1. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale - Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Great Lakes Christmas AleGreat Lakes Christmas Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

1,966 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1966
Reviews: 767
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 12.88%


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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers
Ratings: 1,966 | Reviews: 767 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Gueuzedude
Gueuzedude

Arizona

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

Best by date of January 2007, Sampled January 2007
This beer sits a brilliantly clear, dark, amber to burnt copper color when held up to the light, otherwise it sits a dark amber brown color. The beer is initially topped by a three-finger thick, tan colored head that is frothy and leaves some layered lacing on the sides of the glass. The aroma is fruity up front, but then begins to take on a spice cake sort of character that drives a spicy sweetness. The spices are not so dominant that you can easily pick out the specifics; I get hints of cinnamon, ginger, perhaps some nutmeg, all spice, and clove and some spicy cardamom like notes. Underneath this is a fruit character that makes me think of cherries, and raisins.

The taste is lightly sweet up front, with a definitely spicy middle. A ginger-like peppery character rests solidly in the middle of this brew, actually it tends to linger a bit in the finish along with a cinnamon character. This beer is quite light and drinkable, in fact it drinks much easier than even 7.5%. I really like the spice levels in this beer, it is quite noticeable, but not so dominating that it is distracting. Fruity notes provide a nice balance to the spices; notes of cherries, green raisins, sweet Muscat, and even a light orange note reminiscent what one would find in some dessert wines. In the end this is quite drinkable and even enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2007 00:29:09 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of jwc215
jwc215

Wisconsin

3.6/5  rDev -9.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2013 22:11:10 | More by jwc215
Photo of RblWthACoz
RblWthACoz

Pennsylvania

4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2008 05:17:36 | More by RblWthACoz
Photo of WVbeergeek
WVbeergeek

Ohio

3.95/5  rDev -0.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2003 23:29:02 | More by WVbeergeek
Photo of StonedTrippin
StonedTrippin

Colorado

3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

my twin brother's absolute favorite beer. youd never suspect its 7.5% abv either. the pour is a light and clear sopper color with a moderate red hue, and a lazy but lasting off white head, foamy, roughly half an inch high. the nose is cinnamon and ginger are evident, as is a richer malty sweet body. the flavor isnt sweet though, and that is this beer's best feature. its spiced, but its dry, its malty, but its crisp, its fruity, but its hoppy. there is a lot of strange contradictions happening here, but all work magically. spice up front, malty candied fruit through the middle, and spruced up groggy booze in the finish. this is yummy as anything thats out this time of year. there is an airy body, feeling much lighter than it must actually be, and a mellow but adequate co2 infusion. one of the best great lakes beers going, and certeinly one of the better winter brews available on the east coast. this is the dope show.

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2012 04:18:12 | More by StonedTrippin
Photo of tempest
tempest

Pennsylvania

3.53/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Alto Cinco and drank it along side a covered burrito with chicken. This beer was basically a big, smooth amber ale - light caramel and toffee - with spiced with pumpkin pie, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little ginger. Drinkable and festive, but I'm not blown away. The spices and malt are at least very well balanced.

Serving type: on-tap

11-26-2009 01:36:11 | More by tempest
Photo of mdfb79
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 akorsak
akorsak

Pennsylvania

3.55/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a trade with DuqTroops.

A: The ale is a deep amber, almost brown color with a white wisp of head that has not retained or laced.

S: The aroma is spicy with honey sweetness and nutmeg.

T: The ale has a great deal of strong spices. First is the ginger, providing a slightly sweet but very drying flavor. The ginger is quickly followed by cinnamon, honey and nutmeg. The final flavor to pop up is a strong cardamon.

M: The spices are plentiful and strong, creating the best winter warmer I've had this season.

D: The spices are strong, good for a cold winter night (not the 50 degree nights we've been having thus far in December). I may even mull a bottle and see if the heat brings out more spices.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2006 01:41:32 | More by akorsak
Photo of Rifugium
Rifugium

Pennsylvania

3.73/5  rDev -5.8%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

05-09-2011 16:25:12 | More by Rifugium
Photo of rhoadsrage
rhoadsrage

Illinois

2.85/5  rDev -28%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer a nice deep orangish-brown body that is crystal clear and a nice thin off-white head sits on top. It has a strong carbonation of tiny bubbles.

