A couple of weeks ago I took a craft beer road trip of a lifetime. I didn’t hit that many breweries, but the ones I did hit are of a caliber of craft beer that are nationally and internationally renowned.

These breweries deserve their own individual columns which is what I will be doing in this first column. The premise of the trip is that I have two Scottish friends, Graeme Watt and Jed Potts, with whom I have known since 2012. Five years ago, before I started this column, we took a road trip through the Dakotas to Montana in order for them to check off a number of states they had not visited yet.

Both Graeme and Jed were in a punk band that toured most of the U.S. more than a decade ago and collected more than 40 total U.S. states visited. This incredible Great Plains trip ticked off for them Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota.

There are not many breweries out that way, and so we didn’t make beer a central part of that trip. This time around we were going to New England and so we had to make it to some essential American breweries. This time Graeme and Jed needed to tick off Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, one of them needed Massachusetts, the other needed Rhode Island and Connecticut.

I was born in Boston and lived there until I was 3, so I imagine I visited many of these states during that time but for me this allowed me to say that I had been to these places officially. I went along for the great chat and the chance to visit some of these places that I thought were probably not in the cards.

We set out on a Tuesday and thought we might get to Upstate New York by the end of the day. We stopped in Cleveland for two reasons. All three of us are musicians (they in a much more professional sense) and thought it might be worth a pit stop to check in at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and get dinner at Great Lakes Brewing Company, a Cleveland institution.

I have featured Great Lakes Brewing many times in this column. I have even featured recipes that feature Great Lakes beer. Great Lakes has generously donated to the Brew Dude Christmas Gift List Giveaway in the past. I love these people, and if I was going to stop in Cleveland, I knew I had to stop by.

I am not a travel writer necessarily so I wont spend too much time talking about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but it was a neat place to visit. Tickets only cost $25 which we thought was worth a look. We walked around exhibits but didn’t spend a great deal of time inside as it wasn’t really why we came and wanted to get as far as we could the first day.

I really connected to some original guitars and items worn by John Lennon and the Beatles. I stood next to a mannequin that had some clothes worn by David Bowie, and it felt like you were standing next to the man himself. It has a strange effect on you.

We then made a quick trip across town to find the There were a few other breweries that seemed to have popped up since Great Lakes has been in the area.

We stopped in for some burgers and some of their flagship beer. I think I had almost everything on the beer menu over the years, but I had to have an Edmund Fitzgerald Porter while I was there. I don’t think the Christmas Ale had been released yet while we were there.

I had a burger that had Edmund Fitzgerald porter infused in the barbeque sauce and had a delightful dinner. I wish this type of trip allowed more time to walk around, maybe take a tour of this massive place.

There were multiple buildings that had Great Lakes logos emblazoned on them and I am not sure what else was available to us as visitors, but we had to get back on the road and drive on to where we eventually stopped in Buffalo, N.Y. If I ever had the opportunity to go back through this area, I would definitely do it again and stop back by Great Lakes for another pass.

Edmund Fitzgerald Porter from Great Lakes Brewing Company

ABV: 6%

IBUs: 37

Style: Porter — American

Notes: “A complex, roasty porter with a bittersweet, chocolate-coffee taste and bold hop presence. A bittersweet tribute to the legendary freighter’s fallen crew – taken too soon when the gales of November came early” According to the brewery.

Where to Buy: You can find this at Liquor World in Kankakee in 12-ounce 6-packs for $10.99.

Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Company

ABV: 7.5%

IBUs: 30

Style: Winter Ale

Notes: “A holiday ale brewed with honey and spiced with fresh ginger and cinnamon” According to the brewery.

Where to Buy: This one may not be available nearby just yet, but it is coming and should be available pretty wide spread – I’d check with Liquor World in Kankakee which should have it soon in 12-ounce 6-packs for around $10.

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