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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.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

2,503 Ratings
THE BROS
84
good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,503
Reviews: 1,412
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 10.92%
Wants: 88
Gots: 158 | 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: 2,503 | Reviews: 1,412 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of silenius
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I have not been overly impressed with other Flying Dog offerings, but I had to try this one as it was named after the good Doctor Thompson.

The "OK, Let's Party" line on the bottle struck me as a little cheesy and not quite something HST might have said on a regular basis, although the sentiment is true.

Pours a dark dark brown that beats out the modern day Guinness the greedhead marketers are forcing on us. The head is quite frothy and laces the glass like it was poured in Brugge.

Smell is predominately hops right now. I'd have to imagine that it will tone down after a while. There is a slight malty background, but based on the smell I would have thought it was an IPA or a very hoppy rye ale.

Taste is quite hoppy and roasty sweet. There is a coffee-chocolate character to it that lends some bitterness to the balance. I really rather enjoy this one. No alcohol on the nose or tasted.

Creamy mouth feel with some bittering and dryness toward the way end.

Very drinkable. Glad I have 3 more in the fridge.

silenius, Aug 21, 2005
Photo of ithacabaron
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an inky, deep, dark walnut tree brown/black. I wonder if it will permanently stain my glass? A little dark espresso crema rises above the liquid. Pretty.

Smell is porter-y, with nice solid fudge and bittersweet cocoa. Then, all the sudden -- BOOM go the hops! Ooh! Very nice. Bracing, clean, and overwhelmingly fresh, like taking a deep inhale from a bag of fresh hop flowers. Very, very nice.

Taste continues the marriage, but here the crack of the hops starts to overwhelm the porter a bit. Some American-style stouts and porters can withstand this type of assault...Shakespeare Stout, Storm King come to mind...but I just don't know if this porter can stay on its feet. Still delicious -- but I know that with a little less flavoring additions, the nice porter that's underneath could really shine, and they'd still get that great aroma.

Mouthfeel is appropriate, keeps the brew from ever being too heavy, but stays out of the way as needed.

Drinkability is pretty good, but I think more than one of these at a time wouldn't be as enjoyable as having one, and looking forward to the next experience with it in the future.

The Good Doctor would have approved, I think. Good stuff here from Flying Dog.

ithacabaron, Aug 17, 2005
Photo of russpowell
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Head is fluffy and brown to tan, flattens out to a thin layer of foam. Ruby brown coloration to black with some serious light blockage! Slight hinsts of malt & alcohol on the nose. Amos getting trashed sniffing it. Great fruitty/leather taste along with bitterness on the tip of the tounge finishes with alcohol & raisins on the back of the throat. Too bad they can't ressurect Hunter, so Flying dog can come up with a beer to commerate that!

russpowell, Aug 16, 2005
Photo of Stubbie1
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark black in color with a tan head, foamy and thick at first but dwindles down to a thin layer but constant through the beer. Aroma threw me for a tilt. Hops, bitter and piney are up front with faint wisps of chocolate and coffee with a hint of malt in the background. Taste is sweet up front, malt and a bitter coffee (but nice) flavor with the hops come out and give it a dry finish.

Sticky and sweet on the lips, smooth and creamy in the mouth makes this an enjoyable porter. Has to be one of the best from Flying Dog!

Stubbie1, Aug 14, 2005
Photo of Bierguy5
3.6/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours very dark, dark as night. Thick tan creamy head. Good lacing on the glass as the beer disappears. Roasty aroma like coffee, along with a huge citrusy hop nose. Nice chocolate and coffee malt flavor combined with a great amount of citrus and pine hop flavors. Bitterness is pretty high, and takes away slightly from the balance. This seems to be pretty close to full-bodied. Not the most drinakble due to the lack of balance. Overall, a good special batch, but a bit too piney for me. Good malt flavor. Worth a shot.

Bierguy5, Aug 13, 2005
Photo of zjungleist
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

For appearance, well... it's pretty black, maybe dark chocolate colored at the lightest. Nice coffee with cream head with average retention. The smell is pretty fantastic: rich roasted malts, burnt coffee, hop and little spice I think. Taste is smoked, almost woody, and with a bit more hop than I expected. Shockingly, it has almost zero alcohol flavor, with a lingering after taste of hops and chocolate. Mouth feel is a bit oily, but with plenty of carbonation to off set it, and makes for a good balnce. One sip of this beer leaves more flavor on your lips than a 6 pack of most beers do. Drinkability is pretty high for a 9.5%, and probalby a bit higher than it needs to be, in truth. A fitting tribute to the good doctor.

zjungleist, Aug 12, 2005
Photo of nlmartin
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is my first beer review so please be patient.

I poured the beer into a pub glass.

Appearance - The beer pours a motor oil colored black that immediately erupts into a nice tan/creamy coffee color about an inch thick.

Smell - A nice spicy, malty-chocolate nose. Very yummy.

Taste - Presents with a nice toasted malty chocolate and coffee taste. It is nicely spicy but I couldnt begin to tell you with what. Over all a good tasting porter.

Mouthfeel - Delightfully heavy and smooth.

Drinkability - This is a great tasting beer; however, I prefer to drink one of these and then move onto something lighter. I simply developed taste bud fatigue. I am looking forward to the remains of the pack in my fridge.

nlmartin, Aug 12, 2005
Photo of GClarkage
4.55/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

08/10/05- Purchased at Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA

Presentation- 12oz bottle with no dates. Poured into my Englander pint glass.

Appearance- Black pour with a 1/2 inch dirty chocolate colored head. Very nice lacing. Pours out like motor oil.

Smell- Huge dark chocolate scent. A few bitter hops in the nose as well.

Taste- This one has got most everything you want in a porter. Lots of chocolate, a light coffee taste and a deep burnt malt, almost smoky taste.

Mouthfeel- Thick and creamy with just the right amount of carbonation. Your mouth sticks to the glass when taking a sip.

Drinkability- Mucho drinkable. I think this is my first "imperial" porter. This will be the benchmark I guess. Very yummy. I see a six pack of this entering my inventory very soon.

GClarkage, Aug 11, 2005
Photo of mynie
4.65/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Hunter Thompson died during a dark period for drug-smoking people like myself. Hunter hated the president and all he stood for, and in those dreary days after the 2004 election he was one of the few spots of hope that people like me could look towards to ease our despair, a vulgar truthteller in a land of vacuous, self-absorbed whores. Hunter was more than a writer, more than a social commentator; he was a symbol for all that I considered good in the world.

Flying Dog has gone all out with this brew in honor of our side’s fallen hero. They are not the best brewer in the world—they’re not even the best in the region, but they seem to realize the weight that naming a beer after the departed doctor would have to be an effort from the heart. If they were to only make One Beer it would have to be this one, and I’ll be damned if they didn’t give it their all.

Rocky blackness cascades upwards into a chocolate brown head that stands proud and tall atop thick, opaque death.

Heavy, heavy smells. Pounds of yeast and bitter roasted malt along with hints of coffee and toffee, potent but not strong.

No alcohol sourness in the taste, no sweet finish. Bitter and complex, very raw feel. Very nice, dry aftertaste that makes you crave for more. Yeast, coffee, bitter malt.

This is a grand and glorious beer, easily the best Flying Dog will ever make and easily a fitting tribute to a great man.

mynie, Aug 06, 2005
Photo of poohbah
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

good lace nice coffee like color as expected

reminds me of some past efforts of the Holiday Anchor Steam

hoppiness that stands out for a porter, some pine undertones

enjoyed assertive hops for a porter

Enjoyed overall drinkability will go back for another!

poohbah, Aug 05, 2005
Photo of kpantz
3.38/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Executive Summary: For my first imperial porter, I'm pleased with it, but I'm looking to try something that impresses me a bit more. Roasted notes throughout the palate make this border on a stout, but the mouthfeel is thin enough to keep it in the style.

Appearance: 99% opaque...perhaps the slightest hint of a deep reddish hue. Coffee ice cream for a head, about one finger thick.

Aroma: Some roasted essence, slight alcohol in the nose, and now that I'm reaching room temperature and the bottom of the glass, the alcohol is taking over.

Taste: Roasted everything, almost stout-like, but lighter. Not as smooth-tasting as a traditional porter, but I don't think it's trying to be. No hint of a high alcohol content whatsoever.

Mouthfeel: Thin, like a porter should be. Makes it more drinkable in the warm weather.

Drinkability: Are you kidding? Too "roasty" for me to be a session beer, and when you add in the 9.5% ABV, yee-ha - I'm not likely to down more than one of these in a sitting.

kpantz, Aug 05, 2005
Photo of jonnylieberman
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black and thick from the bottle into my pint glass.

An appealing and tick tan head sits atop a near-black brew. Heads fades fast with minimal lacing.

The smell of this guy is the highlight. Deep and fruity. Ripe plums and apricots; some licorice and of course the lovely smell of dark grain. Some ethynol is present as well. A yum.

The taste is alright (though, i should say I have had it on tap in a snifter and it tasted better), but for a special release, especially one dedicated to Hunter Thompson, there should be more flavor. This is a bitter beer; bitter for a porter and the bitterness dominates, especailly in the swallow. A bit too roasty for a porter -- almost verging into stout territory. There is a pleasing woodiness present, however, which goes well with the citrus overtones.

