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: 1,467 | Ratings: 2,897
Photo of Mitchster
1.85/5  rDev -54%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

$2.70 for a 12oz bottle @ Jacks. Brewed with G.W. 120L Crystal, Chocolate, Black patent malts. Hopped with Warrior, Northern Brewer, Cascade. 9.2% ABV per the website, but this bottle says 7.8%. 85 IBU's, OG=22 p.

Pours out to a clear deep black, forming a good sized very dark brown head with poor retention and good lacing. Moderately carbonated. No sediment in bottle. The aroma is a mix of dark fruits like raisins, prunes, burnt marshmallow, black molasses, dark bitter chocolate, and copious green piney hops. The mouthfeel is harsh with a dense body. The taste....hrmmm....peculiar. It opens with a funky soapy, almost fish-like taste then is replaced by the dark fruits for just a flash before being replaced by burnt marshmallows, charcoal, and ash. Big wave of fusels in the middle. Heavily burnt, then followed by very aggressive green grass in the finish.

Eeeech. Man, I did not like this beer one bit...I'll go so far as to say it's probably the worst beer I've had in the last year. Fish, charcoal, obnoxious fusels, grass, soap....ugh. A total disaster of a beer. I'm gonna have to pour this one down the drain. Not recommended at all.

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Photo of charlzm
1.87/5  rDev -53.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

consumed at 3rd Stop Los Angeles, 03/13/08.

Good looking dark brown pour with a thin, fast-disappearing brown head.

Aroma is way off, with lacquer notes competing with glue or plastic. Some dark roasted maltiness did peek through, however.

Flavor is much like the aroma: weird and unpleasing solvent flavor is the dominant note, drowning out the dark roasted malts and the accompanying bitterness. Some coffee and/or mocha flavor in there, too, but I'll never be totally sure. I sent this pint back as it was undrinkable.

The mouthfeel was a little creamy, at least...

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Photo of Jesse13713
2/5  rDev -50.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Appearance - A fairly black porter with slight hints of purple. A slight purple hue to it. No lacing capabilities whatsoever.

Smell - Strong hints of coffee. A slighty toasted malt smell with oats in the background. Smells more like a stout than a porter.

Taste - Tastes like a very toned down stout as opposed to a porter. Watery with a quiet coffee zing. This was VERY disappointing. Very watered down.

Mouthfeel / Drinkability - A very silky smooth taste. Goes down easy. Sort of an unpleasant taste, however. I'm glad I got this on tap rather than buying it bottled. I was very, very disappointed with this beer.

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Photo of kstoltz
2.16/5  rDev -46.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured into a pint glass, little to no head, a nice dark brown with a noticeable coffee aroma. Taste was decent to start, tended to be fairly watery in terms of feel, not too heavy on the coffee, but about mid-way through the alcohol kicked in, and not in a pleasant way. This was more of an Everclear taste that got in the way of the positives. This could've been a bad batch, but I was very put off by this.

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Photo of ADR
2.17/5  rDev -46%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Thick black pour out of the bottle, generates a nice creamy brown head that leaves attractive dense lacing. Aroma of prunes and nutmeg, odd hops that remind me distinctly of milkweed of all things. The mouthfeel is thinner than an Imperial Stout and many ordinary Porters -- with higher than average carbonation. What a weird flavor, the aroma impression is all over the tastebuds, bitter weeds and stale coffee grounds, I assume from an over hopping gone wrong (for me, at least). Not very coating in body either. Chalky, astringent and overly sharp at the swallow. Plenty of alcohol. Maybe an "Imperial" Porter (whatever the hell that means) in alcohol and rampant nasty bitterness, a mess of a Baltic or Robust Porter. Thin, overcarbonated, green, weedy -- maybe this might age OK, but as is, I am NOT a fan of this one. Cartoon of a beer, IMO, close to a disaster. If this beer didn't look good, it would be a total loser and its amazing how people "follow the leader" in praising this bilge -- in my opinion, of course, LOL.

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Photo of GrizzleFist
2.21/5  rDev -45%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.25

Bought a bottled 6-Pack from the local Beer store.

Appearance: Very black, very little carbonation. Slight foam on top, dissipated after a minute or so.

