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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.

2,577 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,577
Reviews: 1,420
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 11.19%
Wants: 96
Gots: 175 | 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: 2,577 | Reviews: 1,420 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Floydster
4.8/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

32 ounce mug at Bad Dog Ale House

Almost jet black color with a thick, dark brown head

Beer of choice at this bar and the reason why many people keep going back to the place

I have heard it is not as good from a bottle, but is arguably one of the best draft beers I have head

Strong chocolate and coffee taste

Almost looks like a milkshake it is so thick

These catch up to you fast though, so be careful when drinking this bad boy

Floydster, Sep 03, 2007
Photo of bolerosanchez
4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The first flying dog brew I've tried, i'm suitably impressed! Very powerful porter, beautifully presented, fantastic full flavour and without being too heavy.

Nice combination of flavours throughout the beer, good hoppiness throughout ad plenty of chocolate, slighter roastiness and some nuttiness...

Really good - buying more flying dog for the people of Leeds (UK)!!

bolerosanchez, Aug 24, 2007
Photo of cdmastro
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had this as a "dessert" beer after two or three other styles. The color and head were very inviting as well as the aroma of coffee and caramel?

The taste was sweet (malt, coffee, chocolate, caramel) as expected and it was easier to drink quickly than it's appearance would indicate. Patience was a virtue with this beer as it changed subtly as it warmed a bit.

When ordering, the bartender gave my choice a thumbs up, which heightened my anticipation. The experience was not disappointing.

cdmastro, Aug 22, 2007
Photo of GreenWBush
3.4/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3


Brewed 5119 Julian date, so roughly 2 years old at the time of consumption. Hoppiness has changed to tame roast on the nose. Weird, not necessarily weird like before though. More trainwreck-y. Fitting for the king. Aged gracefully, perhaps unlike the king. Slight bug-spray, but altogether decent. Age didn’t hurt the Gonz. Oh wait.

GreenWBush, Aug 21, 2007
Photo of stcules
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful dark color, almost black. Light brown foam, a finger, decent.
Very hopped smell, resolute, intense, full. Under, a dark and resolute malt. But in the smell the dominant note is the hop, green.
Taste; chewy, full, coffee and cocoa. Absolutely intense and resolute. Liquorice, powder cocoa. Really chewy.
Chocolate, also. Also inthe smell. And again an intense green hop.
Ful body. Cocoa, coffee.
Complex aftertaste, long, with again cocoa, coffee, hazelnut, liquorice. Very long. And again the hop, green.
Very good.

stcules, Aug 19, 2007
Photo of YonderWanderer
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a nice opaque brown with ruby overtones. A finger of dark tan foam caps it off,. and then dissipates slowly leaving some good lacing.

S: Coffee, chocolate, and malt come right into the nose with a smell of this. Very appealing, definitely makes you want to drink it.

T: Coffee hits you up front, with nice hints of chocolate in the background. The alcohol is present and compliments the other flavors nicely - it's not overpowering or out of place.

M: Smooth and velvety, light on carbonation, and a hint of graininess make this pretty nice going down.

D: This is a great porter and one of my standards. Very drinkable and easy to enjoy. Raise a glass to Flying Dog and HST.

YonderWanderer, Aug 18, 2007
Photo of illidurit
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I reviewed this beer out of the bottle recently and found the body to be flimsy and unable to support the bold and robust flavors. Tonight I was lucky enough to stumble upon it on tap at The Red in Santa Cruz, and something about it being on draught made a big difference. The mouthfeel from the bottle was watery and distracting, but on tap it was much fuller and meshed better with the bold flavors. The other characteristics of smell and taste were the same. Seek this one out on tap if you can, I did and it was a significantly different experience.

illidurit, Aug 16, 2007
Photo of irishtimepiece
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Paired with pepperoni pizza and the album Goddamnit by Alkaline Trio. I promise, music makes a difference.

I keep reading about the awesome head on this beer... This is my second pack of it and have yet to experience this. Pouring straight into the glass as aggressively as possible yields me about half an inch if dark brown head. Nevertheless, the persistence of that little head makes up for the lack of head to start with... it doesn't go away and laces pretty well. Body is black as can be.

Smell is downright amazing. It smells like a mash... very sweet and grainy, accompanied by hints of chocolate and coffee. Strong and persistant.

