Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

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Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter
2,950 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

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 2,950 |  Reviews: 1,481
Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.45/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Delicious looking head that vanishes without leaving any kind of lacing. Fizzy on closer notice; liquid is extremely dark brown, almost black.

Smell: Dark Chocolate, Hops, and dark berries with a little bit of molasses and alcohol.

Taste: Burt malts and dark chocolate. Light ashtray flavor. Some berries; very mild alcohol. I'd say the dark chocolate is the strongest taste.

Mouthfeel: Slick and heavy-bodied, yet still a little watery feeling. Not chunky/vicious like most imperial stouts.

Drinkability: For an imperial porter it's very light. The flavor is enjoyable but I could see myself getting bored of it's taste. I think the taste is somewhat one dimensional. I remember drinking this beer a year ago and it was completely different.

We believe they changed this recipe; it used to be much better.

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Photo of 100floods
4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours dark black/chocolate with a thick golden/mocha head that seems to really make its way into the beer (i lost a few sips to the head). This beer has a decent amount of carbonation and fizzles like a soda when pouring. It, however, doesnt taste carbonated at all.

I've been lucky with strong beers lately, I dont know what it is, but the second I opened this bottle (as with a few others) a burst of aroma shoots out and its noticed but for a moment, mostly sweet smells. The beer itself doesnt seem to have any further smells, although there are nice roasted scents hidden.

This brew is mighty fine balance between the malt and sweetness. There's a noticeable hint of dark chocolate with dries out the roasted malts a but, which I like. You can really get a taste of the chocolate with the full body taste of the initial contact with the pallet.

I will say I was impressed. This is the first 'imperial porter' i've had, although i find it to be in a gray area between a stout and a porter, leaning for towards the stout side. Needless to say I look forward to having this again, and other beers of it's kind.

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Photo of lynx1245
3.53/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Didn't hold anything back on this pour. A nice dark and brown three finger head resulted. It's a very dark brew that hardly lets any light through except for some crimson red highlights around the edges of the glass when held up to a lamp.
Some lacing after sips.

Smell: First thing I notice is the fruity smell - reminds me of blackberries yum. Malts and a little alcohol as well.

Taste: Malts, cocoa, and a slight hint of coffee in the aftertaste. I also get a big hit of alcohol if I keep it in my mouth for any appreciable amount of time. Alcohol makes me feel niiice but I don't know if I want to taste it so much.

Mouthfeel: Pretty smooth. Didn't notice any carbonation. Still I couldn't really appreciate the mouthfeel because of the alcohol taste.

Drinkability: I picked this out of the fridge because I was feeling kind of hungry and thought it would fill me up a bit. I was completely right. Now I know why they sell them in 4 packs. Still, I could probably drink another one and not explode.

Serving type: 112-oz bottle... er 12-oz bottle. I'm really feeling the alcohol now.

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Photo of HappyBivouac
4.72/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I would be a liar if I said it wasn't the awesome label, the tribute name, and past happy flying dog experiences that drew me to buy a 4 pack of this stuff when I saw it in Cyclone Liquors. That aside.. I haven't even opened this one yet, so here goes. From the 12 oz bottle, poured vigorously.

a- Completely opaque black. Even with a backlight it stays black, though around the very edges of the glass there are a few faint spots of red. Nice thick dark tan head that slowly dissipates and lightens up.

s- roasty. then sweet. then strong alcohol and malts and fruit. My mouth wants this stuff real bad.

t/m- up front roasty character and booze. Thick malty presence in the middle and fruits and alcohol warmth to finish off. Thick and smooth the whole way with the perfect level of carbonation bite to accent. Nothing is overpowering here in the taste or feel. Each taste making me want to re-explore it with the next.

d- hits hard and the high alcohol sort of slips by the detectors. That said this beer is GOOD. It's hard to want to put it down.

Best flying dog I've had to date. Comes with a strong reccomendation.

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Photo of radshoesbro
4.7/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

i am not a big porter guy, but this is definitely one of the better ones i've ever had. poured murky black into a nice 8 oz glass with a finger level tan head and minimal lace. smells of malts and mild hops with a vague aroma of smoke. goes down really easy! it's a mix of malt and hops with a very creamy finish. a fair amount of alcohol rounds this out, but is evident much more towards the middle of beer than any other time it seemed.

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

Got this at the Cracked Kettel in Amsterdam

Bottle into a snifter

Note: This bottle is 8.7% ABV.