Smell: Popped open the cap, smell of something fruity the first two minutes and then it went away, with only the malt and hop smell remaining.

Taste: Overall a medium bitter taste with a very slight sweetness that hits the back of your tongue for just a moment. Once swallowed the bitter taste will last for a few seconds.

Mouthfeel: On the thick side, couldn't feel much carbonation on the tongue.

Overall: For a porter it is nothing special. The taste isn't horrible but its just so.. meh that I really don't care to even taste it again. I still have some left as I'm typing this review and heavily debating if I even want to drink the rest. I had high expectations after reading the bottle and Flying Dogs claiming they put their heart and soul into this beer. If this is all they have to offer, I'd suggest they just shut down their brewery right now.

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Photo of necoadam
2.29/5  rDev -43%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Interesting artwork. Poured out a dark black color with a tannish head. Looked good so far, but onto the smell. Smell was mostly boozy at first, with some hoppy tones. Where's the roasted malts or the coffee aromas? This seems to be headed down hill very quickly. Taste wasn't any better. Grainy and a load of hops start out and end the same way. How about having a ton of roasted malts and coffee beans with an underlying of piney hops? That would seem to make more sense. Finished a little oily as well. Mouthfeel was overcarbonated and finished with hardly no taste. Almost seltzer like aftertaste. This one was really off the mark. I understand thinking outside the box, but they were nowhere close to the box on this one. Sorry, but this is a dud.

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Photo of pentathlete
2.29/5  rDev -43%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Purply dark chocolate color with a small tan head. Moderately carbonated. Smell is green oily hops, very raw pine odor. A bit too "cleanser" smelling. Taste is rough, raw piney hops again, not very enjoyable. Mouthfeel is ok, the finish is too long for the harsh tastes. I don't find this one very drinkable at all.

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Photo of PEBKAC
2.37/5  rDev -41%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

The label art sets too high a plateau for the beer, but you might as well open up the bottle before it gets too warm.

Greasy tar; very fluid for the style. A tiny brown head develops about 20 seconds after the pour is done. Black as asphalt, & just as noxious. Penetrating coffee grounds & pungent hops, a bit of a cigar stench; fumy alcohol. My head hurts.

Invigorating carbonation, & a thin body. Hops are in everything. This is a dirty IPA with too much missing, too much of what you don't want. Burnt compost, & stale jerky; just lovely. :(

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Photo of Kaingers
2.39/5  rDev -40.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Unbalanced, harsh and extremely hard to drink. Bitterness dominates the palate and makes for a rough ride. It literally took me 50 minutes to finish. Thankfully I only purchased a single. Smuttynose has a much better example of a imperial porter, spend your money elsewhere and thank me later.

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Photo of JWFokker
2.41/5  rDev -40%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Served from a bottle into a beer stein, it's a solid, rather average looking beer, with about a half an inch of medium brown head. Lacing is nice, nothing out of the ordinary. It has an odd nose to it that's not necessarily pleasant and not representative of the flavor of the beer, which was disappointing. I'm not tasting coffee like some drinkers are. In fact, it doesn't have that much flavor on the palate, but a lot of hoppy flavor on the aftertaste which I don't like. It's a smooth beer, the mouthfeel is pretty good though nothing out of the ordinary for a reasonable quality beer. It looks and feels like it should be a good beer, but the lack of flavor and sour aftertaste are not what I'm looking for in a beer.

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Photo of danreitz
2.51/5  rDev -37.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Served from a bottle at my friend's place during a session that also involved The Kraken rum. It pours deep, beautiful opaque nearly-black brown. Hoppy, faint aroma that does not give away what is in store for your tongue. Taste is all over the place: aggressive and bitter, with several flavors competing for your attention including burnt iron, cleaning supplies, dirt and liquorice. The predominant flavor is alcohol. Finishes with a bitter, lingering alcoholic aftertaste.

A very memorable beer. Aggressive to a fault. This beer lets you know you're drinking it the entire time you're drinking it and haunts your dreams once you pass out. I notice most of the reviews talk about this like it's an easy drinking beer. This was not an easy drinking beer. This was a nightmare. Did I get a bad bottle?

