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Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery

Not Rated.
Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,659 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,659
Reviews: 1,433
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 10.95%
Wants: 109
Gots: 209 | 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: 2,659 | Reviews: 1,433 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of woemad
3.92/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle I picked up at Huckleberry’s in Spokane several months ago. Things have been so crazy I cellared it, meaning to get to it in a week or so, and then promptly forgot about it.

This poured out a thick, viscous dark brown color into my Flying Dog pint glass (thanks to the Viking). No light seems able to penetrate it. Less than an inch of mocha colored foam. Lackluster, spotty lace.

This smells darkly sweet and bitter, with notes of brown sugar, mocha, prunes, etc. This doesn’t smell like a typical Baltic porter to me. If anything, it reminds me more of a sweet oatmeal stout.

The first part of the taste that I noted was a brown sugary sweetness that is almost immediately followed by a moderately bitter hoppiness. While it’s not exactly a hophead’s dream, it’s enough to keep things balanced and prevent the brown sugary, chocolaty portion of the taste from getting too cloying. The two elements combine to give a strong mocha espresso flavor to the fadeout. It’s not the best tasting beer I’ve ever had, but it’s well balanced enough that the sweet and bitter notes blend together nicely. The high alcohol content isn’t immediately noticed, but I detected it as it warmed up a bit.

This isn’t as thick as I thought it would be. In fact, it seems a little too light. It’s a minor quibble, though. I’ve certainly had porters more watery than this (unfortunately – not many things more depressing than a weenie porter).

Not a bad beer, but not one especially to seek out. If it’s around and reasonably priced, you could do a lot worse. Not really a session beer unless driving is something you won’t be doing for the rest of the night.

Photo of Gavage
3.51/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: black in color with a super thick 3" tan head that lasts. Mild lacing develops.

Smell: rosated malts, chocolate, and a hint of alcohol are noticeable.

Taste: the flavor follow the nose, as roasted malts, chocolate, molasses, and prunes are easily detectable. There seems to be an overall light smokiness to the beer. Alcohol is a little too upfront too.

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy in body. Smooth at the start. The finish is smooth and the flavors lingers shortly into the aftertaste.

Drinkability: so-so. This beer is a little unbalanced as the alcohol tends to dominate as this warms during the session. But I am glad I got to try it.

Photo of rowew
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12 oz longneck. Ralph Steadman logo. Spot for vintage marking, but it wasn't lined up correctly.

Appearance: Pours thick and very dark, medium sized head that is dark tan colored. Good retention.

Smell: Very strong aroma - roasted aromas mixed with a good amount of hops, a bit of chocolate, and some alcohol fumes.

Taste: Starts off malty and sweet, then the hops, coffee, and chocolate bitterness come in to balance things out. Just a slight taste of alcohol, not bad considering the ABV.

Overall impression: Very nice porter - easily one of the best beers Flying Dog produces (which is a bit of a mixed message). Flying Dog seems to do much better with the big beers than their average offerings.

Photo of orfeu
3.03/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Bottle imprinted with "Vintage 06A." Poured into a 17-ounce snifter. Extremely dense black, like a stout, with a thick, creamy dark tan foam cap. The nose is chocolate cake batter with some bitter pine-scented hops -- the combination is rather medicinal. The taste is where this one falls off. Bitter piney hops are in full effect, as is a ridiculously hot alcohol presence. A mellow chocolatey roastiness emerges at the finish as a saving grace, but because of that over-the-top booziness all through the middle, this one just doesn't have what it takes at this point. Perhaps several years cellared? Grassy, tree-bark aftertaste. Aside from the stinging alcohol heat, the mouthfeel is trying hard to be smooth. Not a very strong example of a porter, regardless of whether it's Baltic or imperial or whatever. Once is enough.

Photo of Erdinger2003
4.76/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Just a little over 4 months and we'll see how it aged.
Served in a Chimay goblet.

The head is a soft and pillowy brownish white with a lacing that's concreted to the side of the glass even after a good time.

The smell is soft, but has coffee and a slight smokiness with a little cocoa, very little cocoa in the backround.

The first drink gives you such a big flavor of dark fruit like plum and raisan and leaves a bitter coffee in your mouth. Very nice. The hops are so mellow that the other flavors are on the main stage this time and they take a backseat.

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, very smooth and silky. I enjoyed it very much.

I would have loved to cellar a few cases of this sweetheart beer. Very good.

Photo of Naerhu
3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Thanks to RobBeer for lugging this beer all the way to Japan.

