creamy and full in the mouth with a thick, biting carbonation.

Overall, it doesn't draw me back for more, and I doubt I'd buy it again.

IMincedTheKing, Apr 10, 2009
Photo of TrevorGW
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a thin tan head that eventually just clings to the rims of the glass.

Smell is rich with raisins and roast.

Taste is restrained and fantastic -- coffee and chocolate are there, but neither overpowers. Clean nutty malt with earthy, charred center. Hops are strong, standing up and leaving a pecan-like sharpness in the finish.

Very well balanced and full-bodied. This beer manages to be roasty and fruity and hoppy all at once.

TrevorGW, Apr 09, 2009
Photo of JKrout
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured a dark brown, almost black, with a tan head. Fairly good lacing stuck to the glass.

Smell: Had a smoky, roasted smell, somewhat toasty.

Taste: Smoky, somewhat sweet but also citrusy.

Mouthfeel: Heavy, yet creamy and smooth.

Drinkability: Goes down very easy, although I probably wouldn't drink more than one at a sitting because of the heavy mouthfeel.

JKrout, Apr 08, 2009
Photo of Folderol
3.35/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

There's really not much I can say about this beer. There's not much to the smell or taste other than black malt and American hops. The appearance is quite noteworthy in that it's 100% opaque black.

Other than that... it's just a strong robust porter. This beer has more in common with Rogue's Mocha Porter and Anchor Porter than anything from the Baltic. I vote it should be reclassed as an American Porter. Maybe this recipe was a good marketing decision by Flying Dog, as so many craft beer fans are hopheads. Me, I'd like something maltier, richer and more interesting.

Folderol, Apr 08, 2009
Photo of BARFLYB
3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-Tap at Union Jack's.

A- Gonzo is a luscious dark brown with a thick creamy look to it. On top lays a dark tan cap of thick foam that stays throughout. Not much stick to the foam as the lacing is minimal.

S- A nice medley of bitter chocolate, black coffee with some grainy roast. Can smell some bittering hops trying to come through. Some bready yeast as well.

T- With the bitter chocolate comes some sweet pieces of hershey as well. With that is the roasted malts which are dominating along with some old back coffee as well. Hops play a part of the overall taste but some alcohol interfers.

M- A step above medium bodied while maybe being a tad to big for a porter at least for me. Gonzo coats the palette with rich malts and porter qualities. Some carbonation as well. The alcohol and roast linger a bit to long.

D- A sipper and one was enough for me. This is a night time beer for me and I'm looking to find some aged bottles as this one may have some legs on it.

BARFLYB, Apr 08, 2009
Photo of carp420
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

an excellent tip of the cap to the master himself.

it looks like a very nice porter, jet black in color foamy vanilla colored head that last somewhat and laces nicely

sweet smelling, chocolate, roasted malts light coffee

taste the sweetness of the chocolate first, little to no hops, a little coffee and lots of roasted malts, can't really taste the alcohol and the beer is blended quite nicely

lovely, full, mouthfeel, great for a porter, not overbearing and clean with mild carbonation

i think hunter s thompson himself would drink alot of this beer,
i really like the flavor, just a well brewed porter all-around. well balanced and totally drinkable, definetly a sipper and as with all good dark brews(to me) it gets much better with warmth.
can't wait for the next one.

carp420, Apr 07, 2009
Photo of u2carew
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

(A) Pours with a thin head that settles quickly. The color is deep, dark brown on the verge of being black.
(S) Roasted coffee aroma with an adding dose of toffee. Some notes of caramel.
(T) Has a slight sweetness upfront then moves to a smoky and mild coffee flavor. Finishes with a cocoa aftertaste and a hint of bitterness - barely noticeable.
(M) Crisp and full bodied with a nice smoothness throughout. This brew was definitely not as heavy as I had anticipated.
(D) A fairly rich porter, good for sipping not for chugging.

u2carew, Apr 05, 2009
Photo of ThirdLap
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up this tiny bottle from Monument in Concord for $2. I've developed a taste for baltic porters in recent months, so I'm eager to try an American interpretation of the style.

