The American brewing scene is in rude health. So The Guest Ale has drafted in an English expat to cast her expert eye on the latest trends. In her latest post from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Suzanna Lee-Kendall reviews.
It is named after the mighty Great Lakes freighter “SS Edmund Fitzgerald” that frequently docked in Cleveland and which tragically sank in Lake Superior during a huge storm 36 year ago this week. Gordon Lightfoot’s haunting song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” was released the following year and documents the freak event that stole the lives of all 29 crew members on board. In tribute, Great Lakes have brewed a robust, complex beer which claimed a Gold Medal at the World Beer Championships in 2011.
It pours pitch black like cola, as dark as the waters of the deep Great Lakes on stormy nights, and there is a beige head that sticks around. The aroma is deep and semi-sweet. First taste delivers pounding, robust notes of coffee, chocolate, vanilla and toffee. The brewery boasts that this unique complex taste is achieved by using the Harrington 2 Row Base Malt which allows the flavours of other malts to come through.
It also has a bold, hoppy presence and so there is a bitterness that lingers but is not unwelcome, thanks to the blend of Cascade, Fuggles and Northern Brewer hops. It is available year round but is especially suited to a cold winter’s evening in November and is perhaps best paired with a heavy platter of barbecued ribs or steak. No chemicals or preservatives are used beyond the natural ingredients of water, yeast, barley and hops and at 5.8% it is no light-weight.
Verdict: For such a heavily flavoured beer, it is remarkably drinkable. Interestingly Great Lakes Brewing Co. describes this beer’s ”Family Status” as “the dark, complex middle child”. Complex definitely, but also well-balanced. I anticipate this porter will become as legendary as its namesake. Pass me another…
About the author
Suzanna Lee-Kendall is a native of Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, and as a result grew up surrounded by hops. She now resides in Pittsburgh, PA, USA, and is casting her eye over the vibrant US craft brewing scene.Tweet