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Great Lakes Christmas Ale | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

very good
850 Reviews
no score
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Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Ohio, United States | website

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by OldFrothingSlosh on 11-16-2002

User Reviews
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Reviews: 850 | Ratings: 2,964
Photo of exposd
3.94/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a light amber/deep red color into a pint glass with nice head and slight lacing down the glass as you drink this Christmas style winter warmer. This was the first Christmas beer I ever tasted and I used to think it was a lot better than I do now, unless they changed the recipe majorly since I've last had it. It's a great classic Christmas style ale, but in my opinion it has just a little bit too much ginger flavor which I've never tasted so strong in any other holiday ale. Still a very good brew and the honey and cinnamon flavors do wonders when paired together in this Cleveland, Ohio brew. A great starting point for holiday craft beer and a solid winter warmer for sure. But there are much better holiday beers in Ohio that I like better such as Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs or Fat Heads Holly Jolly.

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Photo of Wiffler27
4.4/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

pours a mahogany color with a solid white head.

smell is sweet yet subdued. almost like gingerbread.

taste is sweet and mellow. i don't taste too much spice, which is nice. i don't like spices muddling up my beer. finishes dry and with spices.

overall this is pretty good, i imagine this is better as it warms. a nice sipper, i like this.

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Photo of Apellonious
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip glass. 2015 version.

A - Dark, clear ruby red with a one finger head that dissapears quickly.

S - Bready malts. Some gingerbread and mild spice.

T - Follows the nose. Warming indeed.

M - Carbonation medium, well situated for the style. The mouthfeel is full, but not heavy. Does get a touch sticky as it warms.

O - An enjoyable xmas ale. Does not overdo it in the spice category. A malt forward winter sipper.

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Photo of NickSMpls
4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Dark honey color and light head. Great aroma of spice and malts waft up from the glass. Taste is layered and smooth, highly drinkable. Let it warm a bit to catch notes of honey and spices over a solid malt backbone. It's a beer with hints of spice, not an alcoholic spice cake. Nice for a warm up to dinner or while baking on a cold and drab afternoon. Not normally a fan of spiced beer, but we'll make an exception for this one.

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Photo of hophead723
4.41/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I got just one of these to see just how good it is. Great Lakes is top notch stuff, and they have yet to disappoint. I put it in the freezer and it cooled down to probably 32°F, but when I poured it I let it warm up until I could really taste everything it had to offer. Poured into a tulip glass.

Look: Mahogany-orange amber color, off white almost tan head, with lacing that drags all the way down the glass.

Smell: Like gingerbread and fruitcake! It really does smell like fruitcake and candied ginger. Reminds me of freshly baked gingerbread cookies.

Taste: Just the right amount of sweetness underneath a warm ginger flavor that is present no matter how cold the beer is. Multi-layered complexity in the malt profile, but it all coalesces into one beautiful harmonious whole like a choir of Christmas carolers. There is a superb lingering of Wildflower honey that comes in at the end of each gulp.

Feel: Medium body, crisp. I realized that the body can be described so simply because it is flawlessly executed. This is Great Lakes' forte.

Overall: Pure gold. This is definitely the best Christmas beer I have had this year! All the other one's I've had are like pumpkin beers; I like the idea of them but they are rarely made well enough to match the expectation. But this one is excellent and a must try for sure.

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Photo of RMR
4.58/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

One of better Christmas Ales I have had. Very smooth well balanced spice..... normally can only drink 1 Christmas style Ale.... but for this ale, kept going back for more.

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Photo of thegodfather2701
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a golden color with almost no head. Smells very malty with a hint of spice. Tastes on the sweet side with malt really shining. It has some honey and spice but not very complex at all. It tastes good just a little too sweet for me. It has a good mouthfeel and definitely not over carbonated. Overall this is a good beer, but not my favorite Christmas seasonal.

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Photo of Billolick
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, w/ enjoy by dating - fresh sample

Pours hazed medium almond, med khaki head, lasting and leaving typical, respectable lace.