Pours a nearly-opaque dark brown with a short-lasting light to medium tan head. Not a whole lot of lacing on my glass.

Nose is roasted malt with hints of chocolate, coffee, and a touch of spice.

Taste is burnt malt, bitter chocolate, a good addition of hops, and a relatively clean and dry finish.

Mouthfeel is light to medium, with a rather high level of carbonation. Alcohol is reasonably well-masked. Drinkability is not bad at all, as this will go quick.

Not my favorite Baltic porter, but a decent beer nonetheless.

ThirdLap, Apr 03, 2009
Photo of shanem
4.38/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: about as close to black as brown can get, bit of light at the edges with an inch of tan head

S: great roasted malt aroma with a touch of chocolate and slight bitter scent. Could smell some alcohol but not much.

T: delicious! Great balance of an initial roasted malt flavor with with bitterness from some hops and/or bittersweet chocolate. Actual hop flavor not there. Not as much alcohol flavor as I expected from the smell, there, but not too much at all. Deep, but not overly complex

M: Full bodied and thick, smooth, almost stout-like

D: could go through the 4 pack without much trouble at all. Very enjoyable

shanem, Apr 01, 2009
Photo of youngblood
3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured very black/brown, almost oily looking. Kinda evil. Has some strong charcoal scents coming out of it, yummy hops, strong alcohol also. Strong flavors of coffee and toffe right away then soem burnt toast, hops linger at the back of the mouth. Really enjoyable. Almost oily mouthfeel, not a huge fan of that. Despite the less than amazing mouthfeel, I drink lots of these.

youngblood, Apr 01, 2009
Photo of cnally
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

another crazy beer from crazy flying dog.

a really spectacular dark black beer, a slight tan head retains along the side of the glass. a little light peeks through in a maroon color in the bottom of the glass.

coffee, mocha, malt, scents but a great surprising hop aspect. I don't get that a lot with porters, but the hops are welcome.

mellow porter flavor, with the nutty, malty, smoky flavorings right up front. the finish is smooth and resembles hickory and walnut. balanced, beautiful. wow.

slightly over fizzy, but also dry. the finish feels smoother than the initial pop, so well done.

gosh, this is good. I love this brewery! this beer is a great flavor example and has great aspects outside of the flavor itself.

cnally, Mar 29, 2009
Photo of tlinner
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pitch black with a tan head, big and frothy and plenty of lace. Smell is lacking. Hops present. Taste is big hoppy, with roasted malt notes. I was surprised because I'm used to porters putting malt at the forefront. This is much more hoppy than malty. The mouthfeel, like the smell, is lacking. I was surprised at how good this one was. I find Flying Dog to be quite overrated, so it was a pleasant surprise. I also give this one extra points for taste because it's a porter that I actually like, the only other example of the style I can truly enjoy being Fuller's London Porter. I like that Flying Dog chose to make their best beer (IMO) a tribute to Hunter Thompson.

tlinner, Mar 27, 2009
Photo of Gyle41386
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Bottle marked Vintage 2008EE.

Pours black. Two finger brown head settles quickly. Some nice looking lacing.

Aroma is of dark chocolate and coffee. Strong roasty quality. Mild hop bitterness.

Good balance. Not one flavor overpowers the other. All of the components in the nose show up in the flavor, but they all keep each other in check pretty well. The roasty coffee flavor lingers at the end with a slight bitter hop bite.

Very creamy full mouthfeel. Smooth drinker. Alcohol is pretty much undetectable. I'll have to try a fresh one this year to see how much this one mellowed out. Should probably be a slow sipper. Keeps you coming back for more.

