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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

2,596 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,596
Reviews: 810
rAvg: 3.95
pDev: 13.16%
Wants: 142
Gots: 409 | 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: 2,596 | Reviews: 810 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of tykees88
3.43/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- amber red to brown. fluffy head. Decent lacing throughout.

S- Smells hoppy, malty. Then I smell cinnamon, some orange, clove, nutmeg. A potpourri of winter time dances through my nostrils. Truly amazing.

T- It tastes like it smells, but alas it's mild, and boozy. kills this beer for me.

M- Medium bodied as it should be. carbonated nicely.

O- not a four, the taste was what killed it for me. Maybe one of the most amazing sensations of any beer i've ever had was the smell.

Photo of afksports
3.68/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I opened Great Lakes' Christmas Ale about half a year past it's "enjoy by" date of 12/25/2010, but to be honest I think with the style not being overly hopped, and the alcohol at 7.5%, I could keep it pretty well. What I found inside the bottle was a drinkable beer that certainly has its strong points, while still falling a little short of one I'd want again.

It poured a copper to red hue with minimal lacing but a lovely deep appearance, in a weird way almost bright. It smells of yeast, ginger honey and spice, with the minimal hop presence due to both style and age. Definitely a winter warmer. The taste follows with the spice, and gives a mid-palate sweetness that's not unwelcome for the style, but also not my thing.

It's very nearly full-bodied, and would certainly be warming in winter months, but ultimately I'm not impressed enough to seek this one out over other local winter warmers, or even over Sam Adams'. Good, but not better than good.

Photo of dhartogs
4.58/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A friend from Cleveland sent me a 6-pack. A very hyped up beer and I wanted to see what it was all about.

Nice spicy aroma, hazelnut in color, with a medium head.

Not sure how to describe it, just enough spice to let you know it's there but not enough to overpower the ale. By the end of the bottle, which was poured into a pint glass the spice was a more present.

Overall I really liked this beer and will look forward to the next Christmas ale.

Photo of Rifugium
3.73/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First had: on tap at Pinocchio's, Media, PA

Tasty! Poured clear copper-orange with a nice off-white head. Obvious spice in the nose, and some honey sweetness. Crisp and slightly fruity to the taste, nutty with a strong honey sensation immediately following, and later flavors of nutmeg, ginger, and light cinnamon, when the honey mellows. A slight hop bite riding in with the alcohol. Nicely balanced, medium mouthfeel, and a pleasant drink overall.

Photo of Mora2000
3.9/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a hazy orange color with a white head. The aroma is heavy on the nutmeg and honey. Definitely a heavily spiced Christmas beer. The flavor is more of the same. I get a ton of spices, as well as some toffee and green apples notes. There is a nice sweetness to the flavor. The beer is easy to drink. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Photo of Brez07
3.78/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a Maine Beer Company logo glass. Bottled 12/26/10

A: Orange, translucent. Pours with a 1/2 finger white head but doesn't have much retention

S: Nose is initially bread dough and malt, followed by some ginger/spice combo. Very light honey and clove. Maybe some cinnamon too. Spiced bread, orange zest

T: Cinnamon and other spices. Much more spice comes out in the flavor. Some bread malt. Citrus blends in and provides almost a bit of tartness

M: Medium bodied. High amount of carbonation slightly detracts from the overall flavors of the beer as it attacks the front of the palate. Light coriander-like spice remains

D: While I enjoyed this beer, certainly not one of the best holiday beers I've had. The spices became a little too much after about half the beer and the honey failed to balance them out. One is probably enough for me

Photo of EORS
4.55/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Finally finished my seasons' worth of Christmas Ale.

Appearance: light amber with a small to moderate amount of carbonation and a small off-white head. Previous years' brews have had more of a ruby hue to them.

Smell: Honey, cinnamon, and clove all dominate the nose

Taste: Christmas in a bottle. More spice, mellowed by honey and malt, with a hint of bitterness from the hops lingering at the finish. Alcohol cuts through in mid-swig, giving you that warming feeling.