I didnt really enjoy half of the beer shooting out the bottle on opening. The damn thing was laying on its side for 3 months, ya figure it wasnt in an agitated state. If half the beer winds up on the counter and not in my glass that is going to kick the hell out of the drinkability rating.

Completely black with extremely excited dark chocolate head.
Nice sweet malty aroma. Lots of chocolate and anise.

Extremely rich chocolate flavors. Not at all sweet, not at all bitter. Big coffee flavors. Burnt grain on the finish. A little too much alcohol to give this more on the mouthfeel.

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

Pours a dark velvety brownish black with a one finger width head that soon sinks to a foam layer. Smell is of very sweet malt with some slight chemical smell that I can't ID. There don't seem to be any hops present in the smell of this beer. Taste is as expected, very strong and complex malt flavors. Taste of sweet chocolate and a very slight amount of the chemical taste that was also evident in the smell of the beer. The mouthfeel is very heavy and full in the mouth. A drinkable beer but a little too heavy for casual drinking.

Photo of SixpointJMH
4.53/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This one pours a fantastic looking black colour with a big chunky (but creamy) chocolate-looking brown head atop the liquid.

The aroma is a nice mix of chocolate, earthy and roasted malt, with hints of coffee and berries too.

The flavour is more of the same, with roasted malt leading the way and mixing with some chocolate and berry flavours toward the middle then meeting up with a touch of alcohol at the finish as well as a seemingly out of nowhere shot of hop flavour. Mouthfeel is full bodied and smooth as hell.

This porter was beyond enjoyable for me. It's flavourful and well balanced and really just a great beer.

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

Fear and loathing at the basement bar?
I enjoyed this brew with my wife over some stinky cheese, after putting the child to bed. It pours a thick black color with just a shadow of a chocolate colored head. The aroma has a lot going on. It’s qualities are hidden at first, but as you work through the glass, they tumble forth: alcohol, roasted and burned malts, dark chocolate, plums, raisins, caramel, coffee. Wow. The taste accentuates each flavor. Sweet and warming. Terrific bitterness. On the downside, the brew occasionally had a fleeting solvent note. The mouthfeel is thick and almost syrupy, with a slick oily quality. Long and lingering finish. It’s incredibly drinkable for it’s strength and heft. This one is remarkably good.

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

Pours a dark brown with a thick tan head. The nose is very fresh crisp hops, bringing a pungent floural flavor to the nose. There is also a small citrus background with chocolate and espresso notes and no alcohal to be found. The taste is syrupy sweet, brown sugar, french vanilla coffee, with a balance of bitter piney hops. As I let this continue to warm some more vanilla and oak woodiness come to mind. This is a great porter one for sipping and enjoying slowly.

Photo of klewis
2.57/5  rDev -36.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle - "Vintage 06A"

A: Pours dark brown with a big tan head that erupted late into the pour. Lots of thick lacing and a head retention.

S: Nice chocolately aromas, but a strong alcoholic/kerosene smell prevents me from wanting to smell this stuff too much.

T: Earthy and tannic with flavors of black coffee, oak, and alcohol. The flavor departs quickly, leaving a harsh astringent taste in the mouth.

M: Fairly light-bodied for a beer of its ABV. There is barely any carbonation in this beer, giving it a flat texture.

D: I was really looking foward to this one, but after a few sips am not impressed. Its biggest issue seems to be that the alcohol is not balanced with the other ingredients. Perhaps worth a try, but I won't be drinking this one again.

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

Poured a thick dark shade of brown out of the bottle, almost sheer black in the center of the glass but with root beer colored highlights around the edges where the light crept in. I didn’t get much head retention of this one - maybe 3/4 finger - but what was there was a nice caramel brown. Looked very inviting overall. I didn’t note as much alcohol in the smell as some have reported, but I did catch the expected burnt coffee, brown sugar, faint raisins, toffee. The nose pretty much foreshadowed the taste to a T. Nice oily hop presence up front with the roasted malt and bitter coffee coming in on the back of the tongue. With the mouthfeel being nice and chewy, almost like oatmeal in itself, for some reason this beer gave me just as much of an impression of a high-octane oatmeal stout as it did a porter. Could have been my mind playing tricks on me. Nonetheless this is quite a good beer; not necessarily one of the all-time greats in this style but quite drinkable. I had two of these last night before I really felt the buzz setting in, and if the buzz had been my goal I probably could have managed one or two more. I would have ranked it a bit higher on drinkability except there’s something a bit too familiar about the way this goes down.

Photo of Brian700
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one pours dark black with a nice brownish head that left some decent lacing.

The aroma was of roasted malt, coffee, and chocolate with some mild floral hop presence.

