Great Lakes Christmas Ale - Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Great Lakes Christmas AleGreat Lakes Christmas Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

809 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 809
Hads: 2,752
rAvg: 3.9
pDev: 12.05%
Wants: 147
Gots: 547 | 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
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Reviews: 809 | Hads: 2,752
Photo of mwa423
4.53/5  rDev +16.2%
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! (540 characters)

Photo of KBomb
4.53/5  rDev +16.2%
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. (705 characters)

Photo of CaptainIPA
4.52/5  rDev +15.9%
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. (1,153 characters)

Photo of sgoodship
4.5/5  rDev +15.4%
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! (1,156 characters)

Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +15.4%
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. (303 characters)

Photo of Chiefy770
4.5/5  rDev +15.4%

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

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

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

Mouth
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.

Overall
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. (871 characters)

Photo of lovindahops
4.5/5  rDev +15.4%
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 (891 characters)

Photo of BeerHistoryGuy
4.5/5  rDev +15.4%

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. (575 characters)

Photo of Luigi
4.5/5  rDev +15.4%
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. (715 characters)

Photo of sarbast
4.5/5  rDev +15.4%
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. (287 characters)

Photo of tmm313
4.48/5  rDev +14.9%
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. (387 characters)

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.47/5  rDev +14.6%
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! (801 characters)

Photo of Clydesdale
4.47/5  rDev +14.6%
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. (1,210 characters)

Photo of xare
4.47/5  rDev +14.6%
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. (816 characters)

Photo of heyitsbyron
4.47/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a bottle from a six pack from Woodman's in Madison ($5.99 for 6 on clearance) into a pint glass. Evidently, according to the botttle, I was supposed to have enjoyed this beer by 1/28/06. For $5.99/6, I'll enjoy it whenever I damn well please.

Poured slightly more orange than copper. Head was pale pale beige and didn't stick around long. Maybe 1-1.5cm at most. Nothing special, nothing bad.

Smelled just spectacular. Fruity and spicey. Like spiced mulled fruit, fills the nose. Cinnamon and ginger mostly.

It tastes like a healthy malange of cinnamon, honey, ginger, and nutmeg. I don't taste as much cloves as they claim. Ah well. Also have a strong honey flavor. I'm amazed at this much spice because normally brewers tone it way down. Has a strange "foody" flavor that reminds me of Thanksgiving. I have no idea how they obtain it, but I hope it's intentional because it's great. No real hops or malts to speak of, but who cares? This is fantastic.

Solid in the mouth without feeling sticky or syrupy. Perhaps a bit coarsely carbonated, but hard to notice.

7.5% alcohol? Bring it (especially for this price). This is a marvelous beer for drinking anytime the temperature is below, say, 50 degrees. I'll look forward to this from here on out. I can put back a few in a sitting, it just warms me up inside. My favorite seasonal and my favorite red ale; it probably works its way into my top 5 all around favorites too. Probably wouldn't drink too much outside the fall/winter though. (1,507 characters)

Photo of GordonQuid
4.47/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a sifter glass by brewer recommendation. Deep amber in color with a foamy white half inch head and ample lacing.

Smell is that of mulling spice and sweet fruity candy.

The taste is an exceptional blend of caramel malt, mulling spice and hop. A delicious medium bodied beer. Very drinkable. (304 characters)

Photo of gearbike
4.47/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A darkish golden pour from tap with a small white lacing around glass. You can't miss the sweet smell. The word snappy fits this beer well. It is a winter warmer but not from the usual alcohol burn. The alcohol is almost completely hidden. The warm comes from the mix of cinnamon, hops, and most of all spiciness. The alcohol must be there because I sure did feel it after finishing the glass. (393 characters)

Photo of jasonpeckins32
4.47/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It pours a copper color with a decently sized fizzy head.

The nose is strong of honey and has a nice yummy sweet aroma.

Flavor is sweet of cinnamon, honey, and ginger. Very fresh tasting. Very delicious. And just in time for Christmas.

Although this is very warming, I must say its much different than other winter warmers I've tried. It's lighter in color and has a large Ale appeal to it all around. Maybe its not true to style, or maybe its just expanding my horizons a little.

The mouthfeel is great, nice body and great carbonation. Excellently done. Drinkability is great too. I have a couple other beers to drink tonight, but I'd love to trade them in for more of these. Great Offering. Get it while you can! (721 characters)

Photo of Ellbert
4.46/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Red/amber color with a small white head. There was some lace on the glass but nothing too great.

