Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

2,923 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: 2,923 |  Reviews: 1,477
Photo of siradmiralnelson
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into Tulip.

A. Pours a slick 3 finger dark tan/cola colored head. Color is almost pure black. Good head retention, with some lacing.

S. Coffee, chocolate, caramel, molasses, alcohol, dark fruit, raisins, a roasted malt.

T. Coffee, roasted malt, chocolate, some hops.

M. medium/full bodied. Has a creamy mouthfeel.

D. Definitely drinkable. This is one of my favorite beers. Big flavor and taste, but very smooth despite the higher abv.

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Photo of PartyBear
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black bodied, with a thick tan head.

Aroma: The first thing that hits me is aniseed. It is heavily malty, dark chocolate, black coffee, with a penetratingly sweet edge. There is a dark fruitiness, possibly blackberries, and cherries.

Taste: Dark roasted malts dominate from the start, smokey whisky, bitter cocoa, and espresso. The fruity elements are subtle cherries, and forest fruits. The finish is heavy and clinging, with a bittersweet taste.

Mouthfeel: Big and heavy feel, smooth and thick, with minimal carbonation.

Drinkability: A nice big porter, huge flavours, and a smooth body. One of the better imperial in the style, a great example of how it can work well.

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Photo of allboutbierge
3.63/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A fitting tribute to Dr. Thompson, but its a bit milder in flavor than I had anticipated.

Deep dark brown with obsidian hues...lightly brownish head, thin and short lived. Lace retention is moderate. Aromas blend well together and its hard to form a description. Some bitter dark chocolate comes through. No coffee notes. Flavors are also blended. Some tangy tartness in the finish. No diacte├Żl or buttery flavors at all. Enjoyable, but not spectacular.

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Photo of CrazyDavros
3.92/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Impenetrable black pour, stunning tan head leaving some lacing.
Aroma of dark berries, cherry, dark chocolate. Pretty much a black forest cake. Hints of liquorice, roasted barley, caramel and sharp spicy hops. Again, stunning.
Flavours show sweet nutty malt and caramel first, followed by more spicy hops before a dominating smoky, roasty, woody, boozy assault. This is a big beer!
Quite a rich, creamy mouthfeel, but the alcohol is untamed in my opinion.

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Photo of kegger22
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a pretty rich, dark brown with a moderate head that faded to nothing. The aroma was chocolate coffee. The taste followed the aroma, chocolate and coffee. The feel was medium bodied with just a little carbonation. Drinkability was very good. Nice porter, it was like a mini stout, but with solid drinkability.

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Photo of thequeen711
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The bottle poured a frothy, dark chocolate, big 3-finger head leveling off to a sip of foam. Down to the real taste...nose of coffee, toffee, and all the regular porter smells. Tastes rich, smooth, and quite exquisite! A well rounded porter, big on coffee/toffee/chocolate flavours blended with alcohol! A welcomed after dinner brew...well don by Flying Dog!

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Photo of nickd717
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from Jason's in Ellicott City, MD poured into large stemless wine glass.

A - Pours darkest brown with a foamy tan head and great lacing.

S - Coffee, cocoa, dark fruits, and some floral hops.

T - Lots of caramel malt, toffee, coffee, roast, nuts, chocolate, and a surprising amount of citrusy and floral hops. Rather intense yet well-balanced.

M - Palate is smooth and full with some lingering hop and coffee bitterness.

D - Above average for an imperial porter. This really is a great beer that I finally got around to trying, and despite being a major ticker, will seek out again.

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Photo of hckyfn9999
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

07 Editon. Pours black with a small tan colored head. Aroma is of cocoa powder, figs, booze, and a faint amount of cinnamon. The beer is fairly sweet with dark chocolate flavors, espresso, grassy hops in the background, and a touch of alcohol. The alcohol has faded from when this was fresh. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied. A very nice baltic porter that gets better over time.

