Noel: Coffee lovers rejoice…this beer’s for you. Although it’s not really hailed as a coffee flavored beer, Edmund Fitzgerald is a porter, and that’s about all you really need to know. The more porters I have, the more I realize that dark, roasted bitterness is really the epitome of the style. And this brew is definitely one of the best. It’s not flashy, it’s not conspicuous…it’s not even all that complex in it’s flavor profile. About as traditional as porters come. But it makes the most of it’s simplicity.

In direct light, this beer is actually a dark reddish-brown color, and you’re able to catch a little bit of the lighter, toffee-ish malt in the nose that probably causes this. But coffee, bittersweet chocolate, and even charcoal are pushing and shoving for attention here. And the mouthfeel is truly perfect: medium-bodied, lightly carbonated, and smooth smooth smooth. Honestly, it might be my favorite aspect of this beer. There’s sweetness right upfront that immediately moves on to a dark espresso and chocolate bitterness, but it never ends up feeling burnt to me, which I think is hard to perfect in a porter. It’s also touted as having a “bold hop presence”, but I have trouble making out hops at all amidst the deep (and albeit, tasty) roastiness that lingers in your mouth. In any case, what you’ll find when drinking an Edmund Fitzgerald that you won’t with many other porters is…before you know it, you’ll be taking your last few sips and wondering where it all went. It stands in my book as one of the most sessionable craft brewed porters available…even among dark beers in general. And when has that ever been a bad thing? If you’re not sure you know what a traditional porter is supposed to taste like, here’s your chance to find out. Grade: A-

Michael: There is something serious about this beer. Its a memorial, of sorts, to the great ship, often found docking in Cleveland, the home of Great Lakes Brewing Co. It feels as though one should sit and think of sacrifice, devotion and tumultuous seas. Or just beer. Very good beer.

Its a deep brown, topped by waves of a tan head, like a shoreline foam that soaks into the beach sand. Its got a great nose, complex and exact. There is coffee and chocolate, hints of dark fruit, maybe raisins or plums and a rich malty layer. It tastes very similar and has the caliber of a rich piece of chocolate, smooth, deep and well-built. Its surprisingly refreshing for a darker brew, the texture making it easy to swig and the slightly bitter finish of hops capping off a wonderful tasting experience.

For my second Great Lakes attempt, Edmund Fitzgerald was anything but a ship wreck. This beer is a strong contrast, as well built as anything. Grade: A

ABV: 5.8%

Final Grade: A-