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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.

2,424 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,424
Reviews: 1,404
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 10.92%
Wants: 83
Gots: 132 | 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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Gonzo Imperial Porter Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,424 | Reviews: 1,404 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BeerTruth


3.98/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle with VINTAGE 06B stamped on the side.

Gonzo poured an opaque black with a nice dark khaki color large bubbled head. Beautiful looking, head stays for a while before I can take a sip. Very sticky to the glass, doesn't want to let go at all. Sniffing this one I get sharp smokey scents with some caramel coffee to it. A bit of cinnamon seems to appear as it warms. Alcohol is a bit present in the nose as well. Flying Dog did a great job with the taste on this one. Very complex, thick, and sweet. Roasted chocolate malt seems to dominate, but brown sugar and a very tiny, but noticable, citrus bitterness appears in the aftertaste. Very full flavored with a lot to recognize with this taste. Wow, this is 9.2 abv? Man, this one really snuck up on me. Be careful with how delicious this one is, make sure to sip and enjoy.

Serving type: bottle

04-26-2007 01:58:45 | More by BeerTruth
Photo of Butch


4.28/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle (stored at 39o set on counter to warm for 15 minutes prior to pour) nonic pint glass

Color & Head: Pours thick. Dark black with maybe a touch of red at the edges. What head was there was a dark khaki or creamed coffee. The head was pretty thin and didn’t last a mnute. Faded to a thin ring around the glass really quickly.

Aroma: Nice. I can smell some alcohol, understandable for an imperial, and even some hops, which is really nice for this style. Some bready aroma as well. No sweet or malty notes.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel is thick. Deep roasted flavors are offset beautifully with the high alcohol. Awesome combo. The aftertaste has a bit of cigar to it, which I suppose is a flaw, but I really dig cigars, so it works for me.

Notes: I really dig the way the higher alcohol works with the really deep roasted flavors. I couldn’t drink this every day, but I wouldn’t mind trying.


Serving type: bottle

04-25-2007 23:34:11 | More by Butch
Photo of SQNfan


4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz brown bottle with a vintage date on the label "06F".

A- Black in color, it poured a 1/4" dark head that dissipated very quickly and barely left any laceing.

S- The nose showed a bunch of crème brulee crust with coffee, Christmas spice and a bit of caramel.

T&M- Good flavor concentration that glided over the palate seemlessly. The midpalate had a sweetness to it that lingers through the smokey finish. The sweetness and depth of flavor covers the 9.5% alcohol very well.

D- The sweet yet bitter flavors make this a wonderful nitecap beer and anytime in front of a blazing fire.

Serving type: bottle

04-17-2007 02:44:03 | More by SQNfan
Photo of Gatch


4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Wicked dark. Medium brown-colored head which fades quickly. I had a pretty aggressive pour but not much of a head formed. A bunch of sediment formed at the bottom of the bottle and some of it came into the glass a little chunky. That slowly rose and built up on the sides of the glass, which was strange.
S - Spicy dark fruits, hops, faint roasted malt & grain.
T - Pretty complex. The roasted malt is surprisingly sweet, which is probably enhanced by the tastes of bittersweet chocolate. The notorious "lakewater" taste comes out near the end of each sip. Maybe it's the medium body of Porters that causes it, but I always taste lake water in most of the Porters I drink. The alcohol is hidden really well, with only a slight warm spiciness at the end, which is great, and the carbonation is pretty low.
M/D - The hops & roasted malt linger around the mouth to leave an enjoyable, sweet taste. None of the flavors really stand out though, they're all pretty weak, but the alcohol doesn't show and the medium body keeps it from being too much. The dulled tastes actually make it more drinkable and I could definitely have a couple more throughout the night. Props to Flying Dog for making a unique beer with a great style.

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2007 05:01:41 | More by Gatch
Photo of 86sportster883

New Jersey

3.58/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Aside from the inebriating effect of this 9% abv Imperial Porter, I believe that Hunter S. would be somewhat disappointed. I was, so let me just be up front and say that the Gonzo Imperial is just not a very good Baltic style porter. But, it has a great label, and the name certainly warns you that you’re in for something out of the ordinary.

I would consider the Gonzo Porter an extreme beer, in the sense of pushing the limits of abv for the style. Unfortunately, taste is far and away sacrificed somewhere along the way. Burnt malts seem to dominate the taste and a sharp bitter finish overrides anything else that might be going on in this beer.

On the plus side, the Flying Dog Gonzo is very aromatic and … did I mention it has a cool Ralph Steadman label? Other than that, it pours dark brown, has one of the darkest heads that I've seen on a beer, and is full bodied. Yet, the taste just didn't come together for me, and I wouldn't put this beer in the same class as a Sinebrychoff or D. Carnegie.

