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Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

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1,464 Reviews
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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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 1,464 | Ratings: 2,871
Photo of Ahhdball
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Maroon to black color topped with a slight beige head disappearing quickly. Some sticky residue left a nice oil slick.

Baking chocolate with slight espresso coffee and roasted nuts.

Slick caramel and burnt toffee, dark bittersweet chocolate flavors with a dry hop finish. Sweet yet slightly bitter, very good. The extra abv is well hidden.

Chewy, slick and a vanishing finish make this a very good beer and close to the best porters I've ever had. I am very suprised by Flying Dog. Although I'm never disappointed with their brew I rarely think it this good. Kudos!

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Photo of jpwild240
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A huge fan of Hunter S., AND Flying Dog, I felt compulsed to purchase a 4 pack.
The tall bottle pours lightly into the pint glass, although the red and maroon beer pours thickly into my tilted pint, the aroma of a young wort fills my nostrils. The hops are present, like a healthy stout.
I take a sip. The porter holds to its own. It truely is a porter and not a stout. Oak tennants are present in the beer. It seems to have just a little carbonation, but it could be my poor pour. It seems to have a very present yeasty presence. Unexpected but welcome. It truely embraces the homebrewer. I taste rasins and a full and roasted malt. The lacing down the sides shows me I'm getting an excellent brew.
I'm surprised how YOUNG this beer tastes and smells. It really seems like it could be held in the bottle for at least a couple months and only improve. There seems to be a good bit of sweetness left in the bottle, but most of the yeast seem gone.
But one should respect the hop presence in a very malty beer.
As I get half-way down the pint, I begin to note the heafty alcoholic presence. Kudos, Hunter.

Hunter S. Thompson's quote is left at the bottle and I think it sums up the BeerAdvocate quite nicely:
"Good people drink good beer."

This truely is a good beer, and Thompson truely was a good man.
Not in the traditional sense, but then again, most beer "we" drink isn't considered "good beer" in the traditional sense.

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Photo of blitz134
3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pitch black. Initially had a 1 finger dark chocolate head, that reduced down a only a single bubble thick layer. Not much else, no lacing.

Fairly complex aroma. Semisweet chocolate with toffee and some coffee flavors. Dark fruits come through and present an overall sweet aroma. A bit of alcohol as well, but not overwhelming and certianly doesn't detract from the aroma.

Taste is roasted coffee and dark chocolate. Again sweet dark fruits add a subtleness to the flavor. Definately some alcohol notes come through. The alcohol presents itself with a bit of a burn and its flavor really lingers. Overall a good flavor but this hurts the drinkability aspect of this beer in my opinion.

Mouthfeel is medium or so. Nothing outstanding, but fits the style well. As mentioned above the alcohol flavors hurt the drinkability a bit. Still a tasty beer though.

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Photo of HopHeadKen
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I am always looking for big beers and am glad I found this one. Offered in a four pack of 12 oz bottles, I took that as a hint that this would be in the Imperial Stout / Barleywine Class and was not dissapointed.

Pour is Dark Brown Black with Amber hints around the edge of the glass, the head is Light brown/Tan with medium sized bubbles that fall quickly into a thin lace, then nothing but an edge ring.

Smell is malty caramel with hints of hop in the background.

Taste is sweet, big malt and hops.

I often remark how Porters are supposed to be a blend of Pale Ale (or IPA and Stout; this seems to be a blend of I2pa and Double Stout.
Big American Hop Profile behind a sizeable malt bill.

I had never considered an 'Imperial Porter' but. . .why not ?

Mouthfeel is full & rich; aftertaste of hops on my tongue for 20 minutes was a bonus in my book !

Gordon at my local 'beer store' informed me about this as soon as he got it in to the back room. so it was fresh, not something that had been sitting around for a while (not that that is bad for Imperial Anything).

Drinkable. As a big beer drinker, I would take this anytime !

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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 RedwoodGeorge
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The other tribute ale to the originator and standard bearer of gonzo journalism (not to mention an overall damn fine writer) this one appropriately sports Ralph Steadman artwork on the bottle (as do all Flying Dog brews)

The porter is a nice deep brown, black in the center but mahogany red at the edges. An agressive pour yields a thick tan head which falls flat rather quickly but leaves tons of debris on the inside of the glass.

The nose is all malty goodness and alcohol. A bit one dimensional but the taste makes up for that. The flavor is primarily malty goodness with a strong caramel and treacle note dominating over the coffee and chocolate notes. A respectably bitter finish that doesn't really compliment the roasted grain notes. While the first half of the glass is rather chocolately and creamy the second half is sweet and pruney.

