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 botham
4.42/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter. pours an opaque balck with a half finger of rich brown head after a hard pour. poor retention and moderate lacings.

aroma is sweet and roasted, with notes of bitter chocolate and a bit of alcohol. little else for the nose, with an understated concentration and richness.

taste is roasted, sweet, and full of black malt notes. a bit of alcohol still gets through, with notes of bitter dark chocolate, coffee, and a bit of vanilla. the brew is less sweet overall than a typical baltic porter, and with good reason; the final product is prefectly balanced between sweet and bitter while bringing on the black malt richness.

mouthfeel is full bodied and creamy smooth in texture. finishes on a semi-dry note with residual burnt and roasted malts.

drinkability is decent. full bodied, thick and full of black malt character. very satisfying and easy-going on the palate, with a soft drinkability and a very pleasant profile. baltic porters can easily get tobe too sweet for the black malt character, and this one bridges the gap between too sweet and too bitter, melding the two into a drinkable and tasty porter. cheers!

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

A: Pours with a basically black color and quite a big head. Head retention and lacings are quite impressive considering the relatively high ABV in this one.

S: A round and nicely composed smell. Lots of malts with a prominent chocolate character. Notes of dark fruit and vanilla. A pleasant hop kick. The alcohol becomes noticeable as the beer warms up.

T: Lots of malty sweetness with just as much sweet dark chocolate. Big notes of vanilla. Some notes of dark fruits. Very restrained when in comes to roasted malts, which is the main thing setting this one apart from the imperial stouts. Quite a lot of spicy hops. The finish is quite bitter with gentle notes of soy sauce, wood and more somewhat spicy hops. As in the smell, the alcohol becomes more noticeable as the beer warms up. In general, it seems like the flavors get slightly rounder towards the end and the different components seem to get a better fit after a while.

M: Full-bodied, nice smooth mouthfeel and an almost semi-dry finish, but it still manages to leave a sticky feeling in the mouth after a while.

D: I like this beer, I just think it's tasty. However, I've had the opportunity to try the older version a few times, the one with a higher ABV, and it was way better. The older version where more potent, more living and daring, and it had much more character. It's a shame they turned it down a notch, doesn't seem to be in line with the Hunter S. Thompson way of life. Wonder what he would have thought about such rerouting of a bold departure.

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

7oz. sample bottle poured into a snifter. Vintage08GG printed onto the side of the bottle.

(A)- Pours black as night with a respectable tan head that slowly dissipated to a light layer.

(S)- Rich roasted malts with coffee. Some bready raisins. An almost cinnamon-ish cola on the finish.

(T)- Lots of roasted malts and raisins with slightly sweet molasses.

(M)- Thick texture with ample carbonation. Lightly bitter but rich and sweet at the same time.

(D)- A solid porter that has obviously stood the test of time; it smoothed our really well. A good sipper that requires your full attention. Definitely good when aged. My personal favorite from Flying Dog Brewery

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

Black in color with a light brown head that resembles the froth on boiling maple syrup. The large bubbles of prickle break up the head resulting in low head retention. There is a dot of lace in the middle when it settles down. No rim, just bubbles.

Deep malt nose is simultaneously sweet and trying to hide traces of smoke. I could smell it across the table after pouring.

Big malty flavor, almost chewy and sweet. It gives way to perhaps the smoothest smoke flavor I have ever encountered. The smoke hangs on like a smooth malt flavor of caramel or chocolate would. The smoke is not obnoxious nor is the malt. It actually serves to cover what alcohol burn this beer is waiting to unleash. There is still a little alcohol burn at the finish.

A little smoky, a little chewy. Pretty good beer.

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

Poured from 7oz sampler into snifter glass.

A: Big dark rich head, pitch black color

N: Nose dominated by noble hops and slight chocolate malt

T: Taste starts with a tangy stout like malt with chocolate and crystal malts, it has a slight chalky stout quality, some hops also come out at the start, little spicey bitterness shines through the middle that is followed with alcohol, some smoked malt

M: Lots of carbonation and somewhat thick mouthfeel,

F: Finishes with a dry and tangy bitterness with some spice, alcohol and stout, it starts lighter than expected, but finishes strong and dry with bitterness and spice, has some nice stoutiness in the middle as well, almost would have called this imperial stout instead of porter, but that's opinionated, its really good, but the oaked version just goes over the top.

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Photo of farrago
4.07/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a solid finger plus head of dark brown foam, mostly medium to larger bubbles, which may be why it dissolves at a steady pace, thick streaks of lacing cling to the glass sides. Fully black and opaque, no brown coloration to the liquid at all. Extremely sweet nose, drips with caramel, toffee, butterscotch, coffee ice cream, hot chocolate, banana pudding, plum and black grape fruit, you name it, its got it. The nose does develop some green hoppy bite but this is an after effect once the sweetness has congealed a bit. It's full-bodied in the mouth, however, sheds a noticeable amount of weight before it finishes. The carbonation helps break up some of the density in the chocolate, coffee, caramel flavors and here you get more of a roasted edge than in the nose. More scone, baked sweets aspect too while the plum, cherry, grape fruit recedes slightly. Here too the hops surge at the end and lend both bitterness and tingle. Not the most integrated of beers but it does smartly emphasize its best attributes.

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Photo of sweetbrew82
2.7/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. into a pint glass/ no freshness date

P: Jet black with a chocolatey brown head that was thick and creamy with some froth on top initially, but showed poor retention as it disappeared quickly to a thin collar on top. Not much lacing, either. I was expecting much better out of this one, to say the least.

A: Roasted malts, cocoa powder, herbal hops, vanilla, and dark fruits are all in the mix here, but there is a little bit of a strange plastic smell, too. It's not nearly as powerful or bold as even some regular porters I've come across. You kind of have to dig for the aromas in here.

T: The dark, roasted malts remind me of barley and lots of crystal as they deposit some cocoa powder notes on the tongue. But right away I am overwhelmed by a really weird artificial sweetener type of flavor that reminds me of those nasty-ass chocolate flavored energy bars that my wife used to buy. In other words, it tastes powdery and fake with that same plastic-type of flavor as well. There is a little coffee to be found while the vanilla and dark fruits (figs, dates) come to the front. Hops impart a little bitterness to try and offset the sweetness, but to no avail. Sweets win out by a long shot. Booze is well-hidden, but definitely there.

M: Full-bodied with a rich, glassy smooth yet almost oily feel that saturates the tongue and aides in leaving a weird aftertaste (from that plastic?) for quite awhile.

Notes: I am not very impressed by this beer for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, that artificially sweetened taste combines with the plastic and proves to be way too much for me to handle, even with only a 12 oz. bottle. Second, there is not much complexity or power to be found here. Flavors are quite subtle and it lacks the depth and complexity that an Imperial Porter should have. The mouthfeel ends up being too heavy and cloying from all of the sweets, and it leaves a really weird diet soda-like aftertaste. Not sure if I got a bad bottle or what, but this wasn't anything close to what I was expecting out of an Imperial Porter.

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Photo of GRG1313
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown/black with a this tan head; appealing.

Light coffee and "sharp" carmel nose. Nose has an elegance to it with undertones of chocolate.

Nice medium creamy mouthfeel with pleasant flavors of sweet coffee, carmel and toffee.
Flavors and character a bit more like stout than porter.

Nice big finish of sweet coffee that goes to grapefruit/resin hops. Wonderful character in the middle and appears to be an excellent candidate for foods with big flavors. A very drinkable, consumer friendly porter (stout?)

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Photo of ToddT
3.43/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Dark brown almost black with minimal tan head. Head fades quickly to a ring and leaves almost no lace on the glass.

S- Roasted malts, coffee, caramel, and toffee.

T- Strong bitter chocolate and warming alcohol are the immediate notes. Dry bittersweet finish with a lingering note of coffee.

M- More than medium in body but not heavy. Carbonation seams light until the finish where some fizz come out. Finish is dry but a little more bitter than what I like in a porter

D- Pretty drinkable for an imperial. The 7.8% ABV is evident but not overpowering.

Decent beer, mostly tried it since it is in honor of Hunter S. Thompson. I don't know if this would have been his beer of choice though.

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

Poured from bottle into standard New Belgium glass. No brewed on or best by date on the bottle.

A: Very much as I would expect from a Porter. Minimal head with decent looking lacing. Solid looking brewk.

S: Exactly as I would expect, roasty porter tones with some notes of hoppiness as well. Nose like an RIS without the sweetness that I typically pick up.

