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Great Lakes Christmas Ale - Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Great Lakes Christmas AleGreat Lakes Christmas Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,975 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1975
Reviews: 768
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 13.13%

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: 1,975 | Reviews: 768 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of WhaleHopper


3.86/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Had on tap in Cleveland airport and carried 6 to go - way to go in terminal brewpubs in Cleveland! A great holiday beer taking a more subtle and unique approach to holidays flavors - honey, cinnamon, ginger, all come through but not overwhelming. Consistent with GL beers- very clean, well made, and easy to go through a few in a single session.

Serving type: on-tap

01-16-2014 20:47:10 | More by WhaleHopper
Photo of brewtus


3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours copper brownish orange with a singe finger white head. Smell is tons of nutmeg, heaps of ginger, plenty of honey, malty, bready. Tastes as promised , very fresh ginger, smooth honey, nutmeg, cinnamon, sweet brown sugar. Carbonation is nice. Overall I like this beer, I don't think it's the greatest Christmas ale out there. If you're not aware, people go a lite overboard for this, but hey I'm all about supporting a great Ohio brewery. A little sweet for me, but a very enjoyable seasonal .

Serving type: on-tap

12-04-2013 19:23:02 | More by brewtus
Photo of ValpoExpo


4.64/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A winter classic from Northeast Ohio. You have to be VERY careful with GLBC's Christmas Ale because it will knock you on your butt in no time. It truly is the perfect sweet honey, alcohol infused taste of Christmastime. November 1 (the release date of Christmas Ale) is a holiday in itself for Northeast Ohioans.

Serving type: on-tap

06-16-2013 04:19:00 | More by ValpoExpo
Photo of beergoot


4.93/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I lucked into a bottle at my friend's house, yet this review is based off a on-tap serving at a bar 30-45 minutes later...

Dark, honey-amber color with a creamy white head. The aroma was full of holiday spices; gingerbread; cinnamon. The taste strongly followed the aroma with a nice, balancing bitterness. Body came across as in character; smooth, crisp, with a semi-dry finish.

This was equivalent of sipping a warm, nicely spiced liquid holiday cookie. The malts and spice flavors (from whatever the source) just came across so nicely balanced and complex without smacking you in the face with overly strong flavors. This is by far one my best holiday ales I've had in a long, long time. Highly recommended...

Serving type: on-tap

01-22-2013 16:34:37 | More by beergoot
Photo of Darkmagus82


4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a pint glass

Appearance – Served a orange-amber colored brew with a one finger white head. The head had a decent level of retention, slowly fading to give a medium level of lacing.

Smell – The aroma was a mix of honey and spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and coriander. Behind the sweet and spicy smells was a light biscuit aroma as well.

Taste – The taste begins a little on the malty side with a light cinnamon and coriander spice upfront. As the taste moves on the spices get stronger and are joined by a lighter honey and caramel sweetness. More towards the end a light nutty and alcohol taste join the flavor with an increasing in the sweeter flavors of the brew and in the end combined with the rest to leave a warming spiced flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer was a little on the medium side with a carbonation level that was just above average. The medium body was rather nice for the honey and malt flavors with the carbonation complementing the spice well.

Overall - A tasty Christmas style ale that was very drinkable. A nice spice, sweet and malt blend. Quite tasty.

Serving type: on-tap

12-18-2012 01:25:48 | More by Darkmagus82
Photo of JohnnyHopps


3.83/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, the beer was an exaggerated gold color with a modest white head. The ale left a thin lacing on the glass, giving reminders of your drinking progress. When sipping a winter warmer, this is a plus. The holiday aroma peaked my interest, with scents one might expect from a holiday beer including cinnamon, pine, ginger, and a hint of cookie. In the taste, one gets sweet and spicy cinnamon and honey a little later. The thickness of the ale allows this one to linger for a while. The staying power becomes nicer when one experiences the pleasant warming sensation toward the end. This is a nice warming seasonal with a pleasant aftertaste. I believe I could enjoy this one again in the future.

Serving type: on-tap

12-09-2012 00:31:48 | More by JohnnyHopps
Photo of thecheapies


3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Great Lakes Christmas.

Coppery color. No rising bubbles. Tall pour inhibited the head formation, but a thick ring is long-lasting. 3.0

Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, maraschino cherry, light vanilla, and toasted malts. 4.0

Hearty flavor with loaded spiciness. Layers of cinnamon and coriander with light vanilla and nutmeg notes. Warming alcohol is a tasting note, as well. Backend hops offer some leafy green essences. Fusel bite is still agreeable. 4.0

Medium body with some fullness. Carb is lacking. Booze is right there with you. 3.0

Tasty December staple. Recommended. 4.0

Serving type: on-tap

11-26-2012 02:18:17 | More by thecheapies
Photo of Reaper16


3.7/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

served on-tap @ Black Rock, Chicago, IL, into a pint glass

Pours a very clear amber color. A nice 1.5 finger head the color of buttermilk (it could be whiter than that; the lighting is odd in this bar).

