1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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.
BA SCORE
89
very good

2,357 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,357
Reviews: 784
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 13.13%
Wants: 124
Gots: 298 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 2,357 | Reviews: 784 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of tpd975
3.53/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a nice amber hue with a nice creamy head. Pretty good retention with nice streaks of lace.

S: Fairly simple. Lots of caramel malt with hints of toffee, and cinnamon.

T: Nice malt profile here. The caramel and toffee do come through. The cinnamon really stands out as well. The finish has a nice dash of floral hops.

M: Medium in body, pretty smooth.

D: Not my favorite Winter Warmer, but like everything Great Lakes does... it's pretty darn tasty.

tpd975, May 18, 2009
Photo of thirdeye11
4.28/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to amietaj1 for the extra in a trade!!

Presentation: Poured from 12oz bottle into a Duvel tulip glass.

A: This beer pours about a 1/2 finger of head, large bubbles resting on top. There is a lot of lacing on the glass, but the head retention is average at best and dissipates pretty quickly. The beer is a beautiful auburn color, deep red and light brown.

S: Smells like honey, a lightly roasted caramel malt, and reminds me in some ways of barleywine. I like it a LOT. There is no hint of cinnamon or other spices as the label suggests.

T: This beer tastes amazing. It doesn't really remind me of a winter warmer but there are tastes of sweet orange blossom honey, some type of spices which are unidentifiable but not cinnamon as suggested by the label, a well balanced sourness competing with the honey sweetness, and even a mild smooth hop presence. This beer is superbly balanced.

M: A little under carbonated and thin it makes up for it slightly in the oiliness from the hops.

D: I could drink this all night and not be upset about it. The sourness might get to me after 3 or 4, but it's really solid in this category.

My second Great Lakes beer I am noticing a profile among their beers. I'm really liking them. This is probably my favorite winter warmer that I've had by far, but doesn't remind me much of the others I've had so take that with some caution. Highly recommended for beer drinkers and non-drinkers alike! This beer is superb in almost all respects.

thirdeye11, Apr 16, 2009
Photo of adamette
4.18/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Live review. Served from a 12 oz. bottle. 2008 version. Poured into, what else, my Great Lakes Christmas Ale goblet (a glass of the month at Winking Lizard in Mentor in December last year).

A Basic amber with one inch head that took about 3 minutes to dissipate. I see some sediment floating around, something that I did not observe in the tap version which I had twice before today.

S Medium malt, minimal hops and some subtle spices.

T Nice medium malt and barley taste with definite spices of maybe coriander, cinnamon. This bottle is better than I remember the tap version being (both at the Brewery and at another restaurant in the Cleveland area). The taste is a very palatable, lightly hopped Winter Warmer Ale and exactly to style. Great brew which might appreciate with time.

M Warm and moderate overall. Some carbonation.

D Really quite good. I could have 3 or 4 of these.

Notes: Bottle is clearly superior to the tap version in my opinion. Maybe the beer needed a little time to perfect?

adamette, Apr 05, 2009
Photo of brianlg
3.03/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bought this in February, which is a little after the season, but I had to try it. 12 oz bottle pours a nice golden color with a 2 finger foamy head. The smell is very sweet, it smells like candy kind of. Also smells faintly citrusy and a little scent of alcohol. The taste is where this beer fell apart for me. It is way too sweet! I didn't taste my carbonation at all. It tastes like bitter honey, and a hint of caramel. Ech. This is not good! I love all of Great Lakes beers, but this didn'd do it for me. I hope this bottle was skunked.
Maybe my palate was off, maybe my bottle was bad. I will definitely try this fresh next holiday season, probably on tap from the brewery to make sure it's fresh. I will see if my opinion changes.

brianlg, Mar 29, 2009
Photo of dmamiano
3.55/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a fairly dark copper with a nice head and decent lacing.
Smells of bready malts, spices. Kind of reminds me of grandmas house as she makes christmas dinner.
Taste is fairly nice, mildly spiced like I like it. Nice maltiness with no big hop characteristics.
Not a favorite style, but pretty good.

dmamiano, Mar 18, 2009
Photo of u2carew
4.3/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(A) Light reddish brown. Pours with a nice head, that settles quickly to the outside of the glass.
(S) Mild aroma with notes of toffee and a dash of floral / citrus tones.
(T) Bold cinnamon with caramel sweetness.
(M) Crisp carbonation, medium body, fairly smooth.
(D) A delicious brew. The spice flavorings make this beer a fantastic yuletide drink.

u2carew, Mar 17, 2009
Photo of bowersdm
3.03/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass

A - ruby/orange amber color. i can't quite describe it. it had a stiff 2cm off-white head.

