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Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery

Not Rated.
Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter

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2,636 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,636
Reviews: 1,430
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 10.95%
Wants: 104
Gots: 198 | 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: 2,636 | Reviews: 1,430 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Photo of Westsidethreat
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a bit like soy sauce, hiding the carbonation well. Frothy carbonation explodes when it hits the dry glass. Piles of thick, mocha colored foam has over taken the glass. Extremely dark body with no color to speak of.

S: Rich mocha with hints of tobacco, milk chocolate and faint licorice.

T: Strong coffee personality mixed with loads of dried cocoa and milk. Chocolate becomes more pronounced as the swallow lingers, adding a small twinge of sourness on the tongue. Prolonged bitterness stays with the consumer for long after the swallow. Some hints of fresh hops sneaking around under the surface.

M: Full mouthfeel but the carbonation is too fuzzy.

D: Not a bad beer. Sweetness is a bit unbalanced and unrefined. Probably be a lot better with some age.

Photo of mitchfor3
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out of a 12oz brown bottle into a snifter. Pitch black, noticably viscous and with a towering tan head that eventually subsided into a sticky collar that left all kinds of lacing. Looks really nice.

S- One of the oddest aromas that I have ever experienced from a porter. If I were blindfolded and could only judge based on smell, I would be completely confused as to what style this beer is. Roasted malts of a porter are there, but so is the citric twang of an IPA. Confusing but enticing!

T- Tastes just like it smells - like a batch of porter got mixed in with a batch of IPA. Yet, somehow it works. Dogfish Head makes an "Indian Brown Ale" and this could easily be called an "Indian Porter." As an "Imperial Porter" at 9.5%, I was expecting that it would merely be strong, I didn't know it would be so damn hoppy. Still, I like! And kudos for originality, at least as far as I have experienced.

M- Feels interesting in the mouth - crispness of hops tangles with roastedness of malts. Still, the viscosity somehow tied it all together and I enjoyed sipping this one.

Overall - WHAT? This was 9.5%??? Careful with this one, the alcohol is somehow tucked under all that hoppy, malty goodness. A really enjoyable brew that screws with the style guidelines to produce a unique drinking experience. Definitely worth a try!

Photo of doppelmeup
4.28/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a bottle into a tulip glass. I'm not sure how old this beer is, but probably several months at least, especially considering it's now retired. I bought this on a clearance sale. I think the aging has been good for it, however.

Very impressive! Huge, multi-inch cafe-au-lait colored head that lasted seemingly forever, followed by decent lacing on the glass.

Aromas of coffee, alcohol, hops, slightly medicinal, but overall pretty good.

Many different flavors abound in this beer. Coffee, toffee, chocolate, caramel. Sweet with some hoppiness to balance. Tastes very good. Alcohol well hidden. Never would have guessed it's a 9.2%er.

Mouthfeel is kind of sticky with a good bit of drying after each sip. You can feel the carbonation as well. Bit of a bitter chocolate aftertaste.

Nice beer, but quite rich. High ABV and richness limit the drinkability, but overall it's a very good beer. Too bad this is retired, or I'd buy more of it.

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

As far as I know this is the first imperial porter I've had. Gonzo pours an ink black into the glass with a big, thick tan head on top. The head is like whipped cream on a sundae. It's slow to dissolve and leaves big clumps of lace on the glass. A strong aroma of roasted malt, coffee, chocolate and a touch of peat hovers over the beer.

Each sip of this smooth full bodied beer coats the palate like a blanket while a mild carbonation tingle brings out the flavor. Like the aroma the flavor is full of roasted malt. Mixed in are notes of toffee, chocolate, and licorice. It finishes with some hoppy notes and leaves some toffee flavors behind when it's gone.

For over 9% alcohol this beer is quite drinkable. You don't know it's so strong until near the end of the glass when you begin to feel it.

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

From a 12 oz. bottle, vintage 06A?

A - pitch black, absolutely opaque. Head is tannish and thick, dissipates to a ring. Lacing is scant, head retention very good.

S - deep aromas of melted chocolate, coffee beans, smoke. Smells delicious. Notes of higher alcohols and earthy hops.

T - tangy, earthy hop bitterness complimented by sweet, chocolately, coffee bitterness. Very tasty combination. Tastes of alcohol warmth (acetaldehyde), followed by dark bitter chocolate. Significant hop presence balances out the malt really well, but this is too big to be classified as a porter, even an Imperial one.

M - medium to thick bodied, chewy, a little sticky, carbonation is low.

D - very, very tasty big beer. Alcohol is fairly well masked considering it's level. But after a couple of these I'm done. Wish this was a regular offering.

Photo of bluejacket74
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle, with vintage 06C printed on the label. The beer pours dark brown, with pretty much no head at all. It smells like roasted malt, coffee, and dark fruit. It tastes like coffee, molasses, chocolate, and it finishes dry with a slight bitter aftertaste. The mouthfeel is a bit thick, with a medium/full body and it goes down smooth. Not much carbonation, either. The drinkability is good, considering the high ABV. Overall, it's a pretty good beer. I'm glad I got a 4 pack of this!

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

Pours a pitch black with a huge frothy tan head. The head forms mountains and valleys and craters as it slowly drops but it never goes away completely. Sticky clingy lacing hugs the side of the glass. Blast of alcohol hits the nose first followed by chocolate. Gives me the impression of a bourbon barrel. Taste starts out with sweet caramel notes and a nice chocolate malty taste. Finishes with a bitter burnt bakers chocolate note and some alcohol. Overall a nice full well rounded beer. Thanks to the maverick Maltygoodness for this one.

