Gonzo | Lagunitas Brewing Company

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10 Ratings

Brewed by:
Lagunitas Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by RedwoodGeorge on 06-18-2005

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 10 |  Reviews: 8
Photo of Stoffel
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

Photo of TasteTester
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of bonapartist1
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This really was a west coast barleywine to my palette at this point of this bottle's life. Delicious. Roasty. Hoppy. Big, and really nice.

And all this despite showing some signs of chunky sediment, obvious protein separation. Way better than any gnarleywine vintage I've had, and the HST connection is obviously awesome bu irrelevant to the existence of this very, very nice beer.

Miss old hunter...

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Photo of weeare138
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to hopdog for opening up this retired bottle...
Appears a semi transparent amber with an off white head that fades into a mild film and collar. Streaky lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of caramel, raisins, vanilla, toffee, cookie dough, and oatmeal.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with caramel and plums breaking through as the highlights.
Mouthfeel is slightly bitter with notes of flowers, cherries, and cocoa.

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Photo of Crosling
3.68/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle @ Spuyten Duyvil, Brooklyn. Lemon pepper and pine hop aromas, with hints of black pepper and smooth, butter toffee-like malts, honey and a light notes of fruit punch in the nose. Copper colored beer with a small, lasting white head. Hop accented overall, with juicy (nectarine, peach) hop flavors. Hints of butter toffee. More hop induced fruit flavors on the finish, with hints of herbal tea. Medium body, with an oily texture. Good stuff.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.47/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

03/31/06- Recieved as a gift from RedwoodGeorge

Presentation- 22oz bottle, no dating listed. Poured into my Duvel tulip. How can I have 60 different beer glasses and not one from Lagunitas???

Appearance- Chestnut brown color. Maybe even mid-dark cherry colored. Nice 1/2 inch head. Light lacing.

Smell- Both hops and sweet malt. Smells like a cross between a barleywine, a doppelbock, and old ale and a strong ale. Has a nice sweetness in the malt, a bit of dark fruit in the nose and the bitter scent of a strong hopped brew.

Taste- First I get a pretty hard hit of hops. Grapefruit and maybe a touch of pine. Then a nice smoky and sweet dark fruit malt comes into play. This beer is complex. Finally the hit of alcohol comes. Tastes and feels like a higher abv than listed.

Mouthfeel- Medium carbonation with a largely bitter aftertaste. Fairly smooth going down.

Drinkability- Very nice. Has some of everything in this beer. Glad I was afforded the chance to try this brew. Thanks very much for the sample George!

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Photo of silver0rlead
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I feel quite privaledged to be drinking this tribute beer, which i never thought i would acqure...thanks to Redwood George for the ultimate hookup. Pours an absolutely stellar mahogany brown with nice ruby highlights and a massive, creamy and thick tan head that retains well. The aroma is a bit more subtle, with big citrusy hops, caramel sweetness, vanilla, toasted bread, ripe dark fruits and some mild alcohol. The taste is beautifully balanced (very un-hunter s thompson like but this is a few months old) with a nice citrusy, resiny hop character, followed by some dark fruit (plum, raisin, fig), toasted bread, vanilla, oak, fruity esters, caramel, and some mild smokiness. This is an exceptionally balanced beer (perhaps a few months have mellowed this out), but the mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with a medium body, and drinkability is excellent. Big thanks to RedwoodGeorge for the awesome beer, my first from lagunitas but im quite impressed.

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Photo of SwillinBrew
4.06/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I saw this brew when I was hunting for Hopsicle. What an interesting surprise.

It poured a deep deep coppery red like a mohogany ice-t... very beautiful. The head was half a finger of light beige and didnt leave much lace on the glass, but the color was exquisite. Like looking through a stained glass window.

The aroma was overall rather faint of malt sweetness with hops on the edge and end... not much there. However on the taste it flipped around. The orange rind citrisy hops glaze your tongue sharply up front then give way to a slightly roasted toffee sweetness... what a good balancing act of taking your tongue on a teeter totter of hops to malt. The brew felt great on the tongue with the carbonation and and medium body cutting through the So Cal summer heat. A tasty brew.

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Photo of WetCoaster
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Well, I was gonna save this as a trophy, a memorial as it were, but it appears I have in my locality the Whole Foods of Dreams, which has not only about 50 cases of Stone's 05 Epic and Impy Stout, but a seemingly unlimited supply of this otherwise extinct beer.

So I'm gonna pop the bastard. No truly awful pun intended.

Appearance: Whoa, quite a looker, this. Poured into my brand-spankin'-new Ommegang chalice a clear, glowing cola red with the slightest hint of gold around the edges. The head is a wonderous creamy, dense off-white affair, albeit with only average retention. Leaves a thin skim of foam and sticky lace. Fine lines of carbonation stream slowly to the surface.

Smell: Balance, grasshopper. Assertively hopped, yet strongly malty. The hops are spicy and citrus -- West Coast, duh -- and the malt has a deep chocolate toffee richness. Alcohol makes it to the semi-finals, but gets pinned and taps out in the main event. There's a hint of diacetyl; whether that's good or bad is up to you.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Wow, this is good. Hops hit first with a nice grapefruit and rind pop. But in the end, it's the malt that's the star. Slightly smoky, but mainly slightly bitter dark chocolate. Hops return with a vegeance in the finish. Not much alcohol to speak of. The mouthfeel is medium fullish, a bit sticky, yet fairly assertively carbonated.

Drinkability: Well, there is none -- how you gonna drink it? If there were, though, I would do so with a gusto. A fitting tribute to the man; potent and, at 8.5%, over the top, but at it's core thoughtful, complex and well-done.

(Finally, since it's unlikely that 99.9% of you will ever get your hands on one of these, a secret: if you want a pretty competent substitute, try Bear Republic's Red Rocket.)

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Photo of RedwoodGeorge
4.04/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

[How appropriate - today is my one year anniversary on Beer Advocate and what better way to celebrate than by reviewing this tribute ale]

It's hard not to be sentimental about some beers, often due to an association that has little to do with the brew itself. In this case, I can't help but be reminded of one of my favorite writers because this beer was released as a tribute to Hunter S. Thompson. While many may dismiss him for his excessive consumption and well-chronicled craziness he was also one of the finest craftsmen of words of the 20th century. As the inventor and icon of "Gonzo Journalism" Lagunitas has honored Hunter S Thompson with their Gonzo Ale. (That said, I'll do my best to be as objective as I can...)

The beer pours a medium mahogany brown with an medium sized off-white head with fine meringue like bubbles. The head flattens out quickly enough leaving little lacing on the inside of the glass.

The nose tells you this is going to be a sweet, malty beer. The smell is quite similar to a stout: plenty of malt, caramel, a bit of raisin or fig and a smoky note as well. There are a few light hop echoes in the smell but it's almost entirely a sweet experience.

The taste is more 'strong' than sweet. There's certainly an alcohol kick hiding behind the malt and it's quite big. Again there's quite a good bit of smoke in the taste - I'm sure there's a bit of Porter in here somewhere. Primary note is caramel, bits of bread and fruit running interference and finally, the hops. While the hops aren't very evident in the nose, there's the perfect amount in the taste to dry out the palate.

Mouthfeel is a bit thick, but that's to be expected of a beer of this type. The carbonation is on the low side so there's no tingle on the tongue to finish each sip and the high sugar content leaves a bit of oil on the palate.

This is a pretty drinkable brew with a good balance between sweetness, alcohol and bitter hopping. If you like your strong ales, you'll appreciate the execution here. It's fitting that a tribute to HST would be a well crafted, powerful, alcoholic smoky concoction.

Hunter wrote "When the going gets weird the weird turn pro"

The guys at Lagunitas are pros.

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Gonzo from Lagunitas Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.15 out of 5 with 10 ratings