A beer bottle with a wax top is a good sign that you’re dealing with a serious beer. Most breweries don’t go around dipping bottles in wax by hand unless they believe that the beer deserves some special treatment. The wax tops look kick-ass, but also help reduce oxidization in the beer overtime by limiting the amount of air that could possibly get in the bottle. (Actually, there is some debate going on about this, but that is something for another article.) Reducing the risk of oxidization means that beers can cellar for longer with less risk. Unfortunately, my guess is that most people are too busy consuming their bottles of the Great Lakes 25th Anniversary Robust Porter (7%, 750mL, $9.95 – LCBO) to even start to think about putting them away for a year.
The 25th Anniversary Robust Porter pours a near-black with a solid inch of creamy tan head. The aroma presents a depth of roasted malts, chocolate and some coffee. The flavour has more espresso upfront, then chocolate and dark fruits near the finish, all balanced by a nice background of roasted malts throughout. There is a dry and bitter finish that nicely contrasts the fruity sweetness. I also got a small lactic element, which was not unpleasant or strange for the style. The body was quite nice, though it could have been a little creamier. My only complaint is that there was still a bit of alcoholic heat in the finish, more than I would have expected for a 7% porter. Other than that one small complaint, this was an excellent beer.
Hopefully everyone reading got a chance to grab a bottle from the LCBO before now, because the 25th Anniversary Robust Porter is almost sold out. Everyone in the GTA is pretty much out of luck now, though you may have luck in Kingston, Ottawa, London or other cities. For anyone in the GTA, your last chance to try the Robust Porter may be at the Great Lakes Charity BBQ this weekend. Keep checking the event page or the Great Lakes Twitter account for updates on what beers will be available. Great Lakes have been making a variety of quality porters lately and hopefully the success of the Anniversary porter will mean that one will soon be available year round.