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Great Lakes Big Black Smoke - Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Great Lakes Big Black Smoke
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very good

25 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 25
Hads: 43
Avg: 4.11
pDev: 10.95%
Wants: 4
Gots: 2 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co. visit their website
Ohio, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  6.20% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: klewis on 12-16-2006

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 25 | Hads: 43
Photo of brentk56
4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Zip's in Cincinnati

Appearance: Arrives looking like the Fitz, with a dark liquid capped by a mocha head that leaves some drabs of lace

Smell: Charcoal, black bread and chocolate

Taste: Campfire smoke and black bread, up front, with a fruity/chocolate character developing by mid-palate; after the swallow, the fruit and smoke predominate and linger in the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: Another really well-balanced beer from Great Lakes; the smoke adds a campfire element but never dominates; the fruitiness is also a very nice touch

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Photo of mothman
3.23/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

"It's big and black"

Half finger of creamy tan head. A nice amount of lace. Color is black.

Aroma: A little bit of smoke. Hint of bacon. Malty and chocolatey. Roasted with coffee notes. Caramel.

Taste: Bacon and smoke all the way. Chocolate and roast. Malty. No hops.

Mouthfeel: Very smokey. Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends a bit dry.

Overall, a decent smoked beer. Boardline Rauch. Easy to drink, but I wouldn't want too much of this.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great Lakes : Big Black Smoke

Pours a midnight blackish brown with a small off white head. Aroma is smokey, with some chocolate malt notes. In the taste, very nice smoked flavor, subtle milk chocolate notes, like drinking a milkshake around a campfire. Definite char and roast notes, little hint of alcohol and big bacony smoke. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied and quite smooth and creamy on the palate. Overall, this is a well crafted smoked beer, and aptly named since its big, black and smokey.

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Photo of Duff27
4.08/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Inch tall light beige head on a brown body that is red around the edges. Cap and collar throughout, ridiculously great lacing.

Smoke, seemingly from a campfire. Woody.

Wood smoke. Leaves the mouth watering. May even guess a little higher than 6.2%abv just because this packs the flavor.

Smooth, medium carbonation. Low but adequate carbonation.

The tastig group and I really liked this Great Lakes offering. This smoke wasnt overpowering but definitely at the forefront. Recommended for any smoked beer/rauchbier fan. Thanks MaxSpang for picking this up for me!

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Photo of TurdFurgison
4.44/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on tap at the Great Lakes brewpub, served in a pint glass. The beer was dark brown, opaque, with a 1 finger off-white head. The aroma was smoke and chocolate-coffee malts, very nice. The beer tasted exceptionally good, just enough smoke to add flavor (not really a rauchbier) with the dark malts providing the heavy hitters in taste. Not as thick as I'd like but I guess just about the right body for a porter, very good and very drinkable.

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Photo of jrallen34
4.03/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I drank this on tap into a pint glass at the Map Room.

The beer pours a nice dark brown with medium tan head, good retention and lacing.

The aroma is nice but on the lighter side, a nice note of smoke and coffee.

The taste is very similar to the aroma, a nice little smokiness but not enough to get tired of distract.

A very nice drinkable porter.

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Photo of trxxpaxxs
4.44/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Cole's for a Great Lakes tasting.

A: Pours a deep black. Almost no head, just tiny bubbles lining the brew.

S: Smells sweet of chocolate, caramel, blueberry, and raisins. Stone fruits are a definite.

T: Delicious. Starts bittersweet, fading to smooth chocolate. There is a silkiness to this beer that I love.

M: Full bodied, silky, and smooth. The palate is coated with delicious chocolate.

O: I really love this beer. It reminds me of Dark Horse Tres. Absolutely delicious.

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Photo of hopdog
4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Growler acquired in trade with goryshkewych (thanks!).

Poured a dark brown color with a smaller sized off white head. Aromas of roastiness, a little earthy, light smoke, and nuts. Tastes of chocolate, lighter smoke, roast, and the same nuttiness. Smooth body. This one grew on me more and more as I drank it.

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Photo of nrbw23
4.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a black color with a light brown colored head. Head has pretty good retention and left very little spotty lacing.

S- Smells of smoke nothing over powering. Chocolate and coffee malts, very nice. Couldn't really pick up any hops here.

T- The taste was very solid. A great Porter with just a bit of smoke popping through.

M- The only thing this beer really lacked was in body. I thought this one was a tad watery and too light in body. Carbonation seemed to be right on.

D- This beer is really easy to drink and very enjoyable. Again my only complaint is that it is a little too light in body, but its top quality for sure.