Gyle41386, Mar 22, 2009
Photo of WilliamD
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pilsner. Jet black with a thin, attractive brown head that thins out a bit over a minute.
Smell is of faintly of roasted malts, with chocolate tones. Perhaps some vanilla as well.
Some malts in the taste. Slightly smokey. A hint of dark chocolate. Quite bitter.
Creamy and fairly smooth mouthfeel.
I find this one quite drinkable. The alcohol is concealed very well.
I recently had the pleasure of drinking Dark Knight Returns. As a result, my par for Baltic Porters rose dramatically. I have since had several that were a downright disappointment. This one, however, holds up very well.

WilliamD, Mar 22, 2009
Photo of cdparker2
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I haven't tried many Flying Dog brews but seeing as how I need to widen my variety I couldn't help but get this dark porter. Bought a four pack last night and was pleased as soon as I poured the first one.

A- Poured a very dark brown. I actually held it in front of the sun in the window and saw no trace of light. The head was tan and left a nice lace as it dissipated.

S- The coffee and dark chocolate scents were strong. A nice roasted scent was also prevalent.

T- On first taste the roasted coffee flavor came in first with a hint of the chocolate. The warming of the alcohol was just right. Not too strong or fast.

M- It was actually thinner than I had anticipated. Proves not all very dark beers are thick and viscous. A few swishes bring the flavors to a new level.

D- Goes down smooth with just a slight burning of the throat that is actually a good thing in my book. Always nice to get that kick in the end.

I drank the first one and immediately poured the second. The second had sat on the counter during the first to warm it a little and this only made the experience better. The flavors and scents were stronger. My brother-in-law wants to trade something he has for one of them and I'm going to age the last to see if it ages nicely.

cdparker2, Mar 20, 2009
Photo of aquaderek
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a pint glass at the gastro pub Bouzy. The appearance is very dark like molasses with a thin tan head, it is thick and leaves legs on the side of the glass. The nose is sweet and figgy with hints of esspresso. The taste and mouthfeel feel are what would be expected thicker sweet and toasty malty followed by slight hoppiness to round it out. This is a solid Porter and I will drink it again.

aquaderek, Mar 19, 2009
Photo of biegaman
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2009 - fresh, thanks ThatWineGuy!

Gorilla black that appeared thick and viscous even when pouring out of the bottle. It is decidedly opaque and allows not even the suggestion of highlights. This is perhaps one of the most emphatically dark beers I've laid eyes on. A symmetrical, perfectly shaped ring of rust colour boldly encircles the top of the beer. It fades but can be summoned on swirl.

Fragrant notes of fresh-pressed coffee and fresh harvest hops begin to seduce me even from afar. My nose is nowhere even near the glass right now and I can still manage to detect a great deal of roasted, chocolaty character. Closer inspection reveals even more hops as well as dark fudge and black licorice. It's finally time to give into temptation...

That was no siren call. Gonzo is the real deal as far as higher gravity, decadently rich dark beers go. Curiously, however, even though the name is officially "Gonzo Imperial Porter" the brewery has classified it on the label as "American-style Imperial Stout". I wouldn't consider it thick enough to be an Imperial Stout and it's flavours tend to align more with a Porter.

Those flavours, in roughly this order, would be: zesty American hops, bitter cocoa, sweetened chocolate, gourmet coffee, tea biscuits, molasses and black licorice. The malts impart a favorable nuttiness (almond butter, Brazil nut) and the hops slice through with a plethora of vividly spicy, zestfully fruity notes. All parts come together quite well.

This probably lends itself to gulping as much as it does to sipping. The beer is complex, layered with contrasting flavour (bright hops, dark malts) and yet it simply tastes so damn good that you can't help but rush through it. The near 8% alcohol shows part of what it's capable of but by no means let's on its real strength. Indeed, this should get better with warming (assuming it makes it that long).

