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Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery

Not Rated.
Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter

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2,670 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,670
Reviews: 1,435
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 10.95%
Wants: 114
Gots: 215 | 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: 2,670 | Reviews: 1,435
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.

Photo of lehows
4.44/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a thick black color with a coarse and aggressive looking dark-tan head. There was an incredible amount of suspended sediment in the beer that took a long time to settle. Aromas are nothing short of amazing, very powerful aromas of heavily sugared coffee and charcoal. Taste is of burnt espresso beans, caramel, charcoal, maple syrup, vanilla, and a sweet alcohol presence toward the end of the beer, especially as it warms. One of the best sipping beers I've ever had. Very fine carbonation, medium mouthfeel, a bit syrupy if anything but certainly doesnt take away from this quality brew.

Photo of Lexx
3.91/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thank you to Grub for bringing this over!

I found this one to be quite interesting. Poured quite dark, not entirely black though. Dark, nutty brown at the edges when held up to light. Nice cappuccino head on the pour with ok retention, and once it had generally subsided, the edges were still decently thick. Lovely lacing, or as I said in my notes, "INSANE!"
The aroma and taste bewildered me a bit. I smelled caramel and coffee and a bit of floralness, but there was something else that really surprised me. At first I couldn't place what I was smelling, and then after a moment I realized it was bleu cheese. The bleu cheese transfered into the taste also, but it wasnt unpleasant. I actually rather enjoyed it. Other tastes included burnt coffee and alcohol, leading into a grapefruit finish.

Photo of Viggo
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks for bringing this grub!

Pours a very opaque black, thick tan head, very rocky, nice lacing, good retention, stays pretty thick. Smell is sweet, caramel, roast and coffee, chocolate, very malty, some floral hops, bit of vanilla, quite nice. Taste is roasty, some caramel, chocolate and vanilla, alcohol, smooth, almost bitter grapefruit in the finish. Mouthfeel is very thick, full bodied, low carbonation, very smooth. A nice drink, thanks grubby!

Photo of Cresant
2.73/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured this 12 oz. brown bottle into a Samuel Smith tulip glass. "Vintage 06F" was printed on the bottle. The body was a very dark brown/purple. Rather large chunks of sediment slowly dropped. The tan head was minimal but it left freckles of lace.

Smell was spicy cinnamon. Light breadiness and rubbing alcohol, later.

Taste was Syrupy chocolate malts. Band-aids. Hops flavors rise through the sweetness. Woodiness, like chewing on a popsicle stick. Multi-layered and rather complex but not phenomenal tasting. There is a weird combination of flavors here.

Mouthfeel was medium to thin. The beer leaves a sweet coating on the lips.

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

A: pours a very dark oak brown. Once its in the glass, it's opaque. Nice two finger dark tan head, which leaves a very nice lacing.

S: coffee, chocolate, hints of caramel and vanilla. Roasted malts. Faint hints of nuts maybe.

T: startswith the hops stinging the tip of the tongue, then a chocolatey kinda taste, then there's vanilla and caramel, and finally the nuts and coffee in the end. kind of a burnt coffee. Actually, now that it's warmed up a bit, It's better.

M: Nice mouthfeel with this one. Well balanced. The hops kinda spice things up a bit.

D: For a porter at 9.2 percent, I'd say it's slighlty more than average in drinkability.

The taste got better as the beer warmed, I'd say let it sit out of the fridge for at least 10 minutes before drinking.

Photo of daliandragon
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've honestly never thought much of Flying Dog as a brewery, I think their labels somewhat crude and corny, and the few beers I've had from them have been kind of ...eh, ok but nothing remotely special. One pour here looks to break the trend.

Pours a thick, syrupy near black morass with a hefty brown head that erodes to reveal gorgeous, scaly, lacing. Nose has plenty of chocolate and coffee notes but these are pushed aside by a piney blast of hops that adds a whole new dimension to this porter. An impressive start at any rate.

Taste is also well balanced although front loaded with hops. Very thick and tasty in the mouth with alcohol almost completely hidden. Not lacking in roasted malt or coffee flavors but the hops are what you'll remember. Certainly a bit of a skull cruncher and not for porter traditionalists but this is definitely a beer worth trying.

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

Pours brown to black with a brown, huge and expanding head. Very good lacing. Retention is good, and the head turns rocky. A nicely toasted malt aroma. Taste of molasses, roasted coffee, and chocolate malts. Full body. Creamy texture. No taste of alcohol. Outstanding.

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

Broke out one of the 2 year old Gonzo's the other night. Pour is dark brown, almost black. No highlights. Very small tight brown head. Smells of burnt sugar and sesame oil. Taste is similar. Slight bitterness against the sweetness. Nicely balanced. Mouthfeel is creamy and slick - only the lightest carbonation. Highly drinkable at this state...And smooth. No alcohol detected. Glad I aged a few more of these.