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Photo of Bierguy5
3.95/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap for Great Lakes night at Spinoza's. Very dark brown, approaching black. Shades of chestnut around the edges. Poured with little head, but I will chalk that up to a poor pour.

Roasty aroma, with hints of chocolate and coffee. Smoke is subtle, even as it warms. A few darker fruity notes pop out as well.

Well rounded roasty flavors. Milk chocolate, but not too much sweetness. Not as sharp as Ed Fitz. Smoke again, is subtle, but adds a nice layer as it warms.

On the lighter shade of medium body, carbonation is soft. Alcohol is very much hidden. A nice beer. Smoke is not as heavy as I thought it could be, but adds a nice layer.

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Photo of Ryan011235
4.17/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Growler poured into some tall heavy Seas glass on 8/21/11

Thanks to nrbw23 by way of fiveo2270

Dark brown with mahogany highlights. One finger head; thin retention with good lace.

Smokey aroma to the max. Roasted coffee and bittersweet cocoa. Earthy. Tastes just as smokey. Moderately hoppy. Tangy roast. Coffee. Not much chocolate, though. Really nice blend between the base beer and smoke. Medium-full body. Carbonation keeps it moving.

This is a really good beer. An easy recommendation.

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Photo of neenerzig
4.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is currently available at the Great Lakes Brewery as a pub exclusive. This beer is a very dark brown, almost black color. Mine had a decent sized head about 1/3 of an inch thick that left some nice lacing. Nice, roasty aromas of coffee and chocolate here. Flavors of roasted coffee and chocolate are present along with some malt and a hint of caramel as well. Has a medium bodied, smooth and creamy mouthfeel with light to moderate carbonation. Very easy to drink in the manner that beer like this should be! Get some of this at the brewery before its gone.


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Photo of botham
4.42/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

on tap poured into a tumbler at the brewpub in Cleveland. pours opaque black with one finger of tight, tan head that leaves moderate lacings and has mild retention.

aroma is of roasted malts and earthy smoke up front with a touch of chocolate and a sublime character overall. in the nose the smoke is well integrated with the other flavors. this may not be a rauchbier or a porter, but it still smells great!

taste is of roasted malts up front with a solid smoke character on the palate that dissipates upon finishing. notes include chocolate, burnt malt, and smooth smoke. very drinkable and very successful as a smoked beer.

mouthfeel is full bodied with a porter-like texture and a rauchbeer infused finish that curiously vanishes after a few seconds. very tasty on the palate.

drinkbility is great. for fans of smoked beers, this is a diamond in the rough. a very fresh profile and drinkable aura. cheers!

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Photo of samie85
3.92/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had this on-tap at The Bad Apple, 05/07, reviewed from notes.

A-Served in a Southern Tier tulip glass. It's oil slick black with a finger light brown head.

S-I'm getting chocolate and roasted malts with a present but not overdone smoke note. Very nice.

T-I'm hit with a mild smokey character at first then some chocolate and roasted malt notes, finishing dry and smokey.

M-It's crisply carbonated with a medium body. It has a sort of dry and powdery mouthfeel which I'm not crazy about. I like my porters a little smoother feeling.

D-A pretty nice porter, although that powdery mouthfeel was hard to ignore. It hurts the drinkability on this beer for me.

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Photo of drseamus
3.85/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pitch black both virtually no head. It almost looks like it has an oily surface.

S: Fairly tight nose. Some smokiness, roast malt, and a hint of sweetness.

T: Peaty smokiness right up front. Some light roast and a touch of caramel behind. Everything is surprisingly smooth.

M: Slightly light for the style. Very smooth.

D: Peat is blended nicely and not overpowering. Good balance. Could use a bit more intensity perhaps.

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Photo of klewis
4.08/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at GLBC, 12/16/06

A: Pours nearly black with some dark brown highlights. Moderate lacing.

S: Small but plesant aromas of chocolate and coffee. Average for the style.

T: Soft flavors of burnt chocolate and coffee mixed with a subtle, smooth smoked flavor. Very nice.

M: Medium-light bodied with light carbonation and a super creamy texture.

D: This one may be better than the Fitz and a must-try if you enjoy porters. Go get some when it's available.

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Photo of ColdPoncho
4.05/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - dark black with a dark brown head

S - smoky as hell, smoked meats and dark fruits

T - bacon and smoky. Some dark fruits, dark roasted malts. Some chocolate

M - smooth and pretty big. Real good feel

O - not usually a fan of smoky beers but this one is real good. Nicely balanced smoke with dark malt flavors. A big porter with lots of well- incorporated smoke

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Photo of mgbickel
4.07/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Hopcat in Grand Rapids, MI. Reviewed from notes...

