Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

2,919 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: 2,919 |  Reviews: 1,476
Photo of mwa423
4.18/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Catskeller, loved that they have kept the great beer coming! Best bar in the 45219 zip code! (Ironic, because it's the only bar in that zip code)

A - Poured jet black, same color as an imperial stout, with a finger of dark tan head which has a mean lacing all the way down the glass

S - Rich and sweet malt flavor that fills the nose both caramel and darker coffee smells.

T - Mouth filling flavor that is a hair shy of a stout, but lots of coffee aftertaste once you swallow, after the coffee the bitterness hits. Not a sharp bitterness but the earthy type that sits on the tongue.

M/D - Rich and thick mouthfeel that goes down in the same creamy way that melted milkshakes. The carbonation is definitely present but light on the tongue. While this is certainly a slow drinker it is very drinkable.

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Photo of blackdog1101
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a generic nonic.

A- This is black as night. No light peaking in around the edges of the glass. A hard pour created a short-lived 2 finger head. Lace and rings cling firmly to the glass.

S- Malt, with some coffee and caramel notes.

T- Huge sweet malt flavor, with coffee and caramel notes. I'm surprised how sweet this is. I expected it to have a dryer finish. Hops are noted, but this is not a dry or hoppy porter by any means.

M- Creamy, chewy, oily, smooth. There is no bite or astringency to this porter.

D- This is a very fine beer. Very easy, very drinkable. However,I'm not sure where an "Imperial Porter" ends and "Stout" begins. Or that it matters much. If you just handed me this beer in a glass I'd think stout all the way. But however you classifly it, this is a smooth, drinkable, enjoyable beer, especially for a cold winter night like tonight.

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Photo of Patrick999
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Poured from the small bottle into a small glass....I'll go with the Aventinus Eisbock glass. Looks real nice in there....dark brown, some good gobs of lace, great retention.

S - Lot of bitter *and* sweet chocolate in the nose. Also some sweet-smelling burnt caramel.

T - As this is a 2008, the considerable 85-IBU hop profile has diminished somewhat, but it does retain some residual earthy, vegetal bitterness. It's not tongue-scrapingly bitter, but it is enough to provide a counterpoint to the chocolate malts.

F - The pour looks really creamy and lush, but the feel never seems to live up to that, landing a little limp on the palate.

D - Definitely a good treat on a weekday evening, though. The little 7 oz. bottle in the Canis Major pack is just enough.

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Photo of Brabander
2.79/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

It started good. Pouring the beer in a Westvleteren chalice i was surprised to see such a nice brownish head and a very dark colour of the beer. The smell is average but then the taste, moutfeel and drinkability spoil it all. The taste is not pleasant to say the least and thats a pity because the beer looks as good as a westy 12.

After a few sips the beer became more acceptable but still not my style. Soory for the ones under the BA's who are fond of this beer.

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Photo of drumrboy22
3.92/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a Wild Dog glass. Beer was very dark brown, with a large 4-finger toffee colored head. Heavy carbonation and moderate lacing.

Aroma was molasses, nuts, chocolate, roasted grains and light hops.

Taste was surprisingly bitter up front, followed by chocolate, dark ripe fruits, almonds and burnt toast.

Drinks pretty well. One of the better Flying Dog beers on the market in my opinion.

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

This porter poured a very dark brown out of the bottle and black in the bottle. Poured very thick. left a finger width carmel color head that tapered off to a thin lacing along the top.

The smell is quite intriguing. It smells sweet with hints of hops, roasted malts and chocolate.

This porter has a smooth and somewhat chewy mouthfeel. It is pretty hoppy with a hint of coffee at the finish. Like many imperials, it kind of has an alcohol after taste.

Overall this is a pretty good Imperial porter. Very similar to some stouts.

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Photo of MbpBugeye
4.02/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours out slow and thick looking. A pumpkin pie colored head rises up to about 1 finger's height. It doesnt stay around long, it fades into a wispy layer that floats on a stout-black semi opaque beer.

