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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

2,374 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,374
Reviews: 786
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 13.13%
Wants: 128
Gots: 306 | 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: 2,374 | Reviews: 786 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured a light amber colour with some visible carbonation. A light white head formed and actually stuck around.

S - Some warm spice on the nose but overall not an overwhelmingly strong nose. Can also smell sweetness and caramel.

T - Lots of spice! Nice cinnamon notes (the perfect amount) with some ginger. Can definitely taste the honey too, especially in the aftertaste. Sweet and smooth!

M - Medium body. A little bit chewy, which was nice for a Christmas Ale.

D - A very drinkable beer. The cinnamon flavour is excellent.

TheSevenDuffs, Feb 04, 2010
Photo of thekevlarkid
3.75/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Out of a bottle this beer was an orange-sienna color with a thin, one-finger of khaki colored head. The retention was only so-so and the lacing scant. The aroma was spicy with cloves, yeast, the funk of some musty malt and caramel malt. The flavors were semi-sweet and lighter than many Christmas ales. The spices clearly came through with lots of cloves, cinnamon and hints of hops at the end that added a bitter finish that lingered. Well blended but not wholly pleasant and not the best example of the style or the Great Lakes work. The mouthfeel was average, the body light/medium and the carbonation medium.

thekevlarkid, Jan 25, 2010
Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.55/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Acquired from pochman, courtesy of BA Secret Santa 2009 so a big "Thank You" goes out to him. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep golden brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malts, spices, honey and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts with spices like cinnamon, ginger & nutmeg followed by sweet flavors of caramel and fruit. The malt character is hearty and the hops presence is mild as you usually find in this type of beer. The after-taste is slightly spicy and slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Flavorful, goes down ok, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, it's a decent Christmas beer but there are others in the style that I would pick first.

TheManiacalOne, Jan 25, 2010
Photo of OldSchoolGamer
4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

With the warmer months ahead, I decided to crack open my last Christmas Ale of the season. Lets see if it live up to the hype.

A: Pours a nice golden-amber. Kinda hazy with a nice, creamy head. Lacing is pretty good.

S/T: The aroma is both sweet and spicy. Definetly pick up the ginger and cinnamon in the aroma. Taste is even more robust, while maintaining an excellent balance of flavors. Upfront, you get a nice mix of cinnamon and ginger, with the ginger being slightly more dominant. The spice transitions over to a nice sweet, toasty and slightly nutty malt aftertaste. Finish is pretty clean with only a trace of spice and sweetness lingering. Honey is there, but remains as a supporting role to the spice and malt. Easily one of the best Christmas Ales.

M/D: Mouthfeel is medium bodied. It is very creamy in the mouth, but finishes nice and clean, begging for another sip. Drinkability is outstanding. I drank three of these in under and hour the first day this beer came out.

Its amazing how Great Lakes managed to make such a full-flavored and robust beer so drinkable. This is always a regular in the fridge during the holiday months. Stock up early next year, as this beers goes quick. One of Great Lakes best.

OldSchoolGamer, Jan 24, 2010
Photo of jdklks
3.5/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is a deep copper with a small, light tan head. smell is of cinnamon, honey, sweet dark malts, and cloves. not strong enough, nothing impressive.

Taste is big on the cinammon up front, dissolving into a rather bland blend of ginger and honey in the middle and a slightly burnt alcoholic sweetness in the finish and aftertaste. A decent winter warmer, but nothing too impressive. Perhaps this one is a little past its prime.

Full-bodied and decently carbonated. Drinkability is okay, but i wouldn't want another.

jdklks, Jan 22, 2010
Photo of Ezekiel81923
4.4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found a loner at Capone's. Wanted to give it a whirl since I'm interested in finding a winter warmer I actually like. Poured this one into a pint glass.

Appearance: Clear amber color. Small tan head that recedes quickly but leaves some spotty lacing. This isn't as dark as other "winter warmers" I've tried which, as far as I'm concerned, is a good start.

Smell: Smells like Christmas to be honest. Ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cherry, sweet bready malts. This is the kind of thing I hoped for out of other winter brews.

