Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

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Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter
2,955 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: 2,955 |  Reviews: 1,483
Photo of VMWhelan
4.21/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a completely opaque chocolatey brown with a two finger frothy mocha head which shrinks down to one finger after a few sips. Excellent lacing and fairly good head retention. Overall a very nice looking porter, though it looks more like a stout.

S: Hop aroma dominates with some malty characteristics in the background. Not picking up the chocolate as much as everyone else seems to unless I take a big whiff, but it's definitely there.

T: Taste is a very roasty/smokey malt with some chocolate notes. Chocolate is more noticeable in the taste than the smell which is nice. Nice hop bitterness which lingers for a while. Overall it seems fairly balanced.

M: Smooth medium body with a dry finish (probably from the hoppiness).

D: Goes down pretty easily and very enjoyable. I could have a few of these.

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Photo of TheGarvenator
2.74/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A - A dark stout like color and pours thick with a lasting head.

S - smells malty with a small sweet scent...smells like most of Flying Dog's beers...

T - very thick and extremely malty

M - strong and bitter

D - extremely bitter and filling....i would probably only be able to drink a couple before feeling full.

Im not a porter guy and this was my first one so I can really say it does porters justice...Its very bitter and reminds me of a stout being so dark and filling. I might buy this particular one again but only time will tell or if I find a better tasting porter.

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Photo of bwan15
3.34/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours black as midnight on a moonless night. I can see my reflection in the glass. Tan head is luxuriously thick and foamy, shrinking from two fingers to half a finger over the course of a couple minutes.

Smell: The bouquet is underwhelming but has hints of sweet, pungent cocoa wafting up. There are also trace notes of alcohol stabbing through the relatively mellow nose.

Taste: Initial impression is of an astringent top-layer shrinking the middle of my tongue. Roasted malt reeking of burnt coffee anchors this beer at the bottom, and there are hints of brandy or whiskey stirring around just above it, but they are faint. There is a ghost of salt lurking in there somewhere.

Mouthfeel: Not crazy about the acidic tongue-buzzing. Otherwise smooth and pleasant; coats the mouth and palate just enough to live up to its Imperial claim.

Drinkability: The last time I had this beer I was sitting in a life-guard chair on a deserted beach just near Montauk, watching a roiling blue sea fade to grey with the dimming autumn light. Maybe it was the romance of the place, or the fact that I was pretty high, but I was fucking in love with this beer. Now, over a year later, I am underwhelmed. It's interesting and big (not huge), but lacks complexity and nuance. This porter was brewed in honor of Hunter S. Thompson, the best-known champion of Gonzo journalism, which was a type of writing in which the authors immersed themselves in whatever their subjects were so that they could write from an experiential point of view. It was all about putting your ass on the line and your guts into the writing, and I think that if the fellows at Flying Dog want to truly honor Mr. Thompson, they should go stir up their guts by picking a fight with the Hell's Angels, partake in a protest in the Pacific Northwest, and experiment heavily with several psychoactive drugs. That way, when they drag their broken heads and bodies back into the ol' brewery think-tank, they'll have some heady fodder to ferment into something worthy of the late great Hunter S.

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Photo of ztaylor1
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- dark chocolate brown with a tan/brown head that lingers nicely

Smell- less chocolate than expected, but very rich malt and roast aromas.

Taste- bitter chocolate followed by a burnt malt with a little coffee in the finish. Very subtle hops.

Mouthfeel- smooth and silky

Drinkability- the mouthfeel makes this beer pretty tough to stop drinking.

A very well balanced beer, I'm very stoked on it and I will definitely be buying again.

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Photo of beerdown77
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured a nice dark brown, almost black with two fingers of brown head. This was medium bodied for the ABV, but it was a little sweeter than I prefer. This was definitely more chocolaty than coffee-y. This beer had a really unique smokiness that I really enjoyed. I could drink another one of these, but the sweetness would get to me.

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Photo of BamaViper1
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

The Gonzo pours opaque chocolate brown into the glass forming a mocha-brown colored head. The head dissipates rather quickly leaving little whisps of lacing, and swirling causes a 'soap bubble' ring to form.

This beer has a moment of hoppy aroma that's followed by a strong malt backbone with hints of espresso and chocolate. There is also a woodiness or earthiness mixed possibly with currant lending a supporting role. Its overall aroma is quite rich.

This beer opens with a strong malt character with the rich chocolate and light coffee flavors previewed in the smell. This fades into a hoppy bitterness that forms the basis of the end notes and finish along with a marked but nice presence of alcohol, and that bitterness is supported and balanced with all of those flavors first experienced on the nose.

This beer is pretty full bodied with nice carbonation. The finish mouthfeel is quite clean as well.

I like this beer a lot and could probably drink a good bit of it. Overall, this is one of, if not my favorite, Flying Dog beer.

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Photo of arboristfish
4.8/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer pours a thick black color. Holding it against a light, I dont see any amber color to it at all, there is no light that shines through. The head is tan almost brown. The aroma smells of citrus hops and a hint of roasted malts. The taste is a full roasted malt flavor. There is a good balance between roasted malts and the hops. The mouthfeel is heavy, and yet it is a very drinkable beer!

