1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Great Lakes Christmas Ale - Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Great Lakes Christmas AleGreat Lakes Christmas Ale

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

2,048 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,048
Reviews: 768
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 13.13%
Wants: 89
Gots: 165 | FT: 4
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 Raters
Ratings: 2,048 | Reviews: 768 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of thebouch01
thebouch01

Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev +1%

11-14-2011 18:22:22 | More by thebouch01
Photo of throwback
throwback

Ohio

4/5  rDev +1%

11-14-2011 17:42:31 | More by throwback
Photo of SaintJonah
SaintJonah

Ohio

4/5  rDev +1%

11-14-2011 17:08:24 | More by SaintJonah
Photo of sbricker
sbricker

Illinois

4/5  rDev +1%

11-14-2011 15:27:23 | More by sbricker
Photo of hackomal
hackomal

Pennsylvania

5/5  rDev +26.3%

11-14-2011 14:20:20 | More by hackomal
Photo of mater
mater

Ohio

4/5  rDev +1%

11-14-2011 07:48:52 | More by mater
Photo of JRed
JRed

New Jersey

3.73/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours transparent amber with off white head that settles into a nice mist. Aroma of spices, maple, and slight booze. Tastes of spice, cinnamon, maple, gingerbread, brown sugar and slight tang with alcohol. Medium bodied with medium carbonation. A refreshing winter warmer: tasty, filling, the flavors rush on the palate but then recede gently leaving you wanting another sip. My favorite winter warmer so far.

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2011 03:08:03 | More by JRed
Photo of ONUMello
ONUMello

Ohio

3.55/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass
A: Tan colored with a thin head & a good amount of carbonation.
S: Malt and spices, though somewhat muted.
T: Again, malt and spices. It says it's brewed with cinnamon, ginger and honey, though none of those stand out in particular.
M: Medium-bodied & pleasant.
O: I know my fellow Clevelanders go ape-s*** over this beer, but to be honest it's one of my least-favorites of Great Lake's lineup. Certainly solid, but I would take an Edmund Fitzgerald any day over this.

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2011 02:33:06 | More by ONUMello
Photo of brown2cu
brown2cu

Ohio

3.25/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a honey like color with a half finger head that completely disappears after about a minute. Completely nonplussed.

S: Smells like a spice rack winter warmer; cinnamon, ginger, honey, and nutmeg are all prevalent.

T: Cloyingly sweet with a slight spiciness to it as well. As this beer warms a whiskey-esque taste comes into play as well, however, nothing remarkable as well.

M: Medium bodied with active carbonation; gets syrupy and flat after it warms.

O: Worth a try but falls short on what I normally expect from great lakes.

Serving type: on-tap

11-10-2011 06:06:41 | More by brown2cu
Photo of doughanson78
doughanson78

Washington

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

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Thanks to rfraga77 for this. Reviewed in the bathroom stall at O'Hare in Chicago.

A: Orange in color, very clear. One finger white head with decent retention and lacing.

S: Big caramel and honey sweetness. Very malty. A nice spiciness from the ginger.

T: Caramel sweetness upfront. A nice warming spice with ginger flavor and a touch of honey to finish.

M: Medium light body. High carbonation. Slightly dry finish. Nice warming without the alcohol burn.

O: A good winter warmer. Very warming without the extra spiciness or bite that others have had.

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2011 07:38:57 | More by doughanson78
Photo of drtacks37
drtacks37

Illinois

2.38/5  rDev -39.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Ap - Clean, amber color. Thin creamy white head. Little lacing.

Ar - Damn this cold, my nose is not what it should be. Am I detecting raspberry?

T - I'm gonna need a few more sips to try to sort this all out. Sweet, nutmeg and other spices. Still trying to sort it out. Complex... but I don't think I like it. All the spices of Pumpking, but none of the pumpkin.

I don't want any more of this.

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2011 01:59:14 | More by drtacks37
Photo of OsuJohn
OsuJohn

Ohio

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

A- amber and clear. Not much head. No laceing in the glass.

S- there is a lot going on here, I think I smell coriander and orange. Also some nutmeg or allspice.

T- it taste like it smells, lots of different spice flavors mixed into a somewhat malty beer. This is good if hops are your thing- the hop flavor is mild to non-existant.

M- overall smooth, cannot notice the alcohol despite this beers high abv.

O- this is a good beer and I love it, but I think its hyped up more than it deserves, I'm drinking my first glass for this season and find myself slightly disappointed compared to what I remember from last year. But as they say the grass is always greener on the other side. I will buy this again but may not jones for it so much in the off season.

Serving type: bottle

11-08-2011 00:36:12 | More by OsuJohn
Photo of Nachojon
Nachojon

Illinois

3.65/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- 1 1/2 inch creamy white head dissipates very quickly, no lace. Amber colored, transparent. Not the best looking Christmas seasonal I have seen this year by a longshot.

S- A little hop, a little nutmeg, a little cinnamon not as fragrant as expected.

T- Nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, honey. It's a sweet beer, which isn't usually my thing, but it tastes good, tis the season.

M- A little stick, very little carbonation. Warms on the way down, hides the alcohol very well in a warm way.

O- Def not the best Christmas seasonal, but I respect the hell out of this brewery and this is a solid beer I will try every year.

Serving type: bottle

11-07-2011 23:46:16 | More by Nachojon
Photo of Mdog
Mdog

Minnesota

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

Appearance: Amber, ok head.

Smell: Dark fruit-cherry is mostly what I get.

Taste: Bready, spicy with cinnamon. Sweet, mild gingerbread flavor.

Drinkability: Some interesting flavors, alcohol is hidden.

Picked up a few winter warmers in a mixed 6 pack. I don't usually drink many of this style but want to try some. First up is Great Lakes' offering. It smells like an old ale with dark fruit, but the taste sticks to bready and winter-y spices. Pretty decent, I liked it better than the Bell's Xmas that I followed this with.

Serving type: bottle

11-07-2011 00:40:40 | More by Mdog
Photo of minterro
minterro

Colorado

3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Mix and match six pack from Oades

This beer is an annoying phenomena in Cleveland, I’ve had it before (first time rating it) and it’s not as good as people make it out to be. I’ve witnessed at least 5 or 6 facebook pictures of people getting this beer, it’s like a status thing in Cleveland. Its not bad to become aware of microbrews but to do it to be in the “in” crowd is irritating.

A & S: Sweet malts, burnt sugar, ginner, and a bit smoky. Fizzy light tan that pours ½ a finger and fades really quick. Lots of bubbles rising from the bottom. Clear orange colored beer. No real lacing present.

T & M: I’m tasting a lot of ginger in this batch (its overpower). Pretty spicy. Not a whole lot of cinnamon and the honey is more there but just in the aftertaste. I think I’m tasting a bit of nutmeg also. Not overly sweet with is nice. No real Pretty crisp (maybe after letting it cool a bit it wont be so much), not smooth. Letting it warm helps with the crispness. Medium bodied.

O: above average beer, no debating that. It’s overrated in my opinion.

Serving type: bottle

11-06-2011 02:43:07 | More by minterro
Photo of CFHMagnet
CFHMagnet

Ohio

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

Being not just an Ohio boy but a Cleveland boy, I will try my best to not let a bias steer my rating of what may be Ohio's most beloved seasonal beer.

A normal pour yielded a finger of foamy off white head. The body is a translucent copper color. Very nice looking. There is a mad rush of carbonation headed for the top of the glass as if prospectors had heard gold was to be found in that direction. The head keeps a nice little coating around after most of it dissipates, and this beer has decent lacing.

The aroma is more subtle than I remember, but I get bready malt nutmeg and ginger.

