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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.
very good

2,541 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,541
Reviews: 1,417
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 10.92%
Wants: 90
Gots: 164 | 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: 2,541 | Reviews: 1,417 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Grass
4.7/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Definitley the best Flying Dog beer I've ever tasted!

Dark,dark brown into the glass with a nice big head. Thin lacing is well documented. Smells like a stout with some hints of roasted coffee and a slight sweetness. Interesting porter. Taste starts with a nice nip on the tongue followed by a kick of roasted malt effervesence, with coffee and chocolate overtones. Alcohol of 9.2% is very subdued and slight. As temperature warms in glass flavors meld together even more. Good mouthfeel.

For a beer this high in alclohol it would be very easy to throw back two or three of these.

An outstanding porter. One I enjoyed from start to finish.

Are you kidding me? C'mon that never sticks the first time.
I mean, Mr. Clemens unretired and he still doing pretty darn good, if you ask me.

Grass, Jul 22, 2006
Photo of dreadnatty08
4.75/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle found in St. Louis, plenty of stock, seen also in Minneapolis, not sure why it's retired.
Vintage 05'
Pours a luscious opaque black with a cappucino like head, tons of staying power, excellent tracing. Aromas are tons of roasty, chocolaty, slightly oaky and vanilla like. Wow, flavors pack a punch of chocolate and coffee right off the bat, with a moderate amount of roasty/hoppy bitterness to follow. Flavors tend toward the sweet side, but it is quite balanced. This is a pretty amazing beer, and I'm glad I made the found. Would work perfect as a digestif or with dessert. Chocolate lovers seek this one out.

dreadnatty08, Jul 22, 2006
Photo of meathookjones
3.53/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle bought from the first batch released. Pours out and oily black with a good sized brown foamy head. Aroma was mainly pack with floral hops and dark chocolate. Some roastiness and other muddles notes rounded it out. The taste was similar with sweet chocolate and roasted malts upfront. This was backed by a lightly bitter floral hoppiness. Finishes up a bit dry and bitter with hints of alcohol. There were other subtleties I couldn’t quite place but some seemed like they didn’t belong. Body was good and it drank easy enough. I enjoyed this but doubt I would have another right after. I like it better now than when it was fresh but this still doesn’t quite do it for me.

meathookjones, Jul 21, 2006
Photo of nflmvp
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Overly aggressive pour produced a 5 inch head that overflowed my glass. I was not prepared for this.

Once the head subsided, about 5 minutes later, it became a very dense, creamy head at the surface with large bubbles below.

Smell was somewhat smokey with hints of molasses.

Taste was smokey and woody with a little bit of hop profile on the finish.

A very drinkable beer. I was surprised and disappointed to find it retired.

nflmvp, Jul 17, 2006
Photo of gonzo138
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- dark black with a very brown head that retains nicely
S- dark roasted malty aroma
T- thick and chocolatey, very heavy, malty and hearty
M- very thick, coats your mouth for quite a while
D- something to sip on for a while, thick, but a very good porter, Im not sure why the score is retired since the liqour store I work at just got a fresh case in a few weeks ago, a great beer named after a great man

gonzo138, Jul 14, 2006
Photo of CaskofFlyingDog
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

As you can tell by my name-choice, I am losing it right now. I have been wanting to partake of this beer for a while and I finally found it. I remember my friend saying "omg there is a beer with all three of the words: Gonzo, Imperial, and Porter. That has to be a f-ing orgasm!

APPEARANCE: BLACK AS NIGHT, thick head, motor oil, this makes Guiness sorta look more Porterish than Stout-Porterish. Surprising.
Thick brown head that goes to a decent foam with good lacage.

SMELL: Burnt malts, sourdough, marble cake, with a FAINT tinge of vanilla.

TASTE: BURNT MALTS GALORE! 70% or plus cacao dark chocolate, grapefruit juice. Omg this is the second time I've had this and definitely the better time. The first time it was pretty rought shit. I hadn't drank for a month and a half so it was taking a while getting back to it.

Mouthfeel: lingery chocolate graininess. Wierd 3/4 thickness thing going on which still fits underneath Porter but is still a shock to drink.

