Great Lakes / Deschutes Class Of '88 Imperial Smoked Porter - Great Lakes Brewing Co.

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Great Lakes / Deschutes Class Of '88 Imperial Smoked PorterGreat Lakes / Deschutes Class Of '88 Imperial Smoked Porter

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BA SCORE
86
very good

38 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 38
Hads: 196
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 4.7%
Wants: 14
Gots: 13 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co. visit their website
Ohio, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: MikeCactusGordon on 05-20-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 38 | Hads: 196
Photo of BEERchitect
3.64/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.25

Class of '88 has become a tremendous way to re-introduce new flavors, new friendships and new flavors from these world-class brewers- in case you have forgotten about them. Its also a tremendous opportunity to crash the new-wave brewing scene with an old school approach and tenancy. But how much is too much.

Upon the pour, the Porter delivers a lighter-than-expected brown hue. Soft coffee in its appearance, there's a lot of gold, chestnut, and amber colors that suggest something lighter. Its murky haze also seems elevated and causes the beer to look a tad unappealing. But when it comes to its head character, the ale is solid! Ivory in color, the ale retains with a creamy mid-statured head and laces with classic Belgian rings.

Strong smoke aromas set the stage and never lets go. Pure smoke takes the mind directly to campfires, mesquite, and barbecue joints. Its dry and toasted character reveals the scents of kona coffees, dry cocoa, burnt wood and pecans.

When tasting smoke beers, the element of "smoke" usually takes a back seat to the aromas. Not so much here. The early sweetness of burnt caramel and toast is quickly layered upon by the taste of burnt embers, mesquite-smoked meat, and ash. With all those coffee, nutty and savory tastes setting in, that dry smoke character is equally as distracting as it is rewarding.

Medium in body, the beer should feel fuller, but its dry sense delivers a lighter tone. After early toasted sweetness fades, the beer nose dives into a feel of powdery ash, roast-derived roughness and coffee ground astringency. Mild warmth greets the finish and then fades with echoes of ash and more ash.

While celebrating the "smoke" character of their Imperial Smoke Porter, I was hoping for a better recipe for introducing our Kentucky market to the Deschutes brand. Where I applaud their experimental nature, I was hoping for better recipe formulations. (1,902 characters)

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Great Lakes/Deschutes Class of '88: Imperial Smoked Porter, 9% ABV.

Nearly solid black, peeking out crimson edges, under a lush, creamy coco-toned head.

Smoked malt pops out into the nose first. Someone's frying up the bacon. Hearty malt aromatics hold on to the bottom. Cocoa, caramel, toffee delights at the tip of this cornucopia.

Taste: rich and roasty malt flavor holds court, a big blend of dark malt flavors, with the smoked malt as cream on top. Full bodied. Low hop bitterness. Long, luxurious finish. Creamy and smooth, despite would could be perceived as an extreme flavor. Alcohol isn't felt until…whoop, there it is.

This was one of the porters among the line-up for the StoutFest 2013 event we held back in early November, and once again, I'm grabbing a glass before it's gone. This is one style that divides people. A lot of folks loved, others found it way too smokey for them. If that's the case, probably any smoke is too much. I think it's just right. I like this one big time.

Go ahead and get yourself a bomber. You deserve it. (1,055 characters)

Photo of Huhzubendah
3.77/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

On draft at Whole Foods in Alexandria a while back. Review from notes.

The beer is black and opaque with a small head. The aroma brings chocolates, smoke, campfire essences. Some caramel malts in the flavor with a touch of vanilla. Fairly sweet, though this is countered to some degree by the smokiness. I enjoyed this beer, but not nearly as much as Black Butte or Edmund Fitzgerald. Collaborations are an interesting thing. It often seems as though the magic of two breweries doesn't immediately translate into great beer, like two All-Stars being put on the same team. looks great on paper, but doesn't always work out. Anyway...this was pretty good. (654 characters)

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.09/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

LOOK: Dark brown with a white head and plenty of lace. Perfect clarity, and has amber hues in the right shade of light.

SMELL: Roast, dirty smoke, meat, coal.

TASTE: Roasted malt, good bit of smoke, then some malty sugars and coffee notes emerge from the smoke making for a fine, smooth drinking stout. Fire roasted marshmallow notes. Like drinking a campfire for sure, this has a little of everything roasted.

FEEL: Full bodied, well carbonated, thick feel.

OVERALL: A great beer. Smokey and delicious, worth getting a chance to try. Great collaboration. (561 characters)

Photo of maximum12
2.2/5  rDev -42.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Thanks to fiver29 for this bottle, which has been hanging around in my cellar for quite some time in a (I've not found) vain attempt to calm the smoke taste enough for my campfire hating wife. 22 oz. bottle that I (tried to) split with my wife.

Poured expertly by my youngest daughter, the pour is black like butte; I'm waiting for someone to make a clear porter (anyone remember Pepsi Clear?). Nose is heavy on the chocolate & smoke with an eau de toilette of sweet malts. Hershey Campfire.

Class of '88 Imperial Smoked Porter is indeed a 'bacon beer', as my wife would say. Smoke remains overwhelming even after a year in the bottle, like sticking your face into a smoker that's smoking smoke. Chocolate that's prominent in the nose retreats to virtual irrelevance, sitting right next to the malts. Light cream & an echo of bitterness barely show. Thick. Half of a bomber is going to be too much.

All smoke, all the time, there no subtlety, no complexity, nothing but a faceful of musty smoke. On the positive side, you could wave this beer around & frighten away mosquitoes for a good ten feet around. Too great breweries: one drain pour. Not good. (1,157 characters)

Photo of Bung
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Tap at Duckworths. Just a darkish brown pour, not as dark as one might expect, with a frothy layer of cream head. Laced quite well.

Aroma, some smoke and toasted malt. Light milk chocolate.

Taste, kind of sweeter malt up front, caramel, with some dark chocolate and honey roast peanut. Beechwood barbeque takes over from there, heavy smoke.

Creamy and not real heavy. Coats well enough though. A nice drinker if you are ready for it. This is the best part of this brew for sure. No alcohol.

If you're going to advertise smoke it better be there and it is with this one. The porter behind it is fairly average, which is Extreamely surprising considering the porters these two brewers put out.

Worth trying once for sure. (725 characters)

Photo of trxxpaxxs
4.28/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a deep black with one full finger of dark khaki colored head. The foam takes awhile to settle, leaving a film across the top of the beer.

S: The nose is super smoky with roasted malt, bacon, ham, and campfire. Awesome.

T: The beer starts out with a good bit of smoke right up front, but it is balanced well by a sweet milk chocolate base. As it moves to the middle the smoke and chocolate mingle well, with the sweeter aspects of the brew shining through. The finish is smooth and sweet with less smoke than the start.

M: Full bodied beer. It’s smooth and rich to start. The beer coats the palate, but slides off nicely. The finish is like silk, with some mild smoke lingering on the back end.

O: I really enjoyed this brew. If you like smoked brews, then this is a must try. Great mouthfeel, and the flavors were spot on. Time to go buy another growler of this one. (881 characters)

Photo of prototypic
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

The Class of ‘88 Imperial Smoked Porter pours a darker mahogany brown color. It’s not opaque. Burgundy highlights are noted throughout when held to light. It’s capped with a tan head that rises to nearly a finger in height. It quickly falls back to a surface covering. Lacing was rather light and spotty. Not bad.

The nose kicks off with a fairly strong smoky scent. It blends nicely with the chocolate and roasted malts that follow. The malt varieties seem to be present in roughly equal proportions. Smells like there’s a healthy amount of coffee present. I like that a lot. There might be some light dark fruit notes buried in there. Tough to tell. Alcohol is noted, but doesn’t seem too strong. Doesn’t smell like 9%. It’s rather straight forward, but it smells good. Everything works together nicely.

The flavor is very consistent with the nose. This one isn’t incredibly deep or complex, but it is tasty. Roasted and chocolate malts are the base. Bittersweet dark chocolate and cocoa flavors are noted. Roasted coffee is definitely in the mix and complements the malts well. The smoky flavor is really nice and works extremely well. It really drives the flavor. There is a touch of tangy dark fruit on the tail. Alcohol doesn’t seem to be much of a factor. I am surprised it’s 9%. Doesn’t seem that strong at all. Finishes malty and smoky.

