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Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery

Not Rated.
Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,659 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,659
Reviews: 1,433
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 10.95%
Wants: 109
Gots: 209 | 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: 2,659 | Reviews: 1,433 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.17/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured in a pint glass

A - jet black liquid, used motor oil viscosity.

S - roasted coffee/malt aroma, nice!

T - very nice flavor, malt blends are all over this beer.

M - 'medium well' body, little carbonation, drying finish.

D - 2 or 3 of these should do it for many, 9.5% according to the website. Given the limited availability, I may sit on a few of these for a while.

I would recommend this beer to anyone, rich, roasted flavors make this beer 'something different' from your run of the mill porter.

Photo of Slatetank
4.78/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

poured at 55degress into a Guiness Nonic
A - An inky shade w/ medium brown head that cascades from halfway down the glass up to about 2 finger height. Leaves a great deal of lacing and reduces to 1.5 finger head.

S - Piney hoppiness and malty chocolate dominate with minimal vanilla character and slighty rum like odors.

M - a definite blessing to hold in the mouth-the longer the better. I experienced a prickly charred and chocolate bitterness followed by a gentle hop bite for good measure.

T - A sweet vanilla caramel taste immediately gets knocked down by a French roast smokiness and black malt essence with a coffee accent. Lovely piney, woody hop backing is enjoyed next. Creaminess is less pronounced in draft version and hoppy bitterness also seems amplified giving more balance than the bottled version. A great flavor undulates in magnificent ways. Magikal in darkest liquid sweetness-either draft or bottled is luxurious, but draft has a sweeter fuller feel with more hops
So Lively!

D - Loved it even more in the growler. Drink this and feel massively euphoric.

Photo of MarkSCCOT
3.91/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Wow, this is my first foray into Imperial Porters since they popped the cap here in SC, and I must say this is a style I will defintely explore much more closely.

A. Dark motor oil. Couldn't see light through it. Quickly dissolving head with minimal lacing.

S. Smells like something I would get at Starbucks, strong expresso coffee with a fig date waft. This is far too complicated for me to summarize.

T. Heaven. Malt. Chocolate. As complicated as the smell and twice as satisfying.

M. Lightly carbonated, but interesting to drink. A favorite.

D. More than one/ If my keys are with a designated driver, maybe. But the high alcohol limits me to 1 on the patio after a hard day. Still, better than several BMC's anytime.

A great intro.This is definitely a style I am hooked on.

Photo of ColoradoBobs
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Thick black totally opaque body (held it up to a very bright light, and nothing came through), under a huge chunky rocky dark tan head. Even an easy pour couldn't keep this thing inside my 16 ounce pint glass. Head settled into a meringue-like foam. Looks lovely and decadent.

Smell is a bit boozy, lots of fig and date, lots of sour-sweet malt, some espresso and burnt-cherry-pie filling. Dark toasted pumpernickel. Interesting metallic back-notes. There is a lot going on here, and I hope it tastes as good as it smells.

Rich heavy burned flavors smash across the tongue. Slammingly intense burnt toast, heavy sweet molasses with that interesting metallic-sourness. Ample hops oils smooth out and balance the burned notes with a fascinating lemon-pineapple brightness. Pineapple? Yes, it's there in the background. From what I don't know, but it's there. Then the dominating burnt-cherry-pie flavors take over again.

Rich and round and smooth and mouth-filling. Wow. What a palate!

This is too intense to make a session beer, but I could definitely have more than one.

I must say this is a pleasant surprise to me, since I really don't care that much for the other six Flying Dog beers I've reviewed. (My average review for those six is a middling 3.0.) But this one is worth every decimal of the solid 4.45 I'm giving it. What a rich and satisfying beer! Almost as good as Okocim.

Photo of blakesell
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a chalice

Appearance-Blackest porter I've ever seen. This porter is thick and black with no visibility thru it whatsoever. The only thing I can see aside from the gentle red froth of the head is the yeast present at the bottom of the glass. The yeast looks rather disgusting, but I'm a fan of vitamin b.

Smell-Dark brown malts, I believe black patent is in there, chocolate, caramel, alcohol esters.

Taste-Full thickness, taste is more like a stout than a porter, but we'll let that slide tonight. Warming! that 9.2% really comes thru on this one. Roasted malt, chocolate, just like the smell.

Mouthfeel-Creamy with a sticky taste on the lips and toungue. Hints of alcohol is an understatement.

Drinkability-A great porter, but so much alcohol makes it more like a stout. I love it, but couldn't drink it all day due to the thickness. This beer drinks like a steak.

