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Barrel Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery

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Barrel Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter
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693 Ratings

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Ratings: 693
Reviews: 323
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 9.9%
Wants: 155
Gots: 119 | 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

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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 693 | Reviews: 323
Photo of drgonzo3705
3.96/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

100th Review courtesy of the White Whale BIF. Thanks Guy for the brew and my favorite voyeur for putting it on!

A: Nice deep black with a big fluffy mocha colored head. I do have to give it marks on head retention. About an hour into the bottle and it is still a nice filmy layer that fluffs back up with a swirl of the glass.

S: Big oakiness with a light roasted bitter chocolate undertone. Its very nice but the oak is a little too prominent and hides the other flavors.

T: Lots of oak with some roasted malts and a pleasant molasses like sweetness. Really nice tasting brew with just a touch of an alcohol warmness at the end.

M: Big full bodied with a nice fluff to it. Ample carbonation and a nice coating left in your mouth afterward.

D: Very good but not quite great. I won't have a problem getting through the bottle, but would want to pass on a second. Now if I shared it that would be another story...

Photo of ADZA
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ive had a couple of baltic porters before but this is definately my first one being reviewed as i cant remember the other ones clearly,but got this one in 355ml bottle unlike the 750ml corked bottle shown and have been looking forward to trying it after hearing all the hype from friends,it pours a jet black coca cola colour with a tiny half finger head with minimal carbonation it smells exactly like a very malty sweet bourbon and coke i hope it doesnt taste this way,it tastes of sweet woody oak aged porter with a big hint of bourbon and a little alcohol warmth but amazingly enough not that much alcohol taste at all for me and usually i can taste the alcohol in the beer a mile away but this is well hidden for a beer that is 9.5% i think the sweetness of the aging in bourbon barrels has had a very nice interaction with the beer in hiding the abv and definately leaves you with a nice sweet porter/bourbon mouthfeel which is quite smooth,im really impressed by this beer i really thought it was going to be a sipper but instead im very annoyed that i didnt buy two.

Photo of mothman
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Finally got to try this about a week ago. Had it on tap.

Color is a deep brown, basically black. Pours a dark tan head.

Aroma: Bourbon, caramel, oak, chocolate. This is one big and malty beer. The 9.5% abv really shows in a good way through the Bourbon.

Taste: Bourbon in an awesome way. Really enjoying it. Caramel, chocolate, fresh earthy hops. A very big malt bomb that rocks.

Mouthfeel: Rich, smooth, creamy, and bourbony. Very good carbonation. Full bodied. The aftertaste has a nice coffee surprise. I really enjoyed this.

Overall, I am really liking this beer. Very drinkable and tasty. I would love to find a bottle of this, but that may be hard to do at this point. A must try if you can find it.

Photo of natasharai
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured with a large foamy tan head with small and large bubbles that dissipated slowly leaving some lacing on the top of my glass. The beer is black and lets no light through.

Smell: Strong dark smells. Dark sweet plum, black cherry, black pepper, oaky wood, smoke, hint of dark chocolate.

Taste: Sweet dark cherry, then a woody flavor, quite smokey, peppery bite, some alcohol bite, and caramel/molasses flavor at the end.

Mouthfeel: Thick body, syrupy, nice small bubble carbonation, some alcohol burn, and leaves mouth a bit sticky.

Overall: Considering the style... good drinkability. The flavors are HUGE and so is the aroma! Very sweet/sticky mouthfeel and pretty sweet overall. The alcohol burn/flavor is a bit more than I would hope for, but nothing overpowering.

Photo of br3wmeister
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Huge light brown head that has awesome retention and moderate lacing. The beer is black in color letting no light though.

S- Dark sweet malts, molasses, brown sugar, dark chocolate, vanilla, wood and a hint of cracked black pepper. Mild hop aroma is also present. The alcohol comes through some what as well.

T- Lots of cracked black pepper, chocolate, brown sugar and roasted malt. Hops and dark roasted malt contribute the multiple layers of bitterness. Hints of vanilla and wood also add to the complex flavor of this beer. Finishes sweet with lots of alcohol warmth. This is a very roasty, sweet and complex beer I really like what the aging has done to it.

M- Thick and oily with a rather large alcohol bite.

This is an awesome beer. The huge alcohol presence was the only thing that took away from this beer, but it really hurt it. The flavor profile and aroma are awesome and then the alcohol comes in. Still a great beer, just a little too boozy.

Photo of TonyT
4.8/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

It was mid-day and I took the blackbeast for a ride...Destination the South American's.
Eduardo was outside....

