I have known about Flying Dog for quite some time now, but never had the chance to try their Imperial Porter: Gonzo. I have heard a lot about the beer, some folks even claiming it to be the best imperial porter on the market. After finding the beer this weekend, let's see if the rave about the Gonzo Imperial Porter holds.
The beer is dark, 100% opaque, as you may expect. It pours fluidly giving me the impression that this beer will not feel heavy. I think that this is a good sign for an imperial porter. I always feel that an imperial porter or imperial stout should pour "thinner" than the porter or stout versions. The head is thick and brown/tan in hue, a fantastic contrast to the deep, rich color of the beer.
The aroma of the Gonzo is reminiscent of a blend of a fine IPA and a rich porter. The overwhelming amount of dry-hopping (according the the folks at Flying Dog, it is dry-hopped with a "shit load of Cascade hops") provides a full floral scent that is slightly weakened by the abundance of chocolate and black malt. With that, the flavor directly follows. At first, the Gonzo appears malty on the tongue, slightly sweet in a way. Quickly the hops overpower the malt. The combination of Warrior, Northern Brewer, and Cascade hops battle to dominate the malty characteristics. I am pretty sure it is the Warrior hop that prevails and gives that stick-to-the-roof-of-the-mouth feel. I love it. The Gonzo is very well balanced and not too high on the alcohol scale, especially for an imperial porter, coming in at 7.8%. The IBUs however, are more in-line with a IIPA (85).
The Gonzo is part of the Canis Major series from Flying Dog. The other beers in the series include Horn Dog Barley Wine (in the fridge so check back soon for a review), Double Dog Double Pale Ale, and Kerberos Triple. I am currently looking for the latter two in local beer outlets. Also, I am hoping to get my hands on the seasonal releases from Flying Dog in the near future. I really like this brewery.
I also like the artwork on the bottles. All of the artwork is created by Ralph Steadman, who started with Flying Dog in 1995.
The bottom line: I don't normally drink Imperial Porters, but the Gonzo is at least the best that I have ever tasted.