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Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery

Not Rated.
Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,657 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,657
Reviews: 1,433
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 10.95%
Wants: 108
Gots: 207 | 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: 2,657 | Reviews: 1,433 | Display Reviews Only:
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...

Photo of Imstillthegman
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My Gonzo poured out an opaque, extremely dark brown with a thin peanut brittle color head. It's leaving behind a fairly solid sheet of lacing on the glass.

The aroma has more hops in it than I would have ever expected. Don't get me wrong...I love hoppy beers, but hops aren't what I am searching for when I grab a porter. There are some chocolate roasted malts, dark fruit, and a light coffee scent in here, also.

The flavor is a blend of dark roasted malts, coffee, dark fruits, unsweetened chocolate, and bitter hops. Not as hoppy as the scent, but still noticeable.

Creamy, thick mouthfeel with some dryness upon swallowing. A bit chalky. Not my favorite porter, but a pretty good one.

Photo of jhicks12
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pour a very dark black like aged motor oil. even with a hard pour a small dark brown head.

Smell: roasted sweetness bitter fruit and coffee

Taste: Nice sweet warming malty taste with a bitter chocolate , coffee fruitness in the finish

Mouthfeel. Creamy velvet like.

Drinkability. Very nice warming Porter to enjoy on a cool northwestern PA winter evening

Photo of drseamus
3.36/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

When I ordered this beer, I forgot it was a flying dog brew. As soon as I saw the label, I realized immediately that it was. It poured jet black with a thin very dark mocha head. As expected with a flying dog beer, the hop aroma is overwhelming. The flavor is primarily hoppy as well, but there is a roasted flavor that comes through slightly as well. I probably wouldn't drink this again.

Photo of prototypic
2.64/5  rDev -34.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: One finger creamy, chocolate head. Beer is dark brown. Very thick looking. I'm impressed with the look.

Smell: First off, I can immediately pick up the licorice smell, which I am not a fan of at all. Coffee beans and mild chocolate smells are present. I'm also picking up a hint of a dark fruit smell, perhaps plums (?).

Taste: Again, the licorice taste is the first thing I notice. I have a strong disliking for that, so it pretty much killed this one for me. There's a bit of a coffee taste in there as well. But, the licorice is what hit first and it stuck around.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: For a 9+% ABV beer, you really can't tell. The alcohol does not overwhelm like I thought it might. It goes down easy enough. But, this is a tough beer for me. Overall, I really do not care for it and do not think I'd recommend it. Perhaps it's just a style preference.

Photo of bort11
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to RoBotGod for this one.
2006 vintage 12 oz bottle, with the kick ass Ralph Steadman label art.
Poured into an imperial pint glass. The head is a milk chocolate brown that stands about a fingers width. Not much cap or ring, but it still leaves a sticky lace on the glass. Color is a dark, dark brown almost black, and completely opaque.
Smell is of licorice and anise sort of dark roasted malt. Very bold in the nose. Taste adds some bitter bakers chocolate, a tad bit of espresso bean, and the slightest hops bitter.
Mouthfeel is a medium/heavy body. Mild carbonation. I don't really notice the alcohol.
I'm glad I've tried this beer. I'm glad I have one extra bottle to cellar. However, I don't know that I would have use for more.

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

355ml - Served in a snifter - 2005

Pretty intriguing bottle, lots of strange interesting artwork dedicated to writer Hunter S Thompson, including a little quote from him, " Good people drink good beer "

Pours with a deep almost black body, thick rich dark brown and deep red highlights around the edges once held up to the light. Thick viscous syrupy body, pours almost as thick as Rogue or Stone Impy. Dark espresso tan head, tight and creamy with pretty good retention. Lots of coffee lacing up and down the glass

Smell, really getting your nose in there brings forth a myriad of big bold aromas. Thick rich and sticky roasted malt, some hint of dark 70% cocoa chocolate. Some subtle coffee , thick clinging espresso like luscious aromas, nice fragrant american aroma hops. Smells like cascade possibly, that perfumed sweet, citric, piney aroma mingling in there with the roasted malt and esters. Slight estery turkish delight character, little bit of vanilla and a hint of nutmeg sitting in the background

Taste, strong rich roasted malt character. Some slight estery sweetness again, coffee and dark rich chocolate bitterness on the finish. Sweet piney cascade hops once again giving a little bit of subtle bitterness. Some slight alcohol character on the finish although for a beer that close to 10% its amazingly understated and is barely noticable bar a slight warming. Rich thick and syrupy body, slight sweetness on the finish along with a whack of roasted malt

I've only found one retailer in the UK stocking this and I'm glad I picked this up. This is a 2005 and its pretty amazing all round, the nose is especially brilliant. I have another bottle that I'm going to lay down for a year or two and see if this beer has developed or matured, hopefully it will.
This beer is dedicated to writer Hunter S Thompson, the beer named after Dr.Gonzo in the book and Terry Gilliam film adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I thought it appropriate to watch the film while enjoying this fantastic beer, definatly a good beer/movie pairing...

