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Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

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Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter
2,938 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:
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Ratings: 2,938 |  Reviews: 1,479
Photo of grizzly700
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into twenty two ounce glass.. Brown head slowly dissolves into this dark beer... Leaves lace on glass that stays for a while... Taste is good for a dark beer and one with a high alcohol percentage...a good sipping beer that really has no bitter taste.. Taste is of chocolate, malt and a coffee combination.... Will have to pick up some more, reminds me of great lakes Edmund Fitzgerald but better in my opinion...

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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 jsanford
4.14/5  rDev +3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pitch black with a thin mocha-colored head. So-so retention and poor lacing. I was hoping for more.
S - Dark malt, sweet coffee, vanilla, brown sugar and chocolate.
T - Very dark (almost burnt) malts, dark chocolate and expresso coffee. Not as bitter as I'd expect from such dark flavors, on the contrary, it's quite smooth. Lingers for some time on the palate, revealing new flavors.
M - Medium-bodied with medium-low carbonation.
D - Very smooth and drinkable.

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

The beer I bought my first 4-pack of, now revisited 2 years later for a proper review. Just as good as I remember before...there is a reason I like porters so much and I need not look much further than this for a reproducibly good brew.

Super dark, will literally let no light pass. As dark and obscure as Hunter himself. A faint bronze head forms and disappears within seconds, not a lot of carbonation. It looks thick, smoky, and invitingly tall, dark&handsome. I will meet my daily kCal requirements with one beer (100% from carbs); a loaf in a glass.

Hoppy with sweet caramel maltiness. It's almost the midnight sugar snack, soft pillow, and trip to the bathroom in the same cup (smell has a strong link to memories...). I would say that the smell reminds me of coffee and chocolate.

Wonderful taste, almost didn't have enough to taste before starting to write this section. The hops are there, but not too overwhelming to let the dark porter to come through. For having an IBU of 85 and ABV of 7.8% the beer is surprisingly balanced and I would not have guessed such extremities.

Smooth and, like a good liquor, I would sip casually. Thick without a lot of carbonation to break up its heaviness. Strong sweet and bitter flavors, keeps me interested and my mouth happy. The large EtOH content is no cause for complaint, compliments the heartiness of the porter well.

Gone by the end of the review. Time for the next.


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Photo of patobandito
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not a huge porter fan, but I did enjoy this one.

Pours black with a thick tan head, good lacing. Smells strongly of roasted coffee, with some piney notes from the hops. Lots of chocolate on the taste, with a bit of something else sweet, maybe caramel. Leaves a pleasant bitterness of coffee and hops at the end.

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

Appearance - Pours an utter dark viscosity, with about two fingers of light mocha colored head that dissipates at a moderate pace, leaving chunky lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell - Heavy roasted malts, licorice, coffee, and dark fruits, and cocoa.

Taste - Similar to the nose, but almost subdued, and there is kind of a metallic after taste? Nice roasted malts up front followed by a molasses/tobacco mixture. There is a definite hop characteristic to this beer, which adds a nice dynamic. The more this beer warms up, I taste smokiness, and the cocoa flavor becomes more prominent. Also, oddly, as the beer becomes warmer the peculiar metallic/irony taste becomes less present and this beer actually becomes more enjoyable. It becomes "smoother" if you will.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, creamy, lower carbonation. Feels nice.

Drinkability - For such a high ABV, I honestly do not taste the alcohol, nor do I get any alcohol warmth. Honestly, as stated in the taste section, the more this beer warms up the more enhanced the flavors become, and the better the beer drinks. At a first take I was going to say "glad I tried it but will pass in the future" but honestly, it's a pretty damn tasty Baltic porter. Haven't been impressed by Flying Dog in the past but this one does it well.