The body feels light and a bit watery. It’s too thin. Needs more body. Carbonation is active, but doesn’t seem buzzy or overbearing. For what it’s worth, it’s easy drinking. It’s tasty and disappearing fast.

Rogue and Great Lakes Brewing Company did a nice job with this one. It’s an interesting release for a 25th Anniversary collaboration, but I like the left of center approach. The fact that it’s good beer is even better. My only complaint is that the body is too thin. Good stuff otherwise. Certainly worth checking out. (1,913 characters)

Photo of jzeilinger
3.92/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - Opaque black pour with a rich, thick, creamy light toffee colored head...very, very thick in appearance.

S - Smoke, dark chocolate, dark roasted malt, light leather.

T - Smokey dark roasted chocolate malt, tobacco, and ends with a bitter coffee bean-like lingering bitter finish.

M - Medium body with a creamy finish on the tongue.

O - Worth a try. (356 characters)

Photo of DrinkSlurm
3.66/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Really excited about this as I rarely get Deschutes and don't get great lakes in the nyc area. Poured from tap at tap and mallet in Rochester ny into snifter. Dark black pour with thin tan head and large bubble carbonation. Smell is chocolatey smokeyness...very crisp though. Smells sweet but a bit of soy sauce. ..lots of leather.
Taste is roasted chocolate and smoke. Bacony...sweet...roasted...smokey...leathery....weird. its easy to drink. .you don't notice the abv at all.
Its good...not as good as I hoped. The leather aroma is just too powerful.
Warming helps...Maybe some age would also help..
A bit disappointed. (624 characters)

Photo of wedge
4.21/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

@ Tasty Beverage

Served in a small snifter, appears a dark brown color - nearly black in fact, until about half way through, when a deep chestnut comes through. A slim, creamy covering settles on top. Mellow, pleasant smoky aromas greet the nose along with roasty grain, chocolate, and fruity wood notes...clean overall. Meaty, smoky malt flavor, though not as nearly intense as some smoked beers. Lightly sweet raisin bread, roasted malts, with a little finishing bite. Comes across simple, but quite tasty and satisfying. Medium bodied, solid carbonation and some dryness. There's a little heat, but otherwise this is super easy to drink for 9%. A great job, coming from two of America's most respected porter brewers. (721 characters)

Photo of thecheapies
3.99/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Red-black beer in color. Quarter-inch of bubbles. Looks unlike many porters.

Chewy smoke, chocolate-covered bacon, smoked salt, hefty roast, toffee, barley, and a sweeter earthiness. Nice aroma.

Smokiness has the booty, but there's a nice chocolate and toffee flavor going on here, too. Burnt sugars, some coffee, and more unmistakable saltiness and minerality. Alcohol is a little imperialistic. Not as sweet as I expected. Pretty delicious stuff, especially for the smoke lover in me.

Carbonation has a little peck as it goes down. Opening mouth is smooth enough for an imperial porter. Alcohol has nice bite; almost a positive. Body is a little sluggish.

Nice porter. Taste really repped for the style. Smoky, but not hugely so. Has great umami. (752 characters)

Photo of homebrew311
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appears a dark black and opaque. Collar of head retains nicely. Smell strongly of campfire with chocolate and roasted barley. Smoke is front and center and nearly leans towards the overwhelming side. Taste feature heavy smoke with a slight astringency. Mouthfeel is thin and well carbonated. Overall, very heavy smoke almost bordering on artificial. (349 characters)

Photo of buschbeer
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

1 PINT, 6 FLUID OUNCE bottle
Served in a snifter

A - It pours like used motor oil. It is thick and black. I got less than an inch of mocha head.

S - The aroma consists of chocolate and smoke.

T - The initial taste was loaded with smoke, but it gave way to the chocolate flavor. Subsequent tastes where more on the chocolate side. The smoke was still there but more subtle than that initial blast.

M - Velvety smooth

O - I had this fresh on tap at the brewery when I bought it. After a few months the bottle has less smoke than the fresh draft had. I like this more subtle bottled version better. This is a delicious porter from some guys who know how to make porters. (675 characters)

Photo of KYGunner
3.71/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This porter poured a deep brown to one shade off black. The head was strangely off white an collared to a froth.

The scent was relatively mild with with roasted coffee notes, smoke or char and a toasted malt.

