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Great Lakes Christmas Ale - Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Great Lakes Christmas AleGreat Lakes Christmas Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

818 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 818
Hads: 2,802
Avg: 3.91
pDev: 24.3%
Wants: 157
Gots: 596 | FT: 8
Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co. visit their website
Ohio, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  7.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: OldFrothingSlosh on 11-16-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 818 | Hads: 2,802
Photo of kristenrae8
4.62/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I really loved this beer. From first sip.

Poured from bottle to snifter/beer goblet

Apperaance: Medium Amber/ 1/4 inch cream colored head - faint lacing.

Smell: Ginger/Spice/Cinnamon/Winterwonderland/ Honey. This is not a sugary beer, it's sweet with the spices. I'm amazed by the balance. I had two in a row because I was so impressed.

Taste: Perfect. Spicy, sweet, malt/hop balance.

Mouth Feel: Not over carbonated - not under cabonated.

Overall: This is the best winter warmer I've had this season. I'm kinda sad that even if I start stock piling now- the shelf life is only good til the first part of March This will be my go-to winter warmer next year, once the temps are below 32 or as available.

Pairings: Good with carbs - all winter warmers are good with something savory in my honest opinion. It's the charm of the winter warmer.

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Photo of jwhawkins81
4.62/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tastes of 11/2/10 with a best by date of 02/02/11

Aroma - Spice and sweet notes dominate the nose. Particularly cinnamon.

Appearance - Golden red with a quickly dissipating white head but an OK level of carbonation.

Taste - Cinnamon sweet and smooth at 55 degrees or warmer. I really recommend drinking this beer at cellar temperatures. Overall the flavor profile is heavy on spice and sweetness with hints of ginger.

Notes - The best Christmas Beer I've ever had but it really beats you over the head with all that spice and sweet flavor.

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Photo of Murrdogg
4.6/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: a nice golden red with decent carbonation. a finger and a half's worth of head, with good bubbles. no lacing at first, as head settles, bubbles stay on glass. Creamy-to yellowy-white color head

Smell: crisp clean smell. sweet, floral-y. allspice is there, a touch of sweet cinnamon. maybe a little ginger

Taste: rich, strong taste at first. carbonation hits immediately, then spices. nutmeg and ginger are the first then a sweet slightly-hoppy cinnamon, and finishes with a semi-strong malt taste

Mouthfeel: carbonation and bubbles are obvious. richer and thicker than I figured it to be. Cant quite taste the alcohol, but the robustness of the taste pretty much assures you of its ABV strength

Drinkability: easy to drink. Perfect in the cold/wintry weather. It's sweet gingery / spiciness mixes well with chilly temperatures. It's ABV strength will quickly get the best of you if you are not careful (which can be a good thing if you want it to be)

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Photo of nvsblman
4.6/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Crystal clear golden brown with about a finger of white head. Aroma is of ginger, honey, and a little cinnamon. Nicely sweet, not at all too sweet. The flavor shows about the same balance as the aroma. The ginger stand out a bit more than the other flavors and lingers a little longer, but the sweetness of the honey and the spiciness of the cinnamon provide a nice balance. Medium bodied with a bit of creaminess. This would be great to have around during the holiday season.

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Photo of Clowerweb
4.58/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a pint glass. Freshness date: 03/22/2012. Says "best served at 55 degrees F", but I am drinking it from the fridge. I'll sip slowly an edit the review if anything changes.

A: Brownish orange with bright amber highlights, nicely filtered, very clear. 2 fingers of slightly off-white head with respectable retention, but little lacing. Great looking beer, aside from the lacing (or rather the lack thereof), not much to complain about.

S: Honestly, it smells skunky with some piney and citrusy notes, but the nose is on the lighter side with this one, so I'm not picking up much here. Almost smells like an IPA or APA. Definitely detecting hops, but the skunk is a little off putting.

