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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.

2,489 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,489
Reviews: 1,410
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 10.92%
Wants: 86
Gots: 157 | 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: 2,489 | Reviews: 1,410 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of spoots
4.55/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've been looking forward to trying this beer and was delighted to find it reasonably priced at a local store.

A - Flat black pour with a dense, cocoa-colored, two-finger head. "Voluptuous" is the word that immediately comes to mind. Head slowly settles into a thick, whipped batter with substantial lacing.

S - Strong roasted malt tones. Some coffee, a little fresh hay, and loads of chocolate. Lovely, chewy aroma.

T - All of the flavors mentioned above come in wave after wave. Strong espresso aftertaste--delightful.

M - Filmy and dense.

D - Too dense for extended drinking. This might be a perfect beer for AFTER the meal. Definitely want to pair it with some good vanilla ice cream or flourless chocolate cake.

Another 2005/2006 winter gem. I don't doubt that this beer would benefit from some aging. I'm going to cellar a couple of bottles and see how it fares after awhile.

spoots, Jan 20, 2006
Photo of Naes
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This porter pours out black with a tall chocolate colored head. Retention is good, but it provides minimal lacing.
The aroma is sweet and a bit chocolaty.
The flavor is roasty with chocolate and coffee tones.
Mouth feel is full bodied and moderately carbonated.
Although this is a good beer, I must say that I am somewhat disappointed as I do not feel that this beer lives up to all the hype surrounding it.

Naes, Jan 19, 2006
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

R.I.P. Hunter S. Thompson Appearance: Dark chocolate ruby practically opaque but manages to let some light through dark tany frothy head slow bubbles gurgling carbonation. Aroma: Heavy on alcohol soaked fruit notes along with dark cocoa and coffee tones evident herbal hops with a creamy edge to it all. Taste: Creamy flowing flavor dark chocolate powder milky tone fruit soaked in alcohol mild bittering hop flavor and dark roasts balance the sweetness of it. Mouthfeel: Creamy texture medium to bigger bodied baltic porter, but definitely lighter than my standard Baltic porter Perkuno's. Drinkability: Not bad at all definitely the best Flying Dog beer I've tried good beer.

WVbeergeek, Jan 17, 2006
Photo of tempest
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The easiest way to describe this is that its lighter version of an RIS. Many similar flavors and whatnot, but more drinkable and a little milder.

Pours black with a tan head that wont quit. Smells a touch roasty and sweet behind big coffee/expresso/chocolate flavors. The taste is closest to Middle Ages Dragonslayer, but like I said, turned down one notch. Like the aroma, the flavor is a balanced mix of coffee/expresso/chocolate.

Relatively easy drinking for a 9.5% beer, Not as big on flavors as a RIS, but for a Baltic Porter, this one can hold its own. Ok, let's party.

tempest, Jan 16, 2006
Photo of assurbanipaul
4.7/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep brown with a thin khaki head that disappears quickly. Aroma is a little dry malt, prunes and a trace of alcohol.

Flavors are good porter standards, just a hair stronger: black patent malt, chocolate malt, red grapes, prune juice, a nice pinot noir quality. A dry, dusty sweetness, if that makes any sense. No alcohol in the taste despite its high content, very balanced flavors.

Mouthfeel is medium, a little sticky on the lips but not heavy at all, very drinkable. I like this, one of the most clearly defined porters I've come across. Other than the aroma being off slightly, it's perfect. I could drink a case, I hope they make more.

assurbanipaul, Jan 12, 2006
Photo of TheBlackMallard
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Smuggled back from NY.

Pours black with quite a large head. Smells of figs and sweet, dark fruits. Tastes like acidic coffee, caramel, chocolatte, and slight pine and citrus notes (more roasted barley than black patent, maybe it's just me). Creamy and full mouthfeel. I find it as drinkable as any other porter which probably means trouble.

TheBlackMallard, Jan 07, 2006
Photo of pentathlete
2.25/5  rDev -44.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Purply dark chocolate color with a small tan head. Moderately carbonated. Smell is green oily hops, very raw pine odor. A bit too "cleanser" smelling. Taste is rough, raw piney hops again, not very enjoyable. Mouthfeel is ok, the finish is too long for the harsh tastes. I don't find this one very drinkable at all.

pentathlete, Jan 06, 2006
Photo of kmcnair
4.53/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, looking at ebay... perhaps I should have kept this one sealed... just kidding, this is beer not baseball cards.