The taste was quite subtle at first but delving deeper in, the smoke appears at the forefront. I began to catch glimpses of chocolate malt, caramel and coffee roast. Nothing overwhelming but a nice smooth tasteful ride through a lightly carbonated drink.

Overall, this is good and worthy of another try but could use the Imperial treatment. (552 characters)

Photo of MikeCactusGordon
4.46/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle
snifter
$9.88 at the GLBC Gift Shop
Hand bottled and labeled

Well balanced with what you would expect from an Imp Porter...vanilla/coff/choc with a nice toasty/nutty thing going on. Dangerously drinkable. Smoke flavor was just a tad strong for what I like, but it wasn't overly abusive or anything. I would put this up there with Ballast Point's Victory at Sea in terms of quality, but that beer really is more "stout-ish"...this guy was lighter and easier to drink. I would probably recommend letting it sit for a couple months.

Very well done. I would seek this one out. I'm going to buy a few more and really give this a few tries over the next year.

Cheers! And a big thank you to two of my favorite breweries for putting this collaboration beer out there. Thank you! (788 characters)

Photo of beergoot
4.02/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Deep mahogany red, almost brownish body color coupled with a thick, foamy off-white head. Good smokey aroma infused with hints of cocoa and vanilla. Powerful smoke taste, very barbeque-like, swirling about with strong touches of alcohol and dark, dry-roasted malt grains. Relatively light body, clean and semi-sweet finish.

A well-done smoked beer collaboration from two of my favorite breweries. This should delight fans of both rauchbiers/smoked beers and porters though the smoked beer lovers will probably get the best satisfaction out of this offering. I will be hunting for some more bottles of this one...!!! (616 characters)

Photo of TheBrewo
4.12/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

This brew was served from the tap at MacGregor’s Grill and Tap Room in Canandaigua, NY. It arrived in a generic goblet glowing a deep brown coloring, letting up cherry wood hues around the edges. It held a one finger head of creamy café au lait colored bubbles, showing nice retention. A thin sheet of lacing was left around the glass, but it fully covering. No haze or sediment was noted, and carbonation appeared to be moderate. The aroma gave chocolate malt roast, bread pudding sweetness, tobacco leafiness, and huge ashtray smokiness right from the start. Mixing in were notes of coppery metallics, soured yeast bite, chlorine chemicals, bacon meatiness, and big Band Aid phenols. With warmth came clovey spice, wax, and booze. Our first impression was that the flavoring showed huge, huge smoke and pork meatiness, both floating across a silky smooth and dark malt base. As we sipped, syrupy caramel and chocolate porter malts, white sugar, light maple woodiness, charred barley, massive campfire smokiness, and green grass bite started things off. Pushing to the peak were almond oils, coffee and chocolate malt roast, mossy bark, vanilla frosting, pumpernickel breadiness, chalked chocolates, and drying cocoa powder bitterness. The end came washing through with continued grit of smoke, maple sugars, sesame and fennel seed, black pepper, booze, ham meatiness, and light spruce freshness. The aftertaste breathed of continued onslaught of sweating hickory woodiness and smoke, bitterly charred chocolate malts, oily leathers, surprisingly raw barley, graphite, chalk, and rumbles of licorice. The body was medium, and the carbonation was medium. Each sip showed silky smooth slurp, smack, cream, and froth, with nice finishing pop. The mouth was left coated and slicked, with eventually very light crisp dryness to the tip of the tongue. The abv was appropriate, and the beer drank decently.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this beer was its overt smoky flavoring, of course. This rode high over a nice base porter, helping to mix things up a bit, but to also help keep things drinking interestingly. The sweetness was there, and so was the roast, with syrupy smack to the lips to round out the feel and balance. Otherwise the smoke was a bit of a novelty in its bigness, but it certainly gives the beer credibility and earns it the prefix of “imperial”. We are very glad to have finally been able to track this one down, and for those who are on the fence, it tastes pretty much like you would expect from the description, but just expect a big, bold beer. (2,578 characters)

Photo of Etan
3.96/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz into a cervoise.

A: Pours black with brownish tinges with an (oddly) off-white head.

S: Meaty smoked grain dominates the nose, with hints of cherry and coffee roast and soft cocoa.

T: The smoke is prevalent but more restrained in the taste. Pleasant woodfire smoke, mild roasted grain, residual malty sweetness, chocolate.

M: Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation. Could be a bit thicker.

O: A nice smoked porter, with the smoke being assertive yet pleasant. Mouthfeel could be a bit better but overall very enjoyable. (530 characters)

Photo of ONUMello
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle poured into a pint glass, just past its best by date of 4/29/14
A: Very dark brown with a one-finger head
S: Smoky, chocolate, grilled meats
T: Again smoke up front, definitely reminds me of smoked pork/turkey, along with some cocoa. The finish takes a somewhat burnt turn
M: Medium-bodied but an astringent finish
O: This has a lot going for it and it's definitely unique compared to anything else I've had from these two breweries. Worth a try though a bit pricey... that being said I think a higher hop profile with the hops' associated flavors and bitterness would add quite a bit to what's there as is (618 characters)

Photo of mikeg67
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Growler from Joe Canal. Pours dark brown with a long lasting, foamy, beige head. Aroma is of smoked malt with hints of chocolate and dark fruit. Body is full and smooth. Taste is of smoked malt, chocolate, vanilla, wood and some dry fruit. Finish is long, bitter-sweet. Delicious brew. (285 characters)

Photo of chefhatt
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I poured this from a growler, it has a very nice dark color body with a small tan head on it. The aroma has a smokey, malty aroma. The taste has a very smokey taste and a roasted malt flavor. It leaves a smokey flavor on the back of the tongue. The mouthfeel is smooth, and has a medium body. Overall this is a good version of the beer. (336 characters)

Photo of WesMantooth
2.92/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.5

With all due respect, not good. Someone else mentioned something about being brewed with old rubber. That is spot on. Smells like a ball of rubber bands. I admit, my expectations were high given that these 2 breweries make some of the best porters in existence, but this is a big miss in my opinion. It does taste better than it smells (thank God) but nothing that would make me buy it again. In fact, I would probably turn it down for free. I am being objective when I say that it is a stretch to rate this as "OK", which is shocking. Looks like I am being harder on it than everyone else maybe? Just baffled. Maybe I had a bad bottle... (638 characters)

Photo of neenerzig
3.96/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured out of a 22 oz bomber bottle into one of my pint glasses. This beer pours a clear medium to dark brown color with lots of ruby highlights when held to the light. Has a slightly tan/off white head that is initially a good solid 1/2-2/3 inch thick when first poured, but settles way too quickly to a nice foam layer covering the beer's surface along with a medium sized ring lining the inside of the glass and some nice lacing. Needs better head retention. Aromas of some smokey caramel malt along with cocoa and vanilla and perhaps a bit of clove and dark fruit. Also a bit meaty. Has a nice roasted caramel malt sweetness upfront flavor wise that gives way to vanilla and cocoa flavors, bacon-esque meatyness, and some bitter coffee notes rounding it out. Don't really taste any hints of clove of dark fruits, even though I think I can smell them. A bit of a strange mix of flavors for a porter with that meatyness going on. I didn't detect any hop presence at all. Needs a bit of hop bitterness to balance out all the sweetness from the chocolate and caramel. Tasty though. Has a slightly crisp, sort of sticky, chewy, maple syrupy, creamy, medium to full bodied mouthfeel with moderate to heavy carbonation, as evidenced by the burping that ensued for me. A good beer, but not a great beer, and I didn't feel it lived up to the hype to be honest. Glad I picked up a bottle to try, but I won't feel deprived if I never drink this again. I am a bit disappointed though. Not one of the better smoked porters I have had in my day. I am a fan of smoked beers. This one just didn't quite hit the mark for me.

Eric (1,617 characters)

Photo of SportsandJorts
3.01/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: a deep brown/ black. opaque and a thin tan head that leaves a side lacing

Smell: smoked maple bacon. not much works its way around that

Taste: some notes of roasted malts and chocolate but i am mostly getting bacon in liquid form. not very drinkable to me

Mouthfeel: leaves a smoky taste behind. other wise of good body

Overall: loved black butte and edmund fitzgerald but this bordered on the wrong side of undrinkable for me. smoked beers just aren't me i guess (479 characters)

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Great Lakes / Deschutes Class Of '88 Imperial Smoked Porter from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
86 out of 100 based on 38 ratings.