T: Tastes nothing like it smells. Has a very nice depth of flavor with pumpkin, cream, cinnamon, hops and definitely nutmeg. Almost tastes like a swig of eggnog with your pumpkin pie - appropriate for a Christmas ale. It starts and finishes basically the same, no flavor twists to speak of in the mid palate or finish, although the cinnamon and nutmeg spices tend to shine through a little more in the aftertaste. I'm really digging the flavor, it tastes wonderful.

M: Moderate carbonation, body is on the more full side of medium, feels a bit chewy after the finish, doesn't really stick around too much, however it does leave a little bit of carbonation tingle in the cheeks and a creamy coating on the back of the tongue.

O: Oh yeah, this is an amazing beer. This is one of those "warm up with your significant other by the fireplace on a cold winter's evening" kind of beers. You could totally session with this one too. Looks awesome, tastes AMAZING, and leaves little to complain about other than the strange skunky smell.

I've never been disappointed with anything Great Lakes has to offer, and they make me proud to be from Ohio. I'd like to go tour the brewery someday, it's less than 100 miles away. With such a solid lineup of world class brews, who could resist? If you see this somewhere, definitely pick it up, you will have no regrets. Re-buy factor: very high.

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Photo of EORS
4.57/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Finally finished my seasons' worth of Christmas Ale.

Appearance: light amber with a small to moderate amount of carbonation and a small off-white head. Previous years' brews have had more of a ruby hue to them.

Smell: Honey, cinnamon, and clove all dominate the nose

Taste: Christmas in a bottle. More spice, mellowed by honey and malt, with a hint of bitterness from the hops lingering at the finish. Alcohol cuts through in mid-swig, giving you that warming feeling.

Mouthfeel: Well bodied, and the lack of carbonation helps it go down. Not that it needs much help.

Overall: Full disclosure - when someone asks me to name my favorite beer, this is the one I name. It blends the spices and honey in with the rest of the ingredients so well, and there's absolutely nothing better on a cold winter evening. While this year's batch isn't as well balanced as some previous (I could barely taste any malt and I wonder if it's because they've changed their grain bill somewhat) it's still an amazing beer from a world-class brewery.

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Photo of budgood1
4.55/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours out a very hazy copper colour. off white head and nice lace. aroma of piney and spucey hops, caramel maltiness and bits of chocolate candy. upon tasting... very nice sweet toffee, caramel, cocoa and maltiness...subtle spicy notes of cinnamon and maybe nutmeg...anise, molasses and black licorice, too. the alcohol comes across as peppery and there is piney hop bite to top it all off. the more sips i have of this the more impressed at the balance and delicate interplay the flavours have. the mouthfeel is full and smooth. full sticky sweet body. this is one amazing holiday offering. awesome!

brewed with cinnamon, ginger and honey.

cheers to zap and bighuge for getting this sensational seasonal into my hands!

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.55/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear, burnished copper-brown topped by a large beige head that displays impressive persistance and leaves a small to moderate amount of lace in sheets when it eventually departs.

The nose is sweet and spicy and the flavor is malty sweet, accented nicely by honey and by abundant caramel/toffee notes. There's some spiciness (especially cinnamon), but it's not overdone.

The finish contains a moderate amount of bitterness and a trace of alcohol. The mouthfeel is exemplary; full and rich, very creamy. Mouthfilling with some mouthcoating as well. Drinkability is high.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale is my first beer from the best brewery in my home state of Ohio and my former residence (3 years) of Cleveland. I'm very impressed. I expected a good, solid Christmas beer and those expectations were met and exceeded by a long shot. I only got a single this year, but you can bet that I'll be getting more of this fine seasonal during my future trips home for the holidays. I would have no trouble at all drinking Christmas Ale year-round.

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Photo of ClevelandKidO
4.53/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

As a Jewish young man, Great Lakes Christmas Ale is propapbly the only time I celebrate the holiday.
The smell after popping the cap defiantly unwraps a gift of cinnamon, slight ginger, a touch of honey, but an undertone of warmth sweetness. There is also a Christmas lighting of nutmeg and arguably a little cherry and oak/piney'ness as well as a wheat bread after taste.
The beer used to sell out quite quickly, and for a while it seemed the grinch was snatching up all the cases before a patron could purchase a case. But Great Lakes have definitely increased the production of the of the nice winter select, so not to worry about ruining a wonderful Christmas story..
Clevelanders definelty go crazy for the beer, but its hard to argue that the average score of 88 is not accurate or unfair.
Definitely worth trying as a winter beer, and goes really nice with chicken and turkey.

