Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

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Gonzo Imperial PorterGonzo Imperial Porter
2,954 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

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Ratings: 2,954 |  Reviews: 1,483
Photo of Sephiroth
4.18/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Into a tulip it goes the darkest ruby brown possible without being black. There is a chocolatey head of about an inch and a half. Sticky lace clings to the glass. The nose is of piney hops and roasted malt.

The taste is great, albeit unusual for a porter. The piney hops make their presence felt, with the onslaught of roasted malt following. There is chocolate, and a sweetness at the very end that makes me want to age a few. Mouthfeel is great and somewhat grainy. I seem to have drank over half of this in ten minutes. I am not content with mere sips. I am gulping this. There's still foam!

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Photo of Shultzerdugen
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. brown bottle.

Murky dark mahogany with a large tan head, clingy in nature.

Piney, coniferus vibe at the top in the aroma. Alcohol, biscuits and bread.

Creamy and smooth with a full body. Great coffee flavor, hops are surprisingly apparent and assertive. Alcohol taste is there but not over the top.

Not as great as I hoped but still pretty good.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours from the bottle a viscous deep black color with a nice bubbly tan head that lingers atop the brew and leaves strings of sticky lacing as it falls. Wow..hardly any light is getting through this brew. Aromas of dark, toasty roasted malt with some cinammon, cocoa and vanilla. An underlying citric, piney hoppiness is fresh and vibrant..giving this porter a unique nose...pretty heavy on the hops.

First sip brings dark, roasted maltiness featuring chunks of bakers chocolate along with some mild roasted coffee beans. Slight powdered cinammon midway through along with hints of dark fruits and vanilla bean. The brew follows through with a heavy dose of pine needle citric hop oils and finishes slightly chalky on the palate. Quite the enjoyable brew.

Mouthfeel is full with big creamy maltiness. Nice and chewy with a slight dry chalkiness. This brew is amazingly drinkable. I didn't know it was 9.5% until I checked the listing again...alcohol is very well hidden. Sort of reminds me of Alpha Klaus personally...which is definetly not a bad thing. A fitting tribute to the late Hunter S. Thompson (RIP) and probably the best Flying Dog brew I've tried. Thanks to dwvarner77 for bringing a few of these back to IL for me.

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

Pours a dark brown and black with a big-bubbled drak tan head that deposits a coating of lace to the sides of the glass.
Aroma has a burnt grain and a big resiny and raw hop note. Little bit of chocolate and caramel sneaks through as well, especially has it gets warmer.
Flavor hs some sweet qualities but is overwhelmed by a really powerful charcoal and roasted nut hints.
Mouthfeel ihas some underlying sweetness but this is all about the grity charcoal notes and raw powerful hop cone resins.
Drinkability is solid but grittiness just doesn't let enough of the malt and roasted flavors come through.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.09/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured into the glass black and viscous with a very low, almost nonexistent brown head which stayed around just enough to lace the glass.

The aroma was grassy and hoppy with a strong hop presence that was pronounced by alcohol contributions. Coupled with the hop aromas was a strong malt and roasted grain presence that led to coffee, expresso, chocolate and licorice. The aromas also contained some dark fruits in the background but those were overshadowed by the alcohol.

The flavor was much different than expected. The flavor contained a strong grassy hop presence coupled with expresso coffee and roasty flavors. Also present was chocolate and some caramel, but the dark grains added a slight acrid sourness that was slight, but present. The alcohol really did not play a part in the flavor.

The finish was dry with lasting grassy hop bittering (great belches by the way), chocolate and strong coffee with some roasty presence long into the aftertaste. The body was medium full and well done. The alcohol was really only a factor in the aroma and in a slight warming after consumption. The aroma was extremely complex while the flavor was not quite as interesting. The finish was bitter and grassy and well done. If the middle was the same as the beginning and the end this beer would rule!

12 ounce bottle.