Mouthfeel is good but not outstanding - creamy on the tongue but the hops leave a bitter instead of dry aftertaste. True to the style there's a bit of an oily residue left on the palate. A bit much alcohol burn but what can you do with 9.5%?

Overall good, tasty, enjoyable... A good pairing with a heavier meal or a creamy desert.

[thanks to Zorro for this brew - I love Ralph Steadman's artwork!]

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Photo of Sixpoint
3.77/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this one on-tap at Barcade.

Awesome aroma! Pine, citrus, classic American. Really fresh.

Appearance of a (not quite) opaque rich Porter. Slight beige khaki style just got some new chinos from the Gap type head. 1.5" of foam that left a light lingering.

Taste of roasted nuttiness, caramel, and a rich toffee. Blast emerges to a dark slight charcoal flavor. REALLY distinct ester profile. Is this because the alcohol percent is higher, or is it an entire different yeast strain altogether?

Medium to full mouthfeel. Not exactly silky, more of a velvety feel.

All in all, probably the best Flying Dog beer I've had to date.

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Photo of Gritsak
3.94/5  rDev -2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- deep black with a giant tan head. retention is awsome and it laces down the entire glass.

S- roasted malt, chocolate, toffee...and something else i cant put my finger on.

T- burnt coffee, mollassas, smoke, malt, strong earthy flavor

M- thick body with no carbonation. one of the most silky smooth beers ive had.

D- although this is a pretty big, robust flavored beer..for what it is its quite drinkable.

overall- finally found a place that would sell this in singles so i picked one up. i was half expecting this to taste like a stout but it really does keep true to a porter in flavor. there is a weird smell and flavor that im detecting, but cant figure out what it is. it is a nice beer though and worth seeking out, especially if you are a fan of porters.

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Photo of PopeJonPaul
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours jet-brown (i.e. a really dark brown) in color with a very puffy caramel brown head and a somewhat hoppy dark chocolate alcohol smell. Pronounced citrus hop flavors balanced with chocolate-coffee vanilla creaminess and burned cocoa beans. Smooth creamy mouthfeel with a great tangy bitter coffee aftertaste. This is the best Flying Dog beer I've tasted by a long margin. Quite drinkable but the alcohol and bitterness will limit you to a couple. "Limited Run" my ass, they need to consider making this one year round, or at least maybe an annual brew. If not, then someone should toss the radio into their bathtub.

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Photo of sinistrsam
3.77/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Always being a fan of the late H.S. Thompson, I was eager to get right into this beer, seeing if it did the founder of “gonzo” journalism justice. The beer poured thick and dark, almost completely opaque with a medium head, smelling of toffee and smoky roast. I had never smelled such a smoky aroma.
The taste was very strong, bitter with hoppiness and roasted malt, lots of alcohol and an even more present smoky taste, which I have to admit I wasn’t impressed with. Let me rephrase that; I personally don’t enjoy that kind of taste, but what I was impressed with was how the beer somehow did do justice to Thompson. It tasted bitter and burnt, smoky and almost dirty if that makes sense. Lots of flavor, lots going on. In that respect, I have to give Flying Dog props on how they crafted this one in his memory.
But, back to the beer itself. Mouthfeel was smoother than the flavor let on, but it wasn’t as drinkable as I had hoped. I have to mention that this could easily be mistaken for an Imperial Stout. Give it a try but beware some harsh yet exciting flavors.

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Photo of maddamish
3.36/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - This beer looks like chocolate malt when poured. This beer retains it head and is slow to disappear. Another thing I observed is that the sheer thickness of this beer. You cannot see through this thing even when held up to the light. This beer is very pleasing to the eye.

Smell: Strong toffee/Chocolate notes here. This beer does have a strong alcohol smell almost overwhelming.

Taste: Very bitter. So much so I was taken aback on my first sip. . You can really taste the alcohol in this beer and it kind of overwhelms the palate. Sweet chocolate malts.

Mouthfeel: Medium thickness that goes down a bit hard.

Drinkabilty: I could drink one of these before having to move to something else.

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Photo of markman
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter:

Black as pitch with a creamy brown head that took a bit of work to muster up…no matter. Diving in I find a burnt-coffee-bitter chocolate quality, with each trying to gain an upper hand rather than providing a seamless well integrated whole. Slightly acidic in nose and taste, and pretty damn drinkable…kind of grows on ya after a while. Long roasted finish, and definitely best enjoyed at cellar temperature.