S- Nice smell. Another area where this beer borrows characteristics from stouts. Big, roasty and chocolatey. Some coffee and dark fruit sweetness is in there too.

T- More stoutness here too. Reminds me of some export stouts or something. Molasses, some cocoa and roasted malts come in first. The middle and finish are quite bitter. Theres definitely hops in this one. The finish has some alcohol warmth.

M- Medium bodied. Actually pretty heavy for a porter. Nice and creamy with some soft carbonation.

D- This is more of a sipping porter. All other styles of porters are usually good session beers. This one is good on a cold night.

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Photo of mgbickel
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass. 2 finger mocha head formed instantly. Moderate lacing/legs. Deep blackish brown color...body is a solid.

Has a molasses and black coffee aroma. You can also detect roasted malts and hops underneath.

The malty molasses flavor hits the tongue first. The hops start to come through in the middle and it finishes with a warming, bitter alcohol kick.
Calms down a lot after it reaches optimal temp.

Medium mouth feel. Slightly creamy with small amounts of carbonation.

Quite a tasty brew. Tastes a lot stronger than the 7.8% ABV advertised on the bottle...especially if you drink it right out of the cooler

Another note: One of the best labels out there today!

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Photo of bonsreeb85
4.02/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Body of this beer is a cola color with a sticky brown topping.

Caramel and dark malts with a boutiful bouquet of hops fill the olfactory senses. Lots of sweetness. Reminds me of a barleywine and has that booze soaked fruit thing going for it. I dig it.

The taste is much dryer than the nose would lead you to believe. Flavor is big on roasted, nearly burnt malt, but a fair amount of hops make this brew into a bittersweet symphony.

The feel is thinner than I would like, but a decent sized brew non-the-less.

Very easy to drink and a good amount of flavor, just needs more 'umph' in the feel and body.

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Photo of iD9
2.88/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Served in a cognac snifter.

Appearance: Opaque to the eye. Completely black through the body and brown around the edges where the light shows through. Head pours a nice, deep tan. Although it looks dense, the head dies off quickly leaving some nice lacing around the edge and a thin wispy film over the surface.

Smell: Much like other porters (Walker's Robust comes to mind) notes of dry chocolate are prevalent. This is my first "imperial" porter so I was initially expecting this to carry hints of the dry stouts but nothing comes to mind. I took one last whiff just before tasting and there it was! Malt, just the slightest hint of malt.

Taste: Oh my, that was unexpected. Maybe I served the beer a bit too cold but I'm getting strong hops out of this one. I'm not at all used to these bitter notes in my porters so it was a bit of a surprise. I'm not a huge fan of this. The beer starts off solid. However, as the porter opens up on the back end to expose its complexity I am disappointed. The dry, chocolaty flavors mix with the bitterness and produce an awkward taste on the back of the tongue. I'm going to let this warm up a bit and hope it improves. Okay, that's better. It definitely loses the up front edge but it retains that bitter aftertaste. This is just not a combination of flavors I'm terribly pleased with. This bitter, hoppy after note is good in lighter beers (IPAs) but not what I'm looking for in darker beers.

Mouthfeel: Guh, its hard to get over that bitter note. I love bitter beers, I don't know why this bothers me so much. Oddities of taste aside, the mouthfeel isn't too bad. Especially now that the beer has warmed a bit, it has an even, medium body thats nice and smooth.

Drinkability: Not a bad beer by any means but the combination of dry tones from the chocolate and bitter bite of the hops makes this beer relatively unpleasant to drink. There is a nice depth of flavor to this beer despite what I said above but that dry, bitter after bite makes it difficult to drink.

I was excited for this beer given that the Double Dog is such a good IPA. That being said, Flying Dog's Gonzo Imperial Porter was a thorough disappointment. It started off good in appearance and smell but it fell apart when I actually had to drink it. My only hope is that I got a bad bottle. I will be trying this beer again and hopefully I'll get a second opinion from a friend next time. Luckily at 7.8% ABV, if I bomb the rest of this maybe the alcohol will kill the unpleasant notes in the next bottle.

