Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

2,919 Ratings
Read the review
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

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,919 |  Reviews: 1,476
Photo of Soneast
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

VINTAGE08EE bottle. Pours a dark brown, pretty much black color, with a 1 inch, creamy, light-brown colored head that has some great retention, leaving a decent amount of sudsy goodness on the glass.

The aroma is rich and malty, hints of the sweet viscous mouthfeel and flavor. Some chocolate notes are evident, as well as a fairly tame booziness. Malted milk balls?

As expected this is a rich beer, heavy on the malt front...quite sweet but with a roasted character to offset the malty sweetness, as well as a hint of bitter chocolate which also helps tame the residual sugars. Fairly complex and a definite alcohol punch is noted in the finish.

While this did have a heavy body, it still seemed a tad lacking in that area. Not at all watery, but it didn't have quite the mouthfeel I expect from a Baltic porter. I did, however, still find this to be a delicious beer from Flying Dog, great flavors and complexity makes for a well rounded beer.

 948 characters

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

Poured into a pint size glass, with some suds lacing on glass. Thick mouth feel and warming alcohol lets you know this brew is a heavy hitter. Very burnt malty nose with little hop flavor, despite the 85 IBU's that the bottle notes. Finishing thoughts are a strong dark fruity finish.

 284 characters

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

This beer is a very dark brown, with a thin but persistent and creamy head. Good aroma full of coffee & cocoa, backed by a nice spicy hoppiness (it seemed a lot stronger at first, right after the pour). The emphasis in the taste is squarely on the malt, and it stands up pretty well: a decent roast from start to finish, together with a good coffee flavor. Bitterness from hops is high, but there's not much hop flavor in here. The yeast profile is clean, letting a long lingering roastiness after the finish.

 509 characters

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

A - Pours an enticing completely opaque, very dark brown with about two fingers of tan head. Solid retention and leaves decent lacing.

S - Roasty chocolate and coffee malt aromas with a faint alcohol scent in the background. Picking up some very light hoppiness in there as well.

T - Sweet, smoky, roasted malty flavors dominate, with hints of chocolate and coffee most prominent. Some dried fruit flavors in there too, maybe fig or raisin. Very slight pine hoppiness is detectable in the finish. Couldn't really detect the alcohol I was picking up in the scent at all in the taste.

M - Fairly full-bodied with moderate carbonation. Syrupy and smooth going down.

D - Very drinkable at 9.2% abv(or so my bottle says - different from the abv listed here?). Smooth drinking with nice, rich flavors. Very enjoyable change-up from the IPA/DIPA kick I've been on of late.

 870 characters

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

Sampled this one just because it looked cool and I hadn't had it yet.

A: This one looks like a slightly thicker porter or a slightly thin stout. Pours black/dark brown with a tan/brown head that deminishes down to a ring that produces slight lacing. Light fails to penetrate the murky depths.

S: I expected the coffee and chocolate tones in here. There is also a smokeiness right up front. Once it warmed up a little I started smelling a pine hops aroma.

T: Follows the smell. Coffee, chocolate, smoke, pine, and... something else in there. Very light in the background. Dark fruits?

M: Thicker than an average porter. Even with the "Imperial" higher alcohol content it's not harsh. There is a slight oil coating afterward.

D: I like it. Although the richness dictates only one per session.

 795 characters

Photo of UA8
4.38/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours an opaque black with a one inch thick brown head.

S- Citrus and herbal hops, sweet malts, a faint hint of smoke.

T- Leads with burnt toffee malt sweetness, , mid palate has hints of citrus hops, finishes with the malts taking back over but leaning more towards the smoky side this time.

M- Near perfect I would say medium heavy in the mouth with medium to light carbonation.

D- I would say this is a fantastic American take on a baltic or imperial porter. Its really tasty and I would happily sip through 3+ of these things. My only critique would be I thinks its a bit sweet for a porter but I would say if you consider it a baltic its pretty spot on.

 665 characters

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

Pours a deep dark brown with an absolutely massive solid and thick head of light brown bubbles. Just huge and billowy, to the point of ".. the hell??". Some very nice fine carbonation around the edges of the glass ensures the head stays well fed. Pretty insane look, but pretty good too.

Light carbonic acidity, dark bread characters and a noticeable fragrant hop twang. The dark notes are underneath, and the hops are pungent and fruity over the top, leaving this a very pleasant highly-hopped hybrid porter. I approve.

On the palate, the dark malts take to the fore, with a rich and creamy burnt grain husk character. It's lightened though by the crisp and invigorating hop bitterness which mingles very well with the roasted bitter characters. It left me unsure where the hops ended and the malt began, which was quite an exciting experience. Mouthfeel is smooth and thick, certainly not as opressively effervescent as the head might have lead me to believe. An excellent palate, all round, one which has a lot to offer.

That 7.8% is well hidden, and this is a sippable and enjoyable brew. Despite its forthright and irreverent nature, it stays surprisingly drinkable. But rest assured, there's enough kick in it to remind you that it's still near the cutting edge.

