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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.
very good

2,084 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,084
Reviews: 768
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 12.88%
Wants: 90
Gots: 176 | 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
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Ratings: 2,084 | Reviews: 768 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jmyers89


2.58/5  rDev -34.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A lot of people find ths beer really good, however I think there was too much clove, some of the spice that they use (nutmeg,ginger, brown sugar, etc..) I thought tasted a little off. Basically I thought this beer tasted just like a ginger bread coockie... not a fan.

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2011 03:59:48 | More by jmyers89
Photo of Jimmys


3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pale copper, fluffy off-white head. large carbonation bubbles. palest of the winter warmers ive seen.

S: clove. lots of clove. some brown sugar.

T: evergreen, mint, a ton of ground cinnamon. monkey bread. the sweetness of the honey is pretty evident as well.

M: light and tangy. lets the spice do the talking.

D: very good, very christmasy. ive heard people really rave about this stuff and around the right time of the year i could see why.

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2011 03:52:28 | More by Jimmys
Photo of schleprock


4.43/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: A nice reddish color with a creamy head.

S: Floral with ginger and cinnamon notes.

T: Took me a while to figure the mix of spices honey, ginger, cinnamon and possibly some nutmeg in there.

M: carbination is correct for this beer and even though it's higher in alcohol, I didn't notice it.

D: On tap this is one of the best if not the best Christmas beers you can find. It was so good we kicked the keg. A great mix of spices in this beer.

I enjoyed it so much I ran to liquor stores trying to get some. All I could find was a couple six packs, it's such a hot seller that one store owner told me the distributor was limiting people to two cases each.

Serving type: on-tap

03-02-2011 16:59:31 | More by schleprock
Photo of Jwale73

Rhode Island

3.4/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Cuzco for the extra. 12oz. bottle served in a standard pint. Enjoy by 1/17/11 indicated on the label. Pours a translucent copper with a loose, off-white head that quickly dissipates into a soapy slick and a thin band around the edges. No lacing whatsoever on this one. Nose expresses nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon. Taste consistent with nose - a very spicy Winter Warmer indeed. Honey makes it's presence known towards the finish; however, there's also and herbal, perhaps spruce-like quality in the middle. Mouthfeel is light-medium (but closer to light) with a lively, almost effervescent carbonation. Interesting for the style, but a little too over the top. Personally, it was difficult to get through one.

Serving type: bottle

02-23-2011 02:29:15 | More by Jwale73
Photo of ferrari29


3.55/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into Mug

A - Beer poured with a one finger cream-colored foam; body had a copper look to it; plenty of carbonation with a head that held very well

S - Spices; malt backbone; moderate to above average scents of yeast; smelled some sweetness from honey

T - Sweet honey taste coupled with spicy tones washes down the hatch with a smooth crisp malty aftertaste

M - Creamy consistency and lingers your mouth for a bit, especially on the sides of the tongue; somewhat oily

D - Good winter ale; I thought it could stand to have a bit more of a spicy bite to it, but the honey is what stood out the most to me; I could have a few more, maybe next year!

Serving type: bottle

02-21-2011 04:07:35 | More by ferrari29
Photo of CooperEllis

New York

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

12oz into .3l glass. Winter Warmer is certainly not my favorite stlye, but I do appreciate the typical fullness and variety of flavors that are presented.

This wasn't long of flavor, but the flavors are so crisp that I'll forgive that. There is a very stong spice note, and the honey that is claimed on the label is amoung the least of the recognizable flavors.

The body is a touch lighter than I find most winter warmers and that plays to this particular brews stregth. A bit undercarbonated, in my opinion, and an unfortunate stale spice aftertaste that pops up but otherwise enjoyable if not memorable.


Serving type: bottle

02-19-2011 02:37:07 | More by CooperEllis
Photo of Whiteweasel


3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a seidel.

A: Frothy, orange/mid-brown hazy ale with a nice persistent head. Microbubbles in the head and slightly off white.

S: Very sweet, flavourful nose with powerful scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and a little maltiness. Very very delectable. Probably one of the best scents I've ever taken into my nose.

T: Like a toned down version of the scent. Strong ginger and cinnamon, but not much else. Beer is still a month and a half away from its expiration date, so I don't think its a freshness issue. Its still pretty tasty though. A delicious combination of ingredients with a hint of lost potential.

