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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

819 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 819
Hads: 2,819
Avg: 3.91
pDev: 13.04%
Wants: 157
Gots: 611 | 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: 819 | Hads: 2,819
Photo of jeonseh
3.48/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

from a Bottle poured into a tulip pint glass.

A - An amber color that is rather clear and lets a good bit of light through it. As the light shines through, sees rays of golden light and a good bit of carbonation trailing up through it. Really no head at all developed and no lacing.

S - Smells a lot like cinnamon and spice and everything nice. Actually smells a bit like a cider as well and not as much like beer. Also not much of a nose is available.

T - Rather sweet beer that has a big hit of cinnamon spiciness to it. Yet the surprising thing is that this is not at all overpowering as it blends in very well. Also a bit of sweet red delicious apple taste to it as well. Actually reminds me a bit of a fall beer more than a Christmas ale. Seems to have a bit of a bitterness that comes through in the end and adds some complexity to the spice flavors that come thru at first.

MF - A light bodied beer with a good amount of carbonation. Rather easy to drink as it is smooth but also a bit watery. A hint of the alcohol comes thru and has a nice astringent quality to it.

D - Overall a pretty good and non challengin winter warmer. It has a nice spice characteristic but it is not at all too spicy. This would be a good beer to drink during Christmas and could easy drink a couple of them around the holidays. However, as I said above, the beer reminds me more of a fall beer than a Christmas one.

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Photo of devilben02
3.48/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours from the bottle with a beautiful, clear, pure amber color and a modest and fleeting off-white head. The aroma is spicy and somewhat fruity, with a traditional mulling spice combination being contrasted against notes sweet orange peel and honey-dipped bread (a challah, if you will). The flavor likewise features a forward use of cinnamon and ginger, but the rich bready malts provide a "soft" base from which the assertive spices emerge. The spicing isn't overly aggressive, but it definitely in front and deftly hides the 7.5% alcohol content. The fine, prickly carbonation emphasizes these spicy characteristics but hides the sweetness a bit, which is unfortunate. Overall, this is a lovely holiday beer, but I don't know that I'd want it more year-round.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
3.48/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Plunges foamy, clear cranberry into a goblet

There is an off smell to this beer that fails to encourage good thoughts. Cloves and touch of urine along with honey and ginger.

Tastes like Christmas smells: Spruce, honey, sweet malt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Oddity in smell lingers faintly. Truckloads of ginger on the finish.

Dry, crisp, carbonation is average

Drinks fine, but I'm finding it's more to get to something I enjoy more, rather than a desire to really get into this beer.

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Photo of PBRstreetgang
3.48/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours a copper hue, very clear. A creamy off white head of two fingers has excellent retention, and leaves some nice patchy lacing. Some noble hops and pale malt in the nose, but mostly ginger, cinnamon, annd some indistinct holiday spices. The sweet toasted malt flavor melds ginger and faint pine into the taste, and the bittering hops cleanse the palate leaving a dry aftertaste, with some residual honey. Appropriatly spiced, but leans towards the bitter side. The spice and pine flavors become cloying, even with good carbonation and a medium body. A harsh finish detracts greatly from the drinkability.

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Photo of iadler
3.47/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle into a Founder Snifter. Best by 2/22/12.

A- Pours a translucent amber with a two finger head that dissipates quickly. Minimal lacing is left behind.

S- Caramel and bready malt, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla.

T- Sweetness upfront with Caramel and bready malt with some subtle spices including cinnamon, ginger, orange peel and vanilla.

M- Low to medium carbonation and a lighter body. Finishes slightly bitter. Pretty watered down.

O- A decent spiced forward beer, but nothing memorable. After having this the last couple years, I much prefer Anchor, which is much easier to get than this beer. Not really sure what all the hype is about with this one.

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Photo of terrabyte
3.47/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a light copper-tan color.

Smells like Christmas spices. All of them.

Flavor consists of ridiculous amounts of coriander or clove, gingerbread cookies, and sweet molasses. Luckily this beer is labeled correctly, and one shouldn't be surprised by it. A unique Winter Warmer that is worth a try.

Mouthful has a below average carbonation. It is slightly thick, slick and syrupy.

Drinkability is a bit low due to its flavor combination. I purchased this at Woodman's at a discount ($6 for a 6-pack). I'm not sure if it really was on discount, but it seemed worth the current price, especially since I was looking for something different. And I found it! However, I'd probably hold off on having this again in the future except with desserts. And by desserts I mean Christmas desserts that consist of either: Gingerbread cookies or Pumpkin Pie. Don't forget the whip cream.

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Photo of rrwiltse
3.47/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

7.5%??? Deceptive for sure! For a 'winter warmer' style, this is awfully light.
The first thing that struck me was the ginger aroma--not overwhelming, but just present and pleasant. Hints of the ginger and some cinnamon cross the tongue, but honey lingers. The spices are not too overpowering like many brewers end up with. Balanced and quaffable, not a case buy, but worth a six.

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Photo of ChicagoShoop
3.46/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Snifter

A- Cloudy Copper color that looked almost like an iced tea

S-Large Sweet Spices, hints of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon. I Don't get as much honey as i would have liked for a Christmas ale but still small hints of it. About a finger worth of off white head that seems to dissipate rather quickly

T- Very sweet at first with the spices lingering on the back end. Cinnamon would be the most predominate spice I could taste. Lingering clove, nutmeg also. I get a very small bit of honey near the end

M- Medium bodied with low carb.

O- I heard that previous years were not that good so I was wanting to try this years for myself. I enjoyed it for about half of the bottle but I would not say this would be my go to for a Christmas ale. Would I drink 1 or 2 of this in a sitting, sure. But, I would not see myself drinking a 6 pack of this in a night. Ill stick with a big stout for the winter.


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Photo of Rhettroactive
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From 12oz bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 11/12/11
*From notes

A: A darker, golden color. Huh...there's a part of me that would like to see my Xmas ale with a reddish hue...or maybe green. A good pour yields a tight 2.25 finger head and above average lacing.

S: Cinnamon and the traditional holiday warming spices.

T: It kinda tastes like I'm chewing on a piece of Big Red. It's pretty cinnamony, with a generous dose of mulling spice to boot.

M: The texture's decent, but this time of the year I'd like a bit more weight. It's a bit thin, especially for the ABV and style.

O: Great Lakes doesn't disappoint with their Christmas Ale. If you're looking for a well spiced winter warmer, this is for you. I don't foresee me knocking back many of these, but if I was gonna reach for something spiced, this would certainly suffice.

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Photo of Imstillthegman
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to Sephiroth for the bottle...an extra in a trade.

Pours a clear copper color with a half-inch off-white head. Head quickly fades and leaves only a spot or two of lacing.

The aroma is intriguing, yet a bit of a turn-off at the same time. Not sure which way I am going here. Sweet malts, dark fruits, spices and a faint honey smell. Bringing back memories of those weird herbal medicines my mother would mix up and try to get us to take.

The flavor is exactly as the label would have you believe. The spices make it different than just about any winter warmer I have had. The honey isn't easy to pick out, but it's there.

Slightly creamy, medium bodied beer. Spicy, herbal aftertaste. Glad I got to try it, but I don't think I would ever buy it.

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Photo of m1ked
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Received, yet another bottle of beer for Christmas. A good sign or a bad sign? I'm not sure, but I don't want to read too much into it.

A- Pours a crystal clear coppery caramel color. A brief and actively dissipating white head, seriously it was 1.5 fingers, and it was gone in like 20 seconds. The occasional bubble to the top. After 2 minutes there is nothing on top.

S- Sweet caramel with some fruity esters, raisins, a brief whiff of hay and toast. The toffee + fruity esters dominate.

T- Initially I get sweet grain and biscuit, like Nilla wafers, slight fruity esters,raisins, some etoh heat. I tad bitterness at the end that lingers. A little penny metallic thing at the end too.

M- Wierd to me here, it seems thin with low carb, but also a little cloying after the swallow. The carb that is there seems like soda water sharp.

D- I am always happy to try something new, something seasonal- I was able to kill 2 birds with one stone here. I haven't had alot of this style, but not a big fan of this one. No doubt that this one has a higher ABV as the etoh heat is very present. I don't see myself seeking this one out again. I would definitely seek out a GL beer again though.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle with freshness date.

Pretty copper color, not a ton of head but good lacing from what is there.

Smells like cinnamon and ginger.

VERY spicy. Not hot, just tons of christmas spice. Dominated by connamon and ginger like the smell, but a little bit of honey comes through.

I can really only drink one of these at a time. It's a very interesting beer and worth a try, just not my thing.

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Photo of Soneast
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a clear bronze color with a half inch thick, cream colored head that condenses to a bubbly layer, not leaving much lace on the glass.

The aroma is that of spices, namely ginger, cinnamon and some honey, overall quite a sweet character to include caramel and a mild floral hop presence.