Nose is of holiday spices, cinnamon, mulled apples, toast and the rest

Tasty holiday brew...more of the same from above on the palate, fresh and fruity take on the style

Tasty and dangerously easy drinking...worth a try

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Photo of MNJR
3.81/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This is still good, but not as good as I remember it. A few years back this was rare and awaited. Now it fills the big box grocery stores, and I fear the quality has suffered a bit. I used to rave about this and really love the flavor, but now I taste some astringent ginger flavors that I don't recall. The spicy nutmeg honey is still there, but this seems just a tad off and sour vs. the smooth richness and warmth of previous releases. I am willing to think I got a weird batch (or I am having a taste malfunction!) and get another six or try on draft. I will revise if my opinion changes. Can it be different than previous years, or is it just my imagination?

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Photo of hopsputin
4.01/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

a: its a dark amber color with some dark orange notes. lots of little floaties in there as well. 2 finger rocky off-white head

s: brown sugar, fig, roasted malt, oak, sweet cherries, something almost like a bitter cocoa powder, some clove and nutmeg. a little bit of that sweet honey at the end

t: roasted malt upfront, honey and brown sugar, plums, sweet cherries. there is a herbal bitterness in here as well that sits right in the middle of the flavor. there is a dry crackery malt presence in here as well that takes over the back end of the taste. ends with just a bit of honey. there is a bit of an alcohol tinge in here as well.

m: medium mouthfeel, with a nice carbonation level for a winter warmer - it helps to give some body to the beer

o: this is a nice beer to be drinking in the cold weather. its sweet, a bit roasty, and has a nice balance with the spices. my one flaw with it is just a bit too much alcohol flavor in here. other than that, quite enjoyable

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Photo of sjccmd
4.27/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Apricot, honey and spices. Caramel with some spicy herbal hops. Sweet but not particularly strong smelling. Some dark fruits, cinnamon.

Clear amber/copper. Off-white head with ok retention and lacing.

Toasted bread and apricots upfront in the flavor. Pleasantly sweet without being cloying. Gingerbread cookies and pie crust. Finish is dry with some balancing hop bitterness.

Medium body with medium low carbonation. Mouthfilling without being sticky. Fairly clean finish with residual spices and sweet malts.

Clean and easy drinking for the style. Satisfying amount of spices and malt without being cloying.

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Photo of Tripel_Threat
4.19/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

My favorite winter warmer so far. Poured from bottle to pilsner, producing two fingers of white head. Liquid is crystal clear garnet. Aroma is sweet, warm, mellow honey and spice, ginger, and sweet bread malt. Taste follows with the honey taking second place to sweet and spiced malty goodness, with a warming pinch of ginger on the gulp. Finishes clean and warm.

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Photo of car2052
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz. bottle to pint glass.

A: Clear copper, white 3/4 in. head.
S: Honey, Chocolate, Ginger
T: I taste the honey upfront and throughout the taste. Some other spices like ginger and clove peek through as well. Caramel from the malt, as well as a strong ale character i get with many stouts and porters.
M: Medium.
O: Nice spiced beer. Good with a Christmas turkey and stuffings.

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Photo of CincyScot
4.33/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Last year (2014) this beer was FANTASTIC....this year (2015) it is only GOOD. Every year it seems like breweries fiddle with the recipe of their Christmas ales...this year they went South a bit.

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Photo of MarkLinton1
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

One of my favorite Holiday brews. Beautiful copper color with thin white head with nice clingy lacing. Wonderful Winter Warmer with lots of subtle flavors. Ginger, raisin, cinnamon, honey and sweet bread malts. A very slight taste of hops in the finish. I foresee a few 6 packs of this beer in my fridge over the holidays.

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Photo of Redfoot19
4.83/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is one of my favorite beers, and might be the best Christmas one I have had. Poured from a 12 oz bottle: Copper in color, rich smell of spices+honey, and a smooth, flavorful finish. Very drinkable and highly recommend.

