Brew Review

Beer Review – Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster Imperial IPA


When a beer is called the Lake Erie Monster (aka South Bay Bessie) , I can’t help but think that I’ll need the help of a Superhero to defeat it (i.e. polish off the bottle in its entirety). In the latest Craft Beer/Superhero pairing, I have enlisted the help of the Green Lantern to take down this beast of a beer by Great Lakes Brewing Company.

The Lake Erie Monster is an unfiltered Imperial India Pale Ale that is available between May and July of each year. I guess that would make it as elusive as South Bay Bessie herself! This beer is brewed with 2 kinds of malts (Harrington 2-Row and Caramel 30) and 2 kinds of hops (Simcoe and Fuggle). In case you were wondering why Great Lakes chose to call this beer Lake Erie Monster, here’s their explanation:

“A beer this distinctively hoppy inspires many a tall tale. And they don’t come taller than South Bay Bessie, the legendary monster that roams the shallow depths of Lake Erie.”

The Green Lantern story is a bit more complicated. Rather then go into a long winded explanation about his origins, I will instead share this brief, but highly informative video from the good people at watchmojo.com:

Let’s put the comic book superheroes and maritime legends aside and see if this beer is any good…

  • Appearance: Cloudy red/orange color that reminded me of the clay courts at the French Open. Thick quarter inch head that dissipates slowly. Lots of sediment floating in the glass which slowly settled to the bottom.
  • Aroma: Smells like a tropical fruit salad! Pineapple, mango, and citrus. Very faint smell of sweet roasted malt in the background.
  • Taste: Smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Not overly carbonated. A hint of sweetness when it first hits your tongue, but that fades pretty quickly. The hops take over and lead you to a long lasting bitter finish.
  • ABV: 9.1%

For a beer with such a complex and beautiful aroma, I was surprised that the flavors were so one dimensional, i.e. hops, hops, hops, and more hops. What happened to all that tropical fruit? The looks and smells of this beer were setting me up for a rollercoaster ride of flavors, but all I got was a freefall of hops. Please don’t misunderstand me. I liked this beer, but I didn’t love it. While I love a hoppy beer, I also like there to be a few surprises along the way. As far as who won, i.e. South Bay Bessie vs Green Lantern, I’m gonna have to give this one to Bessie. Perhaps Batman would have been a better opponent. Better luck next time.

16 replies »

  1. Fair review. I personally love this beer as I can’t get it in Missouri since moving here from Ohio years ago. It’s one of those things I connect with the place I called home for 30 of my 36 years on the planet. I love how different this beer is from all the other DIPA’s, West Coast or Midwest. You’re right about everything, but this beer holds a special place in my cellar. Luckily, my mom just showed up with another four-pack.

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    • Yo BOC!

      I can totally understand your perspective. Guess that’s why they say “there’s no place like home”.

      What’s interesting is that all of the reviews on Beer Advocate talk about the malt sweetness in this beer. I didn’t pick any of that up at all. Just goes to show you, we all have different tastes.

      Thanks for the comment!

      G-LO

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      • First of all, Green Lantern would have crushed Bessie (unless of course she were the color yellow and had rendered his ring useless). Secondly, Batman has no super powers and thus is not a superhero but a caped vigilante. Lastly, it sounds like this beer smelled a whole lot better than it tasted. Not to say that hops are bad but hops alone … meh.

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        • Since Bessie is as elusive as her sister Nessie (of Loch Ness fame), she may indeed have some yellow on her. Keep in mind that the image on the bottle is just an artist’s rendering and not an actual photograph. Regarding Batman, although he does not posses the superhuman powers of a Flash, Superman, or even Spiderman, I’m sure that his superior intellect would enable him to whip up a “Bat-Anti-South-Bay-Bessie” device or two. He is one crafty Caped Crusader!

          While the beer did indeed smell better than it tasted, this is just my opinion, and your results may vary dramatically.

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  2. I’ll be in the midwest for a few days at the end of the week, I’m hoping to try some Great Lakes while I’m there (and know I can get some). Too bad it seems to be very one-sided, I’ll just have to overlook it and let my hops loving tastebuds do all the work.

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    • I think it’s totally worth trying (We have much love for Great Lakes, so they always deserve a 2nd chance). Again… not a bad beer at all, just not to my liking. Have a great trip!

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