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

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. It pours a very deep, dark brown, almost black. It is opaque when held to the light. A 1/2 inch head that is dark tan slowly reduces, leaving a nice lacing.

The aroma is quite sweet with a primarily malty, dark fruit nose. The sweetness almost comes across as cotton candy.

The taste was good with a nice mix of dark chocolate and dark fruit malts. A light bitterness lingers towards the finish with a mildly hops note.

The mouthfeel a balanced carbonation that smoothed out the taste although leaving a mild sting at the finish. It is fairly smooth and leaves a dryness at the finish and somewhat sticky note on the lips.

Overall, this is a fairly drinkable beer. The nose is a bit sweet and the taste is solid but leaves some room for improvements. Has a high ABV which, although not overwhelming in the flavor, may result in a quick intoxication because it is easier to drink.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

What a deep color. Cherry cola like, black, but with some red at the edge. Looks like a stout. Tastes like a stout. Very smokey, burnt or roasted malt flavor.

Some chocolate. Strong alcohol presence, not a session beer. A bit pricey (10$ a 4pack), but can't say that its not worth it. Being that its a Baltic porter, there are some dark fruit notes and bitterness that goes into it that can be distracting. The heavy burnt malt and smoke help cover those a little bit.

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Photo of woodychandler
2.8/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 5 | overall: 1.5

Again, no mistake - I was drinking three different cask-conditioned ales as part of Lititz's General Sutter Inn's monthly Cask Night. This was the third of the three. How fitting for my 900th Beer Review in this site! For Dr. H. S. Thompson, this review's for you!

This was presented with a solid finger of dense deep-tan head with excellent retention. Color was a deep, dark, inky brownish-black with zero light penetration. This might have leaked out of the Exxon Valdez. Nose was redolent with dark chocolate and dark-roasted coffee. Mouthfeel was full, thick, silky smooth with a burnt wood taste on the tongue. Hmm. Dr. Thompson was cremated to ashes and intermingled into fireworks, but I begin to fade when it it this intense in its smokiness. Man, I just cannot get behind this beer. Too smoky and too charcoal driven for my taste. If they could just dial the roasting back a bit ...

Gee, I feel kind of guilty about my original score(s). This was a much-earlier time & my tastes have evolved greatly since then. I now have a bottle & today is Sa, 15 April 2017. I think that a re-review & revisitation my be in order.

From the bottle: "Ok! Let's party!!!"; "'It never got weird enough for me.' - Hunter S. Thompson".

I Pop!ped the cap & began a gentle pour, in keeping with my New Year's Resolution and my Lenten denial. Aggro pours from bottles are now (mostly) a thing of the past. I am really coming to embrace a vigorous in-glass swirl since it is much less likely to bungle things up. An in-glass swirl raised a finger of dense, foamy, deep-brown head with good retention. Color was Very Dark Brown to Black/Opaque (SRM = > 34, < 44) with NE-quality clarity & deep cola highlights. Nose had a roasty smokiness along with an anise sharpness. I always lobby for Baltika 6 as the standard-bearer for this style, but Boss Black & this one could also be held up as great examples. Mouthfeel was medium. The taste had a smokiness, but the prevalent flavor was that of anise. Actually, it was like dark chocolate & anise with light smoke underlying them. Phew! Finish was dry, but mine was a fresh bottle & I wonder what the aging process might impart. The smokiness really lingered in this case, plus the anise flavor seemed to coat my mouth and seep into my sinuses. Mmm.

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Photo of DrKnoskelson
5/5  rDev +24.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served in 12 ounce bottle that I purchased from the Foodery, on 10th and Pine. Used half of the bottle to make the Pumpkin Spice Cake from issue #33, and drank the rest.

Pours black, with a nice reddish hue around the edges. Decent half-inch, dense, brown head. Very aromatic nose of roasted barley with a light malt sweetness.

