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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.

2,492 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,492
Reviews: 1,410
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 10.92%
Wants: 86
Gots: 158 | 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: 2,492 | Reviews: 1,410 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Prufrock
2.73/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12 oz. bottle poured into a pilsner.

pitch brown with half an inch of tan head that leaves sheets of lacing.

coffee, raisins, chocolate, grass. slightly medicinal and a touch of alcohol aroma.

chocolate and coffee in the taste as well. a touch of hoppy bitterness in the finish. alcohol is apparent; carbonation is light. finish is slightly medicinal like the aroma, and slightly off-putting. not very drinkable; well, at least i didn't want another.

Prufrock, Feb 27, 2006
Photo of wedge
3.83/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Black with faint brown highlights. Big, thick brown head of creamy foam. Dry, nutty malt smell - roasted grain and a little sweet. Its almost earthy / woody, some hops try to blend in - different. Rich malty sweetness right upfront in the taste followed by an unexpected wave of coniferous hops. It doesn't seem to work at first but it starts to make sense after a few sips. The mouthfeel is warming and full with a long bitter finish. It really slides around in the mouth.

Not bad at all, though a little uneven. "Gonzo" one might say.

wedge, Feb 26, 2006
Photo of djeffbee
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Got this @ Joe Canals - Marlton, NJ, by the 4-pack ($8.49)

A - pours deep brown to black with 1.5 finger dark caramel colored head which quickly falls. Lacing present

S - Hoppy (cascade?) with strong presence of bitter chocolate, black patent and coffee

T - starts out quite hoppy as you couple the first swig with the aroma, and then the chocolate, smoked and coffee flavors take over leaving a nice bitterness at the end.

M - Not sure if it's the hoppy start, but the carbonation seems to have a stronger presence at the beginning, and smooths out quickly leaving a tingling warmth.

D - This is a smooth, excellent tasting, easy drinking beer - but @ 9+ABV, you can get yourself into trouble quickly!

This is my second go-round with the Gonzo, and I am hoping to locate some more! Very enjoyable..

djeffbee, Feb 26, 2006
Photo of stewart124
3.03/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Well the pour is quite good which leads to a very dark brownish red with a dark tan foamy head. Smell is a vague grassy note with hops seeming spicy and cirusy but leading towards pellet hops. Taste is very interesting and better than expected. Slightly weaker than I thought. Medium body with alcohol lighter than expected. There is an earthy taste but leads toward grassy. There is a roasted maltiness that goes towards burnt but overall the malt base seems fairly good. Overall this doesn't blend together very well. It leaves an almost mint coffee as the aftertaste. Not terrible but not one of my favorites.

stewart124, Feb 21, 2006
Photo of jameaterblues
4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Gonzo Imperial Porter poured a nice dark blackish/dark brown color. With a beautiful coffee/cream colored head. The head hung around the walls of the glass for the entire time.

The smell of roated malts with the a hint of dark roasty chocolate.

This beer i was expecting it to be a little more burnt in taste, but it actually remnined me a little of the Brooklyn Black chocolate stout, but less heavy. The finish is the best part of this beer, it ends with a nice dark chocolate on the taste, and slightly bitter.

Mouth feel: it had ample carbination for the style, not overwelming. Like I said above it really remined me of a chocolate stout, but with more carbonation.

Drinkability: I am glad that I have three more of these.

jameaterblues, Feb 19, 2006
Photo of mattpetti
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I have been waiting for this to com back out all year...and finally it did so here i am writing this review. Having this from the bottle. Looking at it i cant imagine who would pay 100 plus dollars for this bottle because the artist signed it. Anyway the beer pour black as black can be a large, large lingering, light brown head comes from the pour. Holy crap this is the lacing god of all beers. Smell was sweet and fruity. Not alot of chocolate like i was expecting but rather lighters and floral...really floral at that. Taste is as expected: sweet malts, lots of underlying fruit flavor, smooth, and satisfying taste with the alcohol level very masked. This beer is very creamy and sticky on the mouth, the flavor of this beer makes up for that though. This is a beer that makes a beer belly a beer belly. Though it is smooth the amount of coating that it has in your mouth makes it hard to drink more than one of them. This is a beer to enjoy with meals. if you like porters pick this one up you wont be disapointed.

mattpetti, Feb 15, 2006
Photo of Vancer
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow, what an impressive pour – ruby black, STICKY thick tan head. This is gonna be good.

