Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

2,914 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: 2,914 |  Reviews: 1,473
Photo of GaryKing28
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm drinking this now.
Drank this often as it available at Tesco stores.

Kick ass big beige head above very dark body.

Lotta roast .Chocolate covered raisns .Tar and hop aromatics make this exciting before you drink any of it.

Yes , this is classy . Very smooth and pretty silky on the palate. Roast maltiness giving birth to coffee , and chocolate ,then you get bursts of hoppy grapefruit bitterness .
The floral and roastiness characters have good unity .

Real nice.

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3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Draft pour into a pint glass. I had the Gonzo a while back from the bottle, so this should be an interesting comparison, if not a test of the memory. (I prefer the bottled version by the way, which seemed to have more intensity and character across the board.)

A: Four finger head easy, light brown and foamy, good retention. The body is completely opaque and really, REALLY dark brown. Ruby edges are only visible when the glass is held in front of a light source. This score would have been a 4.5 if I was more impressed with the lacing.

S: Big vanilla aroma on the nose. Milk chocolate, mocha, wood, dark fruits (maybe cherry) also pull through. The aroma is fairly impressive until the beer warms and then for some reason loses its depth and becomes much less potent.

T: The taste follows the nose for the most part, adding a slight smokiness, a flavor of reduced soy saw and a noticeable, semi off-putting metallic edge. Good flavor but a little weak on the back end. The flavor duration is short and finishes moderately bitter.

M: Well proportioned mouthfeel with a nice balance between being creamy and being well carbonated. Thin and sticky when I want thick and sticky. Should have a fuller body.

D: Sure this beer is available and, yes, it's well priced, but there is really nothing of significant value to the contents of the bottle. Still above average drinkability, but there are many other beers out there that will be enjoyed before this one.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Just a note they reduced the ABV from 9.2 (which I thought it was) way down to 7.8

A - Jet black in color. Basic fuel color for an imperial.
S - I can smell the chocolate and toffee I am about to enjoy.
T - Although light I can enjoy this more cheaper excuse for an imperial.
M - Can i say that 7.8 is too light? You bet I can! Why the reduction? I guess people can't handle their imperials...
D - Well thats hit and miss. When I had it last I almost compared it to a founders Imperial which was thick, filling, and full of flavor. In a way this is close.

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Photo of John_M
4.29/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On firkin during the real ale festival at the Pratt Street Alehouse.

The beer pours the expected blackish brown color with OK head retention and minimal lacing. The beer doesn't look all that impressive, but then I took in the aroma. Mama mia! On the nose, this beer is just outrageous, smelling more like a black IPA then any porter I've ever tasted. There is a wonderful hoppy, perfumy, citrus aroma, coupled with coffee and licorise. On the palate, this beer is a beauty. Flavors replicate the nose, except I get more of a dark chocolate flavor profile to go with all the hoppy bitterness in the finish. There is some initial sweetness in this beer, but it's quickly pushed aside by the dry, bitter, hoppiness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied I guess, but there's plenty of flavor in this beer, and it has a long, bitter finish. The flavor from this excellent beer really lingers on the palate. Drinkability is likewise pretty good, with the alcohol well disguised. If you're a hophead, this is a very easy to drink porter.

OK. Couple of thoughts. I've had this beer on a number of occasions, and while it's been good, the version I had today was extraordinairy. Sorry flying dog, but you just can't convince me this is the normal recipe, just out of the firkin. This tastes like one of the finest black IPA's I've ever had, and I just wish it were more available. Excellent beer, but I'm still not convinced this wasn't something extra special I got to try today. Bravo!

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Photo of dwilson01
3.87/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my arrogant bastard pint glass, fricken head explosion man, cant call it off white, it's definitely brown. The head itself wasn't amazingly impressive or majestic, dissipated pretty slowly and pretty unevenly too. I like the color though, dark like an imperial porter should be.

Smells malty, not much hoppage but there's a little bit there, more so than this brewery's barleywine. Definite toastiness as well, pretty solid scent there which I enjoy, actually reminds me of molasses and almonds roasted in the oven. Not at the same time of course, but the two separate scents paired side by side.

Flavoring is great, roasted malt, a bit of sweetness, but the hops really do themselves justice here and pull through. Spiciness and roasted coffee for sure. Pretty interesting change in the flavor from the nose in that the sweeter molasses type flavor didn't really hit me, but the hops make it interesting enough to appreciate for sure.

