Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

1,470 Reviews
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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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Reviews: 1,470 | Ratings: 2,908
Photo of Arthuros
4.48/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

What a (Baltic) porter !

Looks are all you'd expect, dark brown with a beige thick head that dissipates quite quickly.
Aromas are hoppy at first, gradually letting charred ash through. A lot going on.
Flavors are similar, IPA-like at first, and then blending itself into classic porter roundness. Not so sweet.
Thin but strong carbonation, delicious mouthfeel to raise the hoppy flavors out of this.

I guess it's what you should expect from Flying Dog, a hoppy, strong Baltic/Imperial Porter where alcohol is well masked (despite the 9%ABV), with hoppy bitterness and not too much malt sweetness.

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Photo of curasowa
3.56/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Opaque, deep ruby color with one finger of dark brown head that fades to a ring with a fairly uniform curtain of lace.

Aroma: Roasted malt, boozy, band aid and a bit medicinal.

Taste: Roasted malt, cocoa and molasses up front, then some mild, earthy bitterness, finishing a little boozy and mildly astringent.

The Rest: Not bad, pretty creamy.

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Photo of Kubishark
3.61/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Had at the brewery.

It's obviously dark. The smell is like your standard porter, but more boozy. The taste as well can only be described as big and boozy. Bitter as well. It's a thick and heavy beer it seems, but it's decently smooth. I liked it and I'm glad I finally tried it, but I don't think I can say it's in my favorites.

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Photo of do_ob
3.66/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle into a snifter. Viscious dark brown pour, and black as coal in the glass. Nearly 3 fingers of sticky, mocha colored foam on top. Great looking beer for a porter. Disappointingly weak aroma. Some coffee, some roasted malt, some booze. The taste follows the nose, with a slight intensity. Decent roastiness with some hints of coffee and chocolate, but there's a sharp alcohol bite in there that doesn't mesh. This beer isn't boozy, but the taste is just a little off from what it ought to be. Good feel; moderate carbonation and relatively smooth for 9.2%. Just a little lacking in flavor for me.

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Photo of glass_house
3.72/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Looks good, near black with a thin tan head. Smells okay, but a bit muted. Some general dark roastiness with hints of coffee and cocoa. Tastes good....for the most part. Starts off extremely dark and roasty as you'd expect. Mostly burnt coffee and intense bittersweet chocolate. However, I'm getting a slightly tangy metallic note in the finish that keep s this from being quite as good as I think it could be. For the price, probably won't bother trying it again.

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Photo of jooler
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Great look. Smell is good. Taste is pretty damn good. It is just like the new English zumbar imperial porter but without the chocolate. But I do like the zumbar more

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Photo of SomethingClever
4.26/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into Spiegelau glass

A: big head with nice off white tannish head deep rich chocolate body with no light escaping the corners

S: big rich and malty lots of roasted malts with chocolate and very light licorice smells very sweet a little alcohol as it warms.

T: Nice roasted maltiness chocolate tastes a little nutty just a touch of licorice not as sweet as the nose would imply. A little hoppy as well but very chocolatey

M: creamy, and velvety and very full gives the beer an even more rich feel

O: Very good porter although I would say stout if it were so claimed as the style. Lots of rich chocolate and toasted maltiness and a stand up mouthfeel. I like that it isn't anywhere as sweet as the smell implied.

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Photo of Caveworm
4.6/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery. Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, this beer's head is two fingers thick and eggshell brown, with solid lacing, and a pitch black body.

Smells like toasted malts, along with black coffee and dark chocolate. Also a touch of hops, even.

I taste the toasted malts above, along with an almost maple type of sweetness included with the coffee and chocolate notes. The hops also make their arrival here in the form of a bit of pine aftertaste. I'm really liking this non-offensive blend of rather bold elements.

The mouthfeel here is smooth. Not entirely clean, you get a bit of lingering hop oil and coffee, but it doesn't stay for very long

I'll choose to award Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Brewery with a 4.5. A great 1st Baltic porter, I'll certainly pick this up as the weather cools down.

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Photo of Dirtyhands
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Easily one of the best Imperial Porters I've ever had. Nose is roasted malts, chocolate. Very, very dark brown. Leather colored head that settles to a fingers level. A strong bitterness and notes of coffee interplay with the velvety smooth mouthfeel to deliver a stunningly well put together porter. Way to go Flying Dog.

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Photo of mlockman
4.62/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

One of the best Baltic Porters I have had to date, rivals Three Floyds' Topless Wytch, in my humble opinion. The hop-aroma follows on the palate, but not overwhelmingly so. Very balanced, highly nuanced, a must-have for any and all fans of the style.

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Photo of K-Dog
4.02/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Not much smell for a porter. This taste much more like a black ipa than an imperial porter. That said I thought this was pretty good. Very hoppy and bitter. Saved one bottle to see what some aging will do to this one.