Photo of Wasatch
4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a chalice a nice deep brown color, nice carbonation, nice huge two-finger plus creamy tan head, tons of sticky lacing that stuck around a long time. The nose is sweet malts, maybe some vanilla, tons of toffee/caramel. The taste is sweet/slightly bitter malts, and alot of toffee/caramel. ABV is hidden very well for a 9.2% brew. Medium body. Very drinkable, this is my first Flying Dog brew and it is pretty tasty, highly recommended.

Photo of onehomesickalien
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tried this one by recommendation and am very pleased. This is my first Imperial Porter so I can only judge based on what I know.

Appearance: Dark as night with a small head that lasts all the way to the end. Lacing does not stick, but is present.

Smell: Burnt smell, with alcohol, hops and malts present. Dark chocolate more than coffee aroma, but there is a presence of a medium roast in there. Overall very nice.

Taste/Mouthfeel: This is what won me immediately. Overall very enjoyable all the way down. Hops fairly strong but not overbearing (which I like.) Does leave a bit of a warm alcohol and burnt aftertaste, but well worth the results. This one sticks with you.

Drink-ability: Loved this beer, but one is plenty. Maybe Two...

Photo of jeffjfindley
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tis indeed gonzo. Black as night with a respectable head. The nose immediately suggests the alcohol inside, along with a big roasted chocolate malt character. I found the taste to be a bit of a mess of burnt coffee, licorice, mocha, and a blast of alcohol. Big hops... probably a little too big for the style.

Perhaps given a little more time in the bottle these elements could fuse together a little more effectively, but I didn't find a great deal of harmony with this one. Mouthfeel is good, but a bit syrupy. Drinkable, but nothing I'd rush out to buy again.

Photo of goschool
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: The pour is black as the night sky with a light brown head that soon fades to wispy lacing.

Smell: The nose has roasted malts, which bring milk chocolate and medium-roast coffee, out in front of alcohol and piney hops.

Taste: The flavor profile starts out with a blast of oily bitter hops, followed by coca, coffee, and raisins in the mid-palate, and warming alcohol at the finish.

Mouthfeel: This one is medium to full-bodied and sticky.

Drinkability: This is a hearty brew. I could see this benefiting from 6-12 months of cellaring.

Photo of aquatonex
2.98/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

My friend bought a 6-pack and she couldn't stand them. So, of course, I was obliged to finish them off whatever it took.

Pours dark brown like a nasty cola. No head, but some moderate carbonation. Not much lacing, more like a film. Nose is rather alcohol-y along with some noticeable bitter floral notes as well as some coffees and caramels. For the taste, I think they stretched the ABV, the balance is WAY off. Lots of flavors going on, heavy hops and coffee malts, but altogether too much alcohol and not very enjoyable to drink due to that.

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

12 oz. bottle with VINTAGE 06B stamped on the side.

Gonzo poured an opaque black with a nice dark khaki color large bubbled head. Beautiful looking, head stays for a while before I can take a sip. Very sticky to the glass, doesn't want to let go at all. Sniffing this one I get sharp smokey scents with some caramel coffee to it. A bit of cinnamon seems to appear as it warms. Alcohol is a bit present in the nose as well. Flying Dog did a great job with the taste on this one. Very complex, thick, and sweet. Roasted chocolate malt seems to dominate, but brown sugar and a very tiny, but noticable, citrus bitterness appears in the aftertaste. Very full flavored with a lot to recognize with this taste. Wow, this is 9.2 abv? Man, this one really snuck up on me. Be careful with how delicious this one is, make sure to sip and enjoy.

Photo of Butch
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle (stored at 39o set on counter to warm for 15 minutes prior to pour) nonic pint glass

Color & Head: Pours thick. Dark black with maybe a touch of red at the edges. What head was there was a dark khaki or creamed coffee. The head was pretty thin and didn’t last a mnute. Faded to a thin ring around the glass really quickly.

Aroma: Nice. I can smell some alcohol, understandable for an imperial, and even some hops, which is really nice for this style. Some bready aroma as well. No sweet or malty notes.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel is thick. Deep roasted flavors are offset beautifully with the high alcohol. Awesome combo. The aftertaste has a bit of cigar to it, which I suppose is a flaw, but I really dig cigars, so it works for me.

Notes: I really dig the way the higher alcohol works with the really deep roasted flavors. I couldn’t drink this every day, but I wouldn’t mind trying.


Photo of SQNfan
4.09/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

A- Black in color, it poured a 1/4" dark head that dissipated very quickly and barely left any laceing.

S- The nose showed a bunch of crème brulee crust with coffee, Christmas spice and a bit of caramel.

