Flying Dog Brewery

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American Imperial Porter
Ranked #144
Ranked #4,492
4.05 | pDev: 10.86%
Flying Dog Brewery
Maryland, United States
Notes: Gonzo is big, bold, and beautiful like the man it was brewed in honor of – Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Roasted chocolate, coffee, and vanilla malt flavors are balanced with a unique hop bite. Buy the ticket and take the ride by pairing it with blue cheeses, smoked meats, BBQ, chili, chocolate and coffee desserts.

ABV varies.
Reviews: 1,500 | Ratings: 3,007 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of JonnoWillsteed
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

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Photo of TooManyGlasses
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.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
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.

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Photo of cardfan212
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.

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Photo of DrBeergood
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.

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Photo of JamarcusMarinovich
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.

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Photo of EMH73
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.

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Photo of rudiecantfail
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.

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Photo of Dr_Gonzo
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!

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Photo of Speartron
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.

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Photo of BarrelchesterHamfist
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.

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Photo of MonDak_Joe1953
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.

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Photo of Jacobier10
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.

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Photo of josanguapo
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

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Photo of VABA
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

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Photo of Franziskaner
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.

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Photo of Czequershuus
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.

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Photo of pizzabutt
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.

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Photo of Stoutmaster9
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!

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

A - Dark black-brown body, tan head, lots of lacing. A very fine looking porter, without a doubt.

S - A strong dark toasted malt note, with a powerful pine and hop hit, slightly herbal.

T - Following the nose, with a coffee and toast hit mingling with a powerful hop hit, reminding me of a hop-forward black IPA.

M - Brisk hops and powerful dry close.

O - Lush and full, this is a strong hop-forward porter, and one I'd grab again.

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Photo of jzeilinger
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On nitro.

A - Nitro is always a sexy looking pour with a big, creamy, one finger thick layer of creamy off-white silky/creamy head. Looks pretty awesome.

S - Light smokey caramel and chocolate with some cream. The aroma is pretty disappointing, actually (at least on Nitro).

T - Toasted chocolate and caramel, piney bitter finish that lingers.

M - Full bodied and thick, silky and creamy thanks to the nitro pull when it was poured, chewy.

O - Nitro can be hit or miss with me and this one isn't really doing it for me. Probably would enjoy CO2 much more but the beautiful thing about nitro and/or cask, the beer has no where to run or hide when it comes to the flavor profile.

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Photo of BucBasil
4.14/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the 330mL bottle into a tulip glass at the Blue Marlin in Shanghai China.

A: The beer is a pure black color with a small, compact, dark tan head with amazing retention.

S: Roasted coffee, bittersweet chocolate, anise, tobacco, booze underneath.

T: Very strong flavor, very boozy. Also smoky char, black coffee, leather, dark chocolate, wood.

F: Smooth with a bit of a carbonation bite.

Overall: God beer, if a bit heavy and strong on the alcohol character. The barreled version of this addresses this problem. One is good, but I will revisit this one for sure.

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Photo of claminat420
4.37/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz. bottle dated vintage 17CC

Appearance- from a hardy pour it's the typical porter/stout color with a light brown frothy head. leaves decent lacing.

Aroma- chocolate coffee. maybe some slight caramel mixed with molasses. has a slight soft bubblegum note kicking from the yeast. really good.

Taste- just like the smell. abv is well hidden.

Mouthfeel- medium/ heavy bodied. good carbonation. has a weird dryness.

Drinkability- will gladly drink this again down the road.

Overall- solid beer for the style. the only negative thing I can say about this brew is the weird dryness. if it's from the bitterness it's a funky bitterness.

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Photo of CTHomer
4.05/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: opaque; very dark brown in color; 1+ finger dark brown head that receded to a wispy cap; nice lacing;

S: milk chocolate, a little spice, deeply roasted grains;

T: coffee, dark chocolate, and tobacco; mild to moderate bitterness on the finish;

M: medium to full bodied; moderate carbonation; moderately dry finish; alcohol is slightly warming;

O: nice complexity in the flavor;

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Photo of Lone_Freighter
3.99/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It pours jet black leaving a half inch white foamy head that fades fairly quickly to a film covering the top of the body inside my nonic. Minimal lacing is left. The smell has some coffee, chocolate, alcohol and light malts up front. The taste is bitter and boozy with the coffee and alcohol coming in strong. It leaves a dry aftertaste and has a bitter finish. The palate is about a medium with nothing harsh on the tongue. Overall, I like this as a Baltic Porter. I’d have this again.

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Gonzo from Flying Dog Brewery
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 3007 ratings