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Photo of RoBotGod
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

One of my favorite beers inside and out. I was planning on drinking this beer when it came out just being a Hunter S. fan. I’m glad to see they followed through with a beer he may of liked. (even though he was into hard stuff) Very thick lace on the pour. Makes me wish I had it on tap. It has a dark cola look to it. I don’t know if I would call it black. Great coffee and tar taste to it. A small note of hops and just a little punch of alcohol. Nose was great as well. Very crisp earthy smell to it. This is one of my favorite styles and they follow through nicely. Very good beer.

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Photo of lackenhauser
4.67/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Deep, deep brown color-on the border of being black. No real noticeable head. Good,mellow and smooth roasted aroma. Big bold porter flavor. Nice blend of chocolate and roasted flavors. Silky smooth flavor-really has some great chocolate notes to it. Touch of raisony and caramel like flavors. Great body-again with the smoothness. An exceptionally enjoyable beer. A great tribute to Hunter S. Thompson and in my opinion the best Flying Dog beer going.

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Photo of UnionMade
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

First pour off a brand new keg. Yeah!
Opaque black. Thick, sand colored head, which drops out rapidly. Holds a thin collar throughout. Smells of coffee and cocoa beans, with a noticable american hop presence. Creamy and lightly fruity. Plum and apple. Some alcohol is present. Very smooth sipping. Big body, with a velvety mouthfeel. Chocolate and coffee everywhere. Espresso. Caramel sweetness, slight plum fruitiness. Fluffy carbonation. Piney, woody hops in the finish, dryish, with a soft kiss of alcohol. If i had to summarize the flavor in a sentence, it's like a fancy chocolate chip cookie, the kind with the big chunks of baker's chocolate and crushed walnuts. Very nice. Not as complex, at least on tap, as it should be for 9%, but still a good beer. I had a four pack in the fridge for comparison, but my girlfriend drank them all. Ha.

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Photo of RedHaze
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

courtesy of bditty187.

Pours black with dark brown around the edges, and has a thin dark tan head that fades slowly and leaves a small ring that never fades away. There's quite a bit of lacing.

Smells; roasted coffee, dark chocolate, plum/raisin and a litlle hops. This smells great.

Taste; the hops hit first, followed by the roasted coffee and chocolate, finishing with a dark fruit sweetness. It has a creamy, medium to full body, and I couldn't taste or smell any alcohol. I knew this was going to be pretty good, but I was still impressed. More please!

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Photo of brentk56
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a dark, dark brown color with a tan head that persists for quite a while and leaves plenty of lacing

Smell: The nose is citrus/piney with undertones of dark fruit and cocoa

Taste: Starts out a bit sweet, with rum soaked dark fruit; then the bitter hops kick in and provide a strong challenge; chocolate and coffee appear after the swallow; the finish is roasted and bitter with a good bit of alcohol

Mouthfeel: Thick and luscious; moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Nice for a nightcap; lots of flavor, but the opposite of Lay's (you can only drink one)

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Photo of UberWasser
3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz brown bottle, no freshness date, served in a Stein.

Pours like 20w-50. Thick and pitch black. You can’t see any light through it…I dare you to try. Carbonation seemed very low; the head took a while to develop and it was only a finger thick. It dissipated after a few sips, but a golden halo of foam sat around the edge of the glass throughout the entire drinking session. An imposing color, but that's about it.

Smell isn't bad, strong on the dark malts. A roasted molasses and/or coffee bitterness with very little sweetness to be found.

Very heavy on the dark malts. There is also a definite medicinal flavor involved. So it is slightly reminiscent of burnt coffee flavored throat syrup, but definitely better. It leaves a yeast aftertaste that lasts forever. Mouthfeel is like motor oil…thick. Just a touch of fizz.

Dark, strong, and says “Hey, you SOB, you’re not just going to ignore me while you drink. I’m gonna take over your mouth!” And it does. I liked it.

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Photo of FightingEntropy
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gonzo Imperial Porter swirls black with shades of brown on the crest and edges as the head forms. Short cream brown head that dissapates quickly. More porter than imperial, the chocolate and coffee taste is well balanced, the dry taste begs for another drink. Not a thirst quencher, but a beer to savor. Goes well with poetry and dark chocolate.

Go out of your way for it--worth the drive to the other side of town if your local store doesn't have it. Cheers.

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Photo of ommegangpbr
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased at New Beer Distributors on Chrystie Street.
Pours opaque with a deep tan head.
The only warning you really get about the alcohol content of this brew is in the odor...you can detect some there but most of your attention is absorbed by the chocolate and coffee notes.
The taste is even more chocolate and coffee. It starts you off with a bite of hop bitterness... a little of such bitterness can be found in the rubble of the mouthfeel but for the most part this is a smooth concoction.
Not quite what I was expecting as a tribute to Hunter S. Thompson, but an honorable tribute it is.
And a tasty brew.

