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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

819 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 819
Hads: 2,819
Avg: 3.91
pDev: 13.04%
Wants: 157
Gots: 612 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 819 | Hads: 2,819
Photo of Brutaltruth
3.94/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This fine winter warmer enjoyed from a growler poured in a Delirium snifter pours a bright reddish amber with a thick slowly dissipating white head that leaves GREAT lacing. Nose of cinnamon, nutmeg, light clove, rich caramel malts, dark cherries, and some light astringent alcohol. Flavors are caramel malts to the front, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg to the sides and back with a light vanilla flavor and cherry taste to the back. Nutmeg and cinnamon resides on the aftertaste heavier this year than in the past, but still a very nice Christmas ale for the holidays. Good carbonation. The ale finishes wet and coating with a light bittering from nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon.


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Photo of KTCamm
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12/9...pours bright copper red, little foam that settles out. Hearty mulled spice nose, ginger bread, cherries, toffee. Taste is a sweet malt, fruity, juicy, clove bitter, flat soda close. Honey sweetness more than anything. One and done.

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Photo of HopBomb515
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear Amber with reddish hues and a small khaki head that faded to nothing and didn't leave any lacing. I didn't see it mentioned but mine had some noticeable sediment floating. Aromas of honey, caramel, cherry, nutmeg and cinnamon. Taste hits up front with caramel and light cherry flavor, nutmeg and cinnamon spices hit mid palate and it finishes with an earthy hop bite woven with some honey, cherry and spice notes. Thin end of medium body, sharp carbonation. Bit of spice laden finish that lingers and tastes, off. Overall one of the better Christmas ales I've had, it could use a touch less spice and a clean up on the finish.

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Photo of DarthVorador
2.86/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Not a fan of this one at all! It smells & tastes like something from Sam Adams, but worse. Great Lakes is one of my favorite breweries, but I think they dropped the ball on this one!

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

Did a Holiday beer tasting with the wife. You can smell the spices on this one. Doesn't really smell like a winter warmer to me. The taste is sweet and chewy. A little too sweet for my taste. My wife loves it though. Almost buttery sweetness if that makes sense.

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Photo of fscottkey
3.51/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: [4.00] Amber to red color. Has a 1/4 finger white cap (even with a hard pour). The bottle lists the ABV (7.5%) and the best by date 1/25/15.

S: [3.00] I get spices and some Belgian yeast smells.

T: [3.50] I still feel like there is a Belgian yeast taste up front. After that it opens up into a sweet middle. The finish has some mild spices. The overall taste is pleasant - no hint of hop bittering.

M: [4.00] I like the mouth feel. It is really rich and robust with no sense of over carbonation.

O: [3.75] This is a nice beer. It tastes more like a spiced lager to me. The taste is sweet and nice. Very rich malty backbone. There is a low hop level (none detectable). I would drink another - but if I am buying I would get something different.

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Photo of BeerHistoryGuy
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%

I don't have the ability to pour it as I am on the road, so I can only comment on the taste.

This is one of my favorite winter/Christmas beers. There is a nice hint of spices, cinnamon and ginger come through, along with a nice honey taste. It's not nearly as sweet as some holiday beers, but it balances well with the overall taste of the Ale -- along with the aforementioned spices -- that truly make this a balanced beer.

I love this beer. It is a Christmas treat, like a not-too-sweet spiced cake, that's perfect for kicking back, watching some TV, and just relaxing.

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Photo of HattedClassic
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

The beer pours a white foamy head that dissipates very quickly. The beer itself is a very clear copper with a slightly reddish tinge. The beer color also has a bit of honey gold mixed with the red.

The beer smell is very sweet with strong honey notes. The honey note dominate the smell with a little bit of cinnamon and ginger coming out to give it something extra. The overall smell is a very sweet beer with spices. the spices do not seem to be very prominent.

The beer taste is exceptionally indulgent. The beer has very strong honey notes such that it dominates the palate. The taste notes has a few other notes such as a cinnamon note and very, very light ginger note that is almost unnoticeable.

The mouthfeel is pretty heavy bodied and thick for a winter warmer. The carbonation is minimal but feels appropriate.

Overall, the beer feels like a lower ABV version of Mad Elf, which isn't necessarily bad. The sweetness definitely makes me think of Christmas and the honey is pretty good. However, I can't really see drinking more than one of these a day. Despite this, I think that this is still a pretty good beer worth getting. I can certainly see what Great Lakes was going for (a beer reminiscent of red Christmas ornaments) and they definitely succeeded. I would definitely recommend getting a six-pack of this. I wouldn't recommend finishing it in one session.