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Photo of CaptJackHarkness
2.51/5  rDev -37.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

I was hoping to like this, anything with a cowboy skull on the label and a Thompson Hunter quote should be good, right?
The main problem with this beer is the bitter lingering aftertaste! The color is nicely dark, the aroma not overpowering; but as usual: it all comes down to taste!

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Photo of klewis
2.57/5  rDev -36.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle - "Vintage 06A"

A: Pours dark brown with a big tan head that erupted late into the pour. Lots of thick lacing and a head retention.

S: Nice chocolately aromas, but a strong alcoholic/kerosene smell prevents me from wanting to smell this stuff too much.

T: Earthy and tannic with flavors of black coffee, oak, and alcohol. The flavor departs quickly, leaving a harsh astringent taste in the mouth.

M: Fairly light-bodied for a beer of its ABV. There is barely any carbonation in this beer, giving it a flat texture.

D: I was really looking foward to this one, but after a few sips am not impressed. Its biggest issue seems to be that the alcohol is not balanced with the other ingredients. Perhaps worth a try, but I won't be drinking this one again.

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Photo of AboutBeverages
2.61/5  rDev -35.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Strong herbal hop aroma, with slight underlying malty sweetness. This beer has a thin body, and is slightly sweet and smoky, with no hop notes. Overall very plain and just not a good balance of flavors that usually can be found in this style of beer.

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Photo of buschbeer
2.62/5  rDev -34.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle

A - Served in pint glass. I'm gonna call this one black with a three inch cocoa head.

S - Grapefruit. Faint hints of roasted malt.

T - Grapefruit again. I'm really trying to get some roasted malt, and it's hard to find.

M - The mouthfeel is great. Thick and viscous.

D - I actually went back and read some other reviews after I started to see if I was crazy. A couple others seem to have found this beer hoppy as well. I'm not sure what's going on here but it doesn't taste or smell like a porter, way too hoppy. The alcohol is very well hidden though.

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Photo of prototypic
2.64/5  rDev -34.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: One finger creamy, chocolate head. Beer is dark brown. Very thick looking. I'm impressed with the look.

Smell: First off, I can immediately pick up the licorice smell, which I am not a fan of at all. Coffee beans and mild chocolate smells are present. I'm also picking up a hint of a dark fruit smell, perhaps plums (?).

Taste: Again, the licorice taste is the first thing I notice. I have a strong disliking for that, so it pretty much killed this one for me. There's a bit of a coffee taste in there as well. But, the licorice is what hit first and it stuck around.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: For a 9+% ABV beer, you really can't tell. The alcohol does not overwhelm like I thought it might. It goes down easy enough. But, this is a tough beer for me. Overall, I really do not care for it and do not think I'd recommend it. Perhaps it's just a style preference.

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Photo of sweetbrew82
2.7/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. into a pint glass/ no freshness date

P: Jet black with a chocolatey brown head that was thick and creamy with some froth on top initially, but showed poor retention as it disappeared quickly to a thin collar on top. Not much lacing, either. I was expecting much better out of this one, to say the least.

A: Roasted malts, cocoa powder, herbal hops, vanilla, and dark fruits are all in the mix here, but there is a little bit of a strange plastic smell, too. It's not nearly as powerful or bold as even some regular porters I've come across. You kind of have to dig for the aromas in here.

T: The dark, roasted malts remind me of barley and lots of crystal as they deposit some cocoa powder notes on the tongue. But right away I am overwhelmed by a really weird artificial sweetener type of flavor that reminds me of those nasty-ass chocolate flavored energy bars that my wife used to buy. In other words, it tastes powdery and fake with that same plastic-type of flavor as well. There is a little coffee to be found while the vanilla and dark fruits (figs, dates) come to the front. Hops impart a little bitterness to try and offset the sweetness, but to no avail. Sweets win out by a long shot. Booze is well-hidden, but definitely there.

M: Full-bodied with a rich, glassy smooth yet almost oily feel that saturates the tongue and aides in leaving a weird aftertaste (from that plastic?) for quite awhile.

Notes: I am not very impressed by this beer for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, that artificially sweetened taste combines with the plastic and proves to be way too much for me to handle, even with only a 12 oz. bottle. Second, there is not much complexity or power to be found here. Flavors are quite subtle and it lacks the depth and complexity that an Imperial Porter should have. The mouthfeel ends up being too heavy and cloying from all of the sweets, and it leaves a really weird diet soda-like aftertaste. Not sure if I got a bad bottle or what, but this wasn't anything close to what I was expecting out of an Imperial Porter.

