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Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery

Not Rated.
Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,635 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,635
Reviews: 1,429
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: 2,635 | Reviews: 1,429 | Display Reviews Only:
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."

Photo of Crosling
2.78/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Fresh bottling. Black. Well aromatized hops in the nose, which offer a bit of citrus and floor cleaner, while the malt hints of coffee, chocolate, mocha and burnt forest. Aromaticaly speaking, it’s a lot like Alpha Klaus from 3 Floyds, but not near as nice. Flavor-wise, the hops are so agressive, excessive and astringent, oily and pure and totally overdone. Bitter as heck with harsh alcohol, burnt, overly bitter malts, which are tarrish and coffeesque.

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

Gonzo Imperial Porter poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle into a standard pint glass. The bottle had a vintage marked as 06A. I served mine slightly cooler than cellar temp.

Gonzo poured a pitch black with a thin layer of small bubbled, velvety looking head that left very fine lacing down the side of the glass. The beer's aroma, which I found to be pretty spectacular, included hints of mocha along wth dark chocolate or cocoa and roasted malt. The flavor has a quality that reminds of me of bitter or baking chocolate along with flashes of hop bitterness and burnt maltiness. The hoppiness is a surprise, although not unwelcome. The high abv hides well behind within the beer, and allows it to be more drinkable than expected. Overall, this is a solid Baltic Porter with a distinctly American twist, something I would reach for again, but I don't believe it to be a necessarily traditional version of the style.

Photo of hoppymeal
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours black with a tight light brown head. Sweet malty smells are mixed with sharp roasty aromas. The malts are also present in the taste along with a sour-ish dairy finish. This may not sound the best but it tastes quite good. As the beer warms the sweet aromas become slightly more prevalent. I can feel the alcohol having its effect, but it is very well balanced not overpowering on the palate. The beer is medium to heavy bodied and a very fine porter.

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

Vintage "06A"
Dark brown almost mahogany coloured beer, nice sized dark tan head thats frothy and thick.
Aroma is mainlly roasty/ burnt toasted malts, smells like a good dark cocoa powder.
Very smooth yet tasty toasty malts dominate , giving an odd sensation of dark chocolate followed by milk creamy choc, monor bitter after taste, alcohol barely noticed.
Very very smooth silky mouthfeel..thick and luxurious.
Very nice beer ,probably the best yet , that I have had from Flying Dog..very impressed despite the alcoholic volume I found this very easy to drink

Photo of smcolw
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Here's a blow-away head of three fingers that lasts forever. The appearance is very much like a stout up to the cascading bubbles while the head settles

The smell is chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Oh, wait, is that a hop leaf I detect...nah.

This porter is on the sweet side, albeit countered by a noticable dose of hops. Again, this is a chocolatey concoction with a very high oily presence of alcohol. The aftertaste features a better balance with more of a hop bite. This is a very full-bodied beer with good carbonation.

Drinkability is tough category for me. I tend to rate brews by whether I'd have a second. A beer like this is closer to dessert. So no, I wouldn't keep downing these. But as a final beer, this is excellent.

Photo of copasetic
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a thick opaque black with a short tan head. In the glass, it dares me to take a drink. The aroma is similar to a heavy stout, but slightly earthier and a wee bit chocolatey. From start to finish, this is far punchier than any porter I've had. The flavor and alcohol combine to almost make my tongue tingle. It tastes like a heavy stout, but is far thicker and and maltier than I'd expect from that style. Long after finishing this beer, it still reminds me that I had it.

Could I drink more than one? I doubt it. It's like a bowl of french onion soup in a bottle. A full meal in itself. Is it worth having one? Definitely. The experience of this beer and its flavor complexity demand a try.

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

12 oz brown bottle with a vintage date on the label "06A".

A- Pours out like thin used motor oil, very little carbonation only leaves behind a wafer like tan lace that has very little retention.

S- Choco-roasted malt twang in the nose, hints of dark fruit and very faint solvent alcohol in the back.

T&M- Full bodied with a slight smoothness and crispness. Hard bite of charcoal burnt malt, black strap molasses sweetness, big dark fruitiness. Warming alcohol hits around half way down the glass. Herbal / citric hops flare a quick bitterness and flavor within the burnt malt character although the hop flavor does show up again the burnt bitter-sweet finish.

D- I could see sipping this one to end the night off. Definitely worth a try if you are into very strong dark beers. The 9.5% is pretty tame.

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

12oz. bottle

Pours a deep, dark brown - almost black with a creamy mocha head. Head thins, but maintains. Thick lacing on the glass.

Aroma is slightly sweet of roasted malts with coffee and chocolate tones. There is also a slight fruitiness present.

Upfront the taste is of sweet roasted malts with a slight fruitiness. A slight hop bitterness shows up with some cocoa and coffee flavors. It washes down sweet and roasty.

Full body, creamy texture. Nicely carbonated.

This is extremely drinkable for the ABV. I didn't notice the alcohol at any point and consumed the bottle with no effort. Nice.

