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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.
very good

2,172 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,172
Reviews: 772
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 13.13%
Wants: 107
Gots: 212 | 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
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Ratings: 2,172 | Reviews: 772 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of stimulus
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle (6 pack) into a pint glass.

A: Pours a clear amber with a light white head.
S: Cinnamon, honey, and caramel malt.
T: Wow, just like the aroma but x10. Also, add in some ginger that doesn't seem to really be in the smell.
M: Light bodied and medium carbonation; smooth until the finish.
D: It tastes and feels like Christmas, if that's what you're going for. I'm surprised at the alcohol content on this one. It's certainly a great example of the winter warmer style.

stimulus, Dec 04, 2010
Photo of Baileyuk
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Head was minimal but lacing was okay. Nothing special for sure. Color was an attractive light brown with a reddish hue.

Smell had Nutmeg and ginger heavily in the nose.

Taste had a good spicy blend. Ginger was dominant but not overpowering. Maybe some nutmeg (fainter than in the nose), also some cinnamon and all spice. All the flavors were well balanced to definately dominate but give a decent taste.

The carbonation was excellent and there was little evidence of the power if the abv was really 7.5%. I was not overly pleased with this beer but it is fairly decent in you like spiced christmas ales.

Baileyuk, Nov 30, 2008
Photo of jdoncbus
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into tulip glass. One finger head that collapses quickly with low to mid-carbonation. Red-tan color which can leave some solid lacing when swished lightly.

The nose is not very strong but I can make out some clove, ginger, cinnamon, toasty malt, and some sweet hops; somewhat woody as well.

The palate gets hit with the ginger & clove flavors, which leads to a toasty/woody malt with cinnamon presence, and ends with a smokey hop bitterness. Mouthfeel starts off surprisingly bubbly and ends with a nice resin and oily finale.

Overall this is a superb and complex flavored Winter Warmer and my first taste from a bottle. I had a pint of it a few weeks ago but was rushed to down the last half due to a sudden appointment. Follow the bottles advice and serve around 55', it really brings out the various flavors. Another outstanding offering from the people up I-71 & will make sure to pick up another sixer before the end of the season.

jdoncbus, Dec 21, 2007
Photo of ultralarry2006
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle. Leaves a one finger head that fades to just a foam ring at the edge, and not much lacing. Body is a clear copper.

Smell - spices such as ginger and cinnamon, and malt bread.

Taste - same as the smell. Sort of a maltbread gingerbread.

Mouthfeel - full, thick, and sort of "fluffy", like eating puffed rice cereal.

Drinkability - very good, but just over the upper limit of abv for good sessionability, so watch yourself when thinking about the next one after the next one.

ultralarry2006, Dec 07, 2006
Photo of weonfire
4.11/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Golden/brown color. Off white- say...creme color head roughly finger and half. head dissipates in roughly 2-3 min. lacing sticks to high brew point.

S - Lots of spice. nutmeg, pumpkin, cinnamon and vanilla. Wow this smells nice. And certainly not overloaded or unblended like some christmas beers.

T - Real sweet. Nutmeg and pumpkin right away. Cinnamon and vanilla come thru at the end. very floral.

M - As thick as I'd want a beer with this amount of spice to have. Viscosity is high. taste the spice all the way down the throat.

O- If you don't like spicy beers- this isn't for you. i personally find it very well blended. love the spice. very easy on the nose. one of my favorite christmas beers thus far.

weonfire, Dec 14, 2012
Photo of asabreed
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle into a 12 oz. Samuel Smith nonic.

Appearance: A mild copper color with good slightly off-white lace and nice retention.

Smell: A good balance of smoke, dark malts, sweetness from the honey and ginger, along with a good punch of spice from the ginger, and back-end cinnamon, with some vanilla, and also a good amount of earthiness, which may contribute to the smokiness I'm getting.

Taste: Thankfully the balance here makes this not overly sweet, which is sometimes a problem, or one that I've known, with beers brewed with honey. The spices are evident, and though maybe a bit too evident, I think that's the point. The ginger adds some spiciness, almost balancing with the hops, the cinnamon a bit of spice also but milder, and the honey is evident there for the sweetness that balances all the spice. But there's still a notion of hop bitterness coming through. Make no mistake: there's evident sweetness, and some folks may not like that. But I wouldn't call it a "sweet" beer. That said, this doesn't masquerade as a Christmas brew that starts with a base and adds a few spices -- this sucker sets out to make a statement for what a Christmas beer can and should be, and for that, Great Lakes needs a pat on the back.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a great balance of creaminess with the carbonation, a lot of bubbles happening without a feeling of over-spritziness.

Drinkability: One of the best domestic Christmas ales out there, quite honestly. Balances being somewhat of a sessional with a ton of Christmas cheer, ineffably, kind of, in a bottle. Another winner from, in my opinion, one of the best.

asabreed, Nov 19, 2010
Photo of Infamous7100
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep amber with a thin white head.
All kinds of aromas going on here but the sweet malt, cinnamon and Ginger (or some combination of spices) are the most prevalent.
Taste proves to be a great balance of the aforementioned aromas. I get a lot of the spices up front but the hops do peak through in a mellow way toward the back. It does ahowever finish sweet with an almost bready, honey taste. The booze isn't overpowering.
This brew is thin to medium in body.
Considering the style and ABV I wouldn't recommend sessioning with this, however the taste may change your mind. A great balance of flavor paired with a slowly creeping alcohol warmth makes this an ideal brew to quaff when the temps fall.

Infamous7100, Jan 11, 2011
Photo of CortexBomb
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a nice deep coppery colour with a frothy head to go along with. Smell is very spice dominated, hints of cinnamon and ginger with an overall sweet tinge, appetizing!

Taste has a nice wave of fruityness and malts up front, and then gives way to a strong spicy back end. A touch of hops is also lurking, along with the bitterness, but they just add character without overwhelming. Quality all the way here.

Mouthfeel definitely has some body, while the drinkability is quite good, a nice winter seasonal by Great Lakes.

CortexBomb, Mar 16, 2004
Photo of SpdKilz
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A big thanks to neorunner for this extra. Cheers!

Appearance - Pours into my Bell's tulip with a hazy copper color obtaining over a finger of white, quickly dissipating head, leaving decent looking lacing.

Smell - Spices are abundant! Clove, ginger, cinnamon, honey, bready sweet yeasty malts and caramel. Smells great and is a good beer to have on a chilly cloudy day.

Taste - As with the smell, the taste is filled with Christmas spices. It makes me sad Christmas is so far away because this definitely takes me back to the great memories I made this past holiday season. On the forefront here is cinnamon, nutmeg, and I can really taste the ginger (quite a spicy kick to it). This gives way to a great honey/caramel malt backbone. Very little hop presence (it is a bit past it's "prime" date but honestly I don't like spicy hoppy beers - I prefer my winter warmers to be spicy and malty so this worked out great). Very tasty.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, creamy, and decent carbonation. Finishes with a hint of dry, spiciness.

Drinkability - Honestly, when I am home for the holidays in the Midwest I will seek this out. This is a lighter (i.e. read not as malty/heavy) as some other winter warmers but packs a great deal of "Christmas" in the beer with its many well balanced spices. I will seek out again for sure.

SpdKilz, Apr 12, 2010
Photo of gregshead
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on 3/12/11. Reviewed from notes:

A: Pours a finger of head. orange/copper color.

S: Spices hit the nose. Nutmeg and others. Almost smell pumpkin

T: Lots of nutmeg and spice. Good malty taste intermingled.

M: pretty light feel for this style. Nice carb feel as well

O: Nothing to complex but very enjoyable. A great first beer for be to review from great lakes brewery

gregshead, Apr 10, 2011
Photo of buschbeer
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured into a pint glass to a small tan head. It is dark amber in color. It smells like Christmas spices, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon. The taste matches the aroma. It is a really good Christmas ale. It is second only to Anchor. Well maybe third if I throw in Mad Elf. I still remember my first GL Christmas ale several years ago. I thought it was the worst beer I had ever tasted and almost didn't finish it. Thank goodness my palate has evolved! Overall, a great Christmas beer.

Merry Christmas!

buschbeer, Dec 26, 2009
Photo of rlee1390
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Clear yellow-orange, not much carbonation, one finger head.

S-Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, some caramel.

T-Balance of spices cinnamon, some nutmeg, tad bit of caramel and malt. Great balance.

M-Light to medium bodied, not much carbonation.

O-What a spicy Christmas Ale should be. Had with OSA '12 and 2XMAS and this was the clear winner.

rlee1390, Dec 30, 2012
Photo of cadizkyguy
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I really enjoyed this Christmas Ale from Great Lakes. I'm surprised to see some grade it very low because Winter Warmers, such as this brew, are different from the beers we enjoy the rest of the year. It has a nice frothy head and a nice amber color and I really enjoyed it, even after consuming two Goose Island Christmas Ales, which had quenched my holiday thirst. Great Lakes makes some great brews and I look forward to reviewing some more.

cadizkyguy, Dec 24, 2008
Photo of wiseguy142
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I'm always intrigued by Christmas Ales that aren't stouts or super alcoholic. It seems a lot harder to nail the spice and malt character when you don't have all that overwhelming roastyness and bite to balance it out.

