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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.

2,525 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,525
Reviews: 1,415
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 10.92%
Wants: 91
Gots: 162 | 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: 2,525 | Reviews: 1,415 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BoitSansSoif
3.7/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Dark brown w/tan half-cm head. A little bit of tracing and ok retention.
S-Rich dark roasted malt, tar, sweet coffee, and citrusy American hops.
T-Rich bitter-sweet burnt-roasted malt, coffee, light smokiness, and citrusy-hop finish. Light esters emerge as temperature rises.
M-Slick with medium-heavy body. Balance is decent but bitterness dominates.
D-Decent, but not first choice for this style.

BoitSansSoif, Jan 03, 2009
Photo of astrasday
4.88/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured this sucker from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Black as can be with a tan head and no lacing.

Smell of coffee, chocolate, cherries, nuts, vanilla, molasses, wood and a touch of alcohol.

Taste. Mmm mmm. Dark chocolate, cherries and vanilla start off this harmonious taste. Coffee, wood and a nice bite from some hops kick in next. Vanilla and molasses round it off.

The mouthfeel is fullbodied, creamy and smooth.

A highly drinkable beer. This is one of my favorites. Oh, how I love it so.

astrasday, Jan 03, 2009
Photo of dmamiano
4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

deep, rich black in appearance with a nice tan head and a surprising lack of lacing.
Deep, ripe fruits in the nose. chocolate, roasty and inviting in the nose.
taste is a kiss of goodness.Big on the feel, roastiness and also bitter as it fades behind the palate.
I like this beer. Seems pretty "stout" for a porter, but since its Gonzo, it fits the bill.

dmamiano, Jan 02, 2009
Photo of dacrza1
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

No sunlight in the body, as Hunter would have wanted it... dirty brown head dissolves to a ring of grey bubbles in a Maudite snifter--a devilish way to begin Advent! Rich, thick fragrant bouquet of sweet molasses, chocolate and pleasant hops--a full-bodied aroma... heavy body that drapes around the tongue like a pallor, or a shroud--thick yet smooth--warming and immense in presence... the alcohol makes itself aware late with a linger... rich, yeasty taste with hints of chocolate, peat and bread--not smoky, per se, but thick with something dark... having saved this for the last of the FD sampler, I am bowled over by this beer's "drinkability" (Miller Lite is harsher than the 9.2% ABV this beer sports)and its enjoyable complexity. It ALMOST makes me want to seek out Thomspon's writings to find out what the big fuss was about....

dacrza1, Jan 02, 2009
Photo of Tbn2
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Pours jet black with a two finger tan color head. The head shrinks to the ring of the glass and leaves some lacing. Towards the end of the glass, it tapers to just a small ring.

The smell of toasted and sweet malts dominate. A coffee/caramel aroma is also present. Some phenols from the alcohol are present, but not overbearing.

The taste is very similar to the smell. A lot of chocolaty and toasted malt flavor dominates throughout. The alcohol gives a nice warming senation in the back of the throat as you swallow. Even though the label says 80 plus IBUs, I get just the slightest earthy, dry flavor from them at the end and that quickly disappears to the alcohol.

In my opinion, the only spot this beer is lacking in is the mouthfeel. I expected it to be much heavier than it is. The bottle says it is an Imperial Stout and I like my Imperial Stouts to almost suffocate you. This one doesn't do that.


Tbn2, Dec 31, 2008
Photo of 1fastz28
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a completely black color with a big brown head. looks pretty good

smell is good, strong aroma of roasted malt, and caramel, has a certain sweetness to it as well.

taste is good, strong caramel flavor as well as roasted malt, much like the aroma. taste really has a sweet flavor to it, its yummy, the alcohol is strong and does hit me.

