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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.

2,577 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,577
Reviews: 1,420
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 11.19%
Wants: 96
Gots: 175 | 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:
ABV varies.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-04-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,577 | Reviews: 1,420 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of cjgator3
4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep dark pitch black with a huge creamy tan colored head that lasts for the entire duration of the drink and sticks like crazy all over the glass. Aroma is dark roasted malts, chocolate, coffee and a bit of the alcohol comes through in the nose as well. Upon first sip, the flavors just burst into your mouth. There are a lot of notes of coffee and chocolate in the taste as well as a dark roasty malt. This brew finishes with a nice bitter presence from the hops that makes it very well rounded beer. Mouthfeel is thick and creamy with a moderate amount of carbonation. Overall, this is a spectacular brew from Flying Dog that is highly recommended.

cjgator3, Oct 12, 2006
Photo of shirfan
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Holy suds. Upon uncapping this bottle, it began creeping foam towards the mouth, and left a 3-finger head even with a gentle pour. A cloud of frothy brown refused to even begin dissipating for several minutes. The beer itself is blacker than the oil pumping through Dubya's obsidian heart. Some orange particulate made its way to the bottom of the glass after a while.

Aroma foreshadows roasted malts, and has a bit of a sour note mingled with a slight chemical edge.

Taste is big but not overwhelming. Mousse-like mouthfeel from the huge carbonation keeps roasty tones, leather, licorice, and a little grapefruity sourness moving around. Fairly dry and bitter, this could easily be a stout by most yardsticks. The big ABV doesn't really give itself away, just a hint of warmth in the aftertaste.

shirfan, Oct 10, 2006
Photo of dbalsock
4.38/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Dark brown with a very brown head that abundantly fills the pint glass. It's also long lasting, this beer looks like a champ.

Smell: Coffee like a traditional porter, but also a bit of a mocha aroma. There's some caramel involved that gives some tender character to the robust nose.

Taste: Tastes similar to how it smells, but with some noticeable alcohol that adds to the experience. The caramel is also more pronounced, as is some bakers chocolate.

Mouthfeel: The alcohol, bitterness from the malts (and some hopping) and overall smoothness of the medium bodied brew create a very good mouthfeel experience.

Drinkabililty: For such a high alcohol, this beer is easily downed... in a dangerous way. If I had time, I would probably try to session this. Overall a fantastic beer that I would go out of my way to get.

dbalsock, Oct 08, 2006
Photo of watermelonman
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This poured to a dark black with hints of red and a nice big head that lasted very well. There's a ton of lace too.

The smell is strong and deep, with plenty of dark grains, chocolate, and a bit of coffee. The taste is also strong. It starts with roasted malts and finishes with chocolate and a nice hop bitterness. Alcohol is barely detected. The mouthfeel is solid while drinkability is very good.

watermelonman, Oct 08, 2006
Photo of Osiris9588
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle with a Ralph Steadman illustration of a skull-faced Hunter Thompson spitting out a word balloon reading "Okay, let's party." It pours an opaque black coffee color, topped by a frothy chocolate milk head, with solid retention and loads of sticky cocoa-colored lacing.

The aroma consists of roasted malt, caramel, and chocolate undercut by hops. The flavor is of cocoa, milk-chocolate, toasty malt, and vanilla extract, followed by a strong, bitter coffee/hop/alcohol finish.

The mouth is full-bodied, yet creamy, and complex, with ample carbonation. The finish really scorches the back palate.

I defintely could not drink an entire four pack of this, possible not even two, the alcohol is nearly overwhelming--and I like a little ethanol warmth in my beers.

Overall it's a solid porter that I wouldn't waste if someone set one front of me. Though it felt like it destroyed my palate--so I'd suggest putting toward the back of your rotation.

Osiris9588, Oct 05, 2006
Photo of MSchae1017
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was tated in a pint glass from the 12oz bottle.

