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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

2,137 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,137
Reviews: 770
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 12.88%
Wants: 99
Gots: 197 | 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: 2,137 | Reviews: 770 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of TommyBuckeye
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%

A: Copper beer with off-wite auburn head.
S: Smells of cinnamon, honey, ginger and pine
T: Very nice taste of honey, malt, cinnamon and hops
M: Nice moutfeel with slight after-burn
D: One of the best winter warmers or holiday spice beers out there. For me - it's not Christmas unless I have a Great Lakes Christmas Ale on Christmas Eve!

TommyBuckeye, Jan 18, 2009
Photo of ThatWineGuy
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%

Exp 01/02/09, hope I'm not too late, thanks to biegaman for this treat. Clear copper colour with glimpses of orange. Half finger head, off white, settled quickly as did the initial flurry of small bubbles that slowed but persisted throughout the tasting. A wispy, cloudy surface remained with some lacing, a quick swirl reproduced a healthy head and it sure looked promising.

Smell of honey predominated with muted spice - spearmint, cinammon, all spice. Taste is honey sweet and the spiciness quite a subtle backdrop. Silky textured mouthfeel impresses and the honey is not so sickingly sweet as those macro lagers I try to avoid. The mouthfeel is slightly cider-like but with a balanced sweetness that is endearing. This is a very pleasant winter warmer with well hidden alcohol, very tasty ... I could enjoy this all winter if it was available. Thanks, Jan.

ThatWineGuy, Jan 18, 2009
Photo of TimPowell
4.35/5  rDev +9.8%

Every November, I look forward to combing the shelves of my local beer store for some of my favorite Winter Warmers. Great Lakes Brewing Company once again steps up with an exceptional beer.

Pouring the bottle I was taken by several things;

Color-A rich, deep amber, almost smokey in color.

Nose-Not as stong as I remember. You may notice slight hints of cloves or cinnamon. I would say this beer is better served at warmer temperatures. This is not the beer to be poured in to an ice cold glass.

Head-I was dissapointed pouring did not produce more of a head on the beer.

Tasting this beer really was the reward. Hints of caramel, malt, and some seasonal spice was followed by a wonderful hop finish.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale should make every beer drinkers Christmas list during the holiday season.

TimPowell, Jan 17, 2009
Photo of abents
3.75/5  rDev -5.3%

Pours out a copper color you can see through, light tan head that seems to die out quickly. Smells of cinnamon and caramel sweetness very Christmas-like. Tastes like cinnamon, nutmeg, pretty mild notes nothing too overpowering. Very balanced and mild. Seemed to be a little under carbonated to me, but it was a decent beer, definitely not my favorite Christmas brew.

abents, Jan 14, 2009
Photo of beachbum1975
3.28/5  rDev -17.2%

Pours a beautiful, lightly hazed coppery red with a huge, aggressive frothy head with excellent, light mocha lacing.

Smells of muted cinnamon, nutmeg, lightly toasted malts and a trace of pumpkin.

Light to medium bodied with medium flavor. Tastes much like the nose, only richer. Cinnamon and malts dance around with an aftertaste of an all-spice/pumpkin blend.

Crispy, mildly dry mouthfeel with ample carbonation throughout.

Drinkable, but nothing I'd go out of my way for.

beachbum1975, Jan 10, 2009
Photo of Gouxman
2.83/5  rDev -28.5%

A beautiful amber color with an aroma of pine trees and nutmeg. This Christmas Ale is full of holiday spice. Flavors of cinnamon, baked apples, honey, ginger, and cloves combine to make a festive ale which encompasses all of the flavors and aromas you would associate with Christmas.

This is one of the top selling Christmas beers. I can see why people like this beer, but it's not for me. The holiday spice overpowers anything else found in this ale. I always try at least one each year, but it's not something I can sit and continually enjoy.

