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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

818 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 818
Hads: 2,802
Avg: 3.91
pDev: 24.3%
Wants: 157
Gots: 596 | 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: 818 | Hads: 2,802
Photo of zeff80
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured out a semi-opaque, fizzy, burgundy color. It had a foamy, bubbly, two-finger head that left sticky, thick rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of nutmeg, cinnamon, pine, clove and some roasted malt.

T - The ginger taste really comes through with some cinnamon flavors, too. There was a sweet honey kick that blended smoothly with the caramel maltiness.

M - It was crisp and sharp with a smooth finish. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a really great tasting Christmas ale, however, the flavors are a bit too much to have several at a time.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.55/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear, burnished copper-brown topped by a large beige head that displays impressive persistance and leaves a small to moderate amount of lace in sheets when it eventually departs.

The nose is sweet and spicy and the flavor is malty sweet, accented nicely by honey and by abundant caramel/toffee notes. There's some spiciness (especially cinnamon), but it's not overdone.

The finish contains a moderate amount of bitterness and a trace of alcohol. The mouthfeel is exemplary; full and rich, very creamy. Mouthfilling with some mouthcoating as well. Drinkability is high.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale is my first beer from the best brewery in my home state of Ohio and my former residence (3 years) of Cleveland. I'm very impressed. I expected a good, solid Christmas beer and those expectations were met and exceeded by a long shot. I only got a single this year, but you can bet that I'll be getting more of this fine seasonal during my future trips home for the holidays. I would have no trouble at all drinking Christmas Ale year-round.

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Photo of oberon
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Best before 1/17/07.Tis not quite the Xmas season but its great to see the Winter Warmer/Holiday brews out and Iam glad to be able to get this locally,poured a lighter clear copper with a thin 1/2 finger white head left pretty quickly leaving no mark of lace behind.Honeyish esters really stand out in the nose along with some light roasted nut and a real leafy hop presence wich was nice with most beers of the style not showing enough hop presence this was a nice thing to see,the cinnamon and honey imparted in this beer show thru nicely upfront melding into a dryer leafy almost earthy like presence finishing with a sharp ginger-like note that lingers.Interesting I must say no way I would think this 7.5% alc a little light but man it goes down easy and it warms the inside a little,I like it its not overly sweet and has a hop presence to it.

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Photo of oline73
3.83/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a very slightly cloudy reddish amber with a finger of creamy off white head. The head fades to a small layer on top of the beer.

Smell: Sweet with some bready malt and a strong fruity presence. Definitely picking up some spice, mainly cinnamon.

Taste: Not as sweet at the smell. Bready malt with the fruity notes. Still picking up some spices, but there is a bitterness in the finish that wasn't in the smell.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with tingly carbonation and a very dry finish.

Overall: This is a really nice Christmas beer. Always try to get a hold of one during the holidays.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.78/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks for the bottle, Jeff!

Pours a clear copper color with a finger of off-white head. Lots of cinnamon and ginger aromas, especially ginger. There is a nice bit of sweet malt and bread going on as well. The flavor has plenty of bready malt sweetness as well as some toffee. The ginger is fairly assertive, maybe a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg in there as well. Medium body with low to medium carbonation.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.23/5  rDev -17.4%
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.

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Photo of jlindros
3.33/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Got this, another of the brewery that is constantly growing in my book, thanks to the 365 beers in 365 days himself, Mr. Noslenwerd.

A: A perfect pour just brings the head to the miniscus of the glass just stopped from overflowing on my overizes snifter tulip glass. A 3 finger head rises up but also fades quickly and leaves a slight lacing. It's a semi clear semi hazy reddish orange color.

N: Some malts and spices. Slight malty with a decent pale malt hit and some crystal and a little darker malts. With that is some spices, pumpkin beer reminiscent. A little cinnamon, toasty, bready, sweet candy aromas, just overall nice candy spiced Halloween/Pumpkin/Thanksgiving/Christmas ale like aromas. I also get a touch of honey and some sweet malts, and a slight hint of should be lager aroma despite this being an ale.