Very floral in the nose, I would swear this is an American pale ale, except for the black pour. Very rich brew, mucho malty and porter sour. Notes of chocolate, and burnt toast are popping up also. The Imperial is a good description of this bad boy.

I’m glad I exercised this morning, this thing has to have over 200 calories per each 12 oz., but well worth it.

Vancer, Feb 12, 2006
Photo of UncleFlip
4.28/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours very dark brown with cola & ruby edges. Dark tan head seems a bit uneven.

Smell is dark molasses with coffee and spice, and little bits of hops.

Taste is smoky and ashy (in a good way), with intense coffee and oaky bits. Not quite as roasted as expected. Just a bit bitter at end.

Liquid is medium-thick, with most carbonation hitting right up front.

I like this one. It's quite complex, but not too assertive. With a name like Gonzo, I expected it to whip my ass and write about me in Rolling Stone- but maybe I caught it on a good day. :)

Be well

UncleFlip, Feb 12, 2006
Photo of CDBeerDisappear
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Color is opaque brown,. Has a light brown head that dissipates to a layer of foam with plenty of lacing.

S - Aroma is of sweet dark dried fruits like prune and raisin.

T - Flavor of sweet toasted malt full of molasses. Finishes with a bittersweet coffee-chocolate taste

M - Medium mouthfeel with light carbonation and dry aftertaste.

D - I have had this on tap and now by the bottle. It’s good both ways and I look forward to drinking it again and again. Goes down very easy.

CDBeerDisappear, Feb 11, 2006
Photo of PorterLambic
4.58/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

In the pub's limited lighting, this pours almost pitch black with a dark brown head that drops quickly to a 1/4" thick film but leaves good lace behind.
Smell is coffee, roasted malts, smoke, caramel, molasses, vanilla, cured meat and floral notes.
Taste is of toffee, malts, peat, caramel, beef jerky, molasses and smoke.
A mostly full body, smooth, rich, almost creamy. Definitely worth a try (or two), solid quality brew with good complexity and great balance throughout.

PorterLambic, Feb 10, 2006
Photo of granger10
2.73/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Deep brown color with a huge rocky tan head. Lots of lacing around the glass. Aroma strikes me right away of hops and alcohol. Almost burning and somewhat vegetal. After the initially nasty sensation of ethanol and cooked veggies I get a nice milk chocolate and light fruity aroma. Taste again seems too harsh for my liking. A bit of roasted bittersweet chocolates and some raisins are there for the malts but they are completely dominated by the brash and annoying hops. Pine sol flavors, aspirin like. A soy sauce elements comes into play. Alcohol is brash and unsettling. Finish lingers with a burning alcohol sensation. This could develop into a treat but its nowhere near enjoyable right now.

granger10, Feb 09, 2006
Photo of WesWes
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep, dark black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great. It has a nice, black patent and chocolate malt scent along with some hops in there as well. The taste is good. It seems to have a pretty intense hop bitterness that really peaks through the black and chocolate malts. It gives the beer tremendous complexity and a unique flavor. The mouthfeel is good. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn fine beer. I like the concept and the beer in general. This is a good drinking beer.

WesWes, Feb 09, 2006
Photo of cameraman
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A dark black/brown opaque color pours into the glass. A nice beige head comes to the top and laces nicely. The scent of sweet malt is there, but is totally immersed by the strong hop scent. The hop aroma is earthy, citrusy, and piney, alot to smell. The taste is very surprising, the hops are there, but the malt comes through with chocolate flavors that balance this beer nicely. In the mouth it feels alot like chocolate milk rich and smooth, slightly thick, that finishes dry. The first smell of this beer made think I was drinling an IPA, but the flavor of the malt coming through makes this a wonderful beer to try.

