What incredible vessel this must have been; weighing in at 13,632 tons empty, a whopping 729 feet long - a true modern marvel of its age in 1958.  Sadly, it met its demise in 1975; I will never have the pleasure of meeting this beautiful girl.  I think I've always had a fascination of ships, be it boats/planes/barges.  With all the incredibly bizarre stories of the Bermuda Triangle, Amelia Earhart, people trying to circle the globe, the 'Perfect Storm' (still one of the few books I've read cover to cover).  All of these have such passionate stories; many such bizarre and unanswered endings.  These people had a passion far greater then most people I know have for anything.  It takes a special person to be in the air flying from city to city, country to country; or be in a boat for 4-6 weeks or longer at a time never seeing land trying to make a living.  These people risk their lives every day to provide a service to all of us "land lovers".  Well, the Edmund and its story are similar but unique as all these stories seem to be.  Please visit this site I found at SSEFO.COM to read more about this beautiful vessel and the demise of 29 captain and crew.  To this day, no one is really sure of the last few minutes/hours of the crew and ship's life.  I can't fathom the concept of what these people and their families have gone through and my heart and prayers go out to them.  As Gordon Lightfoot wrote:
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they called 'Gitche Gumee'
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy

The only parallel I can draw in my life (all be it small and weak) to this that even remotely makes me wonder why I am interested so, is that I grew up on the mighty Susquehanna River.  I can tell you that my father and I logged 15-20 hours a week at least 30+ weeks of the year between my ages 11-17'sh.  That is a lot of my life ( doing the math roughly 2250 hours or just shy of 100 days of my life were spent on or beside or in this river).  Sure, as many of us do that time is probably slightly exaggerated but there is no fish tale when I say my father and I had the best times of our lives on that river together.  Those times that will never be forgotten easily.  The one rule, the one lesson that my father instilled in me then that lives with me today and probably will never be forgotten is that you must ALWAYS respect Mother Nature.  She is more powerful visibly then maybe any other force out there.  I believe the captain of the Edmund had respect.  But no matter how much respect you have - when Mother Nature gets Angry and god makes his calling - it will be your time.  My heart and prayers go out to the 29 men on that ship and the families they left behind.  I have so much respect!
The Great Lakes Brewing have paid their own tribute to the Edmund in a Porter style beer named after the wonderful ship.  At 5.8% this is not a large alcoholic beer so you could definitely drink a few of these with out worrying to much.  This beer pours into the glass a pitch black color; I'm wondering how much inspiration of this black color came from thinking of the black night and dark waters that this ship went down in that cold November night in 1975.  I have to believe the smokey taste was completely inspired by the coal burning lady of the '50's that was eventually converted to oil in 1971-72.  The DEEP BLACK coffee taste that comes in EVERY sip of this beer quickly turns my mind to the coffee that the captain and crew surely brewed and drank every morning and night to stay alert and sharp during the operations of this fine vessel.  The complexity of this beer attempt to educate us on the 17 years of crews and captains and cargo that this ship must have shipped up and down the rivers and through the great lakes.  There is NO WONDER this is a Gold Medal Winner from the GABF from everything I find.  It is a bit bitter smokey and roasted coffee smell to it.  My self personally I didn't like the bitterness to it but I think that is true to the porter style.  But this beer was nice and drinkable and I enjoyed every last sip.

I don't typically do this but I wanted to leave this last tribute to the ship.  As frankly, it is a story that I found a bit of interest in while reading through it.  I've heard this song many times and never really knew it was about a real ship (not to mention how many times in the past I drank the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter not knowing of its history).  So beer really can be educational and I just proved it.  Anyway, I leave you with this - listen to the words as it is a tragic yet incredible story:

PS.  In case those cupcakes look to tastey - my wife has the recipe that she created/used to master these beasts on her blog at Butter is Better!  Please check it out for your viewing pleasure.

03/07/2012 12:07

Well Mike you sure done a fine job on this post. You make me proud for what you our doing with this blog. To see how you take the time to taste and make remarks on the beer you are reviewing. You know how I reveiw the beer I drank, it was all about me and how much I could drink. I"ll say it again how PROUD of you ! Keep up the great job. Dad


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