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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.

2,475 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,475
Reviews: 1,407
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 10.92%
Wants: 85
Gots: 152 | 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: 2,475 | Reviews: 1,407 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Franchise


4.5/5  rDev +11.7%

Pours a dark brown with a thick tan head. The nose is very fresh crisp hops, bringing a pungent floural flavor to the nose. There is also a small citrus background with chocolate and espresso notes and no alcohal to be found. The taste is syrupy sweet, brown sugar, french vanilla coffee, with a balance of bitter piney hops. As I let this continue to warm some more vanilla and oak woodiness come to mind. This is a great porter one for sipping and enjoying slowly.

05-27-2006 15:11:05 | More by Franchise
Photo of klewis


2.55/5  rDev -36.7%

12 oz bottle - "Vintage 06A"

A: Pours dark brown with a big tan head that erupted late into the pour. Lots of thick lacing and a head retention.

S: Nice chocolately aromas, but a strong alcoholic/kerosene smell prevents me from wanting to smell this stuff too much.

T: Earthy and tannic with flavors of black coffee, oak, and alcohol. The flavor departs quickly, leaving a harsh astringent taste in the mouth.

M: Fairly light-bodied for a beer of its ABV. There is barely any carbonation in this beer, giving it a flat texture.

D: I was really looking foward to this one, but after a few sips am not impressed. Its biggest issue seems to be that the alcohol is not balanced with the other ingredients. Perhaps worth a try, but I won't be drinking this one again.

05-25-2006 19:38:19 | More by klewis
Photo of BAbaracus


4/5  rDev -0.7%

Poured a thick dark shade of brown out of the bottle, almost sheer black in the center of the glass but with root beer colored highlights around the edges where the light crept in. I didn’t get much head retention of this one - maybe 3/4 finger - but what was there was a nice caramel brown. Looked very inviting overall. I didn’t note as much alcohol in the smell as some have reported, but I did catch the expected burnt coffee, brown sugar, faint raisins, toffee. The nose pretty much foreshadowed the taste to a T. Nice oily hop presence up front with the roasted malt and bitter coffee coming in on the back of the tongue. With the mouthfeel being nice and chewy, almost like oatmeal in itself, for some reason this beer gave me just as much of an impression of a high-octane oatmeal stout as it did a porter. Could have been my mind playing tricks on me. Nonetheless this is quite a good beer; not necessarily one of the all-time greats in this style but quite drinkable. I had two of these last night before I really felt the buzz setting in, and if the buzz had been my goal I probably could have managed one or two more. I would have ranked it a bit higher on drinkability except there’s something a bit too familiar about the way this goes down.

05-24-2006 20:23:01 | More by BAbaracus
Photo of Brian700


4.33/5  rDev +7.4%

This one pours dark black with a nice brownish head that left some decent lacing.

The aroma was of roasted malt, coffee, and chocolate with some mild floral hop presence.

The flavor is also of roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, with some floral citrusy hops and no real alcohol flavor for a beer that is above the 9% ABV mark.

The mouthfeel is medium/full bodied with medium carbonation.

I think this is a super drinkable beer.

05-24-2006 12:14:01 | More by Brian700
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev -0.7%

Black with a minimal attractive head and lace. Coffee syrup, medium mouthfeel and not all that thick.Chocolate and other malts, cascade and other hops.The one-off best flying dog of them all, courtesy of Jan Biergeman.Surprising high alcohol, did not feel like 9.8%.Unobtrusive carbonation.

