1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Great Lakes Christmas Ale - Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Great Lakes Christmas AleGreat Lakes Christmas Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

2,148 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,148
Reviews: 771
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 12.88%
Wants: 101
Gots: 200 | FT: 4
Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co. visit their website
Ohio, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  7.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: OldFrothingSlosh on 11-16-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 2,148 | Reviews: 771 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ProudBeerSnob
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a chalice. Thick tan-ish head topping a beautiful copper color. Aroma hints of what's to come- fruity and spicy. Very good mouthfeel, not too overewhelmig, due to good balance.
Winter warmers are not my personal fave, but this is a decent, much better than the last one I had- Harpoon's.

I would probably pick up another one next year when I'm in Cleveland (in-laws) especially seeing as how I hear that they run out of this one.

Cheers!

ProudBeerSnob, Dec 13, 2004
Photo of Phelps
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Another beer received from neorunner in the Blind Beers BIF. This one was poured into a tulip and reviewed blind.

The beer pours a lovely amber, transparent and the color of apple juice. A frothy, one-finger thick head cream in color sits atop, receding slowly to a thick, sticky ring of bubbles and a big patch of foam in the middle. Tiny streaks of lace decorate the glass as I go.

Very biscuity in the aroma. Lots of sweet crackers, mushrooms and sweet almond. In the background: earthy yeast. Nicely sweet.

Interesting new aspects reveal themselves in the flavor. Lots of peanut skins, perhaps some nutmeg, biscuits, oyster crackers, maple syrup, gingerbread, rum, maybe even some pumpkin, and oh yeah, cinnamon. Only lightly sweet before a rather crisp finish and long-lingering spicy flavors of nutmeg and ginger.

Smooth, medium-light body. Very fizzy as it moves about, with medium, massaging carbonation and a bit of warming alcohol in the throat.

I'm always fond of Christmas brews, and this is one of the best I've had so far this year. Great balance of spiciness and Christmas flavors. I could see several of these going down very easily.

Phelps, Dec 17, 2010
Photo of BARFLYB
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a small snifter during a blizzard. Not yet available in eastern PA, thanks Matt for getting this.

Christmas looks like a fusion of sunset orange, burnt, rusted penny with a slight hazy appearance. Looks kinda thick out the bottle, a elevated pour started off producing no activity, than all of a sudden, BOOM, a big mound of tannish/beige foam, no stickage no lace, just streaks.

The smell is also a fusion of spices from the kitchen with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, which I personally can't stand in my beers, eeek. I won't subtract for that though. No sign of any hops but there is a sweet malty scent.

A Winter Warmer with alot of spices, this kind of reminded me of drinking different flavored iced teas for some reason. I just get a iced tea vibe from this. A mix between cinnamon, ginger and tea pouches. Luckily the ginger is subdued. A small bite of bread at the end of churrrch and no hops to speak of.

This manages to come off real spicy without the long and sometimes overbearing aftertaste that come with the style. This comes and goes like a flash with a iced tea finish, I'm serious. It's medium bodied but feels and goes down lighter than that. Carb is smoooth with no bite at the end of the tounge.

This is good, a nicely spiced ale with the ABV somewhere in the middle. While I can only take a single serving of winter warmers in my experience, I could see myself drinking a few of these because of the light aftertaste. Well balanced and mad drinkable.

BARFLYB, Feb 11, 2010
Photo of carolinahophead
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is always a beer that's always hard to get here .
The color is a bright copper , poured a nice head with bold lace .
Tight nose here , you do get nice malt aromas with spice added in .
This is a big holiday brew .. good flavor with sweetness and a little bitterness as well .
The beer has a medium mouthfeel and a surprising long finish .
It's a good beer .. Let's say we will be having one Christmas Eve to enjoy the holiday .

carolinahophead, Nov 06, 2012
Photo of SheepNutz
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip-style glass. It pours a clear medium red color with one finger of head. There is just a tiny bit of lacing. The smell is dominant with cinammon, but also has hints of nutmeg and cherry to it. The taste has lots of cinammon and honey sweetness that is just a tad cloying. A good bite of hops on the finish. The mouthfeel is just a little light for this style. The drinkability is very very good though for a 7.5% brew. Enjoyable as a dessert beer, and I might even try mulling it.

