Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

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Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter

Brewed by:
Flying Dog Brewery
Maryland, United States

Style: Baltic Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
ABV varies.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 06-04-2005

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Reviews: 1,468 | Ratings: 2,901
Photo of RocPorterFanatic
5/5  rDev +24.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Just had this at Dayton Ale Fest in Dayton, OH. I've had Gonzo many tunes, both on draught and bottled, today was different. I was pleased to have enjoyed Oak Aged Gonzo. Absolutely amazing!!!! The single best beer I've ever consumed. The oak brings forward a vanilla flavor tha i've never tasted before. It also brings out extra carbonation like nothing beforfe experienced.

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Photo of DrKnoskelson
5/5  rDev +24.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served in 12 ounce bottle that I purchased from the Foodery, on 10th and Pine. Used half of the bottle to make the Pumpkin Spice Cake from issue #33, and drank the rest.

Pours black, with a nice reddish hue around the edges. Decent half-inch, dense, brown head. Very aromatic nose of roasted barley with a light malt sweetness.

Initial semi sweetness with a very creamy mouth feel. Full of roasted barley and chocolate. Awesome porter already. Malty, but still a porter. Flavor complexities lasting well beyond the swallow.

Fantastic beer. Looking forward to the cake!

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Photo of Fyourface316
4.97/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

For being a 9.2% beer, it's as smooth as can be. Great smell, great look, great taste. Nice strong full-bodied porter. Thick in the mouth. Delicious. Bought it on a whim when looking for a good porter and the local store was out of Smuttynose Robust. I would recommend this porter to anyone looking for good taste, full body and a nice kick.

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Photo of wardough
4.92/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Love this beer. Thanks to Bwatson for this gem.

A: Pours like black oil into a pint glass. Wow, looks like a nice RIS. A slight head rises and gives way to very, very light lacing. Beautiful.
S: Beautiful. Hops, chocolate malts. God, this is awesome.
T: Pick up more citrus in the taste. Nice malt backbone. The alcohol is well masked in this awesome beer.
M: As to be expected. Low carbonation, medium body.
D: For a high ABV beer, this is very drinkable.

I will gladly search this beer out. I didn't think that I would like this one. I don't like it....I LOVE IT.

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Photo of steelcutoats
4.92/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

GONZO Imperial Porter

I can now honestly say I have a beer that I will fight for. Over the last few months I have been having one or two on a whim, and then about two weeks ago it suddenly hit me...this may just be one of the greatest beers ever brewed. I would be willing to rank it up there with Chimay Grande Reserve or Gulden Draak. A nicely chilled 12 oz. bottle went into my Riedel snifter which is the old standard bearer for all my reviews. The head was about a half inch thick, almost as smooth as chocolate frosting. The color was jet black, allowing no light to breach its darkness. The aroma was full of dark roasted malts and sweet dark fruits. The taste wasn't as strong as an imperial stout, but very well defined and rich. There was a good bit of sweetness, from the malts and what I'm guessing would be honey because molasses would be too heavy. I even see on the back where it's got a vintage date of 2008...I would love to age a few bottles and see how well it ages.

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Photo of ultralarry2006
4.9/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle. Leaves a one finger espresso-foam-colored head that eventually recedes to surface skim, and there is a small amount of lacing. Body is black.

Smell - very rich and smoky, with pine-wood-fire smoked malt, like lapsang suchong tea, and coffee, chocolate, and hints of dark fruits like dates, and raisins, and strong pine resin from the hops.

Taste - as promised by the smell. Very rich, smoky, and hearty. All the things listed in the smell. A hint of lemon on the finish. Very rich smoked malt with dry, bitter, pine-resiny hops underpinning it. But, despite the high hopping of this ale, it is mostly a dark-and-roasted malt affair, the hops almost, but just not quite, being for counterpoint and dryness. It resembles an Irish Dry Stout at times, if only bigger, as well as smokier. Well hidden alcohol, in both smell and taste.

Mouthfeel - very thick, very full bodied, very smooth, and quite dry.

Drinkability - this is excellent ale. It's very rich, very hearty, and very satisfying. Only the high abv limits sessionability, but this is good enough to tempt one to push it.

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Photo of pmcadamis
4.88/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I tried this at a new joint in Galena called 111 on Main.

