Great Northern
Summit Brewing Company

Great NorthernGreat Northern
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Porter - American
Ranked #453
Ranked #22,077
3.85 | pDev: 10.91%
Summit Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States
Very Good
Great NorthernGreat Northern
Notes: Originally named after the London market workers who popularized this brew, we dubbed our Porter with a nod toward the majestic railway stretching from St. Paul to Seattle. Roasted malts offer up coffee notes and lead to a slightly sweet, chocolatey finish. All aboard!
Reviews: 317 | Ratings: 667 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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defunksta from North Dakota

3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a black color with a giant, clinging tan head that leaves a rim. SRM of 23. (4.00)

Aroma: Moderate aromas of full, bittersweet Belgian cocoa. A strong, but airy roastiness comes through that give sit a slight plastic/metal aroma. Also some sulfur, sort of like feces. Smells dry. (3.25)

Flavor: Nothing overwhelming on the tongue. Extremely balanced. There is some nice Belgian/European chocolate notes that is balanced by an airy roastiness that was present in the aroma. It has a funny plastic/metallic twist to the roast and almost reminds me of the smell of an airplane or airplane bathroom. The roasty notes are smokey, slightly bitter, with then an airy and dry finish like a porter. Mostly light chocolate flavors here. (3.50)

Feel: Medium-bodied. Moderate carbonation, but it fits well with the dry-roastiness to protect some of the flavor. Drinks balanced, dry, and clean. Leaves a slight airy smokiness on the palate. (3.75)

Compared to Great Lakes' Edmund Fitzgerald 3/29/20: Pours a similar color with a stronger head. More mellow and rich chocolate flavor. Less pastry/strudel & milk sweetness. Similar bitterness and body. Overall, I slightly prefer the Edmund Fitzgerald due to the complexity and malt flavor.

Compared to Bells Porter 2/11/21: Similar appearance. Stronger airy roast aromas. Less chocolate and deep flavors. More plastic/metallic roast flavors. Stronger carbonation, and more dry.

Compared to Bent Paddle's Black Ale 2/16/21: Pours a similar color with a milder and lighter head. More mild and airy aromas. More airy roast and sulfur/plastic. Less chocolate and malts.

Overall: This one has gone a bit downhill for me. It has a weird plastic/metallic aroma/flavor that reminds me of how an airplane or balloon smells. On the aroma it comes across like sulfur or feces which isn't pleasant, but at least it corrects on the flavor. Dryer and cleaner than some others I've had. Respectably clean, tame, and drinkable. A decent porter that is trending downwards. (Final Rating: 3.50)

Feb 17, 2021
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hbeimers from Minnesota

4.08/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Loads of roasted malt flavors in here. Almost no bitterness and a heavy dose of coffee and chocolate. Slightly sweet finish and plenty of bubbles. Tasty.

Jan 03, 2021
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Jason from Massachusetts

4.26/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

12oz can, sample from the brewery.

This is a beautiful beer and an amazing example of what a Porter is. Just toasty enough with no harshness, a kiss of sweetness within the we'll established maltiness. Good dose of hop character to balance it all out. Tasty from start to finish!

Oct 10, 2020
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detgfrsh from Texas

3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From a 12oz bottle. Black color with tan head. Smells of roasted malt, chocolate, and vanilla. Light body. Roasted malt and chocolate flavors with a bitter finish. Great all around.

Oct 05, 2019
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marcobrau from Illinois

3.8/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Pours a very dark brown with a good head. Lace is left behind as the head falls to a collar of foam. Aroma of cocoa. Fairly light bodied with chocolate flavors and fairly assertive hop bitterness. A bit thin with a quick finish that ends end hop bitterness a bit of dark chocolate...dry cocoa flavors with even a hint of tartness. Pretty damn tasty.

Sep 10, 2019
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GuyFawkes from Illinois

3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Brown liquid.

Tan head; nice lace.

Cream, coffee & chocolate nose.

Thin mouthfeel.

Oats & muted coffee flavor; hop finish.

Decent; nice nose though.

Apr 01, 2019
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bbtkd from South Dakota

3.83/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Summit Great Northern Porter, 5.6% ABV. Pours black, with a one finger tan head. Nose is vanilla and slight chocolate, taste is chocolate, with a slight bitter close. Excellent mouthfeel, overall excellent.

Jun 08, 2018
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Victory_Sabre1973 from Minnesota

3.99/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This beer pours pitch black . Slightly off white head. 1 finger. Retention is moderate. Nice lacing on the glass.
Nose is rich with malts. Nice chocolate notes. Some vanilla.
Taste malty. There's a slight bitterness on the backside.
A bit on the watery side.
Tasty overall beer.

Jan 18, 2018
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ipeters1017 from Wisconsin

3.81/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours pitch black with an off white head with great retention. Smell is lightly roasty and chocolate without a lot of depth. Tastes mostly of roasted malt with hints of coffee. Straightforward but well done. Feel is smooth, lightly carbonated, medium bodied. Very easy drinking porter.

Nov 12, 2017
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MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

3.83/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Brewer's notes:
"Original Gravity: 13.3° P
Alcohol by Weight: 4.3%
Alcohol by Volume: 5.4%
Color, (deg. L.): Black, 60° L
IBUs: 51
Malts Utilized: 2-Row Pale, Caramel, Chocolate, Crystal
Hops Utilized: Northern Brewer, Fuggle, Cascade
Yeast: Ale
Established: 1986

Originally named after the London market workers who popularized this brew, we dubbed our Porter with a nod toward the majestic railway stretching from St. Paul to Seattle. Roasted malts offer up coffee notes and lead to a slightly sweet, chocolatey finish. All aboard!"

Poured from 12oz bottle into glass. Bottle is stamped 'ENJOY BY 03/14/17'.
Dark body, but light does show through. Tan colored head, settles to thin cap. Some spotty lacing.
Aroma of coffee and dark chocolate.
Taste has dark chocolate, coffee, and dark malts.
Thin to medium mouth feel, appropriate for its ABV.
I have been a fan of this beer since 1986. During Saturday tours at the original brewery on University Avenue, this is the first tap I would pull during the free pour session. Solid, not spectacular, but consistently good.

I tried the rum barrel aged Great Northern Porter at the opening of the 'Summit Ratskeller'. To me the barrel did not offer much over the base beer. I could taste the rum barrel influence, but the beer was rather thin, and no flavor aspect really stood out. Okay to try, but do not expect a great barrel aged beer.

Nov 09, 2017
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Ri0 from Wisconsin

3.76/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured 12oz bottle into snifter. Color is dark brown with a 1.5 finger off white foamy head with some lacing, Aroma of roasted grains with coffee, bittersweet chocolate, and earthy with very subtle bittering hops. Flavor follows the nose with the bittersweet chocolate, earthy and slight bittering hops with light coffee. Smooth with a medium feel. Solid Porter from my mixed 12 pack.

Nov 05, 2017
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Lone_Freighter from Vermont

3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This was poured into a pint glass. The appearance was a deep dark brown with a one finger white foamy head that dissipated within less than a minute. Minimal light lacing slid into the beer. The smell was a roasty dark bitter chocolate with some coffee and a light toasty note. The taste had a rich chocolate to coffee that ended up allowing a slight roasty quality to it. On the palate, this one sat right about a medium on the body with a fairly good sessionability about it. The carbonation was somewhat smooth and nice. Overall, I say this was a good porter worthy of having again.

Jun 24, 2017
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rodbeermunch from Nevada

3.6/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Halfway between black and brown pours this porter. Brown head. 3/4". Aroma had some sweet roastiness to it.

Taste had some mixture of counterbalancing sweetness with the roast and substantial hoppiness for a midwest porter. Chocolate malt used nicely. Good format, good price. A very minor coffee malt impression. The bitterness is more hop derived than it is from the roast.

Sep 22, 2016
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BlurryVisi0n from New York

3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Served in a snifter glass from the bottle.

Appearance: Thin black body with a heavy brown tint. Medium to heavy bubbles on the body creating a tan head rising just above a finger's length. Drops before first sip with pretty much zero lacing.

Smell: Lighth scent of coffee, not the most exuberant scent you want.

Taste: Light coffee with floral. Has a yeast tone to it which makes it come off a bit lemony and touch sour.

Mouth: Medium bodied at best with medium carbonation, stickiness is light.

Overall: Descent but much better options out there. I like it but won't hate it either. Worth for the price of free, Salud!

Aug 24, 2016
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Beginner2 from Illinois

4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A few years back, I had three this porter from Summit's sampler box of a dozen.
Of the four brews, this is the only I can remember going back to.
While typical of a good porter in looks and smell, its balanced taste sets it above its peers.
Its roasted flavors are blended well to evoke my second most favorite food, chocolate. (Of course, barely is most favorite.)

MJ's 1999 edition gave this 3 of 4 stars and called it "smooth, with herbal and bitter-chocolate notes."

Feb 22, 2016
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matcris from Arizona

4.02/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

LOOKS: Very dark brown, a little ruby around the edges of Nonic pint glass when held up to the light. 2+ " of foamy tan head that sticks around and leaves a decent amount of lacing on the glass.
AROMA: Nice roasted malty smell, chocolate, and coffee. Very slightly smoky.
TASTE: Just like the aroma. Maybe a little dark fruit quality, as well. Balanced as far as sweet/bitter, but there is a lasting mild bitterness.
MOUTHFEEL: Plenty of carbonation helps push all the nice roasted chocolate/coffee malts around the palate. Medium thin body. Finish not overly dry.
OVERALL: Nothing crazy good. Just solid as hell. Cheap and good, works for me.

Jan 21, 2016
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whataschlitz from Wisconsin

4.39/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Beer is back with a creamy tan head. Smells of coffee and bitter chocolate with faint black licorice mixed in. Tastes as a mixture of the three with coffee hitting you first, then the chocolate finds its way through just before the finish with some hoppy black licorice. It has some sweetness in the middle sandwiched with the chocolate and licorice bitterness, and it works great in my mouth. Feel is on par with the look, not too thick with a lot of creaminess. A tasty and very drinkable porter.

Nov 03, 2015
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BigDaddyWarbuxx from Iowa

3.8/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Great roast aroma. The flavor is just shy of what it promises, and it's a bit more acidic than what I was hoping, but still a decent porter. A fine effort.

Oct 10, 2015
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Czequershuus from Minnesota

4.03/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours black - not motor oil, kill the sun black - but a regular, old fashioned black, with a powerful head. I smell coffee first, followed by dark chocolate, and a hint of both molasses and licorice. The flavor also leads with coffee, accompanied by burnt toast and dark chocolate. The mouthfeel is neither thick nor thin, but a nice middle ground. Overall this is an incredibly solid porter, and certainly the best availible year round all over Minnesota.

Sep 06, 2015
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CraigP83 from Minnesota

4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Dark brown, mocha head. Smell is chocolate mocha latte, taste is predominately coffee with some hop profile at the end. Creamy mouthful. Good affordable porter

Sep 01, 2015
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pat61 from Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: Pours black with a light tan 1” foam collar that produces good lace. S: Roast malt aromas with a little coffee or chocolate T: This is a dryer porter with coffee flavors sweetened by crystal malt and a moderate chocolate bitterness. Moderate burnt notes mingle with the hops giving it a toasty bitter finish. Some dark malt astringency on the finish. F: Smooth, with fine soft carbonation and a medium body. O: A very drinkable porter.

Aug 12, 2015
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chinchill from South Carolina

3.56/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle in Columbus Ohio.
Very dark brown; opaque in the glass.
Slightly sweet up front but mildly bitter by the aftertaste.
A bit more flavorful than average for style, with plenty of dark roasted malts but only very faint smoke.

O: tastes like a big beer, including a hint of higher ABV than actually present.

Aug 03, 2015
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

3.93/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this is a really nice porter, very robust in its roast and chocolate aspects, but smooth and not at all bitter in the finish, different than other robust type porters i have had, especially from this region. its not real thick, but its super hearty still, maybe some wheat fluffing things up, its hard to say, but there is some nice body without it being hard to drink. right where i like my porter. it has a less intense nose than flavor, so the dark chocolate notes seem to come out of nowhere in the middle of the sip. i also really like the hop profile as it finishes, a hint of pine that pulls out a little tannic thing from the grain, which in this case really works. rich but dry, hard to do in beer like this, but its done super well. i didnt have a ton of beer from summit when i was up there this weekend, but of the ones i did have, this was my favorite. maybe the best dark beer i had in minnesota actually. not way different, its neatly within style guidelines, but its spot on in areas where others sag. very impressed with this.

Jun 01, 2015
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maedhros09 from Minnesota

3.87/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Look: brown-black with great tan head that retains well and leaves lots of lacing Smell: roasty ,dry
Taste: creamy maltiness fades into acidic roasty and herbal moderately bitter finish. Only the acidity seems a bit off.
Feel: Medium body with smooth mouthfeel

Overall: Summit's is a pretty good example of a porter - it looks great and finds a good balance of roastiness, malt sweetness and hops. It does have an undercurrent of acidity that doesn't wreck it but just seems a bit off from a stylistic standpoint. One of Summit's better brews.

May 17, 2015
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SenorElRaz from Minnesota

4.72/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

This is an excellent beer. Has a nice dark color, and is very smooth. Tastes very chocolatey, and is not nearly as bitter as I expected. Reminds me of Guinness but more flavorful. Definitely my favorite Summit brew.

Mar 19, 2015
Great Northern from Summit Brewing Company
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 667 ratings