S - nothing really. some spices and some alcohol.

T - faint malt taste with some spices (cinnamon, cloves, maybe nutmeg), a touch of hops. not much else. honey, maybe. something besides malt is providing a sweetness to the beer.

M - eh, fair.

D - Great Lakes let me down. I may give this a shot again next year, but I'll stick to SN Celebration Ale for my christmas beers.

bowersdm, Feb 27, 2009
Photo of GatorBeerNerd
4.18/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz single purchased for me at Jungle Jim's in Ohio by a friend during Thanksgiving. Poured into a standard pint glass. To be fair, the best by date on the bottle was for 1/26/09. I guess I got too many IPAs that I had to take car of first.

A: Pours a nice dark copper color with a large bubble frothy tan head that dissipates relatively quickly. It leaves nice lacing.

S: Not much of an aroma here. There is a sweet malt aroma with a bit of spiciness mixed in.

T: There is a bit of sweetness initially from the malt. There is a bit of spiciness from the ginger and cinnamon. The finish coats the mouth with sweetness from the honey. It is an interesting brew. Much more complex than the others in the style I have tried tonight.

M: A nice thick smooth mouthfeel. The spicing adds character as well.

D: It is an easy drinker since its balanced with spice and sweetness. The ABV although not that high is well hidden in the flavor.

GatorBeerNerd, Feb 24, 2009
Photo of lackenhauser
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very nice and clean, coppery/orange color. decent sized head as well and some great lacing on down. very spicy aroma-nutmeg, cinnamon, some cloves. Solid malty flavor with a definate spice taste to it. Mildly sweet. Trace of caramel like sweetness as well. Good motuhfeel-it helps the whole thing come together. Quite drinkable and enjoyable. Reminds me of how the Harpoon Winter used to be before it became liquid pumpkin pie and what I now find is a complete a mess in a bottle. Could not do a lot of these in 1 sitting but a nice holiday beer for sure.

lackenhauser, Feb 15, 2009
Photo of angelmonster
3.6/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an off white 1 and a half finger head. Amber in color with lively carbonation, head retention and lacing are decent

First smell is of ginger and sweet malt. Also smell some Piny hops.

First taste is spice, ginger, and cinnamon. Honey and hops are also present, plus a weird herbal tea after taste. At 7.5 abv, the alcohol is nowhere to be found

Light body, somewhat creamy head, generously carbonated.

This is definitely a unique seasonal beer. Not overly spiced but spices are prominent flavors. Above average drink ability, thanks alot to Sonicdescent for providing it to me as an extra

angelmonster, Feb 06, 2009
Photo of robbyc1
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Clear amber orange with a slight head. Good but not great looking.

Huge spice nose, ginger and cinnamon combine nicely with the honey to give a wonderful Christmas type aroma.

Bake this and I would eat it for desert. Very much tastes like the nose, the spices hit up front, the malt in the back, finishes balanced, must be some hops here otherwise it would be too sweet, it isn't.

Smooth and silky, nicely heavy on the palate. Might use a bit more carbonation, but good otherwise.

The drinkability is fine for one, but the unusual taste/smell makes it a one timer. Very well done, one of my favorite American Christmas brews.

robbyc1, Feb 03, 2009
Photo of johnd513
3.8/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a hazy reddish-brown with a thin tan creamy head. Smells sweet with cinnamon and nutmeg. The taste is sweet up front and then becomes spicy. The spiciness stays on the tongue after drinking. The mouthfeel has medium body and moderate carbination. Drinkability is decent. I enjoyed the single and could probably have a couple.

johnd513, Feb 02, 2009
Photo of craytonic
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: We've got floaters! Copper-brown-orange, head sticks around for a nice visit, no real lacing.

Smell: Spices and sweet malt.

Taste: Honey, caramel, toffee. Spices are: cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove. Very sweet. Reminds me of carrot cake.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is a little light in my Sam Adams perfect pint glass, mouthfeel is full without being heavy.