A - Pitch black and thick as hell. This looks like liquid midnight. I've seen more light pass through the muck from the LaBrea tar pits! The head is a massive four fingers, and tons of lace is left clinging to dear life on the glass before slowly sliding back into the madness below.

S - Hoppy and burnt at the same time. This is like the blackest espresso sniffed simultaneously with a big bunch of hop buds. Nice!

T - Espresso beans, vanilla creme, dank "marijuana-esque" hops, and dark chocolate sans the sugar....like a brick of bakers cocoa. Good, good stuff. I could live on this.

M - The very definition of full bodied and muscular. This is never flabby or sugary, but it's big like Aaron Nevil is big. Muscular, black, dangerous, and a little bit sweet. Everybody plays the fool....sometimes.

D - Out-friggin-standing! This is one of the better beers in existence IMO. I'm a huge fan of anything "imperial" or "double" and this is just about the best widely available Baltic Porter out there...it still doesn't trump Okocim though.

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Photo of Brad007
4.88/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Color: Pitch black with a thick, frothy brown head and decent lacing.

Aroma: Strong and hoppy on the nose with a decent whiff of cocoa and coffee.

Taste: Hoppy with a very nice mixture of cocoa and coffee flavors. Creamy. Smooth. There's also a nice amount of caramel in the flavor.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy. Hops, chocolate and coffee linger.

Drinkability: Starts out hoppy but mellows in flavors. Very much worth the price and I have 3 more to drink.

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Photo of TheStig
4.85/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a chilled bottle into a glass, this brings new meaning to the word "opaque." I could only notice the dark brown color due to the first tiny amount of beer in the glass-- the rest was swallowed up by an inky void that seemed to suck in all of the light. I'm not joking, either-- I've held an LED flashlight up to the glass and no light penetrated this brew. Wow. A powerful, mocha-colored, four-finger head boiled out of the roiling beer and has only now (five minutes) just dissipated.

As it warms, the first scent notes to emerge are gently acrid hints of roasted grains, maybe even coffee. The smell is just as deep and solid as the color. There are no overriding scents for this beer when it's served cold, which seems right to me.

The overriding tastes are well balanced between sweetness and roasted toastiness, with neither overwhelming the other but instead working together to provide a complex taste. Molasses, coffee and the overwhelming sensation that the beer itself has been smoked or grilled. Hell, if anyone would or could grill beer, HST would have been the guy to do it.

What most struck me was just how smooth this beer is. Smoother thank silk. Smoother than Hubert Humphrey on Ibogaine. The sensation in your mouth isn't so much that you've got a sizable amount of an alcoholic beverage between your teeth, but that thousands of silkworms are desperately spinning and weaving the texture of this beverage as you're drinking it. Pure. Smooth. Delicious.

This is a frighteningly easy beer to drink. the taste is top notch, it feels amazing in your mouth and all of these combine to aid in your ability to quaff these in short order-- and not take the time to savor and enjoy them. Perfect for those days when you're on the edge of the desert and the sky is filled with huge swooping Manta Rays, and the only thing that can cross your lips is the desperate plea to your 300 pound Samoan driver: We can't stop here! This is Bat Country!

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Photo of scoot1979
4.85/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

this is one of the best porter i have had Hunter S. Thompson would be pound i imagine and the art word on it is crazy .the color is deep black with faomy brown head be careful when you pour it the head take over the glass and it retains it head for a long time. the mouthful is thick and it finishes clean .i bought two four packs and all i have left is one single beer im saving it and it is killing my not to drink it great beer from flying dog

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Photo of irishevans
4.85/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

what a fantastic beer. I am a huge Hunter Thompson fan so when flying dog put out this tribute to the father of gonzo journalism i had to try it. i found that despite a less than perfect appearance(as a matter of fact i predicted that it would taste watery). smooth as hell i was shocked. it dose go down FAR too easy for 9.2, by the time i realized what hit me I was finished with the 4 pack, and drunk. now a year later i am drinking an 06 vintage, cellared it just for the hell of it, and it has aged beautifully, check this one out, and remember "good people drink good beer"

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Photo of astrasday
4.85/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured this sucker from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Black as can be with a tan head and no lacing.

Smell of coffee, chocolate, cherries, nuts, vanilla, molasses, wood and a touch of alcohol.

Taste. Mmm mmm. Dark chocolate, cherries and vanilla start off this harmonious taste. Coffee, wood and a nice bite from some hops kick in next. Vanilla and molasses round it off.

