Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

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Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter
2,966 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:
Gonzo is big, bold, and beautiful like the man it was brewed in honor of – Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Roasted chocolate, coffee, and vanilla malt flavors are balanced with a unique hop bite. Buy the ticket and take the ride by pairing it with blue cheeses, smoked meats, BBQ, chili, chocolate and coffee desserts.

ABV varies.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 06-04-2005

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 2,966 |  Reviews: 1,489
Photo of ALESwhatCURESya
3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"Don't stop here, this is bat country!"

A wonderful brew for a wonderful Doctor of Journalism. I made sure that I didn't miss out on this limited opportunity to try a beer dedicated to one of my favorite authors.

Pours out a deep black with a mocha head that disapated into a thin film rather quickly. The aroma has strong tones of dark fruit and bakers cocoa. Caramel and toffee sweetness made you realize that this is a perfect desert beer.

The taste was rather sweet the entire way through. There was not a lot of nutty, coffee characteristics that I would have loved to see. If this had a more expressive espresso kick, this would be a phenomenal beer. The nice hop bitterness made presence on the tongue very nicely and helped to round out the sweetness.

This is a very nice, high-powered porter with wonderful traits. Maybe a little off the mark in a few areas, but still very enjoyable.

R.I.P. You sick, magnificent bastard.

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Photo of garymuchow
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Aroma presents as a sweet dark malt with a slight roast (but pretty superficial). Some alcohol. A hoppy presence that's a bit grassy and offers an intensity. Interesting, but not overly impressive.
Black. Nice fine dark head. Decent lacing. Good appearance.
Taste is malty. Roasty. Hoppy in taste and bitterness. Bitterness intensifies with more sips and lends a long dryness (that combines from the roasty malts too).
Feel is fairly heavy, somewhat thick and full. Nicely carbonated with fine bubbles that helps lend some softness.
I'm just not sure about this mix of flavors. The roast and heavy hops somehow don't blend well for me, although individually I like them. Not sure about the roast flavors either. They just don't seem right, like somehow artificial or something. Regardless of my lower scores this is the most interesting drink from this brewery and I won't turn it down.

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

My first 6+% ABV purchase here in NC!!

Pours out a chocolately brown into my pint glass. Nice fluffy head with a nice staying power. Smell is intruiging; piney. hoppy, coffee-laden and a hint of chocolate. Taste is very close to a RIS, nice alcohol overtones along with a hoppy bite that's quite pleasant. The chocolate and roastes espresso beans meld with an almost molasses-type essence in there. Very drinkable for the ABV.

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Photo of Px2GrafX
4.28/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

presentation: 12oz. bottle with an illustration by ralph steadman on the bottle. illustration depicts a smokin' skull-faced cowboy who's ready to party! vintage is displayed at '05. proceeds from this brew go towards building the gonzo memorial fist. go to the website for more info.

appearance: pours a black, almost red-violet with a tan 1 inch head into a tulip glass. head drops to a thin cap and laces very well down the glass. after swirling, an orange circle of head rings the top of the liquid.

smell: citrus, grassy hops and sweet caramel. piney and fruity.

taste: earthy with hop flavors up front. good bitterness. roasted maltiness with a chocolate espresso as it warms. dry bitter finish. leaves a chocolatey flavored residue on my lips.

mouthfeel: light resin on my tongue. porter light-medium body with a smooth swallow and good carbonation.

drinkability: tasty, dry bitter finish begs for more. very little noticible alcohol.

overall: very hoppy for a porter. love it! thanks to tastytaste for sending me a bottle of this as i've been lookin' for it. not perfectly a baltic/imperial porter, but an excellent brew.

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

One of the new big beers popping up around NC thanks to hoppedup for the sample.Poured a deep brown near black color with a mocha colored head.Impressive aromas of smoked malt and wood chips almost like more of a Scottish wee heavy,very nice well rounded flavors headed by the smoked peat and tree bark with a real noticable herbal minty element letting you know the hops are there.Goes down very smooth for how big and robust it is,why cant Flying Dog make more like this?

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

served in 12oz brown bottle

Pours a nice even black color with slight amber outlines. Leaves a nice 1/4 inch head. Smells of roasted malts carmel. You can really smell those hops wanting to bust through its like they are just waiting to explode in your mouth. The texture is actually pretty creamy, I was really surprised by this. The 9.2 percent you cant really taste but you can feel it a little in your nose, provides for a little tickle.

The taste is of coffe beans wraped in toffee and then wraped in hops mmm. The finish is nice with a nice hop bitterness between each sip. I drank this beer in a chalice at about 55degrees to let the flavors go crazy which they did. This brew will not disappoint.

