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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: 410 | 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 Lindseyk12
5/5  rDev +26.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I get so excited every year for Christmas Ale, as do most in NE Ohio.

I think Christmas ale taste best on tap rather than bottle. Golden-Amber in color, Similar to GL Dortmunder, only a little more red. Great smells such as Cinnamon, Allspice, and Nutmeg. Very warm comforting beer, Reminds me of family and friends. Next year save a case for Christmas in July. All your friends will be jealous!!

My favorite shot is "A Christmas Story Bomb"

Fill pint glass 1/3 with GL Christmas Ale
Equal Parts of Goldschlager, Bailey's, Frangelico in shot glass
Drop Shot glass into beer and drink

It Tastes like Christmas. How does christmas taste?... Christmas taste like "A Christmas Story Bomb"

Photo of CuriousMonk
3.6/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bought a case of this beer after hearing how limited this beer was in distribution. Bit disapointed with this over-hyped Christmas beer. Poured from 12oz bottle into a dimpled mug. Poured a clear golden-amber color with an off-white head. Aroma of spices, mostly ginger, and honey. Flavor follows suit, with hints of spices, mainly ginger and clove, in the opening that give way to a smooth finish. Subdued carbonation. Crisp feel on the palate, and no sign of the 7.5% alcohol.

Photo of Franz4
3.95/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Nice auburn, translucent color with small bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass, poured w/ a finger head into a snifter, thin ring of bubbles around the glass is left after the head settles.

S- cinnamon, allspice, and a touch of graininess, smell is strong up front but fades quickly

T- Honey, cinnamon, allspice are all present a little brown sugar flavor, but it's not sweet. Taste is well-balanced and gives you just a slight warming feeling.

M- Seems pretty thin and could use a touch less carbonation. Aftertaste is mild and pleasant.

D- This is an exceptional winter warmer, it's hard to find at times, but is worth the effort over the holiday season. I had several between the annual release date and now (~2 months), and it's held up well. Look forward to this every year.

Photo of kbutler1
3.58/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle. Poured into a tulip glass a clear copper color with a slight 1/2 finger off white head. Very spicy and herbal aroma in the nose, sort of a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and gingerbread. Medium mouthfeel. Roasty caramel flavor in the beginning mixes with the traditional Chistmas spices. Mellow aftertaste with on ly a slight bitterness in the end. Lots of Chistmas beers are similiar and this one is no exception. Is it great? No, but it is decent enough and I generally look forward to having it every winter.

Photo of Spider889
4.53/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

This is my review of the beer on tap. Location from my notes was Winking Lizard, though I was able to find this on tap all over the city, despite the bottles being quite difficult to track down.

It was served in a GLBC signature glass. There was an airy 1 1/2 finger tall head. The frothy but light bubbles receded to a ring around the glass. The lace in this particular instance was excellent. There was at first a heavy blanket on the glass that faded into a cheesecloth print as the beer level subsided. Of course, the beer is a brilliant dark amber/ruby color that it quite clear. My initially reaction was to give this a 4.5 for appearance, but this is the best looking winter warmer I can recall.

After each sip you catch the beer receding down the glass and you can almost see the grains of cinnamon and brown sugar slowly melt down the glass.

The smell of rich spices abound. Cinnamon dominates with ginger, nutmeg, and sweet brown sugar notes as well. The only warmer I can recall with a more appealing aroma is the CBC Winter Warmer - which was a delight.

The flavor is packed with palate sensationalizing spices. Slightly sweet from a half ton of honey. Ginger comes forward and raw crystal brown sugar tones. Cinnamon fights to maintain control; all the while mild earthy hops present a moderately bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is dry, sticky, and bitter on the finish. There's an almost grainy pure spiciness as well.

Drinkability is wonderful. Craveable, actually. I am lamenting all year why I did not track down more of it while it was here. One of my favorites from GLBC, and certainly my favorite winter warmer out there.