It feels legit, I mean not bad but if I think about mouthfeel for this one it translates literally to "wannabe stout," if I consider it independent of everything I already know about it but of course then I think oh, right, "imperial porter," it fits the bill, but yea basically the mouth on this guy is just there and is nothing overly notable (I feel like I'm knit-picking minor details here, please forgive me if you agree haha).

I think this is the fallout, yea I can drink it, but by the end of the review I still have almost half a glass left so if that's any testament...

Overall I would say it's a new take on the porter style which I think is one of the most, if not the most diverse style out there. It's malty, sweet molasses smelling, roasted coffee and spicy flavoring, with an exploding brown head, and that pretty much sums it up

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

12 ounce bottle in tulip

A: black with a monster head that is thick tight and brown

S: chocolate malts, hops, dirt.

T: roasted hoppyness, this caught me off guard the bottle said "american style imperial stout gold award" I think it more of a porter, it is extremely light tasting about 7 percent beer. reminds me of great lakes edmund fitzgerald porte. big tastes of coffee, lots of roasted flavors going on.

M: medium carbonation helps with the balance, this one is a smooth drinker and well balanced goes down like samuel smiths taddy porter.

D: this is the first baltic porter i have had and it is an amazing style of beer, there is alot of complexity in this one the hops are there making this one fine beer.

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

12 oz bottle served in pint glass

A- black with a 2 finger mocha head, great retention, lots of lacing.

S- burnt malts, chocolate, hops, and alchol

T- bitter chocolate, espresso, and hops

M- Medium body, good carbonation, creamy

D- Great beer, if this was readly available to me I would drink it often!

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Photo of kaseydad
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very anxious to try this. Has been sitting in my possession for too long. Must consume. Great label by the way. Flying Dog continues to amaze with their sweet labels.

Pint glass pour and I am met with an oil black brew and great beige foam head with nice staying power. The aroma is great! I'm smelling hot chocolate, dark chocolate, espresso, leather and some roasted malts. Roasted malty goodness in the taste with a nice tobacco lingering flavor! Full-bodied ale with a ton of flavor. Bitter aftertaste which sits nicely on the buds. This definitely tasted higher than a 7.8% brew but nonetheless, it felt like a meal in a bottle. Multiples may be tough to accomplish.

A damn great beer that exceeded my expectations. Well worth the awards it's received. Go find it. You won't be disappointed.

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

Poured into a Founders pint glass.

A - Pretty darn black with a super nice brown sugar head tops nicely.

S - Good combination of hops, roasted malts, molasses, coffee and a smidge of chocolate.

T - Hits the palate pretty hard with molasses sweetness, hops and nice roasted malts, this is good stuff.

M - On the light to medium side with more carbonation than I thought it would have.

D - Definitely something I would like to have again, balances the sweetness and hoppiness well, I would recommend this.

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

I'm writing this review with just a tad of the bottle remaining and I have a lot of praise for it.

It's an ominous black that produces little head and is just gorgeous. It has a bit of a sweetness in the aroma like fruit and some nut is present. The taste is caramel and nut with a tad of toffee. It's sweet going down but has a bit of an off aftertaste with bitterness present that is unexpected, but then again it claims to have an 85 IBU. It is enjoyable but I can't say I will buy this one too often due to the aftertaste, but it's well built.

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Photo of drpimento
3.84/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Good beer, but not great to me. Hop seems overdone. Poured aggresively but only got a smallish burnt sugar colored head that quickly subsided and no lace. Color is an opaque black brown. Aroma is roasty, dark ripe fruit, coffee, malty, and more bitter than sweet. Body and carbonation are good. Finish is like flavor and fairly long. Has a fairly subtle but present alcohol characteristic. Not a session.

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Photo of steve8robin
3.99/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this for a birthday gift...

A: Deep pitch black with a tiny mocha head that leaves quickly.

S: Smells of hops, barley, raisins, and a nice oakiness. Smells great.

T: Good. Very hoppy upfront with chocolate / coffee notes hidden on the backend. I get a bittery chocolate taste in the middle. Not bad.

M: A little too thick and syrupy even for a porter. Not good in this department.

