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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

2,331 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,331
Reviews: 781
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 13.13%
Wants: 121
Gots: 285 | FT: 8
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: 2,331 | Reviews: 781 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Popkas
3.25/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Clear amber color with a finger head that held for some time finally dissipating into a thin ring.

S: Getting some spice, ginger and honey.

T: Taste is an interesting blend that I can't nail down. Certainly ginger and honey, but something else. Maybe clove. Bit of a metallic after taste.

M: Medium and smooth.

D: Not sure what it is, but not finding it terribly drinkable.

Popkas, Dec 31, 2009
Photo of m1ked
3.45/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Received, yet another bottle of beer for Christmas. A good sign or a bad sign? I'm not sure, but I don't want to read too much into it.

A- Pours a crystal clear coppery caramel color. A brief and actively dissipating white head, seriously it was 1.5 fingers, and it was gone in like 20 seconds. The occasional bubble to the top. After 2 minutes there is nothing on top.

S- Sweet caramel with some fruity esters, raisins, a brief whiff of hay and toast. The toffee + fruity esters dominate.

T- Initially I get sweet grain and biscuit, like Nilla wafers, slight fruity esters,raisins, some etoh heat. I tad bitterness at the end that lingers. A little penny metallic thing at the end too.

M- Wierd to me here, it seems thin with low carb, but also a little cloying after the swallow. The carb that is there seems like soda water sharp.

D- I am always happy to try something new, something seasonal- I was able to kill 2 birds with one stone here. I haven't had alot of this style, but not a big fan of this one. No doubt that this one has a higher ABV as the etoh heat is very present. I don't see myself seeking this one out again. I would definitely seek out a GL beer again though.

m1ked, Dec 31, 2009
Photo of farrago
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Two finger off-white head of foam with enough larger bubbles to keep it popping and steadily dissolving down without disappearing, thin streaks of lacing. Copper red color with a little bit of brown to deepen the metallic orange further towards the rims, clean and mostly transparent. Ginger, allspice and cumin in the nose give it verve, thin honeyed glaze, white pepper and juniper keep it high and flighty, the cranberry, bing cherry, red raspberry fruit scents come at you at angles, hint of orange peel as well as backroads dirt and stones, some mocha but the maltiness just one part of many, enjoyable for its leanness. Medium-bodied, firm carbonation keeps a steady backbeat, nothing lazy about this beer. Dry and wiry, as if looking to be more of a thirst quencher than sweet holiday kiss. The honey blends well with the orange citrus while the clove, cinnamon, coriander, ginger spice enlivens throughout. Not many moments of fruit, fig, apple or pear. It is refreshing and, likely, more of a food beer than a sipper on its own.

farrago, Dec 29, 2009
Photo of Ryan011235
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass on 11/14/09

Best before 1/7/10

A - Clear, lightly toasted orange. One finger of foam settles to a thin layer. Meager retention. Lacing is ok, but it thins as the level of beer drops.

S - Pleasantly light aroma steeped in ginger & honey with hints of floral hops rounding it out. Light spice notes. Not picking out much malts.

T - Decently hopped with a noticeable bitterness that falls short of harshness. Swaths of honey. Spices work well with the light bitterness. Ginger is more predominant than cinnamon. Something of a dry toasted maltiness hidden in the back.

M - Medium body with zesty carbonation. Spices linger on the finish & are not unappreciated.

D - Put simply, this is tasty ale, be it "Christmas ale" or not.

Ryan011235, Dec 29, 2009
Photo of GilGarp
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Mitchell's Fish Market in Beachwood, Ohio.

Served cold in a pint glass, it has a radiant copper-orange color with near-perfect clarity and creamy head. The head has pretty good retention and leaves very nice lacing on the glass.

Aroma is full of "holiday" spices, as I like to call them. Cinnamon, clove, maybe some ginger.

Flavor is really just about spot-on for the winter warmer style. It has a great caramel/toffee backbone with layers of those same spices I picked up in the aroma.

Medium body and lowish carbonation seem just about right for the style. The alcohol is evident but not distracting. Drinkability is limited, as most of this style are, just because the palate can only handle so much spicey/boozy goodness.

Overall this seems like the quintessential winter warmer. Maybe (likely) because I grew up in Cleveland but still a very special seasonal from Great Lakes.

GilGarp, Dec 28, 2009
Photo of mgbickel
3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a standard pint glass. Formed a wispy ½ finger eggshell head that dissipated quickly... little lacing. A coppery body gives way to amber edges. Very festive looking!

