Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

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Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter
2,958 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,958 |  Reviews: 1,484
Photo of YouSkeete
4.18/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Jet black, brown on the edges of my snifter. Tan head with awful retention. Hardly any lacing whatsoever.

S: Big bittersweet dark chocolate aroma and heavy malts. Notes of bourbon, oak and some dark fruit permeates.

T: Bittersweet cocoa upfront. Smooth malty body. Not big on the coffee flavor, and not too strong with the chocolate on the palate. Notes of Bourbon and oak are definitely present throughout the brew. Sticky and dry aftertaste.

M: Milky and sticky. Medium carbonation with a medium body.

D: Great drink. On the bitter side, yet surprisingly refreshing.

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Photo of BB1313
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

8oz mini-bottle poured into a standard pint glass. Pours a nice black with a nice head and sticky lacing. Lots of chocolate aromas up front. The chocolate is all in the taste, along w/ roasty and burnt flavors in the background. I'm picking up some vanilla as well, with a very minimal amount of smoke. Slightly hoppy; bittersweet. Mouthfeel is light, creamy, smooth, very enjoyable. Drinkability is good, alcohol is well masked, easy drinking. Awesome beer! Has alot of stout characteristics.

Definitely one of the best offerings from Flying Dog. Highly recommended.

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Photo of JizackFH
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - This beer pours black in color. It has a big fluffy tan head on it, which left good lacing on the glass as it fell.

S - It smells of roasted malts, coffee, and dark chocolate. There are also notes of caramel, hops, and some dark fruits.

T - There is a nice sweet caramel taste up front, which is immediately followed by a strong roasted bitterness. There are also notes of dark fruits, vanilla, and hops. Also, there is a pretty strong alcohol presence here as well.

M - It has a medium-full body and good carbonation. It has a silky smooth feel to it. There is also a long lasting roasted bitterness that lingers in the mouth. Also, there some alcohol warmth.

D - The drinkability of this is good. It has a smooth feel to it, and the flavor is very good. This is a great beer to have on a cold winter night. I would for sure try this beer again.

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Photo of veinless
3.96/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The ravens-steelers game is making me, as a browns fan, extremely sad and jealous, so I'm having this to console myself. Pours black with dark, dark brown visible around the edges. Minimal tan head generated, and it was gone just as fast as it had appeared.

Nose is not too strong, with a slight coffee/chocolate and malt to go with a faint booze smell.

Taste thankfully is much better, with very nice coffee and faint chocolate making this a nice porter, and the brief hop taste in the middle making it stand out. Bit of an alcohol warmth at the end, but nothing special. No flavors are too strong, making this beer kinda indecisive but good at the same time.

Carbonation is stronger than expected, and quite nice. Drinkability is good for the 7.8% abv.

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Photo of BBP
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Good head and retention. Nice lacing.

S- Hop bitterness. Bits of chocolate. Reminds me of the smell that Stone Vertical Epic 09 had.

T- Dark malts and tons of them. Very balanced between sweet and bitter. A lot of chocolate. Tons of cocoa. Ton's of hops for an imperial porter.

M- Smooth, medium-full, good carbonation, medium dry, and moderately sticky.

D- Good drinkability. Nice enough drink. Didn't blow me away.

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

Tastes like any other good porter. What's missing in my mind is a discriminator ... a uniqueness which seperates it from the rest. I like the near absence of bitterness. But the rest of this beer is ordinary, at least in my opinion. Perhaps I need to move out of this category of beers!

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Photo of AhabFlanders
4.11/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours dark black with a huge tan/brown head which takes some time to settle, leaving some lacing on the glass. (Possibly got a bit aggressive with the pour).

S: Opens with a sharp herbal hop note which fades to roasted malts, bitter coffee and a hint of dark chocolate. A sharp alcohol aroma is more prominent in certain whiffs then others.

T: Again bitter hops but overshadowed by the roasted malts, bitter coffee, a little dark chocolate. Sweetens as it warms up a bit adding flavors of molasses and figs. Another bittering hop note and some alcohol at the end.

M: Thick and creamy. Almost seems to float on top of the tongue. Light carbonation.

D: Very drinkable. Great flavors and goes down smooth, though that 9.2% starts to hit about halfway through. Overall a good beer for a winter evening.

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Photo of wolfinthemirror
4.21/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours very dark, pretty much black, with a huge creamy light brown head. Leaves lacing all over the glass as it slowly dissipates.

Smells of roasted malts and coffee, not getting too much else.

The taste is extremely smooth and malty. I'm picking up on some dark cocoa, and coffee flavors. has a nice sweetness to it that is countered by a slight hop bite in the end. It's hard to believe the 85 IBUs, it's not as bitter as you'd think.

