Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery

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Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter

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2,613 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,613
Reviews: 1,426
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 10.95%
Wants: 100
Gots: 185 | 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: 2,613 | Reviews: 1,426 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ccrida
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into my Spiegelau snifter, Gonzo is absolutely pitch black, even on the edges when held to light, with a dark tan, creamy head that settles to a thick collar and skim, leaving moderate lace.

Smell is rich chocolate malt and lots of fresh, herbal noble hops, a touch of vanilla and some alcohol. A deep and alluring aroma of medjool dates comes forward as it warms.

Taste is rich, much more roasty then I remember, so much so that this is more in export stout territory. That being said, it's pretty nice, I really like the minty character of the hops, very fresh and crisp, as well as the vanilla. Fairly smooth, the alcohol is noticeable but not overdone.

Mouthfeel is pretty average I guess, a bit on the thicker side, creamy carbonation.

Drinkability is very dangerous with these. I know, trust me!!!! The smoothness in spite of the high ABV is very deceitful!

Photo of trpng0bily
3.08/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

Vintage '07

a: Pours extremely dark - opaque. There is a gorgeous creamy dark tan head that lasts and leaves some nice lacing.

s: The smell is predominantly of sweet roasted malts and hops, with a hint of alcohol.

t: There isn't much going on in this department, which is hugely disapointing. Bit of coffee and strongly bitter chocolate, it becomes sweeter as it warms. Flat and dull.

m: This beer is creamy as they come. Outstanding feel.

d: I can't see comfortably drinking more than one in an evening.

Photo of tmitch75
4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased as a single bottle at DiCarlo's in Mundelein.

Deep black color with thick chocolate colored head and lots of lace.

Smells roasty with a little chocoloate and a little piney hop smell.

Nice roasty flavor with a strong resinous hop flavor. Quite tasty.

Not as full-bodied as I expected but still good (I'd call it medium-bodied).

Excellent. I love the hop flavor, which is surprisingly strong for the style. it works well. I would defintely try this one a few more times.

Tasted on 2/25/08.

Photo of IBUnit63
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into cab glass...

Huge, frothy coffee ice cream-colored head that's dense and lingering. Pours opaque Italian-roast coffee color. Awesome-looking stuff.

Malty alcoholic-tinged aroma. A little sweet with some bitter apple cider notes. Hops give off nice perfume.

At first way tangier than expected with a lot of slate and charred meat (BBQ chicken?) skin. This opens up quickly, bringing on more of a sweetness and coffee in the malt as expected. Alcohol is not overdone here. Very nice given time.

Finish is short and compact but also balanced and tight. As it warms, the puckering mouthfeel opens up and becomes deeper and more viscous - the backbone of malt becomes more pronounced on the mouth.

This is very enjoyable to sip and savor and to see its evolution as it warms. Nicely done.

Photo of hoegaardenhero
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a: nice deep black body with about a finger of milk chocolate colored head that fades leaving just a coating of brown on top of the body

s: fragrant citrusy hops are the predominant scent but there is also chocolate and caramel and coffee scents as well; slight hint of alcohol; amazingly perfumed

t: dry roasted coffee is the predominant flavor; some nuttiness; dark chocolate; just a hint of alcohol; as you drink the floral hoppiness begins to rise up more and more as the drink warms;

m: creamy and smooth with light carb; could be a bit thicker but definitely solid

d: a great beer; well-balanced hops and chocolate/coffee ,malt flavors; i am quite excited to try some of these that are stored in my cellar in the future

Photo of udubdawg
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle

pours nearly black, only a little light seeping through at the edges. The head is a bit reminiscent of that on a cola initially, but after the quick fizz settled to a creamy ring clinging to the sides of the glass. Lacing very good after the first sips, after which I got none.

Nose is quite roasted, a little coffee hear, suggestion of sweetness along with ample bitter in the form of charred malt and pine hop aromas. Shallow sniffs over the top of the glass are met with more gree needles, while really getting your nose down in there and inhaling brings up a lot more depth. I'm a little torn here as I'm not sure how great this aroma is as a porter, but to my nose it is very enjoyable regardless of style. I'll average it and call it "good."

Tasty, although I do wish they could have made this beer a little less strong - it is reasonably flavorful and enjoyable, so why make it so strong that I feel the need to stop at 1?

