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Great Lakes Christmas Ale - Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Great Lakes Christmas AleGreat Lakes Christmas Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

818 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 818
Hads: 2,803
Avg: 3.91
pDev: 24.3%
Wants: 156
Gots: 598 | 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:
Beer added by: OldFrothingSlosh on 11-16-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 818 | Hads: 2,803
Photo of Glanzman
4.33/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 ounce bottle served in a pint glass.

Pours a nearly clear, amber color with a 1 finger head. Nice lacing throughout.

Smells of Christmas spices and citrus hops.

Taste pretty much how it smells with a slight, but pleasant, bitterness at the end.

One of the best winter warmer beers around and worthy a six pack or two.

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Photo of chinchill
3.69/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle served in a goblet.

Body is deep amber-copper with excellent clarity. Head has poor retention.

Smells and tastes like a spicy brown ale. The spice mix says "winter holidays" and, while obvious and too strong for some ales, is not so powerful as to mask the solid caramel and medium roast malts used in this ale. Acceptably sweet.

Medium body with medium-light carbonation.

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Photo of Act25
3.61/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Christmas Ale - Freshness date of today.
A: Nothing special in the mahogany, amber body, not much head retention or lace. Average.

S: Nothing in the smell surprises. A sweet, malty caramel body with some dark, faint fruit.

T: Follows the smell, but more densely flavor packed. More malt over hops, and none of the spice or honey is heavy handed. A bit of cherry and peach on the mid- to finish. Better as it warms, but frankly, a little too cherry-cola, Dr Pepper, OHIO to my decidedly coastal palate.

Good balance. I'd rather a winter ale sticks its neck out further.

MF: well crafted like everything this brewer does, and you can feel it in the body and the finish.

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

Bottle with a BB date of 3/18/14.

Poured into a Town Hall pint glass this brew has a thin finger of off-white head topping a clear copper brew.

Aromas of toasted malt dominate. A little cinnamon and sweet notes detected.

Taste is similar, very malty with plenty of sweetness with hints of warm spices (nutmeg and cinnamon).

Mouthfeel is smooth with a bit of carbonation zing in the finish. Really smooth stuff. Daddy like. Well done for 7.5%

Overall this beer is malty, sweet and simple, but damn its pretty easy to drink and goes down smooth.

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Photo of brutusmuktuk
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Copper color with a thin white head. Smells great, of honey, cinnamon, and fruit. My first time with this I was unimpressed, but on a second visit from the same six pack I had a completely different experience. A sweet honey and fruit taste, with a hint of cinnamon and other spices. Smooth with a medium body feel. Very tasty.

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Photo of bushbeer75
3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz brown bottle

Great Lakes Christmas Ale a poured clear/clean copper color that produced an off-white 1-finger head with good retention. The nose was dominated by caramel malt followed by citrusy hop aroma with a cinnamon background. The taste matched the nose with stronger sweet caramel and spices. Also hints of toast and biscuit flavors were detected. The finish has a moderate amount of bitterness and just a touch of alcohol Mouth feel was crisp, with medium carbonation and slightly sticky.

Overall, Great Lakes Christmas Ale is an easy drinking holiday ale that has just the right amount of spice for my palate.

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Photo of TheyCallMeYukon
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This is one of my favorites for the Holiday season year after year.
A - Pours a deep copper in color with a little tint or amber red
S - Smells malty with a lot of cinnamon, honey and spice
T - Tastes a bit sweet with a cinnamon finish. the honey comes through more in the nose than it does on the tongue.
M - A bit watery, My main wish is for a little more creaminess here, but it's not a huge negative
O - Overall this is a staple in my fridge over the winter, but it's more of a one and done beer for me. The cinnamon honey and spice start to wreak havoc after two or three bottles

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Photo of jpro
4.31/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Sixer from Salud Beer Shop. 12oz poured into a snifter...

A: Rosy copper; one-finger, off-white head; no lace; no retention; unique color.

S: Toasted malt; gingerbread; light cinnamon notes; not overly spiced, though; brown sugar.

T: Cake; honey roasted malt nuttiness; brown sugar; light nutmeg and allspice; cinnamon; again, not overly done with the spice; not much alcohol.

M: Medium feel; moderate carbonation with a little zing; not heavy at all.

O: A great Christmas beer - one of the best; quite drinkable, too.

*from notes 01.08.14

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Photo of CGiusti23
4.41/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

With so many Christmas beers out there, I am so glad I snagged Great Lakes Christmas Ale up! Its a perfect mix of spices and flavor that just gives this Ale such a perfect taste. Highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good beer around the holidays. Even light beer drinkers will enjoy this at a family party. Either way its a win win, great beer.

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Photo of magictacosinus
2.94/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Alright, time to get back to reviews. Thanks, Todd! Poured out of a 12oz bottle into a wine tulip glass. Freshness date is "1/18/14." Consumed on "1/25/14." Shouldn't be too much of an issue.

Pours an amber golden color with a decent white fizzy head that whittles down to a tiny, thinned ring over the course of consumption. It may be the glass or the age on this, but lacing is minimal as are any noticeable legs. It is, nevertheless, quite viscous, especially for what seems to be an apparent run-of-the-mill winter warmer.

Smells extremely sweet - notes of honey, butterscotch, and toffee are all up in this, with the spices pushed way to the back. It's difficult to find them, but eventually they come around: ginger peel, cinnamon, brown sugar, as well as apples and bananas. Very sugary and not very spicy or zesty from the spices this was brewed with. The alcohol, alas, is well hidden. It's a different take on the style, but perhaps one that would appeal to fans of sweeter seasonal ales.

The flavor is the same story, with, as far as I can tell, far more muted spices on the palate completely taken over by the sugary malty profile. Honeyed, alongside sweet notes of toffee and butterscotch that last on the palate for a good long while. Finishes slightly fruity, as well as mildly spicy from the ginger and cinnamon, but the honeyed profile of the beer is victorious - as is the sweetness. Slight oxidized notes of sherry are definitely present. Isn't too much of a chore to drink, although it definitely gets more syrupy the more it warms up. The alcohol comes around over time, which only increases the sweetness. As a result, it's a bit difficult to finish.

As much I have been happy with Great Lakes in the past, I feel like as much as I should have probably had this a bit fresher, I don't think this would have been any less sweeter in the end. The ingredients are thankfully well presented, but the amount of residual sugars I had to wade through to get to them did not make it wholly worthwhile. Nevertheless, I'll happily give this a re-review when it comes out this year if I'm able to get my hands on a fresh bottle.

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Photo of tonyh
4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Have enjoyed this beer on several occasions this holiday season. Both bottle and on tap.
It pours a beautiful amber/red color, with a nice light brown head.

The smell is not overwhelming, with only hints of spices.

The taste is wonderful. No one spice or flavor over taking the others. Crisp.

With one sip you will taste the holidays. Cheers.

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Photo of WhaleHopper
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Had on tap in Cleveland airport and carried 6 to go - way to go in terminal brewpubs in Cleveland! A great holiday beer taking a more subtle and unique approach to holidays flavors - honey, cinnamon, ginger, all come through but not overwhelming. Consistent with GL beers- very clean, well made, and easy to go through a few in a single session.

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Photo of Chaz
3.19/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours golden-amber in color, with excellent clarity, and topped with a rocky medium tan head. Nice lacing all around the edge of the glass. So far, so good.

Nose is fruity and rather nondescript. I know there's honey in this but there are no honey notes (and I know that it ferments pretty clean) and there are no real spice notes to speak of. Lighter notes of lemon rind and cherry, but very light. Much more of a malt-lover's beer, this one, and not much hop presence.

Sweet and broadly, almost treacly-sweet on the first sip, this one covers the tongue and palate and has just a touch of brisk carbonation. There's almost a creamy sensation, but this one is lightly-carbonated, and rather viscous.

Spice kicks in a little as it warms --some nutmeg and ginger, and maybe some green pepper? It is very subtle as far as spicing goes, and the bittering aspect of the hops is likewise quite minimal.

Perhaps a little on the stronger style for a winter warmer, but it is an American ale so that's par for the course! Not an outstanding beer, but it's nonetheless a solid one for the style.

Note: I paired this one with a little pineapple upside-down cake. Not bad!

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Photo of devilben02
3.48/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours from the bottle with a beautiful, clear, pure amber color and a modest and fleeting off-white head. The aroma is spicy and somewhat fruity, with a traditional mulling spice combination being contrasted against notes sweet orange peel and honey-dipped bread (a challah, if you will). The flavor likewise features a forward use of cinnamon and ginger, but the rich bready malts provide a "soft" base from which the assertive spices emerge. The spicing isn't overly aggressive, but it definitely in front and deftly hides the 7.5% alcohol content. The fine, prickly carbonation emphasizes these spicy characteristics but hides the sweetness a bit, which is unfortunate. Overall, this is a lovely holiday beer, but I don't know that I'd want it more year-round.

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Photo of PaulyB83
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a tulip glass. Best by 04/08/14

A- Pours a reddish brown with nice clarity. Medium slightly off-white head.

S- Much like a pumpkin ale without that pumpkin mellowness. Getting mostly cinnamon and some malty sweetness.

T- Similar to nose majority of cinnamon and light bitterness. Nice sweet malt aftertaste.

M- Surprisingly a bit thin for a 7.5%.

O- This beer is okay, kinda a bit spice beer fatigue with this one coming right after pumpkin beer season. I prefer the way pumpkin helps spiced beers and I can tell it;s missing in a beer like this. Could have used more of a ginger and honey presence.

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Photo of Maxwell
3.79/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The beer pours a candied red/amber, almost like a dark fruit punch. It forms a soda-like head of spritzy white bubbles that fade into a scrim. In body the beer is thin and crystal clear, with only a bit of haze coming from its darker coloring. On the nose, the beer smells of soft, warm spices and an indiscriminately fruity malt. The spices are hard to pinpoint, but could contain nutmeg… The smell is softly spicy and festive, but not overwhelmingly pleasing. On the tongue, the beer tastes sweet and spicy. The spice tends far more towards the “Christmas spice” realm than towards the kick of pepper. The sweet malt almost tastes like fruit juice, and is balanced out by the spice which moves in on the middle and finish of the sip. Soft bitterness and light acidity accompany the spice for added balance. In flavor, the beer begins as sweet fruit juice, somewhere between generic fruit punch and apple juice. In the middle of the sip, the winter spices bowl onto the palate, giving hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, and generic spice. The finish is of strong winter spices with a touch of grassy bitterness. The fruit juice flavors give a touch of cranberry juice in the finish, which is festive and odd. In the mouth, the beer feels on the light side of medium, practically light, with an oddly watery mouthfeel and a soft carbonation. The mouth is left with a light spice burn, some dryness, and some saliva in the cheeks. Overall, I’m a bit underwhelmed by this iteration. It has some nice winter spice, but the malt character is oddly like fruit juice, which I don’t much care for. This is an interesting beer, but I want more bread and caramel malt flavors and less fruit juice. The spicing is nice, if a bit too much on the end. Not a bad winter warmer, but not my favorite.

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Photo of delta490
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- a red hued beer with a fizzier off-white head. Minimal retention and almost no lacing

S- rich fruit and spices

T- big spice flavor initially with honey sweetness on the finish

M-nice full body with a little bite on the tongue

O- an almost excellent winter beer.

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Photo of joeseppy
4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear cranberry amber with half inch white head. Wispy on the top and spider webs down.

Aroma mainly of cinnamon powder and ginger snap. Smells deceivingly full bodied. Basically a full onslaught of holiday spice and sweet malt.

Tastes pretty darn close to a lot of pumpkin ales I've had this year. Cinnamon is the first spice to come to my mind. Candy spice drops and crystal ginger essence. I'd say its Christmasy alright.

Mouthfeel is of medium body and is actually refreshing. Nothing overbearing or heavy laden.

Again, this reminds me of a lot of the pumpkin beers yet the ginger, for me, gives this the edge to give this that christmas feel. Shared some this year with my BMC friends who all agreed this was a quality beer. Nothing is worse than weighing your friends and family down with heavy beers. GL Christmas ale is a great choice for yourself and to share during a festive time such as this.

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Photo of crc1935
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Had this beer from a growler that was poured from a keg in Erie, PA

Appearance - light amber/orange. Larger head than normal due to pouring from a growler to regular glass.

Smell - Sweet, nutty, and spicy.

Taste - Light honey and nutmeg taste balanced with slight bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Lightly carbonated to balance the taste. Very smooth ale.

Overall - This is an excellent Christmas Ale, though its legend seems to be elevated by scarcity. Still love the chase.

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Photo of Tucquan
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Had this on 2013-12-26 in Columbia, PA

A - Clear tawny-mahogany with a 1/2-finger light tan head that fades very quickly and leaves just a smidgen of lace.

S - Candied apples, cinnamon, cherry, pumpkin bread, ginger. Inviting aroma although not real strong.

T - There's a lot more bready malt than the smell would indicate. There also a shot of citrus and bitterness that wasn't evident in the smell. That being said, the cherry, candied apple, ginger and cinnamon make their presence known. It's a pleasing flavor that dries nicely and thankfully, isn't too sweet.

M - Medium body and light-medium carbonation. Syrupy but not cloying. There's a nice bit of resin that clings briefly. Leaves you wanting another sip.

O - This is a very enjoyable holiday ale. It's got some seasonal spicing but you still know you are drinking a good quality ale. I'll look for this again.

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Photo of BeerMeColorado
2.7/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Not sure why all the high scores.
Light amber. Crystal clear. Poor head retention.
Malt forward. Alcohol warmth comes through.
Decent mouthfeel.
Irish Spring soap?
Overall an average winter warmer for me.

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Photo of SportsandJorts
3.72/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: orangish color. good clarity. almost no head that quickly fades.

Smell: ginger, cinnamon and sweetness. fairly weak but smells pretty good

Taste: lots of ginger. cinnamon is weak and hidden underneath. not a lot of malt profile but some sweetness. not the strongest tasting beer especially for its strength

Mouthfeel: fairly light, ginger lingers behind.

Overall: i found the flavors to be nice in this one but it was just too weak in flavor and smell for me. a lot tastier that the other spiced winter warmers ive had

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Photo of MarkQ617
3.3/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Picked up a growler for our Christmas party, enjoyed out of a pint glass. The color was actually pretty nice, a good looking brownish amber with an off-white head. The flavor had the requisite spices, particularly cinnamon and nutmeg, but it was a bit weak for my liking.

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Photo of metter98
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear amber in color and has no visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high off white head that quickly died down, leaving a few bubbles on the surface and a thin collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Moderate aromas of spices are present in the nose—ginger and nutmeg seem to stand out in particular.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and seems a bit more complex with additional hints of cinnamon sticks and caramel malts.
M: It feels a bit mire than medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: I found this to be an interesting winter warmer that has some nice holiday spices and seems easier to drink compared to other beers in the style since it isn't that heavy in body.

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Photo of mvanaskie13
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured into a standard pint glass, color is transparent amber, lighter on the edges; head is tan, mixture of bubble sizes, good lacing and lingering top.

Smell is spice forward, nice blend of ginger, nutmeg and clove, hints of cinnamon; malt is present, light bread, biscuit and maybe some sweeter caramel, but light.

Taste is similar to the aroma, but a bit amplified: spices are popping but not overwhelming, good blend of clove, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and lighter cinnamon; malt is a good balance to the aroma, bread and biscuit hints of caramel - this beer does not taste anywhere near its strength as the spice covers the sweeter notes below.

Mouthfeel again mixes the spice and malt well, spices cover and dry out the strength of this beer making it very easily drinkable.

Overall, a very, very good winter/christmas ale; heavier spice doses work well in these ales compared to pumpkins because of the heavier malt flavors, a great brew.

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Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 818 ratings.