a good all around porter, just wish i was near a fire on a cold night

1fastz28, Dec 30, 2008
Photo of popery
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2008. 9.2% abv. I want to review this beer before only the lower abv version is available. It seems this beer is going down a bit in strength, which I'm not overtly opposed to but I fear any change to this wonderful porter. It's thick and chewy almost like a great stout. It's in a slightly easier categories than the stouts, and its scores reflect this to a modest extent. The beer pours deep and dark with slight highlights on the edges and a mocha head. The smell is tiny bit weak. (Or maybe DIPAs have utterly spoiled me) There are some notes of roasted malt and caramel. The flavor is slightly sweet and ashy. It's a very good caramel wood ash flavor, which doesn't sound great but comes off fairly dry for such a big porter. It has been one of my favorite craft beers for a long time. I love how well Flying Dog got such a big strong beer distributed so widely. The hop bite in the finish is bitter and dry. This beer has a very round flavor and full mouthfeel that compliments the malt notes nearly perfectly. Also, the abv is very well hidden for a big porter. This beer has made me seek out other big porters, like Sinebrychoff, Zywiec and Carnegie. It's a great introduction to big, tasty porters for American beer fans. Without this beer, I would not have readily bought these random-sounding porters from Finland, Poland and Sweden. So much attention is paid to big stouts, while big porters languish in relative obscurity. It's fairly confusing.

popery, Dec 29, 2008
Photo of sprucetip
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle shared with mom in snifters. From notes.

Mom is an aspiring beer geek who has been drinking craft beers mainly over the last 15 years, after a lifetime of macro lagers. She mainly drinks whatever decent porter is on sale, but likes stouts, and when introduced to some Belgians recently, seems to like them as well. She's not a hophead and doesn't like bitterness generally. She doesn't experiment much when I'm not around, but she is open to it. When asked what she thinks about various ales, she often pulls common descriptors off the top of her head. I think she is a bit of a natural, and could make a great reviewer.

Tiny highlights on super dark beer, modest mocha head, some retention and good lacing. Mom wanted to give it a 5, but I dialed back to 4.5, but agreed with her when she said "doesn't it look awesome."

Lightly fruity and roasty with a hint of sweetness. After initial sniff it was very hard to find, hence the low score. It was nice while it lasted. Later sweet and super mild. Mom said the sweetness was "all I get."

Roasted grain and hop bitterness balanced by sweetness of malt, but still a bit on the bitter side. Clean finish. Mom: "coffee, cocoa, roasted malt." "mmm. mmm. mmm." "wonderful." "I better drink yours to save mine." "I want another." "Clean finish."

Slight fiz, low carbonation, creamy, enjoyable, pleasant texture. Smooth, full bodied, clean finish. Mom: "frickin yummy." "5 plus."

Asked if she could have another, mom said "yeah I could." Agreed. This is a very solid beer that I highly recommend.

sprucetip, Dec 29, 2008
Photo of WakeandBake
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep black color with a small brown head that dissapated quickly. Aroma of chocolate, black coffee, and roasted malts. The taste was a lot of roasted malts with chocolate hints. The bitter taste lingered in the back of my mouth for a while, you get a little of the alcohol flavor at the end. It was very pleasant. Much better than expected.

WakeandBake, Dec 29, 2008
Photo of Vengeance526
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark black color, almost completely opaque with a 1 finger tan head that has decent retention.

Smells of roasted malt and a nice floral honey like scent.

Taste has a very nutty character with hints of bitter chocolate and toffee. Leaves a slight coffee-like aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is very rich and smooth.

Slight warming alcohol presence in the background that does not dominate the brew. Right in in the middle of not being too bitter or too sweet. Overall highly drinkable and something I would not mind having again.

Vengeance526, Dec 27, 2008
Photo of darklordlager
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a thick, syrupy black, with only a hint of light through the edges when held up to the light. A 1/2" medium-brown head greets the top of the glass, receding to a thin coating within minutes...

Smell is smoky chocolate, definitive floral/citrusy scent from the hops... nuts, dark fruits, plum, some faint pear, a bit of spiciness. Some coffee notes perhaps.

Taste is hits you up front with a creamy smoke, followed with some chocolate and finishing with very pungent hop bittery goodness...awesome.

Mouthfeel is heavy, yet not overbearing.

Drinkability--The hops keep it refreshing so the sugary-ness doesn't become overwhelming...very balanced overall. If not for the high ABV, perhaps this would be sessionable!

darklordlager, Dec 27, 2008
Photo of maddogruss
3.6/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a bottle of this into a shaker glass.

A: Pours an oil-like, black body with a dark brown head with ok retention and lacing. Head starts to dissipate towards the end of the beer.

S: A slightly, roasted smell with some roasted meat aftertaste.

T: A robust, roasted barley taste with a slight, coffee aftertaste that was pretty good overall.