Definitely full bodied, with moderate carbonation. Really coats the mouth and has a thick feel to it. Really creamy.

For 9.2%, this beer drinks extremely smooth. Like velvety smooth. This beer is dangerously drinkable, it goes down like a session ale. I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a nice malty brew for the winter.

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Photo of slackerlack
4.02/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Very dark, almost black, looks like used motor oil.
S - Smells roasty, chocolate, and coffee.
T - Tastes of chocolate and coffee mostly.
D - For this being 9.2% alcohol, you cannot tell when drinking it. No burn, not harsh, goes down smooth and creamy.

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.57/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Vintage 07 on the bottle.

Pours a dark brown, almost black color, not much head or lacing and no cap on top, the ring of bubbles around the glass though is tan in color.

Smell is deeply rich in roasted malt, bitter dark chocolate, and I'm even picking up hints of coffee which is quite surprising considering the age of the bottle.

Taste is very similar to what I picked up in the nose, strong roasted malt backing with hints of chocolate and a bit of coffee in the aftertaste, it has soft but active carbonation that lends a creaminess, the strength is very well hidden and I can't pick up any heat at all.

I think this beer has held up very well, but I also don't think it will get any better since it is drinking so mellow and smooth right now.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a Guinness goblet.

A: Pours a solid black with a two-inch brown head. Good retention, lots of sticky lacing.

S: Big whiff of citrusy hops, some pine, vague herbal smell. Token roasted malt underneath: coffee and chocolate. Maybe a touch of smoke. Hints of vanilla as it warms.

T: Herbal hops open. Very herbal actually. Maybe thyme and oregano. Citric hops are there too, but not to the degree that they were in the smell. Some grapefruit and maybe even a bit of orange if you search for it. Pine. Vanilla. As in the nose, roasted malt tastes kick-in after the initial hop blow. Milk chocolate, muted coffee, and big woody/smokey notes. Bitter dark chocolate, wood, and smoke in the finish.

M: Medium bodied, very lively seltzer-like carbonation. Too thin and overly carbonated for my taste. Mouthfeel is definitely the low-point of this beer.

D: Decent.

Notes: A good beer, though I do take issue with it being entered on this site as a Baltic Porter. A bit of a hop bomb. I sat on this bottle for about six months. It is better with age. The hops mellow out somewhat. There are some big, bold flavors in here, but in the end this beer just didn't impress me as much as some of its competitors. Good, but not elite.

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Photo of BrewCrew2010
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a black body with a massive brown head. The head sticks around for a while, a bit rocky in texture, and leaves behind a good amount of lace.

S: A pleasant aroma of roasted malts, dark chocolate, dark fruits, and a hint of vanilla. The nose ends a bit boozy as well. For such a great smell, it's very light and takes a lot of effort to get all of the aromas.

T: Initial flavor of sweet caramel, dark chocolate, roasted malts, and coffee are on the palate followed by hints of dark fruits. Bittering hops, which are very good, break up the upfront flavors and ends a bit boozey.

M: A smooth and creamy texture with a full body and medium to light carbonation.

D: A great beer. Easy to drink and an interesting porter. I will definitely get this again.

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Photo of Bierman9
3.61/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bought a 4-pack of this the other day at Jaspers's for $7.99. Gonna enjoy some while watching the NFL... Label says "vintage '09" , and the ABV is listed as 7.8%, not the 9.2% noted on BA.

Poured one into a small tulip. It foamed up quite a bit, about 2" worth of tan bubbles atop a very dark, dense brown liquid. The head ebbed a bit, allowing a bit more Gonzo to go into the glass, saving just a smidge with the yeasties in the bottle for later. The topping is a nice mocha color and is mousse-like in its consistency, leaving a nice curtain of lace on the glass. The aroma, not overly strong, is a combo of chocolatey malts and some roasty bitter notes. The body is in the medium range, and it is light on the tongue, with some bubbliness present.

I swirled in the yeasty residue and went to work... Lots of dark chocolate is present here, with some espresso-like aspects. It has a cocoa powder dryness, with heaps of roasty bitterness greeting the palate. Despite the labels claim of being"complex", I feel this one is fairly straightforward, with lots of choco bitterness. Not bad, but likely a one-time purchase for me.


look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | drink: 3.5


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Photo of NittanyBeerFan
3.23/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Received as an extra in a not-so-recent trade. Sorry for no shout-out, but thanks to whomever this was from!...Poured into my tulip glass.

Deep brown in color with garnet and ruby highlights around the edges when held up to light. Spotty lacing from a thin ring of foam that remains along the glass long after the creamy 1-finger cap of foam has dissipated.