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2007 01:41:36 | More by 86sportster883
Photo of jjayjaye

New York

4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours opaque with ruby hued edges and less than a finger deep whispy dark tan head that fades quickly. No indication of residual carbonation.

The smell is sweet dark chocolate and roasted malt, but it's not full.

The mouth feel is full bodied with a nice tang from the hops. Slightly bitter note of coffee that is even more pronounced with the swallow. Lingering coffee flavor and a kick of bitterness at the end.

The flavor is good sweet and roasted malt with chocolate and coffee complimented by the nose. A bit of a dry finish.

The 9.2 is well hidden in the complexity. This is certainly going to happen again. Nice job.

Serving type: bottle

04-08-2007 20:18:07 | More by jjayjaye
Photo of Hautacam


3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark brew with a tan film of a head.
Smells like burnt wood, leather , coffee and alcohol.
Taste is very full bodied espresso- with a lemon peel...sweetened with caramel. There is some phenol..a bit medicinal , but good...smoky and chalky...just a hint of licorice. The bitter citrus hits fast and lingers all the way through. Alcohol is more evident as it warms up.
Mouthfeel is big...carbonation is medium...very creamy.
Good stuff...enjoyed sipping this for an hour or so.

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2007 21:42:42 | More by Hautacam
Photo of mikesgroove

South Carolina

4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured a thick, black, with some light penetrating on the sides and bottom. One of the biggest tan colored heads I have ever scene. Actually had to wait a couple mins to pour the rest. Really nice spider web like lace was to follow. Good looker so far.

S - Very very strong smell was apparent from the start. Big aroma of coffee and caramel with a definate alcohol flavor to it. A slight sweetness could be detected as it warmed along with a very subtle hoppy presence. Maybe a but of chocolate at the end, very nice.

M & T - This was nice, feel was very rich and creamy, and very warming. Lots of carbonation made everything pop just right, and this went down like dessert. Some smoked flavors were readily apparent, but definatly not overwhelming. Very full flavored, sweet profile and a nice dry, long lingering smokey finish. Very full robust porter to say the least.

D - Overall I have to give this one its due. It was a perfect nightcap to the evening and very worthy of being a sipper. I had been wanting to try this one for a while and it did not dissapoint.

Serving type: bottle

04-04-2007 23:20:46 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of velo343


3.98/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Near black, with a faint hint of ruby coming through when held to the light. A thin, coffee colored head with little retention.

Smell - Lots of coffee, a distinct alcohol aroma. Some very dark fruits, like raisins and plums. Hazelnut as well.

Taste - A fairly thick, malty mouthfeel. Quite syrupy. Lots of coffee flavor and heavily toasted malts. Raisins are in the profile as well. A hot alcohol taste. Very sweet and malty, not too much hop flavor.

Drinkability - A very good, but not great beer. Missing some complex flavors, but hits the key points for an imperial porter. .

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2007 01:52:15 | More by velo343
Photo of objectivemonkey


4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Into a nonic tulip glass, comes out thick and black as night, no ruby hues, no browns, just black. The head is monstrous, two full inches of light brown head, lacing in streaks and rings. Just lovely. The aroma is full of roasted malts, espresso, and chocolates, but there is an unexpectedly large amount of leafy, raw, oily hops, reminds me a lot of Surly Darkness (only not as good). And that continues on to the taste, a thick, malty chocolate fist grabbing hold of a leafy, grassy, almost raw hop, and it works very well here. Unfortunately, it doesn't translate to a good mouth, where the carbonation is a little low for a porter, the body is good, but just thins and flattens and disappears much too quickly. When I drink a thick, dark beer, I want to keep feeling and tasting it for some time to come, and I just don't here. Not that it detracts all that much from this delicious brew, it just brings things down a bit. But then again, if this is the closest I can get to Darkness all year round, I can't complain. In fact, I'll have to go get a pack of this, cause despite its small shortcomings, its a great drinker.

Serving type: bottle

03-30-2007 02:55:21 | More by objectivemonkey
Photo of jbsteiny


3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Oh, after reading all of these phenomenal reviews, I was peeved that I'd missed this on tap at Spuyten Duyvil's legends night (I think they said the keg lasted a few hours...), but I found the bottle shortly afterward. I loved the Steadman skull on the label. I wanted it to be spectacular, to make Thompson proud. I have to say, I was a little disappointed -- it was good, not great.

It poured black with a thin dense head the color of milk chocolate. Aromas of fruity hops, plums, caramel, and roasted malts. "Can't get a footing in this stuff." But even a ton of hops couldn't hide the 9%+ in here. Maybe I'm getting soft, but the alcohol turned me off from what could have been spectacular. Strong finish of hazelnut, espresso, and some dark chocolate. A bit too fizzy and boozy for my taste. One was enough. I give credit to Flying Dog for going big, but, apologies to Uncle Duke, halfway through I wished I'd had a Rasputin instead.

