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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.

2,487 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,487
Reviews: 1,410
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 10.92%
Wants: 86
Gots: 157 | 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: 2,487 | Reviews: 1,410 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jeremyd365
4.28/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Yum! This brew oured very dark with little light brown head. It smelled sweet and chocolatey. The flavors of chocolate and coffee are definitely apparent, with he coffee flavor definitely lingering on the palette. It is very drinkable despite its heaviness, with the bitter of hops there but is mostly masked by other flavors.

jeremyd365, Oct 02, 2008
Photo of ReadyFireAim
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had during a sampling tour of their brewing facility in Frederick, MD. The first beer I tried of theirs before the tour started was their tripel. It was decent, but didn't exactly hit the spot. Right before the tour started the bartender asked us for last orders (so we'd have something to sip on while the tour guide walked us around the facility). I chose their cask-conditioned Gonzo - what a treat!

I had tried their Gonzo before and thought it was pretty good (good - not great); however, this beer is something else. The earthy, vanilla, and bright coffee flavors that the barrel aging process gave this beer sat very well with the rest of the beer's profile. A very malty brew with rich chocolate notes, and the vanilla/coffee edges help sum up the beer quite nicely and deliver a very neat package to the belly. Also, the aromas are heavenly. Wonderful!

It's quite strong (if I remember right it was about 10.5% ABV) so I could only see having a couple of these unless I was planning on chilling awhile somewhere to let the alcohol run its course.

Overall very pleased with this one. Probably the best that Flying Dog has hit me with (their double IPA coming behind in a close second place).


ReadyFireAim, Sep 30, 2008
Photo of mothman
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2008

Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into a pint glass. Head is nice fluffy brown. Leaves some amazing lacing (it was pretty pretty) Color is jet back with a hint of brown. This beer sure looked and tasted amazing.

The smell is a sweet malty coffee with a nice mix of grassy hops. The taste follows quite along with the smell. It has an excellent balance of hop and malts. You can definitely taste the alcohol in this 9.2% beer.

The mouthfeel is wonderful as it very very smooth. But let me tell you this; this beer is very, very filling.

This is a definite keeper! The first of the mixed pack, which means I have high expectations for the others! A definite must try.

mothman, Sep 28, 2008
Photo of mnstorm99
4.63/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Not sure if I had a bad bottle in my last review of this or not, but I had this on tap at Stub & Herbs and this turned from a beer I would never buy again, to a beer I would love to have more of.
A - Great looking black pour with a small tan head that disappears quickly, but leaves a nice lacing down the glass.
S - Malt,
T - Malt, like a chocolate bar with hints of coffee and toffee
M - Smooth creamy and buttery, this one just feels good going down.
D - This would be a regular after dinner beer for me, just a real nice relaxing desert.

mnstorm99, Sep 26, 2008
Photo of oriolesfan4
3.68/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bought as part of the Canis Major mixed 4 pack ($9.49/4)

Well this is certainly an odd taste for a porter. Pours a jet black color with a nice looking tan head. The first sip I took was very sweet and flavorful and absolutely delicious. The following sips were not so lucky though. It seemed that the sweetness wore away and the alcohol was much more present. I've had many a beer over 10%ABV and this one has 10 times as much alcohol taste than them at only a hair over 9%. Granted, the little alcohol warming kick isn't too bad of a thing, just too much of a 'mixed drink' feeling for me. Would try again.

oriolesfan4, Sep 24, 2008
Photo of brewandbbq
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2005

Pours opaque black with a half inch head of tan. A slow retreat left behind some smeared lacework and a 90% skim coat on the surface.

Aromatics are chock full of dark fudge, chocolate, espresso, and Kahlua.
Almost doughy in character, with a large, luscious promise for the palate.

A chewy, robust, and thick mouthfeel. Full bodied and creamy.

Dark chocolate, brownie batter, and soft fudge start off the palate. Extremely rich and almost velvety.
Pressed coffee grounds and Hershey's syrup follow through.
A hint of vineousity steps forward as the beer finishes with lingering rich chocolate and dark fudge.