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Photo of Bendurgin
3.56/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I think this is the last of the beers I got from the incredibly generous IDrinkGas. Thanks again Chris for the cool seven ounce bottle. Poured into a snifter. The body is black and has about a finger's worth of bubbly mocha colored head that has good retention and leaves behind spotty lacing. The smell is bakers chocolate, coffee, dark roasted malts and somehow in my nose I get a touch of tartness. I'd like the smell a lot more if it weren't for the tartness. The taste follows the smell pretty well. Bakers chocolate, roasted malts and a big coffee finish with a slight bit of tart. It's pretty nice but the tartness seems really out of place. Do I have a not great bottle? The mouthfeel is a bit sticky but on a full bodied beer like this I'm not too put off. Overall this is pretty nice. I've had it countless times, a solid go to for me.

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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 Sudsy89
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle, chilled.

Poured into a 23oz. pilsner glass. Wow, this beer has a massive tan head, really big and frothy like Storm King. I dig the appearance, very much looks the part. Smells like dark roasted coffee, chocolate, notice a bit of alcohol in the smell and taste also. At 85 IBU's I find the bitterness to be noticeably more than a normal porter, but still not too much, nicely balanced with the sweet malty taste. I did notice a "smoky" taste to it, but didn't think it was overpowering. Very dark appearance, opaque black. Lacing left on glass from the head, seems to have a medium level of carbonation. Has a medium-thick mouthfeel, very nice. Goes down smooth and easy, but at 7.8% abv I'd be tipsy after maybe two or three. Maybe would be a good sipping beer for me, but I'm sure others could quaff a couple pints of this and be fine. (compared to other Imperial Stouts the ABV is significantly lower)

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Photo of nerdrocker101
3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle. My favorite from the series. Black as night with a thin tan head. Roasted malts, coffee and vanilla notes. Smooth, but I wish it had a fuller body to give it some extra creamy characteristics. Nonetheless, great beer. If I can only get my hands on some of the barrel aged version now.

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Photo of moester13
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Black in color with a nice layer of tan head. Retains well. Nice lacing.

S: Expecting a lot of chocolate, but didn't get it. Bitter roast malt aroma.

T: Sweet roast malts up front, lingering bitterness, compliment each other perfectly. I found the sweetness to fade in and out as it sits. Very interesting. Again, not a whole lot of definitive chocolate, which was refreshing for a porter.

M: Thick feel, though very smooth drinking.

D: Alcohol is very prominent once it hits your stomach, so several in a row is out of the question. Quite enjoyable otherwise.

Found this to be much better than FD's Road Dog, but I'm still less than blown away by their porter efforts.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a GameWorks shaker pint glass.

Had to revisit this guy after having the BA version. It pours an opaque black-brown topped by a nice finger of dark-ish tan foam. Quite lovely, I should say. The nose is dominated by roasted malts, with some chocolate and maple syrup picking up whatever slack is left them. The taste reprises this roast domination, with the additional additions of dark chocolate and coffee, bringing in some nice bitterness. The body is a heavy medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a somewhat thick feel. Overall, a very nice Baltic, not quite as strong as the BA version but very tasty nonetheless.

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Photo of Vdubb86
3.36/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served in a pint glass

Thanks to TMoney2591 for sharing this bad boy

This one pours a nice super dark brown color adorned with tan foam and twinges of red when light shown through. The aroma is smokey, boozy and with some char notes. Combined the aromas seem akin to being a bit off some sort of iron combination out of all of it. The taste is slightly odd. I'm not really sure but it would seem to me like there is more smoke than malt and it leaves a leather taste in my mouth. That is one of the most interesting beer flavors I've ever had. It doesn't sit all that well in my mouth but it isn't bad. The drinkability is not great, but I've had worse. I can see how the overabundance of smoke can help it. Interesting brew.

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Photo of Reaper16
3.06/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

12oz. bottle served into a pint glass

Pours like you'd expect a Baltic Porter to pour: pretty darn well justabout black. Nice viscosity to the body. One finger of tight, lion's pelt foam dissipates pretty quickly. Lacing happens in horizontal lines.