The spices are toned down a bit in the flavor profile, which i think is good. Instead more of a malt character becomes evident, mostly a bready yeastiness and some toasty caramels. The ginger is very evident as well as a bit-o-cinnamon and other random spices. In fact the bread and cinnamon flavors really remind me of snickerdoodle when combined. The finish is somewhat sweet, although there is a certain degree of bitterness to keep it from becoming overly cloying. Still a tad too sweet for me, though.

The beer is medium bodied, with mild carbonation, giving a nice creamy consistency, with the trademark holiday flavor lingering on the palate long after the beer is finished. I found this to be a decent representation of the style with flavors quite reminiscent of snickerdoodle. The alcohol is well masked and the aroma brings to mind a delectable holiday dinner. That said, I would be hard pressed to drink more than one or two of these. Just a touch too sweet for my liking.

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Photo of AdamBear
3.44/5  rDev -12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-translucent copper colored with a decent dark cream colored head. frothy with lacing

S-light scent of vanilla, ginger, and other christmas spices. i'm getting mostly vanilla though. okay scent, very malty. doesn't seem to have a high quality.

T-comes in tasting like cinnamon and ginger bread. very malty. somewhat bitter. not much of an after-taste. unique gimmicky taste with out much depth.

M-low creamy carbonation with a semi-dry finish

O-your non beer drinker friends might appreciate the novelty in this, maybe some girls would. its not terrible really. its okay to drink, it goes down easy, but its not a good beer. it focuses more on the holidays than beer, and we should never lose sight of whats most important. definitely doesn't drink like 7.5% though. it tastes more around 5%.

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Photo of bum732
3.43/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

S: Bold honey, touch of spiciness, slightly malty.

L: Light red, little creamy head that dissipates slightly.

T: Fairly clean honey-like malt with a touch of cinnamon. Low bitterness, smooth honey maltiness with a touch of heat. Fairly sweet, clean finish. Some ginger in the finish but fairly subtle.

M: Medium low carbonation, medium mouthfeel. Touch of alcohol heat. Smooth.

Not bad, but not my favorite holiday ale. Spices are pretty subtle, would've liked the malt to be a little more complex and bring more to the table.

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Photo of jimmah120
3.43/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

12oz bottle with a best by date of 03/18/14. poured into pint glass.

small head, mostly clear, orange-amber color, not very dark. smell is light: wheat, gingerbread, spice, maybe some hops. crisp, clean, honey-sweet and malty at first, aftertaste has some christmas flavor (clove, ginger, frosting). feel is a slick medium, alcohol is hid very well.

Doesn't do much to stand out... a rare miss from Great Lakes Brewing co.

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Photo of tdm168
3.42/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to jtd1969 for sharing this one with me.

Pours a deep amber with a quarter of an inch of off white head that has little retention. The nose is sweet with mild notes of honey, faint cinnamon, and fainter ginger. The flavor opens up with some faint honey and then moves into a candy-like, sugary sweetness. The finish has notes of cinnamon and very faint ginger. The flavor profile overall is rather light and laid back. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, smooth, and moderately carbonated.

This isn't a bad beer, but it's uninteresting. There's is nothing that sets it apart from any of the other winter warmers that are also brewed with cinnamon, ginger, and honey. It was nice to try once, but I wouldn't have it again.

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Photo of syrupjoe
3.42/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into Swag Brewery pint glass. Celebrating MLK Jr. Day with brews and Xbox 360. This is leftover from the holiday season, so some flavors may be a bit faded.

Pours an almost crystal clear copper color with one finger cream colored head.

Nose is very strongly pumpkiny, giving off notes of ginger, cinammon, and perhaps nutmeg.

Taste is quite spicy, with the abovementioned smells coming through in the flavor with a significant amount of lingering bitterness. Rather sweet with a slight soap taste and slick finish.

Overall the spices in this are blended quite well but do not make for a very drinkable beer. After a few sips of this one I'm looking for someone to share it with.

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Photo of bound4er
3.42/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A. Reddish amber appearance with a one finger, fast breaking white head.

S. No doubt about it - this is a spiced beer. Some type of mint - maybe peppermint or spearmint comes to mind. Some cinnamon and clove are also in there for good measure.

T. Mint flavors dominate with plenty of sweetness from the malt bill. Some lingering baking spice and the slightest amount of bitterness are present on the finish.

M. Medium bodied but quite lacking in carbonation.

O. If the carbonation level was amped up a bit more, I would find this much more to my liking. I can understand why people clammer for this beer - it is easy drinking and is likely something casual beer drinkers would enjoy. Personally, a couple of these each Christmas Season is plenty for me.

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Photo of mralphabet
3.41/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 Oz Bottle poured into Pilsner Glass

A: Ruby red. Poured not to gently and got about 1 fingers worth of head... Nice white head with good retention.