This beer pours a dark chocolatly brown black with a huge frothy tan head that holds wonderfully and laces well. The smell is just full of sweet roasted malts. The taste is nice. It is very sweet with a full roasted chocolatly flavor. There is just enought bitterness to keep the beer in balance but the sweet malts dominate. The mouthfeel has a nice full body with even carbonation. Overall a good porter, its nice to see a porter that pushes the limit like this.

MSchae1017, Oct 01, 2006
Photo of Graebner
4.28/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black as hell. A singularity of beer, not even light (not even me) escapes this beasts pull. The easiest of pours yeilds two fingers of caramel head that slowly diminish. Features a Hunter S. Thompson quote on the bottle. Nice.

Smells fruity. Really fruity, and some alcohol. Raisins, figs, plums...rich.

Taste is big fruity malts, all the fruit promised in the nose, with some chocolatey flavors, and a big burnt malt finish. Slight citric notes. A little hops in there as well, but they are overwhelmed by the dry, roasted malts in the end. Surprisingly clean finish with only a little burnt leftover.

Smooth. A little carbonation burn, but it's necessary to balance the huge character of this beer. Does not sit heavily on the stomach, though more than one or two might. Probly couldn't afford that many though, so that's not a likely problem.

Wow. Flying Dog, while mostly mediocre in the past, has really outdone themselves (and alot of other people) with this one. Wow. This is an intense and amazing brew to be sipped and savored; a fitting tribute to a truly unique individual. Did you see what god did to us, man?

Graebner, Sep 24, 2006
Photo of dfried
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pretty much motor oil black, just the slightest brown and ruby hues at the edges. Large coco colored head (due to bottle finishing) that lasted perfectly as a layer throughout the beer. Dark roasted malt aroma, like coffee and rich creamy chocolate, black cherries in there as well, and noticeable alcohol. My notes say "robust" coffee and chocolate flavor, must have been good. Some dark fruit flavors as well, black cherries and dates, but the beer was more about the rich malty flavors. Noticeable alcohol in the taste as well, but just enough that it wasn't off putting. Good contrasting fresh hops. Any good porter has a decent hop kick in my opinion. There was quite a bit of carbonation from the bottle finishing that broke up the rich creamy-ness of the beer well. Quite drinkable....for an imperial. The flavors were good, but the alcohol was definitely there.

dfried, Sep 20, 2006
Photo of scoot1979
4.88/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

this is one of the best porter i have had Hunter S. Thompson would be pound i imagine and the art word on it is crazy .the color is deep black with faomy brown head be careful when you pour it the head take over the glass and it retains it head for a long time. the mouthful is thick and it finishes clean .i bought two four packs and all i have left is one single beer im saving it and it is killing my not to drink it great beer from flying dog

scoot1979, Sep 15, 2006
Photo of BeerManDan
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Watch out when you first pour this porter. Pour very slowly, the amount of dark tan foam is overwhelming. The color is on the verge of black with loads of dark tan foam. The smell of roasted malts and hops filled the nose.

The taste was of well roasted malts, with hops and loads of chocolate and a medium hint of coffee. Tart on the finish, but not overly tart. Just a hint of sweetness but a medium amount of tartness. Well balanced if you looking for a BIG Porter!

BeerManDan, Sep 14, 2006
Photo of rayjay
4.55/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2006 bottle. Extremely big brown head with lace all the way down. Deep sweet "porter" smell with lots of hops present. Chocolate, roasted malt, cocoa, chocolate milk, coffee, hops. Aftertaste is sweet and dark and lasts forever. Awesome velvet texture, just what I'm looking for. Time to throw some of these in the cellar!

rayjay, Sep 13, 2006
Photo of BlindPig
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours with a 4 finger chocolate tan head. Had great head retention and left a thick lacing that stuck to side of the glass. Was black!
S- Chocolate mixed with coffee. Also got some malts with a bit of sweetness to it.
T- Mixture of lots of things. Was very hard to pin point the few things I did. Very complex beer. Light coffee with chocolate. Bit of alcohol taste as well. Picked up some sweetness also. Wasn't a big after taste but got some chocolate and sweeter malts. The flavors in this beer seemed strong but laid back at same time. Like they just weren't flexing the muscles but still had the strength in it.
M- Medium carbonation and medium to full body. Was sticky also.
D- Probably the best porter I have had. Very good and just a great complexity to it. I am defiantly going to pick up a couple more bottles of this.