The aroma is not a blast of spices like Anchor's winter warmer. It's mostly an amber malt, breadcrusts type malt-forward smell...that's had a Christmas tree car air freshener dipped into it for a few seconds. Fruitcake spices, cinnamon stick, etc.

Upon first sip I know that this is one of my favorite Christmas ales. Not because it's an incredible beer but because the spices don't come first. This is an amber ale, folks. It's bready and malty with a touch of honey. The spices are just accent marks that make the malt flavors more accentuated.

The mouthfeel is a bit thin for me. I had no idea this was 7.5% ABV because of how loose and wet the mouthfeel is (no alcohol burn either). Overall this is a darn solid winter warmer. It doesn't fatigue the palate, so I could absolutely have a couple of these in a sitting.

Serving type: on-tap

11-24-2012 16:53:16 | More by Reaper16
Photo of StretchZep


5/5  rDev +26.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Awesome winter warmer. Had it yesterday on tap in a 23 oz glass. Lots of cinnamon and clove flavors. Nice malt balance. No hop bitterness at all but anything but sweet. Really nice Holiday beer that you find yourself looking forward to year after year.
Loved this beer to death and will be looking to pick up a case as soon as I can!

Serving type: on-tap

11-11-2012 22:01:01 | More by StretchZep
Photo of atg7777


4.28/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

In Cleveland, when Christmas ale goes on sale it is a sign that the holidays are coming.
This holiday in a cup has the option of being served with brown sugar on the rim. The first sip is like christmas day. The consistency and flavor instantly brings warmth to the soul. I wish they would raise the ABV count back up to what it use to be to add some more warmth. All in all it is a tradition for me. Nothing like walking in from a snowy day and warming up to a glass of this brew. It is the only reason why I look forward to Cleveland winters.

Serving type: on-tap

08-16-2012 03:29:18 | More by atg7777
Photo of XenonX


4.63/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served in a Bottom's-Up cup at Progressive Field.

Appearence: A very dark amber with a beautiful finger thick head.
Smell: difficult to tell with the other smells related to being at a ballpark
Taste: Had a slight malty and bready taste complete with some toffee and cinnamon and nutmeg tossed in for good measure
Mouthfeel: Meduim and creamy with some flirts of carbonation.

To be honest I cannot very well describe this beer having had it at an Indians game in a Bottom's-Up cup to boot! It was part of the whole experience and will always remind me of going to a ball game.

Serving type: on-tap

06-17-2012 00:55:30 | More by XenonX
Photo of challenja


4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served On Tap at the Black Squirrel in Adams Morgan DC.

A: A Nice orange red glow with a head that dissipates quickly to no existence at all. A look of really well aged and expensive bourbon.

S: Now here is the stinker, not that it smell that bad but its not as powerful as most Christmas Ales. There is cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, breaded malt, and wild cherry. It could be that for a badly washed glass deadened the smells. Really good powerwashers are needed like in upscale beer joints.

T: Nutmeg ripe cherry pumpkin spice honey light cinnamon tast, subtle mid-western hops, and a light bready backbone. Subtle sweetness that entices the palate to have another!

M: Nice lingering medium carbonation that is passionate between the gums. I like how it lingers on the palate and entices the tongue.

O: A real winner in terms of a winter Christmas ale. I rank it third only behind the Mad Elf and Fireside Chat. Sorry Anderson Valley Winter Solstice.

Serving type: on-tap

01-21-2012 20:43:15 | More by challenja
Photo of TheBrewo


4.18/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was served from the tap at The Distillery in Victor, NY. The beer arrived in a house pint glass, and looked the color of light copper. It held a one finger beige head, which receded slowly, leaving thick lacing, and an even thicker film over the top of the beverage. Carbonation was highly active, and no sediment or haze was noted. The aroma was of thick malts, steel, and a faint caramel. Once those initial notes cleared, the beer smelled like a holiday fruitcake. It gave off synthetic sweetness and candied cherries. On the far back were deeper notes of cinnamon, light clove, and finally a faint grassy hop, with inviting warm citrus. As we sipped, the taste began with beautifully deep malts that were a bit salty and cooked, but not to the point of smoke or char. Mixing in was a dried cranberry sourness, and an oaky smoothness. The peak of flavor was a veritable spice rack. There was gingerbread, nutmeg, bittering cinnamon, and an almond nuttiness, all mixing in with the deeper malts from the front. The finish was of soap and pine, as the hops roll through to take the malts by surprise. There was an additional orange cleanliness, with medicinal phenols and coppery grain to round things out. The aftertaste breathes of salty malts, clean citrus, warming fusel alcohols, and more “Christmas” spice and fruitiness. The body was medium, but thicker, and the carbonation was high to the point of being prickly. There was a steely coating and cooling to the sip, with a warming to the belly. Each sip had fine slurp and smack. The abv was appropriate, and the beer drinks easily.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this brew was the spicy, warming finish. It really does taste like winter and Christmas. They were able to maintain such stark spice, without forfeiting the other important qualities to the beer. The malts remained robust throughout, and the hops were appropriately light. This is the exemplary winter warmer.