M: Smooth and full of micro-carbonation. No alcohol. Very pleasant after-taste.

D: Great beer to enjoy at any time of day, 7.5% abv be damned. I could have 2-3 in a row but the ABV and the simplicity of the flavours keeps it at that. Good but not great

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2011 05:49:23 | More by Whiteweasel
Photo of JohnnyChicago


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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a ruby red with a one finger head.

S: Smell's like straight up Christmas. Pine, honey, ginger, cinnamon, the whole deal.

T: Really good stuff. Lots of malty goodness, sweetness, but not cloying. Very fruity and tasty.

D: Drink's extremely easily. Has a creamy mouthfeel, too.

Overall: This is a downright tasty beer! I had both a '10 and '11 on Christmas Day 2010. A lot of people say that the spice character fades and it should be drunk fresh. I disagree. The year old one was even better than its younger brother - more blended and subdued, but still rich and spiced. Great beer and a Christmas classic.

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2011 01:40:29 | More by JohnnyChicago
Photo of mmciz


4.38/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

I was only planning to review beers from my adopted state of Arizona and maybe other frontier-type spots like Utah and New Mexico, but when a buddy sent me 12 bottles of this old favorite I couldn't resist...

A: Dark copper (light for the style) with a quarter inch of head.

S: Apricot and cinnamon. Surprising freshness considering the style and what time of the year it is now.

T: It's hard to ignore the nostalgia and be objective but I've always found this to be a Cleveland Christmas bottled. Malty but not really sweet, the cinnamon flavor is almost hot on the tongue like Big Red gum. There's some clove in there, too.

M: Pretty thin for a WW but still plenty of body for my taste.

D: Ahhh.

Serving type: bottle

02-15-2011 05:40:25 | More by mmciz
Photo of Murrdogg


4.6/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: a nice golden red with decent carbonation. a finger and a half's worth of head, with good bubbles. no lacing at first, as head settles, bubbles stay on glass. Creamy-to yellowy-white color head

Smell: crisp clean smell. sweet, floral-y. allspice is there, a touch of sweet cinnamon. maybe a little ginger

Taste: rich, strong taste at first. carbonation hits immediately, then spices. nutmeg and ginger are the first then a sweet slightly-hoppy cinnamon, and finishes with a semi-strong malt taste

Mouthfeel: carbonation and bubbles are obvious. richer and thicker than I figured it to be. Cant quite taste the alcohol, but the robustness of the taste pretty much assures you of its ABV strength

Drinkability: easy to drink. Perfect in the cold/wintry weather. It's sweet gingery / spiciness mixes well with chilly temperatures. It's ABV strength will quickly get the best of you if you are not careful (which can be a good thing if you want it to be)

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2011 04:09:53 | More by Murrdogg
Photo of warnerry


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

best by 1/26/11 consumed 1/15/11

A - Pours a beautiful translucent copper with slow rising carbonation and 1.5 fingers of head that dissipates pretty quickly.

S - Mostly caramel malts and cinnamon, with some ginger and cloves coming through.

T - Very nice caramel malts, with a good amount of spicing (cinnamon, some ginger). Spicing doesn't dominate but instead fills out the taste. Also some subtle hops to balance the malts.

M - Fantastic mouthfeel, medium, slightly sticky, really coats the palate.

D - Highly drinkable; one of my favorite winter warmers.

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2011 00:47:33 | More by warnerry
Photo of Bigboyash73


1.65/5  rDev -58.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

This beer is so hyped up that it drives me nuts! I had this beer on tap with some cinnamon shit on the rim and that was the only good thing about it! The taste was absolutley awful! It has a super bitterness to it and maybe im bias, but im just not an ale fan....ILL STICK TO LAGERS!

Serving type: on-tap

02-03-2011 17:03:18 | More by Bigboyash73
Photo of Lindseyk12


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

I get so excited every year for Christmas Ale, as do most in NE Ohio.

I think Christmas ale taste best on tap rather than bottle. Golden-Amber in color, Similar to GL Dortmunder, only a little more red. Great smells such as Cinnamon, Allspice, and Nutmeg. Very warm comforting beer, Reminds me of family and friends. Next year save a case for Christmas in July. All your friends will be jealous!!

My favorite shot is "A Christmas Story Bomb"

Fill pint glass 1/3 with GL Christmas Ale
Equal Parts of Goldschlager, Bailey's, Frangelico in shot glass
Drop Shot glass into beer and drink

It Tastes like Christmas. How does christmas taste?... Christmas taste like "A Christmas Story Bomb"

Serving type: on-tap

01-30-2011 22:54:06 | More by Lindseyk12
Photo of CuriousMonk


3.6/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bought a case of this beer after hearing how limited this beer was in distribution. Bit disapointed with this over-hyped Christmas beer. Poured from 12oz bottle into a dimpled mug. Poured a clear golden-amber color with an off-white head. Aroma of spices, mostly ginger, and honey. Flavor follows suit, with hints of spices, mainly ginger and clove, in the opening that give way to a smooth finish. Subdued carbonation. Crisp feel on the palate, and no sign of the 7.5% alcohol.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2011 21:44:17 | More by CuriousMonk
Photo of Franz4


3.95/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Nice auburn, translucent color with small bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass, poured w/ a finger head into a snifter, thin ring of bubbles around the glass is left after the head settles.

S- cinnamon, allspice, and a touch of graininess, smell is strong up front but fades quickly

T- Honey, cinnamon, allspice are all present a little brown sugar flavor, but it's not sweet. Taste is well-balanced and gives you just a slight warming feeling.

M- Seems pretty thin and could use a touch less carbonation. Aftertaste is mild and pleasant.

D- This is an exceptional winter warmer, it's hard to find at times, but is worth the effort over the holiday season. I had several between the annual release date and now (~2 months), and it's held up well. Look forward to this every year.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2011 00:01:56 | More by Franz4
Photo of kbutler1


3.58/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle. Poured into a tulip glass a clear copper color with a slight 1/2 finger off white head. Very spicy and herbal aroma in the nose, sort of a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and gingerbread. Medium mouthfeel. Roasty caramel flavor in the beginning mixes with the traditional Chistmas spices. Mellow aftertaste with on ly a slight bitterness in the end. Lots of Chistmas beers are similiar and this one is no exception. Is it great? No, but it is decent enough and I generally look forward to having it every winter.

Serving type: bottle

01-22-2011 01:48:36 | More by kbutler1
Photo of Spider889


4.53/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

This is my review of the beer on tap. Location from my notes was Winking Lizard, though I was able to find this on tap all over the city, despite the bottles being quite difficult to track down.

It was served in a GLBC signature glass. There was an airy 1 1/2 finger tall head. The frothy but light bubbles receded to a ring around the glass. The lace in this particular instance was excellent. There was at first a heavy blanket on the glass that faded into a cheesecloth print as the beer level subsided. Of course, the beer is a brilliant dark amber/ruby color that it quite clear. My initially reaction was to give this a 4.5 for appearance, but this is the best looking winter warmer I can recall.

After each sip you catch the beer receding down the glass and you can almost see the grains of cinnamon and brown sugar slowly melt down the glass.

The smell of rich spices abound. Cinnamon dominates with ginger, nutmeg, and sweet brown sugar notes as well. The only warmer I can recall with a more appealing aroma is the CBC Winter Warmer - which was a delight.

The flavor is packed with palate sensationalizing spices. Slightly sweet from a half ton of honey. Ginger comes forward and raw crystal brown sugar tones. Cinnamon fights to maintain control; all the while mild earthy hops present a moderately bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is dry, sticky, and bitter on the finish. There's an almost grainy pure spiciness as well.

Drinkability is wonderful. Craveable, actually. I am lamenting all year why I did not track down more of it while it was here. One of my favorites from GLBC, and certainly my favorite winter warmer out there.

Serving type: on-tap

01-19-2011 17:19:04 | More by Spider889
Photo of McNealc31


4.9/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is the beer that first turned me on to holiday spiced ales. It's elusive, you've got to pick it up when you see it because it likely won't be back. It smells of honey and spice and pours a deep orange, almost copper. It tastes of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, with a subtle honey finish. And at 7.5% ABV, it's holiday cheer in a bottle! Without a doubt, one of my favorite beers and I can't wait until next holiday season for it.