S: Different... the aroma of cinnamon, ginger spice, maybe some nutmeg.... Very spicy mix... and clean smelling

T: Catching floral hops right upfront... then some cinnamon, ginger.... ends with a little bitterness... Somewhat complex. The ABV is very warming.... so Winter Warmer fits.

M: Medium bodied... good bit of carbination.... Goes down smooth... with just a little bit

D: Take your time with this one... becomes a little better the more it warms up.... For me this one is not a multi drinker... I would add this one to my winter mix any time.

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Photo of CHickman
3.4/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours a crystal clear amber copper color with a 2 finger foamy off white head that had lots of bubbles in it and faded very slowly, leaving very good foamy lacing coating the sides.

Smells of spices up front, like cinnamon, clove, ginger and allspice, followed by honey, flowers, toasted grains and caramel. Borders on too spicy for my liking, but it’s soft enough for me to tolerate for this style and the brewer’s design.

Tastes like it smells, with spices up front including cinnamon, allspice, clove, ginger and nutmeg, followed by honey, flowers, herbs, toasted grains, hay or dry grass, yeast and caramel. As much as I try, I just don’t dig all the spices and the cinnamon and ginger are very strong so this was not my cup of tea. It is very complex, and like a fruitcake soaked in water for a month, but just not my favorite style. It is what it is, so I’ll plow through it.

Mouthfeel is creamy and slick, with a buttery feel, a medium chewy body, nice carbonation that was just lighter than average, but then came the spices that lingered in the aftertaste.

I would not seek this out again and did not enjoy this beer, but being subjective I’d say that fans of this spice filled style will thoroughly enjoy this beer; too bad I’m not one of those fans.

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Photo of cudmud
3.4/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours from the bottle with a rich ruby color and a fawn colored head of one-half inch. The head produces a nice layer of lacing.

Smell: There is plenty going on with the aroma. I can detect ginger, nutmeg, orange, hops, and biscuits. Overall, the sents work well together.

Taste: Like the smell, there is a lot going on with the flavor of this beer. One can detect lots of spice and hops. The flavors blend together, which makes it hard to detect any individual falvors. The malt does get lost with all the other flavors.

Mouthfeel and Drinkability: This brew feels good in the mouth. I don't think I could drink more than two of these in one night.

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Photo of WastingFreetime
3.4/5  rDev -13%
look: 1.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

Transferred from the recent Christmas beer session in my tasting notebook.

Pours out nearly dead flat. No head at all, period. Only a few sad spartan bubbles occasionally rise from the bottom of the tulip glass. I am disappointed. This lack of carbonation causes the heavy body of this beer to feel unpleasantly syrupy in my mouth. Now that I've gotten all the bad things about this brew out of the way, lets talk about the good things. Color is a brilliant ruby/amber with minimal haziness, smells of honeyed ginger and spice exactly as promised on the label, flavors of gingerbread and spiced Christmas cookies come through cleanly just as promised by the nose, fresh, sharp, and clean flavors overall that really make me feel like the holidays... If only there was carbonation, it could have been something stellar.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.4/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Cuzco for the extra. 12oz. bottle served in a standard pint. Enjoy by 1/17/11 indicated on the label. Pours a translucent copper with a loose, off-white head that quickly dissipates into a soapy slick and a thin band around the edges. No lacing whatsoever on this one. Nose expresses nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon. Taste consistent with nose - a very spicy Winter Warmer indeed. Honey makes it's presence known towards the finish; however, there's also and herbal, perhaps spruce-like quality in the middle. Mouthfeel is light-medium (but closer to light) with a lively, almost effervescent carbonation. Interesting for the style, but a little too over the top. Personally, it was difficult to get through one.

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Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.4/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a slightly cloudy orange caramel color with a short lived 1/4" head of off white foam. It is gone within about 20-30 seconds.

Aroma: My first impression is of fresh spices mixed with some sweet caramel. The spices also contribute a floral presence. I am not too good at picking out particular spices, but they are definitely there.

Taste: The flavor is rather dry from the spice, and the mix of sweet toasty malt gives it the balance of some kind of breakfast cereal. It quite distracting to me, but it is not bad. There is a bit of a roasty note here, but it takes a back seat to the spice additions. The finish has malt and spices sharing the stage. I don't pick up the 7+% alcohol.

Opinion: This is an OK beer, but I don't really like a beer that you can positively identify the spice additions. It is OK, but it reminds me more of a food than a beer. I am not going to pour it out, but it isn't one that I will be drinking again anytime soon. Once is enough for a while.

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Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 819 ratings.