Taste: Spicy. Strong notes of ginger and cinnamon. It's sweet as well. Some cherry, raisin, nutmeg. Some hop bitterness. Solid malt backbone without being too heavy. Not much hop presence to speak of other than the bitterness. Real solid.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, medium carbonation. Spiciness lingers on the tongue. Carbonation adds a tingling sensation. Just a slight alcohol warmth as it goes down, but that could just be lingering spice in the back of my throat...it's that faint.

Drinkability: I only had one of these but I wish I had many more. It doesn't matter to me that it's after christmas, this was a delicious beer whose only limitation might be the abundance of spice.

Glad I got to try this one. I'm not sure much of it made it to PA, hopefully we get plenty for next year that I can drink it up over the holidays.

Ezekiel81923, Jan 19, 2010
Photo of Sideswipe
2.4/5  rDev -39.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. The beer looks great. A very clear copper color with a finger of off white head. I can smell the spice from a foot away. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice. All these and more are confirmed when I take a drink. Wow, there is a lot of spice here, and a sweetness that must be the honey that was mentioned on the label. Mouthfeel is ok due to the carbonation, but I just can't get past the overwhelming spicyness of this brew. For me drinkability of his beer is non existent. There is just too much of a spice presence. Perhaps I have been drinking IPA for too long to truly appreciate this style. I will not be having another one of these.

Sideswipe, Jan 14, 2010
Photo of portia99
3.78/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle received in trade with Hoppymcgee. Thanks for this one Greg! Poured into a Bruery tulip.

A - Pours a perfectly clear amber color. A low cap of white foam briefly lingers and then fades quickly to a thin whie collarwith a small touch of lacing on the glass.

S - Lightly malty, good dose of cinnamon. Somewhat fruity...I think I'm getting sour cherries, but not sure. A touch of burnt malt aroma, but color does not indicate its presence. Interesting aroma...kinda like it.

T - Hmm, not exactly sure what I'm getting out of this. I think I'm getting some honey flavor combined with the cinnamon spiciness. Not really getting the ginger in the taste, but I feel it's spiciness. Not especially sweet or bitter...just well balanced. Overall, I think the cinnamon has the highest presence, but the flavors are really well rounded and a touch subdued. I like what I'm tasting, just wish there was a little more of it.

M - The lasting impression is that of spicy ginger. Disappointly, not prominant enough in the taste, but I sure feel it - in a good way. Fairly light in body. Carbonation is medium to high. Spices leave a lingering impression but they are not overbearing.

D - Very nice winter warmer/Christmas beer. Spices are present but not overbearing, as in other examples of this style. Pretty enjoyable. Glad to have a chance to try this one. Wouldn't mind spending the holidays with a six pack of this one.

portia99, Jan 14, 2010
Photo of Amalak
3.35/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had out of a 12 ounce bottle. It had a huge foamy head, brown, with a very, very slight cloudiness. Some spicy hops to smell.

It's a mild, pumpkin taste, but not like a Pumpkin ale or Oktoberfest, either. A nutty aftertaste. Slight bite. Good, but for an XMas/Winter Warmer, I want more flavor.

Amalak, Jan 08, 2010
Photo of KYbrewgal
4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on tap at Flanigans Ale House. Aroma of cinnamon, clove and caramel. Nice off-white head with small bubbles that lingered. A good drinkable brew with definate cinnamon and ginger spice flavor, a rich copper color, and a medium body that will fit with any holiday meal. One of the better "holiday-spice" beer offerings this season.

KYbrewgal, Jan 08, 2010
Photo of zimm421
3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark copper colored with a thick, foamy, white head that dissolves slowly, with some remaining the entire time. Leaves little lacing.

S - Ginger, with a little bit of honey scents. Not a lot that stands out here

T - A lot of taste, hard to pick out a lot of specific tastes, but there are certainly ginger and honey, following the nose.

M - Thick and creamy with some good carbonation.

D - Not difficult to drink at all, but definitely something that would go better with a meal, rather than on it's own.

A good Holiday beer, but definitely not the best holiday drink I had this year.

zimm421, Jan 06, 2010
Photo of eth916
4.45/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on draft at local BW-3

A - Nice 1/2" foamy head and nice glass lacing.
Nice medium amber color.

S - Cinnamon and bitter hops.

T - Cinnamon, spice and bitter hops.

M - Smooth beginning with a slightly bitter cinnamon finish.