Photo of JackStraw22
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First review I've done in a while, I feel like I've forgotten how to describe what I'm tasting. Beer pours nearly completely black, decent caramel colored head, nice lacing. Not getting a lot out of the aroma department, maybe it just needs to warm a bit more. Good amount of hops in there for a porter. Sweetness is just right, not cloying. Nice mocha flavor and a slight burnt finish. Very good beer, worth seeking out.

Photo of DogFood11
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Amazing appearance, gigantic dark tan head is mountainous and retains perfectly, sticky, blanket covering.

Quite the citrus profile, some mild hints of chocolate, rubarb, and floral hops. Complex and confusing at times this brew does not dissapoint. Bold, Smokey. The finish is woody and bitter, cleansing. If there is any complaint it did come across a bit sharp for what I would consider a smooth beer in a porter, ...even a baltic porter.

The price is right for this brew. I'm excited to try other offerings from this brewery after this gem. I don't get the label graphics, to me they look sophmoreish at best.

Photo of alexgash
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark chocolate black with a big, thick, glass-licking brown sugar head. Nose is full of piney hops and cocoa powder malts. Some peaty coffee as well. Taste is sweet, chocolatey, rich, and peaty. Not too sweet though, and not out-of-whack bitter. Nice hop balance. Sweet, tobacco-y finish. Medium-full bodied with a slightly syrupy feel. Nice one.

Photo of riversider76
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours almost black. Thin pale brown head, with just a bit of lace. Smell is complex. Chocolate, coffee, smokey malt, and hops are all there. Impressive. Body is thick. not much carbonation. Taste is complex like the smell. Smooth,with just a bit of a kick in the finish. One of the best.

Photo of edmonds
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a twelve ounce bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance - Dark brown, almost black color. One finger head that appears dark tan and leaves lace trailing down the glass. Head falls quickly, yet comes back with a slight swirl.

Smell - Chocolate first hits my nose with a strong presence of hops. A slight coffee aroma is also present.

Taste - A smokey, chocolate/coffee flavor with a strong presence of hops at the finish.

Mouthfeel - Enough carbonation to notice, yet not overdone. Good job.

Drinkability - Excellent beer that goes down very smooth. Although, I'm not sure how many of these I could put down considering the ABV and the weight of the fluid. Excellent porter (Baltic).

Photo of fingolfin72
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours espresso black with virtually no head. Just a wee bit of pale brown lacing. I drank this from an Imperial pint glass.

Nose: Big chocolate with a dark, charred note - like dark, oily French roast coffee.

Palate: Huge and chocolatey, with a good balance of burnt sugar and dark, dark roast coffee. There is some quinine bitterness and just a hint of acidity in the finish. There's lots of flavor here, and the alcohol is noticeable. The carbonation is mild, and it seems to suit the weight of this beer. I really like the beer, but the bitterness might be just a bit too keen and burnt-tasting. On the other had, it really makes you slow down and contemplate this one.

The beer is impressive, but perhaps a limited release artisinal tequila would have been even more in keeping with the Hunter S. Thompson legend.

Photo of kkipple
4.72/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this on the recommendation of Mike Brawley of Brawley's Beverage in Charlotte. Thanks Mike!

Gonzo Porter is one heckuva beer. Where to begin... color is a hazy deep brown, reminded me of Turkish coffee. A huge, toasted marshmallow head floats on top and slowly subsides.

The smell is truly first-class. Amazing complexity! I smell rich roasted malts, toffee, espresso, brown sugar, chocolate, alcohol, and spruce tinged hops. When you consider that my sense of smell is pretty poor, well, let me just say it peaked my interest.

The taste doesn't disappoint in the least. It delivers exactly what the smell foretells -- an explosion of malt, cocoa and hops. Everything I smelled, I tasted in the beer. There's so much going on here... again, the complexity is superb. It reminded me of a much smoother, balanced Storm King. High praise indeed! In fact I prefer this to the venerable Storm King, the Gonzo is less hoppy and sweeter, with loads more complexity.

The mouthfeel is smooth and warm. Slides right down your gullet and finishes bittersweet and wet. Also leaves you craving more.

This is a superb beer, a real surprise to me and one that I hope becomes a mainstay in Flying Dog's lineup. If you see this on the shelves, do yourself a favor and buy without hesitation. One of the best beers I've had in a long time.

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

This stuff is precisley what I look for in a brew. The appearance is excellent. Black as ink with a medium chocolate brown foamy head. Notably darker than the foam on a glass of Coca-Cola. The head hung around for much longer than I thought it would, and slowly subsided from a foamy "crown" to a craggy, pitted head which left thick, almost gooey lacing on the glass. The smell is sweet and malty with a good bit of hops tossed in for good measure. You can tell this is going to have a roasted burnt taste to it. Upon taking a sip, there's about 63 different things going on inside your mouth. Unbelievable. You have a creamy smoothness with a pretty big body. Excellent level of carbonation. Lots of malt, a fantastic hop twang right in the middle, and an unsweetened bakers' chocolate / toasted taste on the finish with a nice dryness. This stuff is just incredible. It's well balanced, looks delicious, smells fantastic, and I must add this, as well; the brewers did a smashing job concealing the monster alcohol level as it is nearly un-noticeable. I was very, very surprised at how "tame" it was to be a 9%+. Just wonderful...!!

