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Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery

Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

2,323 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2323
Reviews: 1399
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 10.92%

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: 2,323 | Reviews: 1,399 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of flyingpig

United Kingdom (Scotland)

4.53/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

355ml bottle from Brewdog.com (£4.09):
Black with a large, dark tan head that holds well.

Chocolate & some dark, rich malts with some coffee. Some darker fruits with some raisin and even a little caramel coming through on the nose. Some hops & sugar follow with a slightly boozy aroma.

Sweet with some milk chocolate and a rich taste that is part malty with some alcohol. There is a hint of bitterness around the middle and a little pine from the nose. This is a beer than gets better and better as it is dark. There is some darker fruits in there too.

Smooth & creamy with a full body, lots of sweetness & a touch of bitterness. Rich with light carbonation and a warming, boozy feel. Complex but well balanced.

An exceptional beer and one that comes across as incredibly complex yet still highly drinkable with a high alcohol content that is pretty well hidden throughout. The beer is one that gets better with each sip and is one that initially feels as if it will be too boozy but somehow settles down very nicely indeed.

Serving type: bottle

09-24-2013 12:39:17 | More by flyingpig
Photo of FLima


4.24/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep black color that shadows light with a thick caramel head with good retention and leaving a wall of laces.
Aroma of chocolate, roasted malts and pine.
Bold flavor of tea bags, smoked and roasted malts, earthy and piney hops, coffee, chocolate and pepper. Notes of nuts, whole figs, orange peel and charcoal. Dry and bitter aftertaste with a lingering charcoal and caramel note.
Medium body with good carbonation and tiny bubbles. 9.2% abv is well hidden among its strong character.
Unique and complex, tasty and well balanced even though it is bold and full of character. This is a great beer. I hadn’t seen that coming based on its label.

Serving type: bottle

09-08-2013 04:10:56 | More by FLima
Photo of Dope


4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2010 bottle.

A: Very dark brown pour. Big fluffy light brown head. Head fades slowly with great retention. Pretty decent lacework left behind.

S: Age has mellowed the aroma considerably. Kinda a mellow chocolate and a little dark fruits. Super subtle.

T: Heavy on the sweet milk chocolate, from beginning to end. Some vanilla in the middle and into the finish. Brief burst of dark fruits. Hint of coffee in the finish with some bitter chocolate now.

M: Medium heavy, very smooth.

O: Age has mellowed this one considerably. Flavors are super well integrated and well balanced. Super easy drinking as a result. Tasty, roasty imperial porter.

Serving type: bottle

09-05-2013 05:09:14 | More by Dope
Photo of deadxmastrees


4.04/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Just had their snakebite ipa and wasnt that impressed but Flying Dog definitely made up for it with this porter! I can see myself drinking many more of these.

Poured a dark carmel color with not much of a head, though it was a slow pour. Heavy lacing that doesnt dissipate on top. Very smokey smell and the malt really comes through. Very intense flavor with bitter being the overwhelming one. Tastes malty with a flavor almost like burnt coffee. Finishes with a hoppy bitterness that could be overpowering if your not into that - which I am, and love! Slight alcohol taste lingers.

Serving type: bottle

09-03-2013 00:47:15 | More by deadxmastrees
Photo of Mongrel


4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2013 vintage. Pours a thick, very dark brown, almost black. Nice creamy tan head that sees some nice retention. Good looking beer.

Not much to the nose - caramelized malts, a little tobacco and a touch of cool hops.

Taste is rich, roasty and malty. Plenty of tobacco and a little chocolate. A great example of the strong porter style in that there's a little harshness from the sharp tobacco note, not a ton of the complexities that you might find in an imperial stout, but still a deeply satisfying and warming flavor.

Mouthfeel is superb - thick, round and velvety with some cooling astringency at the end.

Overall this is a great example of the style. It hides the big ABV very well - I could all too easily put away a few of these.