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

On-tap at By the Bottle in Vancouver, WA.

appearance - dark as mud, tan head, prominent lacing

smell - big chocolate and roasted malts

taste - tastes like a stout but has some of the porter characteristics, chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, the standard fodder here...not too bitter, very tasty

mouthfeel - medium body, smooth, good carbonation balance (medium)

drinkability - flavorful and delicious, great brew to sip, good complexity

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Photo of yankiac
4.4/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Very dark brown, almost black, with a nice brown lace.

S - Roasted malts and chocolate

T - Roasted malts and a strong Dark Chocolate flavor. Hints of alcohol.

M - Robust and filling

D - Slows you down after a few

Finally a flying dog beer that I actually enjoy!

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Photo of beancounter
3.86/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Pour dark and think almost like motor oil

S-Smell of alcohol but no smell of chocolate/black patent malt.

T-Chocolate and alcohol, not much else

M-Medium to heavy

D- Very drinkable. Not quite as complex as you would expect from a porter as the booze tends to dominate.

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

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a nice solid black color with a somewhat dense yellowish-tan head. Good lacing and decent retention.

Smell: Sweet roasted malts with a bit of spice.

Taste: Cream flavor up front followed by some sweetness, and then roasted malts. Quite tasty.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and medium-bodied.

Drinkability: High ABV, but no alcohol in the taste. Very drinkable; nothing too strong or "out there" in the taste.

A great tasting and very drinkable porter! One of the better Flying Dog beers; I'll get this again.

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Photo of ccahoon22
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a very dark brown, close to black. Head is small but thick and tan.

S - Almost like a sweet, light coffee smell. There is no dominant smell though

T - Dark and very smooth considering how dark it is. A very well balanced taste

Overall a pretty good beer that tastes much smoother than it looks.

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Photo of nickhiller
3.92/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: pours black, opaque and crude oily with a thick khaki-colored 1/2 finger head vanishes lightning fast, leaving behind thin ring at the edges and no lacing.

S: cooking sherry, sweet citrus like mandarin oranges, molasses, shockingly fruity for this style of beer, no suggestion of roast, smoke or dryness you would expect.

T: sweet roasty malt dried fruit--prunes, dates, figs--char, black coffee, semi sweet chocolate. The finish delivers on the roast and smoke I was looking for in the nose.

M: as thick and oily as it looks with low carbonation and a warm, mouth-and-throat-coating dry finish that is hard to shake.

D: Interesting, I don't think I've ever had an imperial porter. This was much sweeter than I thought it would be but this was balanced out by the bitter roast and somewhat dry finish. Definitely worth trying and probably worth trying again.

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

12oz bottle

Gonzo Imperial Porter was opaque black. It had a mocha head with good retention and lacing. The smell was dark malt, coffee, and toffee. The taste was sweet dark malts upfront, quickly followed by some bitterness and more coffee like flavors. The finish was dry with coffee and hop flavors coming through. The mouthfeel was good with a full body and medium carbonation. Drinkability was good, especially considering the alcohol content. This is a good beer and definitely worth a try.

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Photo of haddon
3.46/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Got this on tap at Gambrinus in Owensoboro, KY.

Pours dark as night with a nice frothy mocha head that lingers with lacing all the way down the glass. Prob best part of beer.

Malty notes come through as sour notes that almost smell metallic. Faint espresso bean and dark chocolate but everything is overpowered by that off putting sourness.

OK, beer improves a bit on the taste. Dark chocolate and coffee bean with a nice bitter aftertaste. There is also a sweet twang that reminds me of artificial sweeteneer. Makes me wonder if that comes from the same place as the sour smell?

Medium body with a nice velvety body true to the style. Not a bad beer but not something I would run to in the future... In other words, average.

Drinkability suffers because of the imbalanced smells and flavors.

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Photo of Duff27
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a midnight black with a one-inch thick mocha head. Lacing is incredible with this one. A wonderful appearance.

S- Smells sweet with hints of cocoa.

T- Sweet, sweet chocolate/cocoa. Not overpowering per sip but overpowering (cloying) per 12 ounce pint glass worth.

M- Mouthfeel is silky and smooth. Very nice.

D/O- Drinkability takes a huge hit due to the dominating sweetness...too bad because this is a very pleasant beer, just maybe in smaller doses.

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

Took two 7 oz bottles, one room temp, one from the fridge, and combined into a snifter. The appearance was no slouch. Next to black, the dark brown/purple hue to the light had a massive mocha head. The retention and lace are excellent given a higher ABV.

The aroma offers a big raisin and coffee character. Wood aged, wine-like character, and an appropriate alcohol warmth comes through. Inviting, but I was anticipating more... am I foolish for that?

The flavor is loaded, yet quite smooth. The finish is definitely roasty and dry, very dry, taking another sip now. Brown sugar, grape tannin, chocolate, and cinnamon butter flavors do an excellent job of keeping me interested.

The body is medium to full, but never felt too heavy. It was nice and soft, maybe doughy .The finish is definitely roasty and dry, very dry, taking another sip now dry. While the ABV sneaks up... I'm quaffing this one down.

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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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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
Beer rating: 4.02 out of 5 with 2,955 ratings