APPEARANCE: Pours pitch black and opaque with almost no carbonation evident. Looks pretty thick coming out of the bottle. Forms a thick looking one finger tan head that totally disappears rather quickly, except around the edges. Minimal film remains and it leaves no lacing.

SMELL: Roasted malt smell with a smoky component and some dark fruits make their way through nicely as well. A slightly soapy scent creeps in there as well, which is unique but not off putting. A touch of underlying alcohol ties it together nicely.

TASTE: The roasted and smoky malt component is very prevalent, which soon gives way to a strong hop bitterness at the end. A touch of bitter black coffee as well. A strong spicy alcohol presence is constant the whole way though and ties it together, much like the nose. The roasted and bitter aftertaste is nice and long lasting, with a slight touch of spicy alcohol to round it off.

PALATE: Medium thick body, relatively full. Medium carbonation, feels creamy smooth on the palate. Goes down surprisingly smooth for the ABV, but finishes with a slight alcohol bite at the end. Ends slightly mouth-coating. Pretty nice here.

OVERALL: A nice baltic porter, but the ABV would make it tough to be a session beer. Enjoyable for one or two though. A much better brew than their Road Dog Porter. The two don't even seem to be related actually. One I'd definitely re-visit.

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

Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle cellared for about 2 years. Vintage 06D.

Pours a completely black color with a nice dark head which dissipates quite fast. Some nice sticky uneven lacing in the glass.

Aroma is mainly roasted malts. Hints of coffee, slightly burnt toast. Hints of dark chocolate and some fruity smells too. Breathing in the smells deeply reveals some alcohol as well.

Even after 2 years, the taste is still very good. There is a sweetness to it at first which yields to lots of nice roasted malt flavors. Hints of coffee and chocolate in the taste as well. Taste is very much like the aroma. There is an interesting spiciness that tingles the tongue. Mouthfeel is a little oily feeling (I recall it being quite a bit more oily when it was new), with almost no carbonation left. Drinkability is a bit better compared to when its new.

Overall still very good. 2 years in the "cellar" caused its robustness to fade a little, but still very drinkable and enjoyable.

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Photo of Nowhereman529
4.24/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is probably the best pour of a porter I have seen. Very dark, almost velvety with a one finger layer of creamy brown head on top. Granted, appearance isn't everything, but it sure is a plus.

Smell is dark malty and hoppy, Nothing special, but not bad.

Taste is good, but not astounding. There's some roasted dark malt, a little molasses, a little dark chocolate and just a bit of coffee in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is thick, chewy and a little creamy. A nice balance over all.

Overall a very tasty beer. A good example of the style and very recommended for anyone into dark beers.

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Photo of Cunningham26
4.57/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A- pours a very dark brown into an american pint tumbler. no head retention whatsoever, which is expected for the style
S- strong coffee notes with chocolate mixed in for good measure. hops cut through the smell as it does the taste.
T- big coffee notes, with caramel, toffee and chocolate also very much present. hops come thorugh to cut the maltiness and alcohol clears things perfectly.
M- big maltiness makes for a great mouthfeel, and the taste actually covers us the carbonation, which is a medium low, perfect for the style. Alcohol being high, it comes through at the end and opens up the palate.
D- somewhat low because of robustness and abv

This is a great, strong porter with an amazing balance of many complex flavors, aromas, and structure. I wouldn't recommend it to someone not used to bigger beers, but as a porter fan, i will be coming back to this. Pretty sure HST would have bacardi anjeo on ice instead, and don't really find anything particularly "gonzo" about it, but it's a great beer. As your attorney, I advise you to pick up a 6-pack

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

Pours from a 12oz brown bottle into a pint glass. It might as well be black although just a bit of light comes through around the edges. It has a nice layer of tan head with good retention.

Aroma is sweet and roasty. Some cherries and dark bread smells come through.

Flavor starts sweet and syrupy like a port but then goes all roasty and bitter in the middle before finishing sweet once again.

Mouthfeel is smooth, creamy, and thick. It's light on carbonation and almost milky as a result.

Drinkability is good except for high ABV. I will enjoy this one slowly to see how it changes as it warms in the glass.

This is where porter and stout styles overlap. The thicker body and roasty character make it seem more stout but I can see why they call it a porter. It goes easy on bitterness in favor of slightly more sweetness but I think it could go either way.

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Photo of BierFan
3.81/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a tumbler glass.

Appearance: Dark black body with a small cappuccino colored head. Looks pretty damn good. Left good lacing.