S- The smells of graham crackers and toasted malt with a hint of biscuit malt and a slight spice smell that is a bit off.

T- The slight sweetness of toasted malt is mixed with a taste of cinnamon and ginger that taste chemical together. The finish has a slight ginger hint. The hop spiciness is very faint at the finish and the alcohol doesn't really come through much.

M- Nice medium mouthfeel with some fizzy making it feel more full. No alcohol warmth or astringency.

D- This beer has a good base beer but the cinnamon and ginger are not good spices to pair. Even when the spices are good quality they have a chemical taste and smell to them.

Serving type: bottle

11-18-2005 04:08:34 | More by rhoadsrage
Photo of Wasatch
Wasatch

Utah

3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to BuckEyeNation for this one.

Pours a clear copper color, a quick fizzy head, nice carbonation, not much lacing afterwards. The nose is of sweet malts, ginger, and honey. The taste follows the nose, quite different Winter Warmer than other's I've had, nice sweet/honey taste, clean finish. Light-Medium body. Very drinkable, would be fooled about the 7.5% ABV though, tasty. Would recommend at least once.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2006 00:28:06 | More by Wasatch
Photo of ppoitras
ppoitras

Massachusetts

3.15/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle obtained via trade with Lewis13 from RB. Thanks for the opportunity... Best by Jan 19, 2006. Oops.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" beige head over the slightly cloudy coppery amber brew. Head fades at a moderate pace, with sporadic lasting lace. Aroma is dominated by sweet malts and spices. Taste is a muddy mixture of spice, grains, and piney hops. Mouthfeel is kind of thin, and this isn't something I would probably search out again. But as a one-time seasonal visitor, it's not too bad.

Serving type: bottle

05-11-2007 02:02:51 | More by ppoitras
Photo of Kegatron
Kegatron

Pennsylvania

4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2007 17:46:39 | More by Kegatron
Photo of biegaman
biegaman

Ontario (Canada)

4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Antique copper kettle with vivid - and very pretty - overtones of auburn; it is both spotlessly clear and eloquently coloured. Even lightly tipping the glass will cause the bubbles, which flutter like snowflakes, to actively stagger back on course upwards. Its filmy layer of head looks anemically thin but actually has a fair retention and can be very responsive to swirling.

The aroma has the unmistakable distinctness of honey and a sweetness that overcoats the fine hop presence as well as a bulky chunk of malt. Those malts, which seem a lot more dominant in this sample, have a very British makeup to them. They smell of ever so finely toasted bread and offer hints of butterscotch, walnuts, toffee, and crisply baked cookies.

The spices may be subtle and delicate but they are not entirely indistinct. A sort of 'right off the baker's spice rack' general brown spice character can be both smelled and tasted. The label gives its secret away as being cinnamon and ginger, but I would also buy into nutmeg and/or cardamom. The flavour bears much resemblance to gingerbread and/or spiced Christmas cake.

The malts, never to be forgotten, provide a good, ample dousing of caramel, maple and nuts. Something is reminding me of candy apples and apple turnovers. The honey is very forward and overrules most of the spice with notes of sticky sweet nectar and the wholesome taste of strained liquid honey.

Most impressive, perhaps, is that absolutely none of the 7.5% alcohol is noticed. This certainly drinks as easy as any standard strength pint. The honey and spices make the beer taste mulled and pacify the bitterness right out of the beer, causing it to drink with an almost sugar-coated sweetness. The balance of spices and the integration of honey works wonderfully with these toasty, toffee coated malts.

It seems regardless of how many of these I buy, I always end up wishing I had another bottle. Granted, I'd make that same statement of anything by Great Lakes Brewing but I really do consider their Christmas Ale to be a fantastic seasonal offering. It is a savory, warming, and easy drinking ale perfectly suited for the holiday season - I better buy even more next year!

Serving type: bottle

12-21-2008 22:43:08 | More by biegaman
Photo of plaid75
plaid75

New York

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

Poured a medium amber hue with a one finger foamy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a sweet malt aroma complimented by cinammon and honey.

The taste was a nicely spiced solid grain experience. Elements of spicy cinammon and sweet honey complimented the toaty biscuit flavor.

