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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.
BA SCORE
88
very good

809 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 809
Hads: 2,755
rAvg: 3.9
pDev: 6.41%
Wants: 148
Gots: 550 | 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: 2,755
Photo of magictacosinus
2.94/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Alright, time to get back to reviews. Thanks, Todd! Poured out of a 12oz bottle into a wine tulip glass. Freshness date is "1/18/14." Consumed on "1/25/14." Shouldn't be too much of an issue.

Pours an amber golden color with a decent white fizzy head that whittles down to a tiny, thinned ring over the course of consumption. It may be the glass or the age on this, but lacing is minimal as are any noticeable legs. It is, nevertheless, quite viscous, especially for what seems to be an apparent run-of-the-mill winter warmer.

Smells extremely sweet - notes of honey, butterscotch, and toffee are all up in this, with the spices pushed way to the back. It's difficult to find them, but eventually they come around: ginger peel, cinnamon, brown sugar, as well as apples and bananas. Very sugary and not very spicy or zesty from the spices this was brewed with. The alcohol, alas, is well hidden. It's a different take on the style, but perhaps one that would appeal to fans of sweeter seasonal ales.

The flavor is the same story, with, as far as I can tell, far more muted spices on the palate completely taken over by the sugary malty profile. Honeyed, alongside sweet notes of toffee and butterscotch that last on the palate for a good long while. Finishes slightly fruity, as well as mildly spicy from the ginger and cinnamon, but the honeyed profile of the beer is victorious - as is the sweetness. Slight oxidized notes of sherry are definitely present. Isn't too much of a chore to drink, although it definitely gets more syrupy the more it warms up. The alcohol comes around over time, which only increases the sweetness. As a result, it's a bit difficult to finish.

As much I have been happy with Great Lakes in the past, I feel like as much as I should have probably had this a bit fresher, I don't think this would have been any less sweeter in the end. The ingredients are thankfully well presented, but the amount of residual sugars I had to wade through to get to them did not make it wholly worthwhile. Nevertheless, I'll happily give this a re-review when it comes out this year if I'm able to get my hands on a fresh bottle. (2,143 characters)

Photo of justintcoons
2.96/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into a pilsner glass.

Appearance
Brownish amber with 2 fingers of off-white head. Excellent clarity and moderate-heavy carbonation.

Nose
Ginger, toast, caramel, cinnamon and blackberry.

Taste
Raw grains; some toasted, others drizzled with caramel. A lot of ginger spice. Some hints of cinnamon, orange zest and perhaps some blackberry. Something reminds me of cranberries as well?

Mouthfeel
Light-medium bodied, smooth and clean.

Overall
I don't care much for this Christmas offering. Pretty boring and somewhat over-spiced. (536 characters)

Photo of hero27
2.97/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Translucent, dark amber color. A thin head which leaves minimal lacing due to the oily consistency of this brew. Subtle aromas of ginger and honey.. Sweet honey flavor combined with spices. Somewhat clumsy..seems like ingredients are just thrown together, if that makes any sense. I'm not sure I agree with the combination of honey and spices like this..just seems like they mixed a honey beer and a spicy beer together by accident. I couldn't really pick up individual flavors, so it left me with a spicy honey aftertaste. Medium bodied, oily mouthfeel. Fairly drinkable, but this holiday offering from GL didn't really impress me all that much. I'll look forward to Anchor OSA for my spicy holiday fix. (704 characters)

Photo of Avagadro
2.98/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Copper in color with a thin white head. Little evidence of lacing.

S: Aroma is scarce, with little whiffs of pickled ginger coming through occasionally.

T: Mild cinnamon with heavy doses of ginger. Ginger overpowers all other flavor this beer has to offer. It tastes more like pickled ginger than anything, the type you get with your sushi.

M: Medium body with a slight oiliness and a touch of carbonation.

D: I decided to see what all the fuss was about, only to be let down. While it is a decent brew, this one is not worth going out of your way for. (559 characters)

Photo of benmiliron
3.02/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Paid $6.99 for a six pack. (2 of which I left at Ellbert's house, providing the review below this one.)

Looks nice and amber-red-orange. Nearly killians in color, but slightly more orange. Smell is mostly ginger and floral, nearly potpourri, but not enough that it's bad. I quite liked the smell. The taste however is clearly over the top ginger, GINGER! The brew could've used half as much and been much better. There are lingering tastes behind the hops but you have to search for them.