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Photo of Marraybay
2.94/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Another of those curveballs: Starts out promising, with nice roasty sweetness, great head/retention/lacing decent mouthfeel, etc. But there's something in the nose and the taste: leather, medicine, don't know quite what it is, but I know I don't like it. Finish also too bitter and boozy. Definitely better than many others, but the reverse is true as well. Not likely to revisit.

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Photo of shadwow13
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Baltic Porter
12 ounce bottle poured into Snifter Glass
9.2% ABU 85 IBU

Appearance - 3.75/5
The head is frothy and tan in color, approximately three fingers thick and dissipated quite fast. Exceptional lacing left behind in the glass as the porter is indulged.

Smell – 3.75/5
The aroma has a faint whisper of roasted malt.

Taste - 4.25/5
This porter incorporates flavors of smooth roasted malts, chocolate and hints of coffee. There is a bitterness that is bold, distinct and strong but not offensive.

Mouth Feel - 4/5
The beer is heavy-bodied, smooth and syrupy. The carbonation is slight and makes the tongue tingle just a bit. The alcohol is hidden well however there is a slight aftertaste that hangs around on the tongue well after sipping this beer.

Overall - 4/5
I enjoy Porters a great deal and I have had one other Baltic Porter. Flying Dogs Baltic Porter is a solid well rounded version of this style. The complex flavors are subtle, the bitterness is strong, the alcohol is hidden well and the feel is heavy and smooth resulting in a solid offering from beginning to end. I would drink this offering again however I would not go out of my way to track it down.

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Photo of craftbeersweden
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark, almoust black liquid. Brown, three finger high head that dissapears realively quickly to a thin 1 mm head leaving a lot of lacing on the glass.

Nose: Cocoa, coffee, tobacco, wood, leather, grass, cream, roasted malt, toffee and caramel.
Taste: Dark chocolate, bitter almond, roasted malt, espresso, creamy, brown sugar and soy sauce.
Moderate body with a creamy feeling. Little carbonation (just perfect). Simply just great!

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Photo of ARoman
4.27/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. The beer is a dark deep coffee brown hue with a dark and dense, creamy-foamy brown head that retains and laces quite well. The aroma is initially a bright, sweet cherry note with a wood character and a background note of caramel that strengthens later. The taste is a balanced medium high bittersweet. It’s thick and syrupy, with a touch of stickiness and a creamy thick head. The medium-full body has lots of chocolate and coffee notes. There’s some jolly rancher sugary fruits tucked away in there too that come through more at the finish which is primarily caramel syrup in flavor and texture that brings with it a subtle tabacco note that lingers mildly in the waxy, dry coffee aftertaste - kinda like smoking a mellow cigar.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Funky Buddha Brewery snifter. Label says Vintage 14CC.

A- Pours a fully opaque black color with a 1/4 inch light brown head that retains well before becoming a thin ring around the edge of the glass and a mostly full sheet of sheer surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves a broken ring behind.

S- Heavy dark roast with a punctuated sweetness that brings to mind brown sugar, molasses and raisin. Moderate booze fume. There's also a solid dose of hops.

T- Sweet at first but then the hop bitterness comes in followed by the heavy dark roasted malt which is quite intense. Charry aftertaste. As the palate acclimates, that charry aftertaste gets to be enjoyable as it exhibits some dark fruit and raisin notes. The big alcohol presence brings a sherry-like quality to the table. Subtle caramel and vanilla notes mingle with the rest of the extreme flavors. Interesting hop/roast burps.

M- Thick and chewy with medium carbonation and the fullest of bodies.

O- The complexity of the flavor profile combined with high drinkability make this a nice imperial porter. It's a little abrasive but manages to somehow work within the realm of what I consider good beer. Sip it slow and you'll have a great time.

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Photo of RyanK252
4.06/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a BarrelHouse Brewing Co pint glass

A: Pours dark brown, almost black, with a frothy rich deep brown head that hangs around and laces well.

S: Dark roasted malt, some coffee, a little bittersweet chocolate, some dark fruity notes, and a bit of toffee sweetness.

T: Roasted malt, dark and bittersweet chocolate, coffee, brown sugar, maybe a bit of dark fruit, pine and earthy hops, and maybe even a touch spicy with a little alcohol coming out on the finish.

M: Medium to full body, moderate carbonation, quite smooth,

O: I think I like this one more as it warms. The flavors really come out and blend together well.

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Photo of tillmac62
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Outstanding head characteristics. Classic porter nose. Heavy medium body with a rich smooth texture. A chocolate onslaught with a rich underlying sweetness over a mild roast bitterness.

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Photo of crob3888
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: Pours black with brown hues, and a mocha colored head.
Smell: Roasted malts, burnt caramel, figs, raisins
Taste: Roasted malt, burnt caramel, figs, raisins, toffee, hint of coffee, cocoa
Feel: Pretty smooth, chewy, and a medium-heavy body
Overall: Great example of style, would drink again.

