Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter
Liked This Beer
4.02 w/ 2,928 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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,928 |  Reviews: 1,477
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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Photo of Zaplt
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearannce - Black - pretty dark beautiful tan head

Smell - Sweet dark cherry, fruits and smokey roastyness.

Taste - Delicious dark malt - coffee, chocolate, dark fruit - cherry, vanilla,

Mouthfeel - Smooth, not that dry but a bit of a coffee/raosty aftertaste that leaves the taster with a bit of a dryness.

Overall - I'm a little bit of a pushover with this style - I love it, and I've always thought this beer is amazing. There is some sort of off taste that I can't quite place but very good other than that.

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

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass.

A: Deep dark black, with a hint of brown, good 2 finger worth of foamy tan head that leaves a wonderful lacing.

S: All wonderful things in the smell...roasted malts with a smokiness, sweet malt, a hint of chocolate, and roasted coffee.

T: Right upfront I'm getting sweet smokey malt and roasted coffee, with a touch of caramel and chocolate. Finishes on the bitter side with a slight coffee aftertaste. I felt like the alcohol was pretty well hidden.

M: Heavy in body, thick, creamy and smooth.... everything you want from this style. Low carbonation adds to the goodness. Gets even better as it warms.

D: Very easy to drink, but with a good ABV and with the mouthfeel being this think 1 or 2 is all you will need. Very good beer from our Flying friends. Grab one of these.

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Photo of Sallerj
4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've been looking for this beer for a while, and finally got to try it. It's way smoother than I expected-- dangerously smooth. It smells like coffee grounds, port, and raisins. It's silky smooth with a touch of bitterness and smoke, a strong roasty aftertaste, and lots of delicious and not overbearing dark malty flavors.

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

A- poured out from the bottle a solid black. Thin, light brown head, maybe half a finger, even with my slow pour down the side of the glass. Not too much lacing but the head remains half an hour later as I let it warm up.

S- Coffee and toffee, dark and rich and hitting all the right porter notes. Sweetness overall, not too bitter on the nose.

T- Coffee and a good wallop of molasses on the back end of the taste. Not as sweet as the aroma, well balanced with a solid follow-through.

M- great mouthfeel: my tongue puckers up just a bit, and it's got a great, substantial weight to go with the intense flavor.

D- Very drinkable for the style, almost too smooth -- but in the end, spot-on. No hint of the high ABV and well balanced all the way down. A great beer. First time I had one and already one of the best dark beers I've had.

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

12oz bottle into Duvel tulip. Vintage "09JJ".

Appearance: Moderately careful pour yields a giant, 2+ inch pillowy tan head that reaches to the brim of my Duvel glass. While the consistency of the head is fluffy, there's very active, bubbly carbonation where the head meets the beer, and big swiss cheese patterned bubbles along the walls of the glass. 15 minutes later I can finally see some black surface, with small mounds of head and arms of lacing still remaining. The beer itself is solid black, with mildly reddish edges when held up to the light (after the giant head is gone).

Smell: The first thing out of the bottle as I crack the cap is the fresh aroma of grassy hops. Once in the glass, the smell is dominated by chocolate, rich coffee beans, and roasted malt, with the hops still present. After a few minutes, the vibrant grassy hop smell takes over, with faint chocolate and much milder coffee remaining in the background. That big, DIPA-like hop aroma is a constant pleasure for the rest of the bottle.

Taste: First sip brings a rather sweet interplay of milk chocolate, coffee (not as deep as the smell; more coffee ice cream), and some hefty roasted malt, followed by a big hit of carbonation and hoppy bitterness, ending on notes of alcohol and sweet chocolate. There's a beautiful, long grassy hop aftertaste. Malt stays smoky and complex throughout. Some plum and other dark fruit notes lurk around as well.

Each sip starts with various chocolate, coffee, smoke, cake, roasted malt notes (always a bit sweet), bitters up with the hops, then ends with a roasted, predominantly milk chocolate note. Those fresh, grassy hops are what really push this beer over the top though. It's not a hop forward beer at all. It's firmly a big, malty porter, but the hop influence on the nose and the aftertaste provide a beautiful contrast. The bitterness never comes close to overwhelming the rest of the flavors either.

Mouthfeel: Occasionally a bit fizzy, but on the whole it's nice and thick. Can be a little chewy/sticky, but never unpleasantly so (the carbonation and hops help).

Drinkability: Alcohol is present but not overbearing. I bought this on a whim in a make your own 6-pack, figuring it would be nice to try in case I ever feel like a porter and see it on tap somewhere. I ended up impressed enough that I'll definitely be bringing more of this home on its own in the future.

