Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter
In our ongoing Thursday night father and son review series, we virtually visited the Flying Dog Brewery to sample their Gonzo Imperial Porter. We picked this one up as a 4 pack for around $9 and were excited to see it in some mainstream grocery stores like Harris Teeter and Lowes Foods, in addition to some of the specialty beer shops you’d expect to find it. As you know Flying Dog puts out some great beers with some attitude behind them. We’ve not loved everything they’ve done but more often than not their beers are in the 6 and above range on our 10 point scale.
We found conflicting reports online about the ABV on this puppy – 7.8% seems to be the winner, but we’ve seen reports as high as 9.2% (Beer Advocate labels it at 9.2%, Rate Beer labels it at 7.8%, Flying Dog’s site also comes in at 7.8% for the win) . After drinking it we figured it was probably closer to 7.8% based on how we felt. We served it up in a goblet and our 12 ounce bottle registered a temperature of 55.5 F.
The initial pour yielded a small 1/2″ frothy dark brown head that dissipated quickly and left virtually no head lacing. There was little carbonation, and the color was somewhere between dark brown and black, with a skew towards black – obviously opaque on the clarity.
The initial aromas were very malt heavy (who said this hops shortage was a bad thing?) – chocolate, coffee, molasses and roasted malts. The initial flavors were similar to the aromas but the chocolate taste leaned more towards dark chocolate and the coffee leaned more towards espresso. The chocolate tastes tend to dominate. We also picked up hints of black licorice and a light soy sauce.
The initial flavor notes were a moderate sweet and a light bitter with the finish moving to a light sweet, moderate bitter and light saltiness. The finish duration was long and the mouthfeel was somewhere between oily and creamy. We got a good amount of body lacing as well. The tongue hit is in the back of tongue – that’s where most of the flavors strike your taste buds. On our patented malt to hop scale we came in at a 2, which is 3 clicks to the left of balanced on the malt side. Very heavy on the malts, but surprisingly it has an IBU of 85, which is pretty high for something that rates this malty. You feel those bitterness units on the finish. It’s very smooth early on but the bitterness in the finish bites a little hard as it warms, which is a little off putting.
For our bottom line notes we marked it as a yes for drinkable, balance, harmony and memorable. We marked a no for repeatable – it’s a good first beer but you’ll lose some of the nice subtleness on the second one. We would definitely buy it again though. The Hunter S. Thompson Gonzo label graphics are phenomenal including the Gonzo Memorial Fist and more (done by artist Ralph Steadman, I believe). Here’s more about Hunter S. Thompson, inventor of Gonzo Journalism, for those not in the know.
Overall there’s a lot to love about the Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter. The sweet molasses in the smell, the huge chocolate in the taste. However, it’s only available a couple of times a year and is done in small batches (though Flying Dog has said that with demand what it is they’ll continue to make it for the next several months). Father Beer Love calls it a Flying Dog Road Dog Porter on steroids, which should be a good enough vote of confidence that if you can find a 4 pack it’s worth taking this puppy home with you. If you don’t we will.
Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter Rating: 8 out of 10 (?)
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