Dismiss Notice
Microbrew Invitational
Join us June 3 + 4 in Boston and help us drink 300+ beers, ciders, kombuchas, meads, sakes and more!

TICKETS: beeradvocate.com/micro/

Great Lakes Christmas Ale | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

very good
850 Reviews
no score
Send samples
For Trade:

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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 850 | Ratings: 2,964
Photo of Slack
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Dark copper to mahogany in color and clear. About a fingers worth of head with some lacing.

Sweet malt, some spice (cinnamon/clove), and honey on the nose.

Taste is definitely sweet and malty with that cinnamon and clove mixed in.

Mouthful is medium with the same carbonation.

Balanced and easy to drink with no discernible hops. Pairs well with a big slab of spice cake.

 377 characters

Photo of Oswick
4.53/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

this is still one of my all time favorites. yes, i am from cleveland, so i may be biased. this beer hits you with the pleasant aroma of coriander, nutmeg and cinnamin. it explodes with flavor on your tongue and has a smooth finish. just brought a case back with me after my annual visit home.

 296 characters

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

Nice orange-amber color, a thin head that stays. Some spices and cherry in the fairly pleasant aroma. The taste is nutty, toasty, gingerbread, cherry, it is crisp with an aftertaste that is a bit too short.

 206 characters

Photo of Phil-Fresh
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75


A: Light spices, mixed with honey (light sweetness), and some esters.

A: Amber with a light orange-red hue, totally clear with a moderate white fine head that has solid retention.

T: Light malt and faint honey flavor – surprisingly not overly sweet. The beer has a fair amount of “holiday” spices and a light bitterness on the finish.

M: Medium light bodied with moderate carbonation.

O: Pretty tasty winter warmer, but the spices, especially the cinnamon are a bit strong in the aroma and flavor – overall a solid effort.

 545 characters

Photo of CNoj012
3.74/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This beer pours a hazy copper color with a one finger off white head. There is not much retention and spots of chunky lacing. Smell is cinnamon, nutmeg, gingerbread and caramel. Taste is the same. Feel is light with not much carbonation. Overall good, but not great. I should add this was served on draught with some cinnamon sugar around the rim of the glass, which was not requested and certainly unwelcome.

 409 characters

Photo of stevoj
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle from my brother. Lots of gingerbread and fruitcake, cinnamon and nutmeg. Seems like a decent English ale underneath the spice, warming without the burn.

 159 characters

Photo of Jacobob10
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, best by 03/05/16.

I've been wanting to try this beer for some time now but couldn't get my hands on it last year, so I was excited to find a single bottle this year. The color is somewhere between deep amber and red with a small off-white head. Not much lacing, but a small amount of retention. I was expecting a sharp, heavily-spiced aroma, but instead got smooth notes of ginger and cinnamon. These carry over to the flavor with an additional sweetness added to it. The ginger is more noticeable to me than anything else in the beer. It's a very smooth, medium-bodied finish. Not too heavy and not too spicy. I really enjoyed this one and would purchase again.

 684 characters

Photo of lastmango
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured a nice ruby amber color with a two finger white head. Minimal lacing. Mild nose of cherry, malt and spices. Moderate malt flavor with cinnamon and clove. Slight hop bitterness on the end. Moderate body and carbonation. Overall, a nice holiday brew.

 259 characters

Photo of Rockjocknroll
3.84/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pretty clear amber with small head and lacing. Smells like Christmas with a tiny hop nose; great holiday spices on the nose and taste. Slightly hoppy and long caramel finish. Great warmer!

 188 characters

Photo of PatrickCT
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle poured into a Becher glass.

a: Wonderful ruby/amber color. Clear with a shimmer. One finger bubbly white head dissipates quickly.

s: Roasted malts and mild caramel holds up cherries and bitters. Mild spices.

t: Taste follows the nose. Honeyed malts, mulling spices, bitters and fruit skin.

mf: Medium light body with good carbonation. A slight cherry tartness cuts through the sweetness.

o: This is the winter warmer. Nothing touches it for its balance and availability.

 491 characters

Photo of SaltofOH
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Bottle BB 3/5/16. 10 oz DFH Tulip.

Appearance: pours a burnished red with golden glints. Fairly high carbonation. Just under 1 finger khaki head turns to a couple of islands of thin skim. Had good lacing last time I had it on draft, but nada from this bottle.

Smell: strong ale ester aromatics, clover honey, and ginger. Very sweet and ale-y.

Taste: less sweet arrival than you might expect. Bitterness strikes right away, of a woody, spicy character. Full, malty mid palate reminds me of GL Oktoberfest. As it finishes, the bitterness is mild, with lots of lingering spice and a bit of alcohol. This is the first time I have ever tasted alcohol on this beer; though I was serving it quite a bit warmer than I usually have it. The spices and hop charade are not playing nice together at the end, leaving a slightly unpleasant medicinal note.

Mouthfeel: solidly mid weight with less carbonation than the appearance suggests. Slick on the finish.

Overall: I have had this beer many times, and several times this season. This is the first time I have ever felt the spice aspect overpowering, and the first time I have tasted alcohol. This beer is a perennial classic; in many ways it's a 7.5% abv amber with spices, but the term "amber ale"
is so reviled, no one would dare call it that. An awesome beer, but this bottle didn't live up.