Wow. Three years in the cellar has really brought this beer to the next level.
More please.

brewandbbq, Sep 23, 2008
Photo of AMo
4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter pours a dense jet black with a perfect one inch thick, tan, and foamy head. The head has an impeccable consistancy and stays to together exceptionally well. Intial smell is good, only mildly strong, but pleasant of roasted malt aromas. Taste is right on malty goodness with an ever so slight bitterness followed by a touch of sweetness. Mouthfeel is a creamy, silk smooth, medium dense, dark liquid. The carbonation is medium to low. Overall drinability is exceptional. This brew has tons of taste and flavor with a great alcohol kick. A true winner of a porter and a great make from Flying Dog.

AMo, Sep 23, 2008
Photo of everetends
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle from Five Points Bottle Shop in Athens, GA. Last of the mixed four pack. Poured into a nonic.

A: Pours a somewhat thick, BLACK brew. Vigorous pour yields only a finger of tan head. The head has littel retention, falling to only a small ring. Lacing is weak. Leaves a bit of a dark yellow film on the glass. This beer is very black though, and that makes me happy.

S: Smell is easy. Roasted malt, coffee, and chocolate. Thats all we got. Smells appetizing but we need more.

T: Taste is good. Gotta give it up here. Deeply roasted malt, heavy in the first sip. You get some nice chocolate and coffee going on. Fruit. Dark fruits such as fig, raisins and subtle cherries. There is also some really nice notes of a good bourbon going on in this beer. Booze is there but not stupid. Nice balance and pleasing.

M: Medium side of full bodied, but still has some rich thickness to it. Really coats the mouth. Roasted malt resonates on the palate at all times. Alcohol burn on the throat, but pleasing. Carbonation is a bit too high, but whatever.

D: Good beer. For once, Flying Dog proves they can make a beer you can drink more than once or actually finish. Not the best porter in the world, but good. Drink it and enjoy.

everetends, Sep 23, 2008
Photo of uwmgdman
3.93/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This big porter pours jet black with a thin tan head. The aroma is moderately roasty, chocolately with a medium-low hop aroma and a hint of alcohol. The flavor is moderately roasty; highly bittersweet with a high bitterness. The swallow is smooth with a bit of alcohol warmth and a pleasant lingering hop flavor. The body is full and carbonation moderate Overall a very well done IP and a bit different with a good amount of hop presence.

uwmgdman, Sep 20, 2008
Photo of JRed
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opaque looks with a small off brown head. Aroma full of dark chocolate roast, alcohol, and raisins. Tastes of deep, dark chocolate, coffee notes, malty, roast, alcohol mixed with sweetness. The best I have had from Flying Dog yet, a triumph of a porter.

JRed, Sep 18, 2008
Photo of JohnGalt1
3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz received a long while back from Wasatch as a very cool extra... bad ass '06B Vintage botle... been in the fridge ever since.

Poured into my shaped SA glass... 2 inch tan head .. sticky lace.. beautiful cap and collar... brew is the darkest brown.

Aroma is thick chocolate and dark dried fruit... raisins and cherries with some background tawny port notes.. quite a bit of caramel.. reminds me a little bit of a nutty candy bar.

Flavor mirrors the nose with more chocolate and caramel.. a little sweet IMHO.. very complex... roasty but not burnt ... fairly viscous with abundant smooth carbonation... age hasn't hurt this bottle a bit.

John.. thanks for the Gonzo... we used to get this in Boise years ago... now it's just a distant longing memory..


JohnGalt1, Sep 16, 2008
Photo of supercolter
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Yowsah... that's a big beer, but I finished it. Appearance is pretty good. Black as coal but no head or lacing to speak of. Smell and taste are of roasted coffee beans, some dry wine and dry malt taste. A bit of spice comes through, I believe that it my be nutmeg. Mouth feel is great, medium to heavy in body and only a bit of carbonation. Drinkability is rough, but definately sessionable.

supercolter, Sep 16, 2008
Photo of Overlord
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with dark brown edges. Big sudsy off-white head.

Smells like espresso, chocolate, and ... hoppy? The taste has a very interesting sweet cocoa chocolate, bitter espresso, and herbal hops blend. Alcohol is hot. Mouthfeel is decent.