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Photo of bubrewer
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Great label; took a few minutes just checking out the artwork.

Gonzo pours opaque; and the solid head lits out a great hoppy aroma - more than expected from a porter. Smells like beautiful fresh English hops - fuggle or Willamette maybe.

This beer is definitely big, but also very well balanced. Firm bitterness balanced by sweetness, with raisin/plum flavors. Maybe a little licorice? The flavors swirl and dance so harmoniously that it is hard to pick out individual flavors, like is it sometimes hard to pick out individual instruments from a symphony.

Very nice beer, well liked around the whole table. one of the stars of the evening.

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Photo of warriorsoul
3.91/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up this one at Downtown W&S in Davis Square.
A deep, dark black color w/ two full fingers of cocoa colored head...real thick and produces fantastic lacing on the side of my tulip glass.
Very serious aroma...tons of dark chocolate, some coffee and just a hint of alcohol.
Taste is baking chocolate, subtle malt sweetness w/ a generous amount of hops to it...again, just a hint of alcohol and a smoked aftertaste.
Mouthfeel is quite wet and thick...does not finish as dry as I was expecting. Carbonation if decent...I could enjoy a couple of these w/ out any effort.
So far, its Wild Dog, Gonzo, and then their IPA...three solid brews from Flying Dog that I truly enjoy.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.06/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

(Served in an American pint glass)

A-This beer pours a thick black inky body with a tan-brown creamy head.

S- The smell of citrus and green hops is strong with a very faint roasted malt background.

T- This beer has a big deep roasted malt bill with some black roasted unmalted barley aswell. There is a bit of sourness and the hop finish is very faint.

M- This has a medium-full mouthfeel with lots of creaminess.

D-This is an interesting version of a Baltic Porter. It has a lot of roasted grain but it could use more depth with some more malty flavors and more complexity. It’s interesting that it has a big hop nose but very little hop in the taste. I hope with age this beer will offer a lot more complexity and character.

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

Appearance: Opaque, black. Nice creamy frothly tan head with good retention.

Aroma: Roasty, coffee flavors. Hints of an herbal hop variety. Smoke is lingering in the aroma. The hop aromas are definately present.

Taste: The first sip is roasty and bitter from the roasted malt. The finish is bitter from hops and from the coffee characteristics of this one. The mouthfeel is solid. The roasty bitterness seems to mask the alcohol in the beer a bit, but it still is somewhat obvious. There is a bit of wineyness on the middle of the tongue. And the smokeyness from the aroma shows through as the beer warms up.

Notes: This is a good one. One of the first from Flying Dog in a long time that I've really enjoyed. Give it a shot if you can find it.

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

Purchased as a four pack from Avalon Liquors for $6.80 this past weekend. I was the first one to ever buy the stuff, they didn't even know what to charge me. Quite a bit of writing in and around the bottle labeling and four pack. "Okay, lets party" came off a bit cheesy.
Poured black, with only a bubbles attached to the sides of the glass really visible. Great three fingered head of dark brown foam with an even mixture of small and large bubbles. Excellent retention and lacing.
Aroma was heavily bitter, both from piney hops and charred malt. Flavor was initially bitter (smoothed out a bit once it warmed and would probably do for some aging...) as with the aroma, this seemed to come from extra piney hops thrown in with the bitter espresso. A light and watery maltiness was there in the background, but it really couldn't hold up that well. Mouthfeel was a light medium, coming off lighter than expected. It didn't have any oily aftertaste, the carbonation left it slightly airy. A lasting dry, bitterness was left on the tongue.

So far, probably the best flying dog brew I've had--Maybe they should keep from filtering all their beers. Was more of a weaker version of Perkuno's Hammer than the classic Baltic porter style.

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Photo of Golden2wenty1
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a single at Riley's here in Madison.

Pours crude oil black, with a nice coffee head. Nose is a little pruney at first, but then coffee/chocolate malts. Taste starts with the dark fruits but transitions nicely into roasted bitter espresso and baker's chocolate. The aftertaste reminded me distinctly of Founder's Breakfast Stout, so bonus points there. Mouthfeel was rich and creamy with smooth unobtrusive carbonation. Alcohol was not harsh at all, very well hidden for 9.5%. A nice little porter here.

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

I bought this for reasons that I have herd of this beer for awhile
It pours very dark, but an Imperial Porter must be good?.
A nice brown head that did not dissipate.
The taste of roasted malt, chocolate, roasted almonds,
Burnt comes to mind but that is not it.
Maybe toasted malt, but quit good. Maybe Just two beers in one sitting.
I’ll send the rest to my brother her can’ t get it where is is at.