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Photo of Back_in_the_Saddle
4.34/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

All of the years I had this when I lived in Michigan, its nice to revisit an old favorite sent from a friend.
This was poured into a pint glass.
The appearance was a sly burnt orange color with a one finger white foamy head that quickly dissipated. Barely any lacing formed around the glass but what was there were minor strings here and there.
The smell had a nice blend of honey, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, clove with some sweet grassy hops ending to surround my nose.
The taste was mainly sweet up front with a nice backup of the spice. Lingering honey sweet aftertaste slides into the finish.
The mouthfeel indicates that there is a nice spicy to sweet sort of dry feel having a light to medium body with a good almost semi-slick sort of feel sliding around my tongue. Even with the spices, there isn't much clingy-ness.
Overall, wonderful winter warmer that I would have again if I could get it again. And this one goes well with Christmas spiced cake.

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Photo of alarmclock314
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle, no date but expiration of 2/6/16. Pours dark gold with a large sized off-white head. Smells of honey, ginger, cinnamon, and clove. The taste follows closely with some ginger, clove, and hops with light honey and cinnamon in the aftertaste. Light sweetness. Great malt presence, being true to its style. Average carbonation and above average body. Overall, it's a very enjoyable Winter Warmer.

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Photo of K-Dog
4.27/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Look forward to this every year. Hands down my favorite holiday beer. Taste of cinnamon and nutmeg. My second favorite great lakes beer next to blackout stout. This is very underrated. Perfect on a cold fall evening and great for the holidays.

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Photo of NolaHopHead
3.78/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle. Amber with slight haze, thin head fades quickly to a ring. Lots of spice in tha aroma, cinnamon. Malty sweet flavor with plenty of cinnamon and ginger spice, maybe a little more than I'd like but not over the top. Buttery semi dry finish. Medium mouthfeel, smooth. Good example of a winter warmer, a little heavy on cinnamon and ginger, but very enjoyable.

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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 kbwalters
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look = 4.25 Pours a clear, crisp copper color with gold highlights. .5 fingers of light brown head, thick and dense sticky lace.
Aroma = 3.75 Sweet smelling. Caramel malts lead the way but with honey notes and a hint of nutmeg and cinnamon.
Taste = 4.25 Super sweet; malt up front with sweet honey on the backend lingering into the aftertaste; also cinnamon notes.
Feel = 4.25 Full bodied; thick syrupy feel with high carbonation. Fizzy.
Drinkability = 4.25 Just really tasty, nothing detracts from the drinkability.
Overall = 4.125 Overall very tasty beer; sweet and easy drinking.

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Photo of larryarms847
3.62/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a somewhat murky copper brown with a thin layer of straight white foam.

Brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, caramel, and toasted oats.

Nutmeg, honey, ginger, brown sugar, and bready malts.

Medium-bodied, light carbonation, sweet malt backbone, some herbal/spice bitterness.

Overall, very subtle aroma, but the spice comes through in the flavor. Has the body of a heavy lager, very smooth, a nice winter brew.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
4.04/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle, poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, clear, deep, amber color with a quarter of a finger of white head that quickly dissolved into a thin lacing of foam that partially covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Not much in the aroma department, either that or I’m stuffed up. I get faint notes of malt, brown sugar, clove and ginger, but really faint notes.

Taste: What the beer lakes in aroma, it more than makes up for in the flavor. Massive amounts of malt up front, like freshly baked bread, followed by some brown sugar and honey-like sweetness and spices of clove and ginger. Not much in the way of hops which pleases me.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with some good carbonation to tickle the taste buds. With an ABV of 7.5%, there is no presence of alcohol on the palate.

Overall: This is another excellent beer from Great Lakes! I love the malt and the gingerbread-like sweetness and spice! Delicious! I’ll definitely get this every Christmas time!

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Photo of TX-Badger
3.71/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a nice dark copper/red color with off-white head. Spice, cinnamon, ginger, and caramel malt on the nose; follows onto the palate. Finishes with more spice. Good winter beer.

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Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 850 ratings.