Craft Beer Scene Around Rockford: A fine porter from Great Lakes Brewing Co.

By Michael Sears
President, Forest City Brewers

This week, I would like to highlight a robust porter that I picked up while ago at Schnuck’s on Charles Street. I have not been in there for a while and was surprised to see that they have remodeled the liquor department. I must say I like what I see, and it looks as though they have increased the craft beer inventory.

Great Lakes Brewing Co., of Cleveland, Ohio, is another favorite brewery of mine. In addition to their excellent portfolio of year round and seasonal beers, they are one of the cutting-edge “green” breweries. They practice sustainable urban farming and recycling. They use alternative fuels like vegetable oil, made from reclaimed and filtered restaurant oil in their beer delivery truck and shuttle bus. Spent brewery grain is also reused, and they incorporate solar power and natural lighting at their facilities.

Edmund Fitzgerald Porter is their interpretation of a robust porter. The namesake is a tribute to the ship that sank on Lake Superior in 1975. Gordon Lightfoot also commemorated the sinking of this ship in his haunting song of the same title.

This recipe has won many awards including 11 gold medals at the World Beer Championships. It is one of my favorites, and I have personally brewed my own version at home that turns out pretty darn close to this, much to my delight!

Proper serving is in a traditional pint glass at 55 degrees. This beer pours a chocolaty brown color that has a hint of red when held in strong light. A two-finger depth, rocky, light tan-colored head stands tall for some time before fading.

The aroma is roasty similar to a stout but not as strong with chocolate and coffee present in the initial smell. The first sip is roasty and malty, and hop presence is subdued which is appropriate for this style. There is bitterness present but than comes from the dark malts rather that hops. A slight sweetness is detected similar to black licorice which mingles with an earthy woody presence most likely from the hops.

The finish is pleasant with a hint of caramel, slightly oily (no diacetyl), a soft carbonation and hint of smokiness that lingers on the tongue demanding an immediate second taste. Lacing on the glass is negligible. ABV is 5.8 percent, so drinking a couple of these in a session is no problem. The warmer it gets, the better it tastes! This is an outstanding representation of the style. It is no wonder it has garnered the awards it has.

It is very easy to drink but complex enough to sip and enjoy. If you are lucky enough to find this on tap at your favorite pub, by all means, order it. Here is a suggestion, maybe enjoy this beer while listening to the song? Prost!

Michael Sears is the current President of the Forest City Brewers. The Forest City Brewers is a homebrewing club dedicated to the art of finely crafted beer. The club meets on the first Wednesday of each month at Thunder Bay Grille on E State St., for more information about Forest City Brewers go to If you have comments or recommendations please contact Mike at

From the March 5-11, 2014 print edition

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