05-22-2006 22:55:24 | More by Sammy
Photo of dirtylou


4.03/5  rDev 0%

12oz single, obtained in No BS BIF from weymouthmike, label says vintage but no year indicated

appearance: pours from the fabulous hunter thompson labeled bottle into a chalice...big chocolatey brown body, fluffy tan head with great retention and a lovely lace left behind...very strong appearance indeed

smell: bittersweet dark chocolate, big roasty malt presence, cream, alcohol soaked plum and cherry, surprisingly potent hop aroma (3F style), espresso

taste: big and robust, deep roasted malt, strong hop bite that fits in quite nicely, espresso roast, bitter dark chocolate, plum, raising, grape, cherry, moderate alcohol feel, cream, oats...surprisingly good from a brewery i have never been moved by

mouthfeel: smooth and creamy, bitter aftertaste

drinkability: pretty strong

05-18-2006 00:53:52 | More by dirtylou
Photo of fretlessman71


4.83/5  rDev +19.9%

Pertinent Preliminary Comments: Gonzo is brewed (and named) for the late Hunter S. Thompson who took his own life in the year 2005 in the mountains of Colorado. This beer came out that summer; I had a bottle and could barely finish it, the hops were so green. I kept wanting to go to the mirror and pick the flowers out of my teeth! So I decided to cellar what I had left and give it some time. Let’s see how things have changed…

APPEARANCE: BLACK. Oh boy is this black. Dense tan head, not as high as I expected, great lacing.

AROMA: Hops and dates and malt and large quantities of each. Fantastic!

FLAVOR: Hooray! A big porter with hop flavor! What a great idea! Tastes just like it smells, other than the fact that you can sense the alcohol more on the palate. 8 months ago the hops were just a bit much; now they’re PERFECT. Good roasted character to the malt; smoooth and clean. Molasses and caramel notes as well, some espresso too. This big boy just needed some time – wow!

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-plus weight; great carbonation. Good oily feel.

DRINKABILITY: More than one of these would be a waste, although it might pay an appropriate tribute to its namesake… 9.5% ABV is just a little high to have more than one – but this goes down so easy that one just might. (Hunter probably would!)

OVERALL COMMENTS: BOY, am I glad I waited to open this bottle. What a difference! If you can still find a bottle of this, now is the time. Great balance, great flavors, nothing off about this at all. Maybe they’ll do this again, eh?

05-17-2006 04:35:02 | More by fretlessman71
Photo of silver0rlead

North Carolina

3.8/5  rDev -5.7%

Vintage 05F on the bottle, probably about 6 months old. The appearance is excellent, completely opaque black with a massive and long lasting cocoa colored head...impressive. The aroma is also very nice, with big notes of cocoa and expresso, along with some muted resinous hops, a hint of ginger and barely a scent of alcohol. The flavor has notes of expresso, chocolate, charcoal, resinous hops, burnt bread, some dark fruits and a bit of alcohol. The mouthfeel is silky smooth and carbonation is minimal, drinkability is good and the alcohol is not noticeable. This was an intersting cellar experiment, the hops are very muted and there is a more astringent roasted bitterness, not sure if i like where this beer went but ill leave the other one for another year or so and see what happens.

05-07-2006 06:43:20 | More by silver0rlead
Photo of KarlHungus


3.98/5  rDev -1.2%

This brew pours an opaque black color. The head is enormous, light tan in color, and lasts forever leaving rings of lacing all the way down the glass. The aroma is of burnt malt, graham crackers, cream, and has a mild tanginess. The taste is similar to the aroma, but with a thorough alcohol burn in the finish. The mouthfeel is full bodied with nice carbonation and incredible smoothness. Overall, this is a very nice beer. It may not be the best baltic porter out there, but it is certainly worth drinking.

05-05-2006 23:08:12 | More by KarlHungus
Photo of HimerMan

New Jersey

3.9/5  rDev -3.2%

Had on Palm Sunday with my cousin Jim. We both found this around the same time - and a great find it was.

Pour - a dark chocolate brown (not quite black) with a medium slightly tan head that goes fast.

Not much of a smell - on the nose a bit like Samuel Smith's beers.

Great taste - though, a bit more carob sweetness than roasted flavors. Definitely similar to other baltic porters out there, with a tremendous ease of drinking.

Buy it if you can - as it is limited.