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Photo of MacMalt
4.31/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into snifter. Color was much as expected: opaque, black, with a nice tan/caramel head. A very attractive beer. I was a little disappointed by the smell (or lack thereof) but the taste more than makes up for it. Very malty but with a nice combination of coffee, chocolate, caramel, and molasses. It's a little sweeter than other baltic porters I've had. It has a very nice mouth feel. Overall, an excellent porter, which I will enjoy again.

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

2011 edition, 12 oz bottle, poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, pitch-black color with a quarter of a finger of caramel/chocolate-chocolate head that quickly dissolved into a thin lacing of foam that completely covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Strong aromas of roasted malt, imparting notes of toasted pumpernickel bread and a touch of coffee and smoke.

Taste: Wow! Massive malt bomb up front, with notes of the aforementioned toasted dark bread, a touch of smoke and coffee, followed by some dark chocolate, a touch of brown sugar, molasses, a touch of licorice and finally some nicely balanced hops. Delicious!

Mouthfeel: Chewy and smooth as silk, as there is no carbonation whatsoever. With an ABV of 9.2%, there’s a nice, pleasant touch of alcohol warmth on the palate.

Overall: Damn, this is an excellent beer! I love the malt and the dark chocolate which blended perfectly with the coffee and hops. Outstanding!

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

(code: Vintage14HH - poured into a Chouffe tulip)

L: seemed to pour out clear... liquid close to black in color... coffee w/ cream colored foam that starts tall and manages to maintain messy cap... messy splotches of somewhat thick lacing

S: a little dark chocolate, moderate amount of ashy roast, and a lot of piney hops... undercurrent of zante currant... in combo with the other aromas, the alcohol aids in creating an overtone of lip balm or some other mildly mentholated skin care product... overall, nice intensity and relatively inviting

T: smooth malts up front, with an unanticipated subtle, glassy sugar-sweetness... bold blend of sweet espresso and bitter dark chocolate with an aggressive yet mellowly-balanced bitter leafy and citrus peel hop character... aftertaste is menthol and a hint of tobacco... summary: a West-Coast imperial porter (easily could be called a stout - some of Stone's strong stouts come to mind)... if anything, they could hold back a bit of the hops and let the character of the malts shine through some more, perhaps opening up some complexity

F: thicker mouthfeel, though short of viscous... security-blanket fluffy soft - perhaps cushioned by the carbonation, though it lacks sizzle... the alcohol doesn't approach burn, instead giving only a whisper of warm seconds into the finish

O: much better than I remember it (which was medicinal near fusel) and the last time I had this I'm pretty sure they were still in CO... at the price, I would definitely get this again... been surprised and pleased with the improvement in quality coming back to trying this brand after a good 7-8 years

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Photo of WheelsPSU
4.4/5  rDev +9.5%

Very good porter. A bit too carbonated though, almost takes away from the mouthfeel. I got roasted malts, dark chocolate, and a little something sweet, perhaps vanilla or even maybe a sweet fig. Very very tasty but the mouthfeel was strange due to the carbonation

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Photo of SFNC
4.02/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep brown with reddish highlights around the edges. A mile high head with some rather large bubbles interspersed in the tan foam. This left a pronounced lacing on the glass and thin islan of the tan foam remained for the duration. The smell is darkly roasted malt, bitter chocolate and prominent alcohol. I had this at just under room temprature and it tasted aggresively bitter, but in a good way. Alchohol hits pretty hard, not really hidden at all. The rosty taste of this reminds me of a good stout, but the mouthfeel is thinner and quite effervescent. This one is good, but lacking in subtlety.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
4.24/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had this for the for time last night at the Cloverleaf, which was a fitting beer for how cold and raw it was outside. Although this was just a tad too burnt for me, I really enjoyed this and how complex it was while remaining true to form. This was a slow sipper and had enough going for it that I could enjoy this as it warmed up, at the same time that it was warming me up as well. This packed a punch but it wasn't over-the-top and was clearly one of the best Porters of any type that I've ever had.

Nice pour to this, with a dark hue, creamy head, and a somewhat decent amount of lacing as I worked my way through this. I couldn't see any lacing at all and the smoothness of the appearance was also apparent in the taste, despite the range of the flavors that were present here. Lots of malt, a thick mouthfeel, and a good smoky undertone were there from the get-go, as this had the roasted characteristic of a Porter and the burnt, bitter properties of a good coffee Stout to go along with them. Everything meshed well together and that included the faint hop notes that came through in the back, which packed even more of a punch when all was said and done.

This was certainly strong but it did not feel strong as the alcohol was well-recessed. For something the looked like vanilla extract, this had a lot going on since the vanilla was only a small aspect of what was found here. As so many have alluded to on here, this is by far Flying Dog's best beer! Most of their other offerings tasted similar to each other but like the Smuttynose Robust Porter, this one's a standout that's not to be missed. Part Porter, Part Stout, Part Scotch Ale, this was a beer that's unlike anything else on the shelf and deserves to be a winter staple in anyone's stash.

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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
4.02 out of 5 based on 2,908 ratings.
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