 1,338 characters

Photo of 98green
3.17/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

On tap late in a session. Look is a pretty deep red. Smell is light cranberry. Taste is nice Christmas whatever that is. I get that this is the go to name for Christmas ale. It gets the job done I guess.

 203 characters

Photo of MacMalt
3.84/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip glass. The color is a lovely rosy-red with a thin, milk-white head and thick lacing. It's a very attractive pour. The smell is mostly malt with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a trace of caramel. The taste is malty with caramel, cherry, cinnamon, and nutmeg. There is a slight bitterness at the finish. It's a nice, medium-bodied ale, with moderate carbonation, and the 7.5% ABV is just noticeable enough to give it a kick. Overall, it's a pleasant drinking ale; not overpowering but with a nice flavor. I'm not sure I would seek this one out but if offered, I'd gladly accept.

 592 characters

Photo of puck1225
3.79/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On draft into a pint glass. Golden color with a this head but very nice lacing. It has a clean slightly sweet smell. The feel was very smooth with a somewhat spicy taste. Malty with a taste of ginger or maybe allspice. Very nice.

 229 characters

Photo of mschrei
4.55/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Surprised by the sub4 rating on this. Poured into Solemn Oath snifter. Beautiful appearance-golden brown on edges, lighter hues in center, lots of particulates floating after the head rush dissipates. Spice on smell, spice on taste. Pouring takes some of the harsh edge off, but drinking it from the bottle is enjoyable to the taste buds too. Crisp with a warming feeling, really glad I got a sixer but hoping I can get some more.

 430 characters

Photo of ctylinebeer
4.36/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip. Poured down the center with little to no tilt needed

L - Red-amber color with a crystal clear hue. One finger of head

S - Nutty malt similar to an amber ale. Hints of holiday spice coming through

T - Nutty medium dark malt with well rounded holiday spice to the finish. Tastes like Christmas, but not too much Christmas

F - Light in body. Clean and crisp all the way through. Approachable for anyone's palate

O - Very nice Christmas beer. Very different from other seasonals in that it is sessionable and has the right amount of spice. Honey not so prevalent, but a very nice beer

 620 characters

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.07/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pouring a semi-murky copper color, this has two fingers worth of off-white colored head. Retention isn't fantastic, and there isn't much lacing left on the glass.

Did someone say cinnamon? This beer's aroma doesn't dick around with it, that's for sure. Ginger also makes an appearance, as does a touch of hoppiness. In addition, some caramel malts also pop up - not much honey though. I'm not sure how this really stands out from the legions of cinnamon-spice bombs out there...

Taste-wise, I get more honey here than the nose suggested [I'd just like to add that I think honey is an awesome adjunct for beer, in moderation], especially to finish it off. Also, the initial flavor hit of cinnamon and ginger is subdued next to the aroma. Some fruity traces appear near the mid-taste. Actually, it seems a little boozy for 7.5% - just a little. Nothing really pops here.

Quite nimble on the palate for a semi-big winter warmer, thanks to the subtle astringent sensation brought by the honey. Still, it offers a full, sticky mouthfeel otherwise. Carbonation is just right.

Ehhhhhhh...it's okay. No more, no less. The honey notes are my favorite part of this, helping to break up the cinnamon meets caramel monotony this offers otherwise. Yeah...monotonous is a good word to describe this beer. I would not buy this one again.

3.07/5: Not the finest work from this (very good) brewery

 1,386 characters

Photo of ajm5108
4.34/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep amber with moderate head. Cinnamon all over the aroma, along with some cardamom, spicey phenols and amber hops. The cinnamon is definitely the major note on the tongue, and the honey really comes out as well. The malt profile isn't very hefty or bready, just enough to anchor the spice. It segues into a clove spice at the end, less sweet and a little huskier. Finishes very clean. Overall I enjoyed it, but there is definitely a lot of the cinammon. It isn't a subtle beer, and I like a sprinkle of cinammon on plenty of refreshments, but this beer comes tad close to going overboard with it, even if for me it stayed on the good side.

 650 characters

Photo of oldn00b
3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Rich amber color with foamy white head that fades immediately.

Malt notes and spices come through big, clove and cinnamon especially.

A bit on the light side for a winter warmer. Rich malt notes and spice are huge. Really, comes across like a spiced Marzen to me (even if that's completely wrong, that's how it feels and tastes).

 333 characters

Photo of maedhros09
3.49/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Look: Rich golden amber with average off white head that dissipates entirely
Smell: christmas spice (nutmeg? allspice?), bready, alcohol
Taste: Rich and malty, sweet but not excessive, spice, mineral, moderate bitterness that seems unrelated to hops.
Feel: full bodied with nice fine carbonation. carbonation, like the head, dissipates with time.

Overall: I didn't like this one very much, but it's hard to put my finger on exactly why. Partly the bitterness and partly the booziness, I guess. I can see how some people like this, but I could barely finish it.

 567 characters

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.

 806 characters

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.

 341 characters

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.

 451 characters

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.

 440 characters

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.

 1,330 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 850 ratings.