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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

2,568 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,568
Reviews: 805
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 13.13%
Wants: 139
Gots: 389 | 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: 2,568 | Reviews: 805 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of pauleyh
4.68/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A Great All Around Seasonal With All Kinds Of Blends And Spices. The Appearance shows a white head. with beautiful copper colored color. very nice thick foam when poured in a 16 ounce thick beer glass. it aroma amazes me ginger cinnamon it's sweet taste is fulfilling. it goes down smooth very lip smackable. the thing about such a high end beer like this that a casual drinker should be careful of is it's 7.5 alc vol content. this is a beer you wanna take sips of and to enjoy it.

Photo of plfahey
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass

Appearance-Reddish-Garnet-Copper color. Brilliant clarity. Moderate off white head with moderate retention.

Aroma-Whoa. Big blend of spices and sweet dark malt. Malt comes across as molasses like, with a hint of honey. Spices show ginger (but not hot), cinnamon, and almost a light clove note. No hops. Very light cherry-like fruit aroma. Smells like gingerbread cookies. Yum.

Flavor-Tastes like ginger-spiked cinnamon toast crunch. Malt still has some molasses character though the honey shows through more here, and some graininess surfaces in the finish. Spice notes are ginger and cinnamon, though the ginger is a bit lighter here than in the aroma. Some earthy hop flavor appears in the moderately sweet finish, along with a light alcohol flavor.

Mouthfeel- Medium light body, medium low carbonation. Smooth with no astringency from the spices. Light alcohol warmth.

This beer is delicious. Definitely an interesting example from a category that's quite open to interpretation. As holiday spiced beers go, this is one of my favorites. Due to the high spice content, I dont think I could drink a ton of these, but it's very very good.

Photo of Brent
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Funny how sometimes you suddenly realize that you've had a paticular beer several times, but never got around to rating it. This is a solid, go-to entry in the winter warmer category. Nice solid malt profile with clear spice notes, but nothing overpowering. The alchohol is completely integrated in the flavor profile. Plus, you can't beat the old-school Lionel gondola train car filled with Christmas ornaments on the label.

Photo of Bouleboubier
3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big ginger bomb. I love ginger on its own, but this bordered on excessive, especially in the finish. Burned my throat a little a couple times. Beware of it "going down the wrong pipe"! - hurts.

That said, I dug this beer. Quite a bold taste. Strong alcohol finish. Kind of a jewel glow to its tawny-ish color. Poured with a head that vanished completely. Looks weighty. Husky cinnamon-sugar aroma and flavor, up front. Nil on the hops. Brawny yet lightly fruity malt presence in the smell as well. Ginger takes over from there. Wow, it's 3-D! Not for the faint of palate. For me, a lover of bold, extreme tongue sensation, it electrified but somehow drank very lovely. Not what I think of or consider as far as winter warmers go (I prefer the dark malt / dried fruit characters of the Belgian noels) - but it fits the bill. This ale wouldn't find a place in any other season. I feel Great Lakes makes a noteworthy, well, unique and tasty beer here.

Photo of despainmakesbeer
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very Clear, rich dark copperish red color. Looks like big red in a glass. Thick 1/2" head at pour, with a 1/4" head remaining throughout out most of the glass. Very Spicey aroma, cinnamon, glove, ginger. As beer warms, aroma becomes more like a ginger bread. Same spices found in flavor, relatively consistent from beginning to end, a little sweet. Slight dry finish. Very drinkable christmas ale. Easy, slightly crisp. Probably my top seasonal from Great Lakes.

Photo of drewd0g
3.83/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased from Big M in Potsdam. 1 single 12oz.

Pours a brownish orange, pretty clean. i like darker winter warmers. the smell is like cinnamon and spice, real nice very pleasant. when i drink this i taste cinnamon and chocolate. really good, i'd be interested in tasting this beer with some age on it, tastes like it would do it some good. the mouth has a medium-heavy body, appropriate for the style i think. decent drinkability although im kinda full from dinner ;-) drinking this and its snowing outside, very nice.

Photo of philbe311
3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was happy to grab a six-pack this holiday season...