Drinkability: Forget it. I probably couldn't drink more than 2 of these without wanting something light. I love it but I think you would need to switch it up with a paler beer of some sort. Still a really damn good beer. Fine on it's own though so since it has 9.3% alchohol I'll give it a decent drinkability score cause you WON'T be able to drink too many to get sick of it.

CaskofFlyingDog, Jul 08, 2006
Photo of ddarden
3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz Bottle poured into a tulip glass. Jet black with absolutely no light getting through and very nice dark tan head that hangs around. The smell is of roasted malts, hint of vanilla, chocolate, and alcohol. The smell is not overpowering but kind of average. The taste is sweet roasted dark malt, coffee bitterness, vanilla, and ends with a burnt roasted malt aftertaste. The taste is pretty good and has a fair amount of complexity. The alcohol is pretty well hidden, but there is a little warming at the end. Mouthfeel is medium to medium thick and drinkability is fairly good for such a high abv. Overall an above average beer.

ddarden, Jul 08, 2006
Photo of woemad
3.93/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle I picked up at Huckleberry’s in Spokane several months ago. Things have been so crazy I cellared it, meaning to get to it in a week or so, and then promptly forgot about it.

This poured out a thick, viscous dark brown color into my Flying Dog pint glass (thanks to the Viking). No light seems able to penetrate it. Less than an inch of mocha colored foam. Lackluster, spotty lace.

This smells darkly sweet and bitter, with notes of brown sugar, mocha, prunes, etc. This doesn’t smell like a typical Baltic porter to me. If anything, it reminds me more of a sweet oatmeal stout.

The first part of the taste that I noted was a brown sugary sweetness that is almost immediately followed by a moderately bitter hoppiness. While it’s not exactly a hophead’s dream, it’s enough to keep things balanced and prevent the brown sugary, chocolaty portion of the taste from getting too cloying. The two elements combine to give a strong mocha espresso flavor to the fadeout. It’s not the best tasting beer I’ve ever had, but it’s well balanced enough that the sweet and bitter notes blend together nicely. The high alcohol content isn’t immediately noticed, but I detected it as it warmed up a bit.

This isn’t as thick as I thought it would be. In fact, it seems a little too light. It’s a minor quibble, though. I’ve certainly had porters more watery than this (unfortunately – not many things more depressing than a weenie porter).

Not a bad beer, but not one especially to seek out. If it’s around and reasonably priced, you could do a lot worse. Not really a session beer unless driving is something you won’t be doing for the rest of the night.

woemad, Jul 04, 2006
Photo of Gavage
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: black in color with a super thick 3" tan head that lasts. Mild lacing develops.

Smell: rosated malts, chocolate, and a hint of alcohol are noticeable.

Taste: the flavor follow the nose, as roasted malts, chocolate, molasses, and prunes are easily detectable. There seems to be an overall light smokiness to the beer. Alcohol is a little too upfront too.

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy in body. Smooth at the start. The finish is smooth and the flavors lingers shortly into the aftertaste.

Drinkability: so-so. This beer is a little unbalanced as the alcohol tends to dominate as this warms during the session. But I am glad I got to try it.

Gavage, Jun 28, 2006
Photo of rowew
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12 oz longneck. Ralph Steadman logo. Spot for vintage marking, but it wasn't lined up correctly.

Appearance: Pours thick and very dark, medium sized head that is dark tan colored. Good retention.

Smell: Very strong aroma - roasted aromas mixed with a good amount of hops, a bit of chocolate, and some alcohol fumes.

Taste: Starts off malty and sweet, then the hops, coffee, and chocolate bitterness come in to balance things out. Just a slight taste of alcohol, not bad considering the ABV.

Overall impression: Very nice porter - easily one of the best beers Flying Dog produces (which is a bit of a mixed message). Flying Dog seems to do much better with the big beers than their average offerings.

rowew, Jun 20, 2006
Photo of orfeu
2.95/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Bottle imprinted with "Vintage 06A." Poured into a 17-ounce snifter. Extremely dense black, like a stout, with a thick, creamy dark tan foam cap. The nose is chocolate cake batter with some bitter pine-scented hops -- the combination is rather medicinal. The taste is where this one falls off. Bitter piney hops are in full effect, as is a ridiculously hot alcohol presence. A mellow chocolatey roastiness emerges at the finish as a saving grace, but because of that over-the-top booziness all through the middle, this one just doesn't have what it takes at this point. Perhaps several years cellared? Grassy, tree-bark aftertaste. Aside from the stinging alcohol heat, the mouthfeel is trying hard to be smooth. Not a very strong example of a porter, regardless of whether it's Baltic or imperial or whatever. Once is enough.

orfeu, Jun 14, 2006
Photo of Erdinger2003
4.8/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Just a little over 4 months and we'll see how it aged.
Served in a Chimay goblet.

