Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

2,919 Ratings
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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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,919 |  Reviews: 1,476
Photo of Bonis
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours to almost a pitch black. Nice 2 finger of tan head holds for a few minutes before settling to a thin layer. Leaves a nice lacing as well.

S - Roasted malts and licorice with hints of chocolate and coffee. Some burnt sugars are also there as well as a faint touch of alcohol.

T - Big roasted flavors, burnt malts and brown sugar. A very nice bittersweet chocolate finish which mends well with the hop qualities. This is a pretty well balanced beer, though a little on the bitter side for dark beer (not a complaint, really). Not much alcohol is apparent, at least not for a 7.8% ABV beer (not sure why BA has 9.2%, my bottle says 7.8...).

M - Medium bodied and medium carbonation. A nice dry finish to this one with the sweet flavors just lingering in the mouth.

D - A pretty easy drink for what it is. Wouldn't be drinking these all night, but definitely would down 2-3 if it were an option.

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Photo of StoutKing0104
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured jet black with a finger and a half of mocha head. The head seemed to dissapate quickly to a film, but left nice lacing on the side of the glass.

S - Heavy aroma of roasted malt, some coffee, and a hint spice.

T - Very heavy on malt and alcohol upon first sip, which subsides into coffee with a little smoked feel, leaves the bitter after-taste of dark chocolate.

F - Lightly carbonated but just the right amount to bring out the flavors to the fullest. Sits well on the pallet and flows smoothly.

D - This is the kind of beer I truly love. It has enough complexity to intrigue the senses and I could easily see myself drinking several of these during a bar visit

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Photo of culver501
4.37/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-totally black, brown 1/2 inch foamy head

S-licorice, cocoa, brown sugar

T-roasted malt, alcohol, licorice, kind of a rich dark fruity flavor, a little smoky

M-not as thick as I anticipated, still a little chewy, delicious

D-another one of my early favorites when I would drink anything that was black, definitely not a session beer and I can't begin to think how good this would be paired with the right dessert

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Photo of EricCioe
4.09/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured coke black in the glass with only a hint of head and no lacing. I wasn't expecting much based on that and my experience with Flying Dog's regular porter, Road Dog.

But then I smelled it. Deep, wonderful roasty flavors, fresh coffee, some chocolate, wow. The nose was just amazing. The taste matches the nose quite well, maybe more of a chocolate flavor if anything. It's a bit perky in the mouth, broad and pretty deep. Because of that and the reasonable alcohol content, it's drinkable. Wonderful beer to go along with the very good DIPA in the Canis Major series. I'm really looking forward to the other two.

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

The Gonzo Imperial pours a medium bodied, oily black with a quickly dissipating khaki head. The smell is pretty typical for a baltic. It's got sweet, roasted malty aromas with slight richness. The taste is also heavy on the roasted malts with a slight molasses after taste. It drinks pretty well. It's medium bodied and hides the alcohol well. It's good but pretty standard.

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Photo of Ryan011235
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap in a pint glass at Fats Billiards's on 8/28/10

Dark brown, near black color with one inch of light brown foam that is slow to leave. Spongy lace. Thin retention & webbed lace throughout.

I'm surprised how strong citric hops are in the aroma, drowning out most else. Some pine, too. Subtle roasted malt notes & a hint of cocoa.

Smells like a CDA & tastes similar, though it's still just a hoppy porter. Hops are toned down & malt flavors are ramped up making for good balance. Semi-sweet chocolate & notions of roasted coffee. Resiny pine & citrus round it out.

Carbonation is appropriately low; this is an incredibly smooth drinking, full bodied beer. Just a touch of sticky resin. No alcohol heat, but it is warming. Residual hops & a mild roast note linger. Gritty undercurrents.

Gonzo Porter far surpassed my expectations. Sure, it takes liberties with styles but the structure of the beer is impressive. Recommended.

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Photo of silentjay
3.97/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

used motor oil pour creates a one-fingered light brown head that quickly recedes to a spotty lace.

not terribly strong aroma, but a pleasant dark chocolate, molasses, vanilla, roasty and brown sugar scent can be detected.

roasted quality comes through rather strongly in the flavor, which is backed up by the dark bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder, roasted/burnt malts, black molasses, vanilla, char, a bit of bitter and earthy hops, maybe some roasted nuts, and a bit of alcohol heat. nice.

almost full bodied with generous carbonation and a creamy feel that ends dry and charred. with a touch of sweetness left a while.

drinks well. alcohol is present with some heat, but not overbearing. pretty tasty and overall well crafted. not terribly huge for an "imperial porter" though.

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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 JAXSON
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks Mike/Greg! Pour is black with a thin mocha ring, good lacing. Nose is soft roasted malt, light coffee dust, light bitter chocolate, and vanilla. Medium body, flavor focuses on vanilla with pleasant bitter dark chocolate undertones and a somewhat bitter finish. Creamy. The vanilla component in this is prominent and is really nice. I would probably enjoy this more if the finish was more smooth and less bitter coffee dust, but it's a nice beer.