Pours a deep brown to black color, quite opaque, and makes a thick dark tan head that resembles the surface of the moon. Head retention and lace are both very exception, I hope this tastes as good as it looks! Aroma is burnt toffee, butterscotch, roasted malts, coffee. Flavor is very good, smoked malt, espresso, rich chocolate milk, tart bitter cocoa finish. The 9.5% ABV is hardly noticable. Medium bodied, thick, creamy carbonation and has a milky chocolate finish that leaves a soft coating on the palate. I am quite impressed with this offering, I have tried a few Flying Dog brews, but this is above and beyond my expectations. Well done, very drinkable.

kmcnair, Jan 03, 2006
Photo of JISurfer
3.78/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I've not been too impressed with Flying Dog brews before, so I had this one with a little reluctance. I did notice that it had a Hunter S. Thompson reference on the bottle, so that made it neato. On to the beer!

A - Starts out with a super solid/thick head, but soon the head dies out and turns into a thick laceing. After that, there's no evidence of any head what so ever, except for the stickey residue around the glass. Body is so dark, you can't see anything through it.
S - Very bold smell of dark chocolate, some fruity undertones, some faint hops, and an underlying smell of alcohol. Kind of like a warning flag, that you're going to encounter a strong beer.
T - Simply dazzling taste. Alomst syrupy it's so thick. The tastes that were the strongest were the bittersweet chocolate, hops, and alcohol. The good thing though, was that the alcohol wasn't too overbearing and it went well with the other tastes.
D - All in all a great beer that far exceeded my expectations. Easily the best beer from this brewery that I've had to date. Get some!

JISurfer, Jan 03, 2006
Photo of carln26
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark brown with some mild amber highlights and topped by a thick, long-lasting tan head. The nose has a ton of citrus grapefruit, wow from a porter? A little chocolate on the finish. The taste is a nice balance of chocolate malt, and hops. This is really the most hop forward I’ve had since Alpha-Klaus. Nice mixture of milk chocolate, espresso, and the sharp bitterness of the hop bill. The mouth feel is smooth, a little thin and astringent, but this is a very drinkable beer. A good beer, and a great tribute to Hunter S.

carln26, Jan 02, 2006
Photo of bditty187
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My first Flying Dog beer of any sorts in years…

Black in hue; it is Darth Vader in a glass. Beige head, at the apex the foam was one finger tall. The bubbles quickly faded to a thin, soapy cap. The darkness of the liquid is beautiful. I was pleased a soapy collar lasted a long while. There was some subsequent lacing; it was spotty but fairly extensive. In general, I really enjoy the appearance of this beer.

The nose is boastful and aggressive. There are huge roasted coffee notes, bits of chocolate as well; I really like the maltiness. Dark fruits are sprinkled throughout, plums and raisins mainly. The alcohol and hops battle for the remainder of the nose. Sadly, I am the loser. I don’t care much for the solvent-alcohol heat aroma. This smell doesn’t blend well with the woody/piney notes from the hops. Thankfully the malt is strong enough to curb this unpleasant aroma. Overall, the nose shows some promise and I think it will taste better then it smells. I like the direction the bouquet is going, I can tell this will not be a middling beer, taste-wise.

The palate is surprisingly dry. Roasted malts dominate the palate. Coffee flavors, semi-sweet chocolate, faint kisses of caramel and vanilla. I am impressed at the depth of the malt. By the middle the fruit emerges, dates, plums, and raisins… very lovely. The alcohol is restrained, heat-wise, but there is a solvent taste I don’t like. Unlike the nose it is not much of a distraction. Piney, citrusy hops at the back. The hops are not thunderous but they are firm enough to balance the finish. Two-thirds of this beer is roasty, dry, and astringent but the last third is juicy and bitter. The aftertaste is long… with coffee, char, cocoa, pine, and wood, fruit (citrus and raisin) all in the mix. This is a very impressive Americanized Baltic Porter. By far this is the best Flying Dog beer I have had.

