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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

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
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Reviews: 810 | Hads: 2,762
Photo of trumick
4.37/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a light amber color with a thin head that leaves nice lacing all around.

Scent is of sweet, biscuity malts, and spices like nutmeg and ginger.

The taste really stands out in this one. There's lightly sweet malts with some fruity notes, light hop flavor, spiciness is not overwhelming at all. The cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger are all well balanced within the sweetness of the malt, and the ever so slightly bitter hops. The finish is lightly sweet, dry and spicy. The abv. is nicely hidden in the mix of malty spiceness. The taste is exceptional.

Mouthfeel is smooth, light to medium bodied with the perfect amount of light carbination for this beer.

Drinkability is good. This is a beer that tastes soo good the abv is dangerous. I could easily put several away without realizing that fact until it's cab callin time.

Nice, nice beer from GLB. I will buy it again before they are gone till next year.

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Photo of JohnnyChicago
4.37/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a ruby red with a one finger head.

S: Smell's like straight up Christmas. Pine, honey, ginger, cinnamon, the whole deal.

T: Really good stuff. Lots of malty goodness, sweetness, but not cloying. Very fruity and tasty.

D: Drink's extremely easily. Has a creamy mouthfeel, too.

Overall: This is a downright tasty beer! I had both a '10 and '11 on Christmas Day 2010. A lot of people say that the spice character fades and it should be drunk fresh. I disagree. The year old one was even better than its younger brother - more blended and subdued, but still rich and spiced. Great beer and a Christmas classic.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
4.37/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.

4.5 A: Clear darker orange color. Two fingers of off-white dense, super creamy head. Retention is good and lacing is a plenty.

5.0 S: Wow, there's an awesome interaction between the caramel/toffee and the Christmas spices. Gingerbread and nutmeg are strongest, cinnamon and cardamon next, and brown sugar and honey last. The malts are a combination of grainy and biscuity with the caramel and toffee flavors being at a strength between the nutmega and cinnamon. Very nice. Best winter warmer smell I've encountered so far.

4.0 T: The taste, though very good, isn't on the same level as the nose. Caramel and toffee, grainy and biscuity malts. No appreciable hop contributions - maybe some herbal. Spices are about the same as the nose. Ginger and nutmeg are the strongest with cinnamon, cardamon, and brown sugar pulling up the rear. The reason that this isn't as good as the nose is mainly due to the mouthfeel. This has a medium body, but it could benefit extremely from a thicker malty body and a more pronounced sweetness.

4.0 M: Medium body. Carbonation is moderate on the high end, and it makes for a wonderful, spritzy mix. Could be creamier. As I mentioned in the taste section, a thicker body could have put this beer over the edge. However, it is definitely good the way it is.

4.5 D: Solid brew. Good all-around with an excellent nose. If they thickened this up a bit, it would be out of this world.

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Photo of BB1313
4.37/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Best before 12/25/10. Poured a 12oz bottle into a standard pint glass. Pours a nice copper color with hints of red. Smells like Christmas, there's no other way to put it. Cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, and ginger are prevelant in the taste and aromas. The aromas slightly edge out the way it tastes. Although it's full-bodied, it's feels thin. I wish this was a little more on the thicker side and more robust. Drinkability is good, but definitely be careful w/ this one, it can catch up to you.

I couldn't imagine the holidays without this beer.. this is what it's all about. Go crazy for this one!

Note: Definitely let this one warm up to get the full experience.

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Photo of ken3c
4.37/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Crystal clear honey color. Thin head resolves to a ring of foam and laces a little.

Aroma has a malt sense with various spices. I think I can smell anise, nutmeg, and maybe spruce. Maybe a hint of clove. This smells wonderfull.

Very sweet and somewhat balances by a piney bitterness. The spices add interest. The aftertaste is still sweet. There is a sense of diacetyl but it blends well. Very little sense of alcohol.

Smooth and lightly carbonated. Medium to full bodied.

Very drinkable. Dangerous.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.37/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Slightly coppery amber, clear glossy body with a few speck of bubbles within. Medium sized crown of beige foam lofts up with a good puff of creamyness. Lacing trickles across the glass with some splattered patchy blobs and strings.

Whoa, what a nice medley of warming spices on the nose. Cinnamon most definately is dashed about mixing with a warm honey and caramel drizzled soft biscuity, bready core. Softer ginger, cocoa, pumpkin, spearmint tea, and notes to some barleywine-esque hoppy warmth make for great depth. A very nice nose...softly spiced, warm, and inviting. Like a warm kitchen baking pies and cookies during the Holidays.

