Barrel Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery

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Barrel Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter
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713 Ratings

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Ratings: 713
Reviews: 325
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 9.9%
Wants: 157
Gots: 118 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Flying Dog Brewery visit their website
Maryland, United States

Style | ABV
Baltic Porter |  9.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: DogFood11 on 04-14-2007

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 713 | Reviews: 325
Reviews by PorterLambic:
Photo of PorterLambic
4.67/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Alright, I really like the original Gonzo. This is easily twice as good.
Arrives a pitch black with a dark caramel head. Retention is weak with just a thin ring remaining after 30 seconds.
Smell is oak up front with malt, dark chocolate, raisins and vanilla. Not the full-on fruitcake but very good. Good balance and great complexity.
Taste is rich with roasted malt, oak, raisins, baking chocolate, earth and alcohol. Balance and complexity are great.
Smooth, rich, full-bodied with a light effervescence. Warming as you might expect. A truly amazing beer, even better than the original.

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a nonic a near pitch black except for ruby highlights when held to the light,a fluffy one finger toasted almond colored head atop that stuck like glue to the glass.A mix of toasted oak,roasted nut,and bitter chocolate in the nose,a great mix,quite rich.Flavors have a buttery and burnt element to them intertwined with some vanilla,black licorice, and wood,the wood really lingers in the finish.Smooth and full this beer is rich and a bit of a sipper but its really a niced oaked Baltic porter.

Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.08/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Many thanks to John for this birthday treat. Aged in my cellar for about 5 months before consumption.

Appearance: Nearly black-brown body with cherry hues and a brown head.

Aroma: Dark chocolate, some boozy woody notes, a decent amount of piney hops, and pinches of vanilla and rum.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Boozy. Astringent. Thick. Well, strike that, aggressively carbonated. Needs more time to mellow but still offers some booze soaked chocolate covered cherry sort of notes and some whiskey flavor that I don’t mind too much. Molasses and charcoal. Lacks cohesiveness.

Drinkability: Low. I couldn’t finish more than a half bottle by myself if I tried. With time, I think this would improve a bit.

Photo of ricke
3.95/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown, almost black. A small beige head that settles quickly and leaves minimal lacings.

S: Not as powerful as I had hoped. The bourbon dominates with notes of oak and vanilla. Some fresh fruity notes as well. Smooth roasted malts and chocolate in the background.

T: The taste is fairly sweet with bourbon, almonds, vanilla and oak on top of a mildly roasted malty backbone with notes of chocolate and a hint of coffee. A fresh fruity note in the taste as well. The finish is mildly bitter with notes of wood and warmin bourbon-like alcohol.

M: Medium to full body. I would have liked some more carbonation and a slightly smoother mouthfeel.

D: I really like the regular Gonzo, but was not overwhelmed by this one. It wasn't as powerful as I had hoped for and the bourbon takes over slightly too much. But it's still a good beer and I liked it.

Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.7/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine June 2007.

What happens when you age Gonzo Imperial Porter for three months in Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey barrels? This beer.

To call this "opaque black" would be an understat- ment. Its crown is a massive foam head that rises three to four fingers in height and takes an eternity to settle; but as it does, traces are left behind. Aroma is roasty, with layers of wood, chocolate, burnt raisin, vanilla and an oaky sourness. "Smooth" would be an understatement, too--this beer is silky and fluffy on the palate, but what lies beneath is not: an acrid roastiness that sharpens the deeper you quaff. Flavors or coffee, brownie, wood, juicy ripened raisins and earth also come into play. Nice back note of caramel, too. Oak flavors blend with the roasted characters, exaggerating the sharpness a bit more and giving it a raw and green twang. Notes of whiskey only become detectable as the beer warms, residing for the most part within the retro-olfaction alcoholic fumes and the lingering semi-boozy and spicy finish.

Personally, the fact that the whiskey is subtle is nice, but Wild Dog seems to be a bit over-carbonated--which tends to lift and displace many of the beer's po- tential nuances off the palate. Overall, though, this is a tasty treat from the wood meant for a snifter at room temperature, which is when this beer really opens up.