Medium/medium full in body, the palate deserves more bulk but, as is, the mouthfeel fits this beer fairly well. More heft would have been great. Still, it is filling enough. The low carbonation is relaxing and I am happy to sip and savor.

Wow. I’ve had this beer in my DBF for a few months. I was worried this beer would disappoint me. Flying Dog educes yawns… until now. I applaud this beer, thoroughly. It is plenty arrogant and yet is shows great craftsmanship. I am impressed. What a tasty beer. Needless to say, this is a very drinkable beer. I purchased a four-pack in Fort Collins, CO. Try some if you can, this dog is not a mutt!

bditty187, Dec 31, 2005
Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.8/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

"No man is so foolish but he may sometimes give another good counsel, and no man so wise that he may not easily err if he takes no other counsel than his own. He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master."

--Hunter S. Thompson

Vintage '05. Thanks in advance to bditty187 for the last beer that I'll drink in 2005. Lightless obsidian topped by a cascading head of dark golden sandstone. This is the darkest porter that I ever remember pouring and is darker than many stouts. The cap has the consistency of waterlogged sponge, deflates slowly and looks great while doing so. It's also no slacker in the lace department since a moderately thick, periodically pocked sheet covers most of the glassy surface area.

The nose struck me as potentially very good when I first cracked the crown. However, now that I'm focusing on it for real, it's merely above average. I can't quite put my finger on it, but something seems slightly askew. It isn't as mega-malty as I expected (or as it looks). Heavily roasted, espresso-tinged black malt is present, but is far from aggressive. It's met with equal, if not greater force by a green, fresh pine needle-like, sticky hop cone essence that gives me a clue what to expect on the palate.

The flavor is odd and unexpected. The malt side of the equation is reminiscent of saccharine sweetened diet chocolate bars soaked in dark Karo syrup, sour molasses and stale coffee grounds. The pine sappy hoppiness fails to blend in, and, as a result, the flavor profile has a disjointed, muddled quality. It's hard to figure out exactly what's going on. As I continue to sip, it's becoming increasingly obvious that the answer is: not much.

One reason my taste buds are having a hard time getting traction is that the flavor is so flat. By that I mean that it lacks that three dimensional quality that all good beer has, that allows one to delve into its various nooks and crannies and discover all sorts of interesting flavors, layers of flavor and flavor combinations. This one is broad and boldly flavored, but it's also stunningly shallow.

Part of the reason for the above is a curious lack of carbonation. It's curious because there was a normal release of gas on bottle opening and tremendous head formation on the pour. In the actual drinking, though, the near total lack of leavening hurts both the flavor and the mouthfeel. The mouthfeel is full and slighty slick, but feels too inert to be pleasurable.

Hunter S. Thompson defined gonzo as 'with total committment, total concentration and a mad sort of panache'. After hearing the buzz about Gonzo Imperial Porter, I thought Flying Dog had done those words justice by brewing a beer that is a fitting tribute to the larger than life character who wrote them. I was wrong.

BuckeyeNation, Dec 31, 2005
Photo of czechsaaz
4.18/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Giant roasty aroma. Lots of complex yeast esters too, dried fruit, caramel, chocolate and smoke.

Black colored with a tan head that starts big and fades quickly but leaves a small ring of lace around the edge throughout the glass.

Great roast malt flavor. The bitter/smokey roast flavor lingers for a long time in the aftertaste. Fairly bitter but It's hard to say if that hop bitter or the effects of so much dark malt. Deep ripe fruit esters from the yeast too.

Big bodied with nice light carbonation. Too big to be a baltic porter but body is too light for an Imp.Stout so Imperial Porter is a good description.

Definitely a sipper. This is an end of the night or lingering over one type of beer.

czechsaaz, Dec 22, 2005
Photo of danielocean03
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased a four pack of the Gonzo Imperial Porter on a tip from a friend at work, and I must say this is one of my absolute favorite beers all-around, and would surely do Hunter S. Thompson proud. I don't see much room for improvement in this articular brew. This porter pours a deep, rich brown, the captivating chocolate-espresso malt aroma filling the nostrils immediately. Although one of the thickest beers I've had the pleasure of sampling, this beer has an exquisitely complex taste. Starts hoppy and chocolaty rounds out with a bitter espresso combined with the now more noticable hints of the alcohol, and finishes with a appreciatively bitter aftertaste. Excellent mouthfeel, incredibly smooth and creamy on the tongue. If dark beers are your fancy, try this beer, you'll love it.

danielocean03, Dec 21, 2005
Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass with a little bulge at the top of the glass. An opaque beer resembling and imperial stout escapes the bottle, leaving a very nice, one full finger, creamy, light mocha colored head.