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Photo of JBStith
2.7/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial (Baltic) Porter was not very impressive.

A: Pours jets black with an overwhelming head...a suds bomb. I had a difficult time getting a 12 oz bottle in a 16 oz glass. Thick, tan head with great retention.

S: A definite metallic smell. I detect a bit of sweet malt, but I can't get past the smell of pennies (yes, the currency).

T: Same a smell. An overwhleming metallic taste. No need to go any deeper, though all the requisite porter flavors are there. Finished with heavy fusel alcohol.

M&D: Heavy and thick. Not very drinkable due to flavor and heaviness. I might give this a try again if I find it on tap, but I won't be buying it again in bottle, especially not for the price. Just not a good porter of any genre.

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Photo of Bighuge
2.71/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Black beer. Fluffy brown head. Decent size to it. Lace is quite nice. Wet cardboard, black malts, chocolate, oxidation. There's some good and some bad on with this aroma. On the buds, I first notice some oily hop tones...then a little alcohol...then some porter qualities. Not necessarily in the order I'd like to see them here either. There's also some of that wet cardboard/oxidation thing going on that detracts from the flavor. Mouthfeel is medicinal and bitter. Body about medium. Subpar for an Imperial Porter if you ask me. A wasted $3. For the Single.

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Photo of Cresant
2.73/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured this 12 oz. brown bottle into a Samuel Smith tulip glass. "Vintage 06F" was printed on the bottle. The body was a very dark brown/purple. Rather large chunks of sediment slowly dropped. The tan head was minimal but it left freckles of lace.

Smell was spicy cinnamon. Light breadiness and rubbing alcohol, later.

Taste was Syrupy chocolate malts. Band-aids. Hops flavors rise through the sweetness. Woodiness, like chewing on a popsicle stick. Multi-layered and rather complex but not phenomenal tasting. There is a weird combination of flavors here.

Mouthfeel was medium to thin. The beer leaves a sweet coating on the lips.

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Photo of jp62099
2.74/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

It has been about a year since I first tried this beer. I didn't really care for it then, but I decided that my palate just needed some breaking in to these big beers. I decided to give it another shot, my feelings are unfortunately almost the same.
The appearance is nice, black with chocolatey head. The smell is earthy (kind word for dirt like), there are some roasted notes here, but it's like smelling them through musty clothes. The taste is all over the place, starts out ok then slams you with bitterness. I found the fusel alc. to much to take.
I want to like his beer because it is so readily available and has a reasonable price compared to others like it, but I think that is it for me.

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Photo of thegodfather2701
2.74/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I had this on tap at the Mellow Mushroom. It was poured with no head. This beer smelled like coconut and alcohol, very weird. It tasted similar to the smell. It did not taste like any other porter I have ever had. It was somewhat sweet and kind of hoppy. The only thing I can compare the taste to would be Baily's Irish Cream, except not as good. It felt syrupy in my mouth. I was really excited about trying this beer and it was a total let down. The smell and taste of this beer was odd, not what I was expecting.

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Photo of TheGarvenator
2.74/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A - A dark stout like color and pours thick with a lasting head.

S - smells malty with a small sweet scent...smells like most of Flying Dog's beers...

T - very thick and extremely malty

M - strong and bitter

D - extremely bitter and filling....i would probably only be able to drink a couple before feeling full.

Im not a porter guy and this was my first one so I can really say it does porters justice...Its very bitter and reminds me of a stout being so dark and filling. I might buy this particular one again but only time will tell or if I find a better tasting porter.

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Photo of alaimoa
2.75/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.25

Overall unimpressed with the smell, taste, depth of flavor and wouldn't buy again. Disappointed by the tangy alcohol in the back end of the sip and has a bit of a one dimensional feel to it

Poured black with not much head and a bit of spotty lace but nothing special
Smells of a salty and somewhat metallic alcohol
Taste a bit one dimensional hints of roasted coffee and malt but mostly a strange alcohol aggressiveness but not hot

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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
4.02 out of 5 based on 2,897 ratings.
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