Serving type: on-tap

01-14-2012 23:09:33 | More by TheBrewo
Photo of beerfish68


4.3/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I have this beer on tap now. I think 12 dogs is a bit better but it ranks pretty high on my Christmas Ale list.

A- Good color and my draft pulls a nice head at 6 psi. It holds fairly will an the lacing is okay. It does not stick to the glass as you might expect

S- I like the smell of this beer althoug I think it tastes better than it smells

T- The taste is great except for the bit of excess alcohol taste that you get. I cannot decide if it is good or bad. I kind of like this taste as it makes if different from other Christmas Ales.

M- Good complex feel in the mouth

O- I really like this beer - better on draft than in the bottle. I know some think it is over rated but it has a unigue sweet taste that I can't deny is great

Serving type: on-tap

01-06-2012 04:32:33 | More by beerfish68
Photo of mdfb79

New York

4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 12/30/11 notes. Had on tap at The Big Hunt in Washington, DC. Served in a pint glass.

a - Pours a deep amber color with one inch of white head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of gingerbread, spices, bready malts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and toasted malts. Lots of cinnamon and ginger, smells great to me.

t - Tastes of cinnamon, gingerbread, nutmeg, spices, bready malts, toasted malts, light toffee. More cinnamon than the nose, and a tiny step again. Really liking this.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation. Pretty smooth and creamy.

o - Overal I thought this was a great Winter Warmer. Lots of cinnamon and gingerbread in the nose and taste which I love, and exactly what I was expecting. Would certainly buy it again.

Serving type: on-tap

01-01-2012 20:22:02 | More by mdfb79
Photo of MsRif


3.68/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on-tap at Pinocchio's in Media, PA. Poured a clear golden color with a thin white head that retained well. Minimal lacing. Had an aroma of HONEY, cinnamon and sweet malts. The honey is even more prominent in the taste. The spices are certainly there as well, but wow...I have never so clearly tasted honey in a beer before. Certainly smooth and enjoyable.

Medium in body with pretty high carbonation. I finished this one pretty quickly because it was so smooth. I've had better Christmas Ales...but this one is still quite good.

Serving type: on-tap

12-16-2011 00:43:39 | More by MsRif
Photo of smakawhat


3.4/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured on tap at Jose Andres' America Eats Tavern into a pilsner style glass.

No foam or head presented. Clear dark orange body with some slow rising carbonation coming up. Since there is only the body to describe there's not much else to say.

Nose is pretty muted. There's faint dry malt, and some mild nutmeg. But really it's a pretty closed nose.

Taste is mild bread dough, mixing with not clove spices. Sweetness comes on the aftertaste more so, even some fruity cherry sensations. Mouthfeel has some sticky like quality but it's also a bit wet, carbonation seems a little fizzy but tolerable.

Overall, not sure how much this was opened up on the pour, but it seems like I am preferring Great Lakes out of the bottle than on tap based on my experience.

Serving type: on-tap

12-11-2011 14:41:44 | More by smakawhat
Photo of mwbeerman


2.65/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an amber/copper color with a full head that dissipates rather quickly. Crystal clear with very little visual carbonation. Lots of spice in the smell, cinnamon being the most prevelant with a complementary sweet spice (cloves?). Caramel and sweet malt also in the aroma, along with a slight roast. Altogether a very fragrant beer. Cinnamon hits the palate right off the bat, transitioning into a a sweet malt/caramel flavor, creating a very enjoyble contrast. Finishes with an unappealing bitter spice aftertaste (think the bitterness in cinnamon without the sweet). Spices are aggressive in this beer, but not in a bad way. A nice medium body, though I would have preferred a thicker beer (On the other hand, I have had thinner winter warmers...). Very nice balance to this beer, mixing the bitter spice and the sweet malt. The carbonation in the beer brings forward the spice bite, aiding in the contrast through most of the sip. I will be revisiting this beer throughout the winter, although I would like to see a tiny bit more hop presence in the beer. A great beer to keep you warm.

Serving type: on-tap

12-10-2011 01:13:13 | More by mwbeerman
Photo of ehammond1

3.73/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On Tap

Columbus, OH

Deep, dark orange and auburn with a thin off-white head that eventually leaves small spots of lace down the glass.