05-05-2006 01:48:01 | More by HimerMan
Photo of yelterdow

New Jersey

3.93/5  rDev -2.5%

Vintage 05 lasered on the label. One of the early batches from Flying Dog, this has been cellaring for many months... tonight's the night.

Served at between fridge and cellar temperature in an imperial pint glass.

Appearance- Pours a gleaming chocolate cherry color, the ruby red highlights are amazing. The head forms slowly but explosively... a foamy sizzle of carbonation that expands and grows from the inside out. Incredible sticky lacing right from the start.

Smell- An enormous display of fruit (cherries), chocolate, coffee, massive hops, and the alcohol too... strong as any beer I've ever lowered my nose into. Very complex, as all these factors somehow meld into a very distinctive aroma. This beer smells like it weighs 12 lbs, not 12 oz.

Taste- Rich, decadent chocolate covered coffeebeans first, followed by a wickedly bittering hop attack that sears the entire mouth for a good minute. The initial sweetness going in the mouth defers immediately to heavy, syrupy malts and then the ending tonguewhipping.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Although viscous and pretty thick in the mouth, the carbonation is a bit too thin for the level of body here. This beer's sheer weight is remarkable, in the way BBCS is... damn heavy. It serves more as a nightcap imo than a dessert beer, for the same reasons I've just said. Great effort, the hop burps are worth it.

05-03-2006 02:41:25 | More by yelterdow
Photo of ypsifly


4.08/5  rDev +1.2%

12oz brought from CO by a friend. Vintage 05F jetted on the bottom right corner of the label. Poured into a pint glass.

An inch of light brown foam over blackness. Decent retention with evenly webbed lace.

The nose is stout like with full roasted malts, nuts, espresso, molasses, slight sourness, and some heat from the alcohol. Very nice.

Upfront the body is very thick but becomes a bit oily. Big mouthfull of dark roasted malts with bitter chocolates and some brandy like heat from the abv. Could use some more carbonation to cut the oils but it isn't too big of a deal.

An interesting and full flavored beer. I would like to try another with chocolates or some other dessert.

05-02-2006 23:53:16 | More by ypsifly
Photo of heyitsbyron


3.88/5  rDev -3.7%

Poured a single bottle ($1.35) into an imperial pint glass.

Dark beer and a dark head, darkest head I've ever seen. Viscous and very minimal carbonation.

Smells boozy and sweet, slightly fruity. Not much in the way of hops, but pleasant toasted malts.

Starts of sweet and malty, then finishes nice and bitter. Coffee in between, on the other hand, which hides the booze nicely. No complaints, except for a strange syrupy aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is letdown. Too syrupy, too slick, not carbonated enough. It starts going down like sugar water after awhile.

Frighteningly drinkable for...oh god....9.5%. I would rate it higher, but once it warms up, it's pretty much flat and your spit is jet black syrup for a couple hours.

05-02-2006 04:23:02 | More by heyitsbyron
Photo of phisig137


4.33/5  rDev +7.4%

Pours a solid black, with a creamy one finger brown head. Head lasts a long time, but falls into a blanket over top of the beer, and leaves some nice lacing along the sides.

Aroma dark roasted malts, molasses and caramel. Figs also pop in here. Smells closer to an imperial stout than a porter, but is very enjoyable either way.

This beer's flavor is superb. One of the nicest porters that I've ever had. Quite fruity, showing figs, dates and raisons, but backed up on the finish by heavily roasted malts, and a dryness that isn't quite hoppy, but still shows some hop character.

Mouthfeel is thick and creamy, and drinkability is high. Alcohol is hidden well, especially considering the high ABV.

This is one fantastic beer, and without a doubt the best one that Flying Dog has to offer. Very nice.

