Distilled: Flying Dog Imperial Porter comes highly recommended

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Writing this column means I’m often approached by friends, co-workers and even strangers about beer and/or booze (generally whiskey). I usually don’t mind, and it’s mostly resulted in a fun conversation. This interaction started happening with a friendly security guard in my office building a few months ago, and he has recommended a few beers that I’ve quite enjoyed.

Most recently, my beer connoisseur co-worker recommended Flying Dog Brewery’s Gonzo Imperial Porter, as we have often discussed our fondness for stouts and porters. This is one of the best recommendations I’ve ever received. Thank you, good sir.

I’m surprised I’d never tried the Gonzo Imperial Porter — Flying Dog is both a ubiquitous and dependable brewery, and it’s a porter named after Hunter S. Thompson. Also, imperial porters are a rare find and I jump on any I see.

Anyway, I’m very glad I got my hands on the Gonzo. This is an excellent porter that’s worth the semi-high price of admission ($15.99 for a six pack).

The most appealing aspect of the Gonzo is its absolutely flawless execution of an imperial porter. Flying Dog is obviously a consistent producer, and a handful of their brews are very well done, but the Gonzo is quickly becoming my favorite from the brewery.

The first sip of this beer will immediately let you know what you’re in for. A big flavor of chocolate and coffee is the first thing you’ll notice, but as that fades a hint of vanilla (and even a twinge of caramel) comes through. It’s an incredible balance that pairs nearly perfectly with the roast-y notes.

Where this imperial porter is also downright excellent is its texture. This is a rich, almost velvety porter that’s unbelievably smooth, especially given the 9.2 ABV. Even if you sip the Gonzo at a leisurely pace, the last gulp will taste as pleasant as the first.

To put it succinctly, the Gonzo Imperial Porter is a top-notch beer — an 8.5 or 9 out of 10. The brewery also produces a seasonal barrel-aged version that unfortunately has a limited geographic availability. Looks like I’ll be taking a road trip soon.

Photo courtesy of Flying Dog Brewery