T: Similar to nose, with lots of spices. Some light malts, and toasty malts, very pumpkin or holiday spiced ale like. Touch of lager flavors with toasty malts, sweet malts, etc. Lots of spices, like tons! Cinnamon, allspice, pumpkin flavoring, grains of paradise, etc, and some of those other spices typically used in these style beers. A little malty sweetness.

M: Med to lighter body with decent but a little lower carbonation.

F: Some sweetness but mostly dry with lots of lingering pumpkin beer like flavors, lots of lingering spices, creamy gourd fruit flavors, fluffy slightly, a little sticky sweetness. It dries off the tongue a lot actually.

Overall a very bleh beer. Probably the least tasty from Great Lakes so far. I'm not big on spiced beers, and this just goes over the top with spices. Pretty hard to get down the gullet with all the spices. Thanks Drew, but this is the first GL beer that is not my cup of tea or cup of spice I should say.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.01/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a clear copper with about 2 finger widths of fizzy light tan foam. Once it settled down, it retained well with a nice light frothy covering that left some light lacing. Very pleasant looking brew. Aroma is sweetness, spice, and citrus.

Taste is dominated by spice initially. Most notabley cinnamon and ginger. It's nicely balanced though by a mix of honey sweetness and orange zest. Finish is just slightly hoppy. The mouthfeel is on the lighter side of medium with just a slight underpining of heat.

I nice mix of festive flavors and easy drinkibility make this a great Christmas beer and another winner from the GLBC.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.12/5  rDev -20.2%
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.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.47/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hazy reddish-brown body with a thin creamy tan head. The head holds OK, drops to a creamy collar and thin surface covering, and leaves some spotty lace. The aroma expresses soft dark fruit, sweet toffee, a touch of cocoa and some mild spice. Very nice! The full body combines with a very fine carbonation from bottle conditioning to give a smooth and creamy mouthfeel.
The flavor offers a very nice blend of softly sweet malt with a touch of honey and chocolate, and mild spice (cinnamon, ginger). It finishes semi-dry with a lingering sweet malt, some clear cinnamon flavor, and a drying spiciness. The alcohol is almost completely hidden! Very well-balanced with just enough spice to keep it interesting throughout the glass, but not overwhelm the palate. Definitely a seasonal to look forward to!

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Acquired from pochman, courtesy of BA Secret Santa 2009 so a big "Thank You" goes out to him. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep golden brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malts, spices, honey and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts with spices like cinnamon, ginger & nutmeg followed by sweet flavors of caramel and fruit. The malt character is hearty and the hops presence is mild as you usually find in this type of beer. The after-taste is slightly spicy and slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Flavorful, goes down ok, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, it's a decent Christmas beer but there are others in the style that I would pick first.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

look 4 smell-4 taste-4 mouthfeel-4 Overall-4I had this on tap at Tj's during the 7th Anniversary celebration.

A deep copper with good clarity and small beige head w/ tiny tiny beading, crystal clear and semi-good retention and lace. The nose is very spicy with cinnamon, mildly sweet notes w/ subtle woody nutmeg and a dash of ginger along with a mild fruit note from the yeast ester. The feel is tinged w/ spice and slight woody texture w/ semi dry finish and mellow spice.

The taste gives a mild vanilla quality with caramel malt and fruit w/ subtle cinnamon, ginger and slight orange note w/ a festive nutmeg accent-pretty solid flavors with spicing not going too far to be considered flavorful. The drinkability is good, a quality christmas beer, w/ decent smooth yeast and spice cohesion. Lots of nicely toasted malts - a winter warmer, good for the season and fits the style well.

Re-review 12/11/14 enjoyed on tap at Brass Rail Deli, served chilled in a pint.
The color is golden amber like honey with thick haze and thin white head with fine bead and lace ring sticks with decent head retention. The smell has lots of spice with sweet malt odor and a light ginger and spiced quality that is earthy with mild honey-ginger tea like smell. The feel is thick yet not cloying with medium carbonation and moderately spiced body with light sweetness, low bitterness and semi-dry finish with light alcohol in the feel.