We had to pick up his car, which was need of serious detailing...removal of all bug/tracking devices....any sort of direct intersection with his/our coordinates....
Pick up was easy....now for some back woods pizza.

I pulled the blackbeast into the end of the cliff. Let's hang on shall we.
Eduardo was on my right.

We walked into a myriad of tasteful treats...this that and the other...There was only one that I was concerned with....And there you are, oh keeper of good times.

...Back to the front....We watched the Gonzo Documentary and poured a growler of some barrel aged Imperial Porter...You can't repeat times like these.

Thank you Hunter...
Thank you Flying Dog....

Photo of BDIMike
3.93/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very nice jet black color, even when held to the light. There is a fair amount of carbonation that creates a hugely thick dark tan head, almost a brown color that stays frothy throughout the drink.
Smell has a lot of nice things going on. Predominance is of darker malts: roasted oak, strong toffee, and chocolate. A tinge of whiskey and other alcohol as well.
Taste falls off a little from the great smells. The taste has a nice oaky and whiskey feel to the base of it. There is also some dark fruit tastes and chocolate malts.
Mouthfeel has a nice thickness to it. With the thick brew, it tends to stay smooth with a slight velvet feel, but a bit of chewiness too.
Drinkability is very nice for a beer with a 9.5% ABV. The great porter tastes are balanced out very well with each other and not one tastes dominates another. Very nice selection that I would definitely grab if I saw it on the shelf.

Photo of humanawho
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle sampled in May of 2009

A - deep black with a thick creamy dark head, nice lacing

S - very fruity with mango and raspberries and some a nice strong milk chocolate aroma dominating

T - very complex, some great chocolate dominating with a strong intertwining of light oak and sweet whiskey, there are some slight fruity and roasty flavors

M - silky smooth

D - most drinkably barrel aged beer i have had

Photo of illidurit
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black as night with a fluffy tan head that leaves great lacing. Rich chocolate and coffee aroma with hints of wood and ash. Flavor is chocolate and caramel with some smoke, oak, sour mash, and roast. Nice full mouthfeel (unlike the non barrel aged version) and good carbonation. Great beer.

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

Bought a bottle in Amsterdam, brought back to Berlin.

Appearance- Dark chocolate, deep black. Mocha colored head.

Smell- Bourbon whiskey, sweet and smokey malts.

Taste- Same malty taste as in nose, with caramel hints. Strong whiskey flavor. Chocolate toffee taste to it as well with a hint of hops.

Mouth- Very thick, creamy, and smooth.

Drinkability- I only ever had the normal Gonzo Porter very early in my beer tasting career, and wasn't extremely fond of it then. So I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this brew. I only wish I had bought a couple more bottles. I hope I'll be able to find and cellar a few bottles of it on my return back to the states.

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a thin tan head. Nose is malty tar. Flavor is touches of vanilla and bourbon. Thick molasses and malty character. Slightly hot. Feel is slick on liquid and the carbonation is low. This is a good baltic porter. Robust and edgy, but fairly easy to drink (though not so much for the inexperienced palates.)

Photo of TKempe
3.92/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This one is pitch black all the way through, with a big brown head on top and little lace.

The nose is incredibly rich, full of cherry-like fruity smells, hoppy notes (noble style, but also somewhat oily and citric) and a good dose of chocolatey and coffee-like roasted malt. Only a little oak charatcer and a gentle whiff of vanilla.

The taste is very powerfull and starts of sweet. It then gets roasted/bitter, salty and much drier, with enough room for the hops. In the meantime, alcohol is burning in the stomach. When the finish settles, lots of woody oak character starts to appear alongside enjoyable roasty flavors. This whisky-like quality produces more overall complexity, but it also puts the beer in danger of becoming overly astringent (which in my opinion is what happens).

A thick and oily mouthfeel, heavy-bodied with surprisingly strong carbonation. Lips are sticky.

I have never tried the original Gonzo, but I am guessing this porter is better off without the barrel-aging. It would also benefit from toning down the alcohol level considerably.

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

2005 vintage.

A: Jet black with a copius mocha head.

S: Roasty sweet malt. Some oakiness but not too much at all.

T: MUCH smoother than fresh non barrel aged. Still good bitterness. Very intense. The barrel aging is very apparent.

M: Smoother than normal Gonzo for sure.

D: Good for sure but perhaps a bit too much whiskey.

Photo of rhinos00
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on-tap @ Thai 9 in Dayton, Ohio. Poured into a pint glass.

A- Pitch black with two fingers width of mocha colored head.