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Photo of 57md
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%

Copper color. Bready and malty nose. The seasonal spices merge well with the malt base. The finish has a touch of sweet and the potent essence of cinnamon.

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Photo of ChicagoGuy
4/5  rDev +2.3%

At fridge temps, it's refreshing with a nice bitterness and very subtle spice vibe in the background. As it warms up a little, it really opens up - the bitterness all but disappears, and a nice gingerbread spice flavor takes center stage. It's a tasty, interesting sipper.

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

Enjoy by 3/1/15, 12oz bottle poured into a pint glass

A- pours a bright and clear amber color with a small creamy white head that retains long after the pour, remaining creamy on top and leaving behind some short lasting lace

S- lots of ginger aroma up front, quickly followed by graham cracker and pie crust. Hints of cinnamon kick in with toasted bread, dried fruit and a sweet honey aroma to close it out

T- spicing of ginger and cinnamon kick in up front, notes of berry fruit, medicinal & herbal notes and piney hops. Caramel/toffee malty sweetness with toasted notes of bread crust and graham cracker. Honey sweetness as it nears the finish with more fresh ginger on the linger

M- medium body and carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel and a chewy, slightly warming finish

O- a top 3 winter warmer that is packed with flavor, while remaining remarkable drinkable

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Photo of Stevedore
3.99/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, drink by 2/5/2015. Poured into a snifter 12/2/2014.

A- Clear, dark caramel-brown body, one finger white head with low retention time. Eventually becomes a thick collar with a thin film forming on top. Not much lacing. [3.75]

S- Christmas spices, as advertised. Cloves. Ginger. Toffee, caramel sweetness rounds it out. Yeasty minerals. Clean aroma. [4]

F- Cloves, ginger, yeast, herbs, a bit of sage. Balanced out by a nice toffee backbone that provides a nice sweetness to the beer. Finish is herbal and mineral in character. Not particularly bitter. Nice balance of malt and spices, here. [4]

M- Medium bodied, on the thinner side which is just about right. A nice drinking beer, especially for a cooler night. Definitely will keep ya warm. No heat, but very easy to drink. [4]

O- Tasty winter warmer that doesn't overdo the spices. It does everything it needs to do and then some without overdoing it. I expect that of just about every GLBC beer I open, and they have never disappointed. [4]

Final score: 3.99

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Photo of MANix73
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%

I did a side-by-side this weekend with Thirst Dog's 12 Dogs of Christmas. GLBC was lighter in color, lighter on spices & hoppier. If you prefer hoppier, this is the Christmas Ale for you. I prefer the spice & therefore the 12 Dogs. Both are great holiday ales!

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Photo of Ozzylizard
3.31/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Bottle dated 3/1/15 at 45 degrees into shaker
Aroma subdued, no hint of ginger, slightly sweet odor, probably vestiges of the honey
Head average (3 cm, aggressive pour), off white, frothy with large bubbles, rapidly diminishing to 2 mm ring and partial layer
Lacing – virtually none
Body medium orange, clear
Flavor begins sweet but not cloying, muddled spices with none standing out or even identifiable; no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl
Palate medium, syrupy, soft carbonation

Appearance 3.5, Aroma 3, Flavor 3.5, Palate 3.25, Overall 3.25

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Photo of nicholas2121
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great Lakes Christmas Ale brewed by Great Lakes Brewing Co., with an ABV 7.50% This brew pours out a light brown color with a nice white head. This is a filtered brew you can see right though it. The smell is rich with spices and grains. You also pick on some sweetness in the smell. The taste is bold with flavor, you pick up on the sweetness in this brew. You also pick up on the spies in this brew. The mouthfeel is nice, bold and clean. This brew has a nice balance to it for having an ABV of 7.50%, you can not tell the high ABV. There is nothing overpowering in this brew. Great Lakes Brewing Co, did a nice job with this one. I would buy this brew again. Thank You Great Lakes Brewing Co.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, with best by date of 02/09/2015 printed on the label. A new beer to me from Great Lakes Brewing Co. Expectations are good considering the source.

Poured into a Duvel tulip glass.

A - It pours a medium dark coppery orange body with one finger of khaki froth that wanes, and leaves scattered streaks of lacing. Looks good.

S - The aroma is moderate in strength, but pleasant. Lots of sweetened caramel malts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and some light herbal spice rack notes. An indistinct, muted fruitiness also present.

T - Taste follows the nose - sweetened caramel malt & lots of juicy fruitiness in the vain of cherries and berries. Light herbal notes are noticeable, but I probably wouldn't know this was brewed with cinnamon without being told. A touch medicinal, but not distracting.

M - The feel is crisp, smooth, & clean. Very easy drinking despite the moderate 7.50% abv.