T & M: Nicely balanced, this is first Baltic Porter style that I have encountered and I cannot imagine one being much better. The standard porter tones are there up front but the finish has a a nice bitter quality. Just melds together well, must say that I prefer the Baltic Porter to the RIS. I think not having the high ABV hotness is rather refreshing.

D: Despite ABV, quite drinkable. By far the best Flying Dog that I have had. Hard to find in North Texas but I will definitely be seeking out again.

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Photo of TheViolator666
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Never heard of an 'Imperial Porter', but I imagined it to be pretty similar to a regular stout. I was right, this imperial porter has just a bit more body than a porter and an ABV on the higher end.

Also, this is the first beer I've had from Flying Dog that I would rate above average.

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Pours as black as a stout. Tan head that leaves a thin cap which lasts till the end. Lacing is pretty full, very nice to look at.

S: Average. Smells a bit bitter, some hop presence, definitely malty.

T: Very bitter, hops definitely have a presence here! Very nicely balanced. Roasted malt, of course, come through as well. The 7.8% ABV is well hidden. The sweet/dry aftertaste is great.

M/D: A nice medium-full body, surprising. Not watery one bit, more reminiscent of a stout like I thought. Very smooth going down. Not much carbonation of course.

Slightly above average for a plain old "stout", but excellent for this specific brewery.

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Photo of jujubeast6000
3.74/5  rDev -7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed 6/15/2009 (bottle):

Pours a very dark colored body, with a huge, foamy, light tan color head, lasting. Malty, roasted aroma. Alcohol, strong coffee. Some alcohol too. Roasted, malty taste. Watery coffee. Some chocolate, a little dusty. Tasty.

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

A - opaque black, creamy dark tan head, good retention, leaves lots of lacing

S - clean, fruity citrus hops, smooth chocolate notes underneath

T - beautifully hopped, smooth citrus flavours, even smoother chocolate roasty malt, enough sweetness to start, deliciously bitter in the finish, aftertaste is more roasty chocolate and alcohol

M - med body, med low carbonation, creamy and rich, but still quite drinkable, alcohol is present, but smooth, dry finish, but without any astringency

D - hell yeah, one of my favourite beers over the last year

My local beer bistro got in a shipment of this beer last year, and I've been enjoying it there ever since. I was finally able to grab a 4-pack down in Bismarck ND and do a proper review.

Despite the hoppiness, bitterness and roastiness, everything about this beer is SMOOTH. Excellent use of cascade hops. Even my mom liked it when she tried it at dinner, and I don't think she's drank a beer in 10 years.

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

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Has a very dark almost black color. Initially pours a 1 finger head that recessed to a thin tanned glaze over the beverage. Has some clumps of sediment that collect on the bottom of the glass. Little bit of carbination, has a smooth mouthfeel. Smell is minorly suggestive of overly ripened fruit and some hints of chocolate. When tasting this, it is hard to belive that it is nearly 8% abv... upfront it has an unexpected semi-sweetness, bits of chocolate are evident with very little bitterness that only comes through on the finish.

Overall this is a good beer, mighty smooth for an imperial porter.

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Photo of goblue3509
4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark black with a brown one finger head. There is good lacing present. The aroma is of sweet malt and coffee and chocolate. The taste is of coffee with some chocolate tones. The mouthfeel is dry with little to no carbonation. The overall expierence is very good, the beer is smooth dispite the higher content. A very good porter, it is complex and very tasty.

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Photo of dgilks
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black with a dense, creamy, one finger coffee coloured head. Decent lacing and reasonable head retention.

Aromas of coffee, chocolate, vanilla and sweet malts are present. A touch of fruitiness is also there.

Flavour is predominantly coffee and vanilla with overtones o skoke and chocolate. Some hop bitterness and earthy character is also present along with a touch of tartness. Overall, it could have a bit more punch and there is a slight alcohol heat present.

Thick and rich without being cloying, this beer has a slightly dry finish. Average carbonation levels are pleasant.

A tasty brew that packs an alcohol punch. Reasonably drinkable given its alcohol content.

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

Poured from the bottle a thick, impenetrable black with two pretty fingers of brown head; great start. Smell is of cola, juniper, and a bit of charred grain. Taste is almost exactly what I smell along with a little dark chocolate, and good, if not a bit understated. My only complaint might be that I like my porters a little less hop-centric.

Mouthfeel really shines, with a creamy thickness and a suitable char coating the mouth after each sip. Drinkability is decent for a bigger porter.

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Photo of pants678
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It's a very deep brown, almost black, but light is seeping through the bottom of the pint glass. For all intensive purpose it is opaque with a brown single finger head. The head retains well.

Smells of very dark chocolate, coffee as well. I get sharp tones of pine and peppermint.

There is more carbonation than I'd expect. Maybe that's the baltic part of the porter, or maybe it's how "open" it tastes. That is, not convoluted and chaotic. Then again, it's not organized in an unmixed, separated way. Reminds me quite a bit of Anchor's Christmas brew circa 03 or 04. The pine, evergreen, stands out but not quite as defined as with Anchor's. Still, not as complex as I'd like.

Carbonation is not off-putting, rather it compliments what could be a syrup consistency. Not nearly as heavy as i expected for what lends itself to an imperial porter name. Bubbles are sharp, though.

As said before, thinner than I thought, but not too much so. Alcohol stands out a bit, causing a small problem. I'd prefer a mix of flavors to interrupt drinkablility.

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Photo of BirdFlu
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Review based on the 9.2% abv version. Pours a dark almost-black with tan head. Has the color but not the viscosity of an imperial stout. Aroma is quite chocolatey, but very bitter. A lot of floral hop and a bit of roasty burnt bread. Taste is similar to aroma; chocolate (sweet and bitter), floral hop, a touch of burnt roastiness and bread. Quite chocolatey aftertaste. Mouth is full bodied with a slight acrid feeling in the after-sip from the hop bitterness. Carbonation is quite present. Drinks fairly well. Quite robust in flavor and such, so it's definitely not easy to drink a few (maybe the new lower abv is).

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Photo of malcontent
4.36/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Wicked-black body with an impressive finger of immovable tan head. Could be a stout, looks excellent.

Lots of roast malt here with a touch of dark fruit and a hint of sourness (Irish stout-like). Almost lactic sweetness on the back end.

Dang, this is awfully good. Like a coffee milkshake in its ability to combine roasted bitterness with creamy sweetness. A hint of cinnamon sugar to the finish and very little of the fruit from the nose. At 7.8% the alcohol is skillfully hidden to say the least.

Some Baltic Porters trend towards the syrupy but this is simply smooth with moderate carbonation. Should be a sipper but it drinks so damned easy. I never thought I'd find myself gushing over a Flying Dog beer which, to date, is consistently the most disappointing brewery I've ever tried. Hunter S. Thompson couldn't be more appropriately honored; fantastic.

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Photo of whoneeds8
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2009 Vintage

Poured into pint glass black with a one finger tan head. Smells like roasted chocolate. Taste strong in roasted malts, however there really isn't much sweetness to it. There's a slight alcohol burn at the end of the palate, which is suprising for the alcohol level of this "imperial". The mouthfeel feels "airy", not very thick. Overall, this is a decent porter. But there's really not much imperial about it.

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

Drinking this right now. Pours an extremely dark brown, almost black color with lighter brown around the edges. Plenty of thick foam that fades quickly but leaves a good finger's worth on top of the beer and a fair amount of lacing. Smells like bready yeast, mild earthy hops, and heavy roasted barley malt. Tastes the same with a hint of chocolate cream. Extremely smooth, goes down very quickly and easily. My bottle says 9.2%, and I can definitely feel it, so sessioning is probably not in the picture, but I could probably drink quite a few before realizing it.

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Photo of cnjohn19
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

i'll just jump to the point on this one...don't let the smell and appearance turn you away...this beer is a 5 out of 5 in regards to taste...bold, smooth, acidic and roasty sweetness...you can't go wrong with a beer that has the gonzo cannon on the label...enough said

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Photo of tgdigital
4.65/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Had this beer on Nitro at several locations. Pours a deep black with a nice creamy nitro head. Nose is loaded with hops for a porter, and the taste is the same. Exceptional beer all around, but not a beer you can sit down and pound many at once. I've also had the oak barrel aged version, which I preferred.

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Photo of Mayhem976
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Black, zero light passes through my glass. Has a great head and impressive fingers on the side of the glass.

S- Hops, hops, and more hops. The smell is overwhelmed with ...well you know.

T- Roasted malt flavor finishes off with a good amount of hops.

M- Medium body a bit on the carbonated side.

D- If you're a porter lover that wants your palate kicked into overdrive with hops then look no further. Good solid porter overall.

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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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