A bit expensive for what it is ... Storm King Stout is cheaper. Not sure what an "Imperial Porter" is, but this blurs the line between a Stout and a Baltic Porter.

Overlord, Sep 13, 2008
Photo of SeanRedd
4.4/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Magnifiscent. Thick cafe' marshmellow head rests ontop of black abyss. Chocolate coffee and spicy damp hop escape into the air. Slightly roasty, dutch cocoa syrup his spicy lupilus background. Incredibly smooth; chocalte milk for adults. Well balanced dark malts with room to show off competing wet hops. Booze nowhere in sight, inebriation everywhere to be found. Instantly one of the best porters that have strayed upon my indulgent path. Well done.

SeanRedd, Sep 13, 2008
Photo of OlieIPA
3.93/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Obtained from Pehlman in beer trade...he has good stuff by the way.

A: Black to dark brown hue with little head (low head retention).

S: Refer to my Yeti review...seriously, its scary how similar they are to each other.

T: Alchohol is apparent througout the beer with some hints of coffee. Something else in the flavor that I couldn't pick out; my buddy hinted to me that it could be the bottle.

M: Again, typical of a porter. Good, medium-body, little/no carbonation with good coating.

D: Good; could enjoy a few bottles in one night.

Overall: A beer that I will definitley have to try again. Suprisingly great!! I highly recommend.

OlieIPA, Sep 06, 2008
Photo of grayburn
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

07 vintage

a- espresso black pour with almost a two finger head, disappeared into a ring with nice lacing.

s- caramel, coffee, a hint of alcohol, rounded with a smoky finish. A nice dessert smell.

t- dark bitter chocolate with a hint of alcohol sliding through toward the finish. The taste greatly improves as the beer is warming up.

m- For a beer this dark with a high abv, it coats nicely but does not linger uncomfortably.

d- Not an all day beer, the abv is too high, however one isn't quite enough. It's a good thing it's sold in 4 packs because thats a reasonable limit for me.

Overall a great offering from Flying Dog, I have yet to be disappointed by their beer.

grayburn, Sep 05, 2008
Photo of ewright
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours out completely black with just a fine layer of tan foam that dissipates into a ring fairly quickly.

S: Deep earthy notes, rich coffee, cocoa, hint of leather, maybe a touch of burnt caramel.

T: Robust flavors dominated by espresso with hints of smoke, wood, and cocoa. Hop flavors are hard to discern, but there is significant bittering contribution that helps even out the malts.

M: Fairly thick and creamy up front, but there's also a faint tongue-puckering note in the aftertaste that I seem to pick up in all baltic/imperial porters.

D: Treat this one like an imperial stout with a twist and you'll be perfectly happy having this after dinner.

ewright, Sep 04, 2008
Photo of mountdew1
3.98/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Left a gorgeous chocolate brown 2 finger head that was bubbles on the bottom, and foam on the top. Clung very well to the sides and left a small layer on top. Color was a very very dark dark opaque brown. Smell was espresso and chocolate, but had a small bit of alcohol poking through. Taste was very slightly sweet, mostly robust burnt grains with a bitter chocolate aftertaste. Felt ok in the mouth. It coated very well, just the right amount of carbonation, but was a tad bit acidic. Easy to drink, did a good job hiding the ABV, but it did kick in a bit faster than I would expect.

mountdew1, Sep 02, 2008
Photo of hustlesworth
4.78/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

this beer's allure has sentimental value to me in loving memory of my sheepdog, Gonzo. RIP son, 1988-2003.

A- pours an ominous super dark brownish black with faint glimmers of mahogany at the bottom of the glass. sweet cascading action builds up a big puffy coffee-with-cream colored pancake batter head with vacuoles that open and close while it slowly shrinks down to a thick disk with little fingers and specks of lace.

S- surprisingly hoppy in the nose, cascade grapefruit and pine are completely evident, this may be the first porter i've had where hop aroma is dominant. smokey charred wood, black licorice, currant, prune, raisin, with some coffee, a little dark chocolate, and alcohol. would be a 5 if there was less evidence of alcohol.