Photo of atsprings
3.63/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a deep opaque black with a thin off white head that was mostly diminishing. Aroma was somewhat on the weak side with some black malt and slight chocolate notes but overall, rather weak. The taste was mostly black malt with the expected dark chocolate, espresso lingering in the background along with some dried fruit and some very subdued hops. This beer has an appropriate level of carbonation and bitterness, but the 9.2% alcohol is very present on the tongue and in the throat. This is a decent beer for a cold night, but I still prefer Imperial Stouts.

Photo of BeerBelcher
3.61/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I thought this beer a bit on the mild side for a Baltic Porter, but was pleasantly surprised by a high amount of hops in this beer. The end result was well-balanced and drinkable.

Pours an inky thick-black with an abundant nude panty-hose colored head. Aroma is surprisingly hoppy rather than malty, although there is some caramel malt aroma as well. Taste is "big" but well-balanced, with an abundant amount of chocolate malt taste as well as a fair amount of hop taste. Mouthfeel is thick...not sticky like an IPA can be but more "chalky" in character. Yet this beer is rather drinkable. Nice job.

Photo of beveritt
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours with a thick tan head that settles into a nice layer and ring of foam. The beer itself is black as night.

Smell: Smells like sticking your head in a bag of fresh hop flowers, much more of a dry hop aroma than I would have expected.

Taste: Very spicy hops up front with a solid sweet malt counterbalance.

Mouthfeel: Average level of carbonation. Good body.

Drinkability: Wow. I have seen 4 packs of these around for some time, but never picked one up. I wish I had tried this earlier. Overall, a great sipping beer that doesn't get out of control.

Photo of shadow1961
3.63/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Flying Dog's Gonzo Imperial Porter Pours out a
fat brown head over an opaque black brew. The
nose is spicy roasted malt and dark fruit. It's hard to
guage carbonation but the head collapses slowly
leaving behind thick ropy lace. The flavor is dark
espresso and malt, with something dark and boozy
way in the background. There's sort of a unsweetened
chocolate aftertaste. The mouthfeel is dry and almost
as full and thick as a regular stout. For once, with this
beer, Flying Dog really lives up to the extreme image
they like to project. According to the bottle, it has been
aging since 2005. I wish I had space to properly cellar
this (and other) beers- I bet it would be even better in
two more years. Alcohol by volume 9%.

Photo of lpayette
3.43/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle. 2006 vintage, enjoyed sometime in late 2006.

Appearance- Very dark reddish brown that appears black once in the glass. Head is light brown and just a bit on the small side. Not much lacing on this pour at least.

Smell- Somewhat fruity and acidic. Notes of chocolate, funky yeast, and coffee. Smells like it is still fermenting to me if that makes sense to anyone else.

Taste- Chocolate at first, followed by vague fruit, next comes a thicker, more roasted maltiness that mingles with some fairly strong acidic flavors. A bit too strong on the acidity for this to be really enjoyable for me.

Mouthfeel- Full-bodied, acidic, long malty aftertaste. Odd notes of orange peels in the aftertaste.

Drinkability/Verdict - An interesting beer that I've wanted to try for a while now. For me it was too acidic though I realize that some can be desirable for a baltic. Worth a try, but i think that an aged version of this would be much better as the beer matures and mellows in the bottle.

Photo of JohnnyM2002
4.42/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled from a 12 oz bottle, poured into a pint glass at 45 degrees.

A - Pours a molasses-brown with a tan head that left sticky lacing in its wake.

S - Coffee dominates the aroma...alcohol comes through as the beer warmed. Very roasted scents.

T - Roasted coffee and milk chocolate have a strong showing, but I was most surprised by the mild hops in the background. Very good combination...hard to get more descriptive than that, but flavors are pretty straightforward.

M - Creamy body with a crisp/warming finish.

D - Despite the high ABV, much more drinkable than other porters, in the sense that the flavors aren't too overpowering...I'd image after 2 or 3, I'd be done anyway...but the taste still allows for multiple samplings in one night. Excellent and highly recommended!

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

12oz bottle -> imperial pint
vintage 06E

Pours black with a huge thick almost brown head that sticks around as marshmellow mountains. Lacing is spiderwebbed down the whole glass.

Nose: Hoppy nose, pineapples, oranges, a little alcohol in the background, some dark fruits emerge.

Taste: Roasted malts give chocolate, expresso beans, dark fruits and some alcohol. Bittering is heavy and lays the smack down to the malt. Dryness lingers with a slightly smokey dark fruit taste left in the mouth.

Mouth is slick, creamy and thin. Is that possible? Less carbonated than a typical porter, has an imperial stout feel.

This beer initially reminded me of the Alpha Klaus i tried the other day, but as it went on the Gonzo did not hold up like the AKlaus.
A good end of the night sipper with some chocolate chip cookies, but one is enough.

Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,657 ratings.