S- Whiskey dominated the nose on this one. In the background I could detect hints of vanilla, wood and roasted malts.

T- Much like the aroma, except the whiskey wasn't as dominant. I wish the vanilla and oak flavors were a little more pronounced as they were somewhat muted by the alcohol character. The roasted espresso flavors added a nice touch of robustness to the beer.

M- Heavy bodied with low carbonation. The roasted texture was enjoyable in the taste, but really affected the feel. At points, it had a slightly grainy texture that went in and out as the beer was consumed.

D- A sipper for sure. It was hard to enjoy this one at the bar with friends because of the type of beer and the higher alcohol content. Still, it was pretty drinkable.

Overall, a very interesting baltic porter. Rumor had it that it was the last keg left on the planet until this summer. Very glad to have the opportunity for the taste.

Photo of rye726
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on tap at Backcountry in Nederland. Pours a rich near black with a brown head. The nose has roasty malts, chocolate, espresso and bourbon. The whiskey is not too evident in the taste but still a nice blend of bitter hops and sweet malts. Medium to full body matches style well.

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.

Photo of HeyItsChili
4.57/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Purchased this at the Charleston Beer Exchange's rare beer tapping, occurring each Tuesday at 5.

A - Poured from a growler into a pint glass. Pours black with a thin, tightly foamed brown head that settles slowly to the edges of the glass.

S - The smell is wonderful. Lots of vanilla and whiffs of nutty oak from the barrel, with the chocolate-coffee taste of the original imperial porter still extant.

T - The taste brings out more of the smokey oak flavor, highlighted by notes of bourbon and vanilla, the warm alcohol finish is probably the main focus of the bourbony flavor. Up front you get more of the vanilla/chocolate/coffee sweetness, but that could be due to how it hits the tongue. Exceptional.

M - Creamy, full bodied, with a slight bit of carbonation that tingles the tongue.

Notes - Not much else to say other than this is a fantastic, complex imperial porter.

Photo of Slatetank
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is one of my favorite beers, the opportunity to try it barrel-aged was hard to pass up. Served chilled in a goblet at Shady McGrady's in Harrisburg.

A - Black w/ a deep opacity and 1/2 inch head of medium brown. The head relaxes to a ring, the lace is spotty on the glass

S - Cocoa aromas mingled w/ vanilla bean, coffee, mild caramel and nut scents. There is an accent of toffee w/ notes of pine and subtle dark fruit esters

M - The feel is smooth w/ sweetness that is balanced by roasted nutty malt w/ moderate carbonation and a sweet caramel texture in the finish

T - The barrel has a big flavor presence w/ a nice taste of wood w/ a sweet dark malt taste w/ cocoa smoothness. The taste has a warming bourbon and toffee and similar notes of raisins soaked in booze. The taste is earthy with noble hop flavors and subtle dark cherry notes. The flavors are well layered and the taste finishes with vanilla notes from the barrel, dark caramel malt and chocolate maltiness

D - A phenomenal beer as it is, but barrel aging increases the drinkability IMO. I really enjoyed this beer and the increased abv is something to watch for but a great all around beer for the style

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

A: Black with no light getting through. Good head retention considering the age and the relatively low ABV.

S: Subtle nose. A nice mix of oak and faded hops. Some roast thrown in for good measure.

T: Nice musty earth taste followed by a subtle roasted note. Nice amount of sweetness to even things out. I really did not pick up the barrel till it warmed up a bit.

M: Fairly light body. Still well carbonated.

D: Had this bottle for 4 years. The first beer I ever cellared. Big fan of HST and this beer lived up to his legacy.

Photo of tmoneyba
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle 750 ml.

Poured dark brown color with a large creamy brown head that mostly lasted and produced good lacing. Heavy toasted dark chocolate woody aroma. Medium to full body with a smooth texture. Heavy complex bittersweet flavor with a heavy bittersweet finish that was long lasting with a small alcohol bite.

Standout well balanced barrel brew.

Photo of HisDorian
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Having had the non-barrel aged several times, I saw this in the store and snapped it up.

I'm writing this as I'm trying it.

I love the dark color that pours, though the head swelled up much more than I would like upon initial pouring. I'm going to have to wait it out for a sample.

The aroma/scent and initial taste of the head was much better than I expected, though. Lots of sweetness, chocolate front, and a full beer behind it. I'm a fan of the original Gonzo, so maybe I'm biased when these jumped out in front of me immediately, not reminding me of the original.

