The brewery also will start selling a limited number of hand-bottled, silk-screened 22-ounce bottles in its gift shop that same day. The bottles will retail for $9.88 -- a play on Great Lakes' anniversary date of Sept. 6, 1988.
Great Lakes worked with Deschutes of Bend, Ore., for the brewer's Class of '88 series, which involves collaboration beers made with breweries celebrating their 25th anniversary this year.
"Deschutes is well-known for their award-winning Black Butte Porter, and because our Edmund Fitzgerald Porter is also a well-loved and decorated beer, it made perfect sense for us to combine our forces to create a kind of super-porter," Great Lakes said on its website. "And so, the Class of '88 Imperial Smoked Porter was born."
For the project, Great Lakes brewers traveled to Deschutes to make the beer there, and then Deschutes brewers visited Cleveland to produce the beer at the Great Lakes facility.
"We enjoy creating collaboration beers, and the sense of camaraderie and partnership that it brings, both to us and our fans," Great Lakes brewing and quality control manager Mark Hunger said in a news release. "This collaboration was especially gratifying as we are recognizing a true landmark in the history of both our companies -- 25 years of bringing craft beer to market. What a great way to celebrate."
Both breweries followed the same recipe, but used their own house yeast and local water, which makes a difference in the flavor. The recipe included a mix of several roasted and smoked malts and muscovado sugar.
Deschutes will distribute its version in its markets. The Great Lakes and Deschutes distribution markets overlap in only two states: Minnesota and Illinois. The brewers are planning special side-by-side tastings in those states.