D: The bitterness is a little powerful, so it makes this one go down harder than wanted.

All in all, this isn't a bad brew. Not one to hunt down. If you like bitter chocolate and hops, then definitely give this brew a try. If not, then only try if you can get easily, not worth hunting down.

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Photo of sbw138
3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Got a bottle poured into a glass at National Mechanics in Philadelphia. The beer was much better than the bar.

Appearance - Pours a nice black with a huge head. Almost 3 fingers, and very thick and creamy.

Smell - Charred wood, smoky smell. I can smell a little bit of the alcohol.

Taste - The smokey, charred wood scent hits you in the taste buds first, but, it begins to fade away and leave almost a sweet taste of maybe raisins.

Mouthfeel - Thin tasting, less thick that I would have expected given the head. Very smooth, with a slight warming in the mouth.

Drinkability' - It was a good beer to have on a cool rainy night. I would have another.

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Photo of Jesstyr
3.53/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Orval chalice for maximum sippability, and paired with chinese food.

Initially this is pretty impressive, pour an oily black with beautiful brown head that dissipates, and lingers to hug the glass. The nose has a roasted malt feel, and a mild sweetness, nearly semi-sweet chocolate.

There is an overwhelming toasted bite to this, but it is not balanced with any sweetness. Settles to a dull bitterness, that is quite hoppy, but with a bit of burnt malt. A little bit of chocolate is also in there. Smooth medium body with light carbonation. Mildly drinkable, but the heavy alcohol content definitely jumps at you late in the drink.

Not my favorite version of the style, but a good beer nonetheless.

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Photo of biglite351
2.81/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A - slight reddish hue around the edges, long lasting pale foam.

S - lite but actually hoppy.

T - you can taste some hops. Mild bitterness and I seem to get a mild meaty taste... like a mild hotdog flavor.

M - tingle on the front sides of the tongue.

D - it isn't bad, but I don't think it is for me.

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Photo of tone77
3.4/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a black color with a small head. Smell is of chocolate malts. Taste is a good mix of chocolate, malts, hops, and alcohol. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and has average drinkability. Overall this is a pretty good brew.

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Photo of DeauxBoy
3.45/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Brown, 12 oz. bottle into nonic pint glass. Vintage "09JJ"

A: Thin, black, lightly carbonated with a 3 finger head (lightly poured) that stays all over the glass

S: Charred wood, slightly "boozy"

T: The smokey, charred scents come through fairly strong in the taste and finish with some fruity, hoppy notes, that are somewhat surprisingly able to balance

M: Thin, less-hearty than expected, but again, surprisingly smooth

D: Nice, cool weather sipping beer and worthy of another go 'round.

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Photo of 05Harley
4.06/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 09

Purchased @ Johnson's Market Place, New Durham NH

Appearance: Pure beauty. Pours Black as night with a rich off white frothy foam. Head disappears quickly revealing lines of lacing on the glass.

Smell: A weak aroma which doesn't do it justice. Coffee and hops trying to get attention. As it warms up the smell improves but still a bit of a disappointment from the looks.

Taste: For a porter the 85 IBU's of hops shine through. Wow! Hey Mikey - He likes it! For the style I'm impressed. This is unlike most porters I've experienced. Usualy more on the sweeter side.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth. Creamy feel to the taste buds. Hops leave a comfortable bitter feel behind.

Drinkability: Hell yeah! I can put these down one after another. Not too many though at 7.8% it's been known to leave me laying on the couch the following day, not good.

This beer is high on my regular list. A great porter and one I appreciate and admire. And who doesn't dig the artwork on the labels. That's cool and it's year round.

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Photo of atremains
4.27/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Motor oil black into a pint glass, small mocha head with no retention or lacing.
S - Roasted malts and chocolate with a hint of booze
T - Bit of bite, maybe from the alcohol, roasted malts, cocoa, more roasted malts.
F - Relatively thick, enough for me to thoroughly enjoy it.
D - I like this beer, best Flying Dog offering I've had so far. Good one to take your time with and watch a show or something of the like.

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Photo of MaxBrews
3.77/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased off the singles rack at a local shop.

I poured Gonzo Imperial Porter into a standard pint glass. The beer poured nearly pitch black leaving very little head behind, a tan lacing rather. The lacing stuck around strong and tan throughout the duration.