There are definitely better xmas brews out there. (545 characters)

Photo of bowersdm
3.02/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass

A - ruby/orange amber color. i can't quite describe it. it had a stiff 2cm off-white head.

S - nothing really. some spices and some alcohol.

T - faint malt taste with some spices (cinnamon, cloves, maybe nutmeg), a touch of hops. not much else. honey, maybe. something besides malt is providing a sweetness to the beer.

M - eh, fair.

D - Great Lakes let me down. I may give this a shot again next year, but I'll stick to SN Celebration Ale for my christmas beers. (505 characters)

Photo of Crosling
3.06/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Chestnut color. Aroma has a bit of spice from the hops, grape vines, tree brances and caramel and biscuit like malt. Quite honestly, there isn’t much there in the aroma. The flavor is mild, with hints of caramel, cream corn, fruit and roast. This is ok. (254 characters)

Photo of BeerBelcher
3.07/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

It seems like a great year for Christmas beers, I like Great Lakes BC beers quite a bit, so this seemed a natural to try.

The beer pours a copper red color. A pretty good head, with fairly week staying power. This beer leaves rather little lacing.

Aroma is slightly sweet and vaguely of cider and cinammon.

Taste is almost cidery...vaguely apple with cinammon notes. This is fairly well balanced with a maltiness that keeps this tasting like beer rather than cider. Not a lot of hop character to this. I can definitely imagine drinking it hot (I'm not).

Mouthfeel is a bit thick and sticky, the way that a cider would be. In terms of drinkability, I think I'd pass if offered another of these at the moment.

This is not one of my preferred Christmas beers. (771 characters)

Photo of fvernon
3.1/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A surprise extra from Corbet - thanks! Poured at 55 degrees into a Portsmouth tulip from a bottle; January 2012 vintage. It pours a clear honey-copper with a short-lived but thick eggshell head, slowly dissolving into nothing but a small film hanging in the middle of the glass.

The aroma is really interesting - it starts as a sour cherry, then transitions into oak wood chips and rye bread. The initial sip is very interesting, and not at all what was expected from the aroma - thyme, clove, and cinnamon. It's basically a savory beer, but lacking in some sweet and spicy to offset the savory spices.

The mouthfeel is just about right, but I'm having trouble getting over the spice profile. Either a bit more honey or a stronger hop bitterness would really help me out here (or a good mix of the two). (805 characters)

Photo of brianlg
3.1/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bought this in February, which is a little after the season, but I had to try it. 12 oz bottle pours a nice golden color with a 2 finger foamy head. The smell is very sweet, it smells like candy kind of. Also smells faintly citrusy and a little scent of alcohol. The taste is where this beer fell apart for me. It is way too sweet! I didn't taste my carbonation at all. It tastes like bitter honey, and a hint of caramel. Ech. This is not good! I love all of Great Lakes beers, but this didn'd do it for me. I hope this bottle was skunked.
Maybe my palate was off, maybe my bottle was bad. I will definitely try this fresh next holiday season, probably on tap from the brewery to make sure it's fresh. I will see if my opinion changes. (736 characters)

Photo of BMoney575
3.11/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sampled on 12-11-07
Best before 1-22-08

Pours a golden amber color with bubbles that slowly rise to the surface. The head fades to a thin film, leaving clingy lacing.

Smell is lots of cinnamon and nutmeg, not unlike a pumpkin ale. Maybe a little rum-soaked fruit, if you look for it.

Taste is very much like the smell. Tons of cinnamon, with a subtle fruity twinge. Reminds me of gingerbread.

Mouthfeel is decent, thin, but sticky.

Drinkability is not very good, very one dimensional flavor.

Overall, a cinnamon beer. It overpowers every other flavor, and takes away any variety whatsoever. (596 characters)

Photo of AgentZero
3.12/5  rDev -20%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

A - Clear deep red amber color, very dark. Nice two finger foamy head with quick dissipation and no lacing left. Nice looking right out of the bottle.

S - So much nutmeg it almost hurts. Nutmeg and cinnamon, with a nice malt back. Very sweet and rich smelling, does remind me of the holidays.

T - Deep sweet cinnamon and nutmeg and ginger spice taste. Too much to handle, so thick it feels like I can chew it. Little bit of subtle hops in the finish, but the nutmeg and cinnamon is just too overpowering, was hoping for something more subtle.