04-27-2006 02:20:22 | More by phisig137
Photo of BadBadger

New York

4.38/5  rDev +8.7%

Wow, have you ever opened a beer, poured it, tasted it, and realized you made a HUGE mistake when you bought that beer? That is what happened here. My mistake is I did not buy enough. This Porter is something else. It pours a nice dark color. The head is minimal, though a gentle swirl will bring it back up. The smell is hoppy-floral. The tatse parallels the smell. The high ABV is completely masked. This is one fine smoth brew. It tastes awfully (in a good way) a lot like a Storm King Stout. If you like a strong flavorful brew, you will like this beverage.

04-20-2006 23:54:16 | More by BadBadger
Photo of blackie


4/5  rDev -0.7%

scores updated from 4/35/25/4/3 on 1/7/2011 with a vintage 2011 bottle: lots of good roast and chocolate, hops strong but balanced enough, good beer

appearance: The pour off the sediment creates a soda-pop fizzy head, tan in color, that very soon disappears, leaving a placid surface on the beer. The beer is nearing black in color, with some brown barely escaping from the edges.

smell: Some nice, just slightly subdued PacNW hops upfront. Behind are some dark malty aromas of roast and bittersweet chocolate. A little smoky. Not much depth, I must say, but okay. Alcohol just slightly noticeable.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is on the low side of the medium range. The body is a on the lighter side of the heavy range.

taste: A little more balance here than on the nose, but the hops still take center stage. At first it is a blend of hop flavor and bittersweet chocolate. A light smokiness introduces a fade from the chocolate into a mix of hop bitterness and roasted grain. Again, the alcohol is pretty well hidden.

drinkability: One is enough, but a good beer

Received from Zorro in BCG-BiF and then cellared for a few months. The print in the date box on the bottle says only "VINTAGE."

04-20-2006 05:15:30 | More by blackie
Photo of Crosling


2.78/5  rDev -31%

Fresh bottling. Black. Well aromatized hops in the nose, which offer a bit of citrus and floor cleaner, while the malt hints of coffee, chocolate, mocha and burnt forest. Aromaticaly speaking, it’s a lot like Alpha Klaus from 3 Floyds, but not near as nice. Flavor-wise, the hops are so agressive, excessive and astringent, oily and pure and totally overdone. Bitter as heck with harsh alcohol, burnt, overly bitter malts, which are tarrish and coffeesque.

04-12-2006 05:14:01 | More by Crosling
Photo of edmundfitzoil


3.78/5  rDev -6.2%

Gonzo Imperial Porter poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle into a standard pint glass. The bottle had a vintage marked as 06A. I served mine slightly cooler than cellar temp.

Gonzo poured a pitch black with a thin layer of small bubbled, velvety looking head that left very fine lacing down the side of the glass. The beer's aroma, which I found to be pretty spectacular, included hints of mocha along wth dark chocolate or cocoa and roasted malt. The flavor has a quality that reminds of me of bitter or baking chocolate along with flashes of hop bitterness and burnt maltiness. The hoppiness is a surprise, although not unwelcome. The high abv hides well behind within the beer, and allows it to be more drinkable than expected. Overall, this is a solid Baltic Porter with a distinctly American twist, something I would reach for again, but I don't believe it to be a necessarily traditional version of the style.

04-11-2006 19:54:56 | More by edmundfitzoil
Photo of hoppymeal


3.93/5  rDev -2.5%

The beer pours black with a tight light brown head. Sweet malty smells are mixed with sharp roasty aromas. The malts are also present in the taste along with a sour-ish dairy finish. This may not sound the best but it tastes quite good. As the beer warms the sweet aromas become slightly more prevalent. I can feel the alcohol having its effect, but it is very well balanced not overpowering on the palate. The beer is medium to heavy bodied and a very fine porter.

