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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

2,138 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,138
Reviews: 770
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 12.88%
Wants: 99
Gots: 197 | 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: 2,138 | Reviews: 770 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of truthbrew
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased in Dayton, Ohio in November, enjoyed today. Hint of spices originally, but when poured they were explosive. Good name, the smell did remind me of Christmas-time. I was most stuned by the crystal clear copper color, quite magnificant. Beer was extremely balanced. My wife thought it to be a bit too "complex" for her liking. Overall a great beer, which I will get again.

truthbrew, Mar 10, 2004
Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.75/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance - creates a large 3 finger creamy tan head on the pour, very dense on top. Golden orange color with some visible carbonation. A good looking beer.

Aroma - first impression of fruit and cinnamon, very spicy and sweet. Mmmmm....

Taste - nice malty base, but the cinnamon and spice flavors hit the taste buds full force. Some alcohol notes are present, though short-lived. A pretty solid hop presence follows, with just a barely detectable trace of ginger. Smooth aftertaste, a pleasing blend of hops and spices.

Mouthfeel - Solid body, coating the mouth with a bit of a drapy feel, but not overly done.

Drinkability - As it warms, the alcohol presence comes out more, but it can be difficult to have any left by the time it gets to room temperature! A wonderful beer for relaxing with in the evening.

brewdlyhooked13, Feb 17, 2004
Photo of Winter
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear copper in color with a creamy light tan head. Spicy nose consists of ginger, honey, spices and malt. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied with a touch of crispness to it. Spices are detected in the flavor also. Cinnamon, ginger and honey all combine for a sweet malty front. At times I wish the honey was reduced a bit because it tends to add a bit of an off flavor. Hopping seems minimal. Alcohol can be detected in the finish. This is a very good Christmas spiced ale. Comparable in flavor to Lakefront's Holiday Spice, which is one of my favorites.

Winter, Feb 12, 2004
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.38/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Standard 12 ounce brown glass bottle. Dark label that has a black background with white lettering. The picture on the main label is that of a green colored model railway car full of Copper colored Christmas Tree Baubles. The brewery blurb goes on to explain that “Its copper color and flavorful taste is derived from cinnamon, ginger and honey”. Recommended Serving Temperature of 45°F, as well as an advertised strength of 7.5%. Enjoy By Date is Dec. 23 03.

Appearance: Amber copper body with some dark tangerine hints. A thin but very uniform dirty-white head forms easily and with the aid of the odd gentle swirl it remains throughout the drink. Some lacing, but it nearly always sinks and slides back down into the Glass out of harms way. Carbonation appears to be average but well attenuated.

Nose: The nose is well rounded and very fruity indeed. Reminds me of cinnamon toffee, mixed with a hint of ginger. Powdery feel in the nasal passage at times.

Taste: Smooth introduction to the beer, aided by the conditioning. Malts with an immediate cinnamon punch. Some spicy ginger comes through in the finish, whilst the middle obviously benefits immensely from the sweet honey. Spicy with a light citric tingle on the tongue in the finish. Very Nice!

Mouthfeel: The finely attenuated carbonation creates a talcum smooth feel, which is a great background for the finely balanced cinnamon and ginger, whilst the honey lends a rich silky feel to malts

Drinkability: I wish I had another one to finish the night with. The 7.5% is nowhere to be seen at all, but the rich full-bodied flavorsome quality of this Christmas Ale is quite literally all over this beer, front to back, top to bottom.

Overall: This would be a very fitting beer to sit down with after a filling Christmas Dinner. Tasty solid brew that has just the right amount of cinnamon and ginger to balance a honey infused malty body.

Four Brews from Great Lakes, all received 4+ marks. Accomplished.

A belated Merry Xmas to BigHuge for the Great Lakes brews. Cheers!

TheLongBeachBum, Feb 04, 2004
Photo of alexgash
4.3/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was lucky enough to find some of this over at Chicone's in Hudson, while I was home for the xolidays. Pours an orange-amber with an off-white head. Smells of sweet fruitcake malts, lots of spices (cinnamon, ginger, honey, orange?). Very interesting. Taste is rum/fruit cake sweetened malts, followed by the spice rack mentioned above. I'm not always crazy about overly spiced ales, but this one works very well. Finish is slightly bitter with lingering cinnamon and vanilla. Merry Christmas Great Lakes!
"and the people of Cleveland who've suffered for so many years..."
- Dave Berman (off of Silver Jew's The Natural Bridge)

alexgash, Jan 27, 2004
Photo of babyhobbes
3.6/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This poured with very little head but some lacing. It is a pleasing amber color. I smell some spice, notably cinnamon and ginger. The spiciness is not very strong in taste or smell. The taste is somewhat hoppy and bitter with a decent dose of ginger. This is a smooth beer in the mouth with a nice carbonation level.