Mildly spiced aroma: cinnamon, nutmeg, and perhaps a bit of peppermint. Nice and appropriate per the style--not overly aggressive.

The flavor is a touch more bland than the aroma might indicate, which is to say a bit disappointing. Fruit cake, cinnamon, and mint combine for a pleasant, though mild Winter warmer.

Thin to medium bodied with low to moderate carbonation.

A nice Winter warmer. I could drink this on Christmas.

Serving type: on-tap

12-07-2011 02:34:06 | More by ehammond1
Photo of ForWhatAlesYou


3.95/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap into a 16oz pint glass at Stout's Pub in Falcon Heights, MN.

A: Very rich, deep amber color with a red tone. 1 finger pale head which holds nicely and leaves a spotty lace.

S: Light spiced baked goods. Brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger.

T: Gingerbread, but not overly so. Good malty backbone. Hops lend a piney tinge that certainly reminds me of Christmas. Very good overall. Not an overdone novelty beer like many winter seasonals can be.

M: A little average. Some dryness.

D: Interesting enough to keep me coming back. Would be a welcome addition to my celebration.

Serving type: on-tap

12-06-2011 16:04:46 | More by ForWhatAlesYou
Photo of xnicknj


3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap at hawthornes in philly

Pours a deep copper color with some brighter reddish hues. A nice beige head rests on top, retaining for a while and leaving some patchy lacing on the glass.

Rich and malty in the nose with toffee and caramel. Some bready notes with cocoa and and sweetness. Light alcohol warmth.

Malty and rich up front with toffee. Some dark fruit notes with a touch of burnt sugar. Some pine and spruce-like spice. Burly backbone with bready and caramel tones. Decent amount of sweetness, but not overwhelming. Finishes a bit warm and chewy.

Fuller medium body, well carbonated, a little chewy and sticky on the tongue. A pretty tasty beer for the season, something I'd definitely have again.

Serving type: on-tap

11-29-2011 23:14:09 | More by xnicknj
Photo of garuda


4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Clear deep copper, white head that retains well with little lacing.

S/T - It's like Christmas in a glass. Graham cracker, ginger snaps, sweet bready malts with low hop bitterness, just enough to balance out the finish.

M - Medium body, carbonation is a little higher than I would have liked.

O - I'm not really a fan of the style overall, but this gets it right.

Serving type: on-tap

11-24-2011 12:19:58 | More by garuda
Photo of KAP1356


3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Could have swore I reviewed this one. Apparently not! On draft at Fathead's at lunch on Friday November 18. Poured into a Nonic glass...

A - Presented a deeper copper color with a 1 finger beige head with slightly good retention. Some slight lace as well.

S - Lots of spices right off the bat. Ginger is taking the stage here with connamon, clove and some slight nutmeg. Some sweet, toasted malts in the background, but the spices really take the stage here.

T - Spices come out even more on the palate with ginger and clove standing out the most to me. Sweet, bready malts back it up as they tie the spices together well.

M - There is a slight burn here and there from the spices. Medium bodied with a soft, but continued carbonation.

O - Really a nice winter warmer. One of the better ones that I have had, but still relies on all the spices without much else to make it really pop.

Serving type: on-tap

11-22-2011 01:57:02 | More by KAP1356
Photo of mjw1200


4/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

at chappys taproom and grille south of dayton ohio. I missed this on the menu the first time I read it, glad I took a 2nd glance (not sad I had an old rasputin first though).

The smell was very light, nor me or my wife were getting a lot from it. I think the pour could have been better to leave more of a head, which there was none. The smell i did get was that of a cinamon and honey, but it took a while to get that.

I really loved the taste. Clove, pine, cinamon, honey, caramel. amazing. holidays in a bottle.

overall it was pretty easy to drink but the cloves kind of made me need some water in between to clear it out, and start over, it seemed like it built on top when I didnt have water and it made it harder to drink.

Serving type: on-tap

11-21-2011 02:42:49 | More by mjw1200
Photo of MrMcGibblets


4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: lighter color than expected-copper/bronze. Clear. No head whatsoever.
S: definitely ginger. Honeyed malts and baking/dessert spices.
T: saa. Medium to full sweetness. Very little to no hop bitterness, spices bring a little counterbalance. Sweet finish. like drinking a flat sweet mead.
M: I drink at this bar weekly, so I doubt its the taps...this has very little to no carbonation, which would have helped to balance out the sweetness and made for a less sticky sweet mouthfeel.
O: carbonation please.
update: had it on bottle. regardless, CO2 issues on tap-must be a problem w the tap, not the keg i figure.

Serving type: on-tap

11-19-2011 06:05:05 | More by MrMcGibblets
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Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 1,975 ratings.