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Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery

Not Rated.
Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,441 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,441
Hads: 2,771
Avg: 4.02
pDev: 15.17%
Wants: 135
Gots: 281 | FT: 4
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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Gonzo Imperial Porter Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,441 | Hads: 2,771
Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.77/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter.
9.2% ABV, Vintage 13JJ

A - Completely black, no light escapes this Gonzo while a massive tan head rises to tall, lumpy pile and lingers for what seems like forever. The huge cap of head eventually lowers leaving delicate lace coating the whole snifter.

S - Gonzo has an interesting aroma. At first is smells like walking into a cooler, then it starts smelling like a pack of refrigerated cheese and beef stick from the gas station but, finally as it warms up it takes shape. Subtle dark roasted malts bring morsels of milk chocolate to an otherwise hop-forward aroma of grassy earthiness.

T - Bittersweet chocolate candy bar teeters the line of milky sweetness and dry cocoa bitterness but finishes balanced and followed up with a slow dribble of molasses and kiss of earthy hops.

M - Gonzo's heavy feel is welcome with open arms, cascading across the tongue with sticky sweetness that's cut short by dry, bitter cocoa and a heavy-handed pile of hops.

O - I can't recall ever having a bottle of Gonzo develop the way this fresh one has. More often than not they're hop-forward with a subtle but beefy malt backbone that balances nicely but this bottle in particular, starting with the weird aroma, is throwing me off. Usually better than this, unfortunately.

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

Appearance - dark brown mahogany color with mocha colored head

Smell - vanilla, dark chocolate, espresso

Taste - dark chocolate, vanilla, espresso, molasses

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, high carbonation, slight sweetness upfront, good bitterness at the back end

Overall - not as good as others within the genre, but a decent beer that's worth a try

Price Point - $3/12 oz single

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Photo of Crafts_and_recreation
4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rich, dark black/brown with a fluffy, rocky tan head of just over 2 fingers in a tulip glass, maintains a nice lacing but a touch oily

Aroma isn't as strong as I'd expected, surprised by the presence of fresh, citrusy hops at the nose, followed by dark fruits and some coffee

Flavor is somewhat unbalanced bitterness with roasted chocolate and coffee notes in the background. Has a tangy, alcohol flavor throughout a touch of smoke, and finishes with a noticeable earthy bitterness.

The mouthfeel is medium with slight carbonation and a bit of a dry finish. Lingers on the palate.

Overall, this is an interesting beer. On a completely superficial note, I love the Hunter S. Thompson quotes and Steadman art on the bottle (so much that I'll be keeping it around). With such a high ABV I can't see drinking more than 1-2 at a time, but it is a nice switch from the sweeter more chocolatey porters I'm used to. It may not be for everyone, but I'd recommend giving it a try. Also, there is quite a difference in aroma and flavor after letting the beer warm for a few moments, much smoother and less sharp alcohol flavors.

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Photo of cjgiant
3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance was almost perfect for a nitro, dark brown with significant head, retention, lacing. The nose is more nutty towards chocolate.

The taste is smooth to start, with some silky chocolatiness, but the ABV makes its presence felt quickly, but not overpoweringly so. There's a strange woody nature in the malty porter. As others have mentioned, there is a little more pull on the mouth, dry more so than bitter, than other porters.

I found the nitro version enjoyable if not exceptional. Flying Dog is usually hit or miss for me, this one bucked the trend to be a solid maybe for in the rotation.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
3.79/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle at cellar temp, vintage 13DD, into goblet
Aroma none
Head average (3 cm), light brown, creamy, mostly lasting.
Lacing good.
Body dark brown, clear.
Begins slightly sweet, no diacetyl, no fruity esters.
Ends slightly sweet, no astringency, no hoppiness at all.
Medium to full body, creamy, creamy, soft carbonation.

Overall, a good breakfast beer without coffee. Flying Dog sometimes uses this as a base for more extreme beers.

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Photo of IAmAPenguin
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Aroma: chalky cocoa nibs, coffee beans, subtle hops and resin. Appearance: Deep brownish appearance with a two finger head and very beautiful lacing. Taste: Oily in texture with well balanced flavors of coffee beans, fudge, cocoa nibs, toffee, roasted caramel and subtle dark chocolate. Overall, the alcohol is really well masked but you can definitely feel it. The finish leaves a dry, bitter chocolate (almost like taking a bite of a hershey bar. This is a really nice tasting beer, the balance is very impressive.

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

Appearance: Black. Tan head.
Smell: Sweet chocolate and coffee.
Taste: Some fruit, chocolate, coffee, and alcohol.

This is so tasty. It's completely black, with no light getting through. The sweet smell sets the tone for the taste. The taste has such a sweet quality to it, with hints of chocolate, some type of fruit, and maybe a bit of coffee. The aftertaste is a little bitter, almost a vodka feel to it. I would get this again.

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Photo of PAhopHead717
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer turned me on to porters. Ive tried a few different porters but never enjoyed them. Perhaps its the artwork or hunter s thompson quote, but this strong stuff goes down good. Had it fairly fresh and it had a decent hoppy taste for a porter. Perhaps the reason i enjoyed it more than other porters. If your a fan of flying dog, ralph steadman, or hunter thompson this is a must try. Keep it gonzo!

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Photo of MCain04
4.02/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle was cellared for just shy of 2 years. Poured into a FFF Teku at around cellar temp.

Pours a dark brown, near black body, medium and large bubbles in the head which actually has good retention and lacing.