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Photo of Casey10
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I reviewed this beer and it had a higher ABV at 9.2%

The beer is good and while I have better (see smuttynose baltic porter) this was not bad.

I felt though it was a bit thin and missing some roastyness and chocolate taste that I usually am used to.

While this is a smooth sipper I have been spolied by the smuttnose which IMHO is the best baltic porter I have ever had.

This is nice just not the best worth a try of course as this is only my opinion.

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Photo of deaconoflove
3.62/5  rDev -10%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Ap. Black, opaque, can't see nothing. Almost no head and no lacing. Looks flat, but it isn't.
Sm. Chocolate first up front, some malt, sweetness and roasted.
Ta. Unexpectedly sharp and astringent before some chocolate showed up. finishes burnt and a little bitter. Must be the alcohol showing up in there. Not what I expected.
Mf. Thinner than expected, but good.
Dr. One will do me. There are lots of better porters out there for me.

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Photo of chickenm
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 10DD. Pours black with a big light brown head that leaves lots of lacing. Aroma of citrus hops, sweet malts, and chocolate. Taste is hoppy and roasty with slightly sweet chocolate. Medium body with light carbonation. Some alcohol is noticable in this as well. Overall this is a really nice porter.

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Photo of vandemonian
3.66/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a dark beer that poured with a surprisingly good head for a beer with such high alcohol content. It had a very sweet smell. The taste was sweet initially and a little malty with a quite bitter aftertaste. This beer sat very nicely in my mouth as it had an almost milky feel to it with a small amount of carbonation.

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Photo of Contagion
3.36/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

When poured it has a dark, almost black coloring to it. The only time light passes through is at the edges. And then it is a very dark walnut coloring. A thin tan head forms, but fades quickly. By the time I finished the beer there wasn't even a ring around the edge. I poured this beer rather aggressively at the end in order to try to form more head, but it didn't help.

The smell starts with a rich molasses and cocoa scent. Roasted malts finish off the scent. There is a touch of citrus to the scent as well as a hint of alcohol. The taste starts off with a bitter chocolate flavor and finishes with a hint of coffee as the beer warms. There is a slight burnt malt taste to it. A slight generic fruit flavor is noticed either. When the beer reaches closer to room temperature the taste of alcohol becomes more discernible. The after taste is a little bitter.

This is a medium bodied beer, a little heavy on the carbonation. There is a slight coating to the mouth.

I enjoyed this beer. It isn't one I would want to drink too quickly. It's a nice sipping beer to be enjoyed over a long period of time. It is a standard porter taste, nothing too special. I don't know if I would go out of my way for it, but I did enjoy it while I had it.

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Photo of bs870621345
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Wow is the first thing that comes to mind when I began to drink this.

Pours a dark brown/black with a half inch of mocha head. Leaves a lot of lacing down the glass.

Smells of molasses, earthy hops, caramel, and coffee.

Taste is of caramel, roasted coffee and gentle hops. Nicely balenced and a wonderful taste.

Mouthfeel is oily and moderately heavy. Not too carbonated so it is nice and creamy.

Drinkability is a little above average. The only thing that this suffers from is a strange after taste, but still better than average.

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


Pours inky black with a coffee-and-cream head, half inch or so, good retention, fine carbonation.

Smells of mild hops and slightly toasted caramelized malts.

Taste is coffee bitter with subtle hop notes followed by brown sugar malt sweetness.

Feels on the full side. The carbonation is felt briefly in the back of the throat.

Good strong stout-like beer. Hides its alcohol well in the taste, but it packs a punch.

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Photo of jsprain1
3.6/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a very-near black. Very very thin head dissolves into pretty much nothing.
S- Smells of chocolate/roasted malt. Some alcohol. Subtle aroma for the style.
T- Starts with some dark fruit, moves into roasted malt, and finishes with some herbal hops and alcohol.
M- Full bodied, but I found this one to be undercarbed.
D- For a 7.8% it's not daunting. It's a good beer, but I didn't find it as impressive as last time I had it. A decent Baltic Porter but not quite one that lives up the hype IMHO.

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Photo of hdofu
4.42/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nutty and sort of chocolately. Pour deep dark black with a tan head on top. Smell is dark rich maybe with a hint of dates in the last note. The taste is like dark chocolate containing cocoa beans and almonds. This beer has a smooth mouth feel to the tongue. It is a really drinkable beer to boot, too bad it's kind of pricey.

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Photo of mash4077
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Black oil with a rootbeer like red/brown head. This is going to be interesting.

S- Dark, sweet malts, like a dark chocolate. Hints of marshmellow and cherry. The 7.8abv is noticeable but not overpowering.