Serving type: bottle

08-24-2013 15:03:06 | More by Mongrel
Photo of Omnium


4.23/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle > Pint Glass

A- Pours total black, big two finger khaki head, thick lacing.
S - Tons of aroma, roasted coffee beans, chocolates, nice pine and other earthy hop scents, some light smokiness to it as well.
T - By far one of the most complex beers I've ever had, huge robust flavor. Some mild roasty coffee notes, lightly smoky, a little nutty, and some assertive bitterness from the hops, very earthy. You do get a little booze flavor to this, but its not bad. More of the creamy textures hit first and it finishes bitter.
M - Your mouth gets pummeled with flavor, and the bitterness can be a bit much.
O - One of my all time favorite beers, incredibly complex, and tons of flavor with a powerful abv. An outstanding imperial porter.

Serving type: bottle

08-19-2013 03:57:16 | More by Omnium
Photo of barczar


3.94/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque onyx with a luscious milk chocolate head that lingers, eventually leaving sheets of lacing as it dissipates.

Floral and resiny hops open the aroma, with a bitter, roast malt character and burnt sugar forming the base of the profile. Notes of chocolate and toasted malt add complexity. Dark berries emerge as it warms.

Flavor reveals more malt dominance, with notes of tar and bitter roast malt, almost burnt, but not quite. There's an initial sweetness that is edged out mid palate by bitter hops and roast character. Dark chocolate meets muted hoppy citrus, which lingers in the background.

Body is chewy, smooth, and creamy, with minimal carbonation and light alcohol warmth, which is countered by the bitter finish.

Malt dominant, with enough hop and roast character to keep the flavor from being cloying. It's a little hot. Wish the underlying fruitiness were more prevalent.

Serving type: bottle

08-04-2013 18:49:24 | More by barczar
Photo of IPAdams


4.19/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance- Pitch black with a half inch off white head that stays the entire time and leaves thick lacing.

Smell- Chocolate, maple syrup, brown sugar and booze, good balance.

Taste- Bitter coffee, milk chocolate, roasty bitterness and some slight dark fruit. Very good flavor, fairly complex, a bit on the sweet side but the flavor is nicely balanced.

Mouthfeel- Slightly on the thin side for a porter but still nice with good carbonation.

Overall- Could not tell this was 9.2%. The alcohol is present but subdued. Very balanced beer and very drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

07-30-2013 04:56:43 | More by IPAdams
Photo of micromaniac129


4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The body is very dark almost black. A tall head was produced on the pour which is mocha in color and last for a long while. Considerable lacing coats the glass.
Aroma was of rich roasted malts alcohol and dark fruits.
This dark and mencing porter has a hefty roasted malt bite. Plenty of alcohol warming intermingles with the malts. As the beer fades some chocolate notes come through.
Drinks heavy and smooth with plenty of alcohol warming.
A good beer very drinkable and very flavorful.

Serving type: bottle

07-27-2013 11:04:27 | More by micromaniac129
Photo of NielZ


4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

355ml bottle at home, bought for €3,30 at a store in Leiden. ABV from 9,2%.
Its a pleasure to look at the beautiful creative bottle artwork.
Served in a Palm glass

A- Brown head which is 3 fingers high. Head lasts long. The body color is a dark color, almost black.

S- Smell of chocolate, vanilla, roasted malts and some dark fruits.

T- Sweet taste of chocolate and roasted malts. It ends a bit bitter with dark fruits. Bitterness is good balanced and doesn't overtake the other tastes. Interesting is the high ABV, where is that? Its well hidden.

M- Creamy mouthfeel, no sign of the 9,2%.

O- Interesting beer. Especially due to the high ABV which is really well hidden. Everything is in a good balance with each other. This is definitely a beer that needs to get tasted.

Serving type: bottle

07-21-2013 21:39:19 | More by NielZ
Photo of Treyliff

West Virginia

3.8/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

2012 vintage, served in a snifter

A- pours a very dark brown, nearly black color. Small foamy dark-tan head that reduces to a small layer floating in top, leaving some short lasting lace

S- nice roasted chocolate malt, some smoky aromas with notes of fig and candied dark fruit, a hint if toffee

T- chocolate malt and prune flavors up front provide a sweetness that transitions to some smoky notes. Earthy and herbal hops creep up near the finish with a trace of alcohol, slightly sweet finish

M- medium body, low carbonation provides a creamy/foamy mouthfeel, brilliantly hiding the 9.2%.

O-one of the most drinkable 9%+ beers I've had. With that said, I'd like some more of the robust malt flavors that us expected from an imperial.

