Great Lakes Christmas Ale - Great Lakes Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 2,114 | Reviews: 770 | Display Reviews Only:
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.
12-13-2008 14:23:48 | More by wiseguy142
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.
12-09-2008 00:41:01 | More by bamadog
3.9/5 rDev -1.5%
Bottle best before date 1/29/09.
Poured into a pint glass amber with a thin white head. Good lacing with little disapation.
Not much of a smell, but the taste is very interesting. The ginger flavor is very evident, with a nice hop bite at the end. It has a good amount of carbonation to it as well.
Overall, this is a interesting winter warmer. Not quite what I expected.
12-07-2008 00:38:51 | More by whoneeds8
4.72/5 rDev +19.2%
Poured a slightly cloudy honey amber with a 2 finger head.
Nice carbonation giving this a very good mouthfeel. The lingering spices and citrus left a very pleasent taste on the back of the tongue for quite a while.
Love the taste. The blending of spice and hops really brings a nice flavor out. Could definately drink a few in a setting. (working on that tonight!)
The smell is very faint, good but light.
One of my favorite Christmas brews.
12-06-2008 01:55:56 | More by JDK
4/5 rDev +1%
Got this one as an extra from bakerslp. Thanks!
Appearance: A pretty shade of reddish-amber with perfect clarity. Two fingers of off-white head initially, which settles to a disc somewhat quickly.
Smell: Spicy and sweet with cinnamon sticks and cloves at the forefront. Nut brittle sweetness in the background. While the spices are used pretty liberally here, it's pleasant and definitely festive.
Taste & mouthfeel: Spices up front, cinnamon and clove again, perhaps a touch of nutmeg. Toffee sweetness, toasted malt and a touch of alcohol. This stuff is pretty damn drinkable for the 7.5% ABV, facilitated by the medium-light body and crisp finish. Bitterness is in perfect balance with the malts, though there's little actual hop flavor beyond a hint of leafy herbs. Very nice stuff, a step above most winter warmers.
12-04-2008 02:10:03 | More by largadeer
4.22/5 rDev +6.6%
On tap at Great Lakes on 12/1/08. Served in a 12-oz. glass.
A - Crystal clear dark amber/copper-colored body with half a finger of creamy off-white head that retained well and left attractive, sticky lacing all over the glass. No visible carbonation present.
S - Lots of mild spices in the nose, including cinnamon, allspice, brown sugar and anise/licorice paired with a cookie-esque maltiness. Aroma is sweet and spicy with a touch of alcohol twang.
T - Initial flavor is spicy with all of the aforementioned spices making an appearance. Good bit of malty character with caramel and toffee notes and gingersnap cookies. Finishes spicy with a very mild bitterness.
M - Medium bodied with a syrupy, almost chewy texture and moderate carbonation. Spicy, warm and tingly on the palate.
D - This is a really nice take on a Christmas ale. It's spicy, sweet and malty, but not overdone at all. All of the flavors and aromas are quite subtle, resulting in a very well-balanced and flavorful ale for the winter months.
12-04-2008 01:55:19 | More by ffejherb
4.25/5 rDev +7.3%
Clear copper color when poured with a good amount of head. Has a spicy holiday smell. Can smell the caramel malts with a slight hint of hops and spices. Excellent mixture of hops and malts. Can taste the spices very well. A bit sweet. This is the ideal holiday beer. Feels smooth and medium-bodied in your mouth. Very drinkable beer if you like the traditional Christmas Ale's. This is by far my favorite Winter Warmer.
12-02-2008 00:25:52 | More by Bagman007
4/5 rDev +1%
Thanks Auslander for this great brew!
Pours a ruby red with a nice foamy head resting comfortably on top. Great retention and lacing. Smells of cinnamon and other spices, some pine, caramel, and fresh bread. This really does smell like Christmas. Smells inviting.
Mouthfeel is a little thin and watery. This tastes of the holidays all over! Nice minty spice mixed with some caramel. Slight tangy bite at the end, but it's pleasant, not overbearing. This is a great holiday brew that I hope to have again really soon.
12-01-2008 22:44:44 | More by Onenote81
3.88/5 rDev -2%
Huge thanks to Prototypic, who again surprises and impresses with and unexpected treat. Thanks.
Pours a deep coppery orange with nice white head hanging on top. Leaves some spotty lace down the sides.
Smells wonderful. A nice sugary holiday nose, with notes of sugary sweet pine sap, malty toasted caramel, and faint hops that blend into a spicy warmth.
Taste has plenty of fullness without being too strong. Sweetness is nicely controlled and rather subtly balanced into the overall flavor. Malty spiced bread holds the overall consistency with a light nutmeg spicy note blending into pine that conjures holiday nostalgia of Christmas trees, sweets, and warm toasty fires. Drier in the finish with a mildly bitter spice fading into a touch of alcohol. Really quite pleasant, noticing more nuance with each sip. Despite the complexity, an overall strikingly simple and contentedly humble beer. As a note after finishing the beer - I was a little disappointed that the flavors flattened and became less appealing as the beer warms.
Body is smooth and fuller-medium in consistency, with a somewhat dry touch at the finish.
Overall a nicely drinkable beer, but as noted in the taste, as the beer warms it seems to lose some of its intrigue. Still, a very tasty and satisfying Christmas ale with nice overall quality. I could sit around and drink a few of these this season, if only I had them locally to drink.
12-01-2008 22:11:48 | More by lightindarkness
4.13/5 rDev +4.3%
Head was minimal but lacing was okay. Nothing special for sure. Color was an attractive light brown with a reddish hue.
Smell had Nutmeg and ginger heavily in the nose.
Taste had a good spicy blend. Ginger was dominant but not overpowering. Maybe some nutmeg (fainter than in the nose), also some cinnamon and all spice. All the flavors were well balanced to definately dominate but give a decent taste.
The carbonation was excellent and there was little evidence of the power if the abv was really 7.5%. I was not overly pleased with this beer but it is fairly decent in you like spiced christmas ales.
11-30-2008 22:15:32 | More by Baileyuk
1.83/5 rDev -53.8%
I guess I am going to have to give up.
I just don't like Christmas Ales. But this is the spiciest, & least drinkable, of the bunch.
This is the third one I've tried to put down, & I'm not going to be able to finish it. For me spices like this belong in a pie, cake, or salad, not in my liquid libations.
Nothing personal. I just can't handle it.
11-30-2008 00:54:21 | More by maximum12
4.25/5 rDev +7.3%
Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into my beer mug, paired with a slice of leftover pumpkin pie from yesterday.
A- GL Christmas Ale pours a translucent red amber with a 1 finger light tan head. Pretty good looking beer.
S- Sweet caramel malts, cinnamon, ginger, and other festive holiday spices that I can't identify.
T- The sweetness of the caramel malts was the first thing I tasted, then the strong spices (cinnamon, ginger, cloves). Maybe some orange peel. It says it's brewed with honey on the label but I don't think I would know it from the taste. Pairs great with the pumpkin pie. Every few sips I really taste the alcohol.
M- Medium bodied with good carbonation. The alcohol provides a warmth like it should in a winter warmer.
D- I want another, unfortunately I've only got the one so I'll have to wait to buy more which I definitely plan on doing soon.
11-29-2008 05:00:48 | More by Shumista
4.45/5 rDev +12.4%
Alright, I admit that I had three (honest to goodness) pints of this at Night Town and it did me in. It was on an empty stomach and I take Lyrica for back pain. But I couldn't resist the outstanding taste of Christmas Ale as it should be.
They served it properly too - the temperature was perfect
(not co cold). How could I not havea few? Fortunately they ran out because some lady tried to buy me another (and then I would have been completely out of it).
Pretty close to perfect.
11-29-2008 01:57:45 | More by schoolboy
4.35/5 rDev +9.8%
Appearance - A nice ruby reddish tan. Nice white head with good retention.
Smell - Aroma of ginger, spices and pine
Taste - The taste of the beer really brings out the ginger and spices. Really strong flavor that brings something different than other winter beers.
Drinkability - Because of the strong flavor it went down kind of slow. But you will still want another one when you're finished.
Overall - Great Lakes has done it again! One of my favorite breweries has produced another great beer. When I was at the store I overheard the manager telling a customer that they were flying off the shelves, so I grabbed the last 6 pack they had, and I understand why. I only hope they have more for Christmas Eve!!!
11-28-2008 14:18:10 | More by CircusBoy
4.47/5 rDev +12.9%
A darkish golden pour from tap with a small white lacing around glass. You can't miss the sweet smell. The word snappy fits this beer well. It is a winter warmer but not from the usual alcohol burn. The alcohol is almost completely hidden. The warm comes from the mix of cinnamon, hops, and most of all spiciness. The alcohol must be there because I sure did feel it after finishing the glass.
11-26-2008 17:37:30 | More by gearbike
4.35/5 rDev +9.8%
A: Amberish, orange. One finger of tan head, good lacing and retention.
S: Sweet, citrus, fruity.
T: Tangy, citrus, spicy, cinnamon, orange, ginger, good hoppiness to finish off.
M: Watery, good carbonation.
D: Pretty solid brew. Definitely feels like Christmas. I recommend trying it.
11-26-2008 04:21:33 | More by Lepley
4.22/5 rDev +6.6%
A- Pours the color of liquid cloves with a toasted marshmallow head.
S- Scents of cinnamon, cloves, orange peel, and caramel malts. Scents indicative of the season.
T- Tastes reflective of the nose. leads with allspice, cloves, and cinnamon. A slight candied fruit backing and finishes with a hint of warming alcohol.
M- Moderate carbonation and medium light body.
D- This is the beer of the season in my opinion. Since a few years back the demand for this beer has gone through the roof. Consequently the brewing time that they apply has gone down along with the alcohol level and complexity of flavor. However a aging works well with this beer bringing it very close to its original glory. Either way its a beer worth seeking out.