I can't get over that contrast of fresh hops and deep sticky malt/chocolate/coffee. It's an excellent conceit for a beer; hop dominated aroma accented with coffee and chocolate, then malt dominated flavor accented by grassy hops and a mild bitterness. It's beautifully crafted, and I loved every sip.

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Photo of jstilwell
3.92/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Yeah it's official Baltic Porter is my style of the moment. The cold February New England night calls for something with substance. I recall trying the amber ale from this brewery long before I was officially into the craft beer scene, maybe circa 1995. I've always thought of them as better than average, nothing standout. I tried the double dog IPA the other day and was quite impressed. And now my first attempt at the Gonzo porter.

Nice looking opaque pour with a creamy looking light brown head. Some moderate oily lacing. My first impression from the scent is quality. As I try more and more and my taste buds mature, it becomes easier and easier to make initial opinions on a brew upon first scent and first sip. I'm anticipating a strong nutty malt bomb with sugary overtones based on the nose. This smells delicious. I'm getting a strong creaminess as well. I think this is going to be a winner.

I like this taste, the sweetness is apparent but not overwhelming, followed by a stronger than anticipated hop presence. This is bitter but not overtly boozy, though the alcohol is apparent. The mouthfeel is chewy which is what I like in a dark beer. Its a complex quality brew that is meant to be a sipper. Drinkability is going to suffer based on the bitterness. This is much hoppier than most baltics. Being a hophead, I'm delighted but must keep it real!

I will pick up 4 more and cellar them. I'm thinking this will blossom with age!

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

330ml bottle as picture poured in it's own glass at "Pinguin zem Bier-Huus": A very nice Beer house in Basel.

A: Bottle art is simply great! A cool reference to the crazy H.S. Thompson. The beer itself is also beautiful: A completely opaque black liquid. Creamy medium very brown head. Medium retention and some lacings left

S: Smell is a mix of smoked roasted malts with earthy-grassy-piny hops. Also dark chocolate and coffee

T: Roasted malts. Notes of caramel and coffee. Earthy and grassy hops. Quite bitter (85 IBUs). Practically no alcohol could be felt despite the considerable ABV

M: Medium and bit molasses body. Medium carbonation. A little little bit sweet upfront followed by an immense earthy and citric bitter aftertaste

D: Very drinkable and tasty beer. Very good example of American imperial stout

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Photo of bishopdc0
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer is very dark with a creamy tan head. The smell is hints of chocolate and coffee not to big with some almost root beer aromas. This starts smooth and malty and it takes 3-5 seconds before the roasted barley taste appears. This beer is meant to be drank slowly so it can warm up. It becomes more complex and more flavors appear as it warms up.

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Photo of rapidsequence
3.61/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle.
Appearance: Black with dark brown translucent highlights. A big light brown head with good retention. Pretty nice lacing too.

Smell: Roasty malt and bitter chocolate. A slight sour twinge and a little bandaid. Herbal, grassy hops.

Taste: Very strong and bitter roasted malt. Kind of charcoalish and smoky. The finish becomes less bitter and slightly sweet with some hops flavor coming through. I don't notice anything sour or bandaidy in the taste.

Mouthfeel: Pretty good for a porter. The mouth is left with a little coating.

Drinkability: This is ok. A little too much bitter charcoal and not enough more sweet-pleasant flavors.

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

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle with a label marking that rads VINTAGE0911. Sampled on January 30,2010. It pours opaque brown with a thin, frothy beige head and decent lacing around the glass. Coffee and malts are the lead aromas followed by something akin to baked bread. The mouthfeel is in the medium to bold territory with good stability. It tastes more like burnt chocolate than anything else with a background of hops. Very nice overall.

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Photo of Stigs
4.31/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz pour from nitro tap at Fathead's as part of Flying Dog's firkin friday...

A - pitch black beer with a healthy two fingers of incredibly tight and rich, dark tan colored head. massive lacing, every sip leaves a hearty ring around the glass, like counting the rings on the inside of a tree. lovely.

S - everything is subtle because of the nitro pour, some toffee and roasted malts, bit of chocolate and dark fruit

T - yum. sweetness is balanced very nicely by some roasted malts and then a healthy kick of hops, bitter dark chocolate adds a whole new layer and really comes out in the nitro version. coffee also shows up that doesnt from the bottle or regular tap.

M - hard to describe how thick the head of this is, almost like a chocolate mousse. spot on carbonation levels and mouth coating. perfect dessert beer.

D - was curious about this coming in, ended up ordering a second. alcohol was completely hidden, flavors intense, feel perfect. loved it.

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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
Beer rating: 83.3% out of 100 with 2,928 ratings
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