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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.

2,610 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,610
Reviews: 1,426
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 10.95%
Wants: 98
Gots: 182 | 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: 2,610 | Reviews: 1,426 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of UncleFlip
4.28/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours very dark brown with cola & ruby edges. Dark tan head seems a bit uneven.

Smell is dark molasses with coffee and spice, and little bits of hops.

Taste is smoky and ashy (in a good way), with intense coffee and oaky bits. Not quite as roasted as expected. Just a bit bitter at end.

Liquid is medium-thick, with most carbonation hitting right up front.

I like this one. It's quite complex, but not too assertive. With a name like Gonzo, I expected it to whip my ass and write about me in Rolling Stone- but maybe I caught it on a good day. :)

Be well

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

A - Color is opaque brown,. Has a light brown head that dissipates to a layer of foam with plenty of lacing.

S - Aroma is of sweet dark dried fruits like prune and raisin.

T - Flavor of sweet toasted malt full of molasses. Finishes with a bittersweet coffee-chocolate taste

M - Medium mouthfeel with light carbonation and dry aftertaste.

D - I have had this on tap and now by the bottle. It’s good both ways and I look forward to drinking it again and again. Goes down very easy.

Photo of PorterLambic
4.58/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

In the pub's limited lighting, this pours almost pitch black with a dark brown head that drops quickly to a 1/4" thick film but leaves good lace behind.
Smell is coffee, roasted malts, smoke, caramel, molasses, vanilla, cured meat and floral notes.
Taste is of toffee, malts, peat, caramel, beef jerky, molasses and smoke.
A mostly full body, smooth, rich, almost creamy. Definitely worth a try (or two), solid quality brew with good complexity and great balance throughout.

Photo of granger10
2.73/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Deep brown color with a huge rocky tan head. Lots of lacing around the glass. Aroma strikes me right away of hops and alcohol. Almost burning and somewhat vegetal. After the initially nasty sensation of ethanol and cooked veggies I get a nice milk chocolate and light fruity aroma. Taste again seems too harsh for my liking. A bit of roasted bittersweet chocolates and some raisins are there for the malts but they are completely dominated by the brash and annoying hops. Pine sol flavors, aspirin like. A soy sauce elements comes into play. Alcohol is brash and unsettling. Finish lingers with a burning alcohol sensation. This could develop into a treat but its nowhere near enjoyable right now.

Photo of WesWes
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep, dark black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great. It has a nice, black patent and chocolate malt scent along with some hops in there as well. The taste is good. It seems to have a pretty intense hop bitterness that really peaks through the black and chocolate malts. It gives the beer tremendous complexity and a unique flavor. The mouthfeel is good. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn fine beer. I like the concept and the beer in general. This is a good drinking beer.

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

A dark black/brown opaque color pours into the glass. A nice beige head comes to the top and laces nicely. The scent of sweet malt is there, but is totally immersed by the strong hop scent. The hop aroma is earthy, citrusy, and piney, alot to smell. The taste is very surprising, the hops are there, but the malt comes through with chocolate flavors that balance this beer nicely. In the mouth it feels alot like chocolate milk rich and smooth, slightly thick, that finishes dry. The first smell of this beer made think I was drinling an IPA, but the flavor of the malt coming through makes this a wonderful beer to try.

- A note, I have two more bottles aging and I look foward to see how much better this can become.

Photo of Citadel82
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I still don't know where to begin with this stuff. This bottle has been aging for around 9 months and it just gets better and better. The taste is wonderfully complex coffee and dark chocolate and winey notes. The alcohol is well hidden appearing in the middle then fading fast. I shared a 12 ounce bottle with a budding BA last night and the memory is still with me - the thick creamy tan head - the pillows of lacing on the glass and the malty vinous taste. Yummmy!

Photo of rabsten
4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My friends picked up a four pack of this and couldn't stand it. It was the big joke over the holidays: "it's a perfect tribute to Hunter, since he's dead and this tastes like death" and stuff like that. They saved me one, mostly to see my reaction.

My friends are morons.

Poured into a pint glass, the head was thick and chocolate brown, and stayed that way for a half hour. The color of the beer itself came in dark, but with some redness. The smell was the weak link - it was a pungent smoke odor (and was one of the reasons my friends hated it).

But the flavor. Oh, man, the flavor. The smoke hinted at in the scent was there, as was a nice baker's-chocolate overtone to the malt. But the real surprise was the hop presence: a good, solid "bite," not hinted at by the smell at all. The alcohol makes its presence known in the mix, too. Overall, it reminded me of a good aged barleywine. Reminded only, though, because this one is unique.

