Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe now →

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

810 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 810
Hads: 2,762
Avg: 3.91
pDev: 13.3%
Wants: 151
Gots: 560 | FT: 7
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: 810 | Hads: 2,762
Photo of riversider76
3.38/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours golden with a hint of orange color. Head quickly goes into a decent lace. Light spice/honey flavor with lots of carbonation. Hoppy, with a bit of a bite at the finish. I'm not a huge fan of the bitter edge in some Ale , but this was better than expected. Give it a try.

 275 characters

Photo of cooncat
3.38/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Serving from a 12 oz. bottle, with a best by date of 1/27/07, so my sample was in date (review on 1/11/07).

On a vigorous pour into a 16 oz. glass, I got a small, creamy head, which was not particularly long lasting. The nose is light and hoppy, with just a hint of spice ... perhaps anise or cloves? The color is a very nice deep copper. I've been drinking this offering from Great Lakes for many years, and it seems to vary in quality from year to year. Its always best on tap at their brewpub in Cleveland. This year's offering isn't quite as good as some past years. Nevertheless, it is well balanced, and offers a clean and refreshing taste, clear to the bottom of the glass, which finishes more on a sweet/malty note. The 7.5% abv is not evident while drinking, so be advised that this is not a beer to guzzle. Enjoy a few with friends. Since it's a seasonal, it will soon be disappearing from store shelves. If you happen to find some, check the date on lower right side of the label.


 1,004 characters

Photo of sidetracked
3.38/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep amber with a sand-colored off-white head.

Smells very floral and of ginger and pine.

Tastes of nutmeg, ginger, and other baking spices. The flavor is a bit woodsy with hints of honey. There's a little bitterness to it too.

Light body that makes it easy to drink, but it's a bit too much ginger flavor for me.

 324 characters

Photo of beerwolf77
3.37/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I pours a reddish brown color with about a half inch of head. Leaves a tiny bit of lace after disipating. The smell is very inviting. Spices abound into my nose. Cinnamon is the main character. The taste is spicy and malty. I'm getting a peppery orange hint. It actually reminds me of christmas. This beer light on the palate not heavy at all which I did not expect with a winter warmer. Not bad. I might start humming some christmas tunes. In July.

 449 characters

Photo of Amalak
3.35/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had out of a 12 ounce bottle. It had a huge foamy head, brown, with a very, very slight cloudiness. Some spicy hops to smell.

It's a mild, pumpkin taste, but not like a Pumpkin ale or Oktoberfest, either. A nutty aftertaste. Slight bite. Good, but for an XMas/Winter Warmer, I want more flavor.

 298 characters

Photo of dciBA
3.35/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Poured amber into a pint glass. No head or lacing whatsoever. Smells of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Quite a spicy, flavorful beer. A nice balance of holiday/baking spices when cold, but ginger takes over when warm. The ginger flavor stays on the palate for several minutes. The body and mouthfeel are where this beer shines. Very smooth, almost creamy as it goes down. The strong, almost overpowering amount of ginger keep the drinkability score low. This is a solid, good tasting beer, but I'd only ever want to drink one at a time.

 534 characters

Photo of granger10
3.35/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This one poured a light copper color with a small light tan head. The smell is strong in alcohol and spices. The taste is dominated by spices. The one spice that really comes out is ginger. Lots and lots of ginger. More ginger than I can handle. Tastes like gingersnaps. Get the point. Some honey flavor from the malts and an alcoholic kick in the end round out this beer. I can see how some people would love it but it's not my cup of tea.

 440 characters

Photo of beergeek279
3.35/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served on tap in a pint glass at DiMarco's. The color was copper, with a decent white head. The smell was very cinnamony. The taste was a very heavy cinnamon, with a bit of malt coming through. Mouthfeel was smooth. Drinkability-wise, the heavy cinnamon sweetness would not lead to having too many.

Though I certainly appreciate a good, spiced Christmas Ale, this seemed a little bit over the top. Maybe I was drinking it at a time I'd have preferred a more conventional beer rather than with chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but it just seemed out of place.