Tastes of smooth roasted coffee, chocolate and alcohol. The alcohol comes off as an actual flavor... not a burning sensation... it's very different. Not a lot of sweetness left, but what is there resembles raisins. Very highly attenuated, I guess.

That high attenuation leads to farily light mouthfeel. Well carbonated, though somewhat thin overall.

Notes on drinkability? Deceptively strong. Watch out.

irishtimepiece, Aug 13, 2007
Photo of OKCNittany
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a Unibroue tulip

A: Rich black body w/ over a 1" brown head with great retention. Left lacing all over the glass.

S: Chocolate malt aroma - a bit lighter than I wanted it to be (even after it warmed a bit). Smoky.

T: Big roasted malt & chocolate flavor - but hopped enough to keep it from being overly sweet- as a result, it's well balanced, delicious, and, well, just big.

M: Lightly carbonated. Incredibly creamy and smooth. Full body. Wonderful lasting sweet malty aftertaste.

D: ABV hidden very well (had no idea it was over 9% until I hit this website for the review. However, the beer is so big & rich, regardless of abv, I don't think I can have too many at once. That said, I also don't plan on going too many days without another one. Great stuff.

OKCNittany, Aug 02, 2007
Photo of biggmike
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured black as old motor oil. Very aromatic with notes of caramel, licorice, and coffee. Very tasty and hides the alcohol content well. Give this one a try if you get the opportunity. Have Pojo41 to thank for this one. He brought it back from his vacation to Charleston, SC.

biggmike, Jul 31, 2007
Photo of cokes
4.28/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 05.

I had this fresh back when and thought the reckless amount of both the tarry malts and wintergreen hops complimented each about as well as divorcees. And I hated it as such.
Two years later, and we're trying to rekindle something.

And maybe it will work.

Throws out an edgeless black oil slick topped with an alpine brown foam. Simple in looks, but brown on black in near equal proportions always scores with me.
The nose is somewhat muted with wintergreen and carob and cardboard. There are lighter traces of vanilla and cacao, but I began to fear this had oxidized itself.
It hasn't.
It galumphs in full of a cocksure hot fudgey chocolateness. Roasted to a high degree, tugging along flecks of burnt meat and espresso grounds. But it is also highly fruity. Rich with raisins, merlot grapes, dates, figs, and carob. It meanders toward molasses and vanillin as what is left of the neon wintergreen hops stops it short. The finish is 2/3 cocoa powder, 1/6 vinous, and 1/6 alkaline evergreen hops.
Medium bodied with the gassy and the sticky traits at odd with each other, finding eventually a vastly drinkable middle ground.

This is a patience-into-success story to the ultimate degree. I could care less for this fresh, but it settled over time into something approaching excellent. At two years old, this is really something nice. If you're still holding any of the '05, drink it now.

cokes, Jul 31, 2007
Photo of Flyer
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A very interesting porter. Pours a dark chocolate color with a substantial head. The first thing you notice is a grapey aroma, but the roasty malts come in quickly. The flavor is nice, lots of roasty notes, with that grapey overlay (which isn't entirely a positive, but at least it's different for a porter). What pluses this for me is that it's one of those beers whose alcohol seems to waft aromatically through your head as your drink it. Definitely worth a try, and maybe a repeat.

Flyer, Jul 26, 2007
Photo of david131
4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- A pitch black liquid fills the glass and a small but thick looking brown head forms. The retention isn't great, but it does leave a nice ring and some other great surface swirls.

S- A butt-load of coffee and chocolate. Some raisin and pretty smoky.

T- Awesome. Again, lots of coffee and chocolate, raisins, smoky, some vanilla. I cannot find any alcohol in the flavor, just a slightly numbing effect. Just the right amount of sweetness. Only gets better as it warms.

M- Very thick and the carbonation is spot on. This is so creamy. It does not get to be overwhelming though. Perfect.

D- Very tasty, but just a tad on the heavier side. As I worked my way down the glass, it began to disappear at a faster rate- something that doesn't usually happen to me with a beer with this much body. Highly recommended.

david131, Jul 24, 2007
Photo of Halcyondays
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle,

A: Dark brown/black, with a thick brown head, which stays around for the whole glass, with excellent lacing.

S: Dark bittersweet chocolate, coffee, mocha, a lot of smoke, BBQ, and figs.

T: Tastes the same as it smells. There is less of a smoke flavor in the taste as there is in the smell, but it is still evident. There is also a sour twinge at the end of the taste. This is bordering on a Russian Imperial Stout.