T- smoother tasting than i would have expected, hop bitterness is almost completely balanced out by the roasted malt while the hop flavor remains intact. very nice flavor at that, the dry hopping did this dog justice. amazing roasted malt burnt flavor, charcoal, cigar, pine, inky black dried fruits, raisin, prune, fig, dark resinous wood, extremely well hidden alcohol is no surprise considering the amount of flavor. while a normal porter is a flavorful brew in its own, i expected this imperial to be borderline obnoxious but instead this thing is just right, definitely not overwhelming. coffee & cocoa are a given and they intermingle with the other flavors throughout the mouth-life of this beer. finishes brightly hoppy with low relative bitterness due to its counterbalance, burps are complete hop essence without all the roasty toasty stuff. perfection.

MF- rich and just under full, without being overbearing. carbonation is perfection too, just where it should be. luxurious, almost creamy feel leaves a nice substantial coating of roasted malt goodness.

D- if not for the high abv i could drink this all day, night, and morning. i had a hunch it would be good, but my expectations were far exceeded.

hustlesworth, Sep 01, 2008
Photo of rdickey
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: I've been holding on to this one - the label indicates it's "Vintage 2005". Aggressive pour into a tulip produces an aggressive dark tan head, which lingers with some rocky bubbles. Very, very, very black. Serious lacing.

Smell: Sweet malt, liquorice and chocolate. Enticing.

Taste: Lots of chocolate and sweet malt. Also some dried fruit and spice. No noticeable hops.

Mouthfeel: This one will definitely fill your mouth up despite its relatively significant carbonation.

Drinkability: It would be malpractice to say this is drinkable. You will definitely enjoy drinking it, but it's the sort of beer that you end the evening with. Starting the evening with it would be suicidal given the ABV.

rdickey, Aug 31, 2008
Photo of lowgear
3.8/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From an 07 bottle, opened without fanfare, but the head grew anyway. Poured black with a mocha one finger head. Aroma is very malty with smoky/burnt and woodlike smell. Taste is intense, then goes right into bitter chocolate smoked flavor. Aftertaste is a little bitter/dry. Overall, a good representation of a baltic porter.

lowgear, Aug 30, 2008
Photo of jwinship83
3.48/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A- deep dark brown with the smallest tan head.

S- chocolate, roasted malts, a bit of sweetness

T- slightly sour towards the end is the thing that sticks out most. oxidation i think. roasted malts, chocolate, and a coffee aftertaste. no noticeable hop presence

M- extremely smooth and creamy

D- the bottle i had was of a 06 vintage, and i think that this one was a casualty of oxidation. i have had this before and dont remember the sour twang at the end like this one. that being said, it wasnt that major yet and its still enjoyable. especially fresh. give this one a try if you havnt yet.

ill edit this next fresh one i have.

jwinship83, Aug 28, 2008
Photo of mtstatebeer
3.78/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle. Pours a dark brown/black, with a nice light-brown head. Smells sweet and malty, a bit of hops. Good long-lasting heavy sweet flavor. You can definitely taste and smell roasted malts, chocolate, and some coffee. Nice medium-to-full body, sticks on your tongue a good while.

mtstatebeer, Aug 27, 2008
Photo of RocPorterFanatic
5/5  rDev +24.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Just had this at Dayton Ale Fest in Dayton, OH. I've had Gonzo many tunes, both on draught and bottled, today was different. I was pleased to have enjoyed Oak Aged Gonzo. Absolutely amazing!!!! The single best beer I've ever consumed. The oak brings forward a vanilla flavor tha i've never tasted before. It also brings out extra carbonation like nothing beforfe experienced.

RocPorterFanatic, Aug 24, 2008
Photo of schuim
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Drank this from the bottle. dated 06-12-09. The head on the beer was brown foam. Black color.
Aroma: hops with pine and grapefruit. Taste: also very hoppy taste with grapefruit and citrus. Taste of liqorice, red fruit and some salt.
Aftertaste very warming, tastes of dark malt, coffee and salt. Very nice and complex beer.

schuim, Aug 20, 2008
Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,487 ratings.