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Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery

Not Rated.
Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter

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2,657 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,657
Reviews: 1,433
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 10.95%
Wants: 108
Gots: 207 | 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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-04-2005

ABV varies.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,657 | Reviews: 1,433 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jackorain
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Nearly opaque. Just enough light shows through to show me some little floaties that I did not leave in the bottle. 1-inch nut-brown head fell very slowly to a nice thick, splotchy, mult-sized bubble coat. This left a nice lace after each swig.

S-Chocolate, dark roasted barley and a mild green hop aroma.

T-Dark chocolate, slightly burnt caramel and fruit sweetness. Charcoal notes as well. In the middle comes the expected porter sour twang, not overbearing but present. The finish is a slight alcohol hint that carries with it soem burnt toffee. The dark roastd and burnt flavors predominate in this one. It is not bad though.

M-Medium to full body with a creaminess that belies a porter, more RIS like in the body. Only an everso slight alcohol/solvent middle caried by the smooth carbonation. The finish is astringent, drying out the mouth and preparing it for the next sip.

D-It is quite high for the ABV. Aside from an occassional alchol zing that comes and goes, this one could go done easy and be dangerous/

Photo of matylight
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: this beer pours like oil and above the shoulders lies a dense 1/2'' tan head that lingers on
S: plums, caramel, figs, and alcohol hit the nose like a prize fighter in the last round...intense but graceful
T: a bitter backbone forms the base while coffee and roasted malt try keep the dark fruits at bay. burned grains. the alcohol warms on the finish
M: thick, chewy, but not as much as i expected. light carbonation fizzes around the mouth while still feeling slightly silky going down.
D: a great tasting beer that is easy to drink but the beefiness that accompanies this style makes it a littling filling as well. perhaps i'll just have one tonight.

Photo of BMoney575
4.44/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on 8-25-07

Pours super black, with a foamy tan head that leaves brown rings on the glass.

Smell is tons of sweet malt, with bits of anise, coffee, and oak that add up to create a fantastic smelling beer.

Taste is very much like the smell, with big coffee flavor and bitterness at the end.

Mouthfeel is thick and creamy, just right.

Drinkability is scary, when you take into account the considerable ABV.

Overall, a terrific brew. Much more a RIS than a porter, this thing is intensely flavorful. Highly recommended.

Photo of Metalmonk
4.52/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a jet-black color, like oil coming out of the bottle, with a mocha head that retains for a few minutes before chilling to a crown for the duration.

Aroma is big on piney hops, with a coffee/chocolate hint, plums, figs, and rum. Couldn't keep my nose outta this one.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, with a good amount of balancing carbonation. Delightful...and that's not even mentioning the flavors, which are big chocolate chips, big coffee beans, tame but assertive pine-resin hops, drunken cherries, and an oak-barrel + sea-salt vibe to the finish. Most delicious. I like the fact that the hops have a voice here...I'm not a Baltic Porter expert, but I wouldn't expect that.

Huge flavor and big alcohol means this may not be as drinkable as a less dominating beer, but who's complaining? After trying quite a few Flying Dog offerings and finding them mediocre to very good, the last two I've tried have been absolutely great. (this and their Double Dog DIPA) Flying Dog seem to excel at big beers; hopefully they'll continue to play on those strengths in the future.

Photo of djamieson
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this one one tap at the Blind Tiger NYC. I remember reading good things about The Flying Dog...I wasn't disappointed. Aroma: Not very strong, hint of dark chocolate or coffee. This I believe was mainly due improper glassware. A standard pint glass was used when a snifter was clearly in order. Although the folks at BT acted like they were doing a favor (more beer for the same price), they actually did a disservice to a 9.2 ABV sipper. When I get my hands on this stuff at home I'll definitely use a wine glass or equivalent. The taste was super...deep dark roast coffee with the ever so gentle warming sweetness in the finish...becoming more complex as it warmed. I'd love to try this on cask or in a growler fill. Are you listening BierKraft Brooklyn?

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

Photo of bolerosanchez
4.31/5  rDev +7.2%
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)!!

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.

Photo of GreenWBush
3.39/5  rDev -15.7%
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.

Photo of stcules
4.07/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

Photo of YonderWanderer
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

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.

Photo of irishtimepiece
4.11/5  rDev +2.2%
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.

Photo of OKCNittany
4.44/5  rDev +10.4%
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.

Photo of biggmike
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

Photo of cokes
4.24/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

Photo of Flyer
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
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.

Photo of david131
4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
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.

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.

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.

Photo of mshallah
4.55/5  rDev +13.2%
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.

Photo of Night
3.98/5  rDev -1%
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.

Photo of oelergud
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
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.


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.

Photo of Tomas77
4.42/5  rDev +10%
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.

Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,657 ratings.