Initial semi sweetness with a very creamy mouth feel. Full of roasted barley and chocolate. Awesome porter already. Malty, but still a porter. Flavor complexities lasting well beyond the swallow.

Fantastic beer. Looking forward to the cake!

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Photo of mbudner
3.96/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter.

A- Pours black like an RIS with a similar mocha colored head, but allows more light to pass through and looks a good deal thinner as Baltic Porters do almost invariably (keep in mind, this apparent "thinness" is still much more viscous than a lot of other beers, it's all relative.) 1-finger tan to mocha head hat leaves lacing, but this lacing falls down the glass within a minute of swirling or drinking.

S- Dark roasted malts, sweat (not "sweet"...SWEAT)-singled-handedly detracts from the otherwise solid aroma (lowered from 4/4.5 to 3.5), semi-sweet chocolate, definitely get some hops (which I often have trouble smelling on the nose of some of the maltier porters and stouts), tobacco, brown sugar.

T- Markedly different from the nose, much less complex with fewer flavors coming through. Bitterness from the toasted malts, leather, bitter chocolate which becomes semi-sweet as it warms a fair amount, grassiness.

M- Great creamy mouthfeel, much appreciated in a porter. I find that many baltic or "imperial" porters are too prickly, but this one is just right with just the right amount of small bubbles popping on the tongue, yet not too overwhelming. One of the best mouthfeels I've experienced in a porter.

D- Extremely drinkable for a baltic porter. My bottle says it clocks in at 7.8%abv as opposed to the 9.8% listed on the beer's BA profile, but either way, it is up there and drinks phenomenally. I would definitely buy this again (after stupidly over-looking this beer in many beer stores over the past three or so years since I first saw it...I regret it.)

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Photo of jera1350
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fluffy one finger dark tan head sits on top of a deep black semi-thick body. Some lace.

Cola, vanilla bean, and bourbon. Some molasses and deep roasted malt also.

Deep toasted malts with notes of cocoa, coffee, smoke and bourbon. Lingering bitterness in the finish. Some noticeable alcohol comes through.

Mostly smooth, almost medium bodied. Feels a tad thin for this to be called "imperial". Nice carbonation to keep the flavors rolling.

Pretty powerful flavor will only allow me to have one of these. This was way better on tap. Still this is a really good beer. Maybe a bit pricey though.

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Photo of cope0021
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark with minimal lacing.

Smells like roasted grains with a hint of smokiness.

First taste is a bit bitter, though not in a bad way. Taste some roasted chocolate flavors. Flavor lingers on the tongue after each sip.

Not quite what I would consider a savoring beer, but tasty none the less. I could drink this beer around the fire in the winter or after raking leaves in the fall.

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

12oz bottle poured into a Rahr pint glass. I've been cellaring this bottle for at least 5 months. Time to see if it paid off.

A: Pours a deep black with a big dark tan head that reduces to a small layering and leaves a lot of nice lacing.

S: The nose is all chocolate, cocoa, and a roasted maltiness.

T: Taste is huge with chocolate/cocoa, dark fruits, and a slight bitterness. I remember this being more dark fruits than cocoa when it was fresh but the aging seems to have brought out the roasted malty flavors.

M: Close to a RIS but not quite. Still rather thick for a porter as well as creamy and carbonated well.

D: This is an excellent porter and if it were cheaper I would keep it stocked every week. Close to 10% ABV would make this impossible to session but doesn't mean I wouldn't try. :)

One of my favorite porters and aging it just 5 months has done wonders. I have the last bottle from the 4pack aging that I will drink next year and see if it further enhances the flavors.

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Photo of OnThenIn
4.57/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Poured with two fingers of darker tan head that stuck around and left some really nice lacing. The beer is jet black and beautiful. I am enamored with this beer.

Smell: There is a great deal of sweet malt and caramel aroma. There is a good amount of chocolate and you can smell the roasty goodness. There seems to be a bit of a molasses smell to it as well.