M: Smooth, creamy, though not as robust as I would have thought.

D: A very good Baltic porter. Flying Dog is definitely making some very good big beers, which I will continue to enjoy in the future.

Halcyondays, Jul 23, 2007
Photo of ultralarry2006
4.9/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle. Leaves a one finger espresso-foam-colored head that eventually recedes to surface skim, and there is a small amount of lacing. Body is black.

Smell - very rich and smoky, with pine-wood-fire smoked malt, like lapsang suchong tea, and coffee, chocolate, and hints of dark fruits like dates, and raisins, and strong pine resin from the hops.

Taste - as promised by the smell. Very rich, smoky, and hearty. All the things listed in the smell. A hint of lemon on the finish. Very rich smoked malt with dry, bitter, pine-resiny hops underpinning it. But, despite the high hopping of this ale, it is mostly a dark-and-roasted malt affair, the hops almost, but just not quite, being for counterpoint and dryness. It resembles an Irish Dry Stout at times, if only bigger, as well as smokier. Well hidden alcohol, in both smell and taste.

Mouthfeel - very thick, very full bodied, very smooth, and quite dry.

Drinkability - this is excellent ale. It's very rich, very hearty, and very satisfying. Only the high abv limits sessionability, but this is good enough to tempt one to push it.

ultralarry2006, Jul 23, 2007
Photo of mshallah
4.58/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 07A stamp. 22oz bottle with a Ralph Steadman print of Hunter S. Thompson with skull head smokin' his cig using one of those plastic cig holder thingys. The funeral tower with the freak power fist his ashes were fired out of is on the side of the label. "OK lets party!"
A-Black beer with brown head thats fluffy with lots of various sized bubbles. Head settles but sticks and the lace stays til the end of the glass. "Good people drink good beer."HST
S-Licorice, dominican dark rum, bourbon, vanilla, prune, fig, fresh roasted malt wort.
T-Same as above. Fruity first, then fresh wort roast. Finishes bittersweet.
M-Inky beer with creamy head and soft fluffy mouthfeel.
D-Big but drinkable. Make sure you like licorice. Great special occasion beer. Night-cap sipper or dessert course.

Notes-A brew worthy of it's namesake.

mshallah, Jul 23, 2007
Photo of Night
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours an entirely opaque black. Very large, foamy, brown head with a solid crown of cream in the center. Patchy lacing here and there. Aroma indicates spicy and floral hops like nasturtiums and oranges; cream, milk chocolate, roasted malts, deep espresso notes, and a strong alcoholic bite. Mouthfeel is hot and bitey with a medium to thick body. Flavor is ginger, earth, and lemon backed by a strong dark malt character. Salty notes here and there. Aftertaste is light, sweet, and sour.

Night, Jul 21, 2007
Photo of oelergud
4.28/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Black opaque body with a dark tan creamy head with small bubbles here and there. Good retention and decent lace, easy to regain.
Dark earthy scent very well balanced. Big molasses malts with a good amount of hop notes.
Taste is also dark and earthy. Sweet toffee and molasses elegantly balanced by pleasantly mellow yet strong hops and a hint of burnt caramel.
Full body, good coating and abit slick. Some residual sugar.
Very drinkable. Dark, heavy, well balanced and smooth.


oelergud, Jul 21, 2007
Photo of bradybeer
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

As others have written pours a very dark brown with a cream colored head-with yeast flakes suspended in my glass. Not much hop aroma in the pour but a slight bitterness in the finish. Malty with the 9.2% coming through in both the mouthfeel and finish. Can't say the drinkability is exceptional because more than one would do me in.

bradybeer, Jul 20, 2007
Photo of Tomas77
4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A very dark beer. Faint ruby highlights appear when held up to the light. Very small light brown head if any at all. This was poured cold. I did notice a thick,creamy foam when served at warmer temps. but dissipated soon after to a thin but consistant ring. Good carbonation.

Moderate hop aroma right away followed by strong dark chocolate and roasted coffee aromas.

Light hop flavor. More roast in flavor but still predominately chocolate. Some burnt,expresso notes also sit on the palate. Finishes dry and slightly bitter in the aftertaste. Alcohol presence in definately in there. Just right for a 9.7%abv.

Thick, creamy mouthfeel. Viscous. High carbonation. I started out drinking this beer on the cold side but more volatiles were brought forth as the beer warmed.

