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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

810 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 810
Hads: 2,762
Avg: 3.91
pDev: 13.3%
Wants: 151
Gots: 560 | FT: 7
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
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Reviews: 810 | Hads: 2,762
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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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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 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 Mora2000
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a hazy orange color with a white head. The aroma is heavy on the nutmeg and honey. Definitely a heavily spiced Christmas beer. The flavor is more of the same. I get a ton of spices, as well as some toffee and green apples notes. There is a nice sweetness to the flavor. The beer is easy to drink. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.09/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

01/30/06- Received in trade with Irishsnake.

Presentation- 12oz bottle, best by date imprinted on the label. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Cherry in color, or a real deep dark amber. Medium sized 1/2 inch semi creamy head. Very light lacing left behind.

Smell- The first thing that hit me was a cherry and light chocolate scent. Then came the cinnimon and maybe a few other spices. Cherry was the predominant scent for me though.

Taste- Lots of things going on here. Spices up the ying tang, but they meld together so nicely. Cinnimon, honey, ginger, clove, nutmeg, throw in the kitchen sink and you have a pretty damn tasty beer. Nice dark malt background, maybe a real light hoppy fix, but nothing even worth mentioning.

Mouthfeel- Lightly creamy, lower carbonation.

Drinkability- This one is a winner. I can see drinking lots of these if they were available here. Another good cold weather beer, even though the abv isn't huge. I'm liking this one lots.

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Photo of billab914
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a 6 pack of this when I was back in Buffalo for the holiday. I didn't even know Great Lakes distributed to the area and I was very surprised to see it in the local grocery store.

Poured from a 12 bottle into a tulip glass. Poured a dark amber somewhat reddish color with thick white head settled to a small ring that clung to the side of the glass.

Aroma has a lot of spices in it, mostly cinnamon and ginger. Taste also has a lot of spices, cinnamon seems to be the most present but not dominating. Medium bodied and moderate carbonation. Drinkability is pretty good for a spiced beer, I usually can't drink much of these but this one is pretty easy to drink.

Spices are nicely done in this one, they are not so overpowering I can't have more then one. Very good holiday beer and I will be buying this again whenever I go home for the holidays.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.38/5  rDev -13.6%
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.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
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.

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

12oz bottle poured into a small snifter during a blizzard. Not yet available in eastern PA, thanks Matt for getting this.

Christmas looks like a fusion of sunset orange, burnt, rusted penny with a slight hazy appearance. Looks kinda thick out the bottle, a elevated pour started off producing no activity, than all of a sudden, BOOM, a big mound of tannish/beige foam, no stickage no lace, just streaks.

The smell is also a fusion of spices from the kitchen with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, which I personally can't stand in my beers, eeek. I won't subtract for that though. No sign of any hops but there is a sweet malty scent.

A Winter Warmer with alot of spices, this kind of reminded me of drinking different flavored iced teas for some reason. I just get a iced tea vibe from this. A mix between cinnamon, ginger and tea pouches. Luckily the ginger is subdued. A small bite of bread at the end of churrrch and no hops to speak of.

This manages to come off real spicy without the long and sometimes overbearing aftertaste that come with the style. This comes and goes like a flash with a iced tea finish, I'm serious. It's medium bodied but feels and goes down lighter than that. Carb is smoooth with no bite at the end of the tounge.

This is good, a nicely spiced ale with the ABV somewhere in the middle. While I can only take a single serving of winter warmers in my experience, I could see myself drinking a few of these because of the light aftertaste. Well balanced and mad drinkable.

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

Appearance: pours a golden color with not much lacing and no head.

Smell: The spice smell is prevalent in a good way.

Taste: Sweet and malty balanced just right.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied feels good going down.

Drinkability: The best Christmas ale and very easy to drink all night just don't plan on driving home.

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Photo of yourefragile
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark, clear copper color with a thin beige head supported by small bubbles of carbonation. Not much retention with a moderate amount of streaks of lacing. Aroma is mild and as expected, has a spicy, sweet "holiday" medley of flavors. Initially honey sweet and nutmegy with some other various spices. Flavor is less spicy or sweet than expected, with a strong malt body and a finish balanced with honey sweetness and grainy, cinnamon dryness. Full bodied (almost syrup like at time) with mild, fine carbonation. A very pleasant winter warmer, but a little too mild and boring to be as interesting as some of the Anchor holiday beers.

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Photo of tempest
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
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.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.14/5  rDev +5.9%
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.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.3/5  rDev +10%
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.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a tumbler pint, the beer is a bright, lightly carbonated, copper coloring with a filmy, sparse, thin, white head coating the surface. Aromas of cinnamon spiced honey sweetness, both rich and smooth. Some roasty, bready notes in the background, also. Flavors are rich and sweet, on a very smooth, robust body. Almost creamy feel in mouth. The honey creates a semisweet, solid backbone with spiced and fruit highlights. The spice profiles of nutmeg, cinnamon, and all-spice are very subtle, and blended very well. This is what fruitcake is supposed to taste like, instead of candied evil and garbage. Lightly spiced aftertaste, with the honey giving off some tropical fruit esthers, also. Smooth, clean finish. Very tasty brew, and extremely easy to drink.

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Photo of biegaman
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
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!

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Photo of Wasatch
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
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.

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Photo of plaid75
4/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

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Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 810 ratings.