Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

1,468 Reviews
Read the review
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,468 | Ratings: 2,900
Photo of Rogerlb
3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours black. Aroma is dark fruit and some burnt malt. Taste is a relatively heavy-feeling porter, with malt, roast coffee, char, cola, licorice, creamy goodness all work well together. A little chocolate too. Lager and yeast in the finish, along with burnt toffee overtones.

Lots going on, and I like all of it. Some hoppy bitterness in the second half, barely. Complex for a porter, almost in stout territory. Good job, dog that flies. Not bad at all. The 9.2 % is almost completely hidden. As a stout, not quite; as a porter, more than most.

 545 characters

Photo of Bonkinishwa
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Flying Dog Brewery - Gonzo Imperial Porter. 9.2% ABV. 3oz sample pour in mini mug.

Look: Settles a pitch black in the glass, with a massive dark brown head that occupied half the glass, and eventually settled somewhat.

Smell: Sweet bakers chocolate, dark malt, caramel, and coffee, all surrounded by a toasty/ burnt toffee.
Feel: Full, thick bodied, creamy and heavy.

Taste: Same as smell; chocolate, coffee, dark malt, sweet caramel, all backed by a toasty, bitter toffee flavor.

Overall: Had at the Firkin Fest 2016 in Ashland, KY. This was definitely one of my favorites of the day; great porter with lots of flavor.

 630 characters

Photo of NolaHopHead
4.21/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle. Pours black with thick mocha head, lasts forever, coating lace, perfect looking beer. Roasty chocolate aroma. Deep roasted malt flavor, burnt notes, mild licorice. Very well done porter. Mouthfeel on thin side, but silky.

 240 characters

Photo of rex_4539
3.94/5  rDev -2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Good beer but not as good as I hoped it would be.

Aroma not as evident as I expected but tastes good. Aftertaste though not as pleasant as Anchor Porter or Fuller's London Porter, for example.

Would I buy it again? Probably not. Would I drink it again if offered? Definitely yes :)

 283 characters

Photo of Whey2Hoppy
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A- Pours a tar-like black color with a dark brown head, just the look alone has me excited about this one. This has the appearance of some of the best stouts I've had, such as KBS and SMS.

S- Coffee, roasted, burnt malts, and dark chocolate aromas.

T- Dark chocolate and coffee flavors right up front on the taste, with very burnt toasty malts following up and a hint of alcohol kick on the finish.

F- Medium body and carbonation.

O- An excellent imperial porter. But let's be real here, this may as well be called a stout.

 527 characters

Photo of BloodSoakedAleMug
4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

At first sip you're greeted by black coffee and black espresso with a strongly bitter dark chocolate note in between, that's slightly sweet with notes of vanilla.

A savory brewer's licorice and rich tobacco taste comes through mid-palate.
There's a strong bitter hop backbone consisting of Warrior, Cascade and Northern Brewer hops that provides complexity to the dry roasted malt.
A faint campfire smokiness underscores the whole experience.

It finishes dry, slightly sweet with more vanilla and coffee. Crisp (for a stout), full bodied and well carbonated. Excellent lacing leftover from a chocolate colored, three finger head.
One of the better offerings from Flying Dog.

 677 characters

Photo of RacerX5k
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Yes. An across the board 4. Porter? IDK. looks like porter but in reality, an drinkable and delicious hop forward black ale. After 2 weeks of Bourbon County and High Westified i needed some hops ... would not neccesarily seek this out but would drink this anytime.

 264 characters

Photo of stevoj
4.02/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle from Cindys Spirits. Pours out dark brown and oily, small head which dissipates quickly. Right from the bat, this porter gets down to business. Dark, biting roast grain bitterness, slick body, peat, smoke and wood all play here. Very mild warmth from the alcohol, but not over the top. A classic.

 303 characters

Photo of Myotus
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured at 46°F from a 12oz bottle (I can only make out the year 2015 from The smeared bottle date) into a nonic pint glass. Consumed on 22Feb16.
LOOK: Pours with two fingers worth of khaki foam that dissipates into one finger's worth after 3 minutes. Black in color with an orange tint. There is an abundance of small sized rising bubbles. Lacing is high in quantity and very thick.
SMELL: Mild aromas of sweet chocolate, bitter roasted malts, spicy hops, and floral hops are backed by subtle aromas of vanilla and hints of alcohol. The bitterness to the roasted malts is pretty low. I would say a 2 out of 5 in regards to just bitterness.
TASTE: Strong sweet chocolate and mild bitter roasted malt flavors first strike the palate and are immediately trailed by subtle floral hop flavors. Mild spicy hop flavors are next to appear on the palate as floral hop flavors grow to mild. Subtle vanilla and bitter hop flavors enter lastly as all previous flavors persist.
FEEL: Somewhere between medium-bodied and light-bodied. Moderately carbonated. Goes down somewhat smooth. Finishes with a strong dryness.
NOTE: I've had other beers from this brewery that were alright, but this took me by surprise. Incredibly balanced between sweetness, roasted malts, and hops, I was not expecting this from a Porter, let alone Flying Dog. Great job, guys.

 1,340 characters

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

Bottle dated "VINTAGE15 JJA" (whatever THAT means...). Straight from the bottle, as befits a Gonzo brew. Initial impression is roasted toffee/caramel malts and a very chewy, very robust mouthfeel. Wow. This is good. Alcohol well hidden. This ranks right up there with some of my favrite Imperial Porters and/or Imperial Stouts. Excellent offering from Flying Dog.

 369 characters

Photo of Gajo74
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first Baltic Porter. I thought it was an interesting and complex brew.
It poured a dark brown with a fingernail length tan head and lace that retained well throughout.
In the nose, I detect chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts. It also has a woody and smoked quality.
There is a lot going on in the taste. The dark roasted malts predominate and the bitterness is medium to high. It feels like a strong espresso. The roasted malts have a slightly burnt quality that mellows out as the drink warms. Also, as it warms, I notice a sweeter undertone of chocolate. The finish has licorice and a noticeable bittering hops presence. The coffee aftertaste lingers.
The feel is full bodied, fluffy in the mouth and slightly crisp on the tongue.
I liked this one and will definitely try again.

 785 characters

Photo of Kaingers
2.39/5  rDev -40.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Unbalanced, harsh and extremely hard to drink. Bitterness dominates the palate and makes for a rough ride. It literally took me 50 minutes to finish. Thankfully I only purchased a single. Smuttynose has a much better example of a imperial porter, spend your money elsewhere and thank me later.

 293 characters

Photo of NastyNorseman
3.69/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

The porter flavor of this imperial did not meet my expectations. The higher a/v% seems to effect the flavor too much. I would have this again, but not if there was another to choose from. The color was normal for a porter although it's head was quite frothy which was nice. The feel was fairly smooth, but the porter taste was not potent enough for me.

 352 characters

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.

 599 characters

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.

 362 characters

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.

 330 characters

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.

 601 characters

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.

 464 characters

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

 165 characters

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.

 738 characters

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.

 862 characters

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.

 326 characters

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.

 250 characters

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.

 217 characters

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.

 385 characters

Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
4.02 out of 5 based on 2,900 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.