Smell: I smell citrusy hops backed by dark chocolatey malts and alcohol.

Taste: Wow. I didn't know quite what to expect from this one but it's pretty tasty. Coffee and chocolate, and hops.

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Photo of roadhouse
3.84/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance is pitch black in color aside from some red highlights visible at the bottom of the glass when held up to some light. One and a half inch tan head holds up well for a while before sinking down to a thick cap and leaving lots of lacing behind.

Aroma is surprisingly weak actually. No matter how hard I try I can't seem to get anything out of it except for some citrusy hoppy notes and weak roast.

Taste starts off good and roasty with lots of hoppy flavors intermingling with coffee and dark chocolate. Very Cascade-like hop flavors. Finishes good and bitter with the citrusy hop flavors lingering on with some coffee-like bitterness.

Mouthfeel is medium, not quite full. Very smooth feel in the mouth, creamy texture.

Not sure why I got no aroma from this one, but it tasted pretty damn good. Definitely one of Flying Dog's best.

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Photo of tbeck
4.58/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aquired this at a wine joint in Richland, WA. The place is Casa Vino, and although they specialize in wines they have a good selection of hard to find beers (for this area anyway).

Pours a heavy dark black with a thin brown head that dissipated into a nice collar. Aroma is off coffee with tones of hops and alcohol. Mellow, enjoyable taste of coffee and slightness of hops. Excellent texture, chewy and heavy but smooth. Enjoyable beer for a couple at a time. It does sit heavy and is high on octane level.

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Photo of jeremyd365
4.27/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Yum! This brew oured very dark with little light brown head. It smelled sweet and chocolatey. The flavors of chocolate and coffee are definitely apparent, with he coffee flavor definitely lingering on the palette. It is very drinkable despite its heaviness, with the bitter of hops there but is mostly masked by other flavors.

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Photo of ReadyFireAim
4.52/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had during a sampling tour of their brewing facility in Frederick, MD. The first beer I tried of theirs before the tour started was their tripel. It was decent, but didn't exactly hit the spot. Right before the tour started the bartender asked us for last orders (so we'd have something to sip on while the tour guide walked us around the facility). I chose their cask-conditioned Gonzo - what a treat!

I had tried their Gonzo before and thought it was pretty good (good - not great); however, this beer is something else. The earthy, vanilla, and bright coffee flavors that the barrel aging process gave this beer sat very well with the rest of the beer's profile. A very malty brew with rich chocolate notes, and the vanilla/coffee edges help sum up the beer quite nicely and deliver a very neat package to the belly. Also, the aromas are heavenly. Wonderful!

It's quite strong (if I remember right it was about 10.5% ABV) so I could only see having a couple of these unless I was planning on chilling awhile somewhere to let the alcohol run its course.

Overall very pleased with this one. Probably the best that Flying Dog has hit me with (their double IPA coming behind in a close second place).


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

Vintage 2008

Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into a pint glass. Head is nice fluffy brown. Leaves some amazing lacing (it was pretty pretty) Color is jet back with a hint of brown. This beer sure looked and tasted amazing.

The smell is a sweet malty coffee with a nice mix of grassy hops. The taste follows quite along with the smell. It has an excellent balance of hop and malts. You can definitely taste the alcohol in this 9.2% beer.

The mouthfeel is wonderful as it very very smooth. But let me tell you this; this beer is very, very filling.

This is a definite keeper! The first of the mixed pack, which means I have high expectations for the others! A definite must try.

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Photo of mnstorm99
4.62/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Not sure if I had a bad bottle in my last review of this or not, but I had this on tap at Stub & Herbs and this turned from a beer I would never buy again, to a beer I would love to have more of.
A - Great looking black pour with a small tan head that disappears quickly, but leaves a nice lacing down the glass.
S - Malt,
T - Malt, like a chocolate bar with hints of coffee and toffee
M - Smooth creamy and buttery, this one just feels good going down.
D - This would be a regular after dinner beer for me, just a real nice relaxing desert.

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Photo of oriolesfan4
3.72/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bought as part of the Canis Major mixed 4 pack ($9.49/4)

Well this is certainly an odd taste for a porter. Pours a jet black color with a nice looking tan head. The first sip I took was very sweet and flavorful and absolutely delicious. The following sips were not so lucky though. It seemed that the sweetness wore away and the alcohol was much more present. I've had many a beer over 10%ABV and this one has 10 times as much alcohol taste than them at only a hair over 9%. Granted, the little alcohol warming kick isn't too bad of a thing, just too much of a 'mixed drink' feeling for me. Would try again.

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

Vintage 2005

Pours opaque black with a half inch head of tan. A slow retreat left behind some smeared lacework and a 90% skim coat on the surface.

Aromatics are chock full of dark fudge, chocolate, espresso, and Kahlua.
Almost doughy in character, with a large, luscious promise for the palate.

A chewy, robust, and thick mouthfeel. Full bodied and creamy.

Dark chocolate, brownie batter, and soft fudge start off the palate. Extremely rich and almost velvety.
Pressed coffee grounds and Hershey's syrup follow through.
A hint of vineousity steps forward as the beer finishes with lingering rich chocolate and dark fudge.

Wow. Three years in the cellar has really brought this beer to the next level.
More please.

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Photo of AMo
4.41/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter pours a dense jet black with a perfect one inch thick, tan, and foamy head. The head has an impeccable consistancy and stays to together exceptionally well. Intial smell is good, only mildly strong, but pleasant of roasted malt aromas. Taste is right on malty goodness with an ever so slight bitterness followed by a touch of sweetness. Mouthfeel is a creamy, silk smooth, medium dense, dark liquid. The carbonation is medium to low. Overall drinability is exceptional. This brew has tons of taste and flavor with a great alcohol kick. A true winner of a porter and a great make from Flying Dog.

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

12 oz bottle from Five Points Bottle Shop in Athens, GA. Last of the mixed four pack. Poured into a nonic.

A: Pours a somewhat thick, BLACK brew. Vigorous pour yields only a finger of tan head. The head has littel retention, falling to only a small ring. Lacing is weak. Leaves a bit of a dark yellow film on the glass. This beer is very black though, and that makes me happy.

S: Smell is easy. Roasted malt, coffee, and chocolate. Thats all we got. Smells appetizing but we need more.

T: Taste is good. Gotta give it up here. Deeply roasted malt, heavy in the first sip. You get some nice chocolate and coffee going on. Fruit. Dark fruits such as fig, raisins and subtle cherries. There is also some really nice notes of a good bourbon going on in this beer. Booze is there but not stupid. Nice balance and pleasing.

M: Medium side of full bodied, but still has some rich thickness to it. Really coats the mouth. Roasted malt resonates on the palate at all times. Alcohol burn on the throat, but pleasing. Carbonation is a bit too high, but whatever.

D: Good beer. For once, Flying Dog proves they can make a beer you can drink more than once or actually finish. Not the best porter in the world, but good. Drink it and enjoy.

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Photo of uwmgdman
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This big porter pours jet black with a thin tan head. The aroma is moderately roasty, chocolately with a medium-low hop aroma and a hint of alcohol. The flavor is moderately roasty; highly bittersweet with a high bitterness. The swallow is smooth with a bit of alcohol warmth and a pleasant lingering hop flavor. The body is full and carbonation moderate Overall a very well done IP and a bit different with a good amount of hop presence.

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Photo of JRed
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opaque looks with a small off brown head. Aroma full of dark chocolate roast, alcohol, and raisins. Tastes of deep, dark chocolate, coffee notes, malty, roast, alcohol mixed with sweetness. The best I have had from Flying Dog yet, a triumph of a porter.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz received a long while back from Wasatch as a very cool extra... bad ass '06B Vintage botle... been in the fridge ever since.

Poured into my shaped SA glass... 2 inch tan head .. sticky lace.. beautiful cap and collar... brew is the darkest brown.

Aroma is thick chocolate and dark dried fruit... raisins and cherries with some background tawny port notes.. quite a bit of caramel.. reminds me a little bit of a nutty candy bar.

Flavor mirrors the nose with more chocolate and caramel.. a little sweet IMHO.. very complex... roasty but not burnt ... fairly viscous with abundant smooth carbonation... age hasn't hurt this bottle a bit.

John.. thanks for the Gonzo... we used to get this in Boise years ago... now it's just a distant longing memory..


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Photo of supercolter
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Yowsah... that's a big beer, but I finished it. Appearance is pretty good. Black as coal but no head or lacing to speak of. Smell and taste are of roasted coffee beans, some dry wine and dry malt taste. A bit of spice comes through, I believe that it my be nutmeg. Mouth feel is great, medium to heavy in body and only a bit of carbonation. Drinkability is rough, but definately sessionable.

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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
Beer rating: 4.02 out of 5 with 2,950 ratings