Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

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Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter

Brewed by:
Flying Dog Brewery
Maryland, United States | website

Style: Baltic Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
ABV varies.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 06-04-2005

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Reviews: 1,455 | Ratings: 2,822
Photo of Immortale25
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Funky Buddha Brewery snifter. Label says Vintage 14CC.

A- Pours a fully opaque black color with a 1/4 inch light brown head that retains well before becoming a thin ring around the edge of the glass and a mostly full sheet of sheer surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves a broken ring behind.

S- Heavy dark roast with a punctuated sweetness that brings to mind brown sugar, molasses and raisin. Moderate booze fume. There's also a solid dose of hops.

T- Sweet at first but then the hop bitterness comes in followed by the heavy dark roasted malt which is quite intense. Charry aftertaste. As the palate acclimates, that charry aftertaste gets to be enjoyable as it exhibits some dark fruit and raisin notes. The big alcohol presence brings a sherry-like quality to the table. Subtle caramel and vanilla notes mingle with the rest of the extreme flavors. Interesting hop/roast burps.

M- Thick and chewy with medium carbonation and the fullest of bodies.

O- The complexity of the flavor profile combined with high drinkability make this a nice imperial porter. It's a little abrasive but manages to somehow work within the realm of what I consider good beer. Sip it slow and you'll have a great time.

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Photo of RyanK252
4.06/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a BarrelHouse Brewing Co pint glass

A: Pours dark brown, almost black, with a frothy rich deep brown head that hangs around and laces well.

S: Dark roasted malt, some coffee, a little bittersweet chocolate, some dark fruity notes, and a bit of toffee sweetness.

T: Roasted malt, dark and bittersweet chocolate, coffee, brown sugar, maybe a bit of dark fruit, pine and earthy hops, and maybe even a touch spicy with a little alcohol coming out on the finish.

M: Medium to full body, moderate carbonation, quite smooth,

O: I think I like this one more as it warms. The flavors really come out and blend together well.

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Photo of tillmac62
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Outstanding head characteristics. Classic porter nose. Heavy medium body with a rich smooth texture. A chocolate onslaught with a rich underlying sweetness over a mild roast bitterness.

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Photo of crob3888
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: Pours black with brown hues, and a mocha colored head.
Smell: Roasted malts, burnt caramel, figs, raisins
Taste: Roasted malt, burnt caramel, figs, raisins, toffee, hint of coffee, cocoa
Feel: Pretty smooth, chewy, and a medium-heavy body
Overall: Great example of style, would drink again.

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Photo of MacMalt
4.31/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into snifter. Color was much as expected: opaque, black, with a nice tan/caramel head. A very attractive beer. I was a little disappointed by the smell (or lack thereof) but the taste more than makes up for it. Very malty but with a nice combination of coffee, chocolate, caramel, and molasses. It's a little sweeter than other baltic porters I've had. It has a very nice mouth feel. Overall, an excellent porter, which I will enjoy again.

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

2011 edition, 12 oz bottle, poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, pitch-black color with a quarter of a finger of caramel/chocolate-chocolate head that quickly dissolved into a thin lacing of foam that completely covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Strong aromas of roasted malt, imparting notes of toasted pumpernickel bread and a touch of coffee and smoke.

Taste: Wow! Massive malt bomb up front, with notes of the aforementioned toasted dark bread, a touch of smoke and coffee, followed by some dark chocolate, a touch of brown sugar, molasses, a touch of licorice and finally some nicely balanced hops. Delicious!

Mouthfeel: Chewy and smooth as silk, as there is no carbonation whatsoever. With an ABV of 9.2%, there’s a nice, pleasant touch of alcohol warmth on the palate.

Overall: Damn, this is an excellent beer! I love the malt and the dark chocolate which blended perfectly with the coffee and hops. Outstanding!

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

(code: Vintage14HH - poured into a Chouffe tulip)

L: seemed to pour out clear... liquid close to black in color... coffee w/ cream colored foam that starts tall and manages to maintain messy cap... messy splotches of somewhat thick lacing

S: a little dark chocolate, moderate amount of ashy roast, and a lot of piney hops... undercurrent of zante currant... in combo with the other aromas, the alcohol aids in creating an overtone of lip balm or some other mildly mentholated skin care product... overall, nice intensity and relatively inviting

T: smooth malts up front, with an unanticipated subtle, glassy sugar-sweetness... bold blend of sweet espresso and bitter dark chocolate with an aggressive yet mellowly-balanced bitter leafy and citrus peel hop character... aftertaste is menthol and a hint of tobacco... summary: a West-Coast imperial porter (easily could be called a stout - some of Stone's strong stouts come to mind)... if anything, they could hold back a bit of the hops and let the character of the malts shine through some more, perhaps opening up some complexity

F: thicker mouthfeel, though short of viscous... security-blanket fluffy soft - perhaps cushioned by the carbonation, though it lacks sizzle... the alcohol doesn't approach burn, instead giving only a whisper of warm seconds into the finish

O: much better than I remember it (which was medicinal near fusel) and the last time I had this I'm pretty sure they were still in CO... at the price, I would definitely get this again... been surprised and pleased with the improvement in quality coming back to trying this brand after a good 7-8 years