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Photo of Spider889
4.53/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

This is my review of the beer on tap. Location from my notes was Winking Lizard, though I was able to find this on tap all over the city, despite the bottles being quite difficult to track down.

It was served in a GLBC signature glass. There was an airy 1 1/2 finger tall head. The frothy but light bubbles receded to a ring around the glass. The lace in this particular instance was excellent. There was at first a heavy blanket on the glass that faded into a cheesecloth print as the beer level subsided. Of course, the beer is a brilliant dark amber/ruby color that it quite clear. My initially reaction was to give this a 4.5 for appearance, but this is the best looking winter warmer I can recall.

After each sip you catch the beer receding down the glass and you can almost see the grains of cinnamon and brown sugar slowly melt down the glass.

The smell of rich spices abound. Cinnamon dominates with ginger, nutmeg, and sweet brown sugar notes as well. The only warmer I can recall with a more appealing aroma is the CBC Winter Warmer - which was a delight.

The flavor is packed with palate sensationalizing spices. Slightly sweet from a half ton of honey. Ginger comes forward and raw crystal brown sugar tones. Cinnamon fights to maintain control; all the while mild earthy hops present a moderately bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is dry, sticky, and bitter on the finish. There's an almost grainy pure spiciness as well.

Drinkability is wonderful. Craveable, actually. I am lamenting all year why I did not track down more of it while it was here. One of my favorites from GLBC, and certainly my favorite winter warmer out there.

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Photo of dhartogs
4.53/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A friend from Cleveland sent me a 6-pack. A very hyped up beer and I wanted to see what it was all about.

Nice spicy aroma, hazelnut in color, with a medium head.

Not sure how to describe it, just enough spice to let you know it's there but not enough to overpower the ale. By the end of the bottle, which was poured into a pint glass the spice was a more present.

Overall I really liked this beer and will look forward to the next Christmas ale.

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Photo of mwa423
4.53/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Beautiful amber that is perfectly clear, head pours thick and shrinks down to a small lacing that persists throughout the beer.

S - Spice and lots of it

T - Fantastic, spice on the tip, with the perfect amount of carbonation and enough hops to give a nice round flavor.

This is my favorite of the Winter Warmers/Christmas beers, I always look forward to picking up some as soon as it comes out. I can easily drink an entire six pack over an evening, but try to restrain myself because of the abv. Pick some up and you won't be sorry!

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Photo of KBomb
4.53/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Lovely ruby/copper colored body, slightly opaque, capped with nearly two fingers of slightly colored head. Delectable to they eye! Rich, sweet roasty malt dominates the aroma complimented nicely by some warming winter spices like ginger and cinnamon. Taste is a marvelous clean, sweet, brown-sugar sweetness with a delicate earthy hop note, honey sweetness complimented with light touches of spice. Like grandmas gingerbread cookies, but finished with an incredibly clean taste. A pleasant brandy-like alcohol warmth fills the esophagus after a few swallows, but no burning or heaviness. Creamy, smooth mouthfeel and moderately weighty body. A Christmas gift to be enjoyed with gratitude and satisfaction.

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Photo of CaptainIPA
4.52/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thanks to my next-door-neighbor, Darcy, for donating a six-pack to the cause in exchange for expert snow-plowing services.

P: Presented in a 12 oz., brown bottle with freshness dating: 02/18/09. Label illustration depicts a railroad coal car filled with Christmas tree ornaments. Neck band copy reads: "Oh Christmas beer, Oh Christmas beer, spiced with cinnamon, ginger, honey and yuletide cheer." Festive. Poured into a Hennepin flute.

A: Pours a bright copper-brown color with remarkable clarity and a generous, beige head that yields prodigious lacing.

S: Wonderful aroma of honey, hops, malt, and spices.