SheepNutz, Nov 23, 2003
Photo of JToad
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at a bar in Elkhart Indiana called the Chubby Trout. My wife and I split a pitcher of this for $5.50.

Poured the draft into a tulip glass. The beer is a dark copper color.

Smells of subtle fruit and spice. Can definetely tell its a Christmas beer.

As it warms, the spices really begin to show. I noticed large amounts of cinnamon and corriander the warmer it got. At 7.5% ABV, it hits you pretty quick.

My wife who is not normally a beer drinker, really enjoyed this the more she drank of it. It was nice to sit in front of the window and watch the snow fall, while sipping this winter warmer. I havent been too dissapointed with many Great Lakes brews, and this one is no different. Very good Christmas Beer.

JToad, Dec 05, 2007
Photo of malind
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a Stela Artois glass

A - Amber/Caramel in color. Poured transparent. Small head which disappeared fairly quickly.

S - Ginger, spice, hint of spruce

T - Spruce, earthy, hint of alcohol on the finish

M - Light, low carbonation, slight tingle of alcohol

O - A solid winter beer. One of my annual Christmas go-to beers. Not a lot of malt taste - almost a spiced beer.

malind, Jan 03, 2013
Photo of AltBock
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got this on-tap at a local sports pub that served to me not too cold in a 12oz. American pint glass.

Poured a wonderful ruby red color with a nice head of white sticky foam. The aroma to me was like a lot Christmas, some pine, spices and hops in the background. Up front in the taste were spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, and then after all those spices a strong hoppy citrus flavor emerged. A strong hop aftertaste lingered on for a while after that. This goes down nice and smooth, but be careful this beer hides it alcohol content very well. I learned that the hard way. This was a nice Winter Warmer and would also make for a nice Christmas Day drink.

AltBock, Dec 02, 2005
Photo of siege06nd
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a nonic pint glass.

A: This beer is gorgeous. It just looks like Christmas, pouring a beautiful, clear copper brown color, with a starkly contrasting two finger white head. The head slowly settles to a quarter finger. Really nice sticky lacing on the glass. I really love how it looks.

S: A lot of honey, cinnamon, and ginger. Some nice sweet malt. Smells like their Oktoberfest with spices added. Nice.

T: Follows the nose, with a lot of honey, ginger, cinnamon, and just a bit of toasted malt. Very easy drinking. Good.

M: It's creamy and well-carbonated. The finish isn't particularly lasting or satisfying, though. A bit watery on the back-end.

O: It's got a bit of a disappointing mouthfeel, but the rest of this beer is spot on. One of the prettiest holiday beers I have seen. Not the most complex, but sometimes that's not needed. An enjoyable winter warmer, with enough alcohol and spice to keep you toasty on a cold night. Good job.

siege06nd, Dec 15, 2011
Photo of sleuthdog
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Enjoy by 1/11/13
Poured into Lagunitas mason jar

Appearance: A cloudy copper color reminding me of ice tea. Created a finger to finger and a half of off white head that faded quickly. Moderate amount of lacing upon initial pour.

Smell: Big sweet spices here with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and the sweet honey come through. It really reminds me of sugar cookies with a kick of cinnamon. A very unique and pleasant smelling beer.

Taste: Sweetness hits first with a quick hit but this is followed up by the spices almost immediately. The cinnamon is the most forward of the spices but the clove, ginger and nutmeg mingle among it. Mid palate I get a small hop bite? Then the honey comes through on the tail end leaving a nice sweet, spice aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. I'd call this one pretty sticky as it does coat my mouth with a candy like sweetness. Alcohol is well integrated.

Overall: I've passed on this one in the years past but saw it this year fresh so I thought I'd give it a shot. Glad I did because I did enjoy this one.

sleuthdog, Nov 04, 2012
Photo of Trystero
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Backlogged review circa 12/25/2011

Appearance: Ruby red with faint copper hues.

Smell: Overwhelming ginger and honey accompanied by accents of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Taste: Sweet and smooth, spice cabinet. Thick honeycomb combines with candied giner and snickerdoodle cookies.

Mouthfeel: Slightly thin with strong carbonation.

Overall: One of many delicious Christmas Ales/Winter Warmers made in Ohio. Highly sought after and terribly scarce around the holidays due to a huge notoriety. I'm not sure if it's worth the trouble every year.

Trystero, Jul 20, 2012
Photo of divineaudio
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

a - pours a transparent amber shade with a thin cap of coarse, tan foam. retention is good, calming slowly to a thin film and leaves a few legs of lacing behing.

s - carmel, cinnamon, peppery, honey.

t - carmel malt with a pronounced spiciness. i'm getting mostly cinnamon, but notes of nutmeg and white pepper pop up too. finishes with a subdued bitterness and faint alcohol warming.

m - medium in body, medium carbonation. coarser co2 profile prickles the tongue a bit.

o - a nice beer and enjoyable even though it's getting a bit late in the season. fits the style well. definitely going to pick up some of this next time it's released.

divineaudio, Apr 06, 2012
Photo of DeadWalkerAir
3.92/5  rDev -1%

DeadWalkerAir, Sep 06, 2014
Photo of metter98
3.91/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear amber in color and has no visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high off white head that quickly died down, leaving a few bubbles on the surface and a thin collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Moderate aromas of spices are present in the nose—ginger and nutmeg seem to stand out in particular.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and seems a bit more complex with additional hints of cinnamon sticks and caramel malts.
M: It feels a bit mire than medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: I found this to be an interesting winter warmer that has some nice holiday spices and seems easier to drink compared to other beers in the style since it isn't that heavy in body.

metter98, Dec 25, 2013
Photo of Mora2000
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a hazy orange color with a white head. The aroma is heavy on the nutmeg and honey. Definitely a heavily spiced Christmas beer. The flavor is more of the same. I get a ton of spices, as well as some toffee and green apples notes. There is a nice sweetness to the flavor. The beer is easy to drink. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Mora2000, Apr 22, 2011
Photo of whoneeds8
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle best before date 1/29/09.

Poured into a pint glass amber with a thin white head. Good lacing with little disapation.

Not much of a smell, but the taste is very interesting. The ginger flavor is very evident, with a nice hop bite at the end. It has a good amount of carbonation to it as well.

Overall, this is a interesting winter warmer. Not quite what I expected.

whoneeds8, Dec 07, 2008
Photo of RickS95
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A great looking, rich, winter brew with a coppery orange pour. A bit clearer than I care for, but still has a nice rich look to it. The head has IPA written all over it with it's light yellow color and craterous head followed by thick sticky lace.

The smells are fairly laid back, though my beer may have been too cold. Cinnamon and honey are there, though subdued with ginger being the most dominant of the three and even then it's only a mild smell. Slight hop presence in the nose.

The flavor is the opposite of the nose with the ingredients makes a bolder statement. Cinnamon is clearly accounted for, as is the ginger and honey. I'm not a fan of either ginger in general or honey in beer, and while I don't really care for it here, it goes give the beer a nice spicy-sweet flavor profile.

Lots of spice and enough sweet for balance. So much going on I can't tell if there is any noticeable hoppiness at all. There's some bitter in the finish, but God only knows what it's from. Good alcohol burn going down, and it really sticks with you for a while.

Overall, it's a true winter warmer. Lots of seasonal ingredients, good alcohol feel, the flavors work well together and there is balance in both the taste and feel.

RickS95, Jan 08, 2013
Photo of BuckeyeOne
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a standard pint glass a clear copper with a small head and very little lace

Ginger and cinnamon is very prevalent in the nose. Cannot pick up any hops. Only the hint of sweet bread.

The flavor is ginger and cinnamon (and allspice?). Very sweet upfront and only a little bitter in the back. Sweet honey in the aftertaste.