Lots of spices are the dominant aromas: Nutmeg, ginger, orange peel and cinnamon. You can also pick up some sweet malts and a little hops in the background.

Spicy, spice! This is what I expect form a holiday ale! Just like the nose...can be a little bitter if you drink this to cold...the hops balance the sweetness nicely.

Mouth feel is medium with a good amount of carbonation.

Very drinkable...a great baseline to judge other holiday ales against!

mgbickel, Dec 28, 2009
Photo of samie85
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes. Originally consumed 12/21 at the Great Lakes brewpub.

A-Pours an amber color with a white head.

S-I got ginger and cinnamon with maybe a hint of hops.

T-Spicy ginger wtih cinnamon and a nice hop bitterness on the finish with a light malt foundation.

M-Medium bodied with a refreshing effervescence.

D-I had to dock it a bit here as it is not terribly easy to drink more than a couple of these. It is, however, the perfect way to end a winter evening at the GLBC brewpub.

samie85, Dec 28, 2009
Photo of alleykatking
3.73/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle. People around here ask for it by the case. About time I reviewed this one. From notes....

A- Pours a nice light orangey copper color with red hues on the sides when it is held up to the glass. No real head to speak of...just a light white skim covering the beer. No real lacing with this beer as well.

S- There is a hop presence in the front of the nose and is followed by spices. Upon a couple more sniff I can pick out a light sweet malty underbody to the aroma. Nutmeg and cinnamon along with some light brown sugar (I think) bring up the spice profile.

T- The taste is kind of odd for me. With the hops in the nose I figured they would come out in full force with this beer. The front was more sweet malts along with said spices in the Smell catagory. The hops come in at the tail end of the beer and just linger around there until all the way gone.

M- Light mouthfeel to this one. Carbonation is good for the stlye. A little watery in the mouth. Palate and aftertaste was mostly sweet malts with some nutmeg. Crisp and clean tasting.

D- This was a smooth tasting beer that is worth the money. I now understand why people buy this by the case. Very good drinking beer that everyone can drink.

alleykatking, Dec 27, 2009
Photo of steve8robin
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Got this one from a trade. Opened on Christmas night '09...

A: Awesome medium, dark copper color. 1 inch white head that slowly fades. Looks great!

S: Smell light honey spice scents with a slight hoppiness. Scent is kind of hidden and takes a little to find, but smells good.

T: Very bitter hoppy taste upfront with spruce-like flavors blended well.

M: Perfect carbonation / smoothness to this brew.

D: Very hoppy upfront, but still goes down easy.

All in all, this is a great brew if you like the heavy hopy taste upfront. It's refreshing but still very strong tasting. Not a bad Christmas brew at all. The spruce-like flavors really make this a "Christmas" beer.

steve8robin, Dec 26, 2009
Photo of buschbeer
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured into a pint glass to a small tan head. It is dark amber in color. It smells like Christmas spices, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon. The taste matches the aroma. It is a really good Christmas ale. It is second only to Anchor. Well maybe third if I throw in Mad Elf. I still remember my first GL Christmas ale several years ago. I thought it was the worst beer I had ever tasted and almost didn't finish it. Thank goodness my palate has evolved! Overall, a great Christmas beer.

Merry Christmas!

buschbeer, Dec 26, 2009
Photo of SiepJones
3.5/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served from a growler

Pours a dark amber with about and inch of head. Scents of sweet malt, and spices. The flavor consists of a strong malty body, some honey and lots of nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove. The clove is very strong on the finish. Slick body with light amount of carbonation. Drinkable beer with not too high of an ABV however one is enough for me. The mixture of spices is good but does not agree with my palate.

SiepJones, Dec 25, 2009
Photo of dciBA
3.38/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Poured amber into a pint glass. No head or lacing whatsoever. Smells of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Quite a spicy, flavorful beer. A nice balance of holiday/baking spices when cold, but ginger takes over when warm. The ginger flavor stays on the palate for several minutes. The body and mouthfeel are where this beer shines. Very smooth, almost creamy as it goes down. The strong, almost overpowering amount of ginger keep the drinkability score low. This is a solid, good tasting beer, but I'd only ever want to drink one at a time.

dciBA, Dec 24, 2009
Photo of Kadonny
3.8/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass.

A: A medium amber orange color with a minimal thin white head. Not much glass lacing.

S: Sweet fruits, spice, sugar sweetness and a hint of some woody hops.

T: Sweet fruits are first with some cherry, plum, raisin and a bit of raspberry coupled with a hefty honey or sugar sweetness and the spices of coriander, cinnamon and nutmeg that take over the flavor. A slight piney hop bitterness comes in a bit at the end, but the sweetness finishes out the beer. Sweeter than I expected.