I like this Christmas Ale but I wouldn't want to down several in one sitting.

babyhobbes, Jan 26, 2004
Photo of JackTheRipper
4.38/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ok, I reviewed this on tap, now I've got a few bottles and am drinking one as I write this.

Appearance: Nice color, deep coppery. Head was smallish, but there's a little bit of lacing.

Smell: Cinnamon, honey, a very faint musty smell in the nose.

Taste: The tap stuff was fives across the board, this is good, but not that good. There's a more distinct hoppiness in this version. The spiceyness isn't as pronounced. Still a great tasting beer, a bit more balanced than the tap stuff.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is just a touch too high, still a wonderfully full bodied feel to this. Warms very nicely, the alcohol is well masked in the taste, but once swallowed, seems to shine a bit brighter.

Drinkability: Very High. While I miss the absolute joy that was the tap version, this is an exceptional beer, IMHO. I bought a sixer of these and have not one regret when I think about the other five waiting for me. Highly recommended if you can find it.

JackTheRipper, Jan 17, 2004
Photo of chilidog
4.38/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I finally got ahold of a couple of these for some of the GLBC limited offerings I have to search for out of town. Anyway, I'll gladly make thisone a yuletide tradition. It pours a burgundy, if not a dark cranberry color with a smaller than expected off-white head. The heads fades to a thin film although the carbonation is mild (no fizz) on this full bodied beer. Lace dose manage to dress the glass nicely. The aroma is spice and ginger. The taste is also packed with ginger, spice, cinnamon, caramel malt while backed by a slight alcohol hop. The 7.5abv. dose a nice winter warming job while not overpowering the mouth. A great beer with all or most holiday eat treats.

chilidog, Jan 10, 2004
Photo of xgrigorix
4.08/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Twelve ounce brown bottle. Best by date printed on label.

Glowing copper coloured, clear, with intense carbonation. Topped by a firm off white head that retains very well.

Fairly clean nose. Hints of cinnamon, ginger, & a touch of hops.

A rush of sweetness, followed by subtle spicing of ginger & cinnamon. A hint of hops dries it out just enough to keep it from becoming cloying. Didn't really pick up on the honey, but its still quite tasty. Brisk carbonation, medium/full bodied, & somewhat creamy. A nicely done beer just for the holidays.

xgrigorix, Dec 29, 2003
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.6/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear, burnished copper-brown topped by a large beige head that displays impressive persistance and leaves a small to moderate amount of lace in sheets when it eventually departs.

The nose is sweet and spicy and the flavor is malty sweet, accented nicely by honey and by abundant caramel/toffee notes. There's some spiciness (especially cinnamon), but it's not overdone.

The finish contains a moderate amount of bitterness and a trace of alcohol. The mouthfeel is exemplary; full and rich, very creamy. Mouthfilling with some mouthcoating as well. Drinkability is high.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale is my first beer from the best brewery in my home state of Ohio and my former residence (3 years) of Cleveland. I'm very impressed. I expected a good, solid Christmas beer and those expectations were met and exceeded by a long shot. I only got a single this year, but you can bet that I'll be getting more of this fine seasonal during my future trips home for the holidays. I would have no trouble at all drinking Christmas Ale year-round.

BuckeyeNation, Dec 24, 2003
Photo of CRJMellor
3.78/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I reviewed in a bottle and really found it too "tricked" up with flavor.
I had it tonight at dinner on draaught and it was so much better I neede to review it again to be fair.

Poured a very clear light copper with thin white head and and thin laces up the side of the glass. Really is a pretty beer.
Ginger and Cinnamon notes are much more sudued on draught and more malt aroas shine through along with a little bit of hops.

Taste has a really nice balance of sweet cinnamon, mild to light malt and a slightly bitter finish. Feels very dry in the mouth, but nice and spicy.

CRJMellor, Dec 24, 2003
Photo of francisweizen
3.63/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This brew poured out a nice dark crimson colour with a small white head of foam. The aromas were heavily spiced, and consisted of coriander, orange peel(?), perhaps curacao, and more. The malt was in there was well, but where were the hops? The taste was spicy and very malty, almost Belgian-like in character, but noticeable different than most Belgian ales. The mouthfeel was a bit thin in the mouth and the drinkability was decent.


francisweizen, Dec 18, 2003
Photo of beerluvr
3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours with a great light tan head, settling over clear light amber liquid. Light delicate spice in the nose, clean-smelling & not too heavy on malt flavors. The taste had hints of slight phenols with some cinnamon and fruit flavors followed by decent hop bitters. Finishes up dry with a bitter end. A decent Xmas beer, thanks to CRJMellor for the bottle.

beerluvr, Dec 16, 2003
Photo of beergeek279
3.3/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served on tap in a pint glass at DiMarco's. The color was copper, with a decent white head. The smell was very cinnamony. The taste was a very heavy cinnamon, with a bit of malt coming through. Mouthfeel was smooth. Drinkability-wise, the heavy cinnamon sweetness would not lead to having too many.

Though I certainly appreciate a good, spiced Christmas Ale, this seemed a little bit over the top. Maybe I was drinking it at a time I'd have preferred a more conventional beer rather than with chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but it just seemed out of place.

beergeek279, Dec 15, 2003
Photo of Shiloh
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a very nice festive brew which I would consume more of except for the high ABV.
Beautiful and clear mid orange colour with a short top leaving limited evidence of foam.
Carbonation also is limited.
Aroma has a wlde array of spices.
Wildly spicy taste, predominantly ginger with a slight honey smoothness to aid in the mouthfeel.
I find no evidence of cinnamon as it must be well hidden or, does it arrive as the beverage warms?
Mouthfeel is dry.

Shiloh, Dec 13, 2003
Photo of cokes
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Caramel-orange hued under a sandy film that quickly fades and relocates to the outermost edges.
Nose full of spiced caramel and piney hops. Cinnamon rolls appear as it warms.
The malt base is laid with hard toffee. Quickly the spicing grabs control. Lots of ginger. Lots of ginger. Lightly burnt and caramelized. Cinnamon too, to a lesser extent. Plenty of orange-rind, which is odd, since they don't use any. My problem here is with the honey. It builds in the middle, creating a faux-sweetness that segues into an vapid, lightly astringent, medicinal finish as it melds with the alcoholic vapors. There is a sense of poorly made (and even more poorly sweetened) green tea. Pine-sap hops close the deal, and partially right the wrongs.
Medium-bodied with sparce carbonation.
Brew this without the honey, then lets talk.
This is the absolute last Great Lakes brew I'd pull off the shelf.

And why the hell is the best before date on this Dec 23?
*rating 3.4

Now six months and a week past its expiration date.
This has changed slightly, but those changes have a dramatic effect on my opinion. This is full of maple syrup spiked with nutmeg and ginger. The maltiness now seems more complete and foundational. Plenty of caramel. Spicing is still aggressive, bordering on excessive. But, now, it works. Astringency is gone. Light piney herb hop bitters. Alcohol is cloaked too.
I like this a lot more than I did. It's still probably the last on my list of Great Lakes products. But that also pertains to a general dislike of overtly spiced beers. Of that particular style, this is a good bet, and my numbers have been adjusted accordingly.

As a caveat, I don't think I'd age this too much longer, as some peeks of oxidation are making themselves known. It seems about as good as it will get now, and will probably begin to fall apart after 1 year. Maybe not, though.

cokes, Dec 08, 2003
Photo of granger10
3.35/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This one poured a light copper color with a small light tan head. The smell is strong in alcohol and spices. The taste is dominated by spices. The one spice that really comes out is ginger. Lots and lots of ginger. More ginger than I can handle. Tastes like gingersnaps. Get the point. Some honey flavor from the malts and an alcoholic kick in the end round out this beer. I can see how some people would love it but it's not my cup of tea.

granger10, Dec 04, 2003
Photo of WVbeergeek
3.95/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Copper amber with a very nice caramel tone thicket of head, lacing forms a thck collar that continues to leave intersipping full rings. Aroma: Malty slightly toasted nuts but the spicing steals the show very festive, with cinnamon and tones of nutmeg some slightly floral hopping going on as well a bit one sided but who cares Great Lakes can do no wrong. Taste: Fluffy layer of creaminess blended with the spicy tones of ginger and a rich honey finish, and alcohol is very well hidden didn't know that this one was 7.5 % they are usually pretty conservative with their alcohol level at the GLBC, but hey 'tis the season, right? Mouthfeel: Medium body a bit sticky but not cloying in any way smooth mild carbonation, can't complain. Drinkability: On draft much more drinkable but the bottle just seems to concentrate the cinnamon and ginger spices just a bit much one though is a good experience to be had go out and find some while the Christmas beers are still here.