T: Great balance between barley and hops, tipping in favor of caramel malt sweetness. Exceptionally smooth with notes of honey, cinnamon and ginger playing in the background. Very refreshing; far from heavy. @ 7.5%, alcohol is well cloaked. Finishes dry and sweet. Honey really emerges as it warms.

M: Light to medium-bodied with a crisp and creamy mouthfeel. Nice effervescence on the tongue.

D: Extremely sessionable. What can I say? This ale actually tastes like Christmas! Make this Gold Medal-Winning seasonal a holiday mainstay.

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Photo of sgoodship
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Here is the 2009 Christmas Ale. Man, has it been a year already!

The nose is jam packed with sweet honey. Unbelievable. Seems like more than last year to me. Malt and hops fall to the power of honey - no question about this beer's focus.

It's color is an amazing deep honey copper that glows - more handsome than I remember. It has a soft half finger off-white head. Some big spotty lacing. The head remains throughout but drops to a dusting and a ring.

The flavor is strong in honey too. You definitely get some Christmas spice but more noticeable is the uplifting and invigorating infusion of ginger. The finish is dry with a good hop bitterness. The aftertaste is malty and sour with a hint of the honey and caramel sweetness. It's not as sickly sweet as I think last years was a wee bit.

The mouth is on the full side of medium. It feels silky smooth and round in the mouth. The low end of medium carbonation prevents it from being too heavy and syrupy.

Always a favorite of mine at Christmas but beware. These sneak up on you and before you know it... game over. I'm a big fan of Great Lakes and this is a seasonal beer in the true sense. Enjoy!

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours brilliant gold under a thin off-white foam collar.
S: Spices, ginger, honey, light malt.
T: Spiced honey and malt with ginger in the middle and a cinnamon dryness on the finish. Possible coriander. Tastes more like a light fruit cake as it warms.
F: Creamy, medium high body and carbonation.

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Photo of Chiefy770
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%

12 Fl. Oz. Bottle
“Enjoy By” 02/11/15 printed on the label
Reviewed on November 7th, 2014
Served in a Snifter

A creamy light tan head sat on top of a rust-colored body. Decent head, left a good amount of soapy lace throughout.

Lots of spice. Cinnamon was very prominent. Good hit of nutmeg too. Very similar to warm cinnamon rolls… doughy and sweet.

Very sweet notes right off the bat. Cinnamon and ginger really stood out well. A good malt base held the sweet flavours well. The taste is comparable to sweet rolls, coffee cake, etc… treats for a cold day. The alcohol is well-masked by the overall sweetness of this brew. Medium bodied. Moderate carbonation.

I am not the biggest fan of spiced beers, however this one is tastefully spiced (pun-intended). Everything was executed well. A warming welcome to the hectic holiday season.

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Photo of lovindahops
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Oh yeah, first Christmas beer of the season!

A- a perfect copper color with a great head of foam that laces the sides. A solid look when it comes to a winter brew

S- the spices are absolutely enormous. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey are placed perfectly with the brew. The malt mingles with all these flavors to create the perfect XMAS brew. It's really the envy of spiced brews.

T- a warming spice fest of cinnamin and ginger swirl all over the mouth providing flavor unlike anything any other seasonal can offer. There are medicinal attributes of the brew, but the flavor is absolutely fantastic. The malt and spiced combo is unprecedented

M- syrupy and full of flavor

D- the spices attack the palate and burn a little. The problem is the brew is so tasty I want to keep slamming them. The alcohol is the interloper. This will forever be the centerpiece at Christmas for my family and I

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Photo of BeerHistoryGuy
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%

I don't have the ability to pour it as I am on the road, so I can only comment on the taste.

This is one of my favorite winter/Christmas beers. There is a nice hint of spices, cinnamon and ginger come through, along with a nice honey taste. It's not nearly as sweet as some holiday beers, but it balances well with the overall taste of the Ale -- along with the aforementioned spices -- that truly make this a balanced beer.

I love this beer. It is a Christmas treat, like a not-too-sweet spiced cake, that's perfect for kicking back, watching some TV, and just relaxing.

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Photo of Luigi
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a rick clear copper color with a two to three finger (depending how aggressive you pour) off white head. Lacing stick all around the glass with each sip as the head retains as a thick blanket until the last drop.

The aroma is sweet but not over whelming. A perfect blend of honey, brown sugar, cinnamon. and ginger.

The taste reflects the aroma. Ginger bread, honey, cinnamon, hints of caramel, and a soft biscuit And toasted bread malt.

There is a light yet syrup texture on the palate. Mildly dry finish with lingering spice.

The Great Lakes Brewing company has yet to disappoint me. This brew is prefect to these cold fall and winter months and with a healthy ABV at 7.5%, it truly warms you up.

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Photo of sarbast
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

My favorite beer! The appearance is cinnamon, as is the aroma, as is the taste. It is not as sweet as many of the other spiced/winter warmers. There is a smokiness to this, not overly so. Frankly, I could drink this all day. Wonderful taste, lighter than anticipated, but packs a wallop.

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Photo of tmm313
4.48/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I really enjoyed this beer. It poured a crystal clear amber color with thick head and nice lacing. Smell was super sweet with loads of caramel, some citrus, apple, ginger, coriander, some chocolate, and rich honey. Taste was nice as well. Super malty with nice bready notes, slight grapefruit, cinnamon and ginger. Mouthfeel was medium, slick, and drying. I had a great time drinking it.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.47/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hazy reddish-brown body with a thin creamy tan head. The head holds OK, drops to a creamy collar and thin surface covering, and leaves some spotty lace. The aroma expresses soft dark fruit, sweet toffee, a touch of cocoa and some mild spice. Very nice! The full body combines with a very fine carbonation from bottle conditioning to give a smooth and creamy mouthfeel.
The flavor offers a very nice blend of softly sweet malt with a touch of honey and chocolate, and mild spice (cinnamon, ginger). It finishes semi-dry with a lingering sweet malt, some clear cinnamon flavor, and a drying spiciness. The alcohol is almost completely hidden! Very well-balanced with just enough spice to keep it interesting throughout the glass, but not overwhelm the palate. Definitely a seasonal to look forward to!

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Photo of Clydesdale
4.47/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a deep, somewhat hazy dark copper color. The robust head has a faint tan tint and a thick, dense, creamy texture. Retention is good, and lacing is also attractive.

S: Sweet and spicy in the nose - quite festive. Ginger, sweet honey, caramel, and cinnamon. Some mild dark fruit and cocoa is present as well.

T: A pleasant punch and counterpunch of sweetness and spice. Honey, caramel malt, and toffee balanced with a measured dose of cinnamon and a near-perfect amount of ginger providing a bite. It's a lot like a gingerbread cookie, actually. There's also a bit of a leafy hop bitterness that keep the sweetness in check. Dark fruit (raisins and maybe cherries) and cocoa linger in the background. Alcohol is very well-hidden amongst the other flavors.

M: Medium-bodied. A touch of sticky sweetness and a spicy finish. Carbonation is smooth and creamy. An appealing, inviting mouthfeel.

D: While this beer may not totally live up to its legendary reputation in Cleveland, it's still a wonderful winter warmer with an almost flawlessly integrated spice character. This scores big points for its seasonal flavor - without question a true Christmas Ale rather than a limited release winter beer.

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Photo of xare
4.47/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured as a dark caramel color with excellent head. Laced very well and had outstanding carbonation.

Smelled like a mixture of winter spices, hops, and the alcohol is almost entirely hidden by the other aromas. Overall, excellent for a winter warmer.

Taste is outstanding as well - you can hit hints of clove, cinnamon, malts, and probably mace as well. The complexity of this beer comes from your ability to distinguish winter spices from one another but they all melded into a warm taste almost like a spiced cider but without any apple notes.

Mouthfeel and drinkability were both great for this beer, especially considering the high ABV and the spiciness of the beer. Overall, this is one of my favorite winter beers by far. I will definitely drink more of this and eagerly anticipate its release every winter.

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Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 818 ratings.