Pours a brilliantly clear copper with nice visible carbonation and a very short lived head which was disappointing. Aroma is strong on the ginger side with a floating presence of cinnamon and some nice deep malt. Reminds me a bit of Magic Hat's Odd Notion which I am also a fan of. This is nice, though, since you get the sort of "bakery smells" in a way only captured by beer. I'd say it could use a little hit from the hops in the aroma to really hit home.. even just a bit since this is not supposed to be an overly hoppy beer, although I think a more aggressively hopped version of this would actually work out very well. Taste is bitter and woody.. like being in an antique store where the smells are coming from so many directions from so many different places and times that it produces a wholly unique flavor. Very similar to Odd Notion again. At 7.5% ABV, I would have never guessed it to be much over 5. Carbonation is a little prickly in the mothfeel but I don't think it takes away from the experience. A pretty medium body, but complemented with a ton of malt flavor- the combination seems a little contradictory but it ends out working really great. I don't find much that takes away from the drinkability of this beer but I can see myself being turned off by it in the very long run due to some of the spices. This beer gets a lot of hype and it's definitely good but, I'll mention it again, try it back to back with Odd Notion and see if you really get that much of a difference.

wiseguy142, Dec 13, 2008
Photo of Megahertz
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz into a New Belgium globe.

A - Brilliantly clear bright red with a moderately large, white head. Very pretty.

S - Mulling spices, citrus zest & gingerbread cookie-like sweetness.

T - Malt-forward with restrained spicing; cinnamon & ginger apparent but not overdone or hot. Honey and spices give the impression of a ginger snap with icing. No major hop components.

M - Heavy body with brisk carbonation that helps cleanse the otherwise sweet palate.

O - A sweet, cookie-like interpretation of a holiday ale.

Megahertz, Dec 20, 2012
Photo of crashdavisinoh
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Poured a medium to dark amber

S-Malts, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves...everything for the season

T-blew me away...I took my first sip and said to myself, this is pretty good...I took a second...and said the is just amazing. The spices come through but are not overpowering like some other winter warmers. I like the GLCA approach better. Spices, like they are used here, should be subtle and enhance flavor...not be the only flavor. Add the spices to the honey flavor present and you have an outstanding winter warmer.

M-smooth. It shocked me how easy it was to drink. By comparison, I had a mixer of different winter warmers over the weekend and had to fight to get through some of them. Not here.

O-I am not usually a winter warmer fan. But I have tried a few recently to see if I can get into the style more. Also, living in ohio...I see/hear all the hype surrounding this beer and said...eh, lets see what it is all about. Rarely has a beer lived up to the hype more than this one...fantastic and now without a doubt the best winter warmer I have had.

crashdavisinoh, Nov 03, 2011
Photo of sweemzander
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into an imperial pint. Best by 1-13-10 printed on the bottle.

(A)- Pours a slightly reddish but clear copper color that produced a good off-white fluffy head that left some lacing behind as it slowly dissipated.

(S)- A spicy gingerbread aroma with a cinnamon & nutmeg cranberry thing going on. Finishes with just a tiny kiss of pine needle. Man, this almost literally christmas day in a bottle!

(T)- Almost as exact as the smell dictated, except with a much bigger bitter hop presence. Finishes dry.

(M)- A good carbonation level & balance. A great body with a flavor profile that really puts your tastebuds in the mood for the holiday season.

(D)- Definitely of the the better christmas oriented beers I have had.. This one actually tastes like the season & is good too! Remember this one when celebrating the holidays!

sweemzander, Jan 02, 2010
Photo of JAramini
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've found my new go-to winter beer.

At its heart, this is a very well-made amber ale. Rich, malty, and delicious. If it didn't have any added spices, it would be a very nice, sessionable amber ale.

The spices, however, ratchet this beer up a few levels. The label advertises honey, cinnamon, and ginger. With each sip, those three flavors swirl around your palate. It seems that with each whiff and each sip these three tastes mix with the malt to keep me interested and coming back for the next sip.

Some winter warmers are overly spiced, but this has just the right combination of spices so as to be noticeable but not overwhelming.

I've rated drinkability so high with this one because of that mix of spices that keeps the beer lively and interesting with every sip. I could see drinking this late into the evening on Christmas Eve in front of a fire, watching the snow fall outside. Well done Great Lakes, well done.

JAramini, Nov 20, 2009
Photo of WesWes
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours an amber color with a 1/2" offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice pale and crystal malt scent along with a light array of spices that's not overly done. The ginger is the most pronounced. The taste is good. It has a nice cinnamon and ginger flavor along with a dry crystal malt taste. It's relatively light for a warmer, but the spice contribution adds a nice touch. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a good drinking winter seasonal. It's nothing exceptional, but it's good for what it is.