 564 characters

Photo of drpimento
3.35/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

hmmm. The bottle I'm having seems to be way different than the descrptions that most others describe. Mine has: some head and lace; dark, very hazy brown color; aroma of lots of malt, a bit of hops, bare hints of spices. Flavor is very dry malt, not much fruityiness, hardly any spice, dark fruits. Ok beer, nothing special. A bit rich for a session beer. ok finish.

 366 characters

Photo of jlindros
3.33/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Got this, another of the brewery that is constantly growing in my book, thanks to the 365 beers in 365 days himself, Mr. Noslenwerd.

A: A perfect pour just brings the head to the miniscus of the glass just stopped from overflowing on my overizes snifter tulip glass. A 3 finger head rises up but also fades quickly and leaves a slight lacing. It's a semi clear semi hazy reddish orange color.

N: Some malts and spices. Slight malty with a decent pale malt hit and some crystal and a little darker malts. With that is some spices, pumpkin beer reminiscent. A little cinnamon, toasty, bready, sweet candy aromas, just overall nice candy spiced Halloween/Pumpkin/Thanksgiving/Christmas ale like aromas. I also get a touch of honey and some sweet malts, and a slight hint of should be lager aroma despite this being an ale.

T: Similar to nose, with lots of spices. Some light malts, and toasty malts, very pumpkin or holiday spiced ale like. Touch of lager flavors with toasty malts, sweet malts, etc. Lots of spices, like tons! Cinnamon, allspice, pumpkin flavoring, grains of paradise, etc, and some of those other spices typically used in these style beers. A little malty sweetness.

M: Med to lighter body with decent but a little lower carbonation.

F: Some sweetness but mostly dry with lots of lingering pumpkin beer like flavors, lots of lingering spices, creamy gourd fruit flavors, fluffy slightly, a little sticky sweetness. It dries off the tongue a lot actually.

Overall a very bleh beer. Probably the least tasty from Great Lakes so far. I'm not big on spiced beers, and this just goes over the top with spices. Pretty hard to get down the gullet with all the spices. Thanks Drew, but this is the first GL beer that is not my cup of tea or cup of spice I should say.

 1,783 characters

Photo of BHwks
3.32/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a duvel tulip glass.

A - Fairly typical slightly cloudy amber in color. 1/8 inch or so of head.

S - Very sweet, cinnamon and honey on the nose. Not as much spiciness as I remember. Less ginger this year?

T - Hmm...not what I remember Christmas Ale tasting like. I really hate playing the "this isn't as good as last year because..." game, but man, something isn't right. It's too sweet, without enough spiciness to balance it out. The bottle claims "honey, ginger, and cinnamon" so if I had to guess I'd say heavier on the honey, medium on the cinnamon, and light on the ginger. I'm just not getting that spicy note on the finish that I'm used to from Christmas ale.

M - mouthfeel is fine, nice, slick and round on the tongue.

D - Not all that great - the sweetness starts to overpower the palate as I continue to drink. Normally there was more spiciness to balance out the flavors, but not this year.

I really hate to dog this brew, as generally it's one of my absolute favorites, but I gotta say something isn't quite right this year. The sweetness overpowers the spicy character which I've grown to love from this beer, and it becomes really one dimensional as I continue to finish my glass. A friend of mine opened one of these about a week ago with me, and before reading any reviews or thoughts on BA, I told him the same thing - "it's missing the ginger!" Sure enough, I looked on here and saw others who felt the same way. Hopefully if Great Lakes releases a 2nd batch (which they normally do) it'll be from a different run of the beer, though I'm not sure if this is how they do it. If not, I'll probably stick with Anchor OSA as my go-to Christmas brew.

 1,681 characters

Photo of nhindian
3.32/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a Great Lakes snifter.

A - Pours a burnt, rust orange like burnished copper. It is essentially see-through with about 1.5-fingers of head. Retention is pretty good, and the lacing isn't bad either.

S - The nose brings full aromas of holiday spices, especially cinnamon and honey. A strong caramel malt backbone keeps everything balanced, and the back-end carries a hint of ginger spice.

T - The flavor seems to be a little more disjointed than the nose, with the flavors muddled and unclear. While easy to get the influence of the spices, ginger, and honey, they clash all at one point rather than having clear transitions. The sweetness tends to harm this beer as well, since there are two disjointed flavor profiles combating for top dog. It becomes a little better as it opens up, but it still isn't the most balanced.