- A note, I have two more bottles aging and I look foward to see how much better this can become.

cameraman, Feb 08, 2006
Photo of Citadel82
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I still don't know where to begin with this stuff. This bottle has been aging for around 9 months and it just gets better and better. The taste is wonderfully complex coffee and dark chocolate and winey notes. The alcohol is well hidden appearing in the middle then fading fast. I shared a 12 ounce bottle with a budding BA last night and the memory is still with me - the thick creamy tan head - the pillows of lacing on the glass and the malty vinous taste. Yummmy!

Citadel82, Feb 06, 2006
Photo of rabsten
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My friends picked up a four pack of this and couldn't stand it. It was the big joke over the holidays: "it's a perfect tribute to Hunter, since he's dead and this tastes like death" and stuff like that. They saved me one, mostly to see my reaction.

My friends are morons.

Poured into a pint glass, the head was thick and chocolate brown, and stayed that way for a half hour. The color of the beer itself came in dark, but with some redness. The smell was the weak link - it was a pungent smoke odor (and was one of the reasons my friends hated it).

But the flavor. Oh, man, the flavor. The smoke hinted at in the scent was there, as was a nice baker's-chocolate overtone to the malt. But the real surprise was the hop presence: a good, solid "bite," not hinted at by the smell at all. The alcohol makes its presence known in the mix, too. Overall, it reminded me of a good aged barleywine. Reminded only, though, because this one is unique.

I have a lead on a case in Southern Ohio. With luck, I'll be able to enjoy this for a while yet. Highly recommended.

+++ Update +++

So, one of the friends mentioned above read this and took it badly. He's definitely NOT a moron, we just have divergent taste. I loved this beer; he hated it. I apologize to him and anyone else who did not like this beer. Sorry.

rabsten, Feb 05, 2006
Photo of dalherring
4.18/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer is extremely hard to get, but I was very fortunate to get the last one from my local beer and wine store. It definitely lives up to expectations I've been having for months. It is black, with a dark brown head. The smell is a little misleading at first, because it almost smelt like burning plastic. That went away as I drank more. It is relatively thick, but feels smooth in the mouth and goes down with a mild bitterness. Although it could stand well on its own, the Gonzo is begging to be paired with a good steak dinner or a hearty bag of kettle chips. Overall, very nice.

dalherring, Feb 05, 2006
Photo of JWFokker
2.38/5  rDev -40.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Served from a bottle into a beer stein, it's a solid, rather average looking beer, with about a half an inch of medium brown head. Lacing is nice, nothing out of the ordinary. It has an odd nose to it that's not necessarily pleasant and not representative of the flavor of the beer, which was disappointing. I'm not tasting coffee like some drinkers are. In fact, it doesn't have that much flavor on the palate, but a lot of hoppy flavor on the aftertaste which I don't like. It's a smooth beer, the mouthfeel is pretty good though nothing out of the ordinary for a reasonable quality beer. It looks and feels like it should be a good beer, but the lack of flavor and sour aftertaste are not what I'm looking for in a beer.

JWFokker, Feb 04, 2006
Photo of gmcfarre
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up today on my first quality beer buying spree in a while. 12 oz bottle poured into Sammy Smith imperial glass.

A - Dark as night, can't see though even when I hold up to the light. Head is small but a nice tan color. It dissipates fairly quickly.

S - Lots of dark roasted malt flavors, chocolate and coffee

T - Similar to smell, with a touch of hops. No alcohol present in taste, which is very nice for such a high ABV beer.

M - Nice and creamy, very smooth.

D - Incredibly drinkable for this style, although I am feeling the alcohol after one bottle (probably because I havnt eaten much today).

gmcfarre, Feb 02, 2006
Photo of Drew966
4.83/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours from a twelve ounce bottle an opaque black with a thick brown head. You can smell the roasted malts and the taste is magnificent, you really get the coffee type taste from the roasted malt. I think this is really an exceptional beer, I'm going to try to get my hands on the 750ml corked bottle. This beer has a creamy taste and is really among some of the best beers in the porter or stout category that I have tried (and I've tried quite a few). Highly recommended, worth seeking out.