Gary D.

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

I have not been overly impressed with other Flying Dog offerings, but I had to try this one as it was named after the good Doctor Thompson.

The "OK, Let's Party" line on the bottle struck me as a little cheesy and not quite something HST might have said on a regular basis, although the sentiment is true.

Pours a dark dark brown that beats out the modern day Guinness the greedhead marketers are forcing on us. The head is quite frothy and laces the glass like it was poured in Brugge.

Smell is predominately hops right now. I'd have to imagine that it will tone down after a while. There is a slight malty background, but based on the smell I would have thought it was an IPA or a very hoppy rye ale.

Taste is quite hoppy and roasty sweet. There is a coffee-chocolate character to it that lends some bitterness to the balance. I really rather enjoy this one. No alcohol on the nose or tasted.

Creamy mouth feel with some bittering and dryness toward the way end.

Very drinkable. Glad I have 3 more in the fridge.

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Photo of ithacabaron
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an inky, deep, dark walnut tree brown/black. I wonder if it will permanently stain my glass? A little dark espresso crema rises above the liquid. Pretty.

Smell is porter-y, with nice solid fudge and bittersweet cocoa. Then, all the sudden -- BOOM go the hops! Ooh! Very nice. Bracing, clean, and overwhelmingly fresh, like taking a deep inhale from a bag of fresh hop flowers. Very, very nice.

Taste continues the marriage, but here the crack of the hops starts to overwhelm the porter a bit. Some American-style stouts and porters can withstand this type of assault...Shakespeare Stout, Storm King come to mind...but I just don't know if this porter can stay on its feet. Still delicious -- but I know that with a little less flavoring additions, the nice porter that's underneath could really shine, and they'd still get that great aroma.

Mouthfeel is appropriate, keeps the brew from ever being too heavy, but stays out of the way as needed.

Drinkability is pretty good, but I think more than one of these at a time wouldn't be as enjoyable as having one, and looking forward to the next experience with it in the future.

The Good Doctor would have approved, I think. Good stuff here from Flying Dog.

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

Head is fluffy and brown to tan, flattens out to a thin layer of foam. Ruby brown coloration to black with some serious light blockage! Slight hinsts of malt & alcohol on the nose. Amos getting trashed sniffing it. Great fruitty/leather taste along with bitterness on the tip of the tounge finishes with alcohol & raisins on the back of the throat. Too bad they can't ressurect Hunter, so Flying dog can come up with a beer to commerate that!

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Photo of Stubbie1
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark black in color with a tan head, foamy and thick at first but dwindles down to a thin layer but constant through the beer. Aroma threw me for a tilt. Hops, bitter and piney are up front with faint wisps of chocolate and coffee with a hint of malt in the background. Taste is sweet up front, malt and a bitter coffee (but nice) flavor with the hops come out and give it a dry finish.

Sticky and sweet on the lips, smooth and creamy in the mouth makes this an enjoyable porter. Has to be one of the best from Flying Dog!

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Photo of Bierguy5
3.63/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours very dark, dark as night. Thick tan creamy head. Good lacing on the glass as the beer disappears. Roasty aroma like coffee, along with a huge citrusy hop nose. Nice chocolate and coffee malt flavor combined with a great amount of citrus and pine hop flavors. Bitterness is pretty high, and takes away slightly from the balance. This seems to be pretty close to full-bodied. Not the most drinakble due to the lack of balance. Overall, a good special batch, but a bit too piney for me. Good malt flavor. Worth a shot.

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

For appearance, well... it's pretty black, maybe dark chocolate colored at the lightest. Nice coffee with cream head with average retention. The smell is pretty fantastic: rich roasted malts, burnt coffee, hop and little spice I think. Taste is smoked, almost woody, and with a bit more hop than I expected. Shockingly, it has almost zero alcohol flavor, with a lingering after taste of hops and chocolate. Mouth feel is a bit oily, but with plenty of carbonation to off set it, and makes for a good balnce. One sip of this beer leaves more flavor on your lips than a 6 pack of most beers do. Drinkability is pretty high for a 9.5%, and probalby a bit higher than it needs to be, in truth. A fitting tribute to the good doctor.

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

This is my first beer review so please be patient.

I poured the beer into a pub glass.

Appearance - The beer pours a motor oil colored black that immediately erupts into a nice tan/creamy coffee color about an inch thick.

Smell - A nice spicy, malty-chocolate nose. Very yummy.