Gouxman, Jan 09, 2009
Photo of zeff80
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%

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.

zeff80, Jan 03, 2009
Photo of drxandy
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%

12oz to standard pint, pours a coppery amber shade, creamy off white head retains well.

smell of heavy ginger(yum), creamy biscuity cookie, sweet malt

taste is of sweetness yet bitter, reminds me of a pumpkin beer from the pie like spices and consistency of the ginger, i can't stress enough my love of ginger, cinnamon, honey thickens the sweetness and mouthfeel, hop bitterness blends perfectly with spices, malts are biscuity/candy/toffee, alcohol is blended well, nice!

mouthfeel is of a great weight and level of carbonation, ginger spiciness hangs around combined with hop bitterness lingering is very nice, sweet and fairly easy to drink - excellent.

drxandy, Jan 03, 2009
Photo of drpimento
3.38/5  rDev -14.6%

hmmm. The bottle I'm having seems to be way different than the descrptions that most others describe. Mine has: some head and lace; dark, very hazy brown color; aroma of lots of malt, a bit of hops, bare hints of spices. Flavor is very dry malt, not much fruityiness, hardly any spice, dark fruits. Ok beer, nothing special. A bit rich for a session beer. ok finish.

drpimento, Dec 31, 2008
Photo of GordonQuid
4.47/5  rDev +12.9%

Poured into a sifter glass by brewer recommendation. Deep amber in color with a foamy white half inch head and ample lacing.

Smell is that of mulling spice and sweet fruity candy.

The taste is an exceptional blend of caramel malt, mulling spice and hop. A delicious medium bodied beer. Very drinkable.

GordonQuid, Dec 29, 2008
Photo of Sleepisforthewik
3.7/5  rDev -6.6%

A- Wonderful dark reddish amber color. Decent head.

S-Smells like Allspice by McCormick.

T- The taste definitely has spice in it, but I feel that it is a bit sour. Granted, this is my first Christmas Ale, but that bit detracts from my overall impression. Besides the sourness, I can definitely taste cinamon, maybe nutmeg, and a perhaps a dash of ginger.

M-Mouth feel is a little watery. Could a bit more body.

D- Excellent for around the holidays. This beer I feel is best served with food, such as spiced ham, rather than by itself. The two could compliment each other immensely.

Poured from bottle into mug.

*As a side note, I somehow came across drinking this while eating a tart lemon-raspberry desert bar after the initial review, and it tastes magnificent.

Sleepisforthewik, Dec 25, 2008
Photo of cadizkyguy
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%

I really enjoyed this Christmas Ale from Great Lakes. I'm surprised to see some grade it very low because Winter Warmers, such as this brew, are different from the beers we enjoy the rest of the year. It has a nice frothy head and a nice amber color and I really enjoyed it, even after consuming two Goose Island Christmas Ales, which had quenched my holiday thirst. Great Lakes makes some great brews and I look forward to reviewing some more.

cadizkyguy, Dec 24, 2008
Photo of beeristhefuture
1.8/5  rDev -54.5%

This is not a bad craft brew at all, despite my lackluster numbers. The color is beautiful, and frost-like lacing, when poured correctly, stays in the glass. However, I find the blend of spices to be too sour and bitter in a bad way, and the thin mouthfeel Great Lakes Beers typically have doesn't augment the flavors needing some heft. The highher alcohol content is also immediately obvious, making the beer taste like alcohol.
However, as is typical for Great Lakes, first-class ingredients are used and the flavors that make me uncomfortable are often enjoyed by others.

beeristhefuture, Dec 24, 2008
Photo of kels
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%

I've had this numerous times, and I'm just now taking the time to sit down and review. Poured from the bottle into a snifter as recommended by the brewer.

Appearance: Pours a lovely color of golden honey and ruby red with a fluffy off-white 2-finger head. The head quickly fades to a skim atop the beer with good lacing all throughout. The beer is not completely clear, but not hazy, either. Light carbonation can be seen.

Smell: Most GLBC beers have very little scent in my experience, so I'm surprised to find such a strong smell from this beer. I can clearly smell the cinnamon and honey along with the malts and the alcohol presence is also pretty notable in the scent.

Taste/Mouthfeel: The malts are clear and present in the first sip and their toastiness makes them take crunchy, if you can imagine that. The cinnamon is very present, and while past encounters with this beer have reminded me of red hot candies or big red gum, it's subtler now - maybe a difference in this year's batch? It isn't as much a hot cinnamon as a savory cinnamon. Flavors of honey add a nice balance. The alcohol is really only a factor in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is light and clear, with some spiciness to keep it interesting - more than just the cinnamon. Something strong like pepper or ginger or allspice.

Drinkability: Pretty high - the alcohol isn't overpowering, but it's present enough to keep this from being called a session beer.