The flavor is also of roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, with some floral citrusy hops and no real alcohol flavor for a beer that is above the 9% ABV mark.

The mouthfeel is medium/full bodied with medium carbonation.

I think this is a super drinkable beer.

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

Black with a minimal attractive head and lace. Coffee syrup, medium mouthfeel and not all that thick.Chocolate and other malts, cascade and other hops.The one-off best flying dog of them all, courtesy of Jan Biergeman.Surprising high alcohol, did not feel like 9.8%.Unobtrusive carbonation.

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

12oz single, obtained in No BS BIF from weymouthmike, label says vintage but no year indicated

appearance: pours from the fabulous hunter thompson labeled bottle into a chalice...big chocolatey brown body, fluffy tan head with great retention and a lovely lace left behind...very strong appearance indeed

smell: bittersweet dark chocolate, big roasty malt presence, cream, alcohol soaked plum and cherry, surprisingly potent hop aroma (3F style), espresso

taste: big and robust, deep roasted malt, strong hop bite that fits in quite nicely, espresso roast, bitter dark chocolate, plum, raising, grape, cherry, moderate alcohol feel, cream, oats...surprisingly good from a brewery i have never been moved by

mouthfeel: smooth and creamy, bitter aftertaste

drinkability: pretty strong

Photo of fretlessman71
4.82/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pertinent Preliminary Comments: Gonzo is brewed (and named) for the late Hunter S. Thompson who took his own life in the year 2005 in the mountains of Colorado. This beer came out that summer; I had a bottle and could barely finish it, the hops were so green. I kept wanting to go to the mirror and pick the flowers out of my teeth! So I decided to cellar what I had left and give it some time. Let’s see how things have changed…

APPEARANCE: BLACK. Oh boy is this black. Dense tan head, not as high as I expected, great lacing.

AROMA: Hops and dates and malt and large quantities of each. Fantastic!

FLAVOR: Hooray! A big porter with hop flavor! What a great idea! Tastes just like it smells, other than the fact that you can sense the alcohol more on the palate. 8 months ago the hops were just a bit much; now they’re PERFECT. Good roasted character to the malt; smoooth and clean. Molasses and caramel notes as well, some espresso too. This big boy just needed some time – wow!

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-plus weight; great carbonation. Good oily feel.

DRINKABILITY: More than one of these would be a waste, although it might pay an appropriate tribute to its namesake… 9.5% ABV is just a little high to have more than one – but this goes down so easy that one just might. (Hunter probably would!)

OVERALL COMMENTS: BOY, am I glad I waited to open this bottle. What a difference! If you can still find a bottle of this, now is the time. Great balance, great flavors, nothing off about this at all. Maybe they’ll do this again, eh?

Photo of silver0rlead
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 05F on the bottle, probably about 6 months old. The appearance is excellent, completely opaque black with a massive and long lasting cocoa colored head...impressive. The aroma is also very nice, with big notes of cocoa and expresso, along with some muted resinous hops, a hint of ginger and barely a scent of alcohol. The flavor has notes of expresso, chocolate, charcoal, resinous hops, burnt bread, some dark fruits and a bit of alcohol. The mouthfeel is silky smooth and carbonation is minimal, drinkability is good and the alcohol is not noticeable. This was an intersting cellar experiment, the hops are very muted and there is a more astringent roasted bitterness, not sure if i like where this beer went but ill leave the other one for another year or so and see what happens.

Photo of KarlHungus
3.96/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This brew pours an opaque black color. The head is enormous, light tan in color, and lasts forever leaving rings of lacing all the way down the glass. The aroma is of burnt malt, graham crackers, cream, and has a mild tanginess. The taste is similar to the aroma, but with a thorough alcohol burn in the finish. The mouthfeel is full bodied with nice carbonation and incredible smoothness. Overall, this is a very nice beer. It may not be the best baltic porter out there, but it is certainly worth drinking.

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

Had on Palm Sunday with my cousin Jim. We both found this around the same time - and a great find it was.

Pour - a dark chocolate brown (not quite black) with a medium slightly tan head that goes fast.

Not much of a smell - on the nose a bit like Samuel Smith's beers.

Great taste - though, a bit more carob sweetness than roasted flavors. Definitely similar to other baltic porters out there, with a tremendous ease of drinking.

Buy it if you can - as it is limited.


Photo of yelterdow
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 05 lasered on the label. One of the early batches from Flying Dog, this has been cellaring for many months... tonight's the night.

Served at between fridge and cellar temperature in an imperial pint glass.

