Barrel-Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

very good
270 Ratings
no score
Send samples
Barrel-Aged Gonzo Imperial PorterBarrel-Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter

Brewed by:
Flying Dog Brewery
Maryland, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Aged and seasoned for three months in whiskey barrels.

Duplicate of this beer

Added by endincolorado on 11-18-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Reviews: 49 | Ratings: 270
Photo of johnnnniee
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received in trade from MeadMe, thanks for the opportunity!
Pours a solid black with a good sized long lasting khaki head. Smells of chocolate and caramel with bits of dark pitted fruit, vanilla, oak, and bits of wood and bourbon. Smooth sweet chocolate with bits of dark fruit drizzled with vanilla and bourbon. The finish leaves a bit of bitter chocolate and roast with smokey ash on the palette that lingers long after each sip. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation and a sweet creamy and syrupy mouthfeel. Wow I really liked this one!

 550 characters

Photo of thecheapies
4.17/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pitch black upon the pour into the snifter glass. Two fingers of light brown head crowns the brew nicely. Looks rich and full-on.

Nice tone from the whiskey in the nose. Still has that Baltic Porter savory-like aroma. Notes of dark chocolate, dark roasty grain, vanilla liqueur, and earthy dark roast coffee layer like a cake. No imposing sweetness. Has that beery firmness.

Gonzo with a dose of whiskey barrel. This is recognizable, intense, and amazing. Whiskey has a great presence here; a little corn mash, a little buttery vanilla. The porter has transformed a bit. More of that dark chocolate with added notes of licorice, heavy roast, earthy hop bitterness, and slight seawater salinity. Alcohol swells late with a bright spiciness. Pairs well with the light hop presence in this beer. Still comes off smooth; not a big wallop of a stout. Carbonation gives the body some chew. With this body, there's a lot to chew on. Not saying that it's full-bodied, but it has some great whoosh in the mouthfeel.

An impressive and fantastic beer. I'll sit back and enjoy this treat. It's late, and I'm many beers down already, so it might take an hour or so. Recommended.

 1,168 characters

Photo of Justin_Neff
4.38/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz Bottle labeled 11AA. Poured into a CCB Snifter.

A: Pours a very dark brown body. Aggressive pour yields a fizzy 1 finger head. Head dissipates quickly with little lacing, but settles to a nice silky rim.

S: Bourbon forward, dark figgy-like fruits, vanilla sweetness, caramel, chocolate, a strong molasses waft. As it opens up and warms, the bourbon smell fades a bit and the molasses and fig smells becomes more prominent.

T: Wow, this one is complex. The sweetness of the dark fruit and vanilla character balance and mellow out the bourbon well. At the finish, there is a ton of chocolate and oak.

M: medium-full body. Nice and creamy. Booze is hidden well. Low-moderate carbonation.

O: After a couple years in the cellar, this one has aged very well. The complexity of this is really wonderful. It definitely improved as it warmed. I love the balance of sweetness with the bourbon.

 894 characters

Photo of Gosox8787
4.26/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz. bottle chilled and poured into a Russian River tulip glass. Bottle is labelled Vintage 11B.

Appearance: Dark brown in color. Pours a nice one finger, beige head that holds a nice thick lacing all around.

Aroma: Molasses, figs, raisans, vanilla, whiskey and cocoa powder all stand out upfront. Really unique aroma as more of the dark fruit and molasses notes stand out than in a normal barrel aged dark beer. Surprisingly nice balance of the barrel and base beer. The alcohol is certainly there but not overbearing.

Taste: Much like the aroma, big fig and dark fruit character. The barrel definitely contributes a ton of different flavors. Really nice chocolate and caramel tones round out the base beer. Whiskey, oak, and vanilla all contribute a really nice barrel character. Great improvement on the base beer. Very nice balance.

Mouthfeel: Lighter in body than an average porter. Nice, solid carbonation.

Overall, a really nice take on a barrel aged porter. A huge improvement over the base beer. Improves significantly as it warms. Really unique character from the base beer and a really solid barrel character. Really nice balance. A pleasant surprise I would definitely have again.