Photo of McNealc31
4.9/5  rDev +24.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is the beer that first turned me on to holiday spiced ales. It's elusive, you've got to pick it up when you see it because it likely won't be back. It smells of honey and spice and pours a deep orange, almost copper. It tastes of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, with a subtle honey finish. And at 7.5% ABV, it's holiday cheer in a bottle! Without a doubt, one of my favorite beers and I can't wait until next holiday season for it.

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

Chilled bottle into a glass. I believe it's 2010 vintage; the bottle date is best by 12/28/10, and I think Great Lakes uses a 3-month window.

Many thanks to boatshoes for this beer.

A: Pours a clear, coppery brown body with one finger of off-white head. It leaves a thin film on top of the beer, with a nice collar at the edge.

S: Candied ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon, right up front. I hate ginger, but oddly enough, the aroma works really well for me.

T: It's dominated by candied ginger, as the nose suggests, and the finish evokes comparisons to cardamom and cinnamon. I find myself wondering how to pick apart the rest of the beer when these flavors are so strongly dominant. As it warms, I'm able to pick out honey and raisins, which are nicely expressive without turning the beer into a cloying sugar bomb. Good balance between spices and fruits.

M: This has a surprisingly light body for a 7.5% beer. Carbonation is medium. It's lightly sweet. The spices (particularly ginger) linger into the aftertaste.

D: Very drinkable, though I wouldn't hasten to call it quaffable. Good stuff. I hear they're not bottling it anymore (?), which is disappointing.

Photo of veinless
4.28/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Shoutout to my main man AwYeh for this.

Appears an awesome dark reddish orange that makes you feel warm before you even drink it.

Aroma is of cinnamon and ginger, a bit of pumpkin.

Tastes STRONGLY of spices, namely cinnamon and sweet ginger, and has a nice honey sweetness.

Clean mouthfeel, although not as dry a finish as I would have liked for a beer like this. Fantastic seasonal beer, the amount of initial spice taste set this one apart.

Photo of Raymando
4.03/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good appearance. very nice pour with decent head. I am a bit torn between this beer and the Sam Adams winter. Also it's very hard to notice the high ABV in the beer, if you have a few of them it will creep up on you. To sum it up I think this could be the first and only thing I like coming out of Cleveland, OH.

Photo of DDCMember
3.63/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

-12 oz. bottle poured into mug.

A: Copper to Amber. Very thick head.

S: Spices (Cinnamon, maybe some ginger), Honey, a hint of cherries.

T: Flavorful! Very well balanced. I can taste a little bit of cinnamon, honey, a little malty. No bite at all, which is surprising with a 7.5% ABV.

M: Medium body. Very thick head when poured but dies down quickly.

D: Very good! It's so well balanced that I could easily drink 4-5 of these, which could mean trouble.

Photo of TMoney2591
3.05/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a Gale Sayers shaker pint glass.

It took some reaching (literally), but I netted the last bottle from Fresh Market. Victory! It pours a clear copper topped by a finger of white foam. The nose comprises black cherry, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, green apple, red grapes, and graham crackers. The taste holds notes of orange peel (and plenty of it), pumpkin shell, ginger, nutmeg, wheat, grass, rye bread, and a touch of cocoa powder. A strong bitterness pervades the finish, which follows a poor mixing of the various flavors. Something's amiss here. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a slightly drying finish. Overall, I did not enjoy this very much at all, save for the smell. Things just didn't come together for me here.

Photo of brew3crew
4.97/5  rDev +25.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into great lakes sniffer
A-deep amber color with white lace head. Bubbles running the side.
S-Can smell some ginger and cinnamon.
T- tastes exaxtly like the way,you want christmas to. Cinnamon and honey. Nice malt profile. Taste like a ginger bread cookie.
M- very full and delicious. I wish they made this all year!
D- very smooth and crisp. I could drink this all day, every day.

I dont normally like spiced beer but this is the bee's knees! Best winter warmer by far!