Serving type: bottle

07-15-2013 04:02:02 | More by Treyliff
Photo of kojevergas


3.5/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

9.2% ABV confirmed. Love the label art, as always for Flying Dog. Self identifies as an Imperial Porter; reviewed as such. 2012 vintage. 12 fl oz brown glass bottle with branded standard pressure cap acquired earlier tonight at a local SoCal beer store for $3.19; it was $14.99 a six pack but I went for the single. Expectations are high; I'm in the mood for a good imperial porter.

Served cold, straight from the freezer, and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a healthy two finger dark tan colour head. Nice cream. Good thickness. Good (~4-5 minute) retention for the high ABV. Body colour is an opaque solid dark black. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Light thin even lacing as the head slowly recedes. Head has a soft approachable complexion - great for the style.

Overall, it's quite appealing for the style and brings all the elements of a good appearance to the table. No noticeable flaws, but there's room for improvement. The head could be darker and richer, the body colour could be a jet black, there could feasibly be a bubble show. But I'm nitpicking.

Looking forward to trying it. Very inviting.

Sm: I'm gripped by the obvious dark chocolate and accompanying dark chocolate malt. Cream, dark malts. Light unevocative coffee notes; no roast, espresso, or other interesting elements of flavour - just coffee - and probably cold-press at that. Hints of dark fruit. Dates perhaps? A bit of plum. Certainly not fig or dark cherry. Not getting any yeast character. Some pleasant roast in the background. Not getting any alcohol, but I wouldn't say it's exceptionally well concealed - just not present. A pleasant and subtle aroma of moderate strength overall.

T: Greets with cream and overt chocolate on the open, giving way to plain dark fruit covered by the dark malt body. Dark fruit here is indistinct and not at all rich; I'd guess plum and maybe some dates if I was forced to. It's a nice character; some may take it a step further and allege that it's cough syrupy or grape-laden but I think that's going too far. I quite like the dark fruit even if it could be far more evocative and relevant to the balance. Hints of light light molasses. The chocolate brings little to the table. And what happened to the coffee promised by the aroma? Caramel. Some buried unrefined sugars. Decent balance, but it does come off feeling a bit simple for the style. No true subtlety here. I do like it, but it leaves much to be desired. I'd hoped for a complex well rounded imperial porter, but I got unambitious standard fare. No boldness or experimentation here, but that said it wouldn't be fair to call it bland.

No yeast character or alcohol comes through.

*It gets better and more flavorful as it warms. I like it more and more in spite of my comments above. The roast blossoms with rising temperature.

Mf: Quite smooth and wet - aptly so for the style. Good body. Shallow depth of flavour; lacking in this regard. Good carbonation. Lovely creaminess. Good thickness. Supports the flavour profile nicely.

Dr: Quite drinkable for the high ABV. I do like it, but I expected more. A solid brew from Flying Dog, and I'd probably get it again if I was in the mood for the style. I could put down 2 or 3 of these in the same night. Once it warmed up, I really started to come 'round to it. Recommended at least to try once.

Borderline High B- (Flirting with a Low B)

Serving type: bottle

06-06-2013 05:14:59 | More by kojevergas
Photo of beergoot


4.34/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Nearly opaque, dark mahogany body sporting a very thick, very chunky, very sticky light brown head. Pungent and heady aroma mixture of spicy and floral hops with a roasted grains. Rich combination of dark, semi-sweet malts with a pleasantly complimentary hop bitterness riding the background. Medium bodied, clean, semi-dry finish.

I always loved this beer when it was brewed in Denver and have greatly missed it since brewing operations moved to Maryland several years back. I found a lone six-pack at Coaltrain Wine & Liquor in Colorado Springs and eagerly snatched it up. And, yes, the brew is still tasty after all this time, retaining the depth, balance, and complexity that marked its beginnings. An iconic imperial dark ale...

Serving type: bottle

06-05-2013 21:24:36 | More by beergoot
Photo of BlurryVisi0n

New York

3.84/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Sam Adams signature pint glass,.

Appearance: A very dark brown, like a maple syrup pour with a tan head bubbling up to over a finger's length.

Smell: Malty smell with slight chocolate and bits of sugar/caramel...starts off potent but leaves the nostrils just as quick as it comes in.