Appearance- Pours a gleaming chocolate cherry color, the ruby red highlights are amazing. The head forms slowly but explosively... a foamy sizzle of carbonation that expands and grows from the inside out. Incredible sticky lacing right from the start.

Smell- An enormous display of fruit (cherries), chocolate, coffee, massive hops, and the alcohol too... strong as any beer I've ever lowered my nose into. Very complex, as all these factors somehow meld into a very distinctive aroma. This beer smells like it weighs 12 lbs, not 12 oz.

Taste- Rich, decadent chocolate covered coffeebeans first, followed by a wickedly bittering hop attack that sears the entire mouth for a good minute. The initial sweetness going in the mouth defers immediately to heavy, syrupy malts and then the ending tonguewhipping.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Although viscous and pretty thick in the mouth, the carbonation is a bit too thin for the level of body here. This beer's sheer weight is remarkable, in the way BBCS is... damn heavy. It serves more as a nightcap imo than a dessert beer, for the same reasons I've just said. Great effort, the hop burps are worth it.

Photo of ypsifly
4.09/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz brought from CO by a friend. Vintage 05F jetted on the bottom right corner of the label. Poured into a pint glass.

An inch of light brown foam over blackness. Decent retention with evenly webbed lace.

The nose is stout like with full roasted malts, nuts, espresso, molasses, slight sourness, and some heat from the alcohol. Very nice.

Upfront the body is very thick but becomes a bit oily. Big mouthfull of dark roasted malts with bitter chocolates and some brandy like heat from the abv. Could use some more carbonation to cut the oils but it isn't too big of a deal.

An interesting and full flavored beer. I would like to try another with chocolates or some other dessert.

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

Poured a single bottle ($1.35) into an imperial pint glass.

Dark beer and a dark head, darkest head I've ever seen. Viscous and very minimal carbonation.

Smells boozy and sweet, slightly fruity. Not much in the way of hops, but pleasant toasted malts.

Starts of sweet and malty, then finishes nice and bitter. Coffee in between, on the other hand, which hides the booze nicely. No complaints, except for a strange syrupy aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is letdown. Too syrupy, too slick, not carbonated enough. It starts going down like sugar water after awhile.

Frighteningly drinkable for...oh god....9.5%. I would rate it higher, but once it warms up, it's pretty much flat and your spit is jet black syrup for a couple hours.

Photo of phisig137
4.32/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a solid black, with a creamy one finger brown head. Head lasts a long time, but falls into a blanket over top of the beer, and leaves some nice lacing along the sides.

Aroma dark roasted malts, molasses and caramel. Figs also pop in here. Smells closer to an imperial stout than a porter, but is very enjoyable either way.

This beer's flavor is superb. One of the nicest porters that I've ever had. Quite fruity, showing figs, dates and raisons, but backed up on the finish by heavily roasted malts, and a dryness that isn't quite hoppy, but still shows some hop character.

Mouthfeel is thick and creamy, and drinkability is high. Alcohol is hidden well, especially considering the high ABV.

This is one fantastic beer, and without a doubt the best one that Flying Dog has to offer. Very nice.

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

Wow, have you ever opened a beer, poured it, tasted it, and realized you made a HUGE mistake when you bought that beer? That is what happened here. My mistake is I did not buy enough. This Porter is something else. It pours a nice dark color. The head is minimal, though a gentle swirl will bring it back up. The smell is hoppy-floral. The tatse parallels the smell. The high ABV is completely masked. This is one fine smoth brew. It tastes awfully (in a good way) a lot like a Storm King Stout. If you like a strong flavorful brew, you will like this beverage.

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

scores updated from 4/35/25/4/3 on 1/7/2011 with a vintage 2011 bottle: lots of good roast and chocolate, hops strong but balanced enough, good beer

appearance: The pour off the sediment creates a soda-pop fizzy head, tan in color, that very soon disappears, leaving a placid surface on the beer. The beer is nearing black in color, with some brown barely escaping from the edges.

smell: Some nice, just slightly subdued PacNW hops upfront. Behind are some dark malty aromas of roast and bittersweet chocolate. A little smoky. Not much depth, I must say, but okay. Alcohol just slightly noticeable.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is on the low side of the medium range. The body is a on the lighter side of the heavy range.

taste: A little more balance here than on the nose, but the hops still take center stage. At first it is a blend of hop flavor and bittersweet chocolate. A light smokiness introduces a fade from the chocolate into a mix of hop bitterness and roasted grain. Again, the alcohol is pretty well hidden.

drinkability: One is enough, but a good beer

Received from Zorro in BCG-BiF and then cellared for a few months. The print in the date box on the bottle says only "VINTAGE."

Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,659 ratings.