Mouthfeel: Well bodied, and the lack of carbonation helps it go down. Not that it needs much help.

Overall: Full disclosure - when someone asks me to name my favorite beer, this is the one I name. It blends the spices and honey in with the rest of the ingredients so well, and there's absolutely nothing better on a cold winter evening. While this year's batch isn't as well balanced as some previous (I could barely taste any malt and I wonder if it's because they've changed their grain bill somewhat) it's still an amazing beer from a world-class brewery.

Photo of gregshead
4.1/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on 3/12/11. Reviewed from notes:

A: Pours a finger of head. orange/copper color.

S: Spices hit the nose. Nutmeg and others. Almost smell pumpkin

T: Lots of nutmeg and spice. Good malty taste intermingled.

M: pretty light feel for this style. Nice carb feel as well

O: Nothing to complex but very enjoyable. A great first beer for be to review from great lakes brewery

Photo of Scotchboy
3.65/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks Jason.

Pours a golden orange bordering on copper, with good clarity and carbonation. An ample off-white-bordering-on-khaki head settles on this beer, barely dissipating and leaving good lacing.

Smells like a spiced brown ale, with caramel malts, spices, a subdued hop presence, and holiday nuts.

Tastes about the same as the smell, a lot like something like Rogue Hazelnut or Moose Drool. I've always dug the smell of brown ales more than the taste, and this beer is not an exception although I like the taste on this one, just not the finish. The malts are sweet, the hops are there and pleasant and not bitter, but there is a slight lingering spiciness and bitterness that is unpleasant.

MF is light to medium, feels chalky at times and finishes slightly watery. Carbonation is low to medium.

Overall I think this is a pretty good beer, and probably very good fresh. Not my favorite but solid.

Photo of zeledonia
3.93/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours golden-orange with a substantial off-white head that slowly recedes, leaving lots of lacing. Clear, except for the little tiny flecks of sediment floating around, and the ample streams of tiny bubbles flowing up. Looks quite tasty.

Smell is a combination of sweet fruit (raspberries and peaches) and a nutty, earthy, peanut-like aroma. Strangely, this is the second beer I've tried whose smell reminds me of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (after Dark Horse's Perkulator Coffee Doppelbock). I get a bit of malt, but no hops, and very little of the spices the bottle proclaimed. Honey is there, though, adding to the slight sweetness from the malts.

Taste is really interesting. It tastes like beer, but not like beer. The spices are pronounced; I get flavors of cloves, honey sweetness, and cinnamon in the finish. This is all underlain by a good balance of malt and hops that support the rest of the beer, without boldly making their presence known.

Medium-bodied with medium-low carbonation. I think it could use a bit more fizz to make the flavors play around a bit more.

This is not a beer I could drink one after another - it's too spiced and a bit too sweet for that. Definitely a dessert beer in that respect. But it is very tasty, and one I plan to enjoy in future winters.

Photo of sendsilk
3.93/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received as an extra ina recent trade. 12 oz. bottle siad best drank by 3/3/11 and todays the 28th, close enough.

A- Beautiful appearance. A lovely burnt amber. small head with nice lacing on the glass

S- Good, smells like a spicy ale and sometimes these thing just kick your ass with spice so I am a little hesitant.

T- Nice. mild and well balanced. A very pleasant surprise. This is not normally my style but I can sure dig on this beer for a while.

M- Good

O/D- A surprisingly easy to drink spiced ale. The first Grweat Laked beer that I have had, it set the stage for some better Great Lakes beers I have heard about. Next I will try to acquire their porter, Nosferatu, Eliot Ness and some others I have heard about.

Photo of KBomb
4.53/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Lovely ruby/copper colored body, slightly opaque, capped with nearly two fingers of slightly colored head. Delectable to they eye! Rich, sweet roasty malt dominates the aroma complimented nicely by some warming winter spices like ginger and cinnamon. Taste is a marvelous clean, sweet, brown-sugar sweetness with a delicate earthy hop note, honey sweetness complimented with light touches of spice. Like grandmas gingerbread cookies, but finished with an incredibly clean taste. A pleasant brandy-like alcohol warmth fills the esophagus after a few swallows, but no burning or heaviness. Creamy, smooth mouthfeel and moderately weighty body. A Christmas gift to be enjoyed with gratitude and satisfaction.