Lots of citrusy and piney hops in the aroma. Also some chocolate malt in the aroma. A very balanced aroma that is very pleasing to the nose. Notes of coffee as well.

At first, coffee is tasted, followed by some hop bitterness. The hops are citrusy in flavor. Also, a sort of oatmeal, bready sweetness is present. This is a different tasting and interesting beer. My taste buds are alive with anticipation. Now I detect some chocolate in the very last seconds of the sampling. Taste keeps evolving. I never even notice the 9.5 abv. So smooth and balanced.

A very smooth mouthfeel. A nice bitterness is there and teh sweetness is there to balance the beer out. This is a great beer. I was pleasantly surprised by this offering.

SaCkErZ9, Dec 17, 2005
Photo of mmmbeer
4.4/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Made sure to buy 2 bottles of this stuff... 12 oz. with "vintage" printed on the label and the bottle itself, but no date on either. Pours very black and thick with a 1 finger head that is dark brown with maybe a touch of orange - very unique color. The body is too thick to see through and the head leaves some lacing before it ultimately recedes to nothing. The smell is very nice with tropical notes (mango, pineapple?), hops, coffee, chocolate, tobacco, and some alcohol. It's very thick with notes of tobacco, leather, dark fruits, coffee, chocolate, green/citric/tropical hops, black/burnt malts, and a medium bitterness. Tasty - wonder what the cellar's gonna do to it.

mmmbeer, Dec 13, 2005
Photo of nickss
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black with a gorgeous 1.5" brown rocky head. Big gobs of lace... perfect.

Smells strongly of raisins (a completely unique smell IMO). Some very faint coffee in the background, prunes, plums.... a kind of coppery bitterness.... almost acrid.

Big tastes of plum and fig. Huge taste.... very complex.... extremely nice.
Coffee and raisins make themselves apparent in this one as well. Quite enjoyable.

Finally, a porter than isn't too thin... hooray!.... perfect, creamy mouthfeel. A subdued, almost inactive carbonation. Extremely well done.

I never though I'd say this, but this taste is almost too big for me to drink too many of these. That being said, the abv is extraordinarily well hidden, yielding quite the drinkable brew... all in all extremely well done.

nickss, Dec 12, 2005
Photo of weeare138
4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appears black with a small light brown head that retains well. Nice chunky lacing left around the glass.
Smell is of sweet chocolate, bitter-sweet chocolate, light caramel and toffee notes, along with a fruity blackberry jam and raisins with some minty and piney hops coming through.
Taste is of the same aromas with a nice, clean sweetness that entices the tastebuds with a hop burst.
Mouthfeel is chewy and extremely delicious with sweetness, making me lick my lips waiting for the next go. Perhaps a bit too much on the sweetness for some but it sure did tickle my fancy.
Drinkability...this is by far my favorite by Flying Dog. It took me for a wild ride that I'm itching to come back to.

weeare138, Dec 11, 2005
Photo of BassBone
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served on-tap at Lucky Baldwin's in Pasadena, CA

This beer poured from the tap like molasses. Unfortunately I got the end of the keg, so I got half a glass and about as much head. Still, deep deep black-brown with a daark brown thick head. Some lacing. The head vanished with the beer.

Very intense nose, smokey and malty, very strong. It was almost enough to put me off the beer until I smelled it again, noting the complexity.

The first taste was mostly head, so I let it settle some more. On second taste, this is one of the most bitter and smokey and complex beers I have ever tasted. It is simply magnificent. Too many things to name. Lingering bitter, but not unpleasant, aftertaste.

It felt like heaven in the mouth and was very drinkable. I would have it again if it weren't the end of the keg.

BassBone, Dec 10, 2005
Photo of scruffwhor
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- Black like my soul. Well not a newsprint black of course. Closer to a dark, dark brown. With an excellent brown mixed with white, two-finger head, with a nice heady film maintained throughout the entire drink.