M - Smooth, surprisingly little aftertaste for something so sweet. Nice carbonation bite that subtly blends in with the taste.

D - Way too sweetly rich. Had trouble getting through the first one, the nutmeg and cinnamon spice are so overpowering it almost feels like it's burning my mouth. This might go good with some food, I'm thinking Chinese or some cheeses to help buffer the taste buds, but on it's own it's just too much for me. (982 characters)

Photo of TMoney2591
3.12/5  rDev -20%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a Gale Sayers shaker pint glass.

It took some reaching (literally), but I netted the last bottle from Fresh Market. Victory! It pours a clear copper topped by a finger of white foam. The nose comprises black cherry, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, green apple, red grapes, and graham crackers. The taste holds notes of orange peel (and plenty of it), pumpkin shell, ginger, nutmeg, wheat, grass, rye bread, and a touch of cocoa powder. A strong bitterness pervades the finish, which follows a poor mixing of the various flavors. Something's amiss here. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a slightly drying finish. Overall, I did not enjoy this very much at all, save for the smell. Things just didn't come together for me here. (763 characters)

Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.14/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance -- Pours a bright brassy orange with two fingers of sudsy beige head. IPA?

Smell -- Honey malt, ginger, allspice, cinnamon stick, mild floral hops. Quite delightful.

Taste -- Wow, incredibly sweet. Honey, sugar plum, candied ginger, allspice, cinnamon, gentle floral hops. Drying green tea-like tannic finish. Lingering flavor of candied ginger.

Mouthfeel -- Medium in body with moderate frothy carbonation. Tannins in the finish akin to well-steeped green tea. A bit distracting, frankly.

Drinkability -- Ho Ho Ho... Quite Christmas-y, also quite cloying. Nice spicing, really like the ginger, but man, why so sweet? Maybe I'll leave the other five for Santa... (677 characters)

Photo of quasimoto
3.15/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a nice deep dark copper color wiyth a slightly off white head.

S - Strong in spices and hops. There is a background of malt in there but it is hidden.

T - The smells are melded into a flavor with the malts coming out a little stronger.

M - It is crisp and dry, leaves no residue on the tongue. Rather pleasing.

D - For festivites and dealing with families this an all day beer. I enjoy it. (414 characters)

Photo of sopor
3.17/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Deep coppery brew with just a little of rising bubbles helping to keep the offwhite head sticking around. Cinnamon rolls and butter and honey and some other spices I can't quite make out make a potent smell. Delicate malts under lots of cinnamon and spice and everythng nice. Butter and sweet crytsal/candy-like malt. A bit too sweet for me. Not likely to grab this again, but if offered on Christmas, I'd definitely have another. (430 characters)

Photo of ppoitras
3.18/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle obtained via trade with Lewis13 from RB. Thanks for the opportunity... Best by Jan 19, 2006. Oops.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" beige head over the slightly cloudy coppery amber brew. Head fades at a moderate pace, with sporadic lasting lace. Aroma is dominated by sweet malts and spices. Taste is a muddy mixture of spice, grains, and piney hops. Mouthfeel is kind of thin, and this isn't something I would probably search out again. But as a one-time seasonal visitor, it's not too bad. (524 characters)

Photo of JDV
3.18/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to miketd for this nice beer
Pours a clear copper with a fluffy beige head. Smells spiced, and similar to those in a pumpkin beer. I'm not able to pick out cinnamon or ginger specifically, but it is nice. Taste is much of the same spiced flavors. Some nutmeg as well, I believe. Some slight alcohol present, or perhaps its the tartness I'm sensing. Very nice seasonal that I enjoyed more as it warmed. (408 characters)

Photo of Chaz
3.19/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours golden-amber in color, with excellent clarity, and topped with a rocky medium tan head. Nice lacing all around the edge of the glass. So far, so good.

Nose is fruity and rather nondescript. I know there's honey in this but there are no honey notes (and I know that it ferments pretty clean) and there are no real spice notes to speak of. Lighter notes of lemon rind and cherry, but very light. Much more of a malt-lover's beer, this one, and not much hop presence.

Sweet and broadly, almost treacly-sweet on the first sip, this one covers the tongue and palate and has just a touch of brisk carbonation. There's almost a creamy sensation, but this one is lightly-carbonated, and rather viscous.