 1,214 characters

Photo of Gmann
3.79/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a near black color with brownish highlights at the edges. The creamy head is smallish and settles into a thick ring with some lacing on the glass.

The aroma is a bit faint for a whiskey barrel brew. I pick up some smooth caramel and vanilla with a hint of oak. Not much else.

The taste is of a light pumpernickle base with nice vanilla flavor and some caramel. A bit of oak and the whiskey pop through. Some roasty bitterness in the end, perhaps some dark chocolate. The whiskey doesn't really pop.

The feel is moderate with softish carbonation. Sweet on the palate and finishes with a slight bitter edge and dryness. Drinks very easy for a barrel aged brew, abv well hidden.

Falls a bit short for a barrel aged brew but it does have nice flavors and is quite easy to drink.

 784 characters

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

Barrel-aging can really work wonders, eh? The standard Gonzo Imperial porter was okay - nothing revolutionary, right, but I really enjoyed this barrel-aged version...

A: pitch black in my flute glass - decent finger of dark tan head slimmed quickly leaving but traces of lace

S: chocolatey malts and roastiness overlaid by sweet, smooth whiskey oak notes

T: a real classy drink - rich and full, bittersweet and roasty, with airs of whiskey and oak; some espresso stayed relatively subdued in the backgrund, allowing the dark malst and barrel-aging flavors to take center-stage.

M: smooth, light (for an imperial porter), mellow, great balance of bitter and sweet; great finish, too - nothing coating or sticky, just a dry, semi-sweet cocoa vibe

O: wonderful drink, highly recommended

 788 characters

Photo of justintcoons
3.26/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

12oz bottle poured into a large wine glass.

Pitch black with a short brown head that dissipates quickly.

Toffee, sugar and prune. Dark chocolate, raisin and a touch of blended whiskey.

Toffee, semi-sweet chocolate and cocoa nibs. Prune juice and raisin. Very sugary with touches of blended whiskey. Very light barrel character.

Medium bodied, smooth, silky and warming.

This one is very sugary sweet. Lots of toffee and prune. Again, this is very light on the barrel character. Not really worth the $8/12oz bottle.

 559 characters

Photo of FosterJM
3.36/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

1714th Review on BA
Bottle to Hangar 24 taster

Split with the Beer Geek Radio Guys.

App- This was a very dark brown with a dark center and a nice puffy head on it. Filled up the taster glass. Semi decent cling, but looked really nice in the glass. A good looking little taster glass.

Smell- I get the porter notes, but there is a raisiny off flavor behind this one. The aromas are a bit sweet with some of the prickly whiskey coming up to great you. Doesnt smell all that impressive really.

Taste- This just didnt go well for me. The porter notes are a bit thin and what I could day as the raisins from the aroma come in as well. The beer is just a bit better than average and dont do all that much for me.

Mouth- A bit of a lighter medium body with a lighter carbonation. Fairly bubbly and a little creamy. Residual oaky and raisin flavors.

Drink- Just kinda above average for me. Wouldnt say meh. But just okay. Not my favorite profile.

 949 characters

Photo of TwelveOunces
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter

A- Pours pitch black. A large lingering brown head.

S- Roasted malt. A nice bitterness and a faded hop smell. A little whiskey. Sweet and chocolatey.

T- A lot of carbonation at first. Followed up by a nice big roasted malt profile as well as a lot of chocolate notes. There is some toffee and caramel as well. The whiskey is subtle in this beer but does add another depth to it. The oak in this beer is noticable and ads a nice dryness to it.

M- High carbonation, a little too high in my opinion. A good silky feel to it otherwise. A fairly dry and roasty finish.

O- A tad disappointing but not bad. Also, no idea how old this beer is.

 675 characters

Photo of masterofsparks
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vanilla, oak and booze swirl through the nose. Mouthfeel is thin to medium, right on for a porter but this looks so much like a stout that I was initially expecting more.

Taste-wise, this is a treat. The roasted flavors that are typical of a porter mesh beautifully with the barrel character. Vanilla is the dominant flavor from the barrel, but it doesn't overwhelm the other characters or the flavor of the beer itself. Well-balanced, smooth, and delicious. I'll buy this every time I see it.