A - Slightly less than a fingers worthy of creamy white head... Minimal retention gives way and identical lacing... The color is a mix of equal parts which auburn and cherry red... Loaded with brisk carbonation...

S - Spices are at the forefront... Cinnamon... Touches of clove and ginger... Honey... Some cherry notes... Bready malts...

T - The taste is an exact replica of the nose... The spicy notes dominated by cinnamon are at the start... Followed by a deep rich bready malt base... Some notes of honey and cherries... The spiciness returns on the finish and slightly lingers...

M - Medium bodied... Subtle carbonation... Even and consistent... A bit chewy... Nothing to fancy here... Simple and straight forward...

D - A unique holiday offering that is loaded with subtle complexity... A sipper due to the spiciness, not the alcohol... This one really captures the spirit of the holiday it represents... I will enjoy the rest of these throughout the season...

Photo of tmcelvain
3.5/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Fairly strong flavors of nutmeg and cinnamon in this brew. Small, quickly disapating, lacy head over a crimson body make this a bold beer in the glass. The body displays a malty base for the spiced flavor, which finishes with a slightly bitter, but well balanced hop edge. Cannot drink many of these before the spices just take over. A solid Christmas Alle - slightly above average for the style, but not one I wold squirrel away to drink throughout the year. Perfect for your tree trimming party. Watch out - I was alos surprised to learn the alcohol content on this one.

Photo of joeblackasnite
3.73/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

clear amber color with only a slight off-white collar of foam. Lots of cinnamon and sweet malt aroma up front, slight earthy note fron hops I suspect. Spicy gingersnap kick with sweet caramel malt right behind pulled together by a nice hop bill. finishes clean with lingering honey tones lingering. nice and fresh, alcohol is not overwhelming. Nice beer. Don't know if i woant more than one or two before I moved on to something else.

Photo of stimulus
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle (6 pack) into a pint glass.

A: Pours a clear amber with a light white head.
S: Cinnamon, honey, and caramel malt.
T: Wow, just like the aroma but x10. Also, add in some ginger that doesn't seem to really be in the smell.
M: Light bodied and medium carbonation; smooth until the finish.
D: It tastes and feels like Christmas, if that's what you're going for. I'm surprised at the alcohol content on this one. It's certainly a great example of the winter warmer style.

Photo of BigMike
2.63/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: A nice burnt copper orange color with a creamy eggshell colored head. Initially 3 fingers disipates to about one quickly. Overall it's a nice looking ale.

S: I definitely get the cinnamon and Ginger. Those are the two stand out aromas. Caramel and toffee are right there too.

T: cinnamon is the dominate flavor here. Ginger, honey, toffee and light caramel notes also.

M: Mouthfeel is light and very smooth. This one goes down very easy. There's almost zero indication of the 7.5% abv.

Overall: after a few sips this isn't very enjoyable. gets a bit redundant. I wouldn't want to drink any more.

Photo of TravelinJones
4.43/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured from bottle into a clear pint glass around 45 degrees.
should have let it warm a little but couldn't wait.

A: very clear amber/orange/copper with 1/2 inch head, which quickly dissipates. small carbonation bubbles trickle up.

S: Strong bouquet of orange blossom, hints of ginger & honey, backed with some spicy hop aromas.

T: Light ginger, cinnamon, and orange flavors blend with moderate bitterness and sweetness, for a very balanced and intriguing flavor. Light biscuity malt background. Much more subtle and balanced with the spices this year. Slightly sweet, but balanced, and finishes more dry.

M: Moderate body and carbonation. Carbonation and spices help dry out the finish.

D: Very drinkable beer -- well-balanced and quaffable, and not over-spiced compared to other years. Easy to drink a few of these, although not a session beer.

Photo of mattgreger
4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The pour on this brew was pretty good. It had a nice deep redish/orange color to it. Not much of a head, but did leave a bit of lacing as the glass was emptied.

Aroma is what to be expected in a Christmas Brew, nice spicy, ginger and cinnamon punch at the forefront, and I nice hint of honey in the end keeping it smooth and not overbearing to smell.