Smooth. Oily.

I could only drink a couple of these. The "holiday" spice is a bit overwhelming.

BuckeyeOne, Nov 18, 2010
Photo of morimech
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear, dark amber color with one finger of head that slowly settled to a thin cap. Moderate amount of spotty lacing is left on the glass. Aroma has hints of cocoa, toffee, hazlenuts. The spice is subtle in the aroma but a touch of ginger can be detected. The spice is much more upfront in the taste. Cinnamon and ginger are quite strong upfront. Sweet malt and honey base but the spice is the featured attraction with this beer. Christmas in a bottle. Medium body and nicely carbonated. Good texture. A lot of spice in the beer but it stops just short of being too much.

morimech, Nov 27, 2010
Photo of andyo
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had this eber on tap at "Bob's Bar" in Clintonville last night with my good buddy Shane.

This beer was very interesting to me. It poured a rich amber/brown color, and gave off a heavy, sweet smell. There was virtually no head on this beer at all.

My initial taste pretty much hit me hard. This is definately not a weak beer in taste! The malts are very pronounced, combined with cinnaman, honey and clove. The flavors are very sharp...if that makes since, and finishes with a bite. I really didn't care for the first sip, but this beer seemed to get better and better. Mouthfeel was thick and sticky.

A really nice, obscure christmas ale, and at $3 a pint at Bob's, I'll be enjoying this one again.

andyo, Oct 23, 2004
Photo of mdm46410
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle (Best By 12/16/08) and served in a pint glass. This beer poured a beautiful, clear dark copper hue with a thin head of beige foam that displayed some decent retention. Some light lacing was left around the glass. The aroma consisted of caramel, honey, allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Not overly spiced...the rich malts still shine through nicely. The flavor started off with a solid base of creamy caramel, followed by pie spices, and a very mellow honey note. The mouthfeel was medium-bodied and had minimal carbonation. Rich, malty, and drinkable. A great holiday beer.

mdm46410, Dec 18, 2008
Photo of gatornation
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a mostly clear amber/brown color with a fast receding head that leaves a fresh collar with some lacing..smell is ginger and malt with some hops and malt..taste is better its spicy with ginger,nutmeg.cinnamon, after that it has some hops mixed with pine and finished with some baked malts..the mouthfeel is a festive well carbonated dinner table of holiday smells and tastes i really liked the ginger in this one..ill be buying this again b4 its gone

gatornation, Nov 16, 2010
Photo of Shiloh
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a very nice festive brew which I would consume more of except for the high ABV.
Beautiful and clear mid orange colour with a short top leaving limited evidence of foam.
Carbonation also is limited.
Aroma has a wlde array of spices.
Wildly spicy taste, predominantly ginger with a slight honey smoothness to aid in the mouthfeel.
I find no evidence of cinnamon as it must be well hidden or, does it arrive as the beverage warms?
Mouthfeel is dry.

Shiloh, Dec 13, 2003
Photo of atr2605
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-pours a nice amber with a 1.5 fingerwidths off white head with great retention that fades into a small lace around the glass
S-honey, straw, cinnamon, nutmeg
T-Wow. tasty. The spices are very noticable but not overbearing and blend great with the malt flavor and gives a nice sweetness, but not a sugar sweetness, just nice subtle malt sweetness. The hops provide the perfect amount of bitterness.
M-medium-light bodied.
O-Extremely well crafted. I went into this with pretty high expectations since the recent Great Lakes beers I have had were fantastic and this one did not fall short. Great winter session beer.

atr2605, Dec 22, 2011
Photo of songoose
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very nice beer. Can certainly taste all the spices: cinnamon, ginger, and also the honey is very prominent (which is probably why this drinks so smoothly, even at 7.5%).

The ginger was a little off-putting for me - not that it was overwhelming, just that I didn't feel it was quite the right spice choice for a Christmas Ale. Even so, this is one of the better Christmas Warmers out there.

songoose, Dec 13, 2011
Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,148 ratings.