Flying Dog Brewery

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Flying Dog Brewery
Maryland, United States
Porter - Imperial
Ranked #159
Ranked #9,740
4.02 | pDev: 10.95%
Jan 18, 2022
Jun 04, 2005
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
Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
4.09 by Bogdawg from Massachusetts on Jan 18, 2022
3.23 by CheapBeerBuzz from California on Dec 30, 2021
4.17 by jmbeerdude91 from Arizona on Dec 03, 2021
4.11 by CRObighit2 from Canada (ON) on Nov 17, 2021
Photo of Easton70
3.84/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
by Easton70 from Canada (ON)

I’ve had this in the past and thought I’d have a bottle after a hard day at work and review it. I’m drinking this beer at room temperature so I’m perhaps picking up some notes that I wouldn’t normally get if it was out the fridge. It pours a dark dark brown with a nice looking head that developed with a little bit of the cascading that you get from a nitro pour. It has a wonderful malty aroma that’s sharp and bitter (coffee, dark chocolate and a berry thing in the background). The flavour is all the aspects of the aroma but there’s a slight Smokey note in the finish. Bet I wouldn’t have got that if it was chilled.

Overall it’s a lovely beer to relax with at the end of a winters day. I’ll definitely have it again

Oct 29, 2021
Photo of EnderFett11
3.57/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5
by EnderFett11 from Virginia

Poured gently from a bottle into a pint glass, forming a finger of tan head before fading to a ring of lacing. Deep brown/black color. Smell is roasty. Taste is similar, roasty and a bit hoppy, a little bit bitter. Medium bodied, moderate carbonation, just fine. Not my preference, but solid for a porter.

Oct 10, 2021
Photo of DavetotheB
4.11/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by DavetotheB from Pennsylvania

From a 12oz bottle dated "Vintage 21B" (whatever that means...) into a pint glass. Think this came out in early 2021 but feeling it should hold up pretty well.

Pours an opaque black with about two fingers of tan head that dissipates more quickly near the glass leaving a mountain of head in the middle. Great retention and lacing.

Smells of coffee, bakers chocolate and mild dark fruits.

Taste is bitter coffee, bakers chocolate along with some sweet chocolate. Nice smoky roasty notes as well.

Full-bodied mouthfeel but not super thick. Strong bitter chocolate aftertaste. Low carbonation.

Overall, a really nice porter. Got it for a great price on clearance-$8 for a 6er. Would like to try fresh for comparison.

Oct 10, 2021
Photo of scott451
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
by scott451 from Canada (ON)

Poured a 355ml bottle into a pint glass. A thin brown head on a a reddish black. The head soon diminished to a ring.
Coffee and roasted malt smells.
Toasted malts up front. Strangely fruity in the middle. A very mild hop finish.
Medium body and carbonation.
Smooth and well balanced.

Oct 05, 2021
5 by Dalkri from Massachusetts on Sep 16, 2021
Photo of LuckFreeZone
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
by LuckFreeZone from New York

L: rather thick tan head that persisted.

S: slight hop scent, but otherwise very subtle. not much to the nose at all.

T: a barleywine-esque taste with minimal after taste. I enjoyed the taste straight from the fridge (not a given with stouts / porters for me) and as it warmed.

F: slightly more substantial than your average porter. the smooth mouthfeel and relatively sharp, hoppy taste was an interesting experience.

O: I liked it enough that I would drink it again. Reminded me of some barleywines or Evil Twins' 'I Love You With My Stout'

Aug 02, 2021
4.85 by beerrat from Virginia on Jul 10, 2021
Photo of Sigmund
3.77/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
by Sigmund from Norway

Rerate, 12 fl. oz. bottle, courtesy of Cardinal pub, Stavanger, Norway. ABV here is 8.7%. Pitch black colour, large chocolate brown head. Interesting aroma with vinous notes, roasted malts, molasses and newmown hay, maybe some woodwork too. The flavour has a very powerful malty sweetness and an enormous richness, with notes of strong sweetened coffee, dark bitter chocolate and Danish pastry. The bitterness is as high as 85 IBU, but it doesn’t taste that bitter, as the hops are balanced with the malty sweetness. Liquorice in the aftertaste. Definitely a "sipping beer". When you know what to expect, this is actually a great drinking experience! I’m upping it a few points.

