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Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

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Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter
2,938 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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firstprev| 2876-2900 | 2901-2925 | 2926-2950  | next → last
Ratings: 2,938 |  Reviews: 1,479
Photo of Gusler
4.28/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer after release from its 12-ounce brown bottle pours darker than the devil’s heart, the head a thick creamy brown and is portly in size, as it slowly fades away, the lace forms a thick and sticky blanket to obfuscate the glass. Nose is that of roasted grain, sweet and mouth-watering, coffee, chocolate, it has it all; start is nicely malted with a moderate in feel top. Finish is pleasantly acidic with a decidedly burnt grain and hop bitterness, dry as an Arizona summer and the aftertaste sticks solidly to your palate, a darn nice drinking beer.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.48/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Another label by Ralph Steadman, as expected, and almost required. This one pictures Hunter himself, ready to party in death. Weighty. I want to be positive about it, and it does seem to embody his spirit, but it still kind of brings me down. I'll enjoy the beer in memorium. And the label also mentions that some of the proceeds will go to erect the Gonzo Memorial Fist on Thompson's estate, so I support that. Finally, it also reads "VINTAGE" where a bottling date would normally be.

Carefully decanted to leave the yeast behind, it streams from the bottle a very dark, but clear, mahogany. Once the glass is filled, however, the greater volume of liquid cuts out the ability for any light to pass through and it appears as black as death. The yeast pour adds some fairly large chunks of yeast that both settle to the bottom, and float almost stationary in the darkness mid-glass. The head is a dark, yellowed tan with some orange accents around the edges. The retention is impressive, and it not only holds a solid, creamy 1/8" lid, but leaves walls of lace around the glass as well

The nose is roasty, coffeeish, piney, grassy, and citrusy.

In the mouth its quite creamy with a full body and very fine-bubbled, natural carbonation that's around 2.3 volumes.

The flavor remarkably combines its coffee-like and chocolatey maltiness with bursts of pine, spruce, and mildly citrusy hops. There's also a molasses/burnt caramel side to it, as well as some toasty bread crust, and a surprisingly mild dark roast acidity given its intense color and level of roastiness.

It finishes with some pine upfront, followed by a some sprinkled brown sugar, a spritz of citrus, and finally black coffee. The alcohol never reveals itself; and it's remarkably drinkable given its size.

Now to address the Imperial Porter designation, which has been questioned recently. It's not a Baltic Porter, by origin or specification - but it can certainly be called an Imperial Porter. That's a style that's just emerging in the US right now, and if anything, this is one of the first! Kudos!

Very nice indeed, and IMHO, the best beer to come out of Flying Dog yet.

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Photo of necoadam
2.29/5  rDev -43%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Interesting artwork. Poured out a dark black color with a tannish head. Looked good so far, but onto the smell. Smell was mostly boozy at first, with some hoppy tones. Where's the roasted malts or the coffee aromas? This seems to be headed down hill very quickly. Taste wasn't any better. Grainy and a load of hops start out and end the same way. How about having a ton of roasted malts and coffee beans with an underlying of piney hops? That would seem to make more sense. Finished a little oily as well. Mouthfeel was overcarbonated and finished with hardly no taste. Almost seltzer like aftertaste. This one was really off the mark. I understand thinking outside the box, but they were nowhere close to the box on this one. Sorry, but this is a dud.

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Photo of budsboy
3.34/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours black with only the faintest hint of deep walnut visible around the bottom edges. Thin, dark tan head that hangs around.

Smell is piney hops with some dark fruit and coffee. Odd.

I've heard this described as a roasted IPA ... yep, that's what it tastes like. Roasted malt and lots of piney hopes. I can't distinguish anything else beyond those bitter boys. Leaves an odd saltiness on the lips. What is there is interesting, but it's no Gonzo beer.

Half-thin, half-smooth and a bit oily.

Flying Dog had a tough row to hoe here. The artwork, a beer dedicated to Hunter Thompson, and the "Imperial" promise of bigassness all seemed to point to something special. Paid ten bucks for four. Won't do that again. Interesting enough beer. I'll hold on to the other bottles and see how this Gonzo ages. Try some, if you must. Maybe I expect too much.

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

black--held against the sunlit window it created darkness--bastard. Yeast jelly fish float all over. Froth the color of yeast rises to a finger and a tip, and holds at a finger for 5 full minutes. Then, the meringue lives on at half life, and I drink through it.
Smells like pine. I just took a hike on a warm day after a small rain at 7000 feet, and I can't tell the difference between those smells of pine, old pine needles, steaming granites and pine trunks, and this beer.
Tastes like blackened molasses. There's a distinct plug of baker's yeast. A little cherry juice. Long hop vines; a hop rope hooks my toe and ties itself to my lips. Then it flosses my body giving me hop rope burn. Quite green. This will need to sit in my cellar. It has a nice medium body like whole milk. I thought it very drinkable, and can't wait to try it later.

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

Looks good for a porter. Perhaps a bit thicker and richer looker, more like a sweet stout. A stubborn tan head laces well and shows some legs. Low carbonation.