 495 characters

Photo of n2185
3.37/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours black with three fingers of brown head that fades into a thin layer with no lacing.

S: Roasted malts with semi-sweet chocolate, char, and touches of smoke. Hints of vanilla, oak, and whiskey follow, though they're pretty mellow.

T: Roasted malts with bitter chocolate and char dominate here. There is a light smokiness as well. The finish has some oak and whiskey notes along with a light alcohol burn.

M: Medium-thick body with moderately low carbonation, this beer is a little watery and boozy feeling in the mouth.

O: A decent beer overall, though not great. I'd like there to be a bit more presence from the whiskey barrels with less of an alcohol burn and a creamier body.

 690 characters

Photo of AdamBear
4.27/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A-black with a pretty dark tan head

S-salty? grassy and creamy. not a strong scent. smells like a raw, strong stout really, almost menacing. overall, a let down for the nose

T-comes in with a really strong oak aged taste of dark bitter chocolate covered coffee beans. to be honest, a belgian rawness really lingers for awhile before the token cocoa and coffee come in. i'm really impressed with this. its much better than the regular version. has a nice lingering after-taste.

M-heavy carbonation with a watery finish

O-so this is amazing. and i'll tell you what i think sets it apart from other barrel aged stouts/porters. it has a certain belgian quality. it doesn't have the belgian grains, the spices, or those bubblegum sugars. it has that beglian rawness that i really enjoy from the true belgian ales. also, it has that carbonation that just fills the mouth with suds. i love that. i love this. by far, my favorite from Flying Dog.

 942 characters

Photo of argock
4.42/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 750ml corked brown bottle into a clear glass snifter. No freshness date but from the 2012 bottling. Purchased at WIne Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $16.49.

A: Musty brown with impressive cola-like, beige 2-3 finger head that quickly receded to a thin rim of lace but only rare spots of lacing.

S: Great aroma, even 5 months after purchase. WHiskey is definitely evident with plenty of wood to go araound as well. There are nice dashes of vanilla and roast aromas to blend with the fig and rum raisin. There is still a bit of steely alcohol scent as well.

T: Really a great mix of dark malt fruit with fig, raisin, and grape flavors, molasses, mild anise, and the nicely accenting whiskey component. I wish I had been able to get two bottles to have one fresh. The oak is less flavorful but still adds some vanilla and woody qualities but more prominently provides a lot of drying. There are some woody, earthy qualities at first, maybe from the alcohol, maybe from hops, maybe from the barrel, but they recede after it sits out of the bottle for a little while. The alcohol is definitely not overbearing but there for certain, but whether it's from the whiskey barrel or the base beer is hard to say. The finish has a really nice roast aspect without the ashiness of some BA stouts -- maybe this is an advantage of BA porters? A really interesting flavored beer, I just wish it had a little more porter character.

M: Medium-bodied which was surprising for a 9.5% ABV beer. Plenty of dextrins but far from syrupy. Very active carbonation which I think could be toned down somewhat. THe drying of the oak tannins is pretty strong and give the beer a vinous finish.

O: A really nice beer from Flying Dog, and I hope they decide to keep offering this annually. It is a very unique beer on both aroma and flavor fronts at this stage. I will try my next bottle fresh though. I did enjoy this brew a lot though.

 1,929 characters

Photo of Reagan1984
4.07/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This review is a tribute to my boy Clay. They don’t come any better than he does. This beer is listed as retired... he kept one for me for almost a year,. Gotta love this guy.

Thin less than finger of head. A lot of sticky lace. Deep dark brown.

Aroma is fantastic. Bourbon, wood, vanilla, sweet dark malt

Lots of wood up front,.. A bit of vanilla and some dark fruits. It’s right here that you can detect the issue with the beer. THe body is a little thin for the flavor. Fades a bot too fast.

Not thin.. Not at all. bit a little too thin for the flavors included. I wish I could chew on it.

Still a very nice beer.

Clay... you DA man,...

 649 characters

Photo of tut2528
4.02/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2011 bottling consumed end of July on honeymoon

A: completely jet black, no hints of redness whatsoever. Pours about ½ fingers worth of mocha colored head, moderate lacing, big bubbles stick to the sides of the glass. Leaves a thin film after head dissipates.