The American micro brewers have taken just about every traditional Old World style now, doubled it, smacked it with a "Double" or "Imperial" moniker and reclaimed it as their own. In some cases they've misunderstood the nature of the style (saison, German lagers) but in others (stout, IPA's, and evidently, porters) they've created something masterful. Yum!

biegaman, Mar 18, 2009
Photo of steelcutoats
4.93/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

GONZO Imperial Porter

I can now honestly say I have a beer that I will fight for. Over the last few months I have been having one or two on a whim, and then about two weeks ago it suddenly hit me...this may just be one of the greatest beers ever brewed. I would be willing to rank it up there with Chimay Grande Reserve or Gulden Draak. A nicely chilled 12 oz. bottle went into my Riedel snifter which is the old standard bearer for all my reviews. The head was about a half inch thick, almost as smooth as chocolate frosting. The color was jet black, allowing no light to breach its darkness. The aroma was full of dark roasted malts and sweet dark fruits. The taste wasn't as strong as an imperial stout, but very well defined and rich. There was a good bit of sweetness, from the malts and what I'm guessing would be honey because molasses would be too heavy. I even see on the back where it's got a vintage date of 2008...I would love to age a few bottles and see how well it ages.

steelcutoats, Mar 16, 2009
Photo of bigdeuce
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Good head retention and very little carbonation.
Smells of fruity esthers, maybe cherry and chocolate. Taste is similar. This is a big beer. Very dry finish. Maybe some honey or molasses in there and a bunch of chocolate and coffee, cocoa maybe. This is no session beer. One and done, but certainly a fine beer, very creative.

bigdeuce, Mar 14, 2009
Photo of walshclimb
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a thick frothy light brown head that leaves lace rings and slowly dissipates to a thin film. I could smell this one as soon as I started pouring. Roasted malt, chocolate, mild hops and a little earthiness, especially as it warmed up. Nice rich initial flavor - a little sweet, roasted and burnt malt, caramel, dark chocolate and a nicely balanced bitter hops and roasted malt aftertaste that is pleasantly lingering. Full bodied, well carbonated, smooth but not really creamy. The mouthfeel is just what I want. This is a really solid porter that is great to sip as it warms up. I did not find the alcohol to be overwhelming at all. It is there but not dominant. Nice job with this one.

walshclimb, Mar 14, 2009
Photo of BacklitAvenger
3.13/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3


While I enjoyed a four pack of this stuff at my friend's house, I bought one a few weeks later for my fridge and was NOT impressed. There was a 'hot' alcohol flavor, like drinking shitty hard alcohol like dimitri vodka or something. It tasted like nastyness, I couldn't even finish the four, I gave two away to my friend that loves the stuff. I don't know if it was a bad pack or what, but I have since tried again and got the same 'dirty' alcohol burn taste. I think I was just drunk enough when I had the first four to not notice. Shame, because Ralph Steadman is a good artist and Hunter was a cool fellow and a decent writer himself.

Anyway, you want a real imperial, go for Great Lakes Blackout Stout. I know it's a stout not a porter, but it sure as hell is imperial at 9 percent and tastes like straight up chocolate and yummy roast, almost no coffee character, and you can't taste the alcohol almost at all, let alone taste 'hotness'.


Appearance - The stuff is black as sin. It isn't too thick, likely because it is lubricated with an alcohol volume near 8%. Ruby highlights and tan head that retains itself rather well, lacing on goblet.

Smell - Malt, hops, alcohol. Straightforward smell for this type of imperial porter.

Taste - Fruity, perhaps some dark plum notes in there. Also a strong roasted character. Lovely sweet malts warring with tangy, bitter hops. Alcohol is the final note and brings everything together.

Mouthfeel - Thicker than your adjunct crap beer obviously, thicker than great lakes Edmund Fitzgerald porter, but less thick by far than Dark Lord.

Drinkability - Reduced a bit by its high ABV. I'd gladly polish off a four pack myself though, the taste and quality make up for the inability to drink massive amounts. Savor, not chug.

Like this stuff, everybody should try this at least once.

BacklitAvenger, Mar 12, 2009
Photo of treyrab
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this one on tap last night in Pittsburgh. I really don't know why it took me so long to try this beer, but when I saw it on tap I had to get it. Poured into a snifter at Fatheads...