The head is a soft and pillowy brownish white with a lacing that's concreted to the side of the glass even after a good time.

The smell is soft, but has coffee and a slight smokiness with a little cocoa, very little cocoa in the backround.

The first drink gives you such a big flavor of dark fruit like plum and raisan and leaves a bitter coffee in your mouth. Very nice. The hops are so mellow that the other flavors are on the main stage this time and they take a backseat.

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, very smooth and silky. I enjoyed it very much.

I would have loved to cellar a few cases of this sweetheart beer. Very good.

Erdinger2003, Jun 13, 2006
Photo of Naerhu
3.83/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Thanks to RobBeer for lugging this beer all the way to Japan.

I didnt really enjoy half of the beer shooting out the bottle on opening. The damn thing was laying on its side for 3 months, ya figure it wasnt in an agitated state. If half the beer winds up on the counter and not in my glass that is going to kick the hell out of the drinkability rating.

Completely black with extremely excited dark chocolate head.
Nice sweet malty aroma. Lots of chocolate and anise.

Extremely rich chocolate flavors. Not at all sweet, not at all bitter. Big coffee flavors. Burnt grain on the finish. A little too much alcohol to give this more on the mouthfeel.

Naerhu, Jun 12, 2006
Photo of gosurfobx
3.8/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark velvety brownish black with a one finger width head that soon sinks to a foam layer. Smell is of very sweet malt with some slight chemical smell that I can't ID. There don't seem to be any hops present in the smell of this beer. Taste is as expected, very strong and complex malt flavors. Taste of sweet chocolate and a very slight amount of the chemical taste that was also evident in the smell of the beer. The mouthfeel is very heavy and full in the mouth. A drinkable beer but a little too heavy for casual drinking.

gosurfobx, Jun 10, 2006
Photo of SixpointJMH
4.53/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This one pours a fantastic looking black colour with a big chunky (but creamy) chocolate-looking brown head atop the liquid.

The aroma is a nice mix of chocolate, earthy and roasted malt, with hints of coffee and berries too.

The flavour is more of the same, with roasted malt leading the way and mixing with some chocolate and berry flavours toward the middle then meeting up with a touch of alcohol at the finish as well as a seemingly out of nowhere shot of hop flavour. Mouthfeel is full bodied and smooth as hell.

This porter was beyond enjoyable for me. It's flavourful and well balanced and really just a great beer.

SixpointJMH, Jun 07, 2006
Photo of Suds
4.4/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fear and loathing at the basement bar?
I enjoyed this brew with my wife over some stinky cheese, after putting the child to bed. It pours a thick black color with just a shadow of a chocolate colored head. The aroma has a lot going on. It’s qualities are hidden at first, but as you work through the glass, they tumble forth: alcohol, roasted and burned malts, dark chocolate, plums, raisins, caramel, coffee. Wow. The taste accentuates each flavor. Sweet and warming. Terrific bitterness. On the downside, the brew occasionally had a fleeting solvent note. The mouthfeel is thick and almost syrupy, with a slick oily quality. Long and lingering finish. It’s incredibly drinkable for it’s strength and heft. This one is remarkably good.

Suds, Jun 04, 2006
Photo of Franchise
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Franchise, May 27, 2006
Photo of klewis
2.55/5  rDev -36.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

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.

klewis, May 25, 2006
Photo of BAbaracus
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

BAbaracus, May 24, 2006
Photo of Brian700
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Brian700, May 24, 2006
Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Sammy, May 22, 2006
Photo of dirtylou
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

dirtylou, May 18, 2006
Photo of fretlessman71
4.83/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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?

fretlessman71, May 17, 2006
Photo of silver0rlead
3.8/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

silver0rlead, May 07, 2006
Photo of KarlHungus
3.98/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

KarlHungus, May 06, 2006
Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 2,541 ratings.