While not quite as richly flavored as the best of the style, this is nonetheless good, chocolate and some coffee battling fresh bitter hops. Quite sweet, with evident alcohol. Sadly the beer felt stretched thin across my tongue despite a smooth body and soft carbonation. Amping up the alcohol, hops, and malt just hasn't done it here. The flavors are good here, but the combination just doesn't quite work to create something spectacular. I recognize that this is still a porter, not a stout, but still, what is an imperial porter anyway? Finishes with a light dry, sweet coffee flavor that lingers a bit, surprisingly little hops.

For the strength, very drinkable. A more rounded body would make it dangerous, as it is it is a novelty that I shall enjoy greatly on occasion, not a must-have-more-of.

Photo of Erigone
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

The first thing I noted was the dark, chocolaty-orange color of the head. It holds nice and firm on the top of the beer like a stout, and slowly dissipates into a thin even lace like a porter should. There is no sticky lace left behind on the walls of the glassware, giving off a clean appearance. The beer itself is so dark it just might knock Guinness off its pedestal.

The immediate taste is one of chocolate malt, followed by strong roasted accents. There is nothing shy about this beer. Although my head is telling me that the alcohol content at 9.2% ABV is correct, my taste buds just aren't buying it; it is well incorporated into the mix.

The carbonation is filled with soft harmless bubbles that don't interfere with taste but still gives off a good belch afterwards!

I will definitely include this beer on my shopping list for as long as it sticks around.

Photo of BlackHaddock
3.55/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brown 12 Fl Oz bottle, my second Flying Dog beer ever. Poured into a Corsendonk stemmed tulip glass.

Beers don't get much darker than this do they? No light gets through this beer, the head is also dark, a deep brown foam sits on top.

The aroma is monopolised by toasted/burnt malts, nothing else gets a sniff.

The taste goes along with the smell, malty almost to a fault, nothing else stands a chance of being found.

Fairly thick in its mouthfeel, watery it is not. The maltiness obviously stays in the mouth and the alcohol doesn't push its luck, although you can feel it.

My bottle had an ABV of 8.7% and it was a very enjoyable experience, one I would gladly do again.

Photo of armock
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - poured a basically black color with a brown head that veaves lacing

S - Is of roasted malt chocolate and some alcohol

T - The alcohol stands out a little then theres the good malt flavors

M - There is a fairly thick feel and light carbonation in this beer

D - This is a very good beer but I think the abv hurts it a little if they could hide the alcohol taste some this beer would be even better its still worth trying though

Photo of larsee01
3.43/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12 0z glass bottle...Beautifully Psycho Ralph Steadman drawing of the Good Doctor. Poured into glass goblet.

A--Rich, thick, turbo-burnt brown pour...almost like coffee that's been on the burner too long. Used motor oil transparency. Thick dark mocha-colored head that quickly dissapated into nice lingering tan lacing.

S--Lots here...strong...some hops, phenols, coffee, malt, more coffee. Some mollasses and sweet chewing tobacco.

T--Sweet, malty booze to start, flowery transition into espresso and bitter spice (oil of bergamot?)

M--Thick, oily, chewy. Not a surprise based on this beer's character.

D-My definition of drinkable tends to be liberal, but this one is a challenge. I like this beer, but you're kidding yourself if you think it's sessionable....Well, unless you are HST himself I suppose. Strong, thick, tasty, challenging...you won't throw them back rapidamente.

Photo of Spidey13
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gonzo Imperial Porter pours a very dark brown/almost black with a chocolaty brown, thin head that dissipates very quickly. The smell has some roasted coffe and chocolate, followed by raisins, alcohol, and a bit of piny hops. The taste starts with the sweet dark fruit, followed by an astringent/bitter aftertaste that gradually turns sweet. You get some alcohol, but it's not overpowering. The mouthfeel is medium with a mid-low amount of carbonation.

Though I probably couldn't drink more than one of these in one night, it is a very good, somewhat complex brew.

Photo of Ieatlambfries
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew pours an opaque ruby red. It produced a two finger light brown head of dense bubbles that dissipated quickly leaving only small speckles of lace.

Licorice and dry cocoa on the nose. Roasted smoky malts and a hint of citris hop oils.

Up front flavors of bitter sweet dark chocolate, followed by espresso like bitterness, anise, brandied cherries and smoky roasted malts. A citric rind hop twang lingers at the end along with a very slight hint of alcohol.

Velvety mouthfeel, with very slight carbonation. This porter goes down very easy for the higher abv. Quite drinkable indeed. A very nice offering from Flying Dog, but I still can't help but long for the days of Perkuno's Hammer.