The mouthfeel is fullbodied, creamy and smooth.

A highly drinkable beer. This is one of my favorites. Oh, how I love it so.

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Photo of snipedthetender
4.85/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer was amazing. I bought the Canis Major four pack. All of the beers in it were delicious, but this one stood out. It was by far one of the best Porters I've ever had. Also the artwork on the bottle is amazing. Flying Dog set a new standard for bottle art by hiring Ralph Steadman .

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Photo of SargeC
4.84/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2006 Vintage

Appearance: Deep black with a thick, oily tan head.

Smell: Very rich aroma. Molasses, chocolate, caramel and coffee with a touch of hops.

Taste: Hearty malt with a nice finishing hop bite. Hints of tobacco, chocolate, coffee and an underlying smoky sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Thick, rich and smooth. The oily and syrupy qualities in this brew make it extremely satisfying.

Drinkability: Very tasty full-bodied porter. This brew has really improved with age. Barrages the senses like the opening paragraphs of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. A fitting tribute to a legend.

Res Ipsa Loquitur

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Photo of clint1019
4.83/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance-It is pitch black in color with a wonderfully thick chocolaty head.

Smell-Has a rich roasted malt aroma, almost coffeelike.

Taste-Has a very rich roasted malt flavor with some woody/oaky tones. Also, has a nice hop bitterness aftertaste.

Mouthfeel-Full bodied.

Overall-This is a great beer. Has a great roasty flavor and aroma. I can see myself drinking more of these in the winter months.

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Photo of bum732
4.82/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an absolute jet black, nice tan head leaving great lacing. Smells of roasted coffee, smoky earthiness, faint chocolate and a tad of dark fruit. Extremely bold aroma, wow! Tastes up front with a bittersweet chocolate and dark fruit taste that yields into a very flavorful mellow coffee taste finally finishing with a touch of chocolate and dryness. Very bold flavors but at the same time, nicely balanced. Great creamy feel in the mouth, carbonation made it feel like a stout.

An absolute wonderful beer, not sure if this is really a porter or stout. Huge flavors of roasted coffee, chocolate with just a little dark fruit to cut through it. The flavors and aroma in this beer are the best of any "porter" i've ever had. An incredible brew.

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Photo of fretlessman71
4.82/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pertinent Preliminary Comments: Gonzo is brewed (and named) for the late Hunter S. Thompson who took his own life in the year 2005 in the mountains of Colorado. This beer came out that summer; I had a bottle and could barely finish it, the hops were so green. I kept wanting to go to the mirror and pick the flowers out of my teeth! So I decided to cellar what I had left and give it some time. Let’s see how things have changed…

APPEARANCE: BLACK. Oh boy is this black. Dense tan head, not as high as I expected, great lacing.

AROMA: Hops and dates and malt and large quantities of each. Fantastic!

FLAVOR: Hooray! A big porter with hop flavor! What a great idea! Tastes just like it smells, other than the fact that you can sense the alcohol more on the palate. 8 months ago the hops were just a bit much; now they’re PERFECT. Good roasted character to the malt; smoooth and clean. Molasses and caramel notes as well, some espresso too. This big boy just needed some time – wow!

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-plus weight; great carbonation. Good oily feel.

DRINKABILITY: More than one of these would be a waste, although it might pay an appropriate tribute to its namesake… 9.5% ABV is just a little high to have more than one – but this goes down so easy that one just might. (Hunter probably would!)

OVERALL COMMENTS: BOY, am I glad I waited to open this bottle. What a difference! If you can still find a bottle of this, now is the time. Great balance, great flavors, nothing off about this at all. Maybe they’ll do this again, eh?

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Photo of ppoitras
4.82/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle purchased as a single somewhere in NoVA, either WF/Vienna, WF/Annadale, Norm's, or Rick's.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed 3/4" of dark tan head above the opaque dark brown/black. Head fades slowly, but remains substantial, and lacing is very nice for the style. Aroma assaults you with fields of grassy, piney hops amongst burnt yet sweet grain, all drowning in a pool of somewhat obscured alcohol. Taste starts with sweet chocolate upfront, hits its hops groove in the middle, and smoooths again with more dark malts at the close. Alcohol is felt more than tasted. Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth (as previously noted), and drinkability is excellent for the style. This one's a hit: Has all the ingredients to hit the style, yet still finds a way to be deliciously different.

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Photo of alpinebryant
4.82/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 9.6% abv 12 oz bottle
Appearance - Nice and dark. Has a slightly thick colored head.

Smell - Smoky aroma of sweet chocolate , fruity aroma in background of maltiness, smells delicious

Taste - Taste quickly made me a believer that there have to be great porters out there that I have never been aware of. Slightly heavy malt taste, possibly could be from sitting on the shelf for too long, but great nonetheless

Mouthfeel - Nice and thick, but not too thick that you think you are drinking a Guiness or a stout. Gentle on taste, but complex with smoke and coffee hints

Overall opinion.... I believe I have a favorite Porter on my list now, and I wasnt sure that I liked porters before drinking this beer. Ill have another please

Since the alcohol has been lowered to 7.8% abv, I thought I would add that I could not taste any major differences in the beer other than it all around seemed sweeter than the 9.8 abv that I had tasted before. The difference in taste could have to do entirely with how old the 9.8% abv had been. I still love the beer after losing 2% abv.

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Photo of ConanSachler
4.82/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2011 vintage. Poured smooth with a perfect head. Vanilla notes with a toasty finish. All of the booze notes have completely vanished. Time has done this beer well.

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Photo of Drew966
4.8/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours from a twelve ounce bottle an opaque black with a thick brown head. You can smell the roasted malts and the taste is magnificent, you really get the coffee type taste from the roasted malt. I think this is really an exceptional beer, I'm going to try to get my hands on the 750ml corked bottle. This beer has a creamy taste and is really among some of the best beers in the porter or stout category that I have tried (and I've tried quite a few). Highly recommended, worth seeking out.

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Photo of Floydster
4.8/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

32 ounce mug at Bad Dog Ale House

Almost jet black color with a thick, dark brown head

Beer of choice at this bar and the reason why many people keep going back to the place

I have heard it is not as good from a bottle, but is arguably one of the best draft beers I have head

Strong chocolate and coffee taste

Almost looks like a milkshake it is so thick

These catch up to you fast though, so be careful when drinking this bad boy

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Photo of arboristfish
4.8/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer pours a thick black color. Holding it against a light, I dont see any amber color to it at all, there is no light that shines through. The head is tan almost brown. The aroma smells of citrus hops and a hint of roasted malts. The taste is a full roasted malt flavor. There is a good balance between roasted malts and the hops. The mouthfeel is heavy, and yet it is a very drinkable beer!

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Photo of rwf08
4.79/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into my favorite snifter.

A: Dark as night. Held up to light nothing passes through. Little to no head and no lacing.

S: Roasty with molasses and mildly acidic.

T: Roasty and sweet, acidic taste, drys the tongue. Still the roastyness lingers and I love it. Odd, a sip ago I was turned off, a sip now and I love this. Amazing!

M: Medium body with a low viscosity. Dry finish. Carbonation is medium I'd say.

D: This is not a session beer. It is a slow sipper. This style was brewed to be sent over seas and survive being around English people. This beer is more of a man than I am. But I would have to say high drinkability because it seems true to style so I shouldn't be sessionable.

Overall I am once again impressed by Flying Dog. I've only had beers from the Canis Major series but they've all been good. I'd pair this with vanilla ice cream topped with aged balsamic vinegar.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.78/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

poured at 55degress into a Guiness Nonic
A - An inky shade w/ medium brown head that cascades from halfway down the glass up to about 2 finger height. Leaves a great deal of lacing and reduces to 1.5 finger head.

S - Piney hoppiness and malty chocolate dominate with minimal vanilla character and slighty rum like odors.

M - a definite blessing to hold in the mouth-the longer the better. I experienced a prickly charred and chocolate bitterness followed by a gentle hop bite for good measure.

T - A sweet vanilla caramel taste immediately gets knocked down by a French roast smokiness and black malt essence with a coffee accent. Lovely piney, woody hop backing is enjoyed next. Creaminess is less pronounced in draft version and hoppy bitterness also seems amplified giving more balance than the bottled version. A great flavor undulates in magnificent ways. Magikal in darkest liquid sweetness-either draft or bottled is luxurious, but draft has a sweeter fuller feel with more hops
So Lively!

D - Loved it even more in the growler. Drink this and feel massively euphoric.

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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
4.02 out of 5 based on 2,901 ratings.
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