Gonzo Imperial Porter is a Baltic porter–style beer brewed by Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Maryland. It is big, bold, and beautiful like the man it was brewed in honor of: Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.
In 1990, George Stranahan opened the Flying Dog Brewpub in Aspen, Colorado. In 1994, along with longtime friend Richard McIntyre, Flying Dog opened a 50-barrel brewery in Denver, Colorado, from which its ales were distributed to more than thirty-one states. In May 2006, Flying Dog acquired the Wild Goose brand when it purchased the Frederick Brewing Company in Frederick, Maryland, and in January 2008, all production was moved to the Maryland facility. Although the headquarters remains in Denver, the Maryland location is where close to 70% of Flying Dog Beer is brewed.
This beer was complicated to brew, as its complexity shows. They used special malts such as 120L Caramel, black, and chocolate and included hops such as Warrior, Northern Brewer, and Cascade. They also used two yeast strains. The effort paid off with gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival in 2009 and the World Beer Cup in 2009.
There is no question that this is a web favorite, with hundreds of reviews online. It is one of the holy grails of the beer geek world.
This is a dark, almost black beer with a dark mocha head. The head seems to last a good long time and leaves excellent lace as you drink it down. The nose is incredible, giving off vanilla, caramel, toffee, coffee, licorice, and dark chocolate. Even with a sizable 9.2% ABV, there is not a lot of alcohol on the nose. Some nuttiness also comes across.
Roasted chocolate, coffee, and vanilla malt all come across in a big milky, almost chocolate shake kind of way. There is a nice bite from the hops, but this melds nicely with the body of the beer. It stands up but does not overpower. Some graham cracker comes through. There is a nice hint of bitterness, but again, this is well within the style. There is also a nice hint of sweetness, but within the confines of the overall structure.
This is an excellent example of the style, with great body and flavor.
The brewery also does a limited release of barrel-aged Gonzo Imperial, which though difficult to obtain, is well worth it.
CP Review originally printed in The Handbook of Porters and Stouts.
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