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Photo of jamie2dope
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It seemed like it was only a matter of time before someone dedicated a beer to Hunter Thompson...fitting that Flying Dog did considering they were already using artwork from Steadman. Anyway, pours a pitch black color, almost stout looking, with a tiny lace heading. Smells of dark chocolate, charcoal, dark fruit and a tiny hint of cream. Big chocolate tastes come through to start, really big and beefy in places. Bitter burnt coffee bean finishes up the taste. Comes off as pretty heavy in body, it definitely rivals a few Imperial Stouts out there. Great as a sipper, as lots of things open up with this beer as it approaches room temperature. I like this brew a lot. One to seek out for big beer and porter fans.

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Photo of EgadBananas
4.55/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is by far one of my favorites. Despite the MANY places I can find Flying Dog, the Gonzo is a rarity...damn you Louisiana!


This bad boy pours dark, nearly opaque. It doesn't want to let light through. It is a heavy-looking brew with a great 2-finger head leaving nice lacing.

The smell is awesome. Sweet, robust notes of chocolate, somewhat nutty, with a smokey hint that lingers throughout. IF heaven exists, this is what it would smell like.

The smells carrys over well into the taste, and does not disappoint. Sweet and slightly burnt, but perfectly executed.

This is a rather heavy beer, but not over done. You can taste the thickness, but it is exceptionally smooth. It doesnt forget to let you know that it has some bite in him though.

The smell, taste, and feel of this brew makes it a very drinkable beer. Its got a kick, but it doesn't get in the way of drinking as many as you need to get your fix. Definitely can be sessioned, but be carefull, the ABV does not lie and can sneak up on you.

My verdict: Definitely add this to your "must try" list.

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Photo of UDbeernut
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

on tap at the tremont tap house, poured into a snifter

a: dark jet black color, thick 2" creamy off white head with good retnetion. Reduces to a lacing ring

s: mild coffee and chocolate note, piney hops, slight toffee. Very complex and interesting. From the aroma, I am almost sure this has Chinook Hops.

t: roasted malt and dark chocolate mixed with piney hop bitterness. slight alcohol as it warms. A slight let down from the aroma

m&d: thick and chewy, medium bodied. lightly carbonated. Better enjoy this one at a slower pace

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Photo of hoplover82
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours a dark black color (can't see through it) with an espresso crema colored head that has really good retention and good lacing too. The head never really fades away.

S-Toffee is prevelant along with notes of caramel, mild chocolate and coffee notes underneath. Along with a noticable earthy/bright floral hop aroma intertwined with all that. very nice and complex aroma. With a swirl of my sniffer, there is a blast of toffee aroma! Very nice.

T-The flavor is mainly bitter dark chocolate with earthy hoppiness. But a big fusel alcohol taste to it which is always a turnoff indeed. Not too impressive in the taste. The aroma had me expecting a lot more than what I got.

M-Full thick syrupy almost feel. Which is not bad in a beer like this. I just really think the alcohol could've been way more hidden.

D-Not too drinkable, given the fusel alcohols. very much a sipper. And I would personally have more than one.

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Photo of LestatSabastian
4.27/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This Beer was a nice surprise.
the appearance was a caramel brown.
smell was sweet with a hint of milk lactose much malt in the smell.
Taste was so nice and bittersweet both mixed so well
mouthfeel nice and just medium thickness a sipper or chugger:)
drinkability great beer and will drink again

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Photo of FickleBeast
4.27/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, vintage 2009

A - Pours pitch black, moderate viscosity, with one finger of brown foam

S - Sweet, plum malts, citrus hop aroma

T - dark roasted malts punctuated by a sharp hop bitterness - definitely the hops are stealing the show here

M - a bit thinner than I remember, bitterness lingers on the tongue

D - very drinkable for 7.8%, could use a little more malt to balance the hop bitterness

I feel like this beer used to be more full-bodied - have they reformulated it? Still, it is one of my favorite hoppy porters.