Photo of Infamous7100
4.1/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep amber with a thin white head.
All kinds of aromas going on here but the sweet malt, cinnamon and Ginger (or some combination of spices) are the most prevalent.
Taste proves to be a great balance of the aforementioned aromas. I get a lot of the spices up front but the hops do peak through in a mellow way toward the back. It does ahowever finish sweet with an almost bready, honey taste. The booze isn't overpowering.
This brew is thin to medium in body.
Considering the style and ABV I wouldn't recommend sessioning with this, however the taste may change your mind. A great balance of flavor paired with a slowly creeping alcohol warmth makes this an ideal brew to quaff when the temps fall.

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

I love a beer that actual tastes like the description. There's no lip service with this beer! The warmer the Great Lakes Xmas gets, the more the aroma and favors become. This is not a session ale, so careful with consumption...pace yourself.

Drink it up to make the Holiday Season a true event. Enjoy!

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

Although I've had this beer dozens of times, I haven't actually taken the time to review it, so I thought I'd do so before Christmas passes too far into the past.

Poured from a 2009 vintage bottle, so we'll see how well it cellared. Pours a copper color with a soapy white head.

Smells sweet, slightly boost, with hints of ginger, honey, spice, and malt.

Malty, sweet, and spicy, this 2009 vintage seems to have mellowed from a typically tasting GL Christmas Ale for an an even smoother than usual experience. Honey, ginger, and floral notes present, with no hint of the wallop of alcohol that can sneak up on you with this brew. Very low bitterness to finish, this beer is going down way too easy!

Medium bodied, and very easy drinking.

A Cleveland favorite, this is easily one of the best Christmas brews around. Highly drinkable, the only concern is the alcohol content will catch up on you if you're not careful. When they say winter warmer, they're not kidding!

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

Aroma is cinnamon and ginger.

Pours one finger white head that dissipates quickly. Very little lacing Light amber color. Very clear.

Cinnamon and ginger in really good balance. Bready malts. Light caramel finish. Bitterness is medium high. No hop character.

Mouthfeel is low and finishes dry. Alcohol present but not overwhelming.

Truly a beer greater than the some of its parts. Dryness from honey makes this dangerously drinkable. All elements of the beer are very well balanced.

Photo of jsulko
4.22/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into glass

Pours a reddish amber. White foamy head that lingers. Slighty honey smell, not overpowering.

Spice flavors are there but it still tastes like a beer with spices not a spice bomb. You feel the alcohol warmth but in a good way.

A great Holiday beer. I can see why it doesn't last on the shelves.

Photo of Kanyon22
4.1/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this little treat on my holiday trip to my parents in Ohio.Poured into my Great Lakes Snifter Glass.

A: The beer is a gorgeous clear Christmas bulb red with a bit of copper hues going on. The head which was kinda small, thanks in part to my snifter glass, yet to get a good head in this one, is a quick dissipating white color. The red color is amazing.

S: You get cinnamon, spices, and apple pie smell for sure. It has that Yankee candle Christmas smell nailed down.

T: Has a very upfront spicy, alcohol burn here with a quick cleansing clean taste and finishes just like the nose cinnamon, spice with a definite amount of honey drying the mouth.

M: Would call this one on the good side of medium with a lack of carbonation which seems perfect on this beer. The beer starts to really take a toll with the drying of the mouth, must consume slowly.

D: For a winter warmer this beer is easily one of the most approachable and satisfying I've yet to come across. The spices are well done not over the top and at 7.5% abv. goes pretty smooth and effortless. Only thing really hurting it is the overall drying on the mouth, which would be okay If eating with a desert of some kinda.

Overall another winner from one of my all time favorite brewery. Once again please start distributing to Massachusetts soon.

Photo of Tballz420
3.95/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours out a clear copper color, medium sized white head with some big bubbles in it. Pretty good lace. Scent is a nice sweet malt with some cinnamon and ginger spiciness. Same applies for the taste: light malt front with a nice mix of holiday spices. Thin bodied, kinda sharp on the tongue. A very nice holiday brew.

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

Poured from 12 oz bottles into chalice glasses, for myself and 2 buddies. All liked the looks- nice red/brown/orange color.small head stayed long time

Good christmas type smells- cinnamon,sugar,malts,little ginger

Taste is similar to smell, but here is where the 3 of us differ. I taste too sweet for me to fully enjoy, my buddies disagree and like more than I. Too malty for me?

Has nice rich feel

My buddies each had 2 more through the night. 1 was enough for me as there we too many other great choices available.

Photo of drtth
4.03/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Chimay chalice. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: As served the beer is a nice dark ruby reddish color with orange highlights and a ¼" white head that recedes fairly soon leaving some lacing. For much of the beer there is a small ring of foam around the glass and sipping leaves small scattered speckles of lacing that mostly slide back down into the liquid.

Smell: The aroma is spicy and malty with some ginger, cinnamon and other spices backed up by a nice bready and caramel malt character.

Taste: The flavors have just enough brown sugar sweetness to attract but not so much as to cloy. The major spices seem to be ginger and some nice cinnamon. The hops only play a role in the background as a trace of earthy, spicy bitterness to prevent the sweetness and spices from taking over. There's little or no alcohol detectable in this one.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is medium bodied and soft with gentle but persistent carbonation. The finish is moderately long and mostly ends as a pleasant bitter counterpoint to the spices and malt.

Drinkability: Each sip of this one followed naturally from the preceding one and this one was soon finished. It would be quite easy to have second one. I'll definitely be having this one again.

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

12 oz bottle, best before Feb 11.

It pours a beautiful color, a deep orangeish red. The head is foamy and white and recedes very quickly leaving some okay lacing.

The smell really hinges on the ginger, it is spicy and sweet. There is also a thick, bready malt scent that provides the base for the spices.

The flavor is very nice and malty, the ginger again is at the forefront. It is like drinking a ginger snap cookie. There is a ncie malt sweetness that really makes the flavor pop.

Overall a nice Christmas ale with a gorgeous color.

Photo of BeardedBoffin
3.98/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Great Lakes Brewing Co. presents its 2010 Christmas Ale in the usual 12 ounce brown bottle. The brew has a beautiful garnet color with a wisp of white bubbles that hovers above throughout the experience. The aroma consists of caramel, apricot, and spices. The honey imparts an interesting character to the nose. Fruit, honey, caramel malt, and spices contribute to a pleasant flavor profile. A medium to heavy palate feels appropriately matched to the flavors. It is a reasonably drinkable beer, considering the style. I purchased a single bottle, but would have gladly drank more of this complex festive ale.

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

This is a special one from the guys on the Erie shoreline! Had the opportunity to have a few of these this season, as well as compliment my Cleveland friends. Apparently this beer is revered there and folks will stock up on a case or two, but once you have a sip you'll see why. This is one of the more unique products from GL.

Appearance: Dark coper/orange with a nice thick head.

Smell: Cinnamon spice, and all those other fruit cake season gems.

Taste: Warm, zesty and complex. Despite some of the fruit, this is well balanced and its a nice sipper in the cold season.

Mouthfeel: Despite the complexity this is not a terribly heavy brew, but be warned:

Drinkability: At 7.5% this one is a real creaper because one or two of these in a snifter, while a smaller pour, can pack a nice punch.

Serving type: on tap in a snifter glass

Photo of JackieTH
3.73/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark orange with a cap of thick white foam.

Smell: Spicy. Ginger and cinnamon layers over a toasted biscuit malt.

Taste: Less spicy with more presence of a biscuit-caramel malt muting a range of christmas spices - ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and dark brown sugar candied fruits.

Mouthfeel: Medium and somewhat creamy.

Drinkability: Medium-high alcohol level and spicy nature make this brew something to enjoy sparingly.

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