Taste is just as nice with a solid malted bready, pie dough, light pastryish center that is warmingly set in caramel brushed with honey. Super softly spiced with cinnamon, pumpkin, apricot, ginger snap cookie dough, and cocoa. The cocoa and cinnamon make a nice little finishing return as it really holds a warm tone the whole way thru.

Beautifully balanced, soft, warm, and a creamy smooth body that is closing in on pretty full. Mainly due to its warming core that doesn't seem 7.5% at all. More like 9 or even 11% seems fitting as it mirrors a wonderful blend of Belgian dark tripel meets Old ale.

Great Lakes makes some super solid brews and this is no different from many other yummy treats from them that normally find a rotational spot in my fridge. As Winter Warmers go, there's a many other breweries out there that should take a lesson from the palate of Great Lakes. Cuz most others make OK to good, but this is outstandingly solid.

Special note: serve fairly warm - 50 to 55 degrees to even room temp. It's well worth the wait.

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Photo of scruffwhor
4.37/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a nice medium amber. Small bubbles and very faint lacing. A head thats only a finger and a half in width. But maintains all through my drinking experience. For some reason, a Christmas beer has to be more cloudy to be festive. The aroma is very festive indeed. Plenty of X-mas spices like some nutmeg and cinnaon and anise all mixed together very well with a toasty malt profile. The taste is a little more clear on whats really driving the beer's flavors. Lots of nutmeg adn a few hints of chammomile. Don't forget the cinnamon. All of these spices are blanaced with a light Pacific hop presence and a medium toasty alt stance. Great Holiday beer, certainly has the best drinkablility of all the winter warmers. Doesn't bog you down with Holiday spices and aromas.

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Photo of dexterk1
4.38/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance is light brown with a medium head that had some staying power and left pretty good lacing.
Odor is sweet. Many holiday notes (of course) with nutmeg, cinnamon and others. Mostly sweet smell with hint of hops/pine in there as well.
Taste is sweet and caramel at first. The spice is prevalent as well, but I really like both of these is a Christmas beer. Some minor notes were gingerbread, toffee, and a touch of hops/ pine coming thorough at certain points(mostly middle end). Ends with cinnamon and spice that lingers for a bit.
Mouth feel is very good. Not too much carbonation and reasonably smooth.
Overall, it is a Christmas beer and brings what might be expected. Plenty of seasonal spice and sweet flavor. Perhaps my favorite Christmas beer!

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Photo of Slynger
4.38/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful crystal clear light copper color with a small, slow rising, fuzzy white head and some lacing to boot.
The first whiffs deliver some sweet caramel and honey along with lightly toasted malts. Subtle cinnamon and ginger spices meld this into a solid and well balanced nose.
The taste is every bit what the nose suggested and more. Lightly sweet honey along with caramel and toasted malts. A faint white grape fruitiness makes an appearance accompanied by ginger and cinnamon, with a very mild bitter hop finish.
Mouthfeel is excellent as great lakes always is. Perfectly medium bodied; honey smooth yet creamy from modest carbonation.
Bottom line, GLBC rocks and so does their winter warmer.

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Photo of 4thelvofbeer
4.38/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I think this beer deserves a bit of a better rating than (currently) an 88. As far as Christmas Ales go, this one is pretty damn good. I am a huge fan of Great Lakes beers and this one does not disappoint!

Normally when you think Christmas Ales, the taste of overpowering spice comes to mind, but this beer is smooth and taste really nice from start to finish. You can definitely taste the spices, but to an overpowering level. Subtle hints of honey round this beer out nicely!

Overall, a great Christmas beer from a great brewery! Very nice

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Photo of Thanby
4.4/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a nice clear copper color with a finger of off-white head that leaves good, sticky lacing.

The aroma is mainly of winter spices, being cinnamon, ginger, honey, nutmeg and maybe some clove in that order. All come through and for once in a winter warmer the cinnamon isn't overbearing. The sweet caramel malt fills it out, and there some other bready malt characteristic in the background.

The flavor is full of the spice boquet, again with cinnamon in the lead, but the honey dries things out a tiny bit and leaves room for the roasted malt to show through. Not very common for this style, and something I really enjoy.

Sweet and roasty malt flavors make up the finish with a thin sheet of dry cinnamon that isn't too sweet and isn't too bitter. Medium body, not as syrupy as a typical winter warmer, good carbonation and supremely drinkable. This is definitely my favorite in the category and is a nice break from the typical sickly sweet or "beat you in the face with a cinnamon stick" warmer. Everything in balance and still festive enough to satisfy, it doesn't get much better than this.