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Photo of carps12
3.29/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On cask at rattle and hum NYC. Smell of booze and malt with some chocolate. Taste is very boozy with sweet malt and a whole lot of roastiness. Goes down pretty easy, but the alcohol taste gets to you. Not my cup of tea. Mouthfeel is slick leaving a burnt malt alcoholic aftertaste.

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Photo of donniecuffs
3.6/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured a rich dark color with a tan head and zero carbonation (e.g. nitro). The smell was dominated by dark chocolate, caramel, and roasted malts, but once again the flavor was a little more subtle; similar to the Road Dog Porter in that respect. The mouth was nice and creamy, likely due to the nitro aspect, but one of these is a meal. Definitely not a favorable session beer.

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

Served from a nitro tap:

A - Thick and dark with a thin but rich head. Lacing sticks around for the ride.

S - Intense toasted malt scents...hints of chocolate.

T - Intense roasty malt flavors yet balanced by a robust infusion of hops....complex, confusing to the pallet but awesome.

M - Chewy thick rich and lightly carbonated...the nitro adds and extra smoothness.

D - Better to sip and enjoy one rather than drinking all night

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Photo of Working4Beer
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer will shock you a bit at first taste. A well played nod to it's inspiration, perhaps. But, after the first one you'll find yourself going back to the bar for more. Starting with gorgeous bottle art (which, of course, has nothing to do with the taste), this is a beautiful beer to one's eye. It has a nice aroma and, once you get used to it, a very appealing taste as well.

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Photo of MrMcGibblets
3.58/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

black with a decent tan head and lacing. aroma is somewhat muted for a beer of this abv, but definitely some chocolatey malts with coffee and dark stone fruits underneath. flavors are the same, moderately sweet malts mostly cleaned out by the hop bitterness underneath and mild roastiness. medium to full bodied, enough carbonation to help this from being cloying. not a monster and not overly complex, but a nice porter.

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Photo of Cs1987
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Almost completely opaque. A slightly over-aggressive pour resulted in three fingers of creamy beige head. Very good retention and lacing.

Smell - Obviously an American beer - the fruity and grassy hops almost overpower the roasted malts.

Taste - Very well balanced. The hop balance is spot on and not overpowering, but I would still like the flavour to be more malty.

Mouthfeel - Lighter than expected for the style, pretty smooth.

Drinkability - It's pretty easy to forget this is 8.7% ABV.

Overall - This would be my new favourite American beer... as far as I can remember...

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Photo of StarlightSeraph
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First review in awhile. Poured from a 12 oz bottle into my Dogfish Head glass.

Appearance: Pours dark brown, almost black, with three fingers of tan head that lingers for a long, long time.

Smell: A mix of dark chocolate and bitter coffee, with a sweet smell in there as well. Hints of alcohol.

Taste: Primarily bitter chocolate and coffee, with a slight astringency. Alcohol is slightly evident. The coffee notes linger for awhile in the aftertaste. Despite the bitter coffee flavors, the overall taste is very smooth. Somewhat one-dimensional, however.

Mouthfeel: Nice and creamy, high carbonation. Maybe a little too high.

Drinkability: Not the most complex beer, but it's very good, and very easy drinking. Entirely too easy to put down a couple of these. Might become a regular in my rotation.

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

I got my hands on the last three vintages of Gonzo (2007, 2008, and 2009) and received the documentary of Hunter S. Thompson, "Gonzo: The Life and History of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson," from Netflix at about the same time. Decided to do a multi-night vertical while perusing the documentary. All beers poured from 12 oz. bottles into a snifter glass and served at the cellar temperature of 45 degrees F.

Vintage '09: To start things off is the freshest of the bunch, the 2009 vintage, with "VINTAGE09DD" printed on the label.

Pours a deep, dark, nearly opaque brown hue with a full creamy one-and-a-half fingers of mocha-colored foam. The head shows moderate retention, settling leisurely to a thin layer that leaves some nice rings on the walls of the glass.

Aroma is rich and dessert-like, with big, rich notes of velvety dark chocolate. Chocolate dominates the aroma, pushing aside the subdued, coffee-like roastiness.