Bready malts, cinnamon, nutmeg and a bit of ginger. Clove comes in at the end to whisper hello to your tongue. It also has a nice bit of sweetness tucked away in the background. The bread and spices get stronger as the beer warms. Yum!

This beer is easy going and medium bodied. The carbonation is like a gentleman taking a woman home after the first date: It gives your tongue a nice kiss, but doesn't go overboard.

Serving type: bottle

11-06-2011 01:17:15 | More by CFHMagnet
Photo of smerrell
smerrell

Pennsylvania

4.7/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've loved this beer for a long time - crisp, clean, and full of flavor. Hops take a back seat to the ginger, and the cinnamon is present but subtle. The color is deep amber, and the finish is dry.

This beer gets better as it warms - Love it.

appearance: translucent red/amber

Smell: faint traces of holiday spices

Taste: spicy ginger, alcohol is present (and pleasant)

Mouthfeel: dry

overall: this beer & Troegs Mad Elf = Christmas

Serving type: bottle

11-05-2011 00:06:38 | More by smerrell
Photo of MCDuhamel
MCDuhamel

Ohio

4.18/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a growler into a pint glass at around 45 F. Pours a very clear amber, with light carbonation. About a once inch white head that quickly collapses to a thin film. The nose is mostly cinnamon, nutmeg and maybe a touch of vanilla. In the mouth the first impression is toffee, followed by the spices and a nice dryness. There's a slight hops bitterness that provides some structure and prevents the beer from being too sweet. More carbonation than might be expected from the limited bubbles reveals itself as well. The mouthfeel is medium to full, and a little slick. This is a very nice winter beer, showcasing the spices without being too heavy-handed. The keg version is superior to the bottled version.

Serving type: growler

11-05-2011 00:03:48 | More by MCDuhamel
Photo of lstokes
lstokes

Illinois

4.38/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've never liked a winter warmer before, but this was... awesome? Had on tap at the UChicago pub, red-amber body with a light tan tan head and a light ginger-cider smell. It tastes like a cider-glazed spice cake, but not sweet like that makes it sound--like a beer, finishes bitter and dry with some earthy hops, the sweet and the spice mingle perfectly rather than tasting additive. I loved it--will be seeking out in bottles this winter!

Serving type: on-tap

11-04-2011 01:13:44 | More by lstokes
Photo of crashdavisinoh
crashdavisinoh

Ohio

4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Poured a medium to dark amber

S-Malts, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves...everything for the season

T-blew me away...I took my first sip and said to myself, this is pretty good...I took a second...and said the is just amazing. The spices come through but are not overpowering like some other winter warmers. I like the GLCA approach better. Spices, like they are used here, should be subtle and enhance flavor...not be the only flavor. Add the spices to the honey flavor present and you have an outstanding winter warmer.

M-smooth. It shocked me how easy it was to drink. By comparison, I had a mixer of different winter warmers over the weekend and had to fight to get through some of them. Not here.

O-I am not usually a winter warmer fan. But I have tried a few recently to see if I can get into the style more. Also, living in ohio...I see/hear all the hype surrounding this beer and said...eh, lets see what it is all about. Rarely has a beer lived up to the hype more than this one...fantastic and now without a doubt the best winter warmer I have had.

Serving type: bottle

11-03-2011 14:17:45 | More by crashdavisinoh
Photo of BeerBuckeye
BeerBuckeye

Ohio

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

A - Pours a nice deep reddish amber color with 1.5 finger, off white head that dissipates pretty quickly. Lots of carbonation rising up from the bottom.

S - Very nice, good blend of honey, cinnamon, and cloves. Good bready malt base in there with touch of sugar cookie and buttercream. It's like smelling a holiday candle.

T - Quite a bit of ginger in the first sip, still a little bit of that cinnamon and clove hanging around, fades into that bready malt with just a bit of spice lingering. Very tasty

M - The mouthfeel is medium, the spice, or what I presume to be the cinnamon and honey, leaves the mouth fairly dry. Alcohol easily hidden.