BlindPig, Sep 11, 2006
Photo of cabsandking
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very dark brown, black color syrup, capped by a thin dark tan foam layer. Espresso and chocolate with wine like esters in the nose. Like the nose, the first gulp is full of toasted espresso, dark chocolate, smokey and then a strong tartness. Hops hold a certain acidic grapefruit quality. Sour astringent in the finish. Very thick body and coats the mouth exceptionally well. Alcohol is definitely up front which seems to distinguish this style from a porter. Notes of toffee and caramel develop in the background, increases as it goes down. No lacing to speak of and non really expected from this thick and murky elixir.

cabsandking, Sep 09, 2006
Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is deep dark black with a large brown foamy head that fades very slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of chocolate, dark fruit, coffee and hops.

T: Dark chocolate dominates in the taste. There are some hops and a touch of fruitiness as well, along with an alcohol warmth, as to be expected given the ABV of this range. As everything else fades, the after-taste is rich that bitter-sweet flavor of dark chocolate.

M: Very smooth and slick, medium-to-heavy body, light-to-medium carbonation, finish is a little sticky.

D: Tasty, especially if you like the dark chocolate flavor, a little bit filling and has a good kick to it. It’s more of a sipper, but you could conceivably pound this one for a little while.

TheManiacalOne, Sep 07, 2006
Photo of TurdFurgison
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint-style glass. Nice dark brown color with tan head. The head was a little thin and what was there dissipated quickly.

The smell is very good, with hops taking the lead aroma. Kind of similar aroma to 3F Alpha Klaus. Not bad, and the flavor is pretty similar to 3F also. You could do worse for a comparison I guess.

The mouthfeel is on the thick side, but just over the line.

Overall it's pretty good, and my favorite from Flying Dog so far.

TurdFurgison, Sep 06, 2006
Photo of dherling
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful caramel brown head sits on top of a very dark brown beer. Nose is mostly sweet malt, but some chocllate provides roundenss too. The first tastes I get is vegetable, something green and bitter like chickory. On the outside is some cinnamon and cocoa powder. There's lots of sweet malt here providing a big bosy. Whatever the alcohol is (9.2%) it isn't enough to gain any attention away from the rest of this beer. Usually heavily malted beers like this leave an oil slick down the back of my throat. Thisone finishes pretty clean, despite it's creamyness. If anything, it lingers more on the top of my mouth, like peanut butter. Absolutely wonderful, I'm sold on this, big fan!

dherling, Sep 05, 2006
Photo of nectarkeeper
4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

arrived dark like a moonless night at sea, coffee n cream-colored head, mysterious aromas--is it grass? is it the mowing of grass itself, lawnmower smells and everything? i've only had this beer a couple of times, so i'm still figuring it out.

the taste right off the bat is sweet, then followed up by a pronounced smoky/meaty flavor, definitely molasses and coffee notes in there as well.

as for a baltic porter, i got that little hint of acidity with this beer, and neither the sweetness or bitterness was overwhelming, very balanced with a lot of great character. it's not as thick or oily as the appearance led me to believe, and once i hit that last sip...i just wanted to have another one.

nectarkeeper, Sep 04, 2006
Photo of mcallister
4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black and inky. Thick mocha head with great looking thick lace. Looks delicious.

Hard to pull much out of the nose. Served in an Imperial pint glass which is the wrong choice of glassware as I see it, hindering the smell? There is however some dark chocolate aromas, anise, some hop, and roasted malts.

Well I'm not sure if they got a mislabled keg on this one but if this isn't barrel age I'm fooled, or maybe intoxicated? It has all the characteristics of a barrel aged beer. Thick sweet coconut flavors, with a toasty oak background. Very well integrated. Finish is mediocre but leaves you wanting your next sip.

Too be honest I wasn't crazy about this beer from bottle but on draught it's a whole different ball game. Overly desirable brew. Will be here for the next week till it's gone.

Mouth is round and somewhat bitter. A very dry finish. I could drink this till I pass out.

mcallister, Aug 23, 2006
Photo of Hibernator
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter
12 oz brown bottle
Vintage 2006
9.5% ABV
Served in a La Binchoise tulip glass

Pours a jet black with a fluffy khaki colored head on top. The head sustains for a few minutes and then transforms to a thin upper lace. The head leaves awesome trails of sticky lace around the the sides of the tulip. This beer looks promising from the start.

Pleasant aroma with whiffs of dark roasted malts and coffee beans with some dairy in the background. I also pick up some hoppy pine aromas that linger in the air.

Incredibly tasty and enjoyable. Roasted malts and sweet chocolate with an espresso shot type of bitterness. Just a hint of dark fruits, possibly cherries dipped in Munson dark chocolate. Flavorful and well balanced piney hop snap bite on the finish. The 9.5% ABV is very deceiving and well hidden under the complexities of flavor.

I usually find myself to be a tad bias towards well-crafted porters, but this one deserves some serious credit. So many qualities of this beer remind me of a stout, but it remains true to some porter characteristics. This beer is an absolute delight and becomes more enjoyable as it warms. I have a whole new appreciation for what Flying Dog can pull off.

Hibernator, Aug 22, 2006
Photo of aforbes10
4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've had one other beer that foamed in such a ridiculous fashon....an explosion of creamy foam rising up the mug. Looks great. Engine oil brown liquid with a light brown head. Fantastic looking. Odor of coffee, malts, dark fruits and tin. Taste is great too. Expresso bitterness with chocolate. hops are big here too giving it even more bitterness. Some sweetness too and maybe a bit unbalanced but good overall. Velvety mouthfeel. A beer worthy of Duke. I bet if you drink a lot of it you start seeing lizards playing craps.

aforbes10, Aug 22, 2006
Photo of rustymoore
3.45/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dark tannish black with a thick head that seems to go on forever. I detected a strong fruit smell for a porter especially grapes. Coffee notes as well. Taste is very fruity with the coffee and chocolate flavors. I couldn't see myself drinking this regularly just too sweet for a porter in my opinion.

rustymoore, Aug 20, 2006
Photo of 51mmz0rz
4.4/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a 0.5L Duvel tulip. Date says 06A.

A: Opaque black body as expected. Small mocha colored head, which fades into a thin lacing on top. Good lacing on the sides.

S: Smells mostly like fruit, grapes I think. Slight malty sweetness.

T: A bit of alcohol and dark fruit up front. Alcohol warmth Slight flash of hops. Burnt malts which fade to bitterness, which lingers just a slight bit. Very complex and delicious.

M: Pretty full and a bit creamy. Finish is slightly dry.

D: Really tasty, but the slight dryness and high abv just slightly harder to drink.

EDIT: Same vintage tried today (4/10/08). I'm not going to rescore it, just note how it changed over time for (my) reference.

A: Less lacing on top, lacing on sides is still good, and head is harder to get than before.

S: Same with the fruit, but there is that sweet honey smell that seems to happen in aged big beers.

T: I would say I can't detect hops anymore nor the alcohol. I mostly get that aged sweetness along with dark fruit and roasty flavors.

M: This thinned out if my initial impressions were accurate. Mouthfeel is more sticky now than full.

D: This probably hasn't changed even though the beer is different.