 1,271 characters

Photo of luecke23
4.75/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This was a great beer! Very dark and full of flavor. I enjoyed it at dinner with some friends. The smell was excellent! This beer was in another world for me. It's a stronger beer and well worth the price you have to pay for it in my area. Enjoy it with a meal!

 261 characters

Photo of Lerxst
3.58/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A-Very nice dark, dark brown. Almost black. Nice head with good lacing.

S-Coffee, hints of chocolate, hops. Strong nose here.

T-Not as good as I had hoped based on the nose, but not bad at all. As with the nose, chocolate, coffee, hops and some maltiness here too.

M-On the heavy side of medium, but not truly a heavyweight. Nice medium carbonation level.

D-Not a session beer for me. This certainly isn't a bad beer, but it doesn't motivate me to have another.

 466 characters

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

Got this in a BIF, cant tell if its a vintage 08 or 06

Pours a small 1 finger chocolate head. Body is black in color. Head retention is above average and lacing is good

Smell is heavy on dark fruits, like prune or raisin. There is also a smell of rich syrupy malt and slight hops.

Taste first starts out like a shwartzbier, some prune and fig. It quickly changes to coffee flavors, burnt malts, and slightly metallic. Hops are also there but faint

Carbonation is good, mild but enough to liven it up. Body is syrupy, rich, but not too heavy.

Drink ability is good. Not really sessionable, but could drink acouple of these at a time. My first baltic porter, looking forward to trying some more

 697 characters

Photo of jjanega08
4.27/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A= pours a dark brown black color with amber highlights around the edges. A small tan head comes up then falls to leave a very thin layer on top with some suprisingly decent lacing.
S= quite pungent I can smell it from a couple feet away. An odd hoppiness to it. Somewhat piney with deep rich malty sweetness below.
T= wow very complex. The hops bite the tongue first then are washed away by the sweet malts. The finish is very smokey and roasted. The hops are there throughout but definitilly muted after all the other flavors coming through. This beer actually has just about everything. Somewhat porky finish comes with the smoke. I'm noticing a lot of coffee as I drink on.
M= medium body and average finish. Somewhat coating.
D= pretty good this is one of those beers that will keep you stumped picking out all the flavors so it stays interesting. Ill be looking for it again.

 881 characters

Photo of Magpie14
3.36/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: the pour put forth a fairly black color with some burnt brown hues. The lacing is sticky and in the most interconnected random order. The head formed quickly and is sugary mocha in color and quickly melted down to a fizz ring

S: blackened malts, strong espresso coffee, chocolate, and strong whiffs of pine needles. Nose is unusual to say the least. I am finding that the pine smells are becoming more and more present as the malts fall in the back

T: the flavors leave room to be desired. The malts are quite sugary and the coffee takes on smoky and stale dimensions. Within this, the pine hops are nice and somewhat misplaced and clash with the other flavors, they fail to mingle well. I also gather burnt dark molasses that brings about a tacky character. I also pick out some crusty bitter chocolate malts
Flavors are nicely unique, but do not mesh very well. These flavors hit you and then...nothing.

M: body is leaning towards full and is rather slick. Buttery burnt flavors mingle as my glass is mostly gone

D: it is somewhat rich and has a lot going on...but something is missing. It needs a bigger punch, flavors are kind of shallow

 1,148 characters

Photo of Aenema
3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours jet black with a large, soapy tan head. Not much lacing.
Smell - Chocolate, cocoa and a strong hop presence fights through the initial chocolate aroma.
Taste - Roasted malts with both chocolate and coffee notes, finishing with a firm hop backbone. Aftertaste is a little too bitter.
Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied, creamy, and moderately carbonated.
Drinkability - Very drinkable for such a rich, flavorful beer.

 426 characters

Photo of merryjoulton
4.41/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Smells like chocolate covered coffee beans... actually I wonder what those smell like? Would the coffee aroma seep through the coffee even? Well anyways, that's what this smells like, along with some roasty malts. Tastes very unique, chocolatey and very bitter. The hops in this brew were very well coordinated. Mouthfeel is full and creamy and thick, drinkability is great.

 374 characters

Photo of ClockworkOrange
4.17/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A 7oz pony bottle from the mixed 8-pack. These ponies rock as the perfect size for higher ABV beers. I wish more brewers would adopt/go back to using these; enough with the fucking high ABV bombers already! Poured into a nonic pint glass, this porter appears a deep chestnut color with about a finger of ecru foam. Nose and flavor are of nicely roasted and caramelized grains/malts, dark fruits, mocha, and a touch of alcohol. Smooth and full bodied with ample carbonation. A great and consistent baltic. Check it out if you can.

 529 characters

Photo of biggred1
4.32/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Darkest brown with a slight, whipped creamy tan head that leaves thick fine lace behind. Cocoa tinged roasted malt with molasses, dark fruit and some hoppiness struggling to get through the quagmire. Coffee and raisin with dark rum and a charred bitterness with warming alcohol in the finish. Smooth medium mouthfeel with fine carbonation. A very nice offering from FD.

 369 characters

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

Poured from Bottle into Snifter glass.