Drew966, Jan 31, 2006
Photo of danielharper
3.7/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Purchased from Strong Bros. Liquor Store, Fayetteville, TN.

Pours a dark black opaque body with a thick mocha head. Very nice for a porter or stout -- no reddish hues anywhere in the glass.

Highly complex aroma of cherries, licorice, coffee, raisins (of course), and a slight astringency due to alcohol.

Flavor is similar, but with a strong astringent up-front, and a strong dose of hops (not really present in nose) to the aftertaste. Slight drying quality.

Thick mouthfeel, great for a high-gravity porter.

This beer isn't really good enough to get a high drinkability (despite the high numbers, I didn't much care for it personally) but it's decent. If porters are your speed, give it a shot -- it's not bad at all.

danielharper, Jan 29, 2006
Photo of benito
4.6/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This may be one of the finer porters (baltic or otherwise) available on the American market. It is a tar black with a creamy, coffee-colored head that laces the glass with a java like drizzle. The bouquet is full of currant and very raisiny, distinct aromas which point to the beers strength.

And yet, it is the flavor's balance between traditional porter flavors--java and burnt wood--and a fruity, almost syrupy, malt wallop that makes the beer memorable, complex, and distinct. There's a light hop presence that finishes the palate and adds a deeper, dryer complexity. The mouthfeel is incredibly smooth, and for something so strong this goes down way too easily.

Released initially as a one-off, the reception to Gonzo has been so great that Flying Dog is going to put it out full time in four packs...and for good reason. This is a wonderful, must-find brew.

benito, Jan 28, 2006
Photo of wcudwight
3.78/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a pitch black with a chocolate, co-co colored head that rises 1/4" and falls to a spotty lace on the beer. Chocolate, tropical fruit, and roasted malts in the nose. Also hint of the alcohol in the smell. Smells good! Wow this taste stout. Very deep heavy chocolate taste and the alcohol is noticable. The fruits that are in the smell are not in the taste. Finishes with a lasting roasted malt and coffee taste. This beer starts off wow, and finishes mmm. This is a thick and filling beer. Chewy and the sweetness makes my teeth sticky. This is a good beer, but I can't imagine drinking more than one.

wcudwight, Jan 27, 2006
Photo of mentor
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aged in my cellar for about 6 months. Loud pfft when opened. Two-finger brown head over a pitch liquid. head slowly descends in cavernous style. Smells of clean alcohol and roast grains. Some grapefruit pith and oranges. Dry chocolatey. Tastes potently roasted with a clean and strong alcohol bite. Roasty dry in the mouth. Chocolate is buried and some grassy hop co-humulone is present. Not much hop flavor (which is a stark contrast to a glass I had fresh at the brewery about 6 months ago). At this point, the citrusy hops have settled, but the alcohol now needs time to cool down. Md-thick body with a bit too mcuh carbonation. The carb detracts from the beer, IMO. Minimal lacing on the inside of the glass.

mentor, Jan 26, 2006
Photo of dawg
4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Served from the tap into a wine glass. The Gonzo was put together very well and I have had plenty of porters along the way for comparison. Reminded me of one of my first home brews. Not overly complex. Just very defined roasted malt (light and heavy dark roasts) balanced with a modest amount hops. Mouthfeel was light but just what I expected. I judge that this one is very drinkable.

dawg, Jan 24, 2006
Photo of Enola
3.63/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a worty tribute to Hunter.
This beer is a deep black. It had a tan colored head that did not last long. The smell is rich. It smells very malty. The taste reminds me of a high ABV oatmeal stout. I just wish the alcohol was a bit more subtle. the mouthfeel is diminished a smell amount due to this but not enought to prevent me from buying again. I could drink these but certainly it is not a session beer. Unless your sessions tend to be short.

Enola, Jan 24, 2006
Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,492 ratings.