Lots of strong aromas to this beer: Toll House chocolate chip cookies with the bottoms a bit burned, pumpernickel bread, blackberry preserves, molasses, tobacco. Comforting aromas for a Great Plains cowboy or Laura Ingalls Wilder. Something milky, too, though lactose shouldn't be in here. Unfortunately, all this has going for it is strength. No subtlety and no depth beyond a blast of scent.

The malts come across immediately as burnt. Not overly roasted, but burnt. There's a charred, ashy taste. I loves me some heavy roast and I loves me some heavy smoke. This is heavy misexecution, which I love a lot less. Still, there is a flourish of raisin and, on the finish, blueberry to make up for it. This is an alright Baltic Porter. Perhaps a different bottle might score a 3.5.

Lovely mouthfeel here. Lots of heft to this body. This has the body of an imperial stout to be honest. It works well with what this specific beer brings to the table. Surprsingly active carbonation keeps the size in check. Drinkability is merely average for the style. There's the massive 9.2% ABV, sure, but there's also the carbon malt taste (Holy shit, do I love the phrase "carbon malt" that I just came up with).

Decent beer here. It's a few tweaks away from being quite good. Worth drinking as is, depending on your tolerance for creosote. Gonzo is named and labeled in dedication to Hunter S. Thompson. Just like Hunter S. Thompson, Gonzo Imperial Porter is abrasive and overrated.

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Photo of Soonami
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gonzo Imperial Porter is a nice flavorful Baltic Porter that I enjoyed from an oversized wine glass (no more clean snifters). The beer is almost motor oil black with a frothy brown head like on hot chocolate. The smell is mostly of rich toasted malt, without the deep chocolate and coffee aromas that I was expecting. The beer tasted roasty though, with a bitter chocolate and licorice flavor that slowly dissipated allowing the caramel sweetness to come through. Bitterness was minimal but enough for balance and alcohol was well hidden. The beer was silky and coated the mouth well, and a luxury on its way down the throat.

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

Pours dark chocolate/black with a fine tan creamy head. Smell is of fresh earth and sweet malt and a little piney. Taste is like a mocha latte balanced with hops, very rich and sweet, like a beer milkshake. Mouth feel is excellent, drinkability very good. A winner. The Good Dr. would be proud.

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Photo of exodus1369
4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice thick reddish-brown with a thick tan head.
S: Caramel, malt and hops.
T: Caramel, chocolate, coffee, roasted malt. (Sweet w/ bitter finnish)
M: Thick, good amount of carbonation.
D: Very drinkable

Outstanding beer! I would love to try this on tap.

A real treat.

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

12oz bottle into pint glass.
A: A dark and malty body, with a frothy tan head on top looks much like a stout, but slight transparency in the body show a lighter notes that are to come. Layered lacing is left after each sip.
S: Rich roasted malt and caramel are dominated the senses. Not much of a complex aroma, what is there is rich and bold, but layers are thick and far in between. Notes of chocolate.
T/M: A full bodied brew, shows a rich and thick mouthfeel. A sweet note of some sort of cherry is found on the mouthfeel and turns into a whiskey like warming feeling. I find this to be very much like a stout. On the rich, sweeter side, but still overly robust and great. Kicking back hops, the notes of chocolate and roasted almonds are very present.
D: Not a easy to drink fast brew, or one with many layers of flavors, the brew is still of quality and significance to the style. A limit and boundary pusher. Has a few sweet notes that almost resemble a barley wine. Good across the board, but was expecting a little more.

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Photo of nickadams2
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A_Pours a thick reddish brown with a thick khaki head that dissipates into a thin ring.Spotty lacing.

S_Caramel malt and hops.

T_Caramel,chocolate,coffee,roasted malt. Sweet wit a bitter hop finish. Very different from the on tap version.

M_Thick and chewy. Moderately carbonated.

D_Mouthful but very drinkable for such a high ABV. One of flying dogs best.

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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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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
Beer rating: 4.02 out of 5 with 2,938 ratings
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