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Photo of ADR
2.17/5  rDev -46%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Thick black pour out of the bottle, generates a nice creamy brown head that leaves attractive dense lacing. Aroma of prunes and nutmeg, odd hops that remind me distinctly of milkweed of all things. The mouthfeel is thinner than an Imperial Stout and many ordinary Porters -- with higher than average carbonation. What a weird flavor, the aroma impression is all over the tastebuds, bitter weeds and stale coffee grounds, I assume from an over hopping gone wrong (for me, at least). Not very coating in body either. Chalky, astringent and overly sharp at the swallow. Plenty of alcohol. Maybe an "Imperial" Porter (whatever the hell that means) in alcohol and rampant nasty bitterness, a mess of a Baltic or Robust Porter. Thin, overcarbonated, green, weedy -- maybe this might age OK, but as is, I am NOT a fan of this one. Cartoon of a beer, IMO, close to a disaster. If this beer didn't look good, it would be a total loser and its amazing how people "follow the leader" in praising this bilge -- in my opinion, of course, LOL.

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Photo of Zorro
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Exceptionally dark black brew with a medium brown head.

Smell is LOADED with hop scent more so than even some double IPAs that I have tried. The hop scent is full of grapefruit, mint piney in nature. Fruity scent and faint coffee and chocolate and a bit of smoke come through. I notice that this is classified as a Baltic Porter so I checked hard for the "Soy Sauce" defect and it isn't in there. Exceedingly complex aroma.

Taste is a little sweet and quite bitter but not sharp. Good fruity flavor comes out once your taste buds adjust to the first punch of bitterness. Lots of pine flavor from the hops, and the moment you belch you would swear you just finished something like a Stone Ruination ale. Alcohol level isn't noticeable. Light acid in the flavor, but the expected coffee and chocolate flavor is just not there.

Mouthfeel is quite good very creamy.

Drinkability? Not really, this is a big shot of alcohol and Hops in just one glass. The hops and alcohol have combined to pretty well numb up my tongue and the hop shot to the system lingers. One a night of this is quite enough. This IS worth every bit of the $3 dollars I paid for it, quite an experience!

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Photo of Maestro
3.71/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

In the past I have not been completely satisfied with Flying Dog's offerings. I feel that they stepped up to the plate for the Hunter S. Thompson tribute. My hat is off.

This fellow is a nice twist on the baltic porter style. Lots of fresh hops seem to dominate this black brew. I really felt that the malts were hard to distinguish with the noticeable bitterness supplied by lots of hops in the boil, but it is a good treat. The moughfeel was dry and a bit bubbly. I like the smooth finish and the alcohol could have been, but wan't overwhelming.

May Gonzo rest in peace.

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

Pours opaque black from a 12oz bottle with a skeletal rendition of the good doctor. Tightly knit brown head tops off the brew and leaves some sticky lacing on the glass. Hops are surprisingly apparent in the nose, radiating some esters and light citrous. Not to be outdone, heaps of coffee and roasted grain punch through the hoppy aroma like a battering ram. Taste begins with a bitter roasted bite which transitions into thick coffee and a little chocolate. Hops lends a bit of spiciness which mingles with the warming alcohol presence. Citrous rises above the intense dry roasted character in the finish, some acidity is perceived. Big malts lend a smoothness to the mouthfeel, which is kept in check by the crispness of the hops and the roasted flavor. Mouthfeel almost tends towards oily at different points, which I enjoy. Alcohol is pleasantly noticeable, but subtle. Not sure if Thompson would have preferred this to Wild Turkey, but its an interesting example of a porter. Fine job on a tribute beer by the Flying Dog crew.

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

Appearance: Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a 25 oz crystal sniffer glass. Dark, dark brown to nearly black as used motor oil with a bit of yellow sediment. The head is a chocolate brown and this is one of those porters that by looks could be mistaken for a stout.

Smell: Resiny and piney hop scent, it's earthy with a light roastiness covered by the much stronger hop scent. Not particularly true to style, but it does smell nice.

Taste: Flavor of dark chocolate with a dry roasty malt flavor. Strong presence of chocolate and caramel malts. The flavor is not at all like the nose which makes for an interesting drinking experience. The hop bitterness shows up in the end of the beer making the beer take on a taste of bittersweet chocolate. That's a nice touch and a nice way to use two seemingly opposing flavors.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and thick, smooth but almost syrupy. Very dry in the ending as it takes on the bittersweet chocolate flavor.

Drinkability: This a good, hoppy porter with a unique and interesting flavor. This is one of those porters that makes me scratch my head and try to remember the difference between a porter and stout. I have to admit that I have not been much of a fan of Flying Dog Brewery up until now, but this beer gives me some hope in them. While I've disliked most of the other beers I've had from them, this is a solid beer. I was skeptical to even try this beer, but I am glad I did.