Taste: Pretty good, but in my opinion somewhat simple. Light chocolate that feels definitely dark and light malt. Could use a little tweaking. Maybe the barrel aged version is better, who knows?

Mouth: Medium bodied, bitter chocolate at the and somewhat dry. Not bad wish it was more sticky.

Overall: Picked up a six pack on w whim, just to try it overall not bad but wouldn't categorize it on the team of the elite. Still good to have doesn't hurt to split a pack with a friend. Salud!

Serving type: bottle

04-18-2013 18:57:58 | More by BlurryVisi0n
Photo of tewaris


3.75/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A dark brown with good clarity, great dark tan head, and good retention. Smells sweet and chocolaty without the coffee element some of its kind tend to take. Tastes malty and smooth with a restrained kick of roast at the back. Medium feel and somewhat high carbonation.

This beer is superior to many talked about imperial porters and stouts. I like it and the barrel aged version is fantastic as well.

Serving type: bottle

04-02-2013 05:18:34 | More by tewaris
Photo of Neorebel

New Jersey

3.89/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a completely opaque jet black color. Although the carbonation is minimal at best, there is a frothy tan head sitting on top. The retention is fairly long with some of the head clinging to the glass on the way down.

The aroma suggests that the beer will be very sweet, with sugary malts and dark fruits outweighing any roasted aspects by a large margin.

This assessment above proves to be 100% correct after a taste. Raisins, some milk chocolate, and a super sweet candied flavor dominate. The finish sneaks in a little roastiness and a huge hop bitterness.

I could stand for the mouth feel to be a bit more full, yet the beer seems a little 'boozy' nevertheless.

Overall worth a try if you are a fan of Belgian strong dark ales (no joke). The sweetness and perceived strength of this really took me by surprise!

Serving type: bottle

03-18-2013 05:47:29 | More by Neorebel
Photo of jjchristiano

New Jersey

3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Seemed more like a BIPA to me with the hoppiness. Didn't get any of the malty chocolate flavor but just overwhelming hoppy flavor. The high ABV wasn't apparent at all.
Maybe I should not have had a Russian Imperial Stout just before this, because the hops hit me after the sweet chocolate maltiness of the Stout. I like hoppy beers and would probably like this one if not for the order drank.

Serving type: bottle

03-04-2013 03:46:55 | More by jjchristiano
Photo of MattyG85


4.4/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice. Label says vintage 12JJ.

Appearance: Pours a oily pitch black. Moderate amount of bubbles and a solid three fingers of tan head with decent retention. Leaves a lot of creamy lacing around the glass.

Smell: A robust aroma of dark roasty malts with some fruit hints and herbal hops. Dark roasted malts up front with big hints of chocolate, coffee, vanilla, cream, toasted bread, biscuit, caramel, toffee, yeast, nuts, and smoked malt. Sweet molasses and a hint of anise licorice spicing. Hints of dark cherry, raisin, and prune. A fair amount of herbal and earthy hops in the background. A pretty rich and nice aroma.

Taste: Like the smell hints, a rich and roasty taste of dark malts and creamy chocolate. Rich roasted malts with a taste of chocolate, coffee, cream, and vanilla along with some toast, caramel, toffee, biscuit, yeast, smoked malt, and nuts. A fair amount of molasses sweetness. A little anise spice. Undertones of dark fruit including raisin, prune, dark cherry, and fig. A nice dose of earthy herbal hops provide some drying bitterness towards the finish. A really good taste that is more like an imperial stout than a porter.

Mouthfeel: Fairly full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Very creamy and somewhat slick. Alcohol heat is hidden very well.

Overall: A really good imperial Porter. Nicely rich, dark, and creamy with a solid hop backing.

Serving type: bottle

02-27-2013 07:26:49 | More by MattyG85
Photo of Greywulfken

New York

4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: into a pint, opaque black body with a fat light brown head of stiff mousse; nice lacing

S: about all I really got was dark roasty chocolate malts

T: following nose, predominant dark chocolate and roasted dark malt flavors, slight espresso coffee flavor - I found it very mild and fairly refreshing; hints of smoke

M: smooth, creamy, remarkably light feeling

O: I've only had a few Baltic porters, and there seems to be some leeway to the style - they come off light light stouts - somewhat unassuming, very drinkable for such a dark-looking beer, and with no hint of the high abv they're packing. I found this to be a fairly unremarkable representation of the style, but certainly good-tasting and easy-drinking.