I have a lead on a case in Southern Ohio. With luck, I'll be able to enjoy this for a while yet. Highly recommended.

+++ Update +++

So, one of the friends mentioned above read this and took it badly. He's definitely NOT a moron, we just have divergent taste. I loved this beer; he hated it. I apologize to him and anyone else who did not like this beer. Sorry.

Photo of dalherring
4.18/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer is extremely hard to get, but I was very fortunate to get the last one from my local beer and wine store. It definitely lives up to expectations I've been having for months. It is black, with a dark brown head. The smell is a little misleading at first, because it almost smelt like burning plastic. That went away as I drank more. It is relatively thick, but feels smooth in the mouth and goes down with a mild bitterness. Although it could stand well on its own, the Gonzo is begging to be paired with a good steak dinner or a hearty bag of kettle chips. Overall, very nice.

Photo of JWFokker
2.38/5  rDev -40.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Served from a bottle into a beer stein, it's a solid, rather average looking beer, with about a half an inch of medium brown head. Lacing is nice, nothing out of the ordinary. It has an odd nose to it that's not necessarily pleasant and not representative of the flavor of the beer, which was disappointing. I'm not tasting coffee like some drinkers are. In fact, it doesn't have that much flavor on the palate, but a lot of hoppy flavor on the aftertaste which I don't like. It's a smooth beer, the mouthfeel is pretty good though nothing out of the ordinary for a reasonable quality beer. It looks and feels like it should be a good beer, but the lack of flavor and sour aftertaste are not what I'm looking for in a beer.

Photo of gmcfarre
4.38/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up today on my first quality beer buying spree in a while. 12 oz bottle poured into Sammy Smith imperial glass.

A - Dark as night, can't see though even when I hold up to the light. Head is small but a nice tan color. It dissipates fairly quickly.

S - Lots of dark roasted malt flavors, chocolate and coffee

T - Similar to smell, with a touch of hops. No alcohol present in taste, which is very nice for such a high ABV beer.

M - Nice and creamy, very smooth.

D - Incredibly drinkable for this style, although I am feeling the alcohol after one bottle (probably because I havnt eaten much today).

Photo of Drew966
4.83/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours from a twelve ounce bottle an opaque black with a thick brown head. You can smell the roasted malts and the taste is magnificent, you really get the coffee type taste from the roasted malt. I think this is really an exceptional beer, I'm going to try to get my hands on the 750ml corked bottle. This beer has a creamy taste and is really among some of the best beers in the porter or stout category that I have tried (and I've tried quite a few). Highly recommended, worth seeking out.

Photo of danielharper
3.7/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Purchased from Strong Bros. Liquor Store, Fayetteville, TN.

Pours a dark black opaque body with a thick mocha head. Very nice for a porter or stout -- no reddish hues anywhere in the glass.

Highly complex aroma of cherries, licorice, coffee, raisins (of course), and a slight astringency due to alcohol.

Flavor is similar, but with a strong astringent up-front, and a strong dose of hops (not really present in nose) to the aftertaste. Slight drying quality.

Thick mouthfeel, great for a high-gravity porter.

This beer isn't really good enough to get a high drinkability (despite the high numbers, I didn't much care for it personally) but it's decent. If porters are your speed, give it a shot -- it's not bad at all.

Photo of benito
4.6/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This may be one of the finer porters (baltic or otherwise) available on the American market. It is a tar black with a creamy, coffee-colored head that laces the glass with a java like drizzle. The bouquet is full of currant and very raisiny, distinct aromas which point to the beers strength.

And yet, it is the flavor's balance between traditional porter flavors--java and burnt wood--and a fruity, almost syrupy, malt wallop that makes the beer memorable, complex, and distinct. There's a light hop presence that finishes the palate and adds a deeper, dryer complexity. The mouthfeel is incredibly smooth, and for something so strong this goes down way too easily.

Released initially as a one-off, the reception to Gonzo has been so great that Flying Dog is going to put it out full time in four packs...and for good reason. This is a wonderful, must-find brew.

Photo of wcudwight
3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a pitch black with a chocolate, co-co colored head that rises 1/4" and falls to a spotty lace on the beer. Chocolate, tropical fruit, and roasted malts in the nose. Also hint of the alcohol in the smell. Smells good! Wow this taste stout. Very deep heavy chocolate taste and the alcohol is noticable. The fruits that are in the smell are not in the taste. Finishes with a lasting roasted malt and coffee taste. This beer starts off wow, and finishes mmm. This is a thick and filling beer. Chewy and the sweetness makes my teeth sticky. This is a good beer, but I can't imagine drinking more than one.