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Photo of lostbearbrew
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black as inside a cave at night. Some brown highlights on edge when held to strong light. Beige/brown head with lacey runs left down the glass.

Smells strongly of hops, citrusy, mostly grapefruit along with dark roasted malts and a little coffee, which comes out more as the beer warms up.

Taste is there, as the palate is smacked with dark chocolate, syrupy molasses and then a nice tang of piney hops. Some coffee notes come through but not like you'd think from the smell.

Perhaps mouthfeel is where this fails in style - thicker than a London Porter, but not sure I'd call this Baltic, personally, on this level. Needs to be chewier and sit on the tongue longer. But who am I to critique a beer made in tribute to someone who broke all the freakin rules?!?!? LOL!

This is a fine tasting, easy drinking porter, especially for a high abv. I am happy to drink 2 in a sitting and will return to it over time as it ages.



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

Is this a beer that I could see Hunter S. Thompson drinking? Yes. Strong in spirit unique, this is a fitting tribute. Pours a jet black blody with a very cool cascade of tan carbonation soon after the pour. Head is very large, lacing is impressive and sticky. Taste is big and sweet, full of chocololate, burnt grains, acidity, and alcohol. A great big beer, my first "imperial porter". I will definitely pick up another 4 pack or two of this beer.

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Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a completely pitch black witha a dense dark brown head. lots of lacing. Smells (oddly enough) of citrusy hops and roasted malt.

Tastes of roasted smoky malt up front and then lots of citrusy hops, tangerine, mandarin orange flavors. Full bodied and rich but this nice hoppy finish. Really tasty, could drink these all night. Very smooth for the alcohol content. A keeper. Flying Dog should focus on these big beers more...

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

1" roasted caramel-colored, dense head that sits up and refuses to fade. Ringed and spotted lacing with good strength. Coal black in color; nearly opaque with a few pebbles of sediment.

Roasted coffee beans and milk chocolate. Whaffs of heavy, warming alcohol. A big pine-infused hop aroma, which gives a smokey quality when mixed with the roasted malt character.

Begins with a mouthful of slick and piney hops giving this Baltic Porter its uniqueness. Deeply roasted, freshly ground coffee bean flavors that almost taste a bit coarse/abrasive as it's mingled with the pine. This abrasiveness slowly retreats as a smooth milk chocolate flavor takes affect. Finish is smooth with an aftertaste of dark fruit and alcohol.

Full bodied; surprisingly smooth, mellow, and warming on the palate. Syrup-like, with the carbonation at a minimum.

Bold and complex in flavor with a hefty alcohol presence makes this one too much to qualify for session status. Nonetheless, a surprising and unique treat. Congrats to Flying Dog, finally brewing an adventurous and pleasant brew.

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

Great label as usual. Oily jet black revealing crimson and brown highlights when held up. Thin but dense dark beige head that quickly settles into a veil, leaving crusty deposits of lace artwork.

Aromas are deep and dark charred malts, dark fruit, coffee, creamy milk chocolate, and floral and pine hops.

The flavor is rich and chewy, filled with bittersweet dark chocolate, creamed coffee, molasses, dark and ripe fruits, pine sap, and crushed flowers. Nice balance and rather complex in nature.

Big bodied, chewy, creamy, and oily mouthfeel. Lots of flavors dancing on my tongue even after the last sip. Very well done. A fine tribute.

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Photo of LuckySevens82
3.97/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle courtesy of lostbearbrew.
Pours an opaque black with brown and ruby hues. Head is somewhat lacking, even with a forced pour. Lacing, however, is quite nice.
Smell is roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, caramel, a hint of vanilla and molasses. Hops are present but not very strong.
Taste is very similar to smell, athough hops are much more pronounced. Alcohol is pretty present as well. Not particularly intricate per se, but still pretty darn good too.
Mouthfeel is pretty good, a little bit too slick though.
Overall, a very good Porter, hops and alcohol are a bit stronger than perhaps I would like, but still.

A fitting tribute for my favorite author. I'm very glad to have been able to try this one.

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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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Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
Beer rating: 4.02 out of 5 with 2,954 ratings