The mouthfeel is this brew's weak point. Very thin, especailly for an "Imperial Porter." Again, too thin.

The drinkability is fantstic. 9.5%? It goes down like water. And, it is a pretty good beer. Good, not great.

jonnylieberman, Aug 04, 2005
Photo of Skidz
3.78/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a thick, robust brown and sits damn near opaque in the glass with a massive brown head fading to a light skim, nice lacings all around the glass.

Aroma of chocolate, brown sugar and sweet, sugary citrus fruits. Hints of oak and mollasses. Charred malt and cinnamon.

Tastes of deep roasted grains and bitter cocoa powder up front. Cinnamon-like spice matched with an ever growing alcoholic warmth. Orange rind flavors perk up into the finish with a mild grassy bitterness.

Smooth yet quite light in the mouth, medium body. Low to mild carbonation levels, easily managed.

Easy to dive into, but rather difficult to cause cravings. It's not without its highlights though; worth a shot.

Skidz, Aug 04, 2005
Photo of mntlover
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a black a dark black for a porter with a small thumb size head that falls to a ring, lots of lace webbing left behind.

Aroma is big lots of roasted smokey malt loads of hops. Piney with some hebal medicine aroma coming out.

Taste is lots of roasted malt mingled with some light alcohol and smokiness. A little light fruitiness noticed as well, mingled with chocolate and some coffee flavors. Loads of hops mostly piney some citrus and the herbal medicine like quality again.

Mouthfeel is nice right side of medium lightly dry chaulkiness in the finish, probably just the pine resin stuck on my palate.

Drinkability is good a very nice, though unconcentional baltic porter, but one I enjoyed very much. Then again I love hops. Thanks go to lostbearbrew for this fine sample.

mntlover, Aug 03, 2005
Photo of whartontallboy
3.65/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep opaque brown pour with a thin brown head of tight big bubbles that holds fairly well and leaves a bit behind.

Scent has a lot of roasted malts, chocolate, toffee, coffee, and a slightly hoppy smell in it. The big ABV comes through pretty clearly, but it melds well with the big roastiness of it.

Flavor is rich with the same chocolate and toffee roasted flavors, and it finishes in a big explosion of alcohol and even a little hint of smoke. Nice bitterness on the back end as well, but the roasty aftertaste is pleasant enough. The alcohol could be a little less dominant, though, as it begins to taste a bit too boozy as it warms.

Mouthfeel is creamy and well-carbonated to match the brew.

Overall: A neat idea for a beer, and it definitely fits its namesake: it's big and just a little out-of-control. It's not quite perfect, though; it could really use a bit less alcohol and bit more balance in the flavor.

whartontallboy, Aug 02, 2005
Photo of Ricochet
4.4/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Warm. Period. Take this out of the fridge, let it warm, taste it and enjoy. Lots.

First, this had a smell like nothing else. Maltiness, and unearthly chewiness is about all I can use as a description. It was black-out and little head. It also poured with little "bits" of beer, which is another sign that this was something special. It was a silky, a bit watery, but very creamy/pillowy alcohol with a tempered swallow that made it go down like water.

At first, it seemed there was an odd "carrot stick" note, which was the only way I could explain this, otherwise, dark chocolate, hops , licorce, like I should have been enjoying this in a 6 oz snifter. It just missed the Stone Imperial for impression, otherwise, wow. Best from Flying Dog by far.

Well, you can't have more than one at a sitting because you want to spread the joy of a four-pack over special occasions. Fantastic.

Ricochet, Jul 31, 2005
Photo of HappyHourHero
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a small, dense, chestnut colored head that left thing strings of lace. Faint aroma of dark malts, bitter chocolate, and a few berries. Oil brown colored beer with a chocolate syrup glow around the edges. Cocoa and dark malt up front in the flavor. Tobacco and berry notes rise up midway through and create a slightly tangy finish. Altough the body is fairly solid it still has a light airy mouthfeel. The subtly sweet roasted malt combine nicely with the other flavors to make for a tasty brew. A tasty brew that doesn't drink like it's 9.5%.

HappyHourHero, Jul 30, 2005
Photo of maxpower
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle pours a jet black with a small creamy brown head that leaves a sticky lacing in my glass. Chocolate and coffee aromas, flavors of milk chocolate, coffee, nuts and vanilla. Full bodied with a full and thick creamy mouthfeel, finishes on the sweet side, very drinkable for a 9.5% brew.

maxpower, Jul 29, 2005
Photo of ryantupy
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: This pours a very nice drak porter with a thick chocolate colored head with great retention.