T&M- Good flavor concentration that glided over the palate seemlessly. The midpalate had a sweetness to it that lingers through the smokey finish. The sweetness and depth of flavor covers the 9.5% alcohol very well.

D- The sweet yet bitter flavors make this a wonderful nitecap beer and anytime in front of a blazing fire.

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

A - Wicked dark. Medium brown-colored head which fades quickly. I had a pretty aggressive pour but not much of a head formed. A bunch of sediment formed at the bottom of the bottle and some of it came into the glass a little chunky. That slowly rose and built up on the sides of the glass, which was strange.
S - Spicy dark fruits, hops, faint roasted malt & grain.
T - Pretty complex. The roasted malt is surprisingly sweet, which is probably enhanced by the tastes of bittersweet chocolate. The notorious "lakewater" taste comes out near the end of each sip. Maybe it's the medium body of Porters that causes it, but I always taste lake water in most of the Porters I drink. The alcohol is hidden really well, with only a slight warm spiciness at the end, which is great, and the carbonation is pretty low.
M/D - The hops & roasted malt linger around the mouth to leave an enjoyable, sweet taste. None of the flavors really stand out though, they're all pretty weak, but the alcohol doesn't show and the medium body keeps it from being too much. The dulled tastes actually make it more drinkable and I could definitely have a couple more throughout the night. Props to Flying Dog for making a unique beer with a great style.

Photo of 86sportster883
3.6/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Aside from the inebriating effect of this 9% abv Imperial Porter, I believe that Hunter S. would be somewhat disappointed. I was, so let me just be up front and say that the Gonzo Imperial is just not a very good Baltic style porter. But, it has a great label, and the name certainly warns you that you’re in for something out of the ordinary.

I would consider the Gonzo Porter an extreme beer, in the sense of pushing the limits of abv for the style. Unfortunately, taste is far and away sacrificed somewhere along the way. Burnt malts seem to dominate the taste and a sharp bitter finish overrides anything else that might be going on in this beer.

On the plus side, the Flying Dog Gonzo is very aromatic and … did I mention it has a cool Ralph Steadman label? Other than that, it pours dark brown, has one of the darkest heads that I've seen on a beer, and is full bodied. Yet, the taste just didn't come together for me, and I wouldn't put this beer in the same class as a Sinebrychoff or D. Carnegie.

Photo of jjayjaye
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours opaque with ruby hued edges and less than a finger deep whispy dark tan head that fades quickly. No indication of residual carbonation.

The smell is sweet dark chocolate and roasted malt, but it's not full.

The mouth feel is full bodied with a nice tang from the hops. Slightly bitter note of coffee that is even more pronounced with the swallow. Lingering coffee flavor and a kick of bitterness at the end.

The flavor is good sweet and roasted malt with chocolate and coffee complimented by the nose. A bit of a dry finish.

The 9.2 is well hidden in the complexity. This is certainly going to happen again. Nice job.

Photo of Hautacam
3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark brew with a tan film of a head.
Smells like burnt wood, leather , coffee and alcohol.
Taste is very full bodied espresso- with a lemon peel...sweetened with caramel. There is some phenol..a bit medicinal , but good...smoky and chalky...just a hint of licorice. The bitter citrus hits fast and lingers all the way through. Alcohol is more evident as it warms up.
Mouthfeel is big...carbonation is medium...very creamy.
Good stuff...enjoyed sipping this for an hour or so.

Photo of mikesgroove
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured a thick, black, with some light penetrating on the sides and bottom. One of the biggest tan colored heads I have ever scene. Actually had to wait a couple mins to pour the rest. Really nice spider web like lace was to follow. Good looker so far.

S - Very very strong smell was apparent from the start. Big aroma of coffee and caramel with a definate alcohol flavor to it. A slight sweetness could be detected as it warmed along with a very subtle hoppy presence. Maybe a but of chocolate at the end, very nice.

M & T - This was nice, feel was very rich and creamy, and very warming. Lots of carbonation made everything pop just right, and this went down like dessert. Some smoked flavors were readily apparent, but definatly not overwhelming. Very full flavored, sweet profile and a nice dry, long lingering smokey finish. Very full robust porter to say the least.

D - Overall I have to give this one its due. It was a perfect nightcap to the evening and very worthy of being a sipper. I had been wanting to try this one for a while and it did not dissapoint.

Photo of velo343
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Near black, with a faint hint of ruby coming through when held to the light. A thin, coffee colored head with little retention.

Smell - Lots of coffee, a distinct alcohol aroma. Some very dark fruits, like raisins and plums. Hazelnut as well.