A swirl before I analyze the aroma...Chocolate, caramel, coffee, and a light roastiness spring right out at me. Some figs, dates, and a splash of raisin contribute sweetness to the aroma. There is also a warm alcohol component. In the taste raisins, chocolate, and the other dark fruits are the biggest components. Some bitterness from both roasted barley and earthy hops. Finishes up with that warm alcohol flavor and vanilla. Unfortunately, nothing really leaves any impression on my palate after the finish.

Medium consistency with a light carbonation. Pretty much average for any robust porter, whether it be a baltic porter brewed with lager yeast or an imperial porter with ale yeast. Easy to drink, but the relatively high ABV, coupled with the relatively unimpressive palate makes me hesitate to seek this out again.

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Photo of AdamBear
2.92/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- pitch black, thick dark tan head

S-very dark chocolate, almost like baking chocolate. there's a small bitterness as well, light strength

T-just a subtle hint of really dark roasted malts and really dark chocolate. there is a small alcohol burn and bitterness as well. there's no great after-taste. this is fairly complex yet forgettable (hopefully)

M-medium carbonation with a very dry, sharp finish

D-well...the ABV hits quicker than expected...too quick for even 9% beer. this is a very heavy, warm beer which is why i imagine the russian czars favored this style...but its just not drinkable in my opinion

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Photo of mulder1010
3.74/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

7 oz bottle poured into a tulip. Note: my bottle is 7.8%

A-- Poured a dark cola color, settled black with touches of red at the top of the glass. Short lived dark brown head that was no more than film. That quickly died off. Not much more for head retention when swirling the glass. No lacing either.

S-- Chocolate, prune, vanilla, Carmel, and dates. What I like most about this beer is the nose. Big smell but not too big.

T-- Milk chocolate, prune and dates. Longer it sits in the mouth the taste changes. That goes more to mouthfeel though.

M-- Prickly carbonation. Higher than I would have thought. Medium feel to this. Get a lot of milk chocolate covered grapefruit in this. Do get some floral aspects as well to this. Finished with chocolate, coffee and prune taste. Kind of like Dr. Pepper in a way. Has a bit of an acidic finish to this.

D-- Only reason I bought the sampler pack from Flying Dog was because of this beer. I like it mostly due to the nose. It is a bit thin in spots and still not too sure about the Dr.Pepper finish but it is good and easy to have 2 in a sitting. ABV is well hidden.

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Photo of nihiloexnihil
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into pint glass directly from refrigerator.

A. Black, with a faint molasses-colored rim at the top and bottom if held to the light. Minimal acorn-colored head dissipates quickly. Almost no lacing in the glass.

S. Malt, dates, very light nose. A long whiff produces chocolate, maybe vanilla.

T. Almost floral on the attack, light, fragrant (tulip?), possibly grapefruit. Hints of roasted almond. The attack gives way to a thick, malt flavor that is not quite as roasted as I was expecting. Finish is bitter, hoppy, strong black coffee which lingers. Not nearly as smoky as other porters. The fruity notes mellow as the beer warms, however, and the roasted malt flavor I was expecting starts to rear its head.

M. Light for a porter, well-carbonated, not particularly smooth.

D. Feels lighter than it is. For a 7.8% ABV beer it hides the alcohol well.

Overall: Drink this beer warmer than refrigerator temperature; it really brings out the roasted, porter-like flavors one expects. This beer went from a low B to a low B+ over about 30-40 minutes.

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Photo of mjaskula
4.53/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a pint glass. I may have poured it a too quickly, as the thick dense brown head domed up over the top of my glass. The head thins a bit and leaves thick sheets of lace. The beer itself is black as night.

The roasted malt aroma is apparent as soon as you start the pour. There's also some sweet carmel, and hot alcohol. The flavor is as expected from the nose, coffee, dark chocolate, molasses, a smooth sweetness and ends with a bit of a nutty flavor. Mouthfeel is dry. Overall this is an excellent porter.

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Photo of beerdrinker123
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I like the Hunter S. Thompson quote on the bottle... "Good people drink good beer."

Although... mine is 7.8% ABV..

This beer pours a very dark brown, almost black, with a good amount of creamy tan head that leaves a moderate amount of lacing on the glass.

On the nose there is a good amount of roasted coffee with a hint of dark fruit and malts. The roasted qualities are the most prevalent though.

Flavor wise, its very similar to the smell, very roasty and very rich. There is a trace of hops that are distinguishable, but fairly minor in comparison to the rest of the stuff going on.

This beer has a fair amount of carbonation, but not enough to ruin the smoothness, very drinkable.