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Photo of Ezekiel81923
4.41/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found a loner at Capone's. Wanted to give it a whirl since I'm interested in finding a winter warmer I actually like. Poured this one into a pint glass.

Appearance: Clear amber color. Small tan head that recedes quickly but leaves some spotty lacing. This isn't as dark as other "winter warmers" I've tried which, as far as I'm concerned, is a good start.

Smell: Smells like Christmas to be honest. Ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cherry, sweet bready malts. This is the kind of thing I hoped for out of other winter brews.

Taste: Spicy. Strong notes of ginger and cinnamon. It's sweet as well. Some cherry, raisin, nutmeg. Some hop bitterness. Solid malt backbone without being too heavy. Not much hop presence to speak of other than the bitterness. Real solid.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, medium carbonation. Spiciness lingers on the tongue. Carbonation adds a tingling sensation. Just a slight alcohol warmth as it goes down, but that could just be lingering spice in the back of my throat...it's that faint.

Drinkability: I only had one of these but I wish I had many more. It doesn't matter to me that it's after christmas, this was a delicious beer whose only limitation might be the abundance of spice.

Glad I got to try this one. I'm not sure much of it made it to PA, hopefully we get plenty for next year that I can drink it up over the holidays.

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Photo of coldy
4.41/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Its that time of year, and I was reminded of my annual treat of Great Lakes Christmas Ale. As craft beer continues to grow, the shelves are packed with winter/Christmas varieties, but this particular continues to be an all time favorite. This beer has a wonderful balance, with just enough fruit/cherry without it being over powering.
The aftertaste has a light wheat, and the overall taste is a great representation of what a Christmas Ale should taste like. Delicious

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Photo of CGiusti23
4.41/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

With so many Christmas beers out there, I am so glad I snagged Great Lakes Christmas Ale up! Its a perfect mix of spices and flavor that just gives this Ale such a perfect taste. Highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good beer around the holidays. Even light beer drinkers will enjoy this at a family party. Either way its a win win, great beer.

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Photo of TravelinJones
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured from bottle into a clear pint glass around 45 degrees.
should have let it warm a little but couldn't wait.

A: very clear amber/orange/copper with 1/2 inch head, which quickly dissipates. small carbonation bubbles trickle up.

S: Strong bouquet of orange blossom, hints of ginger & honey, backed with some spicy hop aromas.

T: Light ginger, cinnamon, and orange flavors blend with moderate bitterness and sweetness, for a very balanced and intriguing flavor. Light biscuity malt background. Much more subtle and balanced with the spices this year. Slightly sweet, but balanced, and finishes more dry.

M: Moderate body and carbonation. Carbonation and spices help dry out the finish.

D: Very drinkable beer -- well-balanced and quaffable, and not over-spiced compared to other years. Easy to drink a few of these, although not a session beer.

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Photo of schleprock
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: A nice reddish color with a creamy head.

S: Floral with ginger and cinnamon notes.

T: Took me a while to figure the mix of spices honey, ginger, cinnamon and possibly some nutmeg in there.

M: carbination is correct for this beer and even though it's higher in alcohol, I didn't notice it.

D: On tap this is one of the best if not the best Christmas beers you can find. It was so good we kicked the keg. A great mix of spices in this beer.

I enjoyed it so much I ran to liquor stores trying to get some. All I could find was a couple six packs, it's such a hot seller that one store owner told me the distributor was limiting people to two cases each.

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Photo of MCain04
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle 12/12, drinking about 6 weeks fresh. Poured into a Spiegelau glass. $13/6pack

Appearance: Clear golden orange color, 1-2 fingers of off-white head. Mild lacing, decent retention.

Smell: How a Christmas ale should smell. Spicy, cinnamon, roasty malts, nutty. Very nice.

Taste: Follows along with the smell profile. Really nice spice profile carrying through onto the taste. Really liking this. Not too hoppy or bitter. No heat or alcohol present.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, moderate carbonation, average finish.

Overall: Really enjoyed this. One of the best Christmas Ales I've had. Better than Goose Island's Christmas ale, in my opinion, and less expensive. Next to blackout stout, probably my favorite offering from Great Lakes.

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Photo of DeFaz
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a ruby color with great clarity and a medium head. Some lacing sticks to the glass. The color is pretty.

Smell: This is one of the best smelling beers I've encountered. Malt, bold but not overpowering cinnamon, and other spices including nutmeg. Sweet smelling but not too sweet.