The taste of ginger is prominent with fresh honey-malt backing and light cinnamon mid palate with slight warming spiciness with subtle caramel in the malt with a good amount of hop & ginger continuing into the flavor after the initial sips with a mild alcohol flavor as it warms w/ nice earthy quality w/ no cinnamon candy flavor just nice fresh spice and honey into a mostly dry finish. This is a very tasty festive ale with spice that is sufficient to match the honey which is a nice compliment & is very drinkable for the strength. I would recommend this to anyone who likes ginger or honey in beer

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Photo of Rifugium
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First had: on tap at Pinocchio's, Media, PA

Tasty! Poured clear copper-orange with a nice off-white head. Obvious spice in the nose, and some honey sweetness. Crisp and slightly fruity to the taste, nutty with a strong honey sensation immediately following, and later flavors of nutmeg, ginger, and light cinnamon, when the honey mellows. A slight hop bite riding in with the alcohol. Nicely balanced, medium mouthfeel, and a pleasant drink overall.

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Photo of russpowell
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bumping up the taste score after having a few more bottles, the spice mix started really working for me

Pours a amber with cream color head. Good lacing & average head retention

S: Holiday spice & faint metallic notes

T: Follows the nose, hints of brown sugar, plus a bit of cranberry up front. Hints of gingerbread as this warms, plenty of spice & a touch of herbal & woody spice sneaking through the back door. Finishes with some hop bitterness, but mostly gingerbread & spice, would probably work great as a mulled be type of libation

MF: Medium bodied, fairly firm carbonation

Drinks easy for the style, I am bit saturated with this style of beer right now, fairly typical of the style. Expected more from these guys...

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear copper amber with a nice off white head. Nose is subdued, but distinct. I get apples and carob. But mostly the apple shows. Flavor is nice and earthy and well balanced. Good level of malts and almost a touch of spice to it that just elevates things a wee bit. Feel is good on both liquid and carbonation. This is so easy to drink. It could possibly be the easiest drinking winter warmer I had this year, most in part due to some very brown ale characteristics in the mix. If I had more of these I wouldn't mind at all.

But alas. This is the end of the Great Lakes brews I have. Soon I will return to Brooklyn (I am in Pittsburgh right now), and they will be out of reach.

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

12 ounce bottle into signature pint glass, best before 2/22/2013. Pours lightly hazy copper amber color with a small 1 finger fairly dense off white head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Spotty minimal lacing on the glass. Aromas of caramel, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, toast, brown sugar, cherry, raisin, bread, and herbal spiciness. Very nice aromas with good strength and balance. Taste of caramel, bread, toast, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, honey, brown sugar, raisin, and herbal spiciness. Slight spicy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toast, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, clove, bread, and herbal spiciness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice malt/spice flavor balance with good complexity; zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a lightly creamy and slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with hardly any warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice spice amber ale! Well balanced with good flavor complexity; very smooth and easy to drink. Very enjoyable offering as expected.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.96/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Copper amber with a very nice caramel tone thicket of head, lacing forms a thck collar that continues to leave intersipping full rings. Aroma: Malty slightly toasted nuts but the spicing steals the show very festive, with cinnamon and tones of nutmeg some slightly floral hopping going on as well a bit one sided but who cares Great Lakes can do no wrong. Taste: Fluffy layer of creaminess blended with the spicy tones of ginger and a rich honey finish, and alcohol is very well hidden didn't know that this one was 7.5 % they are usually pretty conservative with their alcohol level at the GLBC, but hey 'tis the season, right? Mouthfeel: Medium body a bit sticky but not cloying in any way smooth mild carbonation, can't complain. Drinkability: On draft much more drinkable but the bottle just seems to concentrate the cinnamon and ginger spices just a bit much one though is a good experience to be had go out and find some while the Christmas beers are still here.

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Photo of chinchill
3.69/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle served in a goblet.