Photo of Newglarusguy
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz longneck bottle into my frosted pint glass.

Appearance: Very dark looks like diaherrea kind of, that leaves little lacing behind.

Smell: Chocolatety with a twist of hops in there strangely balances it out pretty damn well.

Taste: Whoa, for being a dark ale like a dark brown ale I can utmostly taste those cascades in there with a dark malty flavour chased with like rubbing or solvent alcohol that kinda burns on the way down.

Mouthfeel: Nice, good chocolate tones with hoppyness that makes your mouth feel nice.

Drinkability: I will only have one of these for sure most of that due to the 9% abv this will shitface you instantly if you don't know your beers.

Photo of matthewfuchs
3.67/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Great idea and inspiration for drinking this beer, Hunter S. Thompson artwork. Poured into goblet off tap. small dark head, left a lot of lace. lots of dark malt, somewhat chocolaty with a strong smoke finish. Slight sense of some citrus in the after taste. 9.2% ABV and you can tell. Definitely a "mood" beer. Great conversation starter for film buffs. Worth a try for sure.

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

crwills hooked me up with this one in a recent trade. thanks craig!

12oz bottle, vintage 06E

pours opaque and nearly black with a big dense light brown head that drops slowly and leaves tons of lace.

aroma is good. coffee. dark chocolate. bit of alcohol. hint of sourness. light roast. big bready malt.

taste is great. low bitterness. bittersweet chocolate. light roast and smoke. big bready malt. a bit fruity. hint of grapefruit, more in the bitterness and finish than anything else.

mouthfeel is good. big and chewy. nice low carbonation level.

drinkability is great. really well balanced. the alcohol is almost completely hidden. delicious and really tasty, a fine example of the style.

Photo of PEBKAC
2.37/5  rDev -41%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

The label art sets too high a plateau for the beer, but you might as well open up the bottle before it gets too warm.

Greasy tar; very fluid for the style. A tiny brown head develops about 20 seconds after the pour is done. Black as asphalt, & just as noxious. Penetrating coffee grounds & pungent hops, a bit of a cigar stench; fumy alcohol. My head hurts.

Invigorating carbonation, & a thin body. Hops are in everything. This is a dirty IPA with too much missing, too much of what you don't want. Burnt compost, & stale jerky; just lovely. :(

Photo of EStreet20
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a shaker pint glass. '06 vintage.

A - The brew is basically motor oil black with half a finger of coffee colored head.

S - Got some nice malty sweetness. Some chocolate flavor with perhaps a bit of caramel tossed in there.

T - A nice flavor here. Full chocolate tastes that have a nice sweetness. A tiny bit of smoky flavor on the aftertaste. A great chocolatey, roasted brew.

M - Huge milkshake like feel on this brew makes it feel great in the mouth. This is an excellent full body for a porter with this much chocolatey flavor.

D - A nice flavor and huge feel make this an excellent sipper.

Notes: I had the Flying Dog sampler and found all of their normal release beers to be quite pedestrian. This is an excellent brew. Glad I went with my gut and picked up a single from Oak Tree. I'll definitely make it a point to go grab some more. Pleasant surprise.

Photo of InDreams
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Woah! Hops. Look out...

A: Poured out of the bottle into my glass, I'd call it brown when the lights are out. Pretty robust looking, with a dark tan frothy head and a good deal of lacing on the glass.

S: Yeah, wow. Hops are overwhelming here. Extraordinary how evident they are, even having expected a hoppy beer with the whole "Imperial Porter" title. Floral hops perhaps, pretty pleasant. I struggle to find more, but you can definitely pick up on the malts, roasted or smoked, I can't tell. Maybe dried fruit. Slightly sweet. Overall, the hops dominate.

T: Hops. Bitterness hits right away. Very robust though, and as opposed to the smell you get more of the malty goodness; bready, smoked maltiness. The malt traits that are present are very, very nice. Dried fruit sweetness for sure. Very smooth, and there's some sort of acidic quality that leads me to wonder if they incorporated any stale ales or old ales like the Porters of old. I'm actually really liking it on the whole though. Balance doesn't seem to be a consideration, so if you're against really hoppy beers, this may not please you. And I'm just not sure the hardcore hoppiness really goes with the style. I'd also note that, despite almost 10% ABV, I'd have to try real hard to pick up on the alcoholic qualities of this beer.

M: Medium to full bodied, but very creamy, smooth, and certainly a bit dry. Not much in the way of a bite from carbonation.

D: I used to say I hated the hardcore hoppy thing of many craft brewers, but I've really been coming around to it with further consideration, and while this beer is quite hoppy, I'm still really enjoying it. The malt characters that are there are very nice. That said, almost 10% and pretty heavy, so while I'd gladly take a pint, but I can't see it being a beer you'd have more than once or twice in a night.though. Plus, if you don't like hops, this ain't for you. So it's low on the drinkability scale...

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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,670 ratings.