Taste - A fairly thick, malty mouthfeel. Quite syrupy. Lots of coffee flavor and heavily toasted malts. Raisins are in the profile as well. A hot alcohol taste. Very sweet and malty, not too much hop flavor.

Drinkability - A very good, but not great beer. Missing some complex flavors, but hits the key points for an imperial porter. .

Photo of objectivemonkey
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Into a nonic tulip glass, comes out thick and black as night, no ruby hues, no browns, just black. The head is monstrous, two full inches of light brown head, lacing in streaks and rings. Just lovely. The aroma is full of roasted malts, espresso, and chocolates, but there is an unexpectedly large amount of leafy, raw, oily hops, reminds me a lot of Surly Darkness (only not as good). And that continues on to the taste, a thick, malty chocolate fist grabbing hold of a leafy, grassy, almost raw hop, and it works very well here. Unfortunately, it doesn't translate to a good mouth, where the carbonation is a little low for a porter, the body is good, but just thins and flattens and disappears much too quickly. When I drink a thick, dark beer, I want to keep feeling and tasting it for some time to come, and I just don't here. Not that it detracts all that much from this delicious brew, it just brings things down a bit. But then again, if this is the closest I can get to Darkness all year round, I can't complain. In fact, I'll have to go get a pack of this, cause despite its small shortcomings, its a great drinker.

Photo of jbsteiny
3.87/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Oh, after reading all of these phenomenal reviews, I was peeved that I'd missed this on tap at Spuyten Duyvil's legends night (I think they said the keg lasted a few hours...), but I found the bottle shortly afterward. I loved the Steadman skull on the label. I wanted it to be spectacular, to make Thompson proud. I have to say, I was a little disappointed -- it was good, not great.

It poured black with a thin dense head the color of milk chocolate. Aromas of fruity hops, plums, caramel, and roasted malts. "Can't get a footing in this stuff." But even a ton of hops couldn't hide the 9%+ in here. Maybe I'm getting soft, but the alcohol turned me off from what could have been spectacular. Strong finish of hazelnut, espresso, and some dark chocolate. A bit too fizzy and boozy for my taste. One was enough. I give credit to Flying Dog for going big, but, apologies to Uncle Duke, halfway through I wished I'd had a Rasputin instead.

Photo of jaxon53
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served at cellar temperature in a pint glass. Poured a deep brown, almost black color with about an inch of thick coffee brown head, with a vigorous pour. Decent retention with plenty of sticky lace on the glass.

Smell: Lots of chocolate, Sweet caramel/toffee aromas, some dark fruity notes that I can't quite put my finger on.

Taste: Wonderful roasty, smokey flavors, with a little hop bite to it. Some coffee, chocolate, and caramel flavors also. Very well balanced with a nice bitter finish. Very little carbonation and alcohol detected. Mouthfeel was full and somewhat thick. This beer is very drinkable and worth picking up.

Photo of jcdiflorio
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured into a large flaired tulip glass from a 12 brown long neck bottle with a crimped on cap.

Deep chestnut brown with a 2" mocha head dissapating fairly quickly leaving some clumps of foam floating on top, leaving webs of lace down the glass.

Roasty,very inticing spicyness, some licorace with an woody/earthyness.
A very nice aroma,one of those kind you can't stop inhailing.

Roasty,very spicy taste for a porter,very sweet carmelly taste,chocolaty,coffee. Nicely balanced taste finishes with a sharp,clean tart note leaving a good spicyness on the palate.

Very creamy mouthfeel, tangy with puckering bitterness. Goes down easily smooth and enjoyable. Very drinkable for a imperial porter wish I had another. The best beer i've had from Flying Dog so far. I'd recommend giving this one a try.

Photo of Tyrawlings
3.97/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. Bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Near black in color. Thin tan head pours one finger thick and dissolves almost immediately. Very thin if any lacing.

S: Roasted coffee. Chocolate. Pine. Dark fruit. Alcohol.

T: Deep roasted coffee and dark bitter chocolate blend together to create an astringent twang. Dark fruits and burnt malts are followed by a nice pine bitter bite. Sweetness of molasses and tastes of earth are taken over by a warming alcohol.

M: Syrupy and thick. Minimal carbonation. Warm and drying.

D: A tad over the top for the baltic porter style but worth the money spent to enjoy this fine beer. By far and away, Gonzo is the best in Flying Dog's arsenal.

Photo of canucklehead
4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow,this beer is like a firework to the face with its hop intensity and almost seaweed like finish. Dark as a night outside Barstow and huge in the nose to the point of parody, a beer that is remembered the next day like a black eye. It's been awhile since I had this intense a brew.

Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,659 ratings.