D - Easy to drink with any meal. Love the beer - would definitely recommend. A winter favorite.

eth916, Jan 06, 2010
Photo of jwinship83
3.58/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle with a best by date of 2/12/10 on the back. drank from a ruination pint glass.

A- this one pours out a clear amber colored body with a small quickly fading beige colored head. the head leaves behind small spots of lacing. a stead stream of carbonation can be seen racing to the top of my glass.

S- bready and fruity malts. cherries and raisins. lots of spices, ginger and cinnamon are the most pronounced. cloves and nutmeg also. very christmas like.

T- the taste is very spicy. the malts take a distant back seat to cinnamon and nutmeg. strong notes of ginger as well. a little too heavy on cinnamon for my liking but it does capture the essence of a kitchen at christmas.

M- medium to full bodied with a nice low level of carbonation. a small warming from the alcohol.

D- christmas in a glass. this beer is a little heavy on the spices for me, but its exactly what one would expect a christmas beer to be like. im not sure i understand the cult like following this beer has. one is plenty in a sitting and possibly a year.

jwinship83, Jan 05, 2010
Photo of sidetracked
3.35/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep amber with a sand-colored off-white head.

Smells very floral and of ginger and pine.

Tastes of nutmeg, ginger, and other baking spices. The flavor is a bit woodsy with hints of honey. There's a little bitterness to it too.

Light body that makes it easy to drink, but it's a bit too much ginger flavor for me.

sidetracked, Jan 04, 2010
Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.5/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

One of the best midwest holiday ales. Looks dark brown/red/copper. Aroma is very much like Christmas: some beer, pine, gravy, mashed potatoes, yams, ham, cranberry, cinammon mesh.

Taste, you pick up some of those things, who knows, maybe a little pumpkin and coriander. A few of the things in Anchor Christmas probably, but more pronounced in this offering.

Drinkability suffers a little, too sweet and just too much like food in a blender to keep chugging these along. Heavy.

Beerandraiderfan, Jan 02, 2010
Photo of trbergman
4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a tulip.

A - Ruby orange with one inch of sticky off-white head. Good sheets of lace.

S - According to the label, Great Lakes uses honey, ginger, and cinnamon in this beer, and all are evident in the nose. Honey is definitely the strongest, with ginger close behind. There's also a hint of toast and some fruity/floral aromas.

T - Good malt backbone, with a bit of toasted bread. The malt is not obtrusive and allows the spicing to shine. At the same time, the spices are not overdone. No real hop flavor, and minimal hop bitterness. Very well balanced.

M - Medium body, peppery carbonation.

D - I wish all winter warmers were this good. Although the spices are the main feature here, they're still restrained enough to maintain a high quaffability. Alcohol is well hidden. All the same, I'm not sure I could drink more than one or two in a sitting.

trbergman, Jan 02, 2010
Photo of sweemzander
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into an imperial pint. Best by 1-13-10 printed on the bottle.

(A)- Pours a slightly reddish but clear copper color that produced a good off-white fluffy head that left some lacing behind as it slowly dissipated.

(S)- A spicy gingerbread aroma with a cinnamon & nutmeg cranberry thing going on. Finishes with just a tiny kiss of pine needle. Man, this almost literally christmas day in a bottle!

(T)- Almost as exact as the smell dictated, except with a much bigger bitter hop presence. Finishes dry.

(M)- A good carbonation level & balance. A great body with a flavor profile that really puts your tastebuds in the mood for the holiday season.

(D)- Definitely of the the better christmas oriented beers I have had.. This one actually tastes like the season & is good too! Remember this one when celebrating the holidays!

sweemzander, Jan 02, 2010
Photo of cudmud
3.4/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours from the bottle with a rich ruby color and a fawn colored head of one-half inch. The head produces a nice layer of lacing.

Smell: There is plenty going on with the aroma. I can detect ginger, nutmeg, orange, hops, and biscuits. Overall, the sents work well together.

Taste: Like the smell, there is a lot going on with the flavor of this beer. One can detect lots of spice and hops. The flavors blend together, which makes it hard to detect any individual falvors. The malt does get lost with all the other flavors.

Mouthfeel and Drinkability: This brew feels good in the mouth. I don't think I could drink more than two of these in one night.

cudmud, Jan 02, 2010
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
Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,374 ratings.