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Photo of StoutLoverJon
4.65/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I stare intently at the amber bottle, and notice the blackness that begs to be consumed by me, from its current position, on the top shelf of my fridge. I hastely grasp for a bottle opener out of my gadget drawer, on the day after Christmas, and grasp the cold glass container, from the fridge, and set it, ever so softly onto the counter top. I place the bottle opener to the bottle cap and unhinge the barrier to greatness, and as the wisp of CO2 dissipates from the bottle mouth, I place my nostrils to the mouth and take a little whiff of heaven. There is a faint smell of alcohol, intertwined with coffee like olfactory pleasures.
Next I place the opening to my mouth and, take a miniscule sip, so as to savor the flavor, that I know will be presented to my aroused tastebuds. The head is the perfect thickness, bubbly, and a milk choclate cream color. It compliments the cool liquid that graces my mouth, which is blessed with notes of chocolate and coffee. It is an absolute pleasure to my senses.
It's carbonation is not too strong, as it is a slightly more viscous beer due to its added coffee and choclatey goodness. Lastly, it has a good drinkablity, and the only reason I do not consume another is so that I can draw out its survival within my household for as long as possible.

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Photo of Ryanm1
4.32/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was served cold poured from a bottle into a glass. Dark brown in color, very dark and smells of roasted malt which is a distinct characteristics of many porters. Not sure what makes it an 'imperial porter' though.

Very high alcohol content with hints of chocolate, medium head.

Respect this beer otherwise it'll bite ya.

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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 Sperzel
4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle from a 4-pack. 7.8% abv, 85 IBU.

Thick black pour right down the middle to get a nice dark tan head that disappeared surprisingly quickly. Lacing isn't too bad. Sticks to the glass OK at near-room temp.

Chocolate, semi-coffee smell with a bit of sweetness.

Big body and a sweet, burnt flavor. Has a sweetness akin to an oatmeal porter, though not quite as smooth. Leaves a stickiness on the lips that might suggest some caramelized brown sugar. The carbonation/alcohol level is a great mixture. Not overly fizzy, but enough for the bubbles to coat the palate with all the flavors and the alcohol warm in the throat. At 85 IBUs and it's sweetness, you would think this brew is dangerously close to Indian Brown territory, but it is balanced VERY well to keep in the ball park of a Baltic Porter. Hops are there just long enough for you to notice them drowning in the malty goodness!

Not sure how the more recent reviews have stated this beer as being 9.2% abv. This is only the 2nd year I have had this beer and it has been 7.8% since then. Maybe it was higher in years past? Either way, at 7.8%, it makes the cut as being an imperial porter. However, it's not as strong as the website description. As great as that would be, this a beer all of you dark beer lovers must keep in stock.

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Photo of brown2cu
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass. Pours an inky obsidian with a rocky beige head that cools down and leaves minuscule remnants of lacing. Hell, it's a porter what more can you say or want?

Smell: Not much here I am getting a fair amount of raisin and other dark fruits a lot of burnt malt. Maybe some cocoa way down. I feel that it is overridden by a fair amount alcohol that asserts itself.

Taste: A lot of malt presence hops come into the picture at the end. a little fruity in spots not citrus or anything but strong dark sweet fruits like plums and black grapes. The sweetness is slaughtered by the alcohol presence that pleases more than offends, the hops contribute a bitterness that really balances it off nicely.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and silky very little carbonation. Enjoyable, not a thirst quencher by any means but on a bitter cold winter evening on the preface of a huge winter storm, this is fitting. The alcohol warms you right up too (figuratively).

Drinkability: This stuff is deceptive. It isn't like an imperial stout it doesn't remind you how potent it is. I could easily put another down. Top notch stuff here.

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Photo of basica
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours into my Samuel Adams Globe pint glass an intense dark brown-black with a thin, one-finger thick tan head that retains as poured with nice clingy lacing (4)

S - Slightly sweet nose of coffee, cocoa and some nuttiness; hints of alcohol present as well (4)

T - Sweet, caramel flavors upfront immediately decked with a good amount of roasted/toasted malts; notes of chocolate and coffee show up in the middle lasting towards the finish which is hoppy, moderately bitter and dashed with some dark fruits. A taste that's well-balanced and moderately complex on the palate (4.5)

M - Medium to full bodied on the mouthfeel with some perceived weight from the alcohol; moderately carbonated and creamy smooth with obvious alcohol warming (4.5)

D - Very Good flavors and feel adds to this being a sessionable brew for tasting/appreciation but the obvious "weight" from the noticeable 9.2% ABV detracts the drinkability a little. (4)

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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
Beer rating: 4.02 out of 5 with 2,958 ratings