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Great Lakes Christmas Ale - Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Great Lakes Christmas AleGreat Lakes Christmas Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,972 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1972
Reviews: 768
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 13.13%

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: 1,972 | Reviews: 768 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Icedogs


4.9/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

My favorite Christmas/holiday/winter seasonal of them all, by far. I crave this beer, I stalk it. Yes, I am quite biased in favor of Great Lakes Brewing Company because one of my best friends worked there for nine years and I've spent many a fine afternoon/evening at the place. But my preference for GLBC beer is primarily because the beers are almost always outstanding. Cheers!

Serving type: bottle

09-16-2013 02:19:18 | More by Icedogs
Photo of MacQ32

South Carolina

4.36/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - pours a golden color with a slight tint of amber, head is copper/ginger and 2 fingers tall. Decent retention, ok lacing.

S - Caramel and honey up front, with some cinnamon spice and brown sugar

T - Lots of cream caramel/honey with spiced cinnamon and ginger, maybe a hint of citrusy orange flavors as well. Possibly the best Christmas Ale I've had

M - Medium bodied or less, slightly sticky on the tongue, just the right amount of carbonation, quite drinkable but still has moderate warming characteristics.

O - New favorite Christmas beer!

Serving type: bottle

09-03-2013 01:30:01 | More by MacQ32
Photo of ValpoExpo


4.64/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A winter classic from Northeast Ohio. You have to be VERY careful with GLBC's Christmas Ale because it will knock you on your butt in no time. It truly is the perfect sweet honey, alcohol infused taste of Christmastime. November 1 (the release date of Christmas Ale) is a holiday in itself for Northeast Ohioans.

Serving type: on-tap

06-16-2013 04:19:00 | More by ValpoExpo
Photo of PorterLambic


3.3/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Pours a really nice coppery-amber color with a light tan head. Retention is not so great, dropping to a faint ring quickly.
Smell is malty with a caramel note and a weird sweet floral note that is very hard to place specifically. No spice notes to be found though they were expected.
Taste is the same as the smell, malt, caramel, and that same odd sweet floral note. It isn't quite strong enough to be offputting but it isn't able to be overlooked, either. No real spice though a very faint pepper note does show eventually.
Solid medium-full body, somewhat warming, smooth-ish with light effervescence. Nothing great sadly. A decent beer, that's all.

Serving type: bottle

05-14-2013 20:54:06 | More by PorterLambic
Photo of yesyouam

New York

3.3/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Great Lakes Christmas Ale is a crystal clear amber ale with a soft, waxy, yellowish head that leaves nice lacing on the glass. It has a light aroma with hints of spice and candy. It's medium bodied and a little sharp. The finish is a little metallic and gritty. It's quite sweet and well spiced. It almost tastes like a candy cane. There's a little caramel and some juniper bitterness that lingers after the swallow. This is very clearly a Christmas Ale. The balance is pretty good but it's too sweet to have more than one.

Serving type: bottle

05-06-2013 01:09:59 | More by yesyouam
Photo of Foam


3.73/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Ginger fruit.
flower blossoms .
olive brine ?
sea salt .

that great lakes-ian soul that their brews posess .
best of all, got a bunch of single bottles for $1.00 since it's way out of season .
a spicy nutmeg and ginger-malt finish concludes the taste profile of this Cleveland-brew .
definetly a weirdo/geek even amidst the X-mas beer world .

a few will do ya .

Serving type: bottle

04-30-2013 01:52:53 | More by Foam
Photo of tmm313


4.48/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I really enjoyed this beer. It poured a crystal clear amber color with thick head and nice lacing. Smell was super sweet with loads of caramel, some citrus, apple, ginger, coriander, some chocolate, and rich honey. Taste was nice as well. Super malty with nice bready notes, slight grapefruit, cinnamon and ginger. Mouthfeel was medium, slick, and drying. I had a great time drinking it.

Serving type: bottle

04-04-2013 22:57:08 | More by tmm313
Photo of dtivp

West Virginia

3.63/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep amber with a half finger dull white head, very little retention or lacing.