Photo of Rastacouere
2.8/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Hugh brown head bursts into a lasting lacy patchwork of irregular big bubbles. The body underneath is deep brown and opaque. Burstingly hoppy (cascade?) nose becomes very perfumey as it warms, bordering shampoo and definitely green fresh hops to the point of feeling vegetal and salty at times. Cocoa component is all I get from this vague, so-so maltiness that reveals its poor structure in mouth. Dominating roastiness suffers from a strong wave of citric, pine-sol and ashey character, thankfully no lactic aspects, but that the astringence remains limited within those conditions is beyond me. Dry and hoppy palate where unenvelopping dark cocoa and anise-floral loose malts get abashed by growing whispers of alcohol. Medium body, very effervescent. Fair as it is, but forget balance, round malt fruitiness was traded away for a hop putsch.

Photo of Prufrock
2.73/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12 oz. bottle poured into a pilsner.

pitch brown with half an inch of tan head that leaves sheets of lacing.

coffee, raisins, chocolate, grass. slightly medicinal and a touch of alcohol aroma.

chocolate and coffee in the taste as well. a touch of hoppy bitterness in the finish. alcohol is apparent; carbonation is light. finish is slightly medicinal like the aroma, and slightly off-putting. not very drinkable; well, at least i didn't want another.

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

Black with faint brown highlights. Big, thick brown head of creamy foam. Dry, nutty malt smell - roasted grain and a little sweet. Its almost earthy / woody, some hops try to blend in - different. Rich malty sweetness right upfront in the taste followed by an unexpected wave of coniferous hops. It doesn't seem to work at first but it starts to make sense after a few sips. The mouthfeel is warming and full with a long bitter finish. It really slides around in the mouth.

Not bad at all, though a little uneven. "Gonzo" one might say.

Photo of djeffbee
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Got this @ Joe Canals - Marlton, NJ, by the 4-pack ($8.49)

A - pours deep brown to black with 1.5 finger dark caramel colored head which quickly falls. Lacing present

S - Hoppy (cascade?) with strong presence of bitter chocolate, black patent and coffee

T - starts out quite hoppy as you couple the first swig with the aroma, and then the chocolate, smoked and coffee flavors take over leaving a nice bitterness at the end.

M - Not sure if it's the hoppy start, but the carbonation seems to have a stronger presence at the beginning, and smooths out quickly leaving a tingling warmth.

D - This is a smooth, excellent tasting, easy drinking beer - but @ 9+ABV, you can get yourself into trouble quickly!

This is my second go-round with the Gonzo, and I am hoping to locate some more! Very enjoyable..

Photo of stewart124
3.03/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Well the pour is quite good which leads to a very dark brownish red with a dark tan foamy head. Smell is a vague grassy note with hops seeming spicy and cirusy but leading towards pellet hops. Taste is very interesting and better than expected. Slightly weaker than I thought. Medium body with alcohol lighter than expected. There is an earthy taste but leads toward grassy. There is a roasted maltiness that goes towards burnt but overall the malt base seems fairly good. Overall this doesn't blend together very well. It leaves an almost mint coffee as the aftertaste. Not terrible but not one of my favorites.

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

Gonzo Imperial Porter poured a nice dark blackish/dark brown color. With a beautiful coffee/cream colored head. The head hung around the walls of the glass for the entire time.

The smell of roated malts with the a hint of dark roasty chocolate.

This beer i was expecting it to be a little more burnt in taste, but it actually remnined me a little of the Brooklyn Black chocolate stout, but less heavy. The finish is the best part of this beer, it ends with a nice dark chocolate on the taste, and slightly bitter.

Mouth feel: it had ample carbination for the style, not overwelming. Like I said above it really remined me of a chocolate stout, but with more carbonation.

Drinkability: I am glad that I have three more of these.

Photo of mattpetti
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I have been waiting for this to com back out all year...and finally it did so here i am writing this review. Having this from the bottle. Looking at it i cant imagine who would pay 100 plus dollars for this bottle because the artist signed it. Anyway the beer pour black as black can be a large, large lingering, light brown head comes from the pour. Holy crap this is the lacing god of all beers. Smell was sweet and fruity. Not alot of chocolate like i was expecting but rather lighters and floral...really floral at that. Taste is as expected: sweet malts, lots of underlying fruit flavor, smooth, and satisfying taste with the alcohol level very masked. This beer is very creamy and sticky on the mouth, the flavor of this beer makes up for that though. This is a beer that makes a beer belly a beer belly. Though it is smooth the amount of coating that it has in your mouth makes it hard to drink more than one of them. This is a beer to enjoy with meals. if you like porters pick this one up you wont be disapointed.

Photo of Vancer
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow, what an impressive pour – ruby black, STICKY thick tan head. This is gonna be good.

Very floral in the nose, I would swear this is an American pale ale, except for the black pour. Very rich brew, mucho malty and porter sour. Notes of chocolate, and burnt toast are popping up also. The Imperial is a good description of this bad boy.

I’m glad I exercised this morning, this thing has to have over 200 calories per each 12 oz., but well worth it.

Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,635 ratings.