Body is deep amber-copper with excellent clarity. Head has poor retention.

Smells and tastes like a spicy brown ale. The spice mix says "winter holidays" and, while obvious and too strong for some ales, is not so powerful as to mask the solid caramel and medium roast malts used in this ale. Acceptably sweet.

Medium body with medium-light carbonation.

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Photo of mdfb79
4/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

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Photo of jwc215
3.62/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Best before 03/01/14:

Pours a beautiful copper with an off-white head. Some lacing sticks.

The smell is of Christmas spices - cinnamon and ginger - with caramel and a touch of honey.

The taste is of cinnamon, ginger, honey, some pine and caramel. It has a semi-sweet, spicy finish.

It hits full-bodied. Warm going down.

This is a malty, spicy winter ale. A little too spiced for me, but it's still a nice winter sipper.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.98/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear medium amber in color with moderate amounts of active visible carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass and a faint amount of copper highlights. The beer has a finger tall creamy foamy light beige head that slowly reduces to a large patch of thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer with a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of caramelized and toasted malts with slightly stronger aromas of ginger, vanilla, and nutmeg.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of caramelized and lightly toasted malts with a touch of sugar cookie sweetness. There is a nice combination of spices which follow that includes ginger, vanilla, and nutmeg.

M: Medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation.

O: Overall the flavor of this beer reminds me of a combination of gingerbread and sugar cookies - one of the better Christmas beers that I have tried. Easy to drink and enjoyable with very well hidden alcohol.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.72/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was in a DC beer store recently and picked this up. The clerk informed me that they were under a strict ONE BOTTLE limit on this beer. I had no idea it was this popular, doesn't appear to be anything special oh well.

Beer is red / amber with a mild haze, broken white head of small bubble, some lacing, moderate carbonation. Looks fine.

Aroma...Hello! super strong, some alcohol, lots of spice, cloves and nutmeg come forward, malt, yeast, esters and bread. Interesting.

I guess I need to recalibrate what I think a winter warmer is...Beer is light and has some grainy acidity at the end of the palate. The forward is mildly sweet with some cinnamon and nutmeg spice in the middle. As far as I can tell, nothing special. Drinkability is fine but I'm failing to see what the huge draw for this beer is. No interesting yeast character, no odd hop profile, just an herbed ale. Am I missing something?

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Photo of tdm168
3.42/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to jtd1969 for sharing this one with me.

Pours a deep amber with a quarter of an inch of off white head that has little retention. The nose is sweet with mild notes of honey, faint cinnamon, and fainter ginger. The flavor opens up with some faint honey and then moves into a candy-like, sugary sweetness. The finish has notes of cinnamon and very faint ginger. The flavor profile overall is rather light and laid back. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, smooth, and moderately carbonated.

This isn't a bad beer, but it's uninteresting. There's is nothing that sets it apart from any of the other winter warmers that are also brewed with cinnamon, ginger, and honey. It was nice to try once, but I wouldn't have it again.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by Dreadnaught33. Thanks Jonathan!

A: This beer appears a slightly hazy shade of orange, with an eighth inch of head that falls away after a few moments, leaving some decent lacing upon the glass.

S: The aroma is very potent, with a huge bouquet of spices, including cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

T: The taste is full of Christmas spices, with hints of alcohol when you delve past the dominant spice scents. I would like the beer to be a bit more robust, and / or have a more substantial malt bill, better supporting the myriad of pleasant spices used in this creation.

M: Thin in body, with moderate carbonation.

D: A nice choice if you're in the mood for a spiced Christmas brew.

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Photo of WesWes
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours an amber color with a 1/2" offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice pale and crystal malt scent along with a light array of spices that's not overly done. The ginger is the most pronounced. The taste is good. It has a nice cinnamon and ginger flavor along with a dry crystal malt taste. It's relatively light for a warmer, but the spice contribution adds a nice touch. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a good drinking winter seasonal. It's nothing exceptional, but it's good for what it is.

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Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 818 ratings.