Overall, I'm more impressed with this beer every time I have it. I've enjoyed it on tap, but I think the biggest factor in how well I've liked it is the glassware. This is my best experience with this beer yet, so maybe they're on to something when they recommend a snifter.

kels, Dec 24, 2008
Photo of TheBear11D
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%

Pours a copper orange-red amber color with nearly no head.

Smells are lively and very present. There was aroma of ginger, spice, cinnamon with a relaxed smell of honey.

The spices are very noticeable up front. The cinnamon and ginger stand out and then allow the honey to take over and soften the flavor of beer.

Medium mouthfeel that is very smooth and easy to consume.

This beer is very drinkable and quite suiting for the holiday season.

TheBear11D, Dec 24, 2008
Photo of sonicdescent
4.08/5  rDev +3%

A= just average but possibly from an overly agressive bartender. Small white head and a golden red appearance.

S=light hints of honey is really the only thing I get, but it's an appetizing scent.

T=it's beginning to taste a lot like Christmas! Very nice taste with the honey and spices coming through with no trace of alcohol.

M=excellent, thin bodies with very little carbonation.

D=very high, if I wasn't consciously tryin something different each beer, I would stick by this in a Pittsburgh minute.

sonicdescent, Dec 22, 2008
Photo of TheycallmeTim
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into an American pint glass.

A--Dark butterscotch or deep caramel body with an incredibly lasting one finger white foam head. The head sat like a collar on a pint of Guinness--very well done.

S--Lots of ginger, cinnamon, and either clove or allspice. No nutmeg I could detect, nor hops really. Slight malt notes in the form of an underlying bready sweetness, like honey-drizzled toast, and even some deep dark fruits like raisin and plum.

T--If you've had Smuttynose pumpkin ale this year (2008), then you know what this beer tastes like. It's pretty close, except without the pumpkin (and a twinge less hops), and being as that was my favorite pumpkin beer, that's saying a lot. The spice carries through the flavor spectrum alongside a pale ale/ESB-like background, with caramel and toffee malt to hang the ginger and cinnamon garland on and enough hop bite to keep the whole thing from being too heavy.

M&D-No complaints on either. Super smooth, the spices don't bog you down enough to keep you from having a couple, and the elevated ABV just made my family that much more tolerable this visit. Thank you Great Lakes for giving me a reason to go to Ohio!

TheycallmeTim, Dec 21, 2008
Photo of biegaman
4.03/5  rDev +1.8%

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!

biegaman, Dec 21, 2008
Photo of nick76
2.9/5  rDev -26.8%

The aroma is malty and almost fruit like but has a hint of honey and mixed spices. The appearance is amber with an average head. The flavor is like the aroma and not that pleasant but not that bad. The palate is smooth but thin. Overall not as special as I wanted. Thank you Depak.

nick76, Dec 19, 2008
Photo of CaptainIPA
4.53/5  rDev +14.4%

Thanks to my next-door-neighbor, Darcy, for donating a six-pack to the cause in exchange for expert snow-plowing services.

P: Presented in a 12 oz., brown bottle with freshness dating: 02/18/09. Label illustration depicts a railroad coal car filled with Christmas tree ornaments. Neck band copy reads: "Oh Christmas beer, Oh Christmas beer, spiced with cinnamon, ginger, honey and yuletide cheer." Festive. Poured into a Hennepin flute.

A: Pours a bright copper-brown color with remarkable clarity and a generous, beige head that yields prodigious lacing.

S: Wonderful aroma of honey, hops, malt, and spices.

T: Great balance between barley and hops, tipping in favor of caramel malt sweetness. Exceptionally smooth with notes of honey, cinnamon and ginger playing in the background. Very refreshing; far from heavy. @ 7.5%, alcohol is well cloaked. Finishes dry and sweet. Honey really emerges as it warms.

M: Light to medium-bodied with a crisp and creamy mouthfeel. Nice effervescence on the tongue.

D: Extremely sessionable. What can I say? This ale actually tastes like Christmas! Make this Gold Medal-Winning seasonal a holiday mainstay.