Photo of BZero007
2.58/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Picked up this bottle at Rodmans in DC. 2010 Bottling had in December.

Poured a crystal clear amber color with an ever so slightly off white head. The brew looks great and leaves lace through out the glass. Smell is a bit off putting as a clovey aroma takes over the brew in a bad way. The taste reminded me for some reason of candy canes with an ever so suddle hint of bitterness in the background. The spice was around and mixing with this candy cane flavor and did not sit well with me. Mouth feel was good and carbonation was good for the target profile. I would have to say I will pass on this brew the next year.

Photo of jmyers89
2.58/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A lot of people find ths beer really good, however I think there was too much clove, some of the spice that they use (nutmeg,ginger, brown sugar, etc..) I thought tasted a little off. Basically I thought this beer tasted just like a ginger bread coockie... not a fan.

Photo of Jimmys
3.85/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pale copper, fluffy off-white head. large carbonation bubbles. palest of the winter warmers ive seen.

S: clove. lots of clove. some brown sugar.

T: evergreen, mint, a ton of ground cinnamon. monkey bread. the sweetness of the honey is pretty evident as well.

M: light and tangy. lets the spice do the talking.

D: very good, very christmasy. ive heard people really rave about this stuff and around the right time of the year i could see why.

Photo of schleprock
4.43/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: A nice reddish color with a creamy head.

S: Floral with ginger and cinnamon notes.

T: Took me a while to figure the mix of spices honey, ginger, cinnamon and possibly some nutmeg in there.

M: carbination is correct for this beer and even though it's higher in alcohol, I didn't notice it.

D: On tap this is one of the best if not the best Christmas beers you can find. It was so good we kicked the keg. A great mix of spices in this beer.

I enjoyed it so much I ran to liquor stores trying to get some. All I could find was a couple six packs, it's such a hot seller that one store owner told me the distributor was limiting people to two cases each.

Photo of Jwale73
3.4/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Cuzco for the extra. 12oz. bottle served in a standard pint. Enjoy by 1/17/11 indicated on the label. Pours a translucent copper with a loose, off-white head that quickly dissipates into a soapy slick and a thin band around the edges. No lacing whatsoever on this one. Nose expresses nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon. Taste consistent with nose - a very spicy Winter Warmer indeed. Honey makes it's presence known towards the finish; however, there's also and herbal, perhaps spruce-like quality in the middle. Mouthfeel is light-medium (but closer to light) with a lively, almost effervescent carbonation. Interesting for the style, but a little too over the top. Personally, it was difficult to get through one.

Photo of ferrari29
3.55/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into Mug

A - Beer poured with a one finger cream-colored foam; body had a copper look to it; plenty of carbonation with a head that held very well

S - Spices; malt backbone; moderate to above average scents of yeast; smelled some sweetness from honey

T - Sweet honey taste coupled with spicy tones washes down the hatch with a smooth crisp malty aftertaste

M - Creamy consistency and lingers your mouth for a bit, especially on the sides of the tongue; somewhat oily

D - Good winter ale; I thought it could stand to have a bit more of a spicy bite to it, but the honey is what stood out the most to me; I could have a few more, maybe next year!

Photo of CooperEllis
3.65/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz into .3l glass. Winter Warmer is certainly not my favorite stlye, but I do appreciate the typical fullness and variety of flavors that are presented.

This wasn't long of flavor, but the flavors are so crisp that I'll forgive that. There is a very stong spice note, and the honey that is claimed on the label is amoung the least of the recognizable flavors.

The body is a touch lighter than I find most winter warmers and that plays to this particular brews stregth. A bit undercarbonated, in my opinion, and an unfortunate stale spice aftertaste that pops up but otherwise enjoyable if not memorable.