Serving type: bottle

02-23-2013 02:44:56 | More by Greywulfken
Photo of arlingtonjoe


4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a: dark brown opaque body and doughy head, nice lacing

s: dark fruits, roasted malt and chocolate

t: raisin, bitter coffee, chocolate and a slightly dry finish from the hops

m: full bodied and sticky

o: one of my top five porters and will be sorely missed when they no longer allocate to illinois

Serving type: bottle

02-21-2013 06:14:27 | More by arlingtonjoe
Photo of BeerKangaroo


4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Thanx to Myrik for this one, and congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens for just winning the Super Bowl (here's to Maryland):

Into a nonic:

A: black colored body leaving a one finger white foamy head that fades fairly quickly to a film covering the top of the body. Minimal lacing is left.

S: some coffee, chocolate, alcohol and light malts up front.

T: bitter and boozy with the coffee and alcohol coming in strong. It leaves a dry aftertaste and has a bitter finish.

M: medium with nothing harsh on the tongue, very smooth and rich for the most part

O: I like this as a Baltic Porter. I'd have this again.

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2013 04:01:19 | More by BeerKangaroo
Photo of I_Love_Beer

4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First time I've enjoyed this beer, Found it on tap at a local restaurant. Bartender offered a sample and it was good so I ordered a 22 oz. Draft

A: Very dark almost black color, 1 finger head which lasted nicely

S: Strong roatsed malts, coffee bean, the smell is overall nice

T: This is is hard to describe but it as a nice taste, definitely taste the coffee and espresso, as I read in another review it tastes almost as if you crunched down on a coffee bean. It's a nice strong malty beer and you can tatse the 9% ABV but its not overpowering.

M: Smooth mouthfeel with a bit of a alcohol burn after a swallow, Not to much but a nice overall mouthfeel.

O: I enjoy stronger beers, I've found porters to be my go to beers if I want a strong beer, I enjoyed a chili spaghetti dish with 2 of these and I enjoyed it very much. I needed a little time to linger afterwards being as its a bit of heavy hitter as far as the ABV goes so use caution, I highly recommend this one if you enjoy porter or stout beers. I will try to find this in a 6 pack and pick up 1 or 2 for the fridge at home. The restaurant charges way to much for this beer on draft.

Serving type: on-tap

01-27-2013 20:30:36 | More by I_Love_Beer
Photo of JoshatTownHall


4.41/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

As a Baltimore guy who has enjoyed numerous authentic Baltic Porters over in Europe I was pumped when Flying Dog came out with their own take on the style. Drank straight from the bottle from a $13.99 6 pack from Oakdale Wine & Spirits in Catonsville, Md. Exceptional version of a Baltic Porter that I would place at the top of my list of Flying Dog's beers. It is definitely worth a second buy while in season.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2013 07:06:55 | More by JoshatTownHall
Photo of thlayli87

New Jersey

3.6/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Very dark brown with a massive frothy 4-inch tan head. Good lacing. Sadly, the appearance was the best aspect of the beer.

S - Piney hops, and slight roasty malt. Not terribly fragrant.

T - Pne, some chocolate malt; grainy; woody finish with a hint of smoke.

M - Creamy; Medium to full bodied. Dry.

O - Overall the flavors seem out of balance to me. I would have liked a little more sweetness. Not a bad beer, but I've had many porters and stouts that I prefer. I won't be revisiting this one.

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2013 15:00:14 | More by thlayli87
Photo of danieelol


4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From notes.

Wasn't going to review this but it really impressed me. Says "Vintage12BB" on the bottle.

Nice dark licorice colour with nice tanned head and great lacing.

Smell is coffee, brown sugar, licorice, vanilla ice cream.

Taste is not as potent as the aroma and features mainly licorice and some coffee.

Mouthfeel is a tad astringent.

Overall a very enjoyable Baltic Porter.

Serving type: bottle

01-12-2013 10:04:26 | More by danieelol
Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 2,323 ratings.