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Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery

Not Rated.
Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,670 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,670
Reviews: 1,435
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 10.95%
Wants: 114
Gots: 215 | 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: 2,670 | Reviews: 1,435
Photo of crwills
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've had this sitting around in the fridge for a while (so long that it had kind of become a joke), and finally tried it -- glad I did!

Poured a deep brown, near black, with a solid tan head into a my Sinha glass. Aroma of strong coffee, some brown sugar or molasses, and grainy hops. Flavour is excellent -- black coffee, mild unsweetened chocolate, faint dark fruits, and a good helping of hops to back it up. Tobacco flavours appear as it warms up a bit. Solid, but not chewy, mouthfeel. Very dry aftertaste, almost like an Irish stout.

I liked this a lot and, fortunately, I have a second bottle to enjoy later!

Photo of jbphoto88
4.6/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

One of the best beers I've ever had. This beer has it all for you lovers of stouts and porters. It is dark, hoppy, sweet and malty. I love the cascade hop flavors mixed with slight chocolate undertones. At 9% alcohol content this beer has it all. Think of it as the triple cheeseburger that ruins your diet. You know its no good for you but it tastes so exquisite. It is hard to find but when you do, buy every bottle in the store. The rumor is that it gets even better with a little shelf life, so if you do find it and you have the will power, tuck one away in the back of your fridge or pantry and hands OFF!

Ok, I was really gung ho when I first had this beer but now I've found that the flavors have slacked. Part of it could be the movement of the production facility or a change in the ingredients. Either way it's not as lush as it once was. People tell me I'm crazy but I have some of the older bottles stockpiled and bust them out to compare. The old ones still have a great hop profile and a cleaner malt profile/flavor. That being said I will scale my taste back to a 4.5 instead of a 5. Still tasty but short of exceptional with the change.

Photo of MillRat
3.4/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

The pour is thick and opaque with a thin but persistent tan head. It looks like a fairly typical imperial stoutish brew, but then you get your nose over it and get a snootload of hops. OK, this is the second clue that this is going to be a weird beer, the Steadman label being the first clue. There's really nothing else in the aroma but serious hops, though I can't place the type. In the flavor, the hops are present but don't dominate, competing with dark malts and semi-sweet malt body, with no real winner except your taste buds. The malty bitterness clings to your tongue long after you swallow, well in style for anything claiming to be imperial. Likewise a complex imperial brew does not lend itself to a drinking session, but at a very well hidden 9.2% ABV, that might just be a good thing.

Photo of belgaridub
3.51/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This beer pours an opaque dark mass in my glass and forms a small thick dark brown head. As I poured a sweet aroma jumped out with an underpinning of hoppiness. Closer nasal inspection doesn't reveal much more. Taste is sweet malt closely followed by a wave of burnt chocolate/coffee flavor that really sticks around in the back of the palate. Up front I can still taste some of those hops, but the burnt coffee flavors really start to dominate everything after a few sips. As the beer warms I can taste a bit of the alcohol, but it definitely doesn't dominate. The mouthfeel is full-bodied, but not overwhelmingly thick.

I don't have a lot of experience with porters, but I'm very pleased with this one. It doesn't seem super-impressive, but definitely a quality brew to sip and relax with.

Photo of malty
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2007.

Pours jet black with a beige fluffy loose 2 1/2" head.

Scent of freshly made smores over an open fire. Burnt toffee and plums make a welcomed stay. Yep, graham crackers, marshmallows and dark chocolate for sure - can't wait to...

...There it is. The aforementioned scents transpose quite similarly into their respective flavors. Bold bitter dark chocolate takes the wheel while dark burnt fruits ride shotgun. A well-placed hoppy dryness counterbalances the big, bold sweet flavors of the dark malts. There's just a hit of alcohol flame at the beginning, but doesn't stay long at all. Dry, sweet and muscular is what this beer is all about.

Mouthfeel is on the lighter side of full bodied with a long, flavorful and bitter finish. Carbonation is low.

Drinkability seems to be good. Due to the lower carbonation level, I bet I could drink a couple pints of this, but then I'd need a break. Definitely a digestif.

Overall I'm very glad I got to try this cult classic. Seems to be very well balanced for such a huge porter. I'm kinda wishing there were a bit more carbonation to liven up the monster malt party. If I were up north in a cabin snowed-in, this would definitely be a beer I'd be happy to spend some time with.

Photo of MiguelMandingo
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This was the first Flying Dog beer that I have sampled, and also my first Baltic Porter. It was a pretty great brew, it is sad that they don't sell this in Texas. I hate you TABC! Its all your fault...and no one in Texas likes you.

Vintage 06F

Poured a 12oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance - It produced a slowly dissipating 2 finger head. Left lots of lacing. It is opaque black. The only translucence it exhibits is around the perimeter of the glass.

Smell - I can detect notes of coffee, dark chocolate, vanilla and roasted malt. It is also kinda smokey. There is a piney scent in there as well, definitely from the hops. There are some dark fruits in there as well - dates perhaps.

Taste - Tastes pretty much just like it smells - but better. Espresso, dark chocolate, vanilla undertones, and smokey roasted malt. There is a slight salt character as well. Hops definitely make an appearance at the end. There is no alcohol in the flavor profile. Very Tasty.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full bodied. It isn't too thick, and goes down very smooth. Despite its large head, there isn't as much carbonation as I would have liked. It is kinda flat in the mouthfeel.

