Friday, March 17, 2006

Gonzo Imperial Porter

This is the official tribute beer to the late Hunter S. Thompson who was not only the founder of Gonzo journalism and author of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, but also coined the phrase, “Good people drink good beer.” I must be a saint!

Brewery – Flying Dog Brewing Co. in Denver, CO
Style – Since an “Imperial Porter” style has not been officially established (yet) I’m going to go with BA and call it a Baltic Porter.
ABV – 9.5%
Malts – Black, chocolate and crystal
Hops – Millennium and Cascade
Serving Type – 12 oz. bottle

The story of this beer goes back to when the co-founder of Flying Dog, George Stranahan, lived in Aspin, Colorado next to none other than Mr. Thompson himself. The two became good friends and in 1991 met up with artist Ralph Steadman at the Woody Creek Tavern. The night of drunken conversation is now affectionately known in the brewery as ‘the meeting of the minds’ and resulted in Road Dog Porter. This was the first authentic gonzo beer label illustrated by Ralph Steadman.

Hunter S. Thompson died on Sunday, February 20, 2005 and in commemoration Flying Dog made a supped up version of the Road Dog and released it to the public as the Gonzo Imperial Porter. $1 from each case sold will go to the Gonzo Memorial Fund which has been set up to help finance a permanent memorial to Hunter on his Owl Farm Estate in Woody Creek, Colorado. The huge stone monument is planned to reach a height of 150 feet and will be crowned with a giant red fist. It’s scheduled to be unveiled at a memorial service in August that will be attended by family members and close friends, including Flying Dog founder George Stranahan and celebrities, Johnny Depp and Jack Nicholson.

The brewery credits Hunter with infusing his gonzo energy and helping to propel Flying Dog on its irreverent path. They still claim that his energy “races around the brewery like a three-legged dog on acid!” ‘We tried to make everything about this beer Gonzo, which explains why we’ve already had a run-in with the authorities,” jokes brewery president Eric Warner. “The Tax and Trade Bureau took issue with a quote from Hunter that we put on the label, which says,’ I hate to advocate, drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity but they’ve always worked for me.’ The Tax and Trade Bureau didn’t think it was funny.”

Glass – I’m using a unique glass I got from Rogue Brewing that is a 22 oz, foot tall beer mug with the slogan “So you want a revolution?” in commemoration of the revolutionary and unique Mr. Hunter.

Aroma – The wonderfully floral Cascade hops dominate the aroma. This beer must have been dry hoped with them. I can just barley pick out some malty sweetness and just a hint of alcohol.

Appearance – Starts out with a moderate size frothy tan crown. This takes a couple of minutes to dissipate leaving almost no crown left, but it does leave some large sticky laces. The beer it self is jet black. When I hold it directly in front of a light bulb I can just make out some dark ruby highlights at the edges.

Flavor – On the tip of my tongue I can taste a soft hoppiness that is reminiscent of the floral aroma. The sides of my tongue pick up a faint bitterness from the Magnum hops. The middle and back of my mouth start off tasting a real malty sweetness that gradually transforms into the roasty and coffee flavor you would expect in a porter style. There is just a hint of alcohol warming coming after I swallow the beer, but not nearly as much as I would have expected from high alcohol beer like this. The other surprising thing is how clean this beer finishes. However at the same time when I lick my lips it’s like I can still taste some of that hop resin.

Mouthfeel – It as a full, thick mouthfeel you would expect from a Baltic Porter. There is very little in the way of carbonation but in true Flying Dog style it has an oily feel to it that seems to leave a film in your mouth allowing you to saver the previous sip.

Final Thoughts – When they say on the website that this beer is as deep and complex as the man it is intended to honor, they are not kidding. This is probably one of the most finely crafted beers I have had in a long time. The last couple beers I wrote about were big, in your face, over the top beers which are fine, and I really enjoyed them. This one is so delicately balanced in its flavors that the taste profile seems to be constantly changing as it sits in your mouth. If there is ever a beer brewed as a tribute to me I would be lucky if it was half as nuanced and delicious as this one.


Blogger ChuckSuede said...

Awwww man! After just one sip, I can almost feel the bats and lizards flying around in my mouth.

10:16 PM  

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