Body is full but not too thick or even very chewy, with a moderate carbonation serving to keep the viscosity down low. Things open with a nice sweet caramel-and-molasses maltiness that gives way quickly to lovely dark chocolate, which then gives way almost as quickly to a warm alcoholic booziness. Hop bitterness combines with the alcoholic warmth to hold the rich sweetness at bay, leading into a lengthy bittersweet finish.

A bit disjointed and big on the booze for such a (relatively) low ABV content, but these qualities are perfectly suited for the beer's namesake.

Vintage '08: "VINTAGE08EE" printed on the label. Appearance is the same as the '09 vintage, with a similar aroma of rich dark chocolate and espresso. Body and mouthfeel are full and moderately-carbonated.

It's in the flavor that the most striking difference between this and the '09 appears: the first impression is BOOZE. A big heaping helping of alcohol bathes the palate; it's only then that I look at the label and realize that this vintage is at 9.2% ABV, showing a marked decrease between this and the '09 release. The alcohol, surprisingly, mellows out as the beer warms a bit, and richly decadent chocolate and mildly astringent roastiness and hop bitterness.

Vintage '07: Clearly labeled with "VINTAGE 07" and, as with the '08, with a stated ABV of 9.2%.

Pour shows a distinct loss of carbonation, producing only a scant thin cap that puts on one hell of a disappearing act, leaving behind nothing of itself on the surface of the beer or the walls of the glass.

Aromas are similar to the newer vintages but much more subdued, with some oxidation apparent, showing itself as a stale, wet paper-like note.

Very little carbonation, coming across as nearly flat and with a much smoother mouthfeel. The stronger dessert-like notes of chocolate and espresso have mellowed a bit, with the hops coming forward a bit more in the flavor, somewhat herbaceous and grassy in nature. Molasses and prunes come through as well, with some alcoholic warmth showing itself throughout without being overpowering. Finish is very long and caramelly-sweet, with only a mild bitterness to balance.

Still good after two years of aging, though much more time on this would probably not serve it well. Best to consume this one fresh or within one year, and with the latest release being a paltry 7.8%, aging probably isn't as viable. Still, Gonzo serves its namesake well, eccentric and bold in its younger life, yet still powerful in its statement as time goes by.

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Photo of jdklks
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

2006 vintage. extra from a trade (thanks to fbm115). pours nicely into an over-sized wine glass. thick and pitch black, almost like an imperial stout. dark tan-brown head. very nice looking porter. smells of sugary sweetness. hops are still present in the smell after 3 years. smells a lot like chocolate covered cherries.

Taste is interesting. a roastiness up front that gives way to a sweetness reminiscent of (as the smell suggested) cherries. hints of chocolate and alcohol in the finish and aftertaste. not a bad porter, but also not the best ive had.

still highly carbonated, but nice and thick, again almost like an imperial stout. wouldn't drink too many of these in a row, but if they were readily available i would buy a few more.

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Photo of Kromes
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a thick dense tan colored head that stays and sticks to the sides of the glass. Very nice look to this beer. The smell is chocolate, alcohol, a little dark fruit and a somewhat smokey, wood aroma. The taste is sweet and tangy chocolate and smoky roasted malt. The alcohol is definitely apparent in the flavor, feel and aftertaste. There is a little hop in there also. It finishes with a little vanilla and burnt chocolately flavors that are rather bitter and dry. Mouthfeel could be a little more smooth and creamy, but it has an ok amount of carbonation. Drinkability is good, it has a nice flavor and is what I would imagine a strong porter to taste like. Would be a decent after dinner beer, but not one that I would go to normally.

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Photo of bpierce2
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A - Very dark (almost black) and frothy. Thick head and good retention. Head is a brown color.

S - Very nutty malty smell, but slightly sweet

T - Low carbonation and smooth. Definitely sweet initial taste, bitter aftertaste.

M - light and smooth

D - Would probably drink this again

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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
4.02 out of 5 based on 2,923 ratings.
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