S: huge huge molasses, figs and raisins, there is some creamy vanilla but not as much when I first tried this fresh. I also pick up on some chocolate notes and the obviously bourbon and oak characters.

T: again, big sweet molasses, slight toasty malt, oak and bourbon. Figs make up the dark fruit here in the taste with raisins coming up behind it. Creamy finish with a touch of bitter dark chocolate.

M: actually more on the medium bodied side than heavy in my opinion. Leaves a nice sugary, sweetness on the lips and tongue, and there is no presence of alcohol

O: thought that this one was better fresh. It had more vanilla character to it the first time that I had it, but this is still a very nice offering from Flying Dog. The components that make up this brew are nicely balanced as well. Many of the local shops sell these at a ridiculous $6-7 per 12 oz bottle, and it is simply not worth the money. I would consider it thought at $14 per 4 pack (if it was sold that way).

 1,246 characters

Photo of Vonerichs
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It's a fantastic looking beer. Dark brown color with a massive soft espresso colored head that's persistent.

Strong vanilla and wood bourbon notes with burnt malt.

The wood is overdone in the taste and drowns out anything the malt tries to contribute. It's extremely hot, even for a BA.

Mouthfeel has too much carbonation and is prickly.

Overall, an average at best BA beer and the price tag makes this a huge miss for me.

 430 characters

Photo of davey101
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage11BB. This is the "non wild dog" version. 12 Oz. bottle into a complimentary plastic hotel cup. Pours a dark brown body with a really dense mocha head. Thick lacing and retention. Smell is strong on the whiskey. Roasted malts, chocolate, toffee, dark fruits, and an oddly sweet finish. Taste is the same with some alcohol heat. Mouthfeel is medium with a coating finish. Not bad at all.

 393 characters

Photo of NoLeafClover44
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into goblet. Vintage 12AA.

A - Pours very dark brown with a camel colored head. The one finger of suds linger and leave a complete lacing.

S - Whiskey is apparent from the start. Lots of dark fruits sweeten the deal alongside some oak. Some red wine characteristics as well.

T - The malts are toasted and sweet. Molasses, tart cherry, and oak contribute a sweet, rich flavor. Finish is of whiskey and the first sip burns the back of my tongue. As my palate acclimates, the alcohol is less noticeable and the flavors become more intricate.

M - Carbonation is nearly perfect giving it a bubbly, but smooth feel. Medium bodied.

O - I was surprised to see that this one is now retired on BA because I just came across it this week in my local shop. The whiskey and oak flavors are prominent throughout and it drinks a bit hot. The mouthfeel is impressive. It grew on me as I drank more and I would consider paying $5 for another one, although that is a bit steep for a single.

 1,002 characters

Photo of Auracom
3.62/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Looked forward to this one for a while, nice pickup and share from my partner-in-crime. Thanks Dan! 4-5 oz. poured into a Kishimoto Duvel on June 20th, 2012.

A - Looks a bit more like a stout than a typical porter. Deep khaki head with quick dissipation. Decent lacing. Fair alcohol legs.

S Dark chocolate, toasted almonds and pecans, and lightly solvent whiskey-soaked oak. Robust and inviting beyond the traditional standard.

T - A bit more porter than stout here. Front end milk chocolate, middle coffee beans and cocoa. The oak and whiskey comes through at the rear with more wood character than sweetness, though there is a very light syrupy, sugar-like character.

M - Medium body, expected low to moderate carbonation, reasonable smoothness. Quite a lot of alcohol warmth after the semi-dry finish.

D - It's about as good as expected but not a bit more. I like the barrel character and it's got some panache for the style.

 933 characters

Photo of TheHoppiest
4.42/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Pours a deep, dark, inpenetrable brown, with a 1/4" tan head that slowly reduces to a thin skim of foam.

The smell is powerfully malty, with rich vanilla, cream, kahlua, maple syrup, and warm alcohol. It's so rich, just taking a sniff is like biting into a finger of tiramisu. There's no question that the barrel aging is having a huge impact upon this ale's aroma.

Boozy, the whiskey barrel aging is dominant, as if a half-shot of whiskey was dropped into this porter prior to serving. Malty and sweet, with honey, cream, bits of vanilla, and dark chocolate, there's a ton going on in this brew. So rich as to border on overwhelming, this is a slllooow sipper of a porter, more like a rich stout. Finishes with a slight bitter that's more coffee or dark chocolate than hop.

Full bodied, a true "fork and knife" mouthfeel brew. Smooth and creamy to start, the whiskey aging does begin to tire the tongue a bit as you get further into the beer, leaving it dry and almost chalky.

A real big brew, this beer in some ways is quintessentially American. Bold, complex, over the top and unapologetic, this imperial porter not only laughs disdainfully at other porter, it scoffs at most other stouts as well. It stands atop the food pyramid of porters, an alpha predator that will school other more timid ales. Pour one if you dare!

 1,372 characters

Photo of WesM63
3.6/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a large snifter.

A: Pours a dark brown with a nice 2finger light mocha head. Minor retention and lacing are present.

S: Smells of roasted malts some oak is present but faint. Something else I can't put my finger on.

T: Lots of roasted malts then oak and whiskey. A tiny hint of vanilla is present as well.

M: Medium body with loads of carbonation.

O: Not what I was expecting. While the BA process is present, it's faint and doesn't seem to add anything to the porter itself. The carbonation seems over the top as well. To me the carbonation is one of the huge downfalls of this beer. It comes in super strong mid taste and drowns out everything else out.

 691 characters

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

I realised I had this review in the wrong place, this makes more sense now that I can see the bottle pic. Originally reviewed May 30th.

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass. Vintage 11BB.

Very similar to it's on tap brother, creamy large milk chocolate brown/tan head settles nicely to a good whispy top, classic dark walnut body and hints around the edges of red. Looks real nice.

Nose is spicy milk chocolate, and yes banana. Choco banana, and even some salt.

Taste seems kind of lacking. Mild licorice, not much of a big sweetness but some residual charring and roast. Slightly silky but also some weak wetness also and a hint of fizz.

Overall I forgot I had this before (didn't), but boy that was sometime ago and getting the bottom of a keg. THis is more enjoyable slightly a bit out of the bottle, it seems to have more roast character and not as sweet as I remember.

 886 characters

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a brandy snifter. Looks like it's a 2011 ("VINTAGE11AA").

A: Pours an opaque black with a small tan head.

S: Whiskey dominates the nose. Big vanilla, oak, smooth liquor, a tiny bit of chocolate from the stout underneath.

T: Oaky liquor, heavy wood, very subtle vanilla tannins, a bit of chocolate in the background, raisins. Huge charred roastiness in the finish.

M: Full-bodied, fine carbonation.

O: The heaviness of the oak and roast in the flavor detracted from this beer. Looking for a little more sweetness. Good, but could have been better.

 582 characters

Photo of inlimbo77
3.53/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, split 3-ways. No bottle date but I think this is 2012. Poured this into my Boulevard tulip.

A: Pours a really deep brown/black. Really carbonated. About a finger of dark tan head. Nice alcohol feet.

S: Barrel really over takes the porter notes. It's not the normal woodiness or vanilla that I was expecting. It's just booze heat really. I don't get the chocolate or coffee porter hints.

T: I get the woodiness in the flavor though. It's a little over carbonated. Actually takes away from the flavors staying with you. The flavors don't have time to mingle on your palate at all. You get some oak and vanilla, but I wish more.

M: Medium because of the carbo.

 674 characters

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

Wowsers... I've had gonzo before but this was my first time with the barrel aged variant... they weren't kidding about it being weird turned pro... granted I wouldn't say it was weird... it was a pretty normal imperial porter... now is where it gets weird... a porter with that kind of oak whisky taste. This beer tastes and smells like whiskey... no 2 ways about it. It has an amazing reddish brown head that quickly dissipates despite bubbling out of the top of the glass. Taste is like dark chocolate and coffee beans. This beer is amazing.

 543 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Barrel-Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
4.02 out of 5 based on 270 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.