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep dark black pour with a two finger bubbly tan head on top. Nice retention as well. Aromas of dark malts with good chocolate accents. Slightly roasty with big oaky, whiskey scents throughout. Some dark fruity notes and a touch of hops in the background.

First sip brings a smooth roasted maltiness upfront. Real nice chocolate flavors move in with a touch of coffee as well. A note of dark fruits flows into a bold, oaky, woody flavor. As it goes down the whiskey comes in even more. Finishes off smooth with a touch of bitterness. Quite nice. Lingering whiskey on the end.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. Medium body with good carbonation. Quite easy drinking and tasty for a 9.5% abv brew. Overall, a tasty barrel aged brew that does go over the top with the barrel flavors. I'm glad I bought one of these when I saw it.

Photo of Mora2000
4.42/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thank to Exiled for sharing this 1-liter hand bottle.

The beer pours a dark brown to black color with a tan head. The aroma is heavy on the bourbon and chocolate with the slightest bit of soy sauce. The flavor is chocolate, oak, bourbon and vanilla. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. An excellent barrel-aged beer.

Photo of magictrokini
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Holiday Wine Cellar. Pours dark brown, nearly black, with a thick brown head. Beautiful roasted chocolate, nuts, leather, and whiskey in the nose. Velvety mouthfeel. Incredible taste. Blended cocoa, vanilla, bourbon, oak, smoke, and roasted malt. This beer alone redeems all the other overrated Flying Dogs I've paid too much for.

Photo of ehammond1
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On Tap

Churchill's Pub & Grille
San Marcos, CA

A dark brown with a thin light brown head. Nice webbing and sticky lacing down the glass.

The nose is really this beer's best characteristic. There's a lot of chocolate, sweet caramel, roasted malt, and a warm bourbon presence.

The flavor is very similar to the nose but I think the alcohol is just a touch too hot and holds a little too much presence. The sweet caramel, toffee, and sweet malts are all still delicious, though they're hidden a touch by the barrel aging process.

Medium bodied.

A really delicious and interesting sipper. An interesting beer. Nothing something I could drink huge quantities of, but a really good bourbon barrel aged porter.

Photo of MattyG85
4.37/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice.

Appearance: Pours a dark oily black with a moderate amount of bubbles. About one finger of tan head that quickly fades away. Leaves a decent amount of lacing around the glass.

Smell: A rich, sweet, and roasty dark aroma with big whiskey barrel hints. Upfront barrel scent with hints of bourbon whiskey, vanilla, oak, and wood. Dark roasted barley malts with hints of sweet chocolate, coffee, caramel, toffee, burnt toast, biscuit, grains, smoke, and yeast. Sweet hints of burnt molasses and syrup. Dark fruit hints of dark cherry, raisin, and prune. Hints of booze as well. A very good rich aroma.

Taste: As rich as it smells, a sweet and roasty dark taste with a big barrel presence. Big barrel taste upfront with notes of bourbon whiskey, sweet vanilla, oak, and wood. Dark roasted barley malts with notes of sweet chocolate, coffee bean, burnt caramel, toffee, toast, smoke, biscuit, grains, and yeast. Sweet syrupy taste of burnt molasses along with a little anise. Undertones of dark fruit with notes of raisin, dark cherry, and prune. A little taste of booze also. A very good dark and rich taste.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Rich, creamy, syrupy, and somewhat sticky. A little alcohol heat is felt.

Overall: A very good imperial take on a Porter. Good rich chocolate notes with a very good whiskey barrel presence.

Photo of kingjames1
4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black, with a huge, thick, milk chocolate head. smells incredible: dark, bitter-sweet chocolate, brandy (whiskey barrel aging, I suppose), and rich roasted coffee stand out to me. The taste is sweet chocolate, vanilla, a hint of sour whiskey and coffee, with a touch of lemon (?). The mouthfeel is velvety, smooth, and satisfying. This great stuff, but definitely a slow sipper. Perfect warmer for those cold nights.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown to black pour, good cream tan head to it. Coats the glass. Good whiskey aroma, smells a little hot.

Minimal smokiness, really around the right amount for my tastes, chocolate, more liquor whiskeyish taste but this time without the alcohol heat. Thick. Barely any sweetness here. Keeps the baltic porter things like smoke and sweetness tame, while amps the barrel aged stout stuff (thickness, liquor, wood). Drop some licorice and mild sour component in it as well the brewer thought possibly. Can't forget the vanilla.