Aroma of malt, honey and strong cinnamon spice.

Taste follows the nose with sweet honey, malts hints of caramel followed by cinnamon and nutmeg.

Mouth Feel was the light side of medium body, moderate carbonation, smooth with a nice holiday spice flair.

Overall this is a nice Christmas Ale that does not go overboard with the spices as some other Christmas Ales tend to do.

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2013 22:22:19 | More by dtivp
Photo of tviz33

New York

3.65/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 oz bottle in to a nonic pint glass.

A- Pours a nice clear orange body with two finger of foamy white head.

S- Smells a lot like a sugary soda at first. Honey and ginger come out as I take few more whiffs. A little molasses is in there as well. Smells inviting.

T- I'd be willing to be the flavors have dissipated somewhat since this one came out. That said, it is still tasty. This one is mostly malty with a subtle hop aftertaste. Faint amounts of spices poke through, but aren't enough to discern what they are exactly.

M- Medium body and lightly carbonated, but smooth.

O- Overall, this beer is just OK for me. I'd like to try it more in season to see if there is a noticeable difference in flavor.

Serving type: bottle

03-24-2013 22:20:13 | More by tviz33
Photo of CHickman

New York

3.36/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours a crystal clear amber copper color with a 2 finger foamy off white head that had lots of bubbles in it and faded very slowly, leaving very good foamy lacing coating the sides.

Smells of spices up front, like cinnamon, clove, ginger and allspice, followed by honey, flowers, toasted grains and caramel. Borders on too spicy for my liking, but it’s soft enough for me to tolerate for this style and the brewer’s design.

Tastes like it smells, with spices up front including cinnamon, allspice, clove, ginger and nutmeg, followed by honey, flowers, herbs, toasted grains, hay or dry grass, yeast and caramel. As much as I try, I just don’t dig all the spices and the cinnamon and ginger are very strong so this was not my cup of tea. It is very complex, and like a fruitcake soaked in water for a month, but just not my favorite style. It is what it is, so I’ll plow through it.

Mouthfeel is creamy and slick, with a buttery feel, a medium chewy body, nice carbonation that was just lighter than average, but then came the spices that lingered in the aftertaste.

I would not seek this out again and did not enjoy this beer, but being subjective I’d say that fans of this spice filled style will thoroughly enjoy this beer; too bad I’m not one of those fans.

Serving type: bottle

02-15-2013 04:03:40 | More by CHickman
Photo of macrosmatic


3.4/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Thanks to dogdoc for this one. Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a CCB pint glass.

A: Pours a clear gold, visible carbonation on the low side, and forms a 1/2 finger white head.

S: Sweet & caramel malts with lots of spices (nutmeg, allspice, ginger).

T: Follows the nose, with the spices very prominent. Overall is quite sweet with a bit of bitterness (hops?) at the end.

M: Light body, minimal alcohol presence, and low carbonation sensation.

O: Just not my style of beer. I can't find any off flavors, but the spices just came through too heavy-handed for my taste. That said, I feel like the brewers at least put an effort into making the sweetness & spices work into the body of the beer, rather than just giving your sinuses a Christmas kick. Better than many of the spiced Christmas beers.

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2013 03:23:06 | More by macrosmatic
Photo of emyers


3.99/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a Great Lakes snifter.

Appearance: Pours a deep amber with a thin off-white head. Not much head retention.

Smell: Biscuits, caramel, and honey up front. Cinnamon comes throough, nicely balanced with the malt bill. I don't get much of the ginger.

Taste: Honey and caramel/toffee up front. Spices are one again perfectly balanced, not overpowering like many Christmas ales. Finish is a bit sweet, possibly due to the honey (akthough I would think it would have fermented out).

Mouthfeel: Medium body, medium carbonation. Smooth.

Overall: This beer gets a ton of hype, but it's well-deserved. Definitely one of the better Christmas ales out there. Well balanced and maintains a solid spice presence without turning into a spice bomb.

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2013 02:20:42 | More by emyers
Photo of Bills453


4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Poured from a bottle into a goblet. