Flying Dog Brewery

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Porter - Imperial
Ranked #170
Ranked #4,831
4.05 | pDev: 10.86%
Flying Dog Brewery
Maryland, United States
Notes: Too weird to live, too rare to die, Gonzo Imperial Porter is bold and forceful, like the man it was brewed to honor – Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Complex layers of roasted chocolate, coffee, brown sugar, and vanilla malt flavors are balanced with a one-of-a-kind hop bite that hits you like a homemade firecracker. Buy the ticket and take the ride by pairing this rich and creamy porter with blue cheeses, smoked meats, BBQ, chili, chocolate and coffee desserts. Best shared with your closest circle of friends— real or hallucinated.

Malts: Caramel, Black, Chocolate
Hops: Northern Brewer, Cascade
Yeas: American Ale, English Ale
IBU: 85
ABV varies
Reviews: 1,505 | Ratings: 3,025 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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taxandbeerguy from Canada

3.87/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

355 ml bottle served cold into a chalice. LCBO purchase for a$4.95 CDN. Not sure the freshness on this brew.

Appearance - Pours a deep brown, nearly black brew with a finger of long lasting and dense tan head. Excellent head retention. Imposing looking brew.

Smell - Chocolate, roasty malts and some coffee. Subtle earthy leafy green thing going on in the background too.

Taste - Initially not that much then subtle dark chocolate and lots of espresso to the forefront with nearly overwhelming bitterness. Some leafy and earthy hop flavors going on in the background. Pretty bold and tasty but limited in dimensions.

Mouthfeel - Rich and full, fairly expressive carbonation and some boozy warmth in the back of the throat. Lots of bubbles percolating on the tongue and in the mouth.

Overall - A pretty solid imperial porter, Gonzo definitely doesn't shy away from the bitterness and this is a welcome treat as the days get shorter and the air gets colder.

Sep 18, 2020
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Rschis16 from Maryland

3.94/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep brown in color, just about black with a huge 3 finger cappuccino colored head on top on a medium pour. Leaves lacing on its slow way down. Big hit of coffee and dark roasted malts on the nose, maybe some dark chocolate, definitely a touch of booze as well. Dark roasted malts on a medium body dominate the first sip. A good amount of light roast coffee notes mixing with some bitter dark chocolate notes that make for an interesting sip. Some earthy hops play in there too, adding to the bitter notes. Finishes long and rich, with a hint of bitterness. Toes the line with an imperial stout of course, but the lighter body keeps it in that Porter category, a neat trick Flying Dog has done there. This beer is great to sip on for a long period of time, letting it warm and build more character. The booze notes come out a bit more as it warms, but it never becomes over the top in the context of the flavors. Cool beer.

Aug 11, 2020
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Ernald_Elbertson from Delaware

3.33/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

This one disappointed big time unfortunately. Maybe it's just that I'm spoiled from stuff like KBS and CBS, but I really found this underwhelming.

Look: Well, at least this aspect was correct. Very dark as expected, good head as well.

Smell: Almost immediately there are problems. For a 10% Imperial Porter I expect a very powerful and complex smell, yet this was subdued and rather basic. Coffee comes through, but it almost smells like a beer with half the ABV.

Taste: following the smell, the taste disappoints as well. Of course there is malt here, but it's really not that powerful, and neither are the hops. I'd never thought I'd say this about a 10% beer, but it's actually watery? The flavors are diluted and you really have to reach to find them. I'm not even tasting any alcohol burn, which is very odd, because I'd expect to at least taste that. Somehow the alcohol is well hidden, but that actually serves as a detriment here because it would've given me at least something to taste.

Feel: Not only is the taste watery, but so is the feel. This is not chewy or thick like an Imperial Porter should be, but thin and unsatisfying. I feel like I'm drinking a bad 5% pastry stout, not a big Imperial Porter. Founders standard Porter which clocks at 6% has twice the thickness and flavor profile that this does.

Overall: The beer isn't "bad," as it isn't offensive in any way. It's just...bland. There's really nothing to write home about here. Not sure why the beer has such high reviews, as I really don't think it lives up to them at all.

Jun 25, 2020
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cjeep from Pennsylvania

3.61/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

wanted to like it. but in the end it talks a good game but does not really deliver.
L: very dark, big head that hangs on. definitely a looker.
S: somewhat muted for the style. maybe this should have been a clue
T: i'm just not feeling it. too one dimensional. definitely getting bitter coffee but i'm hoping for more layers. lacking complexity compared to the many competitors in this space. maybe it's too much hops compared to the malts? i'm also getting some off notes in the aftertaste. overall pretty weak compared to many of this style
F: smooth, rich.
O: sadly, i was just hoping for more. it's pretty good but too many other strong beers in this category

Jun 17, 2020
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just1cho from California

3.64/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

*Poured into a Teku glass from a 12oz bottle*

This beer poured a cold brew brown with a khaki colored head. Had an impressive two finger thick head, nice diversities of micro and rocky bubbles, and had a moderate retention.

This porter had a surprisingly prominent hop-forward aroma, almost like an IPA. Very citrusy with notes of bitter grapefruit and orange peel, I felt that the cascade hops really out-shined the other components of this beer. There were notes of pine that were coupled with the aforementioned citrus notes on the front end which then mellowed out slightly, bringing out faint notes of roasted malts.

Similar to the nose, the taste was also very hop-forward; really citrusy and bitter on the front-end. The taste was very interesting, but I was disappointed by its lack of complexity. This porter drank very similarly to an IPA, if I were blindfolded I would have never guessed that this was an imperial porter. Bits of roasted malt, coffee, and char were perceived on the back-end, but these flavors were really faint and overpowered by the bitterness of the hops.

Full-bodied, a high carbonation, and a dry start and finish, these qualities made this beer very smooth and easy to drink. However, I didn't like the long bitter aftertaste that this left in my mouth. I don't mind bitterness, but this was a bit too bitter for my personal taste. This beer really felt like drinking an imperial IPA more than an imperial porter in my opinion.

Overall, I was surprised by the aromas and flavor profiles of this beer. I thought that this was a little too hop-forward for the style, and I would have liked more of the roasted malts to have shined through. I'm definitely aging a couple of these to see how the malt flavors develop when the hop characteristics start to fade.

May 27, 2020
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HoppingMadMonk from New Jersey

4.13/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Medium light carbonation with a just above average body
Aroma is clay, earthy, licorice, roasted malt coffee
Taste is earthy, peat, clay bitter pine
Very good beer, sort of like porter meets an opa

Apr 07, 2020
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JonnoWillsteed from England

3.95/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

L- Pitch black, no light at all gets through even the corner of the glass even held to a halogen bulb. Pours with 3-5mm dark tan super-fine bubble head, that holds very well.
S- Mild coffee notes and a light whiff of alcohol too.
T- Dryer than anticipated, some fleeting deep molasses richness then wham! ->>> intense deep roasted coffee against a liquor-ish background.
F- I started with this one chilled, so will give it ten minutes and see if the feel opens up...
... Oh yes, now I really get the full 10%ABV coming through, even a bit of a singe on the swallow.
It doesn't feel that rich, I think the intense flavour masks that, and instead the ABV% comes through. But you know this broadly is no under-stated offering, everything about it is full-on from the beer, to the artist behind the label-art (Ralph Steadman) who was a co-conspiritor of the full-on Hunter S. Thompon back in those legendary Vegas days...
O- Probably the most pungently coffee-tasting beer I've had that hasn't got physical coffee beans literally in the mix. You need to like pungent coffee to have much chance here (my wife tried it, not a huge coffee fan, and it's far too pungent in her view). I like it, it's certainly different and something I could occasionally enjoy as a slow-sippin' beer in winter.
330ml bottle BB: 28/08/20 bought from Beerhawk/UK £3.99

Dec 22, 2019
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TooManyGlasses from Canada

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

Single bottle from spring San Diego trip.
Pours a deep dark brown verging on black with finger + of creamy mocha brown head.
Aroma slightly muted cold - as warms malty, burnt toffee, coffee, vanilla, molasses, and slightly metallic with piney hops.
Taste chocolate malt, coffee, molasses sweetness that becomes increasingly resinous, hoppy piney bitterness and espresso finish with a boozy note.
Nicely carbonated on medium mouthfeel - balanced by a bit of alcohol burn and a lingering hoppy bitterness with an unexpected creaminess.

Oct 24, 2019
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hoptheology from South Dakota

4.07/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle.
New Belgium Snifter.

Deep, roasty black with a khaki colored rocky head of 2 fingers, receding to 1, staying there, even after a trip upstairs and back to the couch. Great head retention, great lacing, very artful stuff.

Aromas of dark coffee beans and molasses, with rich dark chocolate, slight earth, and piney hop.

My first reaction to the flavor is too much bitterness, almost like chewing on a coffee bean and a hop pellet at the same time. Big piney hop with light floral notes cascade against a roasty, almost smokey profile, coming across much like a Black IPA. Some rooty dark chocolate notes can be sampled, with even more acrid burnt roasty notes following. It is no joke, but it is much like a Black IPA.

Feel is on the upper echelon of thickness for a porter, which I like, and has some remaining smokiness and roastiness with a pleasant but firm blanket of alcohol heat.

Overall, while it is like a Black IPA, it is still a tasty brew and something I would consider revisiting. It is a huge beer, something I'd like to send to some trade buddies if I run into more of it, to see what they think. It should be tried at least once, as it is a good dark bitter porter and pulls no punches. Artful, if just a bit bitter. Cheers.

Sep 15, 2019
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cardfan212 from Minnesota

3.91/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a nonic glass.

Look - A pitch black opaque abyss with a towering Jello-like mahogany brown head, large bubbles on the bottom capped with a soft meringue-ish crown.

Smell - Somewhat like a smokey Scotch, but only a tiny bit. Burnt malt, alcohol, coffee, dark chocolate.

Taste - A burnt marshmallow that you put out by throwing it on the ground and stomping on it. Toasty, earthy, with a slight vanilla twang.

Feel - Surprisingly fizzy for how thick and high alcohol this is. A tiny bit of burn going down, but not that crazy.

Overall - Aggressive and punishing, this is a very slow sipper. I always expect bombastic extremes from Flying Dog, and I was not disappointed.

Jul 21, 2019
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DrBeergood from Ohio

4.2/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gonzo says "Ok, let's party"

Completely opaque. Darker than Guinness. Chocolate brown thick head and fine lacing. Cool label too.

Malty on the nose. Tastes malty too. Biscuity, A hint of tang, some bitter hops, melting into a blend of coffee and chocolate.

It's complex. And strong at 9.2%. Sits in between sweet and bitter. Flying Dog did a great job with this one.

Jun 20, 2019
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JamarcusMarinovich from California

3.94/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass, great lacing with small head. Deep color, aroma of...and I know I'll get crap for this...Copenhagen snuff. I dipped Cope for 19 years (and clean for 22) and for whatever reason, I can smell it here! More hoppy bitter than other porters, I'm getting a cocoa taste but not overwhelming. Good alcohol bite but not overpowering. Drinkable imperial porter but others have a more complex flavor profile. I'd get again.

Apr 18, 2019
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EMH73 from New York

4.18/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a very dark brown with a very large, fluffy tan head that left excellent lacing. Smells of coffee, roasted malts and a bit of hops. Tastes of dark chocolate, coffee, sweet malts, molasses, toffee, vanilla, a bit of smoke and some piney hops. Medium to full bodied, moderate to high carbonation for the style, creamy mouth feel.

Jan 01, 2019
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rudiecantfail from Pennsylvania

3.97/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle poured into a tulip glass.

L---Opaque brown. Giant head with great retention. Excellent lacing. This is what a beer should look like.

S---Fairly light aroma. Sweet roasted malts. Coffee.

T---Much more going on than in the smell. Roasted coffee. Bitter chocolate. A bit of hops in the background for balance. Nice, flavors are subtle, not giant and in your face..

F---Full bodied. Well carbonated. A bit creamy.

O---Very nice. Wifey, who loves dark beer, especially with coffee, really liked it. I'll definitely pick this up again if I see it.

Nov 11, 2018
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Dr_Gonzo from Kentucky

4.27/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a tall clear pint glass. Has an opaque midnight black appearance, very fluffy and creamy beige colored head, great retention and lacing, and moderately high carbonation.

Smells of roasted coffee beans (espresso and mocha) and piney hops, other roasted malts. Notes of vanilla, brown sugar, molasses, dark chocolate, and cream.

Much like the aroma. Has a bold, hoppy flavor. Roasted coffee beans, pine, resin, roasted malts. Notes of black licorice, smoke, bitter dark chocolate, cream, vanilla beans, molasses, and brown sugar. Well-balanced between the hops and malts, although the hops slightly prevail. Feels creamy smooth.

Cheers, this beer is too weird to live, too rare to die!

Sep 16, 2018
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Speartron from Maryland

3.84/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Tastes hoppy with hints of dark rich espresso and caramel. Lingering taste of vanilla and dark chocolate. Too hoppy of a Porter for my tastes. The hoppiness masks otherwise rich flavours that I'd prefer to be . High ABV is masked by the deep rich taste. Mouthfeel is excellent, a bit oily and full.

6pk of 12oz cost $14.99. In my opinion it's worth a try, but theirs better Porters out there for less.

Aug 16, 2018
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BarrelchesterHamfist from New Jersey

3.99/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

The balance between rounded malt darkness and sharp green hops is complimented by a combination of fruity yeast strains.
A refreshing, well crafted porter that drinks smooth... and fast. It pours thin, the bitterness and 9.2% abv are present on the nose, but the flavor is clean and finish is crisp.
Beautifully blended by a few months on the shelf, this beer is a must have that will fit nicely into your standard rotation.

Jul 13, 2018
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MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

4.13/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into glass. Label has 'FOR OPTIMAL FRESHNESS ENJOY BY: VINTAGE1700'.
Black colored body, with brown edges highlighted by light. Expansive, frothy tan head slowly settles. Leaves behind weavings of lacing.
Aroma of roasted malts, chocolate, and vanilla.
Taste expands the smells and brings forth roasted malt, dark and milk chocolate, coffee, and airy vanilla. There is quite a hop bite also. Alcohol is present throughout.
Medium mouth feel, rather coating. Alcohol effervescence is present.
This is a serious porter with its higher ABV%, but the flavors are well balanced and expressive. The vanilla lightens the experience somewhat and allows the darker notes to really be present, and not overwhelming.

Jul 06, 2018
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Jacobier10 from New Jersey

3.98/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle from Badlands in Bethesda, MD. Dated "VINTAGE18DD."

Jet black pour with a huge, thick, dark tan head. Great head retention as well. Aroma was somewhat mild at first, but possibly because the beer was too cold. Once it warms a bit, its loaded with big piney hops and roasted malt. Some coffee thrown into the mix to boot. Assertive bitter flavor thanks to the strong roasted malt and pine. No doubt it's a bold and hoppy imperial dark ale, but there is definitely balance between the malt and hops. Full bodied and slightly warming thanks to the alcohol. An impressive brew that's made to be sipped and savored.

Jun 30, 2018
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josanguapo from Spain

4.26/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

From estucerveza. In Teku glass. Playing Avernun 3. 2 months after bbf. I find it more close to a black ipa than a porter, with strong piney hops notes. Very drinkable

Jun 27, 2018
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VABA from Virginia

4.02/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours a very dark color with slight head and lacing
A-Aroma has roasty hints
T-The taste follows the nose with a roasty flavor
M-A medium bodied decently carbonated beer
O-A decent take on the porter style

Jun 24, 2018
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Franziskaner from Missouri

3.97/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Black in color and impenetrable to light. There's an inch of creamy brown head resting on top. It dissipated in 5 minutes to a fingernail. Moderate lacing. I smell dark caramelized malt with notes of toffee. I'm tasting dark and bitter roasted malt with a touch of piney hops and coffee in the back of the palate. The mouth is thick and lightly creamy.

May 26, 2018
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Czequershuus from Minnesota

4.24/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This beer pours a deep black with a large rich brown head. The aroma is deep and rich with semi sweet chocolate, brown sugar, sourdough, licorice, toast, and a little raisin. The flavor is rich and sweet, with loads of burnt and brown sugar, licorice, browned toast, roast meet, dark chocolate, maple sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The mouthfeel is full and soft with foaming carbonation. Overall this is an excellent beer -big sweet flavors, but great balances, and a strong, lingering finish.

Apr 18, 2018
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pizzabutt from Maryland

4.11/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

poured from a 12oz bottle into a stout glass.

appearance: practically pitch black, but shows some brown when held to the light. roughly 1-inch tan head, great lacing.

smell: caramel, molasses. hops.

taste: hoppy, molasses. i don't get much caramel as in the nose, but the hops are pretty forward.

feel: enough carbonation to be noticeable but the primary sensation is smooth. fuller-bodied, and slightly oily.

overall: definitely my favorite porter. great feel, great flavor, looks excellent. not too boozy, despite being a 9%, and although it doesnt have the best smell of all time it definitely doesn't prepare you for the overall excellency of this beer. i'd recommend this to anyone who likes strong porters.

Apr 16, 2018
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Stoutmaster9 from California

4.23/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Plenty of smoke from the bottle. Aggressively poured into a Tulip glass.

Two finger of foamy head, large bubbles. Dark indeed. Lacing abounds.
Malty and dark fruit. Secondary scent O' Chocolate, coffee.
Taste follows the nose. Sweet, silky and subtle.
Brutish booze burn, yet fun, if one is into that sort of thing. I'm not judging.

Imperial Porter & dark chocolate! Rainy night delight!

Mar 14, 2018
Gonzo from Flying Dog Brewery
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 3025 ratings