Poured into a pint glass. Dark brown body allowing in some light around the edges. Creamy head that receded slowly, some trails of lace left behind.

Earthy aroma, peat, chocolate, campfire, coffee and honey all rolled into one.

The taste follows the nose...a little more subtle though. Nothing really jumps out at you...

Medium mouth feel, creamy with mild carbonation.

A very nice smoke beer...not quite on the level as Heritage, but worth a glass or three!

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Photo of Lillie1128
3.96/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours jet black with a small mocha head

S - I couldn't detect much, a little smokey with some chocolate

T - Smokiness throughout, ends with a strong coffee bite and some molasses

M - Very smooth

D - medium

I really enjoyed this beer. Smoked beers are usually hit or miss for me, but I thought this one was really well balanced and tasty. Thanks MikeytotheB!

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Photo of Lepley
3.88/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap at GLBC in a pint glass.

A: Deep blackish brown with little-to-no head, probably from how the server poured it. It left a little lacing.
S: Maybe because I was sitting outside, but I didn't notice much in this department. Light roastiness and coffee.
T: Malt, coffee, chocolate, roastiness, smokey.
M: Smooth, really smooth.
D: Really good, well-balanced porter. Went well on a cool spring afternoon.

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Photo of Pdiddey3d
4.13/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Stopped into Coles for a late night dinner with the wife to find this Great Lakes pub exclusive on tap. This was clearly destiny.

A: Dark, very dark, pitch black with a sliver of head.

S: Nice smokey malts, almost a savory quality. Also pick up some sweetness like that of chocolate and some coffee. Good stuff here.

T: Very close to the aroma. Nice balance of smoke and chocolatey malts. The smoke does not take away from this beer like some smoked beers. Solid porter flavors with a great layer of smoke.

M: SUPER smooth. Very silky. Nice balance in the carbonation. A tad light for a porter but at 6% its very forgivable.

O: This was a great smoked beer. Very well balanced and super drinkable, I would go as far as to say I could drink 2 or 3 of these and not get sick of it. Another excellent brew from Great Lakes, but I expect nothing less from them. Highly Recommended.

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Photo of tctruffin
4.27/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served at GLBC restaurant in a pint glass that left no room for any foam. Big Black Smoke is very, very dark. It was a bit cold on first arriving at the table, but as it warmed, the porter released a very nice roast chocolate aroma with just a hint of smoke. The full-bodied liquid has a satin finish. Flavors, like the aroma, are a complex balance of roast, chocolate fudge, and just a hint of smoke. This is a smoked ale that doesn't beat you over the head with the smoke but rather incorporates it into the unity of flavors. Because of that, it's a good drinker.

It matched amazingly well with GLBC's bread pudding!

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Photo of hwy61mb
4.23/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at the Great Lakes Brewing Company on 2/5/2011. This review is from notes.

This was a dark beer, almost black. There was a little bit of a head, with fine, creamy bubbles. There was some lacing as the beerline descended the side of the glass. The smell was surprisingly absent at first, but later on, I detected a roasty smell, with a subtle smokiness. The taste is what got me. This beer is awesome. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald is already my favorite porter, and this was one was better. This was roasty, malty, a little chocolate-coffee, some hoppy dryness at the end, with a hint of smokiness. The mouthfeel was kind of light for a porter, with good carbonation. I could drink this all night. There is something about the way the feel and the taste can make something more drinkable. This is one of my favorite beers I have ever had.

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Photo of Murrdogg
4.24/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this on tap at the GLBC brewery itself

A: A nice strong darkness. Light brown in the light. Nice creamy head

S: Slight smokey smell. maybe some chocolate, but I wasn't getting much else above the smoke

T: Smoke taste is subtle at first, strong in the end. Light roasted coffee in the finish, and slight burned/roasted malt in the back

M: a nice smoke-beer. Very smooth going down, easy to drink. Robust and deep taste in the finish. The very definition of 'full-bodied'

D: Very easy to drink. Goes down light, considering the robust and deep tastes. For those who are afraid of thick/rich stouts or porters, start with this beauty!

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Photo of purdueracer
5/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This was hands down the best beer I have ever had in my life. The smoke flavor is not too strong but strong enough to make it unique. It has a strong roast flavor along with the smoke which compliments it well.

I really hope that they bottle this at some point. Unfortunately it is seasonal on tap at the brewery.

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Great Lakes Big Black Smoke from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 25 ratings.