Photo of dsigmon
4.18/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: pours dark black with brownish head. dissapates slowly as i begin the adventure that is to be

S: not much going on but a smell of bitter cocoa and roasted malts is very apparent

T/M: quite thin mouthfeel and light carbonation is the first thing i notice. as the beer warms the tastes become more prominant. coffee and roasted malts very apparent with a chocolate undertone. hops become apparent at end and balance out the sweetness with the bitter cocoa.

D: i actually was able to have several in a row of this beer. quite a easy drinker due to the light mouthfeel.

Photo of Monkeyknife
4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle an opaque black with a healthy tan head and sticky lacing all around.

Aroma of toffee, chocolate, dark cherries and alcohol.

Taste is very nice with chocolate, coffee, dark cherries, hops, and roasted malts. Alcohol is present at the finish but does not overpower.

Medium mouthfeel, palate warming, and moderately carbonated.

This is some porter. Well balanced and complex. Definitely one to find and enjoy.

Photo of DoubleJ
3.45/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I just bought a bunch of different beer, but I didn't know where to start. I ended up rolling dice to determine which brew would go tonight, and it turns out Gonzo Imperial Porter will be the one. On to the beer:

Glassware geeks, send me your hate mail now. I have my own unorthodox way of serving this style; in a weizen glass.

It pours like thick, dark gunk and settles in the glass as an invincible layer of midnight black. The head is holding up very well thus far. The aroma is hoppy with a thin layer of cocoa underneath. Not as intersting as I hoped. I've even sniffed the bottle it came from and I'm not getting any change in smell. Something just doesn't seem right.

But surely, it has to taste good, right? It's a baltic porter! Fine, let me find out... like melted dark chocoate. The body has a very rich, smooth texture with a kick of booze. There's a touch of piney notes in there. Light touch of roasted malt is traced along the palate. As the beer warms, the chocolate flavor sweetens.

This is an adequate example of a baltic porter. Not extraordinary by any means, as there are better examples of the style out there.

Photo of DukeofAle
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Assertive, bold, powerfull - a few of the adjectives that come to mind. I'm on my second 4-pk (no, not tonight, silly) and find this one of the better beers I've tried. Truely a "big" beer.

Opaque, nearly black in colour, Gonzo oozes from the bottle almost oily in apperance. The head is slow to develop - as though the CO2 bubbles can't get through the viscous liquid - but the froth continues to form until a luxurious, long-lasting head is enjoyed! (metaphorical?). Anyway, the flavour is probably everything you would want from such a strong, dark brew.

You'll have to try it yourself if you want to know more....

Photo of dsa7783
4.28/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz single bottle copped from Buy Rite on Oak Tree in South Plainfield... appearance was really exceptional - dark, opaque, jet-black hue with a real red-colored, tan head that exhibited serious staying power... Smell was replete with dark espresso and latte nuances along with roasted, toasted malts, and nuttiness... taste strongly resembled the aroma, with powerful cocoa, burnt chocolate, malts, and a powerful, tasty, cappuccino taste... this has to be one of the best brews from Flying Dog, and one of the best American Baltic Porters by far... excellent stuff with a great mouthfeel and good drinkability, where the hefty 9.2% ABV is barely noticeable... taste is ultra-rich, creamy, and thick, excellent, full-bodied and big, rich taste lead to an all-around amazing brew... Excellent stuff... Definitely recommended...

Photo of Gehrig
4.68/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I was slightly leery about grabbing the four-pack of Gonzo, and not because of the Steadman portrait of Hunter S. Thompson, one of my favorite authors of the post-WW2 period. Rather, I've had very mixed impressions of Flying Dog's wares. I like the DIPA very much but found others rather mediocre. This is anything but mediocre. In fact, it's downright outstanding.

Two fingers of mocha froth top a black Black BLACK body, one in which light is obliterated. Better yet, the head wouldn't quit, and the lacing decorated the glass with curtains of mocha--magnificent presentation. The nose grew more complex as Gonzo warmed, emitting a surprising amount of hops but even more coffee, as well as chocolate. The taste was really terrific, presenting a different flavor in every mouthful--coffee in the start and finish, but fruit (berries), caramel, and rich malt follow as well. This beer doesn't waver one bit, and in good part it stems from the ideal mouthfeel--balanced, finely carbonated, and very smooth. As impressive as anything, this masks the high ABV (9.2%) extremely well.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro," as the great HST used to say. This beer is a pro, a big, bold but ultimately smooth professional beer. Just outstanding, and high on my list. I'm thrilled that I had the rare foresight to buy the four-pack. I'll treasure the other three--I just cracked the second. For that, I won't apologize.