Drinkability - This beer has a great flavor. It is very easy drinking, I can't even detect the ABV. I would buy more if they sold it here.

Word has it, TABC won't allow this beer to be sold in Texas because of the Hunter S. Thompson quote on the four pack “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me.” Time to stop playing morality police. Its good beer, and you should allow it to be sold. Well, that is the end of my rant. I am going to have another beer.

Photo of TheTrevor
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I heard good things about this and I've always loved Mr. Thompson, so I decided I couldn't go wrong with this. The bottle states it is Vintage 06E, and this means absolutely nothing to me.

It poured almost pitch black with very little head. The aroma is very characteristic of porter, but seemed a little bit stronger to me that most. The taste is fantastic, and even a fairly new beer drinker like me can pick up the notes that seem a little like chocolate or coffee. Of the four of five porters I've tried so far this one stands head and shoulders above the rest. The notes that end up as "subtle" (undetectable by me) in other beers are here clear as day, and this beer has leaped to the top of list for a fully flavored beer to enjoy after a long day. I would say it's fairly drinkable, but I couldn't imagine drinking more than a couple in a single sitting.

Photo of Tballz420
4.46/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Huge cascade that works throughout the entire glass. Black liquid follows a lighter brown, mixing with a deep brown.Fun to watch, takes quite a while to settle. Big roasted malt scent, hints of alcohol. Head sticks around for a long time, and sticks to the glass. Big chocolate malt taste, roasted, Fruity, plum, caramel malt, piney hop mixed in there. Warming alcohol .Lot's of action on this beer. Medium bodied, pretty creamy. Very impressed with this one.

Photo of Risser09
4.11/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a large snifter

Appearance: Pours jet black with a brown hea that reaches 1 inch and then shows off its array of bubble sizes. Lacing coats the sides of the glass.

Smell: Chocolate malt, alcohol, dried fig, coffee and rum soaked raisin.

Taste: Dark chocolate and malt. The malt build is impressive and gives way to an espresso chaser. A little bit of anise is present and some cherry flavors are as well. This is a great porter.

Mouthfeel: Carbonated and lively. Roastiness is combined with alcohol to make a sure bet during the cold evenings of winter.

Drinkability: Great, if you can get past more than two. The flavor is impressive and makes this beer a good one worth seeking out and enjoying.

Photo of Bitterbill
4.02/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This pours from 12oz bottle a very dark brown with a small but firm tannish head of foam. It shrinks quickly to some patches and a ring around the glass.

The smell is complex. I get some roasted and caramel malt, grain, chocolate, and some dark fruit. Nice.

The taste has some caramel malt up front followed by chocolate, dark fruit, and then a big more than a kiss of the hops that balances the sweetness very well. In fact, the finish is hop dominated witha nice long lasting aftertaste. The mouthfeel is thick and chewy for me and the carbonation is light. The alcohol becomes noticeable after about the third sip and it gives me a nice warming after the swallow.

The fruit is taking a bigger share of the flavour now..I can taste some fig and plum and there's a good toffee presence as well. Pretty tasty example of the style. I like it.

Photo of Absumaster
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A pitch black beer with a small brownish creamy head.

Smell is full of dark, burned malts with coffee and chocolate notes. In the smell there is some oily and graininess of the adjuncts.

Taste is roasted and strongly burned with with a huge bitterness, which is a bit earthy. The combination makes it taste like unsweetened dark chocolate. The grainy notes are also present in the taste and this is probably oatmeal or flaked barley. Alcohol is warming and leaves a warm feeling in my throat. Mouthfeel is very full and bitter, a bit too bitter for my liking.

Photo of montageman
4.42/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.

Flying Dog beers have not been in Michigan for long. Earlier this year was our first opportunity to sample these brews. I've tried a couple of the varieties so far and have been pleased. This beer, though, is the best of the bunch thus far. With its nice viscous body and milk chocolatey aroma, it is evident you're in for a treat. The taste is great as well - coffee, chocolate, and hint of caramel sweetness. While the pour is thick, the mouthfeel could stand to be a little thicker with more creaminess. However, this should not dissuade you from seeking this beer out - it is dangerously drinkable at 9.2% - very tasty. An ideal after dinner beer. Highly recommended.

Photo of wagenvolks
4.53/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Twelve oz. bottle of '06 Vintage into a tulip glass.

Pours a deep, seal-colored porter with the consistency of motor oil. A monstrous ochre-brown head rises to the top with a nice cascade. It's well retained and leaves excellent lacing. Aroma is chock-full of roasted malts, sweet chocolate, coffee grounds, and some vanilla. Very enticing, to say the least.

Taste is exquisite: Sweet carmel & roasted malts with a milk chocolate backbone. Not a hint of alcohol, here. Some nice hoppiness pulls through as it warms (wow...at 9.2%, I'm warming as well!) The mouthfeel is nothing short of sexual: it's big, thick, and creamy. A fantastic bitter bite finishes off the whole thing, but doesn't linger long enough to numb the tastebuds. I really enjoy baltic porters, almost moreso than their Russian Imperial counterparts. This one is a standout in my book. Complex, tasty, aromatic, and leaves you wanting more, even with all that alcohol.

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.

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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,670 ratings.