M: A pretty silky beer with a slight, overcarbonated feeling.

D: A nice mouthfeel and taste combination. Did a pretty good job of covering the alcohol burn from the palette, as I was only able to feel it after I had already taken a sip. While I was expecting a little more thickness to it, it was still a pretty good feeling beer overall.

maddogruss, Dec 26, 2008
Photo of sonicdescent
3.98/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is my first Baltic porter and as such I wasn't sure what to expect.

Looks good and black with a nice creamy head. Smells hoppy as hell, unlike any porter I have ever had before. Nice and citrusy and floral scents dominate. Taste matches the smell as this reminds me more of an ipa than the porters I am used to. Mouth is thin and carbonated with quote a zing to it. I would session with this in a second.

sonicdescent, Dec 25, 2008
Photo of Bananaman
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I've been longing to try something from Flying Dog for quite some time now. Found this one in a pub called Pitcher's in Karlstad, Sweden.

Looks nice! Flying Dog's bottles are really cool and the beer pours a black color with a large beige foam that settles to a thin lid of foam after a while.

Smells nice of those typical American hops and some hardly roasted malts (but not in that burnt way that some american stouts smell, some vanilla fudge and slight hints of smoke going on in there and some milk-chocolate can be found too.

Tastes really good of those earlier mentioned hardly roasted malts, vanilla fudge, some light coffee notes that reminds me of Zoega's Blue Java and finally a strong background of American hops. It's a really filling beer that is a good sipper.

Bananaman, Dec 24, 2008
Photo of LilBeerDoctor
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed on 8/15/08. Bottle, 2007. Pours black with a pretty thick dark tan head that left nice lacing on the glass. Aroma of roast, rich sweet malt, chocolate, and alcohol. Flavor of rich sweet malt, slight roasted malt, dark fruits, and slight citrusy hops. Quite sweet. Very good beer! I wonder if it would be better fresh where you can really get a nice interplay between the sweet malt and citrusy hops? Either way, this is a winner.
8/4/8/4/15 (3.9/5)

LilBeerDoctor, Dec 23, 2008
Photo of snaotheus
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I really enjoyed this beer. I'm not a big porter drinker, but I thought this one was very good.

Nutty, sweet, and a little smokey. Lacking the chalky mouthfeel that I get from a lot of porters. Surprisingly light mouthfeel which helps the drinkability out quite a bit. I could drink several of these and be quite happy.

Pours a syrupy black, as you would expect, and has little head and no lacing.

snaotheus, Dec 21, 2008
Photo of ZimZamZoom
3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

7 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass. It's a dark brown color that borders on black and lets no light through that I can see. Creamy looking tan head rises fast and settle to a fingers worth leaving a bit of lacing on its way down.

A deep inhalation of the vapors into the nose reveals the aroma of bitter chocolate, roasted malt and enough alcohol to tickle the nose hairs. Swirling and smelling again turns up some ripe dark fruit and a hint of hop spice. The taste is alive with all of these flavors, as the biter chocolate hits you first and turns into a alcohol infused fruitcake, then goes dry and bitter for the finish.

Not huge in body, but the mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. All in all pretty good but a little to hot with alcohol right now. I will save the other Gonzo bottle from this sampler for a while before trying it again.

ZimZamZoom, Dec 20, 2008
Photo of daledeee
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very dark beer which poured very shiny black with a nice tan head and the head stayed there.

Nose has dark malt, coffee, dark sugars and alcohol.

Taste is bitter coffee, malt, sweet and some chocolate. The finish is very bitter. A fine porter but with lots of competition.

daledeee, Dec 20, 2008
Photo of kevd193213
4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle. Fantastic dark brown, almost black pour with a dark brown head. Aroma of roasted malt, hops, coffee, plumb, brown sugar. Bitter predominates, but lets plenty of other complexity through. Coffee and caramel are the major notes. Smooth feel and very drinkable with a nice warming finish.

kevd193213, Dec 19, 2008
Photo of spointon
3.6/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I poured this one from a 12oz brown bottle into a shaker pint glass.

A= This ale poured a very dark blackish brown with ruby highlights around the edges. With an aggressive pour, the medium tan colored head started at a towering 2.5" and slowly dropped to a thin cap. Huge sticky sheets of lacing down my glass.