Taste - Presents with a nice toasted malty chocolate and coffee taste. It is nicely spicy but I couldnt begin to tell you with what. Over all a good tasting porter.

Mouthfeel - Delightfully heavy and smooth.

Drinkability - This is a great tasting beer; however, I prefer to drink one of these and then move onto something lighter. I simply developed taste bud fatigue. I am looking forward to the remains of the pack in my fridge.

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

08/10/05- Purchased at Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA

Presentation- 12oz bottle with no dates. Poured into my Englander pint glass.

Appearance- Black pour with a 1/2 inch dirty chocolate colored head. Very nice lacing. Pours out like motor oil.

Smell- Huge dark chocolate scent. A few bitter hops in the nose as well.

Taste- This one has got most everything you want in a porter. Lots of chocolate, a light coffee taste and a deep burnt malt, almost smoky taste.

Mouthfeel- Thick and creamy with just the right amount of carbonation. Your mouth sticks to the glass when taking a sip.

Drinkability- Mucho drinkable. I think this is my first "imperial" porter. This will be the benchmark I guess. Very yummy. I see a six pack of this entering my inventory very soon.

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Photo of mynie
4.67/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Hunter Thompson died during a dark period for drug-smoking people like myself. Hunter hated the president and all he stood for, and in those dreary days after the 2004 election he was one of the few spots of hope that people like me could look towards to ease our despair, a vulgar truthteller in a land of vacuous, self-absorbed whores. Hunter was more than a writer, more than a social commentator; he was a symbol for all that I considered good in the world.

Flying Dog has gone all out with this brew in honor of our side’s fallen hero. They are not the best brewer in the world—they’re not even the best in the region, but they seem to realize the weight that naming a beer after the departed doctor would have to be an effort from the heart. If they were to only make One Beer it would have to be this one, and I’ll be damned if they didn’t give it their all.

Rocky blackness cascades upwards into a chocolate brown head that stands proud and tall atop thick, opaque death.

Heavy, heavy smells. Pounds of yeast and bitter roasted malt along with hints of coffee and toffee, potent but not strong.

No alcohol sourness in the taste, no sweet finish. Bitter and complex, very raw feel. Very nice, dry aftertaste that makes you crave for more. Yeast, coffee, bitter malt.

This is a grand and glorious beer, easily the best Flying Dog will ever make and easily a fitting tribute to a great man.

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Photo of poohbah
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

good lace nice coffee like color as expected

reminds me of some past efforts of the Holiday Anchor Steam

hoppiness that stands out for a porter, some pine undertones

enjoyed assertive hops for a porter

Enjoyed overall drinkability will go back for another!

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Photo of kpantz
3.38/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Executive Summary: For my first imperial porter, I'm pleased with it, but I'm looking to try something that impresses me a bit more. Roasted notes throughout the palate make this border on a stout, but the mouthfeel is thin enough to keep it in the style.

Appearance: 99% opaque...perhaps the slightest hint of a deep reddish hue. Coffee ice cream for a head, about one finger thick.

Aroma: Some roasted essence, slight alcohol in the nose, and now that I'm reaching room temperature and the bottom of the glass, the alcohol is taking over.

Taste: Roasted everything, almost stout-like, but lighter. Not as smooth-tasting as a traditional porter, but I don't think it's trying to be. No hint of a high alcohol content whatsoever.

Mouthfeel: Thin, like a porter should be. Makes it more drinkable in the warm weather.

Drinkability: Are you kidding? Too "roasty" for me to be a session beer, and when you add in the 9.5% ABV, yee-ha - I'm not likely to down more than one of these in a sitting.

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Photo of jonnylieberman
3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black and thick from the bottle into my pint glass.

An appealing and tick tan head sits atop a near-black brew. Heads fades fast with minimal lacing.

The smell of this guy is the highlight. Deep and fruity. Ripe plums and apricots; some licorice and of course the lovely smell of dark grain. Some ethynol is present as well. A yum.

The taste is alright (though, i should say I have had it on tap in a snifter and it tasted better), but for a special release, especially one dedicated to Hunter Thompson, there should be more flavor. This is a bitter beer; bitter for a porter and the bitterness dominates, especailly in the swallow. A bit too roasty for a porter -- almost verging into stout territory. There is a pleasing woodiness present, however, which goes well with the citrus overtones.

The mouthfeel is this brew's weak point. Very thin, especailly for an "Imperial Porter." Again, too thin.

The drinkability is fantstic. 9.5%? It goes down like water. And, it is a pretty good beer. Good, not great.

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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
Beer rating: 4.02 out of 5 with 2,966 ratings