Friday, 4 May 2012

Flying Dog Brewery Gonzo Imperial Porter

Good evening all. Thanks to everyone who read my contribution to this month's Session, it was great fun to write and as always they really help to put this obsession into context! I wasn't going to review the star of tonight's post as I've had it many times before, but in the end the desire to flex my assessment muscles was too great to resist. Therefore, tonight's beer is Gonzo Imperial Porter, an Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery (Maryland, USA). This beer used to be readily available in the UK, along with Doggie Style Pale Ale, towards the end of my second year at uni, so along with BrewDog Punk IPA this offering was certainly one of my first experiences with "craft beer"- seems only fair to subject it to the reviewing treatment then! Which, as always, can be found after the pic....

I assure you that I won't be biased by the awesome Ralph Steadman artwork!
Gonzo Imperial Porter (9.2% ABV) pours a jet black colour with a thick brown head that settles to a thin halo of foam around the inside of the glass. The aroma consists of chocolate, licorice, yeast extract, dark fruits, citrus fruits, roasted malt and a nice burnt sugar sweetness in the background. The chocolate hits first with aromas of syrup and cocoa powder, which are surprisingly rich and dark even in the presence of the other aromas. The hoppy citrus fruits combine with the chocolate to give a black IPA feel to the beer, whilst also conjuring up memories of barley wines when the sweetness becomes more apparent. The alcohol isn't overpowering and only slightly vaporises into the nose to accompany the other aromas, despite the high ABV percentage. Definitely on the sweeter side of the stout spectrum, it's great stuff so far! The taste is similar to the aroma, with dark fruits, coffee, some chocolate and a caramelised sweetness in the background accompanied by a dry, papery aftertaste in the finish. The dark fruit flavours (blackcurrants, raisins) are quite fleeting, and the alcoholic presence is definitely more apparent on the palette compared to the nose, but after the roasted malt flavours have subsided the aftertaste kicks in and adds a slightly unsavoury element to the beer with some grapes and the aforementioned papery dimension. Every so often the flavours combine to give an Asian sauce flavour, similar to Hoisin, which is understandable given the sweetness and the piquant fruits from the roasted malt. The mouthfeel is slightly thick and the beer is moderately carbonated, which compliments the hop-derived fruits and supports the darker flavours very well. Overall, an interesting porter with a healthy injection of fruity hops set against characteristic roasted malt flavours. It's immensely drinkable despite the high alcohol content and is very well-balanced. The unusual aftertaste is something I've never come across with this beer before, so I'm going to chalk it up to having a bad batch and I won't let it affect my decision to purchase it again in the future. Definitely recommended!

Until next time....

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