Pours a deep, thick black with a nice one inch tan head that very slowly dissipates into a fine film around the glass. Very classy looking. The aroma is of bitter chocolate and slight dried fruits and roasted malts. WOW... The flavor on this is packed with striking coffee bitterness, chocolate, licorice, and just a touch of smoke and maybe leather. The alcohol has a lasting warming presence. The mouthfeel is suprising medium-bodied and ends with a semi-dry finish. Classy. Overall, I am extremely impressed with this beer. While there is an obvious presence of alcohol, I would still drink a couple of these through-out an adventurous evening.

 687 characters

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

A: Completely opaque pitch black. The brown head is tall, dense, frothy, and creamy. Retention is good, with some nice lacing.

S: Some roasted dark malt is obviously present. Coffee, some faint dark chocolate, and charcoal notes. Some vague fruity notes as well. Resiny spruce/pine hop aromas.

T: Roasted, slightly burnt malt provides some sweetness. Sweetened espresso flavor is prominent, along with some charcoal. A bit of chocolate. A piney, slightly spicy hop character. A hint of alcohol into the finish.

M: Rather full-bodied. Carbonation is very light. A sticky feel fades into a slightly dry finish.

D: A big, flavorful Baltic Porter from Flying Dog. One of their first beers I can say that I enjoyed solidly. That said, it's good, not great. A bit shallow and lacking in complexity.

 800 characters

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

A--Pours almost black, only the faintest highlight shows when this is held to the light. Standard pour in my pint glass yields two fingers of head. A little bit of lacing sticks.

S--Caramel, chocolate, hops, vanilla. Very nice nose.

T--Taste follows the nose fairly well minus the vanilla. Sweet caramel-like malt is at the forefront, pine hops on the back end. The chocolate is barely there, and there is a roastiness that is like a mix of ash and coffee grounds that I don't care for. This is OK tasting, but nothing noteworthy at all.

M--Medium bodied with perhaps slightly too much carbonation, stings a little on the way down

D--Decent porter, nothing noteworthy to add

 678 characters

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

What's not to love about a beer named after the good Dr. Thompson?

Nice rich brown color as I expecdted. I got a whiff of chocolate and coffee as well as malt. The taste matched the aroma too but I also got a bit of citrus as well. This beer had higher carbonation than a lot of porters, which for me is a good thing though it ever so slightly detracts from the mouthfeel, especially for this style.

 401 characters

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

A - Pours nice and dark, thick .5 inch tan head, leaves to ring. Clingy lacing apparent.

S - Cocoa and sea breeze. Not the best part of the beer.

T - Cocoa, some light coffee. Nice flavors, very reined in.

M - Very carb, maybe a little too much, nice coating, good balance.

D - Pretty easy to drink, for sure.

 313 characters

Photo of BeanBone
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Extremely dark brown body with the barest brown highlights poking through around the edges. On top, a generous caramel-colored head that leaves dense sheets of lacing.

Aroma: Lots of roasted malt surprisingly tempered with a big dose of piney and citrusy hops. A few hints of alcohol in the back, especially as it warms.

Taste: A sweet roasted malt body balanced with a nice bitterness. The hops are a very welcome addition here. That nearly eight percent alcohol makes it's presence known from time-to-time, but mostly stays hidden. Afterwards, a bitter and roasty aftertaste, reminiscent of black coffee.

Mouthfeel: The body is smooth and just barley on the full side of medium. Good carbonation.

Drinkability: Quite average for the style. Not quite a sipper, but certainly not a quick beer either.

Verdict: This is a very tasty little Porter and definitely one of the better offerings from Flying Dog. I'm looking forward to finding more Porters with a big hop presence like this. As for the little bottle, I would have no problem whatsoever with a full 12oz., making the 7oz. serving size a bit of a tease in this beer's case.

 1,147 characters

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

pours as dark as a moonless night. brownish head which subsides quickly leaving a 2mm thick clingy film. a bit too much of toasted malt in the nose and taste for my liking, but the lasting pleasant aftertaste more than makes up for it. could become an acquired taste!

 267 characters

Photo of mdubzfrumpdubz
3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

picked up an overpriced 4-pack, because I was surprised to see it in stock. It has been a while ... So long, that I did not realize that it was only 7.8%. I remember falling in love with this beer a few years ago, and it was 9% ... but whatever.

pours as I expect a good porter to pour. Roasted coffee, bitter chocolate, minimal booze in the nose. Mouth is alive...this is way more drinkable than I remember. Bitter chocolate notes, and some crisp hops coming through....coffee too. Tastes exactly like it smells. Some booze at the end that lingers. All around great porter, but not the one I thought I was buying.

 616 characters

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

Dark brown/black.. creamy appearance. Sweet, rich smell with a burning alcohol presence. Raisins and molasses as well.

Sweet and mellow chocolate raisin flavor. Pretty light, not much alcohol taste at all (especially compared to the smell)... leading this to be very drinkable for something 9.2%abv. Mouthfeel is not as thick and creamy as I would've thought as it is actually fairly light. I would've liked it to be a little more complex, this is pretty good.

 461 characters

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

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.

    Learn More
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.

    Learn More
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Learn More