T- A bit nutty like a brown ale, with some hints of coffee. Sweet, syrupy caramel taste. Not getting all of the flavors I got with the nose, though I am getting a general rootbeer feel to the taste. With the 85 IBU, this might've passed for a brown ale. Unique and interesting.

M- A bit chewy and thick, very creamy, and decent carbonation.

D- Not terrible, but could've been better.

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Photo of burnerfinger
4.37/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured from the 12 oz bottle into my new belgium goblet:

A:super dark, the darkest brew I've seen.also the darkest (burnt orange) head I've seen. the head settles quick and leave not much lacing.
not much action in the pour

S: NICE _ NICE on the nose. coffee/expresso and sweet maltiness with just a touch of hoppy bitterness

T: TOUCHDOWN! this is really all that. deep, rich, sweet, any hops are overwhelmed by the sweet maltiness.. chocolate and coffee base.

M: thick body that somehow gets thinner at the end. leave a nice hoppy aftertaste. the ABV is totally hidden

D: super good for a porter, but really this is no session beer.

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

A - Black as night with only the faintest glimmer of light at the edges. Half a finger to a finger of head that settles down and leaves a nice lacing on the glass.

S - The usual suspects: coffee and chocolate, along with healthy servings of dark fruits and hops.

T - Mmm, well I enjoy hoppy stouts now that is for sure. I have had these with a year on them and they are still very tasty, but not as intended from Flying Dog, and with good reason. I really like the way the earthiness of the hops blends well with the roasty flavors of the malt.

M - On the light side really, starts good up front but leaves you wanting for more; nothing too imperial about this, but I guess that's why they went with porter, definitely more of a porter mouthfeel.

D - Pretty darn good stuff, easy to get down and now my second favorite from Flying Dog after their Raging Bitch.

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

Mmm...Bottle says "dark, malty, and mysterious." True 'dat!

It pours thick and black, with 1-2 fingers of brown foamy head which lasts forever and leaves a ton of lace. Very nice.

As I opened the bottle, the odor of malts poured out. Dark, mildly sweet, mildly fruity, bread. Inviting.

Tasted malty, nutty, sweet but not overly so. Bread, mild fruit, just a touch of alcohol. Slightly bitter coffee too. Extremely well-balanced, consistent, tasty.

Overall this was a well-balanced, smooth, medium-to-thick beer. Easy and pleasant to drink, kept me wanting more.

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Photo of UnDeadly
3.79/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle, white wine glass (it was all that was clean...)

Appearance - Pours nearly black, and obviously cannot see through it. Light, mocha-colored foam that easily reaches 1.5 fingers of foam. Leaves moderate lacing.

Smell - Eh, was not terribly impressed. Notes of vanilla and slightly floral, but otherwise didn't feel a whole lot here.

Taste - Sweet and earthy in the front, which glides to a white chocolate middle. Finishes with the notes of vanilla I thought I smelled, with a pretty decent bite of bitterness at the end. Tasty and well-balanced.

Mouth Feel - Carbonated well for the style, and very creamy mouthfeel. Does not sting, from either alcohol or carbonation. I dig it!

Drinkability - ABV would be the only thing keeping me from drinking this puppy all night. Smooth, balanced, delicious.

Overall, I think this beer is very good, but not the most amazing beer evar. But I would most certainly buy it again and drink it merrily! I would really like to try it on tap. Fairly reasonably priced for what you get too.

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

Vintage 09II (presumably September 09)

Pours black with a nice tan head and some nice chocolate lacing.

Smells of bittersweet chocolate, coffee, and hops. I'm surprised the hops are as strong as they are. The rest is slightly muddled. I'm thinking if it went a little longer it will come together a bit more.

The taste follows the nose to the letter. Good, but it could use either more or less time.

The feel is nice and creamy. Good body.

This is pretty drinkable. I actually did this side by side with a fresh bottle. The differences are subtle, but I like where it seems to be going. The malts are starting to shine, but it looks like the hops are going to hang on for a while longer.

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Photo of MikeBrandman
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours into a Sam Adams sensory glass with 1 finger of brown, mocha head. Good lacing, slight visible carbonation near the cap. Body is black and opaque. Hardly a ruby hue in the light. Looks mean and appetizing.

S - Rich, dark smell. Roasted malts, chocolate, slight coffee, and a bit of some sort of sweet fruit. No hop or alcohol smell.

T - Extremely bitter. Dark dark chocolate. Deep roasted coffee taste. Not really hop bitter. No alcohol taste or heat, which is surprising for a near 8% beer. As it warms up, the bitterness fades a bit and gives way to some dark fruit and malty sweetness. Definitely an interesting brew.

MF - Slightly chewy. Definitely sticks to the mouth. Not quite syrupy, but up there.

D - A bit too bitter to be extremely drinkable. Leaves a harsh aftertaste.

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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
4.02 out of 5 based on 2,919 ratings.
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