CaptainIPA, Dec 19, 2008
Photo of mdm46410
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%

Poured from a 12oz bottle (Best By 12/16/08) and served in a pint glass. This beer poured a beautiful, clear dark copper hue with a thin head of beige foam that displayed some decent retention. Some light lacing was left around the glass. The aroma consisted of caramel, honey, allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Not overly spiced...the rich malts still shine through nicely. The flavor started off with a solid base of creamy caramel, followed by pie spices, and a very mellow honey note. The mouthfeel was medium-bodied and had minimal carbonation. Rich, malty, and drinkable. A great holiday beer.

mdm46410, Dec 18, 2008
Photo of kwakwhore
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%

Copper pour with an off white head. the head is not big, but it leaves a lot of lace on the glass.
Honey dominates in the smell with hints of cinnamon as well.
Flavors are a complex melange of bready malt, honey, spices and hops.
A generous amount of carbonation tickles the tongue and balances the syrupy feel of a fairly strong ale.
This beer is going down quite easily. If I had more than one, I'd drink another.
Winter warmers are not usually a style I really enjoy, but this one is an exception. I shouldn't have been surprised as Great Lakes puts out an exceptional product. I'll do my best to make this one a Christmas tradition.

kwakwhore, Dec 16, 2008
Photo of aggiearcher13
3.95/5  rDev -0.3%

Seems like a nice beer for tonight. Sitting next to the fire, addressing Christmas cards, and watching the hockey game.

A: I didn't pour it too gently, but only about a finger of head which disapeared pretty quickly. Copper colored.

S: Not as much spice as I was expecting, but I wasn't completely sure what to expect. Some ginger/honey with a little bit of hops on the finsih, maybe cascades.

T: Cinnamon and ginger. I like the balance of the spice. A little bit of caramel or toffee on the finish.

M: Smooth in the mouth, quite nice. Good body on it.

D: I could have 2 or 3 these no problem, but this is the only time of year I'd seek it out (quite appropriate I think).

aggiearcher13, Dec 16, 2008
Photo of wiseguy142
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%

I'm always intrigued by Christmas Ales that aren't stouts or super alcoholic. It seems a lot harder to nail the spice and malt character when you don't have all that overwhelming roastyness and bite to balance it out.

Pours a brilliantly clear copper with nice visible carbonation and a very short lived head which was disappointing. Aroma is strong on the ginger side with a floating presence of cinnamon and some nice deep malt. Reminds me a bit of Magic Hat's Odd Notion which I am also a fan of. This is nice, though, since you get the sort of "bakery smells" in a way only captured by beer. I'd say it could use a little hit from the hops in the aroma to really hit home.. even just a bit since this is not supposed to be an overly hoppy beer, although I think a more aggressively hopped version of this would actually work out very well. Taste is bitter and woody.. like being in an antique store where the smells are coming from so many directions from so many different places and times that it produces a wholly unique flavor. Very similar to Odd Notion again. At 7.5% ABV, I would have never guessed it to be much over 5. Carbonation is a little prickly in the mothfeel but I don't think it takes away from the experience. A pretty medium body, but complemented with a ton of malt flavor- the combination seems a little contradictory but it ends out working really great. I don't find much that takes away from the drinkability of this beer but I can see myself being turned off by it in the very long run due to some of the spices. This beer gets a lot of hype and it's definitely good but, I'll mention it again, try it back to back with Odd Notion and see if you really get that much of a difference.

wiseguy142, Dec 13, 2008
Photo of bamadog
3.78/5  rDev -4.5%

A very interesting beer that sat really warm in my stomach -- the "winter warmer" is definitely the best way to describe it.

Appearance: Dark coppery red; a nice 2 finger head that was thick and pillowy -- the carbonation was clearly visible and looked like it was going to last throughout the drink.

Smell: Couldn't get much out of it at all -- there was a very slight hoppiness to it as it warmed, but nothing overly discernable.

Taste: Bitter, cinammon is very pronounced and that added to the slight sting on the tongue from the bitter. Some slight sweetness was up front as well, but I'm not sure what the source of it is.

Mouthfeel: Sticky and a little oily -- I felt like I needed to cleanse my palate after a bit which is kind of odd to me as I typically like the stickiness; however, the spiciness lingered nicely because of it and that was nice.

Drinkability: Fair enough I would say -- I could easily sit down and drink two or three of these. The spiciness was very interesting and the physical effect of it on the stomach makes it more worthwhile -- definitely a seasonal drink though.

bamadog, Dec 09, 2008
Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,137 ratings.