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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

2,187 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,187
Reviews: 774
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 13.13%
Wants: 110
Gots: 215 | 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: 2,187 | Reviews: 774 | Display Reviews Only:
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
Photo of karengarys
4.18/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This pours amberish brown, leaving little head. Not cloudy.

Smells good like Christmas spices - I actually pick up cinnamon mostly, but there is beer stuff too like hops and malts lurking.

Taste is nice and rich, malty and spicy - a bit of alcohol comes through too.

mouthfeel is pretty good - but get it while its cooler, as it warms it flattens out.

The finish is clean, and an alcohol swipe cleans the pallet.

This is a very drinkable beverage and I highly recommend it. It isn't too sharply spiced as some, but it still has that holiday flavor. Try it!

karengarys, Sep 16, 2005
Photo of deejaydan
4.45/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wow. Pours a deep orange color. Slightly decent head and retention here. Aroma is spicy, perhaps cloves, perhaps ginger? Taste is great. Malts, fruits, and spice playing well together. Mouthfeel is thick. I can see how this could warm you up on a cold winter's day. The alcohol is well hidden in this beer as well.

deejaydan, Aug 30, 2005
Photo of hustlemuscle
4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Please note, this review is from an aged bottle. Drink by date of
01-08-05, consumed 07-30-05. Kept chilled.

Pours a very nice, crystal clear amber, with suspendies, but not cloudy. Still smells of cinnamon and spices, nutmeg, but much more subdued than a fresh bottle. The taste is equally subdued, in my opinion to the better. Still spicy, gingerbread cookie spices, christmas cookie spices, cinnamon and nutmeg, ginger. Easier on the toungue as well, smoother, and the hops come out, they were a little hidden in fresher bottles. I think it is easier to drink with a little maturity. Much smoother, a little less burn from the spices. Overall a very nice beer, even though the last thing I need to be in July is 'warmed!'

hustlemuscle, Aug 04, 2005
Photo of Backer2004
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Christmas in July anyone? I went to a cash bar event near Cleveland last night and this one the only Great Lakes offering. Still much better than any other option there and only $2.50 a bottle. Nice cinnamon and spices, with hints of alcohol. Very easy to drink three last night. Would be a great winter welcome in six months. Even in July, it wasn't a bad choice.

Backer2004, Aug 01, 2005
Photo of beveragecaptain
3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer has been sitting in my refrigerator for almost 2 months. I've been reticent to open it, since I noticed the expiration date was a year and a half ago. It would be unfair to review a beer in such a condition. However, my curiosity finally got the best of me, and my fears proved unfounded. This beer poured out a clear orange, with plenty of suspended floaties. The aroma is spicy, mainly ginger, but also some cinnamon. Sweet honey and malt flavor, along with the aforementioned spices. Thankfully, this beer avoids the trap of the cloying spiciness of too many winter warmers. More drinkable than most beers of the style. I am suprised to read that the abv is 7.5%. I would have guessed about 5.5%. Perhaps the high alcohol helped preserve this beer so long past the expiration date, which is a good thing, for now I feel justifed writing this review.

beveragecaptain, May 14, 2005
Photo of Phyl21ca
2.85/5  rDev -28%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a light ruby color ale with a medium light brown foamy head with a quite excellent retention. Aroma of light spices, honey with some bitter hops. Taste is lighter then expected with the honey being immediately recognizable. Bitter taste at the end is also quite enjoyable. I would have hope for a bit more malt and more character for a ‘’Christmas’’ special type beer.

Phyl21ca, Apr 29, 2005
Photo of Star80
3.5/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle has a date of Dec. 30, 2004. I'm not sure if that was when it was brewed or if it is best before that date. Seems a little early if that is the case. I wouldn't really bother cellaring this beer, but then who knows? Anyway, pours a reddish copper color with a nice beige head, which quickly dissipated. Has a pretty strong ginger and cinnamon smell and quite a spicy taste followed by honey, and a little bitter snap aftertaste. The mouthfeel is decent. Hmm, now the hard part. I'm not big into spiced beers though I am slowly acquiring a taste for things like coriander or even ginger in my beer. Pretty strong so I can't see drinking lots of these. I just wish it had a slightly bigger hop and malt presence to balance the honey and spices.

Star80, Apr 17, 2005
Photo of far333
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Orangey copper color with an oatmeal colored head that rises up to an inch high and then falls to a fine cap. Aroma is rich and inviting, of biscuity malt, sweet fruit and some cinnamon spice. Full and creamy mouthfeel, almost chewy. Pungent, spciy flavor of sweet malt and spice, cinnamon and a bit of clove and nutmeg, and a bit of spruce riding beneath. Hop presence is understated, nearly all in the finish and aftertaste. ABV is deceptively smooth.

far333, Apr 17, 2005
Photo of assurbanipaul
4.47/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a deep honey-amber color with a tall frothy tan head. Aroma is spicy with sweet malts, cloves, faint yeast and fresh gingerbread.

Taste is frosted gingerbread cookies and malt. Nicely seasoned, not too sweet, good flavors of allspice, cinnamon and honey. A gentile, mildly bitter hoppiness arrives as it warms, towards the end of the glass. Might be a good candidate to try warmed a bit.

Mouthfeel is medium, smooth but not real heavy. No trace of alcohol in the taste despite the ABV, very soft on the palate, very drinkable. An excellent pale winter ale, one I would drink seasonally if I could. Thanks to AKSmokedPorter for this bottle.

assurbanipaul, Mar 16, 2005
Photo of meathookjones
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a slightly cloudy orange with reddish hues and a quickly developing off white tall head. Scattered lace was left around the glass as this was drank. Aroma was very nice with cherries, other fruits, plenty of spice and warmth. There was a definite sweetness and also a nice resemblance to spiced cider. Taste was a bit of sweet honey of fruits. Plenty of spice here but it comes off a bit too sweet overall. Medium sticky mouthfeel that brings a bit of warmth with it. Good drinkability as well. I could have a few of these in a row. Nice winter sipper. Thanks goes to clvand0 for the bottle.

meathookjones, Mar 09, 2005
Photo of blitheringidiot
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Russet amber sunset hues with sticking to the sides bubbles, topped off with an uneven sudsy 1/8” tan head cap that is well retained.

Caramel apple, Big Red gum cinnamon hard candy (the kind ya get for Valentine’s Day) and fruit cake notes. Wafts of aroma are overwhelming. Bubblegum hops are thick in the nose.

First Swigs: Peculiar blend of rock candy malts and non-descript hops. Fruity blends of cherry front and vanilla notes. Citrous chin rubbing flavors. Some dry hard candy, almost jolly rancher malts. Finally, as this warms a hair, the cinnamon flavors peek out.

Some sticky tongue coat with decent crisp carbonation sizzle.

Last Swigs: Cinnamon biscuit malts. Spicy ale…not much else.

Beer is good. Happy beering.

blitheringidiot, Feb 23, 2005
Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,187 ratings.