Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

2,928 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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Ratings: 2,928 |  Reviews: 1,477
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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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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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
4.02 out of 5 based on 2,928 ratings.
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