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

Aged in my cellar for about 6 months. Loud pfft when opened. Two-finger brown head over a pitch liquid. head slowly descends in cavernous style. Smells of clean alcohol and roast grains. Some grapefruit pith and oranges. Dry chocolatey. Tastes potently roasted with a clean and strong alcohol bite. Roasty dry in the mouth. Chocolate is buried and some grassy hop co-humulone is present. Not much hop flavor (which is a stark contrast to a glass I had fresh at the brewery about 6 months ago). At this point, the citrusy hops have settled, but the alcohol now needs time to cool down. Md-thick body with a bit too mcuh carbonation. The carb detracts from the beer, IMO. Minimal lacing on the inside of the glass.

Photo of dawg
4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Served from the tap into a wine glass. The Gonzo was put together very well and I have had plenty of porters along the way for comparison. Reminded me of one of my first home brews. Not overly complex. Just very defined roasted malt (light and heavy dark roasts) balanced with a modest amount hops. Mouthfeel was light but just what I expected. I judge that this one is very drinkable.

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

This is a worty tribute to Hunter.
This beer is a deep black. It had a tan colored head that did not last long. The smell is rich. It smells very malty. The taste reminds me of a high ABV oatmeal stout. I just wish the alcohol was a bit more subtle. the mouthfeel is diminished a smell amount due to this but not enought to prevent me from buying again. I could drink these but certainly it is not a session beer. Unless your sessions tend to be short.

Photo of coasterfreak75
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

The pour was pitch black with a three finger beige head that slowly dissapated and left a very thin beige lace on the sides of the glass throughout the drink.

The smell was heavy in sweet coffee tones with an unexpected sour, fruity undertone. Dare I say a mix of raisons and citrus with a heavy alchohol note in the rear of the nose. All and all very complex compaired to other porters I had tried before.

The drink started like any other porter, quite sweet and coffee like but the middle was where it took off. The hops that were hidden by the fruit smell showed up and kicked my mouth and the finish was a sharp alchohol bite followed by a mellow lingering hop bitter.

This is one of the most complex beers I've ever tried. A great choice for an after dinner sip. Find it if you can.

Photo of EPseja
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a 12oz. bottle into a pint glass at just under cellar temperature.

A - Pours a thick, syrupy dark mocha brown color with no bravado at all... but wait! The cocoa colored head rises from out of nowhere -- pillowy, soft and three full fingers in thickness. Very appetizing. The head settles to only a thin film after a few minutes (the only detriment), but the lacing is chunky, sticky and consistent.

S - What a fantastic bouquet of hoppy flowers and sweet baking chocolate. Very clean and inviting. Also has notes of sweet molasses, chocolate chip cookies, and sugared prunes. I also detect a hint of clean, new leather, as mentioned in Jredner's review.

T - Begins with a sweet roasted malt taste that is perfectly blended with coffee and chocolate notes. The middle brings forth a dark fruitiness along with notes of... cola? Yes, I think I get a slight cola taste in there. The finish is where the broad spectrum hoppiness is felt in all its glory. The aftertaste is perfectly bittersweet and medium dry. The flavors in this beer are well rounded and well presented.

M - Smooth and creamy, as if you're drinking milk. Carbonation is nice and low, keeping this big flavored beer very mellow in all aspects of mouthfeel. Excellent.

D - For a beer of this stature, I'm quite impressed at its drinkability. This beer is the perfect end of evening sipper.

If any one taste somehow got out of whack, this beer would become a mess. Congratulations to flying dog for pulling off a delicious treat.

Photo of Jredner
4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I went and bought tons of this and every subsequent tasting just confirms the beauty of this beer. That blast of hops in the fore melds so nicely with the huge chocolate/coffee blast that follows. it is such a great sipping beer and I need to get a lot more of it.

This has that new car smell. Literally. Smells like a mix of vinyl and new leather. It’s actually not a bad smell though just unexpected. Beautiful looking. Poured black like a stout rather than dark brown like a true Baltic porter. Wow. This may be the best Flying Dog beer I have ever had. Very coffe tasting on first sip then fading into a mild bittersweet choclate flavor. More an Imperial Stout than a Baltic Porter flavor wise. I really like this. Very good mouthfeel and great sippabilty. Yes it is definitely the Best Flying Dog beer I have had by far.

Photo of spoots
4.55/5  rDev +13.2%
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.

Photo of Naes
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%
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.

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.1/5  rDev +2%
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.

Photo of tempest
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,610 ratings.