Spice kicks in a little as it warms --some nutmeg and ginger, and maybe some green pepper? It is very subtle as far as spicing goes, and the bittering aspect of the hops is likewise quite minimal.

Perhaps a little on the stronger style for a winter warmer, but it is an American ale so that's par for the course! Not an outstanding beer, but it's nonetheless a solid one for the style.

Note: I paired this one with a little pineapple upside-down cake. Not bad! (1,166 characters)

Photo of russwbeck
3.2/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Deep orange and amber color without much head at all. A thin ring remains around the outside of the glass and lace nicely. Bubbles race to the top.

S: Spicy, big malty aroma featuring caramel, esters, and gingerbread. Very sweet overall, it seems that the spices are only taking a backseat so far.

T: The taste starts out alright, but then sort of drops off. Spices up front, the caramel malts come out right after. After the malts there's really nothing left. Sort of amazing how the flavor just disappears, but I can't say I like it all that much.

MF: Light body with a lower amount of carbonation than I thought. Crisp finish without any aftertaste.

O: This was probably lost on me. Really unimpressed from a beer I'd heard good things about. Might have been a bit too old. (783 characters)

Photo of herman77
3.23/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A: Clear golden, orange with a soapy off white head. Okay lacing.

S: Not much of a nose, what's there is light spice, mainly cinnamon, a bit of malt sweetness and honey.

T: A bit of bready malt and honey to start. Lots of honey actually, then the spice comes next. Sweet cinnamon and a bit of nutmeg. The ginger really comes through. Finishes sweet candy like, vanilla and a bit of alcohol.

M: Medium body, moderate carbonation. Pretty slick mouthfeel.

D: Not so much my thing. Never really had a true winter warmer before and I think I'm not gonna be that big of a fan. One is enough, its just the whole spice thing in beer I'm not too down with. A little is fine, but when I can really taste it, not so much. I do like Winter Warmers more than Pumpkin beers so far though. (778 characters)

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.23/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a crystal clear, orange-amber body with a full, foamy white head.

Smell: Lozenge-like aroma of spiced gingerbread, cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey with some faroff hints of caramel malt.

Taste: Brief caramel malt flavor and sweetness before the full-on flavor of spices kick in with candied ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The honey emerges on the drying finish with the ginger tea taste carrying over into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: An alright holiday beer, but I couldn't help but get gingered pretty quickly. (576 characters)

Photo of plaztikjezuz
3.25/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

pours a rich copper, light carbonation, maybe due to temp at pour?

(cold)
hops are not very present, spices mainly cinnamon and malt come out very well. the taste is very malty with a slight spice, not much bitterness.

(warm)
spices come out more cinnamon and ginger, malt more aperent, alcohol. cinnamon and ginger very prevelent in the flavor bitterness is not aperent, minerally.

i did not taste the honey or smell it but its on the label. (453 characters)

Photo of PDXHops
3.25/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Ryan011235 for this 12 oz bottle, poured into a Duvel tulip.

Pours see-thru reddish amber with a finger of cream-colored head that disappears fairly quickly. Decent lacing, though.

Smells chiefly of sweet maltiness and powdered cinammon and ginger.

A stinging combo of ginger and hops hit the tongue right away, yield to some honeyish sweetness and cinammon for a moment, then return to rough up the palate a little bit at the swallow. Stale powdered cinammon lingers in the finish. Medium-thick body with moderate carbonation.

Overall impression: The spices are a little strong for my taste, but certainly worth a try. (634 characters)

Photo of FosterJM
3.25/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

1701st Review on BA
Bottle to Great Lakes Snifter
12oz

2012 bottling
Thanks to ErikKoppin for this one

App- Okay so I was thinking a winter warmer would be darker. Along the lines of a porter or something dark, when is this now the color of pure orange honey? No bubbles and head. No cling either. Fairly clear in the glass.

Smell- Well I see the winter warmer, but this was way to honey forward for me. A bit of spice, a bit of creamy malts and some spices. Nice aromatics but don't see the fuss on this one.

Taste- This also like the nose was a bit too honey forward for me. I was so stoked to see this in the box but this was a mad elf for me. A lot of hype but all the honey and spices dont do it for me.

Mouth- A semi medium body with a fairly still carbonation level. Residual honey and spices.

Drink- I wanted to like this one more but sadly I couldn't get into it. (878 characters)

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