Plenty carbonated, was glad I drank this last out of the tasters provided at the Bruery Provisions.

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer pours a jet black body with a thick light tan head that is three times the size of the body. The head last and last and the body is too dense to see any carbonation.

S- This beer has a big fresh oak nose with some spicy bourbon notes and a hint of wet fresh rain.

T- The dry smoky bourbon flavor is followed nice rich coco notes with chocolate malt and a hint of prunes. There are also notes of slightly sweet brown sugar and cream with some light granny smith apple notes. The finish has a dry white raisin note with the fusel note of bourbon.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a creamy texture and a fusel alcohol heat in the finish.

D- This is a big beer with a nice blend of flavors. The malt flavors increase when warm while the bourbon gets softer. This is a big porter with accents of barrel aging not the other way around which is common for many Barrel Aged Porters.

Photo of ImpairedPirate
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From November notes. I found this in a 12 oz. bottle at Westview Liquors in Frederick, MD.

A - Awesome dense light brown head with medium/large bubbles that form in the center of the glass. The head dissipates in a couple of minutes leaving a thin oily ring around the outside edge. A tiny layer of world's smallest bubbles are left on the top

S - Chocolate and vanilla permeate this one.

T - Taste aligns very closely to the smell. Chocolate, whiskey, and vanilla in order of arrival to the senses.

M - This drinks slightly dry, and it disappears on the tongue. Thin with a tiny bit of carbonation.

Bottom line: this beer is worth a try, but a little pricey at $7 for a bottle!

Photo of mdaschaf
3.41/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at PPP, review from notes.

A: The beer is dark brown with a small mocha colored head on top that reduces to a thin cap on top. Some sheets of lacing.

S: A good bit of roasted malt with a bunch of alcohol. A lot of the nice aromas that exist with the base beer were covered up by the barrel.

T: Some dark stone fruit, roasted malt, and again a bunch of alcohol. It is a little on the sweet side as well.

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Definite alcohol presence.

O: Had high hopes for this one, I like the base beer very much, but this one was too boozy for me.

Photo of Stigs
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

9oz pour at Fatheads, served in a mino-snifter

A - came to me with a small amount of khaki colored, loose and bubbly foam. the beer is very dark, black then hazy brown held up to light. minimal spotty lacing through the drink.

S - bourbon hits right up front, joined by some dark chocolate, a solid amount of dark fruits (plums, black cherries), roasted charred malts and a small amount of coffee. great, would be higher if it was a little more pronounced.

T - first off, I really like Bourbon. this is one of the best displays of bourbon/barrel aging in beers, because the bourbon is the highlight yet doesnt dominate all of the other flavors - it works extremely well with the chocolate and fruity notes of Gonzo. great mix of bitter, sweet, and warming alcohol.

M - only questionable thing about this beer. a little thin on the body, and carbonation is quite hot. distracting. letting it sit and warm a bit helps but the carbonation jsut doesnt seem to fade quite enough, and the body doesnt get any thicker.

D - really liked this. delicious, even better than regular Gonzo. wonderful example of Barrel-Aging, taking the original characteristics of a good beer, and pushing it up a notch.

Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Thanks to mikesgroove for the trade.

pours a deep impenetrable black with gorgeous fluffy tan head. Nose is of oak and vanilla. First taste is of lots of vanilla and dark malt flavors. oak is very present here, with some whiskey flavors. Dark malts are strong and the warming effect is quite intense, but in a good way. Some dark fruit cherry and raisin are here. Very prominent oak tones throughout and on the finish. some slight hop bitterness on the finish as well. Mouthfeel is beautiful here, with perfect viscosity. Much creamier than the non BA version. Drinkability is not anything incredible but is certainly above average for this abv. A fantastic brew from flying dog. To wierd to live, to rare to die.

Photo of TooleBurger
4.42/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I was lucky enough to catch this one on draft at Monk's in Philly.

It had a coffee / bourbon aroma which I really enjoyed. my only complaint is that it is a bit strong. You could really tell the difference between the aged version and your normal Gonzo. It went down pretty smooth, but you have to be careful not to have too many of these bad boys or you will be on the floor.