Taste: This is a rather sweet, with the chocolate and molasses kicking in towards the back end of the flavor, which is followed by alcoholic warmth with a tiny bit alcohol flavor. The sweetness is interesting, because the caramel like flavor that was present in the nose adds another dimension to the typical malt sweetness present. There is a tiny bit of roastyness and malt bitterness.

Mouthfeel: This is a lighter bodied porter and has a pretty solid amount of carbonation. Pretty nice mouthfeel overall.

Drinkability: The mouthfeel and lack of alcohol hitting you in the face for a 9.8% beer really makes this a wonderful, drinkable beer.

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

Poured into a sniffer, Nice size head tha has some brown tinges in it. Good laceing on the glass. Black cola color, very appealing.

Smell some sudel hops right off the bat, mixed with coco and coffee.

Taste rich roasted malts and some coco/coffee flavor very nice. Notice the hops more and more when it warms nice earthy taste to them. Can also pick up on the alcohol but its hardly overbearing.

Very nicely balanced with a smooth dry finish, medium heavy body. Could drink this all night nice and smooth. One of my favorite Flying Dog brews.

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Photo of wyattshotmaker
3.91/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured into my quasi-fluted glass,more or less void of light with a nice head retention and lacing.nose has dark chocolate and coffee up front with notes.slight dark fruit notes in the backround.

rich dark chocolate.caramel, and coffee flavor with a pronounced dry finish. pretty straight forward but very nice.

mouthfeel is very smooth,drinkability of this beer is high.not a big porter fan but this is great.

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Photo of Pinto21
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark, almost black but a touch of brown, little head ok lacing

Coaco, alcohol, coffe. Not too strong. some darker fruits too.

Toasted roasted malts, Porter roasty. bit of alcohol but not too much. hops come through with some bitterness to it.

Pretty toast warm. OK!

Again I like this when I had it a month earlier, thought hops came through more and the beer was more well rounded.

'08 vintage

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Photo of capra12
3.72/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed at the Gotham Cask festival on 9/12/09 from notes taken.

Appearance: Poured jet black with no head.

Smell: Dark chocolate and malts.

Taste: Opens malty as fresh coffee takes over from the middle to the end as a weird licorice flavor comes on at the finish leaving a weird coffee-like aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium bodied with minimal carbonation but smooth.

Drinkability: I would have this again but on another night... the licorice finish is something I was not a fan of.

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

Bottle sample courtesy of my friend Adil. Deep opaque cola colour, with a frothy beige spotty cap. Intense nose of licorice, anise, roast, coffee beans, strong on the hops. Tastes of roasty and toasty goodness. Cocoa and coffee. Again, big on the bittering hops. Very astringent and dry. Very good.

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a goblet. 7.8% ABV version/vintage.

Appearance/Smell - Appeared black to very dark brown with hardly any light shining through, almost poured oily like out of the bottle. Tan 1 finger head with lacking retention, no lacing for me. Smelled of of robust roasted & smokey malts, hints of chocolate, mocha/coffee notes, a touch of plum & grape fruits. Big roasted notes overall, gets better as it warms with subtle earthy hop notes, but nothing outstanding or wonderful here, a little boring to me.

Taste/Mouthfeel - Tasted of rich & robust roasted malts, very long malt notes all the way to the finish with hints of smoke, dark chocolate & coffee, finishing mildly dry with a bit of alcohol warmth. Not much fruit as in the aroma, nice burnt bitterness that lingers on finish, and more pronounced flavors when it warms, but still nothing mind blowing. Mouthfeel was a bit creamy and definitely smooth. Lite carbonation bite to it, and full bodied.

Drinkability/Final thoughts - The alcohol was hidden dangerously well in this one, even when warmed, making this pretty drinkable but rather a little boring to me. I expected outstanding complexity with flavors I could hardly describe, but it was rather simple & decent, just average porter flavors/aromas but bigger, it just didn't do it for me. Id pass this one for a Stone Smoked Porter any day, not recommended.

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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
4.02 out of 5 based on 2,919 ratings.
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