M - Mouthfeel is medium-bodied with good carbonation. Slick and sweet, with a decently long finish with a spicy aftertaste.

D/O - Drinkability is moderate. I was hoping for a little more from this beer, but as it stands this is about a middle of the road Winter Warmer. A bit too sweet for me, and the spices and additional flavors just don't seem to play well together.

 1,221 characters

Photo of PorterLambic
3.31/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Pours a really nice coppery-amber color with a light tan head. Retention is not so great, dropping to a faint ring quickly.
Smell is malty with a caramel note and a weird sweet floral note that is very hard to place specifically. No spice notes to be found though they were expected.
Taste is the same as the smell, malt, caramel, and that same odd sweet floral note. It isn't quite strong enough to be offputting but it isn't able to be overlooked, either. No real spice though a very faint pepper note does show eventually.
Solid medium-full body, somewhat warming, smooth-ish with light effervescence. Nothing great sadly. A decent beer, that's all.

 652 characters

Photo of Ozzylizard
3.31/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Bottle dated 3/1/15 at 45 degrees into shaker
Aroma subdued, no hint of ginger, slightly sweet odor, probably vestiges of the honey
Head average (3 cm, aggressive pour), off white, frothy with large bubbles, rapidly diminishing to 2 mm ring and partial layer
Lacing – virtually none
Body medium orange, clear
Flavor begins sweet but not cloying, muddled spices with none standing out or even identifiable; no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl
Palate medium, syrupy, soft carbonation

Appearance 3.5, Aroma 3, Flavor 3.5, Palate 3.25, Overall 3.25

 545 characters

Photo of wailingwench
3.3/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Eye Candy: Dark amber with a off white colored carbonated bubbly head that quickly disappears. Transparent amber in the light, no lacing to speak of. Poured nicely, 2 finger bubbly head. Retained its edges for a min or so, died soon after, appears flat and lifeless. Thin lines of rising carbonation.

The Nose Knows: Sweet sugar cookies, rich honey, candied sweet fruit. The sweetness is almost overdone, borders on cloying.

Tongueland: Thick honey and candied ginger dance a jig on the tongue with Ruldolph throwing in a dash of cinnamon at the end. Dusty and dusty middle, touch of paper and tobacco. Transitions to a palate coating sweetness lingering till the plum faires dance.

Bender Factor: At 7.5, this brew can do some damage. The sweetness is best paired with a contrasting dish rich in nature ie chicken wellington.

ETC: like drinking a beehive without getting stung on the tongue. I would love to see some orange zest or a touch of hemlock hops at the end to cleanse the palate. All in all, one dimensional, but worth a try.

 1,041 characters

Photo of MarkQ617
3.3/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Picked up a growler for our Christmas party, enjoyed out of a pint glass. The color was actually pretty nice, a good looking brownish amber with an off-white head. The flavor had the requisite spices, particularly cinnamon and nutmeg, but it was a bit weak for my liking.

 271 characters

Photo of mpyle
3.3/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

App - Pale amber color, brilliantly clear. Pours a decent sized whitish head, but coarsely bubbled and without great retention.

Aroma - a bit malty, some cinnamon/mint types of spice, alcohol

Flav - A bit minty/mediciny, and with a strong cinnamon flavor. A good, sharp bitterness cuts off the sweet spiciness, and leaves a drier yet still cinammony finish.

MF - Medium to medium-full body, and moderate carbonation. Perhaps a tiny bit of alcohol warming. Spices impact the mouthfeel negatively - not quite astringent, but heading in that direction.

D'ability - spices are too overwhelming to be a very drinkable beer for me. Probably not out of line for a holiday beer, but the best ones are more subtle in the spiciness.

 727 characters

Photo of giblet
3.3/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

another gem from GLB. the only reason this did not rate higher for me is the fact that it is not my favorite style of beer. color was nice. excellent carbonation and lace. nice flavor for a spiced beer. so far i am inexperienced in spiced beers and will likely stay that way. this was good just not my cup of tea...or beer.

suckem up and movem out!


i spoke with the guy that i buy most of my beer from about 3 weeks after having this beer. i mentioned to him that it was a bit spicy for my taste. he said to let it age a little. well i forgot that i had two bottles hiding in the back of my fridge until May 18. i pulled them out and drank them. Excellent. much better balance of the spice at this point. i likely did not need to wait this long but i will do this again in 08.