It poured a nice, dark brown with minimal head. It was a little bubbly in my mouth.

Overall I really enjoyed it. Again, you can only have a few of these in one sitting.

Photo of Sammy
3.72/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks Jason and Mike. One of the few barrel-aged to be widely available. Great aroma, dark colour, a bit sour as you expect from a baltic porter, smooth. Some coffee there, significant bitterness, a slow sipper. Some woodiness, whisky balances it all.
Had 3.5 years later, boozy, thin and acidic.

Photo of alovesupreme
3.98/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Darkest Porter I have ever had. Looks more like an RIS. Opaque thick, dark head.
Molasses, Coffee, chocolate maybe some dark fruit
Lots of molasses, very bold similar to an RIS, (wheres the line?)
Very thick, syrupy, good carbination for style.
Very intense for style but enjoyable in moderation.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia, 15 February 2009.

Although I'll say that I loved the Gonzo Porter (gave it an A here on BA), and I REALLY, REALLY loved the bottles with Brett (was that intentional or a mistake?), I don't think that the whiskey barrel aging did much for this beer. Sure, there was a bit of an addition to the nose, OK, but it wasn't any better than it was before, just different. And the woodiness kind of softened it. Although, in retrospect, I do think that was a good thing. Smoothness is (almost) always good. On the other hand, it lost a lot of its hoppiness. Hmmmm... ? I kind of wish I'd had a bottle all to myself at home one night with a good book rather than just a glass of it on tap at the bar - I'm not sure that does it justice, and I'll have to see if I can find one somewhere. There must still be bottles around, right? But back to what I was saying, it's an alteration of the beer, and it's a good one, but it doesn't improve the initial beer in a significant way. It's still an A, just a different A.

4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into Bruges tulip, 2011 release. From notes

A: pours a pitch black body with a thin tan head with good retention, not too much lacing and very slow carbonation levels.

S: Aroma of dark chocolate, vanilla and bourbon. Medium to high intensity for the style.

T/ M: Great roasted depth and a very big vanilla, oak bourbon presence. The mouthfeel is warm and rich, without being to vicious. Lingering taste shows a good bit of bourbon character.

O: Overall this is a great bourbon barreled brew, very evident that bourbon was used and has hints at similar tastes to BCBS. Great beer!

Photo of MrKennedy
3.85/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle thanks to mulder1010. Poured into a Mikkeller tulip.

Has a nice moderately thick pour, black appearance with no light able to permeate through. Deep tan, with hints of orange in the colour of the foam which was a finger in height and slowly receded to film.

Decent sized nose, milk chocolate, milk, vanilla, bourbon and oak all come through in the smell. If anything it smells a little too sweet.

Taste is also full-on. Plenty of bourbon coming through, a little bit of heat, some booze, plenty of warmth. A fair bit of chocolate is there as well, along with the vanilla from the nose.

Nice creamy mouthfeel with the barrel ageing helping to dry out the finish and add a bit of bite at the end.

A big beer, plenty of flavour and things going on. At times it doesn't work all that well with the taste and can seem boozy and a little over the top. Still, very interesting and an overall good beer.

Photo of cjacobsen
3.89/5  rDev -6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

(A) Black with a small brown head that diminished quickly.

(S) Coffee and booze with coffee undertones. Raisin. Plum.

(T) Whisky and cocoa, coffee, roasted malts and some plum.

(M) Smooth with great medium to full body. Ends a little dry.

(O) Flying Dog? Really? They did this? Wow! I'm thoroughly impressed. Pretty awesome stuff.

Photo of PretzelCity
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured motor oil black with almost three fingers of chocolate head that slowly faded leaving a nice lacing around the glass all the way down. Nose is chocolate, roasted malts and a slight rum/wine like smell. A bit of wine in the taste as well, more chocolate and semi sweet malts. Medium to full body . Coats the tongue. Alcohol is well hidden. The barrel flavor is more of a spice then an ingredient, adding nicely to the flavor of the beer but not overpowering. A very nice, very drinkable beer from a brewery I don't typically enjoy. I liked this one a lot.

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Barrel Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
92 out of 100 based on 713 ratings.