Now the head is down, (well, sort of...1/3 head, 1/3 brew, 1/3 empty glass), I get my first taste. This is so much more smooth and complex than the traditional Gonzo. I wish I could get this more often. Sweet hints of citrus and something else I can't quite place. Still lots of chocolate and vanilla.

The alcohol isn't as forward as you would think, but adds character in the background.

It feels creamy, but not too milky. I wouldn't chug this ever. Flavor kind of leaves a more bitter, almost hoppy/roasted flavor in your mouth.

I can imagine this beer cellaring well.

Since this was a limited brew, and I enjoyed it MUCH better than the traditional Gonzo, I'm going to pick up a couple bottles. One to surprise people at a Flying Dog tasting I'm hosting, and some to hold on to.

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 astrasday
4.72/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this puppy on tap at Hop Devil on St. Marks in NYC. Poured into one of those 12 oz. tasting glasses. Near black with a rich, tan head that retains fairly well with a thick lacing all the way down.

Smell is overly floral. Hops surprisingly dominate here. There is also bourbon, roasted malts, molasses and vanilla.

Taste is initially hoppy. Not overwhelming, but definitely enough to be surprising. The flavor then turns to smooth, woody bourbon, molasses, roasted malts. Vanilla, dark fruits and a rich coffee come in as well. Complex but harmonious. Excellent.

Mouthfeel is rich, oily, creamy. Thick and smooth. A pleasure.

Drinkability. This is a highly drinkable beer. The booze is untraceable. I was able to fully appreciate the mellow, rich flavors and mouthfeel after having the standard Gonzo Porter next to this one. While the barrel aged had a nice, complex nose, the standard seemingly reeked of booze and vanilla. Quite a difference. A great beer and one I would have again, for sure.

Photo of CrellMoset
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Barrel Aged Gonzo, on tap at the Midlothian Capital Ale House. Served in a cervoise of sorts.

Appearance: Just about a pitch black-bodied brew with one-finger of dark cocoa head that has average retention. Following the fade, there's a thick, sponge-like collar of lace, and sticky but still runny lacing, the combination of which results in interesting, gravity-influenced patterns.

Aroma: Bourbon and coffee dominate in a pleasant dance. This one's relatively sweet in the nose, as good Baltic Porters should be, and though it's accompanied by a slightly alcoholickly prickly quality and definite woodyness, the malts - cocoa, espresso, toast, a few faint lighter notes - definitely do their thing here.

Taste: Good balance. Sweet toasted darkness - chocolate notes taking the dominant role away from coffee here, but, really, I'd just classify as it as "dark sweetness." Definite bourbon and woody notes with a hint of vanilla. As it warms, a little alcohol prickle and heat comes through, though they're absent for most of the experience.

Mouthfeel: A little uneven and big bubbled, though still marginally creamy in places. Carbonation is crisp and the body relatively medium thick. Body thickens as it warms, and with the big carbonation, makes for an almost "chunky" feel. Evens itself out a little as it warms, but the chunkiness remains. Strange, but not offputting.

Drinkability: A solid barrel aged brew, above average for the course. This one hits most of the right notes in the right combinations and order, and though the abv% is a little high, the tingle melds well enough with the bourbon note such that it's unnoticeable on its own. Can't compare it to the aged version out of the bottle, but I'd be interested in doing so.

Photo of tavernjef
4.73/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Blue Nile: Served by none other then the "Monk" in a tall Maredsous goblet right to the top with a thick inky black liquid and a finger high capping of very soft, fluffy, dark chocolate brown, smoothed over froth. Lacing of all kinds etches itself across the glass. This was served up as one gorgeous glass of porter.

Aroma is thick and creamy with a nice lofty chocolatey waft. Deep and sweetened with a nice heated bourbon twinge and some nice dark fruity notes of cherry, fig, and raisin.

Taste is outstanding! Quite a perfect blend of creamy milk chocolate tanged with a frothy, fluffy, easy going roastibility and rounded with a centering of faint cherry, lesser fig, more so raisiny twang. Sweetness and warmth of the BB aging is remarkably balanced in and really adds an incredible depth to its overall taste and length. Nice warmth in the finish where the chocolatey tone mixes really nicely with the bourbon notes. Lovely!

Feel is fairly full and definately creamy. More so silky and delicately smooth and soft. Middles out as it goes with a lofty, fluffed, and rounded texture. With each sip it gains a very warming nature grows a very fun and fine chocolatey finish laced with the soothing bourbon.

Rocking good stuff! As for Imperial/Baltic porters go, this stuff is damn near perfect!

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Barrel Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
92 out of 100 based on 693 ratings.