Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

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Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter
2,946 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:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,946 |  Reviews: 1,480
Photo of ewright
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours out completely black with just a fine layer of tan foam that dissipates into a ring fairly quickly.

S: Deep earthy notes, rich coffee, cocoa, hint of leather, maybe a touch of burnt caramel.

T: Robust flavors dominated by espresso with hints of smoke, wood, and cocoa. Hop flavors are hard to discern, but there is significant bittering contribution that helps even out the malts.

M: Fairly thick and creamy up front, but there's also a faint tongue-puckering note in the aftertaste that I seem to pick up in all baltic/imperial porters.

D: Treat this one like an imperial stout with a twist and you'll be perfectly happy having this after dinner.

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Photo of mountdew1
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Left a gorgeous chocolate brown 2 finger head that was bubbles on the bottom, and foam on the top. Clung very well to the sides and left a small layer on top. Color was a very very dark dark opaque brown. Smell was espresso and chocolate, but had a small bit of alcohol poking through. Taste was very slightly sweet, mostly robust burnt grains with a bitter chocolate aftertaste. Felt ok in the mouth. It coated very well, just the right amount of carbonation, but was a tad bit acidic. Easy to drink, did a good job hiding the ABV, but it did kick in a bit faster than I would expect.

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

this beer's allure has sentimental value to me in loving memory of my sheepdog, Gonzo. RIP son, 1988-2003.

A- pours an ominous super dark brownish black with faint glimmers of mahogany at the bottom of the glass. sweet cascading action builds up a big puffy coffee-with-cream colored pancake batter head with vacuoles that open and close while it slowly shrinks down to a thick disk with little fingers and specks of lace.

S- surprisingly hoppy in the nose, cascade grapefruit and pine are completely evident, this may be the first porter i've had where hop aroma is dominant. smokey charred wood, black licorice, currant, prune, raisin, with some coffee, a little dark chocolate, and alcohol. would be a 5 if there was less evidence of alcohol.

T- smoother tasting than i would have expected, hop bitterness is almost completely balanced out by the roasted malt while the hop flavor remains intact. very nice flavor at that, the dry hopping did this dog justice. amazing roasted malt burnt flavor, charcoal, cigar, pine, inky black dried fruits, raisin, prune, fig, dark resinous wood, extremely well hidden alcohol is no surprise considering the amount of flavor. while a normal porter is a flavorful brew in its own, i expected this imperial to be borderline obnoxious but instead this thing is just right, definitely not overwhelming. coffee & cocoa are a given and they intermingle with the other flavors throughout the mouth-life of this beer. finishes brightly hoppy with low relative bitterness due to its counterbalance, burps are complete hop essence without all the roasty toasty stuff. perfection.

MF- rich and just under full, without being overbearing. carbonation is perfection too, just where it should be. luxurious, almost creamy feel leaves a nice substantial coating of roasted malt goodness.

D- if not for the high abv i could drink this all day, night, and morning. i had a hunch it would be good, but my expectations were far exceeded.

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

Appearance: I've been holding on to this one - the label indicates it's "Vintage 2005". Aggressive pour into a tulip produces an aggressive dark tan head, which lingers with some rocky bubbles. Very, very, very black. Serious lacing.

Smell: Sweet malt, liquorice and chocolate. Enticing.

Taste: Lots of chocolate and sweet malt. Also some dried fruit and spice. No noticeable hops.

Mouthfeel: This one will definitely fill your mouth up despite its relatively significant carbonation.

Drinkability: It would be malpractice to say this is drinkable. You will definitely enjoy drinking it, but it's the sort of beer that you end the evening with. Starting the evening with it would be suicidal given the ABV.

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

From an 07 bottle, opened without fanfare, but the head grew anyway. Poured black with a mocha one finger head. Aroma is very malty with smoky/burnt and woodlike smell. Taste is intense, then goes right into bitter chocolate smoked flavor. Aftertaste is a little bitter/dry. Overall, a good representation of a baltic porter.

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Photo of jwinship83
3.52/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A- deep dark brown with the smallest tan head.