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2011 00:39:45 | More by McNealc31
Photo of Arbitrator


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

Chilled bottle into a glass. I believe it's 2010 vintage; the bottle date is best by 12/28/10, and I think Great Lakes uses a 3-month window.

Many thanks to boatshoes for this beer.

A: Pours a clear, coppery brown body with one finger of off-white head. It leaves a thin film on top of the beer, with a nice collar at the edge.

S: Candied ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon, right up front. I hate ginger, but oddly enough, the aroma works really well for me.

T: It's dominated by candied ginger, as the nose suggests, and the finish evokes comparisons to cardamom and cinnamon. I find myself wondering how to pick apart the rest of the beer when these flavors are so strongly dominant. As it warms, I'm able to pick out honey and raisins, which are nicely expressive without turning the beer into a cloying sugar bomb. Good balance between spices and fruits.

M: This has a surprisingly light body for a 7.5% beer. Carbonation is medium. It's lightly sweet. The spices (particularly ginger) linger into the aftertaste.

D: Very drinkable, though I wouldn't hasten to call it quaffable. Good stuff. I hear they're not bottling it anymore (?), which is disappointing.

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2011 02:26:04 | More by Arbitrator
Photo of madvermin


4.28/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Shoutout to my main man AwYeh for this.

Appears an awesome dark reddish orange that makes you feel warm before you even drink it.

Aroma is of cinnamon and ginger, a bit of pumpkin.

Tastes STRONGLY of spices, namely cinnamon and sweet ginger, and has a nice honey sweetness.

Clean mouthfeel, although not as dry a finish as I would have liked for a beer like this. Fantastic seasonal beer, the amount of initial spice taste set this one apart.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2011 07:54:51 | More by madvermin
Photo of Raymando


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

Good appearance. very nice pour with decent head. I am a bit torn between this beer and the Sam Adams winter. Also it's very hard to notice the high ABV in the beer, if you have a few of them it will creep up on you. To sum it up I think this could be the first and only thing I like coming out of Cleveland, OH.

Serving type: bottle

01-13-2011 02:28:02 | More by Raymando
Photo of DDCMember


3.63/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

-12 oz. bottle poured into mug.

A: Copper to Amber. Very thick head.

S: Spices (Cinnamon, maybe some ginger), Honey, a hint of cherries.

T: Flavorful! Very well balanced. I can taste a little bit of cinnamon, honey, a little malty. No bite at all, which is surprising with a 7.5% ABV.

M: Medium body. Very thick head when poured but dies down quickly.

D: Very good! It's so well balanced that I could easily drink 4-5 of these, which could mean trouble.

Serving type: bottle

01-12-2011 19:45:18 | More by DDCMember
Photo of TMoney2591


3.05/5  rDev -23%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-12-2011 00:36:12 | More by TMoney2591
Photo of brew3crew


4.97/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into great lakes sniffer
A-deep amber color with white lace head. Bubbles running the side.
S-Can smell some ginger and cinnamon.
T- tastes exaxtly like the way,you want christmas to. Cinnamon and honey. Nice malt profile. Taste like a ginger bread cookie.
M- very full and delicious. I wish they made this all year!
D- very smooth and crisp. I could drink this all day, every day.

I dont normally like spiced beer but this is the bee's knees! Best winter warmer by far!

Serving type: bottle

01-11-2011 03:15:22 | More by brew3crew
Photo of Infamous7100


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

Pours a deep amber with a thin white head.
All kinds of aromas going on here but the sweet malt, cinnamon and Ginger (or some combination of spices) are the most prevalent.
Taste proves to be a great balance of the aforementioned aromas. I get a lot of the spices up front but the hops do peak through in a mellow way toward the back. It does ahowever finish sweet with an almost bready, honey taste. The booze isn't overpowering.
This brew is thin to medium in body.
Considering the style and ABV I wouldn't recommend sessioning with this, however the taste may change your mind. A great balance of flavor paired with a slowly creeping alcohol warmth makes this an ideal brew to quaff when the temps fall.

Serving type: bottle

01-11-2011 01:29:06 | More by Infamous7100
Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,084 ratings.