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3.62/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Way huge monster head erupts atop this one after about 1/4 filled and all the rest is head. Blackish brown body with a bronze head that leaves lots of lace as it fades.

Nose is so strong and penetrating that it almost has a mouthfeel all its own. Very smokey rich maltiness is the them here.

The zesty rich malt enters the mouth with developing bitter sweet dark chocolate notes. The palate finishes of with a burnt roastiness. Almost develops some soured notes as it warms a bit. Alchol hides well. Good beer but definetly "Imperial".

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Photo of becktone
2.76/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Normally I really like porters, but this porter is not really my style. It looks amazing as it sits in my glass. This porter is pitch black, however it has close to no head. It almost looks like molassas as it comes out of the bottle but is not nearly as viscous as molasses.

This beer has a very unique smell and taste. I can't really describe what this smells like, but I'll tell you that my first thoughts were milk (a sweet smelling milk), and chocolate. I don't know if this means anything but those were the first thoughts that entered my brain. The beer has a very unique taste unlike anything I have ever tasted before.This beer is not bitter and I really can't taste the hops in this beer. All I can really say is this beer is really sweet. I wasn't a fan of the taste, it tastes too much like sugar or candy. When at first this entered my mouth I tasted slight bitterness but it was then followed by an overwhelming sweet flavor. Really not my style, but if you like that sort of thing this beer might be for you.

Feels about average in the mouth, not much to say about that. In my case it would probably go down easier if it wasn't so sweet tasting. I don't think that I'll be buying this beer again, I am just not into the candy like taste it leaves in my mouth.

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Photo of asabreed
4.37/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a few 4-packs of these beauties while I had the opportunity.

Appearance: Dark dark dark, of course, with a head that's surprisingly larger than I thought it would be. Lacing sticking nastily to the glass. Head dissipates fairly quickly, but you knew that was going to be the case with its thickness.

Smell: Lots of good stuff going on, burned and charred malt, chocolate, coffee / mocha, dark berries, and some hop oil at the end.

Taste: I heard this was totally like a malted milkshake, and that's not too far from what this tastes like. First a hint of hop bitterness, then it moves into a sharp malty / milky sweetness, then finishes slightly dry with some hop bitterness. Very original and very balanced. They took some chances, and they paid off. Seems like a perfect beer in Hunter's honor.

Mouthfeel: Velvety, medium to thick body, slightly oily slickness comes in also. Less than moderate carbonation, but it works very well here.

Drinkability: This sucker's like eating a piece of pie, in the delight it brings, the richness, and how long it takes to drink. The alcohol isn't felt too much in taste or aroma, so this could get the best of some people probably. Still, for its limited availablity, these are now going to have to be winter treats. And I wonder what the cellar would do -- perhaps I'll store some away.

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Photo of bashiba
3.56/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a very nice Black with dark ruby highlights and about an inch of creamy head.

Smell was dominated by a strong hop arouma with a very noticeable alcohol smell as well.

Taste was very much dominated by the hot alcohol flavor mixing in with a burnt hoppy finish.

Mouthfeel was super dry, like a good red wine, but alwful thin for this type of beer.

Drinkability is fine, and this goes down pretty easy for a beer of this strength.

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Photo of mattcrill
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

No useful information on the label other than "Vintage '05".

Appearance: Pours inky black and viscous. A perfect two-finger tan head develops.

Smell: My nose is greeted by a wonderful hop aroma. Very citrusy and slightly musty. Cool. As the beer warms it starts to pick up some roastiness (a touch of cocoa) but the hops seem prevalent to me.

Taste: Wow! What a wonderful balance of citrus hops, chocolate, creamed coffee, oranges, and a pleasantly bitter hop finish. Dang! I'm just digging all the twists and turns this beer takes. Is it hoppy? Yes. Is it roasty? Yes. Very "Storm King Stout"-like in terms of the flavor profile. Very stout like in terms of it's over all flavor, appearance, etc. Very enjoyable.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and creamy. Leaves a dry and pleasantly bittering hop finish clinging to the palate.

Drinkability: What a great balance of hops and roast. This is a great beer. I could see this being a regular occurence for me. With Edmund Fitzgerald and a ton of stouts right in my backyard, it takes a lot for me to be impressed. This one has done the trick for me. I've always been a little skeptical of Flying Dog products but I'll be back for more of this gem.

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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
4.02 out of 5 based on 2,871 ratings.
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