Cleveland sucks. This statement is true if you’re referring to sucking the barbecue sauce off of your fingers after stuffing your face with Cleveland’s signature sandwich – the Polish Boy. A kielbasa sausage crammed into a hotdog roll and topped off with French fries, coleslaw and barbecue sauce.
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Capital of the World sucks when you’re talking about licking melted cheese from your fingers after eating at Melt Bar and Grilled – a restaurant specializing in grilled cheese sandwiches. Such as the Porky Cheese – a Swiss grilled cheese sandwich piled high with honey ham and crisp bacon. Or the El Diablo Burger, a heart stopping gigantic ground steak burger heaping with four kinds of chilies and dried pepper rub with a heroic dose of melted jalapeno pepper-jack cheese. This is a burger requiring gentle dabbing the next morning with very soft toilet paper.
Cleveland is a food town with some of the best casual and fine dining restaurants in the country. The West Side Market is a world-class market and just on the other side of town there are outstanding Italian bakeries. Dozens of food trucks are scattered across the city. In fact, when the Cuyahoga River caught fire back in 1969, it was blamed on pollution. I’m convinced the city was just looking for a larger surface to cook on. So, when you have food this good, you need something robust to wash it down. That’s where the Great Lakes Brewery comes in.
The brewery opened its doors in September 1988 ushering in a new era for Ohio craft brewing. It was also the first to open after every other Cleveland microbrewery closed its doors – the last going out of business in the early 1980’s. From the start, the Great Lakes Brewery focused on producing fresh natural beers made of only the highest quality ingredients available.
The Edmund Fitzgerald Porter is one of the many incredible multiple award winning beers that continue to flow out of the brewery. It’s named after the famous American Great Lakes freighter that frequently docked in Cleveland on its way to Detroit. In 1975, the ship tragically sunk during a winter storm claiming the lives of everyone on board. The tragedy is shrouded in mystery because minutes after the Captain reported that they were holding their own in the storm, the ship disappeared. The Captain never sent distress signals. Because of this, many theories about how the ship sunk have surfaced. These include structural failure theories and rogue wave theories. Some claim the ship was swamped with water that entered through the ship’s cargo hatches. Even supernatural theories have reared their ugly heads with claims that a Great Lakes Bermuda-Triangle-like-phenomenon swallowed the ship.
The bad news is the disaster claimed many lives and Gordon Lightfoot wrote a song about it. The good news is unlike the Edmund Fitzgerald, this beer doesn’t end in tragedy but inspires one of the world’s best porters. It’s complex and rich with classic roasted malt notes with layers of bittersweet and chocolate-coffee bite. All balanced with a bold hop presence. So with beer this good, Cleveland will never suck, unless you’re trying to draw the last few drops of beer from your bottle.