Serving type: bottle

03-23-2007 04:48:04 | More by jbsteiny
Photo of jaxon53


4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served at cellar temperature in a pint glass. Poured a deep brown, almost black color with about an inch of thick coffee brown head, with a vigorous pour. Decent retention with plenty of sticky lace on the glass.

Smell: Lots of chocolate, Sweet caramel/toffee aromas, some dark fruity notes that I can't quite put my finger on.

Taste: Wonderful roasty, smokey flavors, with a little hop bite to it. Some coffee, chocolate, and caramel flavors also. Very well balanced with a nice bitter finish. Very little carbonation and alcohol detected. Mouthfeel was full and somewhat thick. This beer is very drinkable and worth picking up.

Serving type: bottle

03-18-2007 18:25:17 | More by jaxon53
Photo of jcdiflorio

West Virginia

4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured into a large flaired tulip glass from a 12 brown long neck bottle with a crimped on cap.

Deep chestnut brown with a 2" mocha head dissapating fairly quickly leaving some clumps of foam floating on top, leaving webs of lace down the glass.

Roasty,very inticing spicyness, some licorace with an woody/earthyness.
A very nice aroma,one of those kind you can't stop inhailing.

Roasty,very spicy taste for a porter,very sweet carmelly taste,chocolaty,coffee. Nicely balanced taste finishes with a sharp,clean tart note leaving a good spicyness on the palate.

Very creamy mouthfeel, tangy with puckering bitterness. Goes down easily smooth and enjoyable. Very drinkable for a imperial porter wish I had another. The best beer i've had from Flying Dog so far. I'd recommend giving this one a try.

Serving type: bottle

03-18-2007 17:54:00 | More by jcdiflorio
Photo of Tyrawlings


3.98/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. Bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Near black in color. Thin tan head pours one finger thick and dissolves almost immediately. Very thin if any lacing.

S: Roasted coffee. Chocolate. Pine. Dark fruit. Alcohol.

T: Deep roasted coffee and dark bitter chocolate blend together to create an astringent twang. Dark fruits and burnt malts are followed by a nice pine bitter bite. Sweetness of molasses and tastes of earth are taken over by a warming alcohol.

M: Syrupy and thick. Minimal carbonation. Warm and drying.

D: A tad over the top for the baltic porter style but worth the money spent to enjoy this fine beer. By far and away, Gonzo is the best in Flying Dog's arsenal.

Serving type: bottle

03-18-2007 16:01:23 | More by Tyrawlings
Photo of canucklehead

British Columbia (Canada)

4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow,this beer is like a firework to the face with its hop intensity and almost seaweed like finish. Dark as a night outside Barstow and huge in the nose to the point of parody, a beer that is remembered the next day like a black eye. It's been awhile since I had this intense a brew.

Serving type: bottle

03-17-2007 23:40:24 | More by canucklehead
Photo of lehows

New York

4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a thick black color with a coarse and aggressive looking dark-tan head. There was an incredible amount of suspended sediment in the beer that took a long time to settle. Aromas are nothing short of amazing, very powerful aromas of heavily sugared coffee and charcoal. Taste is of burnt espresso beans, caramel, charcoal, maple syrup, vanilla, and a sweet alcohol presence toward the end of the beer, especially as it warms. One of the best sipping beers I've ever had. Very fine carbonation, medium mouthfeel, a bit syrupy if anything but certainly doesnt take away from this quality brew.

Serving type: bottle

03-14-2007 15:14:26 | More by lehows
Photo of Lexx


3.93/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thank you to Grub for bringing this over!

I found this one to be quite interesting. Poured quite dark, not entirely black though. Dark, nutty brown at the edges when held up to light. Nice cappuccino head on the pour with ok retention, and once it had generally subsided, the edges were still decently thick. Lovely lacing, or as I said in my notes, "INSANE!"
The aroma and taste bewildered me a bit. I smelled caramel and coffee and a bit of floralness, but there was something else that really surprised me. At first I couldn't place what I was smelling, and then after a moment I realized it was bleu cheese. The bleu cheese transfered into the taste also, but it wasnt unpleasant. I actually rather enjoyed it. Other tastes included burnt coffee and alcohol, leading into a grapefruit finish.

Serving type: bottle

03-14-2007 05:12:34 | More by Lexx
Photo of Viggo

Ontario (Canada)

4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks for bringing this grub!

Pours a very opaque black, thick tan head, very rocky, nice lacing, good retention, stays pretty thick. Smell is sweet, caramel, roast and coffee, chocolate, very malty, some floral hops, bit of vanilla, quite nice. Taste is roasty, some caramel, chocolate and vanilla, alcohol, smooth, almost bitter grapefruit in the finish. Mouthfeel is very thick, full bodied, low carbonation, very smooth. A nice drink, thanks grubby!