A: Pours a thin dark brown with some ruby highlights. Not completely black at all as it is a nice, clear dark brown when held up to the light. Decent light khaki head that doesn't lace.

S: Smell is very pleasing with bitter roast, coffee, dark chocolate cocoa powder and a nice bitter hop bite. Smell is dry and bitter.

T: The taste is a tad on the light side and thin. The flavors are decent though with some ncie bitter roast and dark cocoa. Some nice bitter hops come in for the roundhouse kick to the tongue to finish it off. Overall, not a superior complex beer, but a good Impy Porter.

Overall, I enjoyed this. Not the best Impy Porter, but one that is readily available and one I would try again.

treyrab, Mar 11, 2009
Photo of marcpal
2.9/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle poured into Weyerbacher tulip glass. While having had this beer on tap on more than one occassion, sat down with a bottle for proper review: sampled on 3/2.
Bottle Graphics: 3/10.

A: Darkest of brown, motor oil like swooshing from the pour. I pounded it into the glass and managed about a 1/10 inch light brown head.

S: Toasted to borderline A little bit too hefty on the sweentess. Behind all the chocolate and the sugar I searched for some hop flavor but found nothing. Bit of a disappointment to start and didn't change as it warmed.

T: Overtly sweet, abundance of roasted 'porteresque' flavors. The nicest taste that I found here was the toasted nut flavor, almost like the skins on the outside of cashews and walnuts- like the warm ones you get on a plane. I like the flavor but it becomes confusing once the chocolate comes in and creates something of a cluttered mess. The alcohol does not compliment this beer. I know you can not compare, but the flavors of the previous Bigfoot really put this to shame.

M: A bizarre texture, mouth coating but annoying. Too heavy for what I like but I guess this is what a good porter should have so I don't want to knock it too much. I prefer lighter bodied porters, this one is like a grade A maple syrup.

D: Flying Dog is a brewery I can never get a handle on. I really don't know if I like them or not, starting to think not. Nothing has really ever blown me away but not bad either. This beer was hard to drink and came across as oily and over amplified. They need to revisit some of their heavy hitters- conceptually just not up to snuff.

I admit being skewed by the fact that baltic porters are not really my thing, but I can confidently say I have had some that are far better.

marcpal, Mar 09, 2009
Photo of ffejherb
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the POPE on 3/6/09 during Philly Beer Week.

A - Poured a thick, opaque dark brown/black body with no noticeable carbonation and half a finger of mocha-colored head that settled to a thin ring of retention leaving behind some spotty lace.

S - Bitter and semi-sweet chocolate with some sweet lactic notes and a bit of alcohol heat. Subtle earthy notes appear in the back as well as some dark roast and subtle hints of coffee and black licorice. Also, a slight soy sauce/meaty character pokes its nose into the mix.

T - Kicks off with a roasted malt character and sweet chocolate and lactic notes. A subtle dark fruit sour twang appears in the middle with a touch of heat from the alcohol content. There is also a bit of meatiness in the backend. Finishes with an earthy bitter hop aspect.

M - Full-bodied and thick with a rich, creamy texture and soft carbonation. Bitterness and astringency is subtle at first, but steadily grows on the palate over the course of time.

D - Strong and complex with lots of flavor and a very pleasamt mouthfeel, Gonzo drank more like a RIS, in my opinion.

ffejherb, Mar 09, 2009
Photo of jdhilt
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a five finger brown head that fades slowly leaving a good lace. Totally black color. Roasted malt and chocolate nose. Light carbonation and heavy bodied. Flavor is semi-sweet chocolate, lingering bakers chocolate aftertaste. Hops are subdued despite the IBUs at 85. Decent porter. $9.99 for a 4-pak of 12oz bottles from North End Superette Manchester, NH.

jdhilt, Mar 06, 2009
Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,578 ratings.