11-26-2008 01:39:37 | More by UA8
4.22/5 rDev +6.6%
Bottle in an English Pint.
Appearance is deep amber, clear, with medium white head and a fair amount of carbonation.
Smell is sweet caramel, with maybe some honey and biscuit in there.
Taste is same as the smell but with a decent amount of bitterness and strong burnt malt character. The 7.5 alcohol comes through and can be a bit overpowering on certain sips but not for the whole beer. The beer is lightbodied though consequently highly drinkable.
I've had this before on tap, and I think the the bottle is superior actually. I'm curious as to how well this cellars.
11-25-2008 02:15:31 | More by gabrielsyme
4.05/5 rDev +2.3%
A - brilliant bright copper. Off white head that quickly falls in to the glass. Lacing is minimal.
S - sweet malt and honey. Toffe/caramel smells. Slight spice in there as well. Maybe some floral hop notes.
T - Toasted malt. Caramel malt sweetness. Ginger is in there but not overpowering. Good malty flavor.
M - medium
D - Very drinkable. Alc is well hidden. Excellent copper ale. Reminds me of Otter Creek copper...only much better.
11-23-2008 21:47:03 | More by hops4me
4.05/5 rDev +2.3%
This beer has a nice tannish-white head floating on top of a very appealing reddish-brown holiday ale with nice clarity.
Smells of holiday spices and malty goodness.
You get a little bit of a zing from the hops, but the spices and malts dominate this incredibly well-balanced beer. I like the mouthfeel of this beer...nice and chewy.
A nice change of pace from the single and double Ipa's that I've been drinking lately. Very drinkable. You can definitely feel this beer warm you though. I'd have no problem downing a few of these, but the alcohol would quickly catch up to me.
Morey's Bottom Line: Not as hoppy as I like my beers, but very satisfying none the less. In my opinion, just about anyone could enjoy this beer. A solid choice for the holidays.
11-23-2008 00:49:09 | More by Morey
3.83/5 rDev -3.3%
Poured a nice dark brown into my Great Lakes Stout glass. Hard pour produced a thin tan head that quickly dissipated.
Loved the smell! I took a whiff and my nose was treated to a cornucopia of scents. Spices, ginger, malts all mixed together.
After becoming enchanted by the smell, the taste was a bit of a let down. Nice sweet malts on the tongue with the spices kicking in on the finish. Enjoyable, but not up to par with the smell.
Medium body, smooth flowing over the tongue and down the throat.
Easy drinking winter warmer, didn't feel like a 7.5% abv.
11-22-2008 18:07:40 | More by AgingWarrior
3.83/5 rDev -3.3%
A - A nice darkish golden amber, small head with poured, not persistent.
S - Aroma is ephemeral, malrt and hints of ginger
T - A malty beer that is spiced, but very subtly, with the predominant spice being ginger. The other spice in the beer (according to the label, cinnamon, along with the ginger and some honey) is not detectable. Whereas the wonderful Anchor Our Special Ale comes up and smacks you in the palate, this one is very quiet in presentation.
M - A malty mouthfeel that is neither dense nor thin. Just right.
D - This is one of the Winter Warmers that could be a session beer, except that it is 7.5% abv
The beer should be served at the temperature recommended on the bottle - 55°F. Otherwise the subtle aromas and flavors are buried.
11-22-2008 04:38:29 | More by mrquartetman
3.8/5 rDev -4%
Pours an amber maple syrupy color.
Smells like cinnamon and a hint of ginger
Tastes spicey but with a nice balance between the barley hoppy taste and the holiday flavoring.
Mouthfeel is slightly nutty just a bit of sweet.
Definitely a great seasonal and worth picking up.
11-22-2008 02:19:59 | More by midnite2sixman
3.98/5 rDev +0.5%
A - Pours to a crips golden orange resulting in a single finger head that dissipated fairly quickly.
S - I couldn't place it at first, but the initial scent is ginger. Also get some sweetness in the aroma as the beer warms a little. Other holiday type spices are in the background. About half way through the beer I seemed to pick up some orange zest as well.
T - Very similar to the smell. I taste a lot of ginger up front. I like it. A little hoppy near the end of the drink, but not overpowering. Finishes with a bit of warming alcohol.
M - Very smooth throughout. Crisp flavors throughout. Low to moderate carbonation.
D - A great beer for a cold winter evening. Has everything that I am looking for in a good winter ale.
11-21-2008 02:02:39 | More by RickKrumenacker
4.03/5 rDev +1.8%
Pours a great clear ruby orange color with minimal white head.
Scent of bready malts, cinnamon, ginger and a hint of peppermint. Great for getting in the holiday mood.
Taste of bready malts, ginger and cinnamon with a little more spiciness. The spices are slightly overpowering here, but it is a good beer and I will be having some more as the day this beer celebrates comes closer.
Mouthfeel is light and smooth, but carbonation gives it a nice edge.
11-20-2008 23:11:14 | More by paco1029384756
Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,114 ratings.