WVbeergeek, Dec 01, 2003
Photo of GreatPondBrewer
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Solid spiced beer and perfect for the season. Was a pretty standard amber color with a styrofoam white head. Smell was a 50/50 split between malts and spices. Malts were biscuity and there was a small hint of alcohol that was masked by nice clean notes of cinnamon. Taste was full-bodied with the ginger playing a bigger role complementing the juicy malts. Mouthfeel was good as well. Just an all around solid beer.

GreatPondBrewer, Nov 30, 2003
Photo of SheepNutz
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip-style glass. It pours a clear medium red color with one finger of head. There is just a tiny bit of lacing. The smell is dominant with cinammon, but also has hints of nutmeg and cherry to it. The taste has lots of cinammon and honey sweetness that is just a tad cloying. A good bite of hops on the finish. The mouthfeel is just a little light for this style. The drinkability is very very good though for a 7.5% brew. Enjoyable as a dessert beer, and I might even try mulling it.

SheepNutz, Nov 23, 2003
Photo of aaronh
4.38/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This slightly hazy copper colored ale pours with a beige head that fades quickly, but still leaves a faint lace on the glass. The aroma is faint and hard to pinpoint. Malt and a hint of spice is noticable, but not overpowering. The taste is malty with a touch of cinnamon and citrus, with little bitterness on the rather clean finish. A hint of alcohol sweetness lingers on the finish. The beer feels full on the tongue, with a touch of carbonation effervesence. A moderate ABV with the good, basic flavor profile makes this a very drinkable winter ale, as long as you don't need to go anwhere anytime soon. Another solid offering from Great Lakes.

This is even more enjoyable on tap! Better balance, smoother mouthfeel, and just oiverall better flavor (or perhaps it's just this year's edition.) On tap at Sapphire's in WashCo.

aaronh, Nov 22, 2003
Photo of irishmoss
4.35/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great seasonal ale that is winter, that is Christmas. Nice and fresh, just arrived today. It was served a little cold, so I got another one to allow it to come down to temperature.

Nice dark copper copper with a great light tan head that clings to the sides of the glass leaving excellent lacing. It smells of cinnamon and ginger, with hints of all spice. The tastes were similar with roasted barley and a little sweetness. The spiceyness or the higher alcohol content were not overpowering. I really like this one and look forward to it every year.

irishmoss, Nov 17, 2003
Photo of Jon
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep ruby color with a fluffy head. Laces nicely down the glass while the head retention is outstanding. Nose is a blend of Christmas with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and perhaps some additional spices. Taste features more of the same, with the main emphasis on cinnamon and allspice with mild traces of honey. As the beer reaches room temperature, a malty profile presents itself, keeping this winter warmer in balance. Mouthfeel is quite clean with active bubbles creating a tingling sensation. This beer drinks very well, but due to the spiciness it possesses (not to mention the abv), I would reserve this one for a nightcap by the fire, with a slice of pumpkin cheesecake, or something similar. A really nice holiday ale with a great deal of character.

Jon, Nov 16, 2003
Photo of smitty1080
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Northeast Ohio is dropping below freezing, but as long as the x-mas ale comes out at the same time I don't mind the cold weather so much.

Pours out golden copper with a creamy head. Smells like Christmas in a glass, hence the name. All warming aromas of honey, cinnamon, and ginger. The taste adds on to the aroma with malty tones and a slight warming from the ABV. I think I know what will accompany my turkey this Thanksgiving.

smitty1080, Nov 15, 2003
Photo of moulefrite
3.75/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Quite an attractive pour-golden caramel set beneath a mound of off white head that settles down easily yet never vanishes. Wonderful seasonal quality to the nose with all the spices chiming in-cinnamon and nutmeg first then a tease of ginger enveloped in sweet malt. In the mouth the beer comes off very aggresive in the way of alcohol. The cinnamon is a tad too aggresive as well, and comes off as overtly hot/spicy. The finish is of those red cinnamon balls your Grandmother used to pawn of on you when you were young. This beer tastes as if it might be an Elliot Ness in an all spiced up holiday package. A decent holiday treat from a great brewery. This would go well with some bread pudding perhaps.

moulefrite, Oct 31, 2003
Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,138 ratings.