M: Coating, sweet, a twinge of alcohol and lasting.

D: Medium, it was a good one time beer, but I can't see myself having more than one.

Overall this was a treat to try, but it just didn't seem to have that extra "oomph" that I wanted. It seemed just average to me with nothing special making it stand out. Still, very glad I tried it.

Kadonny, Dec 23, 2009
Photo of JoEBoBpr
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 offering poured into a pint.

A - Pours a nice dark copper with red hues. It has a nice 1 inch head that is off-white and recedes to a thin film.

S - Smell of piney hops and a huge amount of spices!! wow. Pepper, bit of coriander and nice leafy hop character.

T - Taste of pure spices! peppery and leafy, oregano maybe and definitely gingerbread. Very interesting and warm christmas beer. Taste like a mix of christmas cookies and hops. Very interesting and delicious.

M - Crisp and smooth at the same time. Very delicious and well balanced.

D - Nice and very smooth

JoEBoBpr, Dec 22, 2009
Photo of ritzkiss
3.95/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pint on tap at Cole's in Buffalo, arrives an light caramel golden color that leaves some light lacing.

This beer is way fruitier than I would imagine a Christmas beer to be. Actually, I'm not sure it's really a Christmas beer but it's tasty nonetheless. Fruity, light cinnamon spicing, raisins, honey sweetness. Creamy mouthfeel, light carbonation, light hop bite in the finish. Feels like a drinkable every day ale, not too much Christmas here.

Not a bad beer, pretty refreshing for the ABV. Needs a bit more carb, perhaps a touch more spicing to feel a little Christmasy-er. Otherwise, would drink again.

ritzkiss, Dec 20, 2009
Photo of webmanspidey
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into Chimay chalice. This is translucent, and a pink/peach color. Smell is sweet and fruity with hints of berries, pomegranate, honey, and cinnamon. Taste is well balanced and drinkable with a slightly bitter finish. The spices are definitely present but not as intense as in the smell. Great drinkability for the ABV. Nearly no alcohol presence.

I haven't been too big of a fan of this style in the past but this one's pretty good.

webmanspidey, Dec 19, 2009
Photo of BarrytheBear
3.5/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Plunges foamy, clear cranberry into a goblet

There is an off smell to this beer that fails to encourage good thoughts. Cloves and touch of urine along with honey and ginger.

Tastes like Christmas smells: Spruce, honey, sweet malt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Oddity in smell lingers faintly. Truckloads of ginger on the finish.

Dry, crisp, carbonation is average

Drinks fine, but I'm finding it's more to get to something I enjoy more, rather than a desire to really get into this beer.

BarrytheBear, Dec 18, 2009
Photo of jampics2
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Winking Lizard in Bedford, kindly purchased for me by my boss's boss. Cheers!

Amber beer served in a large 22 oz pint glass. Amber with a small white head.

Smells of cinnamon, ginger, something nasty I can't put my finger on. I've never been a fan of the smell of this beer.

Taste is a different story. Ginger, nutmeg, sweet caramel malt. A perfectly spiced winter beer. I'm from Cleveland, have come of age with this beer, and it's just something special.

Nice upbeat carbonation and medium-light body.

Classic X-mas beer. Great drinkability.

jampics2, Dec 17, 2009
Photo of blackearth
3.65/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark amber body with a thin white head that quickly fades. Aroma of fruity esters, ginger, brown sugar and toffee. Medium bodied with medium carbonation level, this beer boasts flavors of cinnamon, brown sugar and ginger with a bit of a spicy finish that's not too sweet, but just right. The ginger flavor dials up as the beer warms and seems to take over more than it should. Overall a good Christmas beer.

blackearth, Dec 17, 2009
Photo of Jayli
3.78/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Acquired from Csmiley via Review This! BIF so a big THANK YOU goes out to him!
Consumed 12/15

A: This beer pours a crystal clear amber/burnt orange with a one finger of off white head. Head recedes quickly leaving a nice wispy lacing behind.

S: Nose is mostly of ginger, some touches of honey and very faint malts.

T: Taste is of major ginger notes up front with some nutmeg mingling in. Taste then evens out with a bit of honey and breadiness in the middle. Finish has a bit of piney hop bitterness mixed with some cinnamon.

M: Medium body, medium carbonation (which is visible), slick, smooth mouthfeel.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, bit of a sweet cinnamon aftertaste, I could certainly enjoy a few of this with desert.