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Photo of WheelsPSU
4.4/5  rDev +9.5%

Very good porter. A bit too carbonated though, almost takes away from the mouthfeel. I got roasted malts, dark chocolate, and a little something sweet, perhaps vanilla or even maybe a sweet fig. Very very tasty but the mouthfeel was strange due to the carbonation

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Photo of SFNC
4.02/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep brown with reddish highlights around the edges. A mile high head with some rather large bubbles interspersed in the tan foam. This left a pronounced lacing on the glass and thin islan of the tan foam remained for the duration. The smell is darkly roasted malt, bitter chocolate and prominent alcohol. I had this at just under room temprature and it tasted aggresively bitter, but in a good way. Alchohol hits pretty hard, not really hidden at all. The rosty taste of this reminds me of a good stout, but the mouthfeel is thinner and quite effervescent. This one is good, but lacking in subtlety.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
4.24/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had this for the for time last night at the Cloverleaf, which was a fitting beer for how cold and raw it was outside. Although this was just a tad too burnt for me, I really enjoyed this and how complex it was while remaining true to form. This was a slow sipper and had enough going for it that I could enjoy this as it warmed up, at the same time that it was warming me up as well. This packed a punch but it wasn't over-the-top and was clearly one of the best Porters of any type that I've ever had.

Nice pour to this, with a dark hue, creamy head, and a somewhat decent amount of lacing as I worked my way through this. I couldn't see any lacing at all and the smoothness of the appearance was also apparent in the taste, despite the range of the flavors that were present here. Lots of malt, a thick mouthfeel, and a good smoky undertone were there from the get-go, as this had the roasted characteristic of a Porter and the burnt, bitter properties of a good coffee Stout to go along with them. Everything meshed well together and that included the faint hop notes that came through in the back, which packed even more of a punch when all was said and done.

This was certainly strong but it did not feel strong as the alcohol was well-recessed. For something the looked like vanilla extract, this had a lot going on since the vanilla was only a small aspect of what was found here. As so many have alluded to on here, this is by far Flying Dog's best beer! Most of their other offerings tasted similar to each other but like the Smuttynose Robust Porter, this one's a standout that's not to be missed. Part Porter, Part Stout, Part Scotch Ale, this was a beer that's unlike anything else on the shelf and deserves to be a winter staple in anyone's stash.

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Photo of samtrillo
4/5  rDev -0.5%

Tan head with a fair share of lacing.

Nose composed of rich roasted malt. Dark bitter cocoa and espresso.

Taste is surprisingly bitter coffee for me. As I drink more I'm getting more of a mocha chocolate thing going on. However, the bitter coffee persists. So much so I would believe it if the bottle said it was a coffee stout. I am getting some wood qualities to the bitterness, as well.

The mouthfeel is bizarre based off what I was reading. Lots of carbonation to me! Too much in fact. The alcohol is indeed hid well. Medium bodied.

Overall this was quite different from the reviews I read. Coffee, carbonated and crisp. Still very enjoyable, though.

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Photo of cyberjason
4.75/5  rDev +18.2%

This is by far one of the best porters you can get in a bottle. The taste is superb and the minimal head has a dark brown color. If your taste buds are itching for a porter this one will definitely hit the spot!

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Photo of ThaneMcC
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

A: inky black with copious light brown head and lacing
S: citrus hops, dark malt and chocolate and leather dark notes
T: chocolatey, woodsy, very dark malts, hops mid flavor providing nice fruity, piney, citrus (mild) and clean finish
M: skim milk feel, carbonation gives some lightness to this malt heavy beer and keeps it from becoming syrupy
O: An odd hybrid of IPA and Porter, with the qualities of each and almost like a stout in its complexity and the complexity of the flavor hides the high ABV. Great beer! I would not hesitate to get this I n the future.

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Photo of ONUMello
4.02/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass
A: Pour it slowly as even an average pour brought a huge head that took time to settle. Once the bottle emptied a pitch black beer with a lingering one-finger head remained in the glass
S: Chocolate, a bit of cream, lots of dark malts, a bit of hops
T: Roasted/burnt malt, hops, cocoa
M: Full-bodied, a nice balance of dark flavors. The alcohol is a bit noticeable but not out of balance
O: A tasty beer for a cold day

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Photo of WhiteHillsStore
4/5  rDev -0.5%

Pours a dark brown with a khaki colored head. As it fizzed out the head made trails down the glass. The smell is full of nuts and coffee. A lot of heavy and sweet scents prepare you for a really nice and rich taste. The taste is full of decadent heavy flavors such as walnuts, coffee, and toffee to make a very rich beer. Another really good brew from Flying Dog.

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Photo of HunterSBeerson
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

A great, dark, malty beer. Oil like texture. Probably the coolest beer I have tried (for name and label artwork), and a great version of a strong porter.

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Photo of Dodo2step
3.84/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

P- Thanks to Colm..a flying dog brewer for this beer

A- thick motor oil black with a dark tan head that is 2 fingers and frothy and beautiful lacing on the pint.