WesWes, Nov 13, 2009
Photo of cichief
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received two bottles from fellow PA beer lover.

A- Pours a deep amber with a thinnish off-white head.

S- Spicy in the nose, hint of fruit candy, lots of sweetness.

T- Lots of Holiday Spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, etc.), sweet sugar candy, a good holiday punch.

M- Thin to medium in body, very carbonated, but not overly done.

D- Maybe a bit too sweet for me to have many, but a fine Christmas beer all the same.

cichief, Dec 27, 2007
Photo of GoalieRon33
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a- golden amber color. White head when poured into a pint glass. Decent retention.

s- not a lot to speak of. weaker spices overall, maybe with a slight maltiness.

t- this beer shines in the catagory that matters. It tastes awesome. Sweet, heavier malty taste. hint of honey, with an overall spicey note. nutmeg, cinnimon, ginger, maybe even some coriander.

m- medium to heavy body. overall smooth, with a slight hoppy ending

d- lovely christmas beer. So easy to drink, even with the 7.5 abv. If I could find it in PA, i would buy cases upon cases of this stuff. I would drink it every day with every meal.

GoalieRon33, Dec 02, 2009
Photo of Winter
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear copper in color with a creamy light tan head. Spicy nose consists of ginger, honey, spices and malt. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied with a touch of crispness to it. Spices are detected in the flavor also. Cinnamon, ginger and honey all combine for a sweet malty front. At times I wish the honey was reduced a bit because it tends to add a bit of an off flavor. Hopping seems minimal. Alcohol can be detected in the finish. This is a very good Christmas spiced ale. Comparable in flavor to Lakefront's Holiday Spice, which is one of my favorites.

Winter, Feb 12, 2004
Photo of RblWthACoz
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear copper amber with a nice off white head. Nose is subdued, but distinct. I get apples and carob. But mostly the apple shows. Flavor is nice and earthy and well balanced. Good level of malts and almost a touch of spice to it that just elevates things a wee bit. Feel is good on both liquid and carbonation. This is so easy to drink. It could possibly be the easiest drinking winter warmer I had this year, most in part due to some very brown ale characteristics in the mix. If I had more of these I wouldn't mind at all.

But alas. This is the end of the Great Lakes brews I have. Soon I will return to Brooklyn (I am in Pittsburgh right now), and they will be out of reach.

RblWthACoz, Feb 03, 2008
Photo of allengarvin
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A few months after Christmas now, which isn't ideal:
A: Clear bright walnut colored with a modest, but fading head.
S: Very spicy still, with nutmeg and cinnamon notes.
T: Sweet malt taste, with very low hop bitterness, relying mainly spices to cut the sweetness. Strong cinnamon flavor (I don't pick up the nutmeg of the aroma). Malt gives a nice bready flavor as well.
M: Nice creamy texture, full-bodied but not heavy.

Nice holiday beer!

allengarvin, Aug 02, 2014
Photo of msubulldog25
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A 12 oz. bottle poured to a pint glass; poured right around the recommended 55F, maybe a little warmer. Label photo: model railcar loaded with shiny red ornaments. Thanks to tapoutjoe for sending!

Brewed 'with Spices and Honey', 7.5% ABV. 'Enjoy by 01/05/10'.

A: Perfectly clear auburn/amber, showing off fairly robust carbonation in many tiny strings. Dusty tan cream tops musters 1-finger, then drops to a denser thin topping, clingy ring. Droopy lace: some sticks, but most glides down the glass.

S: Nutty, spicy aroma that epitomizes 'Christmas', 'Winter', 'Holiday', tack your pick... Caramel glaze, walnuts, gingerbread zest, dried berries, cinnamon apples...not bursting from the glass nor incredibly complex, but it's plenty alluring.

T: Spiced bread upfront, a malt-enriched mouthful of tangy apple, sweet honey, caramel reduction/candied nuts with balancing hop greens, piney evergreen and mint. First tastes seemed a bit skewed toward sweetness and grain, but given time and a couple more sips the balancing hop backbone rounds things out.

M: Velvety smoothness with a light carbonated prickle. Mellow boozy warmth creeps up steadily and stealthily. Lingering dull bitterness on the back of the tongue, lip-smacking stickiness without being cloying.

D: All too easy to consume, ended too quickly. Would gladly have more - the ground spices are balanced well by those hops; end result: a tasty warmer that blends seasonal flavor and introduces a hard-to-describe 'nostalgia'. Flavor/aroma resurrected memories of Christmases past, spent with family in Illinois - that's praiseworthy enough. Recommended!

msubulldog25, Nov 21, 2009
Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,172 ratings.