Drinkability: Had no idea it was 7.5% till I logged on. Very drinkable. A very enjoyable seasonal.

craytonic, Feb 02, 2009
Photo of roadhouse
3.83/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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

Appearance is very clear coppery orange with a one inch thick off-white head. Lively carbonation keeps it held up for quite a while. Lots of thick lacing left behind on the glass.

Aroma is of spices mostly, I can detect the ginger, and the cinnamon is there but a bit less prominent. There's a general malt sweetness, or maybe that's from honey. A very light touch of piney hops as well. Either way, it's pretty mild.

Taste is mostly of the cinnamon up front alongside a malty sweetness. Towards the back end up the beer the ginger comes out more as well as some piney hops.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a very creamy texture that goes down easy. Not the most drinkable though because of the spice character.

While I am not the biggest fan of Christmas Ales I thought this stuff was pretty good. I just noticed that it's 7.5% too, that makes it even better.

roadhouse, Feb 01, 2009
Photo of ABOWMan
4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

What's not to like. Three fingers of creamy white head, and a nose full of aroma. Hints of vanilla, spice? and honey in addition to hops makes you want to take a sip. When you do, you'll get a mouth full of flavor with lasting impact after you swallow.The appearance is slightly cloudy and the color is a nice amber, almost like honey.

ABOWMan, Jan 30, 2009
Photo of Rhynes2
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A great holiday beer. It tastes like Christmas minus the turkey and such. Great with party foods. Had this with a Christmas roast and it was one of the greatest things ever. Nice foamy head and great color. Ginger was at the forefront of the taste. A great buy for anyone. Great lakes did a fantastic job with this one.

Rhynes2, Jan 24, 2009
Photo of HardcoreHopHead
3.63/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Drank from small Rocks glass.

Looked light copper in color with very little head(possibly due to the small amount poured).

Nice nose of Ginger and Vanilla.

On tasting it develops the ginger and vanilla notes into an easy graham character.

Mouth feel was a little syrupy with no effervescence.

Overall this was a good Christmas Ale. I liked its light body and that I could probably turn non-crafters onto it.

HardcoreHopHead, Jan 23, 2009
Photo of mralphabet
3.43/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 Oz Bottle poured into Pilsner Glass

A: Ruby red. Poured not to gently and got about 1 fingers worth of head... Nice white head with good retention.

S: Different... the aroma of cinnamon, ginger spice, maybe some nutmeg.... Very spicy mix... and clean smelling

T: Catching floral hops right upfront... then some cinnamon, ginger.... ends with a little bitterness... Somewhat complex. The ABV is very warming.... so Winter Warmer fits.

M: Medium bodied... good bit of carbination.... Goes down smooth... with just a little bit

D: Take your time with this one... becomes a little better the more it warms up.... For me this one is not a multi drinker... I would add this one to my winter mix any time.

mralphabet, Jan 21, 2009
Photo of emerge077
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

BBD: 1/19/09 Served at 50º

First time having this beer, surprisingly. Weeks after Christmas, this got pushed to the back of the fridge somehow.

Rusty orange body, lighter than I expected. A frothy finger's width of foam, that slowly ebbs to a ring and skim. Gingersnap and cinnamon snickerdoodle cookie aroma. Light honey too. Flavor is much the same, light cookie malt sweetness with a ginger and cinnamon combo in the background. Clover honey and bitter hop in the finish. Feel is light to medium, nicely compliments the flavors. Not a bad holiday brew, lighter than expected and balanced with moderate spice.

Single bottle from Vrai Amour in Chicago.

emerge077, Jan 21, 2009
Photo of mobyfann
4.38/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Paid $8.99 for a growler at The Party Source in Bellevue, KY...

The beer pours a clear amber colored based with a medium white head, decent head retention and lacing on the glass. The aroma is a balanced mix of aromatic hops, sweet malts, caramel and cinnamon/anise.

The taste is exceptionally smooth, moderate body, slightly chewy and sweet. It is a perfect mix of the aforementioned aroma ingredients and finishes clean. It is crisp and clean in the mouth and at 7.5%abv is a seasonal pleaser, even if Christmas was a month ago.

Final Thought: Freaking awesome on-tap or in growler... just a great example of Great Lakes' versatility as a top national brewer.

mobyfann, Jan 18, 2009
Photo of TommyBuckeye
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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
Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,357 ratings.