Not too much aroma, but roast and chocolate are the main flavors, maybe some dark fruits.

Flavor is dark fruits with some roasty character, a little bit of stale taste, dark chocolate, hoppy bitterness, lingering roasty malts.

Mouthfeel is medium to full, smooth, dry and sticky finish, carbonation is moderate.

This held up well over 2 years and may have actually improved, as the dark fruit flavors have evolved and add an extra element to this brew. Was happy with the results of this aging.

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Photo of KYGunner
3.82/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This pours so dark brown that it appears black but for a tinge of light that shines through the bottom. The head was thick, frothy and brown that dissipated slowly and never really left.

The scent is light with cocoa powder, dried prunes, malty tea leaves and an unfortunate phenolic duct tape scent.

The flavor holds much more cocoa powder, coffee char, grassy malt and a finish of floral pine.

The feel is so silky, with a bit of fullness and not a stitch of alcohol despite the high ABV.

I found this improved greatly after it warmed and had time to air and settle, so if you read this it will help the experience.

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Photo of alaimoa
2.75/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.25

Overall unimpressed with the smell, taste, depth of flavor and wouldn't buy again. Disappointed by the tangy alcohol in the back end of the sip and has a bit of a one dimensional feel to it

Poured black with not much head and a bit of spotty lace but nothing special
Smells of a salty and somewhat metallic alcohol
Taste a bit one dimensional hints of roasted coffee and malt but mostly a strange alcohol aggressiveness but not hot

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Photo of Fatehunter
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Pours a finger of tan head on a black body.
The aroma has a nice roasted malt smell with some lemon in the background.
The taste is creamy, roasted malt, bitter bite at the end.... nicely done.
The texture is smooth with low to moderate carbonation. A great feeling.
Extremely well done.

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Photo of Furlinator
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours opaque black with ¼ inch of tan head that settles to a thin film on top and leaves thin lacing.

Smell is roasted malt, dark fruit and black coffee up front with faint vanilla accents.

Taste follows smell: black coffee, dark chocolate and roasted malt. Some hoppy bitterness.

Medium mouthfeel with high carbonation.

This is a big porter. As stated by others, this could easily pass as a stout. Nice flavors and aroma. A solid effort.

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Photo of GrizzleFist
2.21/5  rDev -45%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.25

Bought a bottled 6-Pack from the local Beer store.

Appearance: Very black, very little carbonation. Slight foam on top, dissipated after a minute or so.

Smell: Popped open the cap, smell of something fruity the first two minutes and then it went away, with only the malt and hop smell remaining.

Taste: Overall a medium bitter taste with a very slight sweetness that hits the back of your tongue for just a moment. Once swallowed the bitter taste will last for a few seconds.

Mouthfeel: On the thick side, couldn't feel much carbonation on the tongue.

Overall: For a porter it is nothing special. The taste isn't horrible but its just so.. meh that I really don't care to even taste it again. I still have some left as I'm typing this review and heavily debating if I even want to drink the rest. I had high expectations after reading the bottle and Flying Dogs claiming they put their heart and soul into this beer. If this is all they have to offer, I'd suggest they just shut down their brewery right now.

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.11/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours dark brown almost black from the bottle with a brown one finger head that fades quickly. Strong chocolate and sweet candy malt aromas, and just a hint of pine. Smells incredibly sweet with hints of vanilla. Creamy smooth mouthfeel that has chocolate up front, and a bitter chocolate finish. Sweet chocolate aftertaste lingers a good while. This could definitely pass as a stout, as it is pretty thick. A very nice offering from my hometown brewery.

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Photo of Dsimenson
4.48/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle, builds a magnificent 1 1/2" tan head, which reduces to nice lacing down the sides as you drink it. Very dark, black, with the slightest ruby tinge when held up to intense light. Aroma is hops and dark roasted malt, with a bit of coffee. Flavor is intense and richly complex, hops, dark roasted malt, piney. Mouthfeel is full. Overall I really like this one, one of my all-time favorites.

The description by dar482 below is more knowledgable and informative than mine, by far, but our numerical rating is about the same. Read his description!

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Photo of JamieDuncan
4.26/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Friend sent this one over to try. I am typically iffy with Flying Dog but here we go. Good looking beer with an excellent smell. Taste is good and the beer gets a lot of bonus points for the ABV. Has a big taste but you do not realize the alcohol content. Good beer that I may not buy as a sixer but would gladly grad in mixed six.

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Photo of dar482
4.09/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The beer comes in a dark black color with a fluffy mocha head.

The aroma has roasted malt and quite standard for an Baltic porter. There's lots of dark chocolate, a bit of coffee, or that mocha aroma. There's a bit of dark fruit of dates in there.

The flavor follows with more coffee this time. Very much like black coffee with a medium mouthfeel. There isn't much sweetness as the beer rolls into a deep woody, herbal root tea bitterness. It really holds onto bitterness all the way through.

A big flavored beer that does not joke around with big bitterness. It's a good drinking Baltic porter that has a good amount flavor throughout.

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Photo of flyingpig
4.53/5  rDev +12.7%
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.

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Photo of FLima
4.22/5  rDev +5%
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.

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Photo of Dope
3.99/5  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.

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Photo of deadxmastrees
4.04/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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Photo of Mongrel
4.02/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of Omnium
4.21/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

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Photo of barczar
3.96/5  rDev -1.5%
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.

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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 1,441 ratings.