Bold and dark, Great Lakes Blackout Stout is a Russian Imperial stout that commemorates the infamous power outage that left some 55 million people of the Great Lakes region in the dark. As with many Great Lakes brews, the story behind the beer is depicted on the label.
Former Brewmaster Luke Purcell recalls that day in 2003, when Great Lakes brewery co-owner Pat Conway locked the front door and offered beers on the house to anyone who chose to stick around. They shared stories to pass the time. “Most notably, there was no television or music, only the sound of folks drinking and talking and having a good time.” While at home later that night, Purcell realized he needed to return to the brewery to shut some things off, just in case the power came back on. “I will always remember driving to the brewery. The sky was lit with a million stars and everything was so peaceful.”
Blackout’s label resonates on a historic level. A tiny ’03 can be seen on one of the historic-inspired houses as a nod to the date, August 14, 2003. And a shooting star, spotted that night by Conway, arches toward the bright moon, illuminating an otherwise dark cityscape. Even the beer’s description, “pitch-dark and rich, kindled with black malt & roasted barley, and illuminated by flickers of bitter hops,” is reminiscent of this day in the dark.
“To me,” says Purcell, “that dark, peaceful night, full of stars and folks drinking and talking together with no sense of urgency to be anywhere, is what inspired Blackout Stout.”