Smell- Compelx smell of hops, rye, and a deep mocha.

Taste- Roasted malt sweetness with lots of cappucino-y, chocolatey flavors. But hops made its presence known. Slight warming hint of alcohol as well. Also caught a hint of earthy green vegetables of all things. And no I wasn't eating anything while drinking this beer.

Mouthfeel- In the are of medium to heavy. Two of these at the most would be perfect for or with desert. Hops and chocolate sort of glaze the palate.

Drinkability- I'd limit myself to two in one day. Like I said, more of a desert or after dinner or big meal beer to sweeten things out and end the evening.

scruffwhor, Dec 10, 2005
Photo of SwillinBrew
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - poured a very black raisin skin color with a good finger of caramel colo head.
S - A very fragrant roasted malt, toffee and hint of hop, punchy.
T - Mmm, solid flavors of burnt coffee, milk chocolate, roasted malt with a hint of hops. Very solid taste and i was surprised i couldnt taste more of the alcohol.
M&Dr - solidly medium bodied with good carbonation and felt quite nice on the palate. I'm going to age a few bottles of this to see what it taste like. But it taste great now, so why wait.

SwillinBrew, Dec 06, 2005
Photo of longarm
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dense and black with a thick brown head. Nothing else worth a report.

Aroma slightly bittersweet with a hint of cherry and raisins. Maybe I'm fantasizing a bit, but I smell chocolate donuts in there somewhere.

Full-bodied chocolate flavors. A tasty hit of hops that pop on the tastebuds has a double-pronged effect to balance sweetness and give it an "American" porter feel...if that's a designation. Lightly sour finish helps it balance well.

Coats well. It's hard to believe that the abv is 9.5%.

I find it hard to believe I could drink more than ....2....???, well maybe after 2 I might have a few more. This is a nice beer and in many ways greater than the sum of its parts. Complex flavor and aroma, I think this is a quality tribute to one of the great American writers of the last 50 years.

longarm, Dec 06, 2005
Photo of RenoZymurgist
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a complety black beer with a dark tan head that is a finger thick and has strong retention and leaves a little lace.. I love the aroma of this beer! It reminds me of the smell of hops as they enter the boil kettle. Spicy hop aroma with a hint of a citrus and a roasty malt as well. The flavor begins with a smooth roast barley and sweet malt flavor that segues into a more spicy hoppy balance to finish with a lingering hop bitterness and a lot of alcohol. The body is smooth and viscous and it has just enough carbonation to keep the head from disapearing. Overall I like this beer because of the very pleasent aroma and the fact that it has a huge flavor and it is distinct. To me it is like the hoppier brother to Old Rasputin which is another beer i love to enjoy during the winter. I think that flying dog should drop their barleywine and sell this instead.

RenoZymurgist, Dec 04, 2005
Photo of guinnessdoc
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This porter poured black with a hint of deep brown at the edges. It started with a 2-finger fluffy, brown head on it but that fell away leaving brown lace on the sides of the glass.

The smell is big on malt with some hop aroma in there as well.

I actually tasted more hops in this porter than I expected. There are definite chocolate & coffee flavors as well as the alcohol notes.

The mouthfeel is just what I expected from a porter. Nothing amazing but decent.

As a huge fan of Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Stedman's artwork, I was eagerly anticipating the release of this beer. I've never really been overwhelmed by the stuff from Flying Dog but I think this has got to be one of their best for sure. It's certainly not the best porter out there, but definitely worth a try.

As for it being a limited release - it sure seemed hard to find once it came out but I continue to find it lingering around in some local bottle shops. Hopefully the folks at Flying Dog keep it coming. Cheers to Flying Dog, Ralph Stedman, and, of course, Hunter.

guinnessdoc, Dec 02, 2005
Photo of jmz62565
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This pours ink black with a creamy tan two finger head.The smell is strong with scents of coffee,chocolate,and malt.Tasting this is like biting into a coffee chocolate bar.This is very rich and creamy, and the flavors are very strong.The m/f is heavy and very well balanced.This is an outstanding beer and if your lucky enough to find it buy it.

jmz62565, Dec 02, 2005
Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,489 ratings.