The mouthfeel was full.

Overall a nice and potent winter warmer. Would like to get my hands on some more.

Serving type: on-tap

10-23-2006 20:20:56 | More by plaid75
Photo of Viggo
Viggo

Ontario (Canada)

4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a standard bottle, its a nice light reddish colour with generous whitish head. It smells of malt and spice. The taste is richly malty as well, with some spicy notes. The mouthfeel is nice and smooth, just slides down your throat. I give this beer a high drinkability score, easily a beer you could sit down with when its cold and play poker. Excellent beer, very recommended.

Serving type: bottle

10-25-2004 23:00:13 | More by Viggo
Photo of Beerandraiderfan
Beerandraiderfan

Nevada

3.5/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

One of the best midwest holiday ales. Looks dark brown/red/copper. Aroma is very much like Christmas: some beer, pine, gravy, mashed potatoes, yams, ham, cranberry, cinammon mesh.

Taste, you pick up some of those things, who knows, maybe a little pumpkin and coriander. A few of the things in Anchor Christmas probably, but more pronounced in this offering.

Drinkability suffers a little, too sweet and just too much like food in a blender to keep chugging these along. Heavy.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2010 05:27:38 | More by Beerandraiderfan
Photo of Bighuge
Bighuge

Minnesota

4.35/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy scarlet red in color. Thin creamy, yet bubbly, tan head. This beer smells like Christmas: Cinamon, spice and everything nice. The beer tastes like Christmas joy as well. The cinamon is the main player of the spices, but the orange contributions are notable and enjoyable as well. Nice little biscuity malt backbone and some alcohol notes to give a little umph to this beer. Carbonated nicely. Medium body. One of the more enjoyable spiced winter offerings I have come across. Thank you PhantomVoodoo for the sample.

I have now sampled 6 Great Lakes beverages. I can't comment on their consistency as I don't have consistent access to them, but the quality of the brews I've had is extremely high. One of the best in the US in my opinion. I've doled out 4.5s to the Elliot Ness, Burning River and Dortmuder Gold. I've rated the Edmund Fitzgerald a 4.6, the X-mas ale a 4.4 and the Loctender Lager a 4.25. My new top 3 would include K-ZOO, Stone and Great Lakes.

I'd love to see what they could do with a Barleywine, Imperial Stout or IPA.

Serving type: bottle

12-26-2002 20:18:53 | More by Bighuge
Photo of Stinkypuss
Stinkypuss

Pennsylvania

4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. A bit of head that fades to the edges. Copper in color and clear.

s. Spices and honey are apparent. Some malt adds to the mix.

t. A nice complex brew here. Some nice caramel malt. Hints of pine from the hops (possibly spruce as well?). Some spice (cinnamon and nutmeg namely) in the background, and the honey only adds to a lingering sweet finish, otherwise balanced out by the bitterness.

m. Medium bodied crisp and refreshing. A challange to my palate and a dry semi sweet finish.

d. This is a most excellent winter warmer. Complex and warming indeed. A winner. What I have come to expect from this brewery.

Serving type: bottle

09-25-2008 00:51:10 | More by Stinkypuss
Photo of Huhzubendah
Huhzubendah

District of Columbia

3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2010 05:53:51 | More by Huhzubendah
Photo of Slatetank
Slatetank

Pennsylvania

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

I 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.

Serving type: on-tap

12-09-2010 15:16:19 | More by Slatetank
Photo of smakawhat
smakawhat

Maryland

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 Georgiabeer
Georgiabeer

Georgia

4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice orange amber with a decent head that fades pretty quickly. Smellis honey up front wit some spice on the finish (coriander?, Fennel seed? Caraway?). The taste is an explosion of honey- enough to make this really be more of a Braggot in style, and more of the same spice on the nose. The honey is delicious- not just sweet, but very floral wildflower honey. Mouthfeel is surpisingly dry and refreshing. Quite drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

01-01-2007 23:18:34 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of superspak
superspak

Michigan

4/5  rDev +1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-09-2012 05:58:39 | More by superspak
Photo of dbrauneis
dbrauneis

North Carolina

3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2013 01:46:26 | More by dbrauneis
Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 1,966 ratings.