There is reason this is a brew that is sought after so much during the holidays. This brew has a great toasty, malt flavor that carries the spices through the brew. The spices give the brew a nice sweetiness and its followed by a nice, hardy punch of honey. As you finish the brew, there are nice hints of cinnamon and nutmeg that give it the wonderful winter flavors.

The mouthful is also great. It has a nice carbonation, followed up with an nice light body. The brew goes down easy, and has a nice simple, yet complex texture to it, that gives it the nice winter warmer feeling you expect from this kind of brew.

This is a great drink, wonderfully flavored, and a great pick for a nice cold winter night. The nice 7.5% ABV isn't overbearing, but gives you the nice warm, fuzziness you look for in such a brew, with out taking you out. This is a great winter warmer, and a wonderful representation of the style. No suprise its a Great Lakes Brew.

Photo of bw2k69
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 Oz. Bottle poured into a Sam Adams glass.

A: A nice 1 finger head that dissipates gradually, leaving a bit of lacing. A nice, deep red/orange color to it.

S: Predominantly spicy, ginger and cinnamon are quite pronounced up front. Catching a hint of honey in there as well. Very nice.

T: Malts are toasty in flavor, carrying with them a slightly spicy sweetness. The honey is far more predominant in the taste than it was in the smell. Hint of cinnamon and ginger on the sides.

M: Nice carbonation, body is thin. The upfront balance and dry finish make for a well balanced beer, not surprising as it's Great Lakes.

D: Very drinkable, fantastic for a cold winter night as the flavor makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside (although that could be the ABV as well). For someone looking for a more balanced winter warmer, I'd say give this one a try.

Photo of BuckeyeSlim
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a New Belgium snifter.

A - 1-finger head. Ecru and thick. Dissipates slowly, leaving rings around the glass. Thin layer of lace remains across the surface. Deep red/orange and clear.

S - Lots of seasonal spices. Cinnamon, and ginger are pronounced. Clove in the background. A touch of sweet citrus mixes in, like candy lemon drops.

T - Toasted malt transport for the spices in the nose. Honey on the tongue. Cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg on the sides really linger on the finish, along with alcohol in the background. No noticeable hopping.

M - A bit creamy. Good carbonation. Structure is on the thin side. Finish is on the dry side, although the honey stays with the spices, blending quite nicely in a good balance.

D - For me, a holiday seasonal beer to bring to a holiday event and have one or two to celebrate being in the spirit. As far as this style goes, however, I like it much more than many of the offerings that are heavily spiced and hopped out to the max. And the decently high ABV puts a warm spot in the tummy without feeling like I'm doing shots.

Photo of rfgetz
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice amber color, nice cap of white head. Scent is of honey, ginger, floral lavendar, and cinnamon. taste brings pale malts to the front with honey sweetness and taste, the backround is very floral with ginger, lavendar and cinammon the dominant scents. Medium bodied, good carbonation, slightly sweet. Quite the interesting flavor profile, very enjoyable.

Photo of pburland23
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a Great Divide Brussels glass.

Beer pours a bright, clean garnet with a finger of off white head that does not linger nor does it leave any lacing.

The smell is dominated by cinnamon, honey and ginger with a touch of hops aroma. It smells sweet and inviting. The taste is similar. It's malty and sweet with honey and ginger being the most discernible taste. The nice thing about Great Lakes Christmas Ale is that the spices are present in the beer but they aren't overwhelming. Too many Christmas Ales are ruined by heavy handed spicing, but this brew does it in moderation and the result is one of the better Christmas Ales I've ever encountered. Additionally, there is a slight booziness to the beer that is warming.

The mouthfeel is thick, full and malty with a pleasing toasty aftertaste. As for drinkability, I can myself sipping a few of these on a long winter's night.

Photo of BeerImmediately
3.28/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into white-wine-style glass in the mid-40's.

Pours with a very short off-white head over a very clear, copper body with a touch of carbonation flowing up.

Aromas come off with an unexpected citrus rhind twist, along with plenty of alcohol.

Flavors are markedly different - body is not as thick as expected from the aroma, and flavors that come thru lead with bitter ginger, and just a kiss of cinnamon and honey.

Mouthfeel is quite dry, and with a bit of a cloying paste, it brings the drinkability down to a slow level.

Photo of DaveBlack
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: clear amber color with around an inch of head, with little retention but a nice amount of lacing

S: Incredibly spicy, actually tingles the nose with ginger. Also a ton of malt. Very big on the nose, good strong odor for a winter brew.

T: Sweet, honey, spices. Tastes a lot like it smells, which is a very good thing. Great beer for a cold winter night.

M: Sticky, very low carbonation. Quite heavy, suits the style and the taste.

D: Very drinkable beer. Obviously not a session beer, but a great taste.

Photo of MagyarPuska
3.58/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: got this beer on tap and it came with a small cap of foam that didn't stick around very long. Lacing was weak but stayed at the top around the edges.

Smell: Ginger and spices. Malty as well.

Taste: Tastes like it smells with a malty aftertaste. A slight alcohol tingle to accompany the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Pretty heavy. Light carbonation.

Drinkability: Due to the heavy weight of the beer and very strong spice flavoring I wouldnt be able to put up with more than one of these. A tall pint was a little overpowering.

Photo of morimech
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear, dark amber color with one finger of head that slowly settled to a thin cap. Moderate amount of spotty lacing is left on the glass. Aroma has hints of cocoa, toffee, hazlenuts. The spice is subtle in the aroma but a touch of ginger can be detected. The spice is much more upfront in the taste. Cinnamon and ginger are quite strong upfront. Sweet malt and honey base but the spice is the featured attraction with this beer. Christmas in a bottle. Medium body and nicely carbonated. Good texture. A lot of spice in the beer but it stops just short of being too much.

Photo of DrDemento456
4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - A nice crisp amber with a touch of head.

S - Honey, cinnamon, hops, and spices.

T - Wow it's like it tastes... red. Must be the honey and the mead playing together. Slight cinnamon and a mild hop profile makes it good,

M - Very medium bodied. Liked it.

D - Yes and I will enjoy the last five. Very pleasant offering from Great Lakes!

Photo of ne0m00re
4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Live review of "Christmas in a Bottle."
A: Poured a clear reddish amber with a nice cream head that faded to a nice collar, thin film, and a little lacing.
S: Cinnamon and clove, apple and pumpkin pie (which is probably a result of the honey based on the mead character), on top of a malty caramel. The hops (Fuggles, probably?) are a bit earthy and leafy and break through in the end. A nice "warm" welcoming beer.
T: The spices come off a little strong in clove with cinnamon in the back and linger through most of the beer, fading to a dry cinnamon with mead alcohol. Caramelized sugars dominate with leafy earthy hops and the recipe seems like it would be very similar to the Octoberfest if it wasn't for the spice (not a bad thing).
M: Slightly thicker with a frothy carbonation at first that lets go to a mildly sticky dark caramelized stickiness.
D: Pretty good. The residual sweetness is pretty intense after a couple, though.

Photo of bsp77
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Clear amber-copper with thin white head and slight lacing.

Smell: Cherry, loads of cinnamon, caramel and light biscuit.

Taste: Nice malty mixture of cherry, caramel and biscuit, with a strong undercurrent of cinnamon and ginger. Some mead-like characteristics and a slight English hop spicy finish that lingers along with the cinnamon.

Feel: Moderate carbonation with a medium body that is fairly light for the abv likely due to the honey. Somewhat mead-like.

Drinkability: Nice spiced Christmas Ale that seems to be much lower in alcohol than it actually is. Delicious and festive.

3.55/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into Ommegang tulip. From notes.
A: A light colored off white head foams up to two fingers on the pour. Holding well and leaving a frothy layer of lace. The body is clear, but a nice and deep amber.
S: Sweet notes of malts and other spices used. The low to medium aroma is a bit weak when compared to the other intensity of the flavors.
T/M: I am finding a classic taste that runs throughout all Great Lakes brew and it is here as well. The malts to take the front seat and go for the ride on this one. Some spice on the body, with a smooth and honey like mouthfeel.
D: This is another of those classic Christmas must tries. A really great brew but in the swarm of seasonal offerings this one can get left in the dust. Still holding a good bit of ABV and not showing it, overall this one is a bit of a let down.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,568 ratings.