S- chocolate, roasted malts, a bit of sweetness

T- slightly sour towards the end is the thing that sticks out most. oxidation i think. roasted malts, chocolate, and a coffee aftertaste. no noticeable hop presence

M- extremely smooth and creamy

D- the bottle i had was of a 06 vintage, and i think that this one was a casualty of oxidation. i have had this before and dont remember the sour twang at the end like this one. that being said, it wasnt that major yet and its still enjoyable. especially fresh. give this one a try if you havnt yet.

ill edit this next fresh one i have.

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

12 oz. bottle. Pours a dark brown/black, with a nice light-brown head. Smells sweet and malty, a bit of hops. Good long-lasting heavy sweet flavor. You can definitely taste and smell roasted malts, chocolate, and some coffee. Nice medium-to-full body, sticks on your tongue a good while.

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

Just had this at Dayton Ale Fest in Dayton, OH. I've had Gonzo many tunes, both on draught and bottled, today was different. I was pleased to have enjoyed Oak Aged Gonzo. Absolutely amazing!!!! The single best beer I've ever consumed. The oak brings forward a vanilla flavor tha i've never tasted before. It also brings out extra carbonation like nothing beforfe experienced.

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Photo of schuim
4.04/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Drank this from the bottle. dated 06-12-09. The head on the beer was brown foam. Black color.
Aroma: hops with pine and grapefruit. Taste: also very hoppy taste with grapefruit and citrus. Taste of liqorice, red fruit and some salt.
Aftertaste very warming, tastes of dark malt, coffee and salt. Very nice and complex beer.

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Photo of eweneek83
3.86/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Deep brownish black beer, a clingy and decently long-lasting foamy brown head.

Aroma: Smoky, full roast coffee, powdered cocoa, and a few other earthy, roasted malts. Improves a little as it warms.

Taste: Very sweet. Milk chocolate and coffee, a few lighter, sweet notes, and a few earthy hop notes meld pretty well with the roasted, grassy astringencies of the roasted malts. The malt is really similar to the malt in the nose - earthy, smoky, and dirty, and it grows more so as it warms. A warming spicy alcohol is present from the height of the sip through to the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bubbled but very even and slick, thin to medium bodied, sort of crisp.

Drinkability: Decently high abv%, but it's relatively well crafted. Not bad by any stretch - does a good job of being sweet while simultaneously being very dark, smoky, and toasty malty.

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

Pours an oil slick black. Solid finger of head, not much retnention, lacing present.

Roasted malt, rum raisin

Roasted malt finish, some sweet and bitter, maybe hops.

Sits bitter, sweet ABV

Drinks well for 9.2. The bitter aspect is refrehing for Porters. Much sweeter than most. Ill drink some, but only so much.

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

Appearance: Black, nice big tan head.

Smell: Hops dominate, very piney aroma.

Taste: Sweet roasted flavors and lots and lots of piney hops. I don't get as much chocolate flavor as I expected.

Drinkability: Reasonable price for a big beer and tasty.

I had the Gonzo a few years ago and thought it was pretty good. This time around it surprised me with the piney hop flavors. I was expecting a little more sweetness or chocolate but that's not a bad thing. Good stuff.

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Photo of clayrock81
3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a thick, syrupy, blackish body with a tan head that died quickly but left a lace sheath. A vague coffee and raosted malt smell that wasn;t much complemented. A very crisp, biting roasted malt and thick full-bodied, syrupy beer that is accented with some roasted and coffee malts that lend a warming sensation on the backbite. While semi-creamy it also contains minor hop notes. A very good-almost great beer, I could have this again but wouldn't session it because it dried out my tastebuds.

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Photo of bobhits
4.39/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

So I've seen this beer since the first time I asked someone "what's a good beer" and somehow I just never tried it. Maybe it is that I still ponder the idea of an "imperial porter" or perhaps it is that the few flying dog beers I had were ok, but nothing special. What ever it was, thankfully flying dog released a mixed 4 pack of their big beers and I was almost forced by my demand for big beers to try this out. All I can say it thank you flying dog!

A. Served in a Stone Imperial Russian Stout Glass. Black with about two inches of head that go away a bit faster than expected (maybe the glass needed a bit more cleaning). I hate scoring appearance but nothing wrong here.