04-06-2006 23:44:39 | More by hoppymeal
Photo of Reidrover


4.05/5  rDev +0.5%

Vintage "06A"
Dark brown almost mahogany coloured beer, nice sized dark tan head thats frothy and thick.
Aroma is mainlly roasty/ burnt toasted malts, smells like a good dark cocoa powder.
Very smooth yet tasty toasty malts dominate , giving an odd sensation of dark chocolate followed by milk creamy choc, monor bitter after taste, alcohol barely noticed.
Very very smooth silky mouthfeel..thick and luxurious.
Very nice beer ,probably the best yet , that I have had from Flying Dog..very impressed despite the alcoholic volume I found this very easy to drink

04-05-2006 20:44:13 | More by Reidrover
Photo of smcolw


3.93/5  rDev -2.5%

Here's a blow-away head of three fingers that lasts forever. The appearance is very much like a stout up to the cascading bubbles while the head settles

The smell is chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Oh, wait, is that a hop leaf I detect...nah.

This porter is on the sweet side, albeit countered by a noticable dose of hops. Again, this is a chocolatey concoction with a very high oily presence of alcohol. The aftertaste features a better balance with more of a hop bite. This is a very full-bodied beer with good carbonation.

Drinkability is tough category for me. I tend to rate brews by whether I'd have a second. A beer like this is closer to dessert. So no, I wouldn't keep downing these. But as a final beer, this is excellent.

04-01-2006 18:46:21 | More by smcolw
Photo of copasetic


3.68/5  rDev -8.7%

Pours a thick opaque black with a short tan head. In the glass, it dares me to take a drink. The aroma is similar to a heavy stout, but slightly earthier and a wee bit chocolatey. From start to finish, this is far punchier than any porter I've had. The flavor and alcohol combine to almost make my tongue tingle. It tastes like a heavy stout, but is far thicker and and maltier than I'd expect from that style. Long after finishing this beer, it still reminds me that I had it.

Could I drink more than one? I doubt it. It's like a bowl of french onion soup in a bottle. A full meal in itself. Is it worth having one? Definitely. The experience of this beer and its flavor complexity demand a try.

03-31-2006 20:48:46 | More by copasetic
Photo of Jason


3.73/5  rDev -7.4%

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

A- Pours out like thin used motor oil, very little carbonation only leaves behind a wafer like tan lace that has very little retention.

S- Choco-roasted malt twang in the nose, hints of dark fruit and very faint solvent alcohol in the back.

T&M- Full bodied with a slight smoothness and crispness. Hard bite of charcoal burnt malt, black strap molasses sweetness, big dark fruitiness. Warming alcohol hits around half way down the glass. Herbal / citric hops flare a quick bitterness and flavor within the burnt malt character although the hop flavor does show up again the burnt bitter-sweet finish.

D- I could see sipping this one to end the night off. Definitely worth a try if you are into very strong dark beers. The 9.5% is pretty tame.

03-29-2006 22:37:15 | More by Jason
Photo of MaltyGoodness


4.03/5  rDev 0%

12oz. bottle

Pours a deep, dark brown - almost black with a creamy mocha head. Head thins, but maintains. Thick lacing on the glass.

Aroma is slightly sweet of roasted malts with coffee and chocolate tones. There is also a slight fruitiness present.

Upfront the taste is of sweet roasted malts with a slight fruitiness. A slight hop bitterness shows up with some cocoa and coffee flavors. It washes down sweet and roasty.

Full body, creamy texture. Nicely carbonated.

This is extremely drinkable for the ABV. I didn't notice the alcohol at any point and consumed the bottle with no effort. Nice.

03-26-2006 19:36:12 | More by MaltyGoodness
Photo of JackStraw22


3.98/5  rDev -1.2%

First review I've done in a while, I feel like I've forgotten how to describe what I'm tasting. Beer pours nearly completely black, decent caramel colored head, nice lacing. Not getting a lot out of the aroma department, maybe it just needs to warm a bit more. Good amount of hops in there for a porter. Sweetness is just right, not cloying. Nice mocha flavor and a slight burnt finish. Very good beer, worth seeking out.

03-22-2006 02:11:45 | More by JackStraw22
Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,475 ratings.