The smell was full of roasted malt and alcohol giving off coffee, caramel, faint hints of chocolate and rasins.

The taste was much of the same, however dominated primarily by roasted malts and an overwhelming taste of dark fruit, specifically raisins. The roasted malt gives off hints of chocolate and coffee, while never really touching on either. The sweetness from the alcohol gives cues of caramel. The roast of the malt was strong and clashed hard against the abundance of dark fruit.

The mouth-feel was big and syrupy but surprisingly smooth. there was no lingering dryness nor bitterness.

A big strong porter that I would recommenced to anyone who is a fan of strong dark ales. This one will get away from you the 9.5% is not noticeable what so ever.

I can't pick any characteristic of this beer stood out for me as being superb. A great offering but I can think of a few Polish varities of Baltic Porter that get the job done at half the price. It is good though to see a decent crafted American variety. Give it a whirl, I may again too but my first experience hasn't been terribly memorable. This is often a style that gets away from us Stout, Porter and RIS lovers its a bit hard to define, but a terrific style when done properly.

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Photo of kbutler1
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle into tulip glass. Pours a deep brown almost black color. Nice big frothy head. Smells of dark malts, coffee, with a subtle sweetness. Extremely smooth taste with the slightest touch of bitter at the end. The alcohol is very well hidden.
An awesome beer.

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Photo of ne0m00re
4.52/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is one of my favorite stand-by beers; hence, I had a bottle of it in my fridge! Poured into an oversized red wine glass to capture the aroma.

A: Pours black with an red-brown hue. The thick tan head gradually subsides to a filmy medium lace.
S: Although milk chocolate roasted malts and alcohol are up-front, dark fruits like raspberry, raisin, and dried cranberry come through.
T: Chocolate, cranberry/raspberry espresso flavors with an alcoholic bite. The chocolate and the coffee linger.
M: This beer comes off creamy, even a bit frothy, but finishes crisp with a tart--almost astringent--alcoholic coat all over your mouth.
D: I could drink this all night, especially compared to what you'd expect a Baltic porter to be.

In general, imagine drinking a chocolate cran/raspberry espresso. This beer would pair excellently with almost any dessert or hearty meat dish.

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Photo of mostpoetsdo
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Incredibly dark brown, with big dark tan head. Some nice lacing around the glass.

S: Roasted malts, with a hint of chocolate and dark fruit.

T: Sweet taste of roasted chocolate malts and coffee up front, combined with a touch of dark fruit. Slight bitter aftertaste.

M: A pretty thick body, low carbonation and a nice creaminess.

D: Really high, especially since the ABV isn't too bad. Delicious.

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Photo of rwf08
4.79/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into my favorite snifter.

A: Dark as night. Held up to light nothing passes through. Little to no head and no lacing.

S: Roasty with molasses and mildly acidic.

T: Roasty and sweet, acidic taste, drys the tongue. Still the roastyness lingers and I love it. Odd, a sip ago I was turned off, a sip now and I love this. Amazing!

M: Medium body with a low viscosity. Dry finish. Carbonation is medium I'd say.

D: This is not a session beer. It is a slow sipper. This style was brewed to be sent over seas and survive being around English people. This beer is more of a man than I am. But I would have to say high drinkability because it seems true to style so I shouldn't be sessionable.

Overall I am once again impressed by Flying Dog. I've only had beers from the Canis Major series but they've all been good. I'd pair this with vanilla ice cream topped with aged balsamic vinegar.

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Photo of kifn2
3.55/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Completely opaque and black with a dark brown rocky head.

S - Some dark fruits, such as raisin and prune. No hop aroma. Slightly roasted malt aroma.

T - Dark roasted malts are at the front and prominent in this "porter". There is bitterness from the roast. The malt is bordering dangerously close to burnt. The dark fruits experienced in the smell are apparent in the taste as well.

M - Creamy mouthfeel and full bodied. Some alcohol warming.

D - A good beer to drink but it should probably be labeled as a stout rather than a porter. The malts are too roasted for a typical porter. At 9.2% ABV the beer is outside the typical range of stength for baltic porters. The 7.8% listed here in BA is incorrect or outdated, The bottle lists it at 9.2%.

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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
4.02 out of 5 based on 2,914 ratings.
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