S. Chocolate, Molasses, some sweet malty notes (can't pin point them), hint of alcohol, some vanilla, and a slight burnt aroma as well.

T. I really can't do this justice. It's got that traditional stout flavor, but it's a good bit sweeter than your average imperial stout. A bit of a vanilla flavor seems to come through. The smell description gives a good idea of the flavors in here as well.

m/d. While I think the beer tastes pretty good, the mouth feel and the drink ability take this one over the top. It's smooth, creamy, without being overly filling. It's thick enough to make you want to sip it and the way it stays in your mouth will have to coming back for more and more and more.

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

This amazing brew gives most imperial stouts a run for their money. Oh wow, this is tasty. Rich sweet chocolatey aroma, slightly burnt and roasted. Dark, dark pour with a sizeable head and great lacing. Overwhelmingly creamy mouthfeel that slowly slides down the gullet. Flavor is very impressive thick and full of roasted malts with powerful shares of chocolate and coffee. Hands down one of the best porters out there.

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Photo of OtherShoe2
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours deep brown/black with a thin tan bubbly head that disappeared fairly quick.

Toast and chocolate scents with a bit of grain.

Some dark toast, a little chocolate, a little coffee, and alcohol soaked dark fruit (raisin, prune). I like that fact that this one has no true burnt flavors. There is bitterness, but not that burnt coffee ground element that is such a turn off for me. Smooth.

Firm beer with alcohol heat. You feel it in your mouth.

A sterong porter that you could actually have more than one of, but I think 2 would be enough. Decent.

PS -- gotta dig that artwork.

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Photo of Jwale73
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a nonic. Poured a dark, opaque brown just shy of black with a one inch, tight coffee-colored head with ringlets embedded in the cap. Webs of lacing adhered to the sides of the glass as the volume decreased. Scents of dark fruit, malt and coffee. More dark fruit, malt and coffee come out in the flavor profile, as well as an earthy character, a hint of cocoa, a mild alcohol presence and a little bit of char that lingers between sips. Mouthfeel is medium-bodied with a light carbonation burn across the middle of the tongue. Alcohol was well-hidden for a 9.2% abv and not as boozy as some other Baltics I've tried. Very tasty with just enough complexity to keep it interesting while still being drinkable.

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

On tap at the Decatur Taco Mac in Atlanta, GA. Served in a 10 oz. snifter.

Appearance: Deep brownish black beer, a clingy and decently long-lasting foamy brown head.

Aroma: Smoky, full roast coffee, powdered cocoa, and a few other earthy, roasted malts. Improves a little as it warms. I want to write "dirt," but the connotations associated with that word don't do it justice. Not that it's outstanding, but, hey, it's not dirt, you know?

Taste: Very sweet. Milk chocolate and creamed 'n' sugared coffee, a few lighter, sweet notes, and a few earthy hop notes meld pretty well with the roasted, grassy astringencies of the roasted malts. The malt is really similar to the malt in the nose - earthy, smoky, and dirty, and it grows more so as it warms. A warming spicy alcohol is present from the height of the sip through to the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bubbled but very even and slick, thin to medium bodied, sort of crisp.

Drinkability: Decently high abv%, but it's relatively well crafted. Not bad by any stretch - does a good job of being sweet while simultaneously being very dark, smoky, and toasty malty. Worth trying.

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Photo of beerthulhu
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured a dark opaque nature with a rocky light tan head.

S: some chinook hops give this a beautiful dry pine and citrus aroma. There was also dark chocolate, roasted malt, fresh coffee beans along with a light burnt woodiness adding to complexity.

T: For flavor ther was a nice smoky roastedness, dark bitter chocolate and dark fruit. The hopping was dry, citrusy, and woodsy reminding me of a arrogant bastard.

M: nice, moderately carbonated with a medium-full body leaving a nice roasted dark bean leacing on the tongue after the swallow.

D: A rich, robust treat full of dark roasted flavor leaving you filled and satisfied.

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Photo of mdagnew
4.44/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

355ml bottle bought online from Tuckers Maltings.... Best before date of Nov 2006 on this one...

Poured pitch black with no hint of colour even when held up to the light. Dirty nut brown head poured small but tight and thick then faded fairely quickly to light thin covering... barely any lacing...