A good drinking beer for a baltic porter.

Tomas77, Jul 18, 2007
Photo of flexabull
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Been sitting on this bottle for months, vintage 06B according to the label.

Thought this beer might be better with some age, last bottle was consumed in Nov. 2006. Let's see what 8 months has done for this one...

Pours a deep dark black color with a huge tan head. Whoa!

Aromas are intense and strong. Smells boozy, mineral like, and bitter.

Taste is really burnt and smokey. There is a very resin like taste on this finish. There is also a bit of creamy sweet malty backbone that takes a bit of a backseat to the other flavors. Very interesting and enjoyable brew!

Mouthfeel is good, a bit lean for what I expect from a Baltic Porter, but still nice.

Drinkability is good. Age has done this one well... If you pick this up, set aside the bottles for a few months.

flexabull, Jul 16, 2007
Photo of willjschmidt
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours jet black with a large tan head. The head slowly recedes leaving tons of lacing. A thin head remains throughout.

S: Quite a bit of sweetness in the nose; dark fruits and caramel to go along with some espresso and burnt chocolate.

T: There is a lot of sweetness in this beer, more than I've ever seen in a porter. Dark ripe fruits and caramel. There is a hard bite in the form of burnt coffee and chocolate. A solid hop bitterness also contributes to the bite. Starting halfway through and staying to the finish is a big warming hit from the alcohol.

M: Full bodied, rather smooth and crisp.

D: A fairly drinkable porter. The tastes are big, powerful and rather raw. It's a good sipper due to the alcohol. A solid choice for a strong and powerful porter.

willjschmidt, Jul 13, 2007
Photo of BaronVonHawkeye
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at Family Liquors (love the ironic name) in East Dubuque, IA and poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

A: Opaque black. Not kind of opaque, the definition of opaque, think black hole black. Thin (2-3 mm) dark tan head. Retention was for about two or three sips down to a lace ring on the top of the beer. Head left lace drops on the way down.

S: The nose was a little disappointing from other Imperial Porters I have tried. While the alcohol scent was there and surprisingly not that overpowering (e.g. Rogue's Imperial Stout), nothing else besides a light scent of roasted malt came out. The nose was balanced nicely, but it was not that forward. Like listening to properly balanced music at half of normal volume.

T: Delicious. The roasted malts came through with a very nice initial flavor followed by some nutty tones, then some delicious hop flavors, and followed by a light alcohol rising into your sinuses.

M: Good mouthfeel, although the initial solid velvety feel quickly went thin and could have been slightly better balanced.

D: For an Imperial, surprisingly drinkable. I think I could easily drink two or three of these without feeling uncomfortable. Bravo Flying Dog!

BaronVonHawkeye, Jun 30, 2007
Photo of Quej
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Jet black and completely opaque, settles with little brown head.

S - Very strong smells of hops and dark sweet malts. Smells slightly of coffee and espresso.

T - Very strong taste of alcohol and hops surround a warm cocoa and coffee flavours brought on by the warm malty center.Very dark bitterness of espresso and hops. The aftertaste is long and drying.

M - Thick in its lasting, almost coating, feel, but not overly heavy.

D - I couldn't have very much of this beer, but I certainly enjoyed this one, and would love to get my hands on a whisky-barrel-aged one. Great Imperial Porter.

Quej, Jun 26, 2007
Photo of ncvbc
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No complaints here. I was curious as to whether this would live up to my somewhat low expectations, even though most reviews seem to give it praise. Well, praise is due, folks.

While I'm not the biggest fan of Flying Dog and consider them to make mainly mediocre beers, this one is pretty awesome. It poured a dark, dark black with a minimal head and low carbonation.

Smell was very lovely. Some roasted malts with coffee and chocolate coming through primarily. Also some light caramel and fruit undertones. Pretty complex bag here.

Taste was also on point. Coffee was the dominating flavor with chocolate helping to tame it. The light fruit taste in the background added to the depth of this brew. I know that they have the Barrel Aged version but I could honestly taste a light bourbon in here somewhere.

Maybe the bourbon was from a slight alcohol burn that I noticed in the taste, followed by the mouthfeel. Creamy, pretty full, and slick. I like.

Drinkability is also good. I find this beer to contain good depth and don't see many flaws at all. Flying Dog, you got my attention with this one.

ncvbc, Jun 24, 2007
Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,577 ratings.