Smell: Bitter at first then sweet and as usual with porters there are hints of chocolate and coffee. I also noticed a sweet spice scent that was very nice.

Taste: Wow! what a unique tasting porter. A mroe full bodied porter with hints of chocolate and coffee and also a fizzy taste in the back of youre mouth. Very uniquly tasty.

Mouthfeel: very pleasant and silky smooth with a slight tang to it.

Drinkablility: A good brew that I drank slow and enjoyed its very unique taste.

ryantupy, Jul 29, 2005
Photo of Beaver13
3.83/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. Pours an opaque black with a smallish fine dark brown head that goes to a thin film and leaves some lacing. Looks pretty thick as it pours out.

The aroma is piney hops, some chocolate, coffee and anise. Smells a little off (alcohol / medicinal?).

The flavor is anise and some slightly sweet chocolate malts initially with a nice bitter hop bite at the finish. The alcohol is very well hidden. The mouthfeel is lighter than I expected. It's still medium bodied and light on carbonation.

Overall, a very fine imperial porter. Plus it's for a good cause...a big memorial fist!

Beaver13, Jul 29, 2005
Photo of Buildscharacter
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

For a porter, this has quite the hoppy kick. I would say that it's a little too hoppy. Don't get me wrong, I love a good IPA, but when I am having a porter, and I get assulted with the vicious hop aroma followed by a strong hop bitterness it kind of irks me.

This beer is dark as a black cat dipped in a cow pie. It has a coffee colored head that stays with it the whole way down.

At first I thought this was going to be a coffee bonanza, because you can smell the patent malt in there, but the hops overpower any semblence of a coffee flavor and bring out hints of juniper and other christmas tree type flavors and spices.

I didn't mind this beer, but it's not anything I would go out of my way to find.

Buildscharacter, Jul 26, 2005
Photo of Billolick
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ouncer , label tells me it's vintage '05, Pours allmost jet black, dark tan head, fine wispy lacing, tich nose of malt, powdered sugar, vanilla, rich powerful beer , lots of roasted malts, alcohol, vanilla, cocoa and drying hops late. Bold and potent sipper, support Dr. Gonzo, seek out and slug down this fine brew.

Billolick, Jul 22, 2005
Photo of Shaw
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Being in the journalism profession and a fan of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, I had to get a four-pack of this limited brew when I saw it at a local beer store, the Wine Warehouse.

Pours super black with a brown head that reduces quickly. This beer smells like sweet roasted malt, floral hops and a bit of alcohol.

The taste is also good. It is heavy on roasted, coffee and chocolate flavors. The alcohol is nicely hidden, but there if you look for it. The aftertaste is sweet and syrupy.

It has a creamy, glassy body. Nice.

In some ways I'm surprised this beer isn't more extreme, considering the person it honors. But this is the most extreme beer I've had from Flying Dog yet. Check it out since it won't be around forever.

Shaw, Jul 21, 2005
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Gonzo sits in the glass a solid black, a rueful raiment, pitch perfect for a porter, with a thick cake of cocoa-toned froth floating atop.

Bittersweet and meaty in the nose, chocolate and coffee, blended with cinnamon and cumin, gentle, though, more suggestive than forthright, pleasant, if not profound.

Slides gamely onto the palate, fully in force, playing all the parts of a porter. Full-bodied, darkly flavorful, silky and even sophisticated. A sleek alcoholic edge oozes through in the middle, feels more like a dark, syrupy liqeuer now.
And I like it!

A slow drinker brew, best kept for cold nights, or nightcaps...get cozy with this brew in a snifter, and pull out the good doctor's works and say good night to that batshit bastard genius, one of the last American rebels, through and through.


*this bottle was reviewed very warm, a bottle at room temperature drunk just after returning from the store, where it was stacked on the floor....on a hot, hot, hot July day...I'll try it again in different conditions, colder, perhaps...

feloniousmonk, Jul 20, 2005
Photo of Sephiroth
4.18/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Into a tulip it goes the darkest ruby brown possible without being black. There is a chocolatey head of about an inch and a half. Sticky lace clings to the glass. The nose is of piney hops and roasted malt.

The taste is great, albeit unusual for a porter. The piney hops make their presence felt, with the onslaught of roasted malt following. There is chocolate, and a sweetness at the very end that makes me want to age a few. Mouthfeel is great and somewhat grainy. I seem to have drank over half of this in ten minutes. I am not content with mere sips. I am gulping this. There's still foam!

Sephiroth, Jul 20, 2005
Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,503 ratings.