Serving type: bottle

03-12-2007 02:48:06 | More by Viggo
Photo of Cresant


2.7/5  rDev -33%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured this 12 oz. brown bottle into a Samuel Smith tulip glass. "Vintage 06F" was printed on the bottle. The body was a very dark brown/purple. Rather large chunks of sediment slowly dropped. The tan head was minimal but it left freckles of lace.

Smell was spicy cinnamon. Light breadiness and rubbing alcohol, later.

Taste was Syrupy chocolate malts. Band-aids. Hops flavors rise through the sweetness. Woodiness, like chewing on a popsicle stick. Multi-layered and rather complex but not phenomenal tasting. There is a weird combination of flavors here.

Mouthfeel was medium to thin. The beer leaves a sweet coating on the lips.

Serving type: bottle

03-10-2007 01:00:34 | More by Cresant
Photo of chadspivey


4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a very dark oak brown. Once its in the glass, it's opaque. Nice two finger dark tan head, which leaves a very nice lacing.

S: coffee, chocolate, hints of caramel and vanilla. Roasted malts. Faint hints of nuts maybe.

T: startswith the hops stinging the tip of the tongue, then a chocolatey kinda taste, then there's vanilla and caramel, and finally the nuts and coffee in the end. kind of a burnt coffee. Actually, now that it's warmed up a bit, It's better.

M: Nice mouthfeel with this one. Well balanced. The hops kinda spice things up a bit.

D: For a porter at 9.2 percent, I'd say it's slighlty more than average in drinkability.

The taste got better as the beer warmed, I'd say let it sit out of the fridge for at least 10 minutes before drinking.

Serving type: bottle

03-08-2007 21:24:45 | More by chadspivey
Photo of daliandragon

North Carolina

4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've honestly never thought much of Flying Dog as a brewery, I think their labels somewhat crude and corny, and the few beers I've had from them have been kind of ...eh, ok but nothing remotely special. One pour here looks to break the trend.

Pours a thick, syrupy near black morass with a hefty brown head that erodes to reveal gorgeous, scaly, lacing. Nose has plenty of chocolate and coffee notes but these are pushed aside by a piney blast of hops that adds a whole new dimension to this porter. An impressive start at any rate.

Taste is also well balanced although front loaded with hops. Very thick and tasty in the mouth with alcohol almost completely hidden. Not lacking in roasted malt or coffee flavors but the hops are what you'll remember. Certainly a bit of a skull cruncher and not for porter traditionalists but this is definitely a beer worth trying.

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2007 00:04:29 | More by daliandragon
Photo of MrBendo

New Jersey

4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours brown to black with a brown, huge and expanding head. Very good lacing. Retention is good, and the head turns rocky. A nicely toasted malt aroma. Taste of molasses, roasted coffee, and chocolate malts. Full body. Creamy texture. No taste of alcohol. Outstanding.

Serving type: bottle

03-06-2007 22:22:02 | More by MrBendo
Photo of Onibubba


3.98/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Broke out one of the 2 year old Gonzo's the other night. Pour is dark brown, almost black. No highlights. Very small tight brown head. Smells of burnt sugar and sesame oil. Taste is similar. Slight bitterness against the sweetness. Nicely balanced. Mouthfeel is creamy and slick - only the lightest carbonation. Highly drinkable at this state...And smooth. No alcohol detected. Glad I aged a few more of these.

Serving type: bottle

03-06-2007 17:34:19 | More by Onibubba
Photo of Newglarusguy


3.78/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz longneck bottle into my frosted pint glass.

Appearance: Very dark looks like diaherrea kind of, that leaves little lacing behind.

Smell: Chocolatety with a twist of hops in there strangely balances it out pretty damn well.

Taste: Whoa, for being a dark ale like a dark brown ale I can utmostly taste those cascades in there with a dark malty flavour chased with like rubbing or solvent alcohol that kinda burns on the way down.

Mouthfeel: Nice, good chocolate tones with hoppyness that makes your mouth feel nice.

Drinkability: I will only have one of these for sure most of that due to the 9% abv this will shitface you instantly if you don't know your beers.

Serving type: bottle

03-06-2007 03:29:14 | More by Newglarusguy
Photo of matthewfuchs


3.63/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Great idea and inspiration for drinking this beer, Hunter S. Thompson artwork. Poured into goblet off tap. small dark head, left a lot of lace. lots of dark malt, somewhat chocolaty with a strong smoke finish. Slight sense of some citrus in the after taste. 9.2% ABV and you can tell. Definitely a "mood" beer. Great conversation starter for film buffs. Worth a try for sure.

Serving type: on-tap

03-06-2007 01:17:50 | More by matthewfuchs
Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,424 ratings.