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

First off, this beer exploded in my pint glass. It took many stops and starts to get it all in, but when all was said and done, this baby looked beautiful. It honestly looks like a big black ice cream cone. The body is darker than almost any other beer i've tried, with one of the tannest, creamiest heads ever. Absolutely gorgeous.

The smell is quite chocolatey, with roasted malty goodness abounding. Scents of coffee and vanilla emanate prominently.

Taste is thick and syrupy, with a bittersweet kick. Very coffee-like in taste, with hints of cherries in the background. Tasty and delightful.

Photo of cbl2
4.4/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

9/12/2005 $2.00 12 oz. 9.50% Vintage 2005.


Pours a thick inky black that is highly viscous with roughly 1/4 inch of creamy brown head on top that has some good retention, and laces nicely.


Coffee, smoky peat, cherry cordials, a whiff of alcohol. In a word, tasty.


Slick, smooth mouthfeel, that makes this extremely easy to drink. Excellent roasted coffee flavor, coupled with an off sweet-bitter chocolate-cherry taste. I've never liked Flying Dog, but this beer is outstanding, rivaling Stone RIS for delisciousness. Too bad it's a limited release, and that I only got my hands on 2 bottles…

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

Pours thick and chunky into goblet.
Appearance is dark chocolate, black and rich with burnt coffee head, which is light but persistent. Aroma follows with surprising freshness, some chocolate nose and a light almost herbaceous.
Taste is again very fresh, with strong chocolate undertones with rich malt notes and accompanying alcohol. There's a nice dry finish (maybe dry-hopped?) and alcohol tingle.
Mouthfeel is dry, clean and smooth, but mature and full. Yes, very good for bigger production.

Photo of beerphilosopher
3.33/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle, white label ... pours a thick-looking opaque brown/black color. Tall chocolate brown head that lasts a long time. Lacing is extensive. Busy carbonation. Nose is of baker's chocolate, dark fruits, and alcohol. Palate is quite strong and mixed. Alcohol up front, with some bitter chocolate, stewed fruits, and drying hops. Interesting. Mouthfeel is medium and the finish dry and a little medicinal. Also finishes with more hops than I'd expect. Overall, it's not as good as I'd hoped it would be. A little unbalanced and harsh ... such that I cannot tell where the balance should be. This one is retired and I almost wish I'd have cellared this one a while longer to see if it would have mellowed. Now I'll never know.

Photo of Grass
4.7/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Definitley the best Flying Dog beer I've ever tasted!

Dark,dark brown into the glass with a nice big head. Thin lacing is well documented. Smells like a stout with some hints of roasted coffee and a slight sweetness. Interesting porter. Taste starts with a nice nip on the tongue followed by a kick of roasted malt effervesence, with coffee and chocolate overtones. Alcohol of 9.2% is very subdued and slight. As temperature warms in glass flavors meld together even more. Good mouthfeel.

For a beer this high in alclohol it would be very easy to throw back two or three of these.

An outstanding porter. One I enjoyed from start to finish.

Are you kidding me? C'mon that never sticks the first time.
I mean, Mr. Clemens unretired and he still doing pretty darn good, if you ask me.

Photo of dreadnatty08
4.75/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle found in St. Louis, plenty of stock, seen also in Minneapolis, not sure why it's retired.
Vintage 05'
Pours a luscious opaque black with a cappucino like head, tons of staying power, excellent tracing. Aromas are tons of roasty, chocolaty, slightly oaky and vanilla like. Wow, flavors pack a punch of chocolate and coffee right off the bat, with a moderate amount of roasty/hoppy bitterness to follow. Flavors tend toward the sweet side, but it is quite balanced. This is a pretty amazing beer, and I'm glad I made the found. Would work perfect as a digestif or with dessert. Chocolate lovers seek this one out.

Photo of meathookjones
3.53/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle bought from the first batch released. Pours out and oily black with a good sized brown foamy head. Aroma was mainly pack with floral hops and dark chocolate. Some roastiness and other muddles notes rounded it out. The taste was similar with sweet chocolate and roasted malts upfront. This was backed by a lightly bitter floral hoppiness. Finishes up a bit dry and bitter with hints of alcohol. There were other subtleties I couldn’t quite place but some seemed like they didn’t belong. Body was good and it drank easy enough. I enjoyed this but doubt I would have another right after. I like it better now than when it was fresh but this still doesn’t quite do it for me.

Photo of nflmvp
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Overly aggressive pour produced a 5 inch head that overflowed my glass. I was not prepared for this.

Once the head subsided, about 5 minutes later, it became a very dense, creamy head at the surface with large bubbles below.

Smell was somewhat smokey with hints of molasses.

Taste was smokey and woody with a little bit of hop profile on the finish.

A very drinkable beer. I was surprised and disappointed to find it retired.

Photo of gonzo138
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- dark black with a very brown head that retains nicely
S- dark roasted malty aroma
T- thick and chocolatey, very heavy, malty and hearty
M- very thick, coats your mouth for quite a while
D- something to sip on for a while, thick, but a very good porter, Im not sure why the score is retired since the liqour store I work at just got a fresh case in a few weeks ago, a great beer named after a great man

Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,636 ratings.