51mmz0rz, Aug 19, 2006
Photo of MuenchenerKindl
4.58/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a Very cool looking 12 oz bottle emblazoned with abstract cowboy art to a reagal looking steamed glass. Wow, what a thick Dark, DARK brew. The liquid coats the glass like molasses. I can see just a bit of what must be more then quite adequate carbonation. The head is a big rich foamy 2 finger display that fades slow to revile a nice lacing. Russian Imperial stouts should all display this well.

The smell in very enticing. Deep roasted malt aroma includes, coffee, chocolate, licorice, and some dried fruits. Some alcohol rising through joined with a sweet hops scent.

The taste does not disappoint following the nose quite well, Dark toasted bread, chocolate notes dancing in and out of a rich Italian roasted espresso. Shizzzam. I should have bought the Case in stead on the 4pk.

The mouthfeel is quite full and adequate to please. Smooth and creamy over the tongue, completely coating the mouth to finish with a crisp bite at the end.

The drinkability of this offering is of the top of it's class. It is only held back by the abundant alcohol and heavy body, but one or two is all you would need as this is no session brew. Thank you to the Beer Guy at Westridge Liquors who really knows this stuff for pointing it out to me. Yes you are correct! I will bet back. Prosit und Zum Wohl! MK

MuenchenerKindl, Aug 19, 2006
Photo of JBStith
2.68/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial (Baltic) Porter was not very impressive.

A: Pours jets black with an overwhelming head...a suds bomb. I had a difficult time getting a 12 oz bottle in a 16 oz glass. Thick, tan head with great retention.

S: A definite metallic smell. I detect a bit of sweet malt, but I can't get past the smell of pennies (yes, the currency).

T: Same a smell. An overwhleming metallic taste. No need to go any deeper, though all the requisite porter flavors are there. Finished with heavy fusel alcohol.

M&D: Heavy and thick. Not very drinkable due to flavor and heaviness. I might give this a try again if I find it on tap, but I won't be buying it again in bottle, especially not for the price. Just not a good porter of any genre.

JBStith, Aug 17, 2006
Photo of AltBock
4.63/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle with one of the best looking beer labels out there. The label is that of Ralph Steadman's smoking cowboy image of Hunter S. Thompson. The best way I can describe the picture is that it's a picture of a smoking cowboy with it's head as a skull that's saying "OK! Let's Party!!" The skull is connected to the skinny torso by the means of a very long neck. The smoking cowboy is holding a Cigarette in one of those Cigarette holders in his right hand. To the left of the smoking cowboy is another picture of a desert setting and in this desert is a tall monument with a red fist at the top. To the right of the smoking cowboy is the Govt. warning and a Vintage year in the lower right hand corner, with mine being Vintage 06A. This has one of the best labels out there and it's something you need to see for yourself first hand.

Appearance: When poured into a mug, the beer was a jet black color. When I say jet black, I mean jet black. I held it up to the light and everything, there was no light coming through what so ever. The head of foam was a bit disappointing. It started off a little skim of tan colored foam and then rose up to maybe at most half an inch. As fast it came up, it went back down again into just a few rings and barely any lace around the glass.

Smell: It had a not too overwhelming smell of roasted malt, roasted coffee beans, dark chocolate, and a pinch of bitter citrus hops at the end.

Taste: To me it was very unique. In the beginning I could taste the roasted malt and roasted coffee beans. Then I noticed a not too sweet taste of dark chocolate with a hint of caramel to it. If that wasn't enough, then out of nowhere comes a not too bitter taste of bitter citrus hops to balance it all out. It was unique to me in all aspects. Before this I haven't tasted anything like this before.

Mouthfeel: I would have to say that this beer is full bodied, chewy, and with an aftertaste of bitter dark choclate. I'm surprised that this has an ABV of 9.2% because I really couldn't taste it, let alone feel it.

Drinkability: It's too bad I didn't buy this in a 4-pack because I could really go for another one right now. This is another beer that I would definitely buy again in the near future. This is one beer you need to see and taste for yourself. This has to be one of, if not the best beer Flying Dog makes.

AltBock, Aug 16, 2006
Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,577 ratings.