Overall - It's a solid winter warmer, one of the very best

Serving type: bottle

11-03-2011 00:16:46 | More by BeerBuckeye
Photo of dorianmarley
dorianmarley

Ohio

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

This beer flies off the shelves in Ohio, and is difficult to come by after its initial first weeks of release. The store I went to predicts to sell out of its 30 cases in the first week.

The appearance is dark gold, with some brown and red. Frothy head, with nice lacing.

Nose is cinnamon and ginger, with some great malt action.

Taste is mild for a spiced beer; held down firmly by caramel malt. Cinnamon and ginger never overwhelm. Also has some great breadiness and a toasty biscuit finish.

Mouthfeel is smooth and refreshing; unusual for a spiced beer, but still has all the alcohol warmth and spice that you would want from a winter warmer.

Overall, my opinion is skewed. In Ohio, Christmas Ale season is looked forward to by fervent and casual beer fans alike. It is a symbol for the pockets of warmth to be found during a cold, Ohio winter; as universal as a hot cocoa or spiced apple cider. That said, this beer's flavor is engaging without being overwhelming, spiced but pleasantly malted, which helps explain why people cannot get enough.

My one complaint is this beer's early release. I am drinking this on Halloween. Except for the few I have stowed away, Christmas Ale will be tough to find around Christmas time. And this beer always tastes better with some snow on the ground.

Serving type: bottle

11-01-2011 02:52:52 | More by dorianmarley
Photo of luckylefty
luckylefty

Ohio

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

Beer review #1:

It is not by coincidence that GL X-Mas Ale is numero uno.

This beer is cherished by many in central/ northern Ohio and is a symbol to Christmas similarly to that of a present under a tree. There are a number of beers that I get excited about during different times of the year but no more so than THE X-Mas Ale. Furthermore, this beer is very dangerous if not drank in moderation, like tequila it has the ability to erase ones memory (I just don't understand why at 7.5abv)? Future reviews will be more scientific in nature but this beer is not judged with the same criteria by me.

Serving type: bottle

10-31-2011 19:23:04 | More by luckylefty
Photo of VncentLIFE
VncentLIFE

North Carolina

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

100th review! Ein Prosit!

I try to be as scientific as possible, but hype does play into my review. Its one of my most sought after beers in my book, even though it is released yearly in decent quantities.

Pours a red-ish light orange with a near perfect 3/4 inch head. Looks beautiful in the GL Chirstmas Ale snifter.

Smell has the typical GL grain bill, but wait a minute. Theres a ton of spices in this thing. Honey is there, as well as nutmeg and cinnamon in bits. Exactly what a winter warmer should be like.

Taste is fantastic. The honey keeps the grain bill in check in the best way possible. The spices are spicey, accenting the sweetness of the honey which comes in between the initial spices and late dryness. Its really the highlight of the beer. The addition of honey really sets it apart. The dryness on the backend is mead-like, making it crisp and refreshing. Full body which makes it sippable as well as full gulps.

The alcohol really doesnt show up until at least halfway through the finish. the 7.50% makes it presence known, but not in a bad way.

This beer is perfect. A perfect example of something that shouldnt be barrel-aged. The latent sweetness is nice which is accentuated by the dryness from the honey and spices.

Serving type: bottle

10-28-2011 22:52:13 | More by VncentLIFE
Photo of ike4tay45
ike4tay45

Ohio

4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-deep orangish brown color, thin white head that leaves virtually no lace

S-very light aroma's that give off some cinnamon and a hint of vanilla

T/M-smooth and slightly creamy, there is a fair amount of carbonation that tastes of spice, mostly cinnamon, some nutmeg and a hint of pepper that also has a touch of vanilla

Overall-pretty tasty, decent mouthfeel, I could have a couple of these. I opt against rimming the glass with cinnamon and sugar.

Serving type: on-tap

09-13-2011 18:09:37 | More by ike4tay45
Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,048 ratings.