Jayli, Dec 17, 2009
Photo of Natural510
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, best-by date 1/08/10

Pours a lovely rose color with an intially creamy but quickly dissipating head and faint lacing.
Honey and ginger to the nose, with an underlying maltiness as well. Fainter than I expected given the spices involved.
Honey, ginger, cinnamon all well-represented in the flavor, backed by a caramel malt and hint of molasses. Ginger is kept well in check and doesn't overwhelm the other elements of the brew.
Nice little kick from the ginger and hops; the proper burn down the esophagus when ingesting any drink with true ginger. Medium-bodied and dry on the palate.
A nice entry to the world of spiced winter brews. Ginger seems to be a common theme these days, but they pull it off fairly well here. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but it is balanced enough to be one of the more drinkable winter warmers.

Natural510, Dec 14, 2009
Photo of SIRIUS2
4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours dark translucent brown, almost black. Abundant head of at least 2 fingers or more - bright white foam. Head receded a bit after a few minutes but had great retention. Laced the glass easily all the way down.

Aromas were moderately malty with a sort of "holiday spice" note to it. I couldn't really pin down if it was nutmeg or cinnamon or what, but it smelled pretty good and didn't detract from the beer.

The flavors in this beer worked fantastically together. There was a solid malt backbone that gave a boost to some of the spices, of which seemed to be nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla. There was a grassy herbal hop note but it was just enough to hold back the sweetness a bit. Relatively clean at the swallow with just a bit of that spice mix and some malt clinging on for the linger.

This is a pretty smooth brew and they go down really easy. The carbonation is matched well to the rest of the brew and it all just works. The heavier gravity also seemed well matched and was essentially undetectable with the rest of the flavors. very well done and an awesome brew to drink with friends during the holidays. Highly recommended!

SIRIUS2, Dec 13, 2009
Photo of harryhood1
4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a- nice copper color and produced a nice head

s- very strong spice aroma- lots of ginger and hops really at the heart of the aroma

t- you have to really enjoy spiced beer (which I do) to like this one. It isn't a mild spicing by any means. ginger again, is really forward and in your face but I really enjoyed it.

m- good carbonation on the pallate and a smooth drink considering the amount of spice in the beer.

d- very drinkable winter warmer. almost Too drinkable. At 7.5%, these still slide down pretty easily and it can sneak up on you.

Overall, one of the best spiced ales I've ever had. My buddy from Cleveland raved about it and once he brought it over, I think it lived up to the hype.

harryhood1, Dec 09, 2009
Photo of PDXHops
3.28/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Ryan011235 for this 12 oz bottle, poured into a Duvel tulip.

Pours see-thru reddish amber with a finger of cream-colored head that disappears fairly quickly. Decent lacing, though.

Smells chiefly of sweet maltiness and powdered cinammon and ginger.

A stinging combo of ginger and hops hit the tongue right away, yield to some honeyish sweetness and cinammon for a moment, then return to rough up the palate a little bit at the swallow. Stale powdered cinammon lingers in the finish. Medium-thick body with moderate carbonation.

Overall impression: The spices are a little strong for my taste, but certainly worth a try.

PDXHops, Dec 08, 2009
Photo of cpetrone84
3.63/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Growler on 11/7/10 from Fatheads Pittsburgh

A-clear pale golden amber with a medium thick tan head.

S-the nose is rather spicey, sweet caramel malts and lots of cinnomon play up front with a touch of nutmeg. Sugary and stick malts are dominant as some raspberry flavors lie behind with a touch of spciy herbal hops in the back.

T-follows the nose to a t, tons of christmas spices, sticky malts, sugar, light fruity sweetness of raspberries, touch of herbal hops in the finish with almost no bitterness.

M-lighter in body, sticky syrup feel to it, medium to light carbonation and a wet juicy finish.

D-well balanced and big christmas spice to it, very easy drinking but a little sticky and syrupy in the feel as more carb would have helped to balance.

Had on draft at the brewpub in Cleveland.

A-nice copper brown color that let a nice amount of light through. it poured one finger of an off white head with almost no bubbles and left a decent lace

S-the aroma was faint and what i was able to get included a light smell of christmas spice, cinnamon and nutmeg

T-i wasn't sure how much taste would hit with the muted smell, but huge christmas spice flavors, lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, and some nice notes of vanilla in there

M-lightly carbonated with a medium body, it has a sharp texture that creates a very crisp finish

D-pretty tassty and crisp towards the finish, i could enjoy this several times over

cpetrone84, Dec 08, 2009
Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,331 ratings.