Smell: Malty but spicy. Sweet but tangy. Spices like cinnamon come through in the aroma very nice.

Taste: Very malty with a good mix of spices. You can taste cinnamon sugar in here. Hops have a nice after taste in this brew.

Mouthfeel: Nice and rich, perfect for a winter warmer.

A great winter warmer brew. I will be drinking a lot of this brew during the winter. (485 characters)

Photo of assurbanipaul
4.46/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a deep honey-amber color with a tall frothy tan head. Aroma is spicy with sweet malts, cloves, faint yeast and fresh gingerbread.

Taste is frosted gingerbread cookies and malt. Nicely seasoned, not too sweet, good flavors of allspice, cinnamon and honey. A gentile, mildly bitter hoppiness arrives as it warms, towards the end of the glass. Might be a good candidate to try warmed a bit.

Mouthfeel is medium, smooth but not real heavy. No trace of alcohol in the taste despite the ABV, very soft on the palate, very drinkable. An excellent pale winter ale, one I would drink seasonally if I could. Thanks to AKSmokedPorter for this bottle. (651 characters)

Photo of lukekruse1
4.45/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

For those of you outside of Northeast Ohio, Great Lakes Christmas Ale is more than simply another beer. It has a devoted cult following and cases usually sell out within days of hitting the shelves. I had to call 3 groceries stores this year before finding one for myself.

A - Beautiful red ale with slight head retention.

S - Malts, Cinammon & Honey

T - They call this "Christmas Crack" for a reason around here. Honey, Malts and a sweet finish.

M - As with all Great Lakes Brews, this one feels "just right."

D- At 7.5% be careful. The taste hides it well. This one does sit a bit heavy, so more than 3 in a session is probably overdoing it.

Overall this is the best "Winter Warmer" of many I've tried. A true Cleveland classic. (736 characters)

Photo of davecavemaster
4.45/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

If you live where they distribute Great Lakes beer, then you look forward to their yearly release of Christmas Ale. This is my favorite seasonal beer.

great lakes christmas ale

Christmas, it seems... pours a beautiful clear and copper color. So long green and red.

The head is a nice off white foam. The foam dissipates, and turns into a thin coating on the sides of the glass, and in the center. Nice amount of lacing sticks around while you drink.

The nose of this brew is heavy on the honey and ginger spices it is brewed with. Malty, but a sweet and pleasant blend of fragrances.

The taste of Christmas follows the nose. The sweetness of the honey hit me first, followed by the spices, and then a bit of the hops bite at the end. This is a truly wonderful flavor combination, and the ratio is just right.

Not a heavily carbonated beer, but just enough to make it tingle in your mouth and make the flavors stand out. Very crisp for all the malty tastes, not sticky at all.

Great beer! Although at 7.5%, you need to be careful how fast you put them down.

If you have not tried this seasonal, and can find it near you..I highly recommend checking it out. I would lay money on it becoming one of your favs. (1,216 characters)

Photo of pacothrash
4.45/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ordered in pint at Beef O'Brady's and really enjoyed this beer. This was my first GL Christmas Ale on draft. It was brownish/orange with a small head. The smell and taste were very similar with some nutmeg, cinnamon and maybe a hint of ginger. This is an excellent Christmas ale and is very drinkable. I ended up having a few. (326 characters)

Photo of eth916
4.45/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on draft at local BW-3

A - Nice 1/2" foamy head and nice glass lacing.
Nice medium amber color.

S - Cinnamon and bitter hops.

T - Cinnamon, spice and bitter hops.

M - Smooth beginning with a slightly bitter cinnamon finish.

D - Easy to drink with any meal. Love the beer - would definitely recommend. A winter favorite. (332 characters)

Photo of kirok1999
4.45/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I'm not much for flavored beer but this one is one of my favorites.
Appearance- Gold copper, clear with a nice white head that mildly clings to the glass.

Smell- Sweet malt, ginger or cinnamon and honey.

Taste- Mildly sweet, ginger up front with a nice malt to back it all up. Some mild hops to add balance.

Mouthfeel- Crisp and clear, mild carbonation with a nice clean finish.

Drinkability- I can't wait for this one every year. I try to buy a case to keep in the cellar for those special occasions when I want a flavored beer. (542 characters)

Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 809 ratings.