Taste: As winter warmers go, this is probably the best tasting one I've had. The spices aren't over the top, but the main spices here, cinnamon and nutmeg, allow for a fairly sweet beer with just touch a spice, complimenting the malt nicely. This is sweeter than most, but again, it is nicely balanced, and the ABV is concealed.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with carbonation on the lower end of the spectrum. For being fairly sweet it manages to avoid being sticky and leaves a pleasant aftertaste.

Overall: This is a fantastic beer to enjoy during winter months and tastes like Christmas. The price keeps going up each year (this year it's $11.99/six pack where I live) but it's worth splurging. It's a simple beer but one that is well constructed.

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Photo of JackTheRipper
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ok, I reviewed this on tap, now I've got a few bottles and am drinking one as I write this.

Appearance: Nice color, deep coppery. Head was smallish, but there's a little bit of lacing.

Smell: Cinnamon, honey, a very faint musty smell in the nose.

Taste: The tap stuff was fives across the board, this is good, but not that good. There's a more distinct hoppiness in this version. The spiceyness isn't as pronounced. Still a great tasting beer, a bit more balanced than the tap stuff.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is just a touch too high, still a wonderfully full bodied feel to this. Warms very nicely, the alcohol is well masked in the taste, but once swallowed, seems to shine a bit brighter.

Drinkability: Very High. While I miss the absolute joy that was the tap version, this is an exceptional beer, IMHO. I bought a sixer of these and have not one regret when I think about the other five waiting for me. Highly recommended if you can find it.

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Photo of Crundy
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Bright and clear amber color with a foamy cream colored head, lots of visible carbonation

Smell: Bready, orange citrus hop, spices, feint malt flavor

Taste: Nice hop flavor, feint malt, bread, and nutmeg and cinnamon spices

Mouth Feel: Nice bite, medium bodied, dry

Overall: good beer, more hoppy than malty but it does have a good balance of flavors. Great Christmas beer.

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Photo of brentk56
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Arrives at the bar with a clear amber color and a modest head that leaves dots of lace

Smell: Nutmeg, cinnamon and a bit a honey along with the caramel base

Taste: Biscuity flavors up front with plenty of Christmas spices building by mid-palate; modest earthy hops appear after the swallow

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: One of the great Christmas beers out there

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Photo of schoolboy
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

Alright, I admit that I had three (honest to goodness) pints of this at Night Town and it did me in. It was on an empty stomach and I take Lyrica for back pain. But I couldn't resist the outstanding taste of Christmas Ale as it should be.

They served it properly too - the temperature was perfect
(not co cold). How could I not havea few? Fortunately they ran out because some lady tried to buy me another (and then I would have been completely out of it).

Pretty close to perfect.

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Photo of beck4020
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a rather appropriate ale for the winter months. There is a very clear but dark auburn color and very little head develops. The alcohol is rather prevalent but it is hidden to a degree by the noticeable smell of spices, which gives the ale both a distinct smell and taste. Although this is darker ale, temperature is very important in this case. A little colder is better for this gem of Great Lakes.

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Photo of Bones54
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Coming from the Cleveland area, the Great Lakes Brewery, and especially the Christmas ale are as much of Cleveland lure as Chief Wahoo and the Dawg Pound.
Appearance: Served from a 12 oz. bottle, into a pint glass. The beer is dark copper color, and comes with a thin but lasting head.
Smell: The strong smell of cinnamon greets the nose like the smell christmas cookies pouring out of the kitchen on Christmas morn.
Taste: the smell only contributes to the exceptional taste. I remember first tasting a Christmas Ale a few years back and literally jumping out of my seat. Maybe it's because it was truly one of the first micrbrews I came to taste and was not ready for the sensational trip my taste buds would go through. Cinnamon is the most dominating taste, with the ginger finding its way through. However, I have a hard time noticing the honey in the ale.
Mouthfeel: Literally warms the mouth. The aftertaste, however can leave a lingering feel in the mouth that is often hard to get rid of.
Drinkability: Now do not mistake my score. The beer is Very drinkable. However the alcohol content and potent flavors make it difficult to drink more than two or three.
Haven't had a chance to have my fair share of Christmas brews yet, but I have to believe that this one will be hard to top.

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Photo of zsk
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This is from a nearly one year old sample.

Poured a reddish amber with a nice one inch head.

Smell was of cinnamon and ginger. I've had this fresh on tap. The ginger is stronger now. Nutmeg too.

Taste is of MALT, cinnamon and honey. Ginger lays back. Hops are here, but way back.

This feels smooth and crisp at the same time.

I can drink these any time. It was tough to hold on to these till late summer. So complex.

Great beer!

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