Overall, a very nice exemplar of the style; fruity, tasty, and very easy to drink. I will definitely considering picking up more bottles of this.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale -----4/5.

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Photo of BrewUSA
3.39/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Look 7/10
Smell 14/20
Taste 31/40
Feel 8/10
Drinkability 15/20

Overall 75/100

Easily the most overrated craft beer in my opinion, While its not bad. I am totally at a loss as to why the hype machine gets fired up the way it does over this beer. It doesn't seem to have any one thing that stands out as a beer worth seeking out. I suppose its less about how bad this beer is, and more about how many other amazing Christmas Ales and craft beers are out there~

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Photo of docoman
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%

Bought some of this at local Kroger store, yes, grocery store to try... not bad, basic winter style beer... tastes good, great ruby red/rust color... but surprisingly no aroma... but again, good drinking beer and seasonal.

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Photo of trainradio77
3.65/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Not as good this year. The bottles I purchased all had an off flavor. Not good at all and not the same as previous years. On tap was better but still not good.

Purchased 10/26/15. A bit early for Christmas but I was eager to try after last year's debacle. Back to the old version this time. Very good flavor as it used to be. I wish GLB would acknowledge last year was a problem but I'm glad they corrected what ever was wrong.

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Photo of Chiefy770
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%

12 Fl. Oz. Bottle
“Enjoy By” 02/11/15 printed on the label
Reviewed on November 7th, 2014
Served in a Snifter

A creamy light tan head sat on top of a rust-colored body. Decent head, left a good amount of soapy lace throughout.

Lots of spice. Cinnamon was very prominent. Good hit of nutmeg too. Very similar to warm cinnamon rolls… doughy and sweet.

Very sweet notes right off the bat. Cinnamon and ginger really stood out well. A good malt base held the sweet flavours well. The taste is comparable to sweet rolls, coffee cake, etc… treats for a cold day. The alcohol is well-masked by the overall sweetness of this brew. Medium bodied. Moderate carbonation.

I am not the biggest fan of spiced beers, however this one is tastefully spiced (pun-intended). Everything was executed well. A warming welcome to the hectic holiday season.

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Photo of jdonley1180
2.75/5  rDev -29.7%

Ginger, and lots of it. If you used to like Great Lakes Christmas ale and think it just isn't what you remembered. Try Thirsty Dogs "Twelve Dogs of Christmas", it's the old GL Xmas ale recipe

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

Bottle poured into snifter

Clear copper liquid with active carbonation. Dense off white pencil thick layer with dense bubble lacing.

Aroma of cinnamon, orange, gingerbread

First sip has cinnamon and gingerbread. Hint of cloves. Flavor lingers on the middle of the tongue. Smooth

Good sudsing on the front of the tongue.

Had this beer last year and enjoyed it. Good beer that tastes like....Christmas!

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Photo of AndrewRivera21
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%

A must have for the Christmas season. Guaranteed to keep you warm on the cold winter nights. One thing I have noticed is that the taste seems to change year to year. I personally enjoy this brew with a nice coating of cinnamon and sugar along the rim of the glass! Great Lakes never disappoints!

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Photo of UrbanCaveman
4.21/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle of the 2014 edition, poured into the official GLBC Christmas Ale snifter at approximately 50 degrees F.

A: Pours eerily similar to the Eliot Ness lager this year, a clear, ruddy bronze-amber. The pale white head forms thin, and does not linger overlong ere becoming a rim of white. Bubbles rise slowly from the bottom of the glass in a steady stream or three. The lacing is spotty, and quickly slides down the glass.

S: The smell is fantastic, opening with a tone of sweet malt that is quickly joined by a chorus of cinnamon, ginger, and a vaguely floral citrus undertone.

T: Ginger snap cookies sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg open the flavors of this beer, which are then cut with a noticeable floral-citrus hop presence. Some of that bitterness lingers through the finish, which would otherwise be pure cinnamon sugar and ginger. Some clover honey hints swim through the background, adding enough sweetness to offset the hop presence.

M: Creamy and effervescent, this beer goes down smoothly.

O: Being perfectly honest, I have this over a 4 largely due to previous years. The 2014 batch seems fairly on point, though a bit more to the citric-floral hoppy side than I recall previous years being. I'd have liked a sweeter, maltier beer, but this one is still tasty and enjoyable. There's also always next year's batch!

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to whitenads for sending me this one.

Enjoy by: 3/24/14.

Pours a clear dark orange with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, gingerbread, cinnamon, ginger, and earth aromas. Taste is much the same with gingerbread, cinnamon, and ginger flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of earth and spice bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that still has a fresh spice and ginger combination even being over 6 months past its enjoy by date.

Serving type: bottle.

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Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 819 ratings.