S- burnt roasted malts with hints of chocolate and....tobacco? wow...almost like a hint of chewing tobacco.

F- bitter chocolate and burnt malts with no taste of tobacco. more like a smokey chocolate oak barrel almost.

M- burnt malts and smokey chocolate coats the mouth. It is kind of medium bodied with a grainy feel in the throat.

O- a decent porter....as usual I am not a porter fan but am willing to expand my horizons with the style and it is good for a porter.

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Photo of ConanSachler
4.82/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2011 vintage. Poured smooth with a perfect head. Vanilla notes with a toasty finish. All of the booze notes have completely vanished. Time has done this beer well.

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Photo of barnzy78
4.55/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, vintage 13NN printed in label. Wow, looking at a previous review (now deleted), it's been 6 years since I had this last! Way overdue!
A 4.5 - thick, dense, creamy tan head holds incredible retention atop a black colored body
S 4.5 - boozy nose with caramel, dark fruit, earth, chocolate, faint tobacco leaf
T 4.5 - bold and rich, boozy, dark fruity esters, roasty and chocolaty, caramel, toffee, smoke, tea leaf, tobacco perhaps
M 5 - thick and full bodied, very creamy and smooth, roast lingers with some booze, but it's still easy to drink even with the high ABV.
O 4.5 - this was exceptional! Always was world class in my opinion, but it's even better than I remember. In a style I've grown to love, this fits in with some of the best.

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Photo of Bone53
4.1/5  rDev +2%

Poured from a bottle into a snifter at around 45°F

Appearance (4.5): Black with a thick mocha head; A ton of lacing

Smell (4): Roasted malts, chocolate, leather, hops

Taste (4.25): More roasted malt presence in the taste, although still quite hoppy

Mouthfeel(4): Medium body; Somewhat smooth with a moderate bitterness

Overall (4): i was expecting something different when grabbing this beer, i wanted in your face roasted malts. smokey, and extra smooth. This reminds me more of a black ale and wouldve rated higher if it were rated as such. Too hoppy for me to hail it as a great imperial porter. The aromas and taste are good, if a bit subtle, but not as a imperial porter. Solid beer overall nonetheless

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Photo of seedyone
4.75/5  rDev +18.2%

07/03/12 From a nitro tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. This is a substantial brew. Thick nitro head notwithstanding, there is a serious amount of flavor here without much of a nose. Slight burn behind the rich maltiness. A serious beverage.

Does this stuff have an underlying purpose? It's not quite a thirst quencher, not very refreshing, but it has found a spot to hit. Subtly memorable.

Why do feeling I've just had a date with someone I'll remember but probably won't marry? Probable because I've been outclassed. Thanks for the lesson. I now know myself better.

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Photo of Samp01
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a slightly viscous black with a small brown head, some mild lacing. Aroma is dark roasted caramel chocolate malt, some notes of molasses and mild dark fruit. Taste is sweet dark roasted caramel malt, dark bitter cacao some roasted espresso bean bitterness, some notes of dark dried fruit, mild alcohol esters. Palate is a full rich slightly creamy and viscous body, mild carbonation, sits well on the palate. The finish is a sweet bitter combination of dark roasted malt, espresso bean bitterness, slightly dry ending, alcohol is well hidden. Overall a very good and robust Imperial Porter, very nice.

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Very dark brown, fine coffee head, no carbonation visible through the inkiness. Constellations of lacing.

S: Dark chocolate, roasted almost burnt malt, a hint of alcohol.

T: Bitter, dark malts, chocolate nibs, some hop-provided pine residue on the finish, also contributing to the lasting bitterness. Dark, heavy, lasting, but not overpowering.

M: A little filmy, but pretty fluid. Only slight carbonation, enough to keep it from flatness.

O: Powerful dark flavors, significant hops (for a dark beer), yet easily drinkable. Really impressed, this is my go-to when I need a dark beer in the summer months.

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Photo of Bis4beer70
4.75/5  rDev +18.2%

wow! finally got a six pack of this & i love it!
tastes overall more like a stout than a porter, but whatever...
HST & Ralph Steadman & Flying Dog will all three,always be cool in my book!
this was not available in indiana for some reason-i wrote to FD & asked why because alot of their other beers are,but i got no real good answer...for no good reason.
my ma found it for me in california on a trip out there & brought it back...thanks ma!

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Photo of Act25
4.1/5  rDev +2%

I like this brewer and their Oyster Stout is a great session stout.

Perfect last beer of the evening, and great with chocolate, cheesecake, dessert. I reached for a chocolate dunker as soon as I tasted, but not great for waistline!

A: Good looking, Black, tan head, quick to settle, abundant lace. 4
S: Big aroma of coffee, caramel, chocolate - and perhaps brandy. Definite sweetness outweighing a slight hoppy finish.
T: Dessert like with smoked flavors, mostly full flavored, sweet profile and a nice dry, long smokey finish. Definitely opens up as it warms, and definitely the last beer of the night.
M: Rich and creamy, very warming, long tickle.

D - This one started mid-pack but over a long session with it, I grew to find it outstanding.

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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 1,455 ratings.