Photo of Whiteweasel
3.88/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a seidel.

A: Frothy, orange/mid-brown hazy ale with a nice persistent head. Microbubbles in the head and slightly off white.

S: Very sweet, flavourful nose with powerful scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and a little maltiness. Very very delectable. Probably one of the best scents I've ever taken into my nose.

T: Like a toned down version of the scent. Strong ginger and cinnamon, but not much else. Beer is still a month and a half away from its expiration date, so I don't think its a freshness issue. Its still pretty tasty though. A delicious combination of ingredients with a hint of lost potential.

M: Smooth and full of micro-carbonation. No alcohol. Very pleasant after-taste.

D: Great beer to enjoy at any time of day, 7.5% abv be damned. I could have 2-3 in a row but the ABV and the simplicity of the flavours keeps it at that. Good but not great

Photo of JohnnyChicago
4.33/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a ruby red with a one finger head.

S: Smell's like straight up Christmas. Pine, honey, ginger, cinnamon, the whole deal.

T: Really good stuff. Lots of malty goodness, sweetness, but not cloying. Very fruity and tasty.

D: Drink's extremely easily. Has a creamy mouthfeel, too.

Overall: This is a downright tasty beer! I had both a '10 and '11 on Christmas Day 2010. A lot of people say that the spice character fades and it should be drunk fresh. I disagree. The year old one was even better than its younger brother - more blended and subdued, but still rich and spiced. Great beer and a Christmas classic.

Photo of mmciz
4.38/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

I was only planning to review beers from my adopted state of Arizona and maybe other frontier-type spots like Utah and New Mexico, but when a buddy sent me 12 bottles of this old favorite I couldn't resist...

A: Dark copper (light for the style) with a quarter inch of head.

S: Apricot and cinnamon. Surprising freshness considering the style and what time of the year it is now.

T: It's hard to ignore the nostalgia and be objective but I've always found this to be a Cleveland Christmas bottled. Malty but not really sweet, the cinnamon flavor is almost hot on the tongue like Big Red gum. There's some clove in there, too.

M: Pretty thin for a WW but still plenty of body for my taste.

D: Ahhh.

Photo of Murrdogg
4.6/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: a nice golden red with decent carbonation. a finger and a half's worth of head, with good bubbles. no lacing at first, as head settles, bubbles stay on glass. Creamy-to yellowy-white color head

Smell: crisp clean smell. sweet, floral-y. allspice is there, a touch of sweet cinnamon. maybe a little ginger

Taste: rich, strong taste at first. carbonation hits immediately, then spices. nutmeg and ginger are the first then a sweet slightly-hoppy cinnamon, and finishes with a semi-strong malt taste

Mouthfeel: carbonation and bubbles are obvious. richer and thicker than I figured it to be. Cant quite taste the alcohol, but the robustness of the taste pretty much assures you of its ABV strength

Drinkability: easy to drink. Perfect in the cold/wintry weather. It's sweet gingery / spiciness mixes well with chilly temperatures. It's ABV strength will quickly get the best of you if you are not careful (which can be a good thing if you want it to be)

Photo of warnerry
4.18/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

best by 1/26/11 consumed 1/15/11

A - Pours a beautiful translucent copper with slow rising carbonation and 1.5 fingers of head that dissipates pretty quickly.

S - Mostly caramel malts and cinnamon, with some ginger and cloves coming through.

T - Very nice caramel malts, with a good amount of spicing (cinnamon, some ginger). Spicing doesn't dominate but instead fills out the taste. Also some subtle hops to balance the malts.

M - Fantastic mouthfeel, medium, slightly sticky, really coats the palate.

D - Highly drinkable; one of my favorite winter warmers.

Photo of Bigboyash73
1.65/5  rDev -58.2%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

This beer is so hyped up that it drives me nuts! I had this beer on tap with some cinnamon shit on the rim and that was the only good thing about it! The taste was absolutley awful! It has a super bitterness to it and maybe im bias, but im just not an ale fan....ILL STICK TO LAGERS!

Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,596 ratings.