Aroma - Tons of rich roasted dark chocolate and coffee maltiness, lots of sweet treacle and brown sugar, some cigar like smokiness, rich dark fruits (prunes, dates), alcohol is noticeable, some pine notes, sooty traces, toasted (maybe charred ?) fruit loaf, some earthiness...

Taste - Sweet dark chocolate, lots of roasted / charred bready malts, nice warming alcohol, some sour soy sauce / balsamic notes, treacle and molasses sweetness, dark spicy fruits (raisins, date,some figs), grassy and peppery hop bitterness, traces of piney resin...

Feel - Fairly smooth and creamy with a little sharpness coming through... medium / full bodied... for a 9.5% brew this is dangerously drinkable..

Overall - Another top notch US impy stout / porter and up with Rogue and Yeti as the best i've tried. NOTE - i haven't tried this fresh but can highly recommend aging it for a couple of years....

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Photo of jushoppy2beer
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This porter drinks more like a milk stout or other heavy sweet stout. It looks good in the glass, with a dard opacity, but little head. The taste is very complex, starting with a coffee chocolate on the palate, followed by a markedly sweet finish and a prolonged bitter aftertaste that is quite pleasant. It is thick in the mouth, and overall leaves a satisfying afterglow that is accentuated by the effects of the high alcohol content. A nice dessert brew, but not for the faint of heart.

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

What a surprise! Not a great fan of Flying Dog's everyday beers, I took a chance on a mixed four of imperials (as I like imperials). This was my first.

The best way to describe it is that it's like a double stout but with more malt roast, more hops, less alcohol. Put another way, a double porter, like it claims. The beer highly exceeded my expectations by delivering what it promised.

The most difficult thing to understand is the nose. the rest is straightforward, and I could drink at least two of these. My nose had some coffee (not espresso, but maybe pure, sweet crema), some raisins, no overpowering alcohol, cocoa, a hint of nutty sticky rolls, toasty malt.

The rest is all good, drunk quickly and would like more. But at 9+ ABV, I won't be sessioning these. Still, it is worth the four just for this one.

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

This beer poured a pitch black and had a wonderfully thick tan head. The nose was roasty and there was no lack of chocolate malts. The tastes is also bursting with rich chocolates and a bit of molasses. There is also a sufficient usage of hop character for this beer. The beer was very full bodied and thick. It is surprisingly drinkable despite it's richness. I don't know if that is a good thing given it's size. One could find oneself quite drunk after just of few of these things.

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Photo of ibbjamin
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Paid $1.99 for a loosey 12oz bottle from Monument Liquor in Concord, CA.

Watchout pouring this one - it gives more head than a drunken Saigon whore on New Years. A full 3-4 inches of brown frothiness that doesn't come down for a while. Black. Lacing diminishes in a matter of seconds.

Very smoky and roasted nose with a sweetness of molasses. They didn't skimp on the malts in this one. Alcohol very well masked for it just being under 10%.

Heavy roasted malts and smokiness in the mouth. Lasting malty aftertaste. Not as sweet as the nose. Again, very well alcohol concealment.

Thick, full bodied meal. Little carbonation present in the mouthfeel. A bit of a grainy afterfeel.

A good brew for the style. Recommended.

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

Ok! Let's Party!

Good strong sweetness wrapped around dark, scrumptious malt with a hop smack right at the end. Dark espresso and chocolate, bit of dark ripe raisin and bright, juicy grape. Very appetizing rich malt character.

Essentially black with a small, creamy dark brown head.

Thick luscious brew teeming with malty goodness. Tart snap. An earthy/grassy over-extracted-hop-like bitterness finishes the initial taste. Fruit chimes in: dark raisin and juicy grape as above. A little hop flavor: earthy, herbal, and hinting at citric resin. Soft carbonation - like stiff-cut grass under a blanket - gives just a hint of texture against the black malty abyss.

Final Thought:
Ah yes, the great Gonzo. A pretty stout Porter overflowing with all the tasty things a Porter should have. I'd like it a even better with less grassy bitter funk in the finish and aftertaste. Overall it's pretty good and full of character, just like the late Mr. Thompson.

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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
Beer rating: 4.02 out of 5 with 2,946 ratings