Smells like fresh cut grass, and fresh cut pine cones, and fresh cut roasted malt. Picking up major hoppiness found in IPA's and classic porter chocolates and toastedness. A mellow sourness lurks in the background. My guess it's from the lager yeast and roasted barley.

Tastes like the fresh cut stuff in the aroma. Sweetness is quickly swamped by the hops and roasted grain. Creamy and thick through the body. Finishes warming and a bit dry.

Aftertaste: Hops, coffee, a bit of liqorice. Lingers for quite some time. Remains alcoholic, but never completely drys out; stays sweet.

Impression: Hops overwhelm many of the porter characteristics (no supprise from Flying Dog Brewery) I appreciate the taste, it's new and vibrant to the palate--makes you think. Never thought I'd say this--it's a great summertime porter.

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Photo of Brent
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I think this does fit the Baltic porter category, with perhaps a bit of an American spin. No sparing of the malt on this - chock full of deeply roasted flavors - French roast coffee, almost burned caramel, dark sorgum. A bit more hoppy than the average Baltic porter, which I think is the American touch. The beer lacked the acidity found in some Baltic porters, which was not at all a detraction. It was a little rough around the edges, but that is really the nature of this particular beer - it seems intended to bite back at you a little. ETOH was a bit prominent in the flavor profile, but not enough to be a signficant detraction. Not a lot of U.S. brewers are going for this style, and, while Flying Dog hasn't always been a hit with me, I like what they've done with this beer.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Glad to have found this beer. It pours a deep brown color with a small ring of head over top. Right where I would expect it. The nose is slightly piney, roasted and alcohol puffs. I dig it. The flavor is full on the roasted coffee flavor, with slight chocolate tones. I would like to see some dark figgy notes as well. I get some nice hoppy burps from this. Very nice. The feel is moderate to thick, with a moderate carbonation. I really like this beer. The drinkability is huge. Easy drinking and smooth, with everything working well for it. I like it, but its not really what I expect from a baltic porter.

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Photo of clvand0
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to kmpitz2 for sharing this one. It pours a dark color with a small head that has poor retention and leaves a little lacing on the glass. The aroma is mostly comprised of dark malts, quite a bit of roasty and alcohol. The flavor is full of malty goodness. Lots of chocolate and a little roasty. The alcohol isn't as apparent in the flavor as it was inthe nose. Very tasty, but I don't agree with this as being a Baltic Porter. It's missing a key ingredient that I can't place. Drinkability is good.

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Photo of rajendra82
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Never read a word from the late Hunter S. Thompson, but if the art of this label is any indication, it’d be some really weird reading. The pitch black and opaque pour was only interrupted by a little bit of dark brown highlights. The head was khaki and ¾ inch thick at first, but that did not last long.

The aroma was laden with dark chocolate covered coffee beans, and laced with a noticeable amount of hops which is very unusual for the style. The taste was that of chocolate, burnt toast, dark coffee, and a sour grapefruit note. Mid palette the taste turned a bit grainier with sweetish brown sugar finish.

While not terribly complex the taste was very pleasant indeed. Even at this age the beer was not too hot, and hid the 9.5% ABV very well. I think some improvements are due with additional aging.

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Photo of Dogbrick
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Surprise find at Kennedy’s Pub in Lewis Center OH. Pours a rich dark brown color with a medium light tan head. Thin rings of lacing. Aroma of chocolate, malt and a good amount of hops. Medium-bodied and tastes like a regular Porter just with more alcohol. Lots of chocolate and malt flavor, along with some hops and alcohol bite. The finish is decidedly bitter espresso and alcohol. Overall the "Imperial" tag feels tacked on but as far as the beer goes it was pretty enjoyable.

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

Pours with a creamy, slightly frothy brown head that sits atop a midnight black beer. The aroma has a spicy hop note to it up front. There is an intermingling of pine and citrus hop notes with espresso & roasted malt notes, as well as a bit of chocolate. The beer has a thickish, creamy body. This beer is aggressively hopped, at least considering that I was not expecting much in the way of hop character in this beer. The fresh, herbal hop notes actually are the most distinctive part of this beer. Running throughout is a sweet, malty chocolate note that finishes out with an astringent sharp espresso note. This beer has notes of bergamot, grapefruit, and pine. This beer is perhaps a little on the light side, and could of course use a bit more malty notes to help tame the hop notes, but I am definitely enjoying this right now. This was a surprisingly pleasant beer, from a brewery that I honestly have not been all too fond of.

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Photo of Domingo
3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Flying Dog has definitely become one of my favorite smaller brewers. All of their brews have strong character, and even the darker brews have full hop flavor.
This brew is no different.
It has a strong malty flavor and smell initially, but has a pleasant hop finish.
Even though it's an "imperial porter," I'd compare it to a Russian Imperial Stout, but slightly smoother, thinner, and not quite so potent in the alcohol department.
I don't think I could drink more than 2 of these at a time, but it makes a great brew for eating something off the grill.

*EDIT* After drinking 2 more of these I think the hops might be a little too strong for me. I like the initial flavors, but I think the hop finish can be a little overpowering. Still a good brew, but not perfect. The 9.5% alcohol was surprisingly well hidden, though.

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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
Beer rating: 4.02 out of 5 with 2,938 ratings
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