Photo of paulthebeerguru
4.65/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a straight pint. Gonzo pours a deep, rich black, black, black. Glorious tan head that linger for a few minutes with outstanding lacing. Rich roasted malty aroma, molasses, raisins, dark cherries, and some coffee. The taste of Gonzo, pays homage to Hunter S. Thompson, with its coffee and molasses front and smooth hoppy finish that slaps you in the face. Wonderful flavors, extremely complex. The mouthfeel is perfect, perfect on the palate, perfect carbonation, and perfect finish. Is it drinkable? Hell yes, and I do believe it is possessed by Mr. Thompson himself....boo!

Photo of gmfessen
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, beer is thick and black, with a dense, two-finger, brownish-tan head. The smell is an interesting meld of chocolate, coffee, roasted malt and a faintness of citrusy/piney hops. The taste is equally complex, with a big malty presence upfront and a slightly hoppy, alcoholic finish and a light burning sensation. The mouthfeel is full bodied but actually seems lighter than I would of expected. The carbonation is moderate for a beer of this caliber and dances on the tongue, finishes slightly bitter and dry. A pretty drinkable beer, one you should watch out for @ 9.2%!

Photo of wardough
4.93/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Love this beer. Thanks to Bwatson for this gem.

A: Pours like black oil into a pint glass. Wow, looks like a nice RIS. A slight head rises and gives way to very, very light lacing. Beautiful.
S: Beautiful. Hops, chocolate malts. God, this is awesome.
T: Pick up more citrus in the taste. Nice malt backbone. The alcohol is well masked in this awesome beer.
M: As to be expected. Low carbonation, medium body.
D: For a high ABV beer, this is very drinkable.

I will gladly search this beer out. I didn't think that I would like this one. I don't like it....I LOVE IT.

Photo of yourefragile
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, vintage 7J, poured into a pint glass.

A: Yikes, this looks like a nice imperial stout. Pours out a sludgy black liquid with little carbonation and thin dark tan head that quickly dissipates to nothing with a little lacing.
S: Slightly bitter, hoppy, alcohol smell is first followed by expected roasted/malt/chocolate/cocoa smell. A little thin overall.
T: Smooth and creamy with a strong bitter bite of hops and burnt malt. Strong hop presence as well but not overwhelming, nice for balance. The roasty, chocolate, etc flavors are strong but more present in the background. Compared to better porters its not the best, but on its own very nice flavors and a cross of an imperial stout and porter. Did not pick up much sweetness from dark fruit like others mentioned.
D: Alcohol is well hidden for 9.2% but still very warming. Not my favorite porter but nice for a change of pace when I want one stronger to sip on.

Photo of homebrewhawk
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle. Vintage 7J. Bottle conditioned. Served in a brandy snifter. Pours an opaque black with a good finger of tan head. Lots of hops in the aroma, also some roasted malt and a little alcohol. Full bodied. Lots of malt, some fruity sweetness followed by some dry chocolate/coffee flavor. Lots of hop bitterness. Dry hop finish. Tasty!

Photo of BeardedBoffin
3.18/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer pours a deep oily black with a nice looking tan cap of foam. The head receded quickly and no lacing remained. The aroma is light chocolate and caramel from the roasted malt mixed with some piney hops. A very slight hint of alcohol is present as well. This beer bites the palate. There is a slightly burnt aspect to the coffee and dark chocolate flavors from the roasted malt which come across slightly burnt. The bitterness of the hops also contributes. However, pleasing chocolate flavors are also present. A burnt residue and dryness lingers around on the palate. This would be a fine night cap, but I don't know if it is as gonzo as Hunter.

Photo of kleffman
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

10 oz pour at O'Briens. Haven't seen this on tap before, pretty great opportunity to give it a shot.

Pours basically black with a brown frothy head. Not much lacing but probably only because I drank it so fast.

Great aromas of chocolate and espresso, roasted malts and some definite alcohol presence that is not over the top.

Taste is quite similar to the smell. Chocolate, sweet caramel flavors and definite coffee characteristic. Surprising amount of roast for a porter, but I'm admittedly not that up on the Baltic Porter style. I think its closer to a stout than the other porter styles.

Nice full bodied mouthfeel with a full carbonation and rather smooth going down. Pretty easy to drink for 9.2% but I wouldn't want more than a pint or two of it. I could see this going well with some fruity desserts like a cherry pie. Mmmm....

Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,613 ratings.