Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter – 9.2% ABV, 85 IBU

In my “About Me” section on this site, I’ve plainly stated that I like big bold flavors, that I want something that really hits you smack in the face and makes you say “wow, now that’s a beer!” Well this one has that in spades. The Flying Dog Brewery from Frederick, MD brewed this in honor of Hunter S. Thompson, great writer/reporter from the 60’s. His work was made into a movie starring Johnny Depp that I’m sure you’re all familiar with – “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” They have even made a second movie based on Thompson’s work – “The Rum Diary.” Now you might be wondering why I’m referencing these flicks. It is because when you see them, you realize that Thompson’s style is bold, complex, irreverent and in-your-face. That clearly defines this beer.

This beer is nearly black in color and produces a small caramel-colored head that fades fairly quickly, leaving a decent film behind to sit atop the brew. The beer appears to be pretty medium to thick-bodied, but we’ll see about that in a moment. It’s certainly thick enough that you can’t see through it. The aromas are of chocolate and dark malts, some nutty hints and a little bit of that floral hop aroma also coming in to join the party. It smells quite inviting. Well, don’t mind if I do.

This is interesting. I won’t go on to say that this beer has a ton of different flavors, all sorts of bells and whistles and whatnot, but it has a few and they are definitely pronounced. The first thing you should notice when you taste this is that it’s loaded with dark roasted malt, almost burnt. You get a hint of bourbon strength, with some caramel and dark fruit, but the majority of the taste is cocoa followed by some nuttiness, maybe chestnut. This quickly gives way to the brash entrance of hops. Kind of like Dr. Gonzo (Thompson’s alter ago/imaginary friend played by Benicio Del Toro in the film) walking into the room brandishing that .44 Magnum with the lockneck barrel. This thing means business.

There is a pretty good amount of alcohol burn that warms your stomach. Nicely carbonated, the body is medium, not too thick. Actually a little on the light side for a porter. Regardless, it’s a tasty brew that is sure to make you take notice. Much like Thompson’s writings, and the movies that they inspired, you’re in for quite a ride if you grab this one. Cheers!


Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter