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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

2,173 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,173
Reviews: 773
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 13.13%
Wants: 107
Gots: 213 | FT: 4
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: 2,173 | Reviews: 773 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BEERchitect
3.6/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A medium to full bodied amber ale-like beer with lots of flavors added. Malty without feeling heavy or cloying. A well-woven cherry flavor and aroma melds into the malts. Lightly hopped for balance but little for flavor or aroma, just enough for an extra layer of flavors. Spicy with nutmeg, cinemon, and ginger; without the granular texture that is usually present in bottle conditioned beers. Very smooth and slick to the mouth. Warmingly alcoholic toward the end. Alcohols and cherry flavor resembles cough drops or Vicks 44, but lightly noticed. Lots of peach flavors follow through in the aftertaste. A real good offering by Great Lakes.

BEERchitect, Dec 19, 2005
Photo of bahumutx
3.53/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a very clear copper color with a nice creamy white head.

Smell: Malt, Cinnamon and hints of honey.

Taste: Sweet malt and cinnamon starts of this beer. It then ends with a honey and slight pine. Slight alcohol warming is also present. As the beer warms the cinnamon becomes more pronounced but not overpowering and nutmeg flavor also shows up. Hard to pick out all of the different spice flavors.

Mouthfeel: Thin to Medium Mouthfeel. Thin around the edges of my tongue.

Drinkability: I could have a few of these in a sitting.

Another decent brew from Great Lakes Brewing. I would probably have another of these but not my favorite of this style.

bahumutx, Dec 12, 2005
Photo of maddamish
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Amber in color. Little to no head on this one with just as little lacing.

Smell: Heavy malt smell with hints of pine and cinnamon.

Taste: At first it was very malty till it warmed up a bit then you could really taste the pine and a slight presence of cinnamon.

Notes: It was nice to be able to get this on tap at the Winking Lizard in Akron Ohio. A great brew.

maddamish, Dec 11, 2005
Photo of jasonpeckins32
4.47/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It pours a copper color with a decently sized fizzy head.

The nose is strong of honey and has a nice yummy hop aroma.

The beautiful taste of fresh hops cascades across my tongue with honey and ginger following. Maybe a bit of cinnamon as well. Very fresh tasting. Very delicious. And just in time for Christmas.

Although this is very warming, I must say its much different than other winter warmers I've tried. It's lighter in color and has a large Ale appeal to it all around. Maybe its not true to style, or maybe its just expanding my horizons a little.

The mouthfeel is great, nice body and great carbonation. Excellently done. Drinkability is great too. I have a couple other beers to drink tonight, but I'd love to trade them in for more of these. Great Offering. Get it while you can!

jasonpeckins32, Dec 07, 2005
Photo of becktone
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a nice copper looking color. It has a nice creamy tan colored head to begin with, however it quickly dissipates to be lacing around the sides of the glass. When agitated the lacing becomes a bit thicker but soon returns to its previous state. The carbonation in this beer makes it look lively.

The aroma of this beer is largely malt influenced. I detect spices in the aroma of this beer, cinnamon and ginger can easily be detected. As a matter of fact the aroma of this beer reminds me of chirstmas ornaments my mom once made. They were gingerbread ornaments made out of glue alot of cinnamon and applesauce I believe. The point is that they smell alot like this beer. I don't smell any hop character in this beer.

The taste of this beer is very much like the smell, but a bit more complex. Alcohol is evident and warms a little bit as it goes down. The overall taste of this beer is "earthy." I detect a flavor that vaguely reminds me of pine in the taste of this beer as well (perhaps Northern Brewer Hops?). The cinnamon and ginger are evident in the taste as well as the aroma of this beer. In my opinion this is a beer that has been brewed very well.

The mouthfeel of this beer is good. It seems to suit the style of the beer. The carbonation in this beer is higher than what you might find in a stout, porter or other beer that is largely malt influenced, but compliments the beer quite nicely. This beer is easy enough to drink, but definitely something that you wouldn't want to drink too fast. This beer is one of those, in my opinion, that you can only drink a certain number of in one sitting before you start to get sick of it. The malty character just becomes too much to handle. However I really like this beer and can see myself buying more in the future.

becktone, Dec 06, 2005
Photo of GCBrewingCo
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured into the glass crystal clear amber with a yellowish head which rose well and fell slowly to lace the glass.

The aroma was malty with a strong caramel malt presence and a nice fruity character. The aroma contained a sizable spice presence of clove and cinnamon with a graham note.

The flavor was malty with a clove and cinnamon spice and a cherry fruit flavor that was coupled with caramel. Also present was a graham flavor and a light biscuity flavor.

The finish was dry with a lasting spice into the aftertaste. The body was almost medium full and well done. The beer just did not quite have enough complexity to push it over the top although it had quite a bit going on in terms of aroma and flavor.

12 ounce bottle. Thanks Mark G for bringing it back for me. Dated as enjoy by Jan 31 06.

GCBrewingCo, Dec 04, 2005
Photo of AltBock
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got this on-tap at a local sports pub that served to me not too cold in a 12oz. American pint glass.

Poured a wonderful ruby red color with a nice head of white sticky foam. The aroma to me was like a lot Christmas, some pine, spices and hops in the background. Up front in the taste were spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, and then after all those spices a strong hoppy citrus flavor emerged. A strong hop aftertaste lingered on for a while after that. This goes down nice and smooth, but be careful this beer hides it alcohol content very well. I learned that the hard way. This was a nice Winter Warmer and would also make for a nice Christmas Day drink.

AltBock, Dec 02, 2005
Photo of bruachan
3.95/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

crystal clear copper with a head i had to beat back with a rod. in the end it took care of itself and went the way of the dodo (alc?), not leaving much lacing in the process

big malty taste with the body to go along. the spices play along with the american hop flavor, though not much hop in the aroma

minimal bitterness. tasty, ya know. glbc does it right

bruachan, Nov 30, 2005
Photo of karst
3.5/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

The first GLBC brew that I don't care for.

Pours clear ruby with a creamy white 2" temporary head. No yeast sediments at the bottom of the bottle labeled best by Jan 24, 2006. Spicy aroma is inviting. The full body you expect in Great Lakes brews. I generally like ginger and honey but a little nutmeg and cinnamin go a long way. Favors suffer from a bitter finish of lingering spices and vienna malts that really turned me off this beer. I think the overall effect of the spices and malts is very unbalanced. Drinkability suffers as the result. Alcohol is well hidden. I still recommend trying it. Let your taste buds decide - Merry Christmas to all and to all a well crafted brew.

karst, Nov 28, 2005
Photo of ypsifly
4.28/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz dated best before 1-25-06 poured into a pint glass.

Clear copper capped by a small head of off white that falls to a veiled ring in minutes. Thin wisps of lace.

The spices and honey aromas are upfront and backed by a whiff of alcohol. Slight bitterness underneath.

Upon tasting the cinnamon takes half a step back and allows the ginger and honey to take center stage. The hops come in rather quickly and fade into the finish. There's enough sweet malt to provide a base and compliment the honey/ginger combo, while the cinnamon pairs with the hops. The finish is spicy and sweet with a warming alcohol after glow.

Moderate to light mouth, seems to have the right amount of carbonation. A very drinkable Xmas brew.

ypsifly, Nov 27, 2005
Photo of quasimoto
3.15/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a nice deep dark copper color wiyth a slightly off white head.

S - Strong in spices and hops. There is a background of malt in there but it is hidden.

T - The smells are melded into a flavor with the malts coming out a little stronger.

M - It is crisp and dry, leaves no residue on the tongue. Rather pleasing.

D - For festivites and dealing with families this an all day beer. I enjoy it.

quasimoto, Nov 26, 2005
Photo of sopor
3.13/5  rDev -21%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Deep coppery brew with just a little of rising bubbles helping to keep the offwhite head sticking around. Cinnamon rolls and butter and honey and some other spices I can't quite make out make a potent smell. Delicate malts under lots of cinnamon and spice and everythng nice. Butter and sweet crytsal/candy-like malt. A bit too sweet for me. Not likely to grab this again, but if offered on Christmas, I'd definitely have another.

sopor, Nov 24, 2005
Photo of nlmartin
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from the bottle into a pub glass.

Appearance: Pours a very pretty ruby coloration. Towering creamy white head almost 2 inches thick. The head quickly recedes to a thin film on top of the beer. Speckeled lacing left as the beer was consumned.

Smell: This beer beer dances across the nose with the smells of ginger, cinnomon, nutmeg and other spicy goodness.

Taste: Nice spicy ginger bread sweetness spiked with good hop back bone.

Mouthfeel: Has a lingering spicyness coupled with a full bodied goodness.

Drinkability: This is a very drinkable beer. I wish I had more.

nlmartin, Nov 21, 2005
Photo of ChiSox05
3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Whoa, smelling this one straight from the bottle is like opening a box of honey graham crackers. Nice aroma. In the glass, lighter than I would have expected. This beer is clear, sandy-orange color. Couple thin rings of foam.

You just can't miss the honey in this one. Such a unique smell. Constant honey with lots of cinnamon and ginger in there too. smells like hop infused graham crackers....mmm

Tastes like a lightly malted, medium ale with cinnamon and ginger. Complex beer with a hint of bitter hops and spiced semi sweet malt taste. Each element is doing its own thing, not exactly blending well. Not much aftertaste at first, but near the end of the bottle, the spices and honey aftertaste show up. Hides the 7.5% very well.

I'd only have a couple of these at a time. I could see this as a great beer to wrap up your Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. All in all, a unique, above-average winter seasonal with a great smell, cinnanninnanim.

ChiSox05, Nov 21, 2005
Photo of Gaisgeil
3.83/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy amber/gold in color with a thin white head that dissapated quickly. Nose is slightly spicy with a bit of aromatic floral hop overtones. Taste is strong but lacking a certain complexity and balance. There is a nice hop profile coupled with the ginger and cinnamon tones. Lacks a certain balance and character however, doesn't really feel 'together' somehow. Quite warming, but the alcohol isn't particularly present in the taste. Body is medium with a smooth mouthfeel.


Gaisgeil, Nov 21, 2005
Photo of riversider76
3.38/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours golden with a hint of orange color. Head quickly goes into a decent lace. Light spice/honey flavor with lots of carbonation. Hoppy, with a bit of a bite at the finish. I'm not a huge fan of the bitter edge in some Ale , but this was better than expected. Give it a try.

riversider76, Nov 20, 2005
Photo of rhoadsrage
2.85/5  rDev -28%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer a nice deep orangish-brown body that is crystal clear and a nice thin off-white head sits on top. It has a strong carbonation of tiny bubbles.

S- The smells of graham crackers and toasted malt with a hint of biscuit malt and a slight spice smell that is a bit off.

T- The slight sweetness of toasted malt is mixed with a taste of cinnamon and ginger that taste chemical together. The finish has a slight ginger hint. The hop spiciness is very faint at the finish and the alcohol doesn't really come through much.

M- Nice medium mouthfeel with some fizzy making it feel more full. No alcohol warmth or astringency.

D- This beer has a good base beer but the cinnamon and ginger are not good spices to pair. Even when the spices are good quality they have a chemical taste and smell to them.

rhoadsrage, Nov 18, 2005
Photo of GreenWBush
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dusty bronze. Tracing, clingy lace.

Mentholyptus on nose with gingerbread, cinnamon, and hints of honey and nutmeg. Reminds me a bit of GLBC's Dortmunder Lager underneath the spicing.

Taste is somewhat spicy, but balances well with the honeyed malt profile. Almost 'Asian' spices swimming around underneath the well balanced flavor profile.

Drying on the palate, and keeps a crisp taste throughout. Good drinkability. Seems like a good special occasion beer that could easily be shared with non beer-geeks. Velvet, amazing mouthfeel.

This has easily been one of the best seasonal beers i've tasted to date. Not over-the-top with funky spices, but well-integrated, tasty, drinkable, and seems 'seasonal' without being beer-perfume.

Oh, and you can't taste the alcohol in this one at all. Well built.

GreenWBush, Nov 15, 2005
Photo of battlekow
3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm reviewing three winter warmers that we just got in at the store: this, Avery Old Jubilation, and Anderson Valley Winter Solstice.

Christmas Ale is by far the lightest, most innocent looking of the three. It's got a clear red-amber body and a small, finely-bubbled white head. It smells quite toasty. It makes me want to curl up by the fire, but I'm too postmodern for that. Also some fruit in the smell.

A digression: We had a customer come in the other day, complaining that the Christmas Ale that had come so highly recommended had in fact tastes like "Christmas trees." Resisting to urge to point out that it is, after all, called CHRISTMAS ALE, I could merely tell him that I myself did not find the beer either very hoppy or spiced, which is the truth.

The bottle says it's made with ginger, cinnamon, and honey, and it definitely tastes a little gingery, with some sweet honey smoothness, but it's really not particularly flavorful. Does have a tasty toasted finish corrosponding with the nose.

Conclusion: A lightly spiced, easy drinking, fairly unremarkable holiday beer that hides its alcohol well.

battlekow, Nov 14, 2005
Photo of maxpower
3.83/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle pours a clear bright copper color with a decent creamy off white head that leaves some lacing in my glass. Spicy ginger bread cookie aromas, starts with spicy cinnamon and ginger flavors with honey in the end. Medium bodied with smooth mouthfeel, finishes very dry. It is hard to believe this is 7.5 %.

maxpower, Nov 13, 2005
Photo of budsboy
3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours bright orange-amber, crystal clear, with a small white head that shrinks back quickly to a skimming of white on the top.

Smells of spice and malt: Sweet sugary carmel, cinnamon, maybe nutmeg, corriander.

Taste is sweet carmel malt, nearly cloying but backing off just in time, balanced by cinnamon-like spices and a green hop bitterness. Aftertaste is a tingling bitterness that lasts.

Medium-bodied and slick mouthfeel. Carbonation is subdued.

One of my favorite seasonals and one that makes me happy to live in Ohio. Another real treat from the professionals at Great Lakes. Quality stuff.

budsboy, Nov 07, 2005
Photo of UDbeernut
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: copper hue with a 1/2" foamy head that stays for a good bit

Smell: sweet malt with a hint of ginger and spice

Taste: creamy with a hint of hops, spice, and acohol.

Drinkability: this beer is great on a cold winter day. Leaves the pallet wishing for more!

The only drawback of this beer is the price I paid, but I am sure you can find it cheaper.


UDbeernut, Nov 05, 2005
Photo of hero27
2.98/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Translucent, dark amber color. A thin head which leaves minimal lacing due to the oily consistency of this brew. Subtle aromas of ginger and honey.. Sweet honey flavor combined with spices. Somewhat clumsy..seems like ingredients are just thrown together, if that makes any sense. I'm not sure I agree with the combination of honey and spices like this..just seems like they mixed a honey beer and a spicy beer together by accident. I couldn't really pick up individual flavors, so it left me with a spicy honey aftertaste. Medium bodied, oily mouthfeel. Fairly drinkable, but this holiday offering from GL didn't really impress me all that much. I'll look forward to Anchor OSA for my spicy holiday fix.

hero27, Nov 05, 2005
Photo of PBRstreetgang
3.48/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours a copper hue, very clear. A creamy off white head of two fingers has excellent retention, and leaves some nice patchy lacing. Some noble hops and pale malt in the nose, but mostly ginger, cinnamon, annd some indistinct holiday spices. The sweet toasted malt flavor melds ginger and faint pine into the taste, and the bittering hops cleanse the palate leaving a dry aftertaste, with some residual honey. Appropriatly spiced, but leans towards the bitter side. The spice and pine flavors become cloying, even with good carbonation and a medium body. A harsh finish detracts greatly from the drinkability.

PBRstreetgang, Oct 25, 2005
Photo of beck4020
4.43/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a rather appropriate ale for the winter months. There is a very clear but dark auburn color and very little head develops. The alcohol is rather prevalent but it is hidden to a degree by the noticeable smell of spices, which gives the ale both a distinct smell and taste. Although this is darker ale, temperature is very important in this case. A little colder is better for this gem of Great Lakes.

beck4020, Oct 17, 2005
Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,173 ratings.