Deschutes is making the rounds this year with a special collaboration series called the Class of '88. LIke many of America's greatest craft breweries, Deschutes opened their doors in 1988, which turns out to be an uncanny coincidence with so many other iconic brands. As they say, there must have been something in the water.
Of all the collaborations, I eagerly awaited the beer they'd make with Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland, Ohio. GLBC has been one of the most consistent and reliable craft labels, going all the way back to my early discovery days. Beers like Edmund Fitzgerald, Holy Moses, and Eliot Ness have always been at the top of my list. These are some beautifully balanced beers, but with a point of view. And most recently, the Lake Erie Monster Imperial IPA, and the Wright Pils have shown that they still have what it takes to create dominating beers amongst a shifting market, and an expanding palate.
The Deschutes x Great Lakes Imperial Smoked Porter is a delicate, but robust beer. Brewed at Deschutes, it balances the smoke (which can be polarizing) with plenty of chocolate, dark muscovado sugar, and some lasting bitterness to keep it palatable and approachable. It's really the grain bill here that stands out though — smooth with some oats, but sharp with the wheat, it ricochets on the palate, and finally settles in with a silky, chocolate and campfire taste before drying up.
Pay attention to this series. And look for the Class of '88 Imperial Smoked Porter in select markets. Hit up Beermenus.com to find it in your area.
But as always, I like to shout out to my hometown heros that stock the best. In Chicago, you can find it at: