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The Beer Circle » Baltic Porter, Beer, Better From The Barrel?, Flying Dog Brewery, Porter, Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey » Better From The Barrel: Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter

Better From The Barrel: Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter

Update: This post is being retroactively fitted to run in our column “Better From The Barrel?”

The story of how Flying Dog got its start is as strange as the labels that grace their bottles.

In 1983, a series of events in the Himalayas involving under prepared hikers, an unfaithful Sherpa, a scared-shitless donkey, and quickly consumed contraband led to the creation of the Flying Dog philosophy.

That’s right, philosophy. It wasn’t until 1990 that beer came into the picture.

After successfully climbing K2, one of the most difficult mountain faces on the planet, George Stranahan and his climbing cohorts ended their 1983 “amateur mountaineering expedition” by drinking beer in a Pakistani hotel bar. After quite a few beers, George noticed a painting on the wall of a dog with wings – a Pakistani artist’s interpretation of an English Bird Dog.

We don’t know if it was the exhaustion, the beer, or a combination of both, but George took a liking to that dog.

We all know that dogs can’t fly. But no one told this winged beast he couldn’t, just like no one told George and his friends they couldn’t complete their extraordinary Himalayan adventure. Flying Dog became George’s life philosophy because, as he personally discovered, “it is amazing what you can achieve if nobody tells you that you can’t.”

Just as strange as how it started is what happened after they had already been brewing beer for a decade…they moved over 1,000 miles from Denver to Maryland.

The beer I’m focusing on today is Gonzo Imperial Porter, from their Canis Major series. Described as big, bold, and beautful by the brewery, this is pretty much one of the staple porters you’ll find on the shelves here in the greater DC area. After which, I’m going to delve into a version of Gonzo aged for at least 180 days in Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey barrels, originally from the Wild Dog series. This whiskey is commonly known as one of the best to age a beer in. It gained so much attention that the distillery was able to sell the right to put its name on labels.

Gonzo Imperial Porter
Really nice dark pour with a few fingers of light brown to brown head. Retention is great and a lot of lacing graces the sides of my Deschutes tulip. Really good looking beer.
Big roasted malt character, with a lot of chocolate providing a nice base on the aroma. Are those some hops as well? A really robust and unique aroma that I quite enjoy.
Big roasted malt on the taste as well. Mirroring the aroma, chocolate provides the base, with the focus being on roast. Other tastes include molasses, hops, and perhaps some booze.
Heavy body with a good amount of carbonation. Really drinkable beer with a dry finish.
Priced right at around $2 per bottle, you absolutely cannot go wrong here.

Beer Stats
Style: Baltic Porter
Serving: Bottle
Size: 12oz
ABV: 9.20%
BA Score: 90
RB Score: 99


Barrel Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter
Black pour with a huge brown head. Very large bubbles build up and create a beautiful looking beer. Retention is great, and a lot of lacing sticks to the sides of my Deschutes Tulip.
Whiskey forward aroma for sure. Chocolate and roast remain from the base Gonzo Imperial Porter. I'm not surprised some of the roast remains from Gonzo, and thankfully it plays well with the whiskey.
Stranahan's Whiskey is simply delicious. Not intrusive, this whiskey adds a nice character to the beer. Oak, vanilla, and whiskey come together with chocolate and roast to create a nicely balanced, albeit whiskey focused, taste. You start off with some whiskey and chocolate, graduate to stronger whiskey and perhaps a hint of booze, and finish with a big roast and lingering whiskey.
My only wish is that the base beer of Gonzo imparted more body to this beer. It seems a bit thin. Low carbonation as I would expect, I just wanted this to be a bit more rich. Insanely drinkable.
This was $20 for a 750ml bottle, which I say was worth it once, but not again.

Beer Stats
Style: Whiskey Barrel Aged Porter
Serving: Bottle
Size: 750ml
ABV: 9.50%
BA Score: 87
RB Score: 99

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Written by Russ Beck

Russ can trace his beginnings in craft beer to sitting in Zeno’s Pub in State College drinking various craft beer options from across Pennsylvania. Since then, he has never faltered in finding new brews, whether they’re rare, delicious, or hopefully both. Russ will be writing on a large variety of subjects, including but not limited to: reviews, homebrewing, and how to take labels off of beer bottles. He’ll drink just about anything, but prefers a nice Stout, IPA, or Weizenbock. Find Russ Beck on Google Plus

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