Original rating: Bottle, at Plain Kitchen, Göteborg. Black colour, moderate creamy tan head. Overwhelming malty sweet aroma, roastiness, molasses and bakery / Danish pastry. Flavour is VERY sweet (too sweet) - molasses, sweetened coffee, sweet pastry, chocolate. There’s just too much of the good stuff. Unbalanced.

May 11, 2021
4.16 by Hoptometrist from Ohio on Mar 24, 2021
Photo of mikeinportc
3.96/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by mikeinportc from New York

"Vintage 21A", whatever that means? Jan 2021? Let sit out for 20 minutes or so, before opening. 50F +/-.

Dark, mahogany brown, with one finger of moderately long-lasting head, that leaves a ring, a thin surface sheet, and a slight bit of sheety lacing.

Smell is a little bit of roasty malt, some piney/herbal/dank hop aroma, and some lightly-boozy chocolate liqueur scent as the head fades. A slight bit of cocoa when the head is almost gone. More hoppy aroma than I remember. Maybe it was older the few times I previously had it?

Taste is dark chocolate, with a slight sour tang (In that, it reminds me of the sour cream brownies my mom used to make.) , and some roasty/nutty malt flavor.

Feel is medium , medium-slick, with moderate , very fine carbonation tingle. Slightly drying finish. No nioticeable alcohol, other than slight, gradual warming of my ears. (Why just there? ;) )

Overall, a nice porter, that if memory serves, is better a bit older. The hoppiness reminds me of fresh Bigfoot, though it doesn't mesh as well with the other flavors as Bigfoot. Still, pretty good, and worth a try.


Mar 14, 2021
4 by drt72 from Virginia on Feb 26, 2021
Photo of thehyperduck
4.04/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25
by thehyperduck from Canada (ON)

12 oz bottle from the LCBO; best before July 2022 and served at cellar temperature. Didn't even notice this was from MD until I started reading the fine print... new state to tick, woohoo!

Pours a deep black-brown colour, with a significant amount of gritty, sand-like sediment gradually settling at the bottom of the glass. Two fingers of foamy, billowing, beige-coloured head collapses within several minutes' time, soon reduced to a creamy-looking collar encircling a thin, filmy cap; a messy swath of lace is also left behind. Smells boozy and bold - roasted malts, caramel and molasses are well accounted for, with additional notes of pine forest, coffee, dark chocolate, prune and floral, spicy hops. No complaints so far.

Tasty, robust flavours - roasted malts, molasses and brown sugar sweetness take the lead at the forefront, with hints of coffee and baker's chocolate preceding a surprisingly bitter tail end. Coffee grounds and floral, earthy, somewhat woodsy/resiny hops come through, alongside touches of vanilla, cocoa and prune; it finishes with moderate booziness and lingering hints of brown sugar, roasted malt / chocolate as well as a resiny, earthy bitterness. Medium-full in body, with moderately low carbonation that gently tickles; feels oily-slick and smooth on the palate, with well-integrated alcohol that numbs the tongue just a little. A fine sipper, though perhaps a tad lacking in terms of complexity.

Final Grade: 4.04, a highly respectable A-. Flying Dog's Gonzo is a pretty good imperial porter, but 'great' might be stretching it a little. Don't misunderstand, I did enjoy my glass quite a bit... but for an imperial dark ale that comes in at $5 CAD per bottle (or $30 per six-pack, if you prefer), it just seemed to be missing that certain je ne sais quoi. I'm still kinda kicking myself for not picking up a few more bottles while I could've - no, it's not exactly the pinnacle of its style, and I doubt the beer itself would gain much from a stint in the cellar... but it'd still be nice to have on hand.

Jan 11, 2021
3.58 by TerryW from Canada (ON) on Jan 07, 2021
Photo of tradershmulie
3.91/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
by tradershmulie from Connecticut

Gorgeous beer. As nice as any. Thick rich luscious light brown head that just sits there and clings while slowly slowly dissipating.

Nice hoppy aroma.

Starts out nice, but hops become more pronounced with each sip. Not to my liking.

Nice beer - not as rich as one would expect from the style, but still very good.

Dec 31, 2020
Photo of Andrew_NYC
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by Andrew_NYC from New York

Smell is big roasty malt with a hint of yeasty sweetness.

Taste is a nice mix of bitter and sweet with a surprisingly long finish. The high alcohol is not especially noticeable except in the long, warming finish and the intensity of the flavor. Nice full mouthfeel but not at all syrupy or cloying.

Great to drink on a snowy night.

Dec 17, 2020
4 by yancot from Canada (ON) on Dec 13, 2020
Photo of DCH
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75
by DCH from New York

Pours black, slightly dark brown with a light brown/khaki head. Head retention is pretty good and lasts a few minutes, smell is mostly dark chocolate and coffee, and the taste is roughly the same with a slight boozy note towards the end, not overpowering though. Was expecting a little more body, but as it's an imperial porter rather than a stout, I guess that's to be expected. Not a bad beer, it's nice to see sixers of heavier beer as opposed to the ever annoying 4 pack format. Will revisit again.

Nov 16, 2020
Photo of jockstrappy
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
by jockstrappy from Pennsylvania

Pours a rich coffee brown with creamy 2 finger head. Nose is espresso, dark chocolate with a floral hop note. Flavor is the dark toasty malts up front, coffee and cocoa in the mix. Mild sweetness...dark chocolate and brown sugar maybe?. Finish is interesting with a noticeable hop bite and a nice boozy warmth. I am not exactly a big Flying Dog fan, but this is a good beer.

Nov 11, 2020
Photo of lastmango
3.87/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
by lastmango from Pennsylvania

Poured black with a big frothy three finger tan head. Moderate lacing. Nose is very weak with just a hint of coffee. Upfront malt and coffee flavor followed by a bang of black licorice and hop bitterness that lingers on the finish. Moderate body and carbonation. A bit dry. Overall, a rather strange porter but likable.

Nov 08, 2020
3.75 by octortus from Canada (ON) on Sep 24, 2020
Photo of Argail
4.71/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75
by Argail from Louisiana

Love this porter... rich well made, full body... larchy taste piney malty mouthfeel... cool warm any way good! One Big minus - they don't sell it where I live!

Sep 19, 2020
Photo of taxandbeerguy
3.87/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75
by taxandbeerguy from Canada (ON)

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
3.9 by Insomniac from Canada (ON) on Sep 15, 2020
Photo of Rschis16
3.94/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by Rschis16 from Maryland

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
4.25 by Velivolus1 from Vermont on Aug 02, 2020
3.54 by Duncian from Pennsylvania on Jul 24, 2020
4.18 by Ernald_Elbertson from Delaware on Jun 25, 2020
Photo of cjeep
3.61/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
by cjeep from Pennsylvania

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
3.77 by BadgerNCarolina from North Carolina on May 29, 2020
Photo of just1cho
3.64/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
by just1cho from California

*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
4.25 by Velivolus from Vermont on May 15, 2020
3.1 by Milkman_d83 from Kentucky on Apr 30, 2020
Photo of Captain69
4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by Captain69 from Illinois

poured in pint lass - thick head - head coated glass as I drank - strong malty taste , slightly sweet,,

Apr 18, 2020
Photo of HoppingMadMonk
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
by HoppingMadMonk from New Jersey

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 that I would try again

Apr 07, 2020
Gonzo from Flying Dog Brewery
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 3049 ratings