 786 characters

Photo of beachbum1975
3.29/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a beautiful, lightly hazed coppery red with a huge, aggressive frothy head with excellent, light mocha lacing.

Smells of muted cinnamon, nutmeg, lightly toasted malts and a trace of pumpkin.

Light to medium bodied with medium flavor. Tastes much like the nose, only richer. Cinnamon and malts dance around with an aftertaste of an all-spice/pumpkin blend.

Crispy, mildly dry mouthfeel with ample carbonation throughout.

Drinkable, but nothing I'd go out of my way for.

 478 characters

Photo of yesyouam
3.29/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Great Lakes Christmas Ale is a crystal clear amber ale with a soft, waxy, yellowish head that leaves nice lacing on the glass. It has a light aroma with hints of spice and candy. It's medium bodied and a little sharp. The finish is a little metallic and gritty. It's quite sweet and well spiced. It almost tastes like a candy cane. There's a little caramel and some juniper bitterness that lingers after the swallow. This is very clearly a Christmas Ale. The balance is pretty good but it's too sweet to have more than one.

 523 characters

Photo of Popkas
3.28/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Clear amber color with a finger head that held for some time finally dissipating into a thin ring.

S: Getting some spice, ginger and honey.

T: Taste is an interesting blend that I can't nail down. Certainly ginger and honey, but something else. Maybe clove. Bit of a metallic after taste.

M: Medium and smooth.

D: Not sure what it is, but not finding it terribly drinkable.

 380 characters

Photo of TwelveOunces
3.28/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 Oz bottle in a tulip

A- Clear dark Autumn orange with a small quarter finger head that dissipates quickly.
S- Very interesting smelling beer. Bizarre ginger up front followed by a tiny amount of cinnamon. Some alcohol. I cant really get a good Idea on how the malt/hop smell is because the ginger just overpowers the rest of the beer. Im not crazy about this much ginger.
T- This is a spicy beer, the cinnamon certainly gives this one a nice kick. Cloves, honey and cinnamon are all apparent in the taste but just like the smell, I think its too heavily dominated by ginger. A very sweet beer by the way.
M- Medium bodied and good amounts of carbonation, higher in alcohol then your average brew so it warms the tummy. Interesting texture that hits somewhere in between creamy, gooey and smooth.
O- My first winter warmer so yeah, Im pretty disappointed. I feel like this is a pretty decent beer and that this just isn't my style. I will probably try again next year and hope my taste buds have had a change of heart.

 1,021 characters

Photo of ThirstyBird
3.28/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a clear amber color with a light tan head that falls to a ring and stays - nice lacing. Smells of sweet malt, honey and spice. Definitely nutmeg, maybe some cinnamon and ginger. Taste is the above flavors blended. It all ends with a dry crispness. The mouthfeel is nice, smooth carbonation, medium body. Overall I like the mouthfeel and it looks decent but I don't really love it.

 386 characters

Photo of brown2cu
3.27/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a honey like color with a half finger head that completely disappears after about a minute. Completely nonplussed.

S: Smells like a spice rack winter warmer; cinnamon, ginger, honey, and nutmeg are all prevalent.

T: Cloyingly sweet with a slight spiciness to it as well. As this beer warms a whiskey-esque taste comes into play as well, however, nothing remarkable as well.

M: Medium bodied with active carbonation; gets syrupy and flat after it warms.

O: Worth a try but falls short on what I normally expect from great lakes.

 540 characters

Photo of boomer31
3.27/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Been looking for this beer for about 2 years. When I found out GL was shipping to MN I was excited for this beer above the rest (except maybe blackout stout)

A - Transparent gold with an off right head. No stick on the glass and the head disappears quickly.

S - Smell of a big spice...I get ginger and a hint of cinnimon at the end. I can't put my finger on what it is but there is a spice that is very in your face.

T - More spice, again I can't put my finger on it. Lots of cinnimon and lots of spice. Reminds me of mulled wine

M - Light bodied and high carb.

D - If you like spicy this is a good winter warmer. I just so happen to not be a big fan.

Huge spice and long aftertaste. If you like spice, you'll like this

 727 characters

Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 810 ratings.