S= At the initial pour, I swear this thing smelled a bit like an English ESB - maybe they used the Fuller's yeast strain? After the head settled, I found very thin, weak aromas of sweet malts, carob, and roasted grains. Some minor alcohol on the nose as well.

T= Flavors were dominated by a sharp bite of roasted grains, followed by a dance of dark malt sweetness and solvent alcohol. A nice bit of earthy hop flavor crept in throughout the middle and finish as well.

MF= Slightly heavy side of medium body with a crisp carbonation and mouth feel.

D= This beer just couldn't find its niche for me. Its a porter that tastes a bit like an Imperial Stout but with a dry stout's roastiness and English ESB yeast/hop notes. It was by no means bad, it just seemed like a tangled mess of styles that confused my palate. The RIS flavors made me think the beer was too thin, but being a porter the relative thinness of the body was actually fine. I'm torn to say the least...

spointon, Dec 17, 2008
Photo of johnnnniee
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a solid dark brown with the faintest of ruby on the outer edges. Large fluffy mocha head leaves lace all over. Aroma: Holy hops, I could smell them in the pour. Pine and grapefruit lathered in chocolate and roast. Sounds bad, but smells good. Taste is roasty chocolaty even little bit of ash, especially in the finish/aftertaste. The hops are there, but not as up front as the aroma would lead you to believe, surprisingly balanced for 85 Ibu's Mouthfeel is oily and creamy, Body is a little thin, carbonation is light but appropriate. Great Baltic Porter, definitely one of the better brews I've had from Flying Dog.

johnnnniee, Dec 17, 2008
Photo of Bung
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. Near black pour, solid 1 finger dark tan head.

Roast malt and coffee aroma. Heavy roast malt, coffee, anise and dark chocolate with a pleasant mouthfeel. Lively, not quite creamy. Solid medium body, a slightly bitter and clean finish.

Everything good in a porter, but with the benefits of a strong ale, being the alcohol and the bite. A clean kick of hops, I'm guessing this is dry hopped. Solid version.

Bung, Dec 15, 2008
Photo of magictrokini
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Okay, one more shot with Flying Dog. This is actually really good. Nearly black pour with brown edges, short tan head. Coffee and chocolate in the aroma mixed with smoke and burning rubber. Huge taste. Lots of coffee and chococlate again, but mixed with a generous amount of hops. The bitterness of the hops, coffee, and crystal malt is excellent, but somehow kept balanced with a sweet back. Tasty.

magictrokini, Dec 08, 2008
Photo of Vendetta
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Original Rating Date:
August 10, 2008

Thick, creamy palate and a toasted, coffee taste. Super enjoyable beer. Fabulous mouthfeel stands out along with the heavy, toasted, creamy chocolate/coffee taste.

Excellent brew to be dedicated to Hunter S. Thompson -- Despite what you think about him as a person he was a fantastic writer.

Another great beer from Flying Dog. I'm officially a fan.

Vendetta, Dec 07, 2008
Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.45/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12-ounce bottle marked Vintage 08FA, 7.8% ABV, 85 IBU, into a tulip-shaped Duvel glass:

A: Poured a very rich and dark opaque brown color and raspberry highlights sporting a one-finger head of medium-brown foam. Some carbonation gathers at the bottom, and great, sticky tan lace clings to the glass.

S: Lavishly scented with hints of cocoa, toasted bread and cereal malts, layered with the subtleties of burnt chocolate, weak coffee, cherry and oak. Some nice spicy, herbal hops are noticeable as well.

T: Taste is semisweet, yet bitter at first, with a full hop flavor combined with deep charred malts. The malts let of the flavor of smoked wood, dark chocolate, creamy hot cocoa and a bit of raisin come through. The finish is bittersweet and warming.

M: Mouthfeel is full bodied, slightly bitter, yet smooth and rather tasty.

D: A high quality quaffing porter. You could session it easily, but it's probably better appreciated if you let it warm a bit and take it down slowly. Outstanding drinkability on this porter.

A delightful porter from Flying Dog. Rich and bold, of course, but smooth and very likable. Sort of reminds me of Hunter S. Thompson himself in some ways. This one will satisfy maltier porter lovers as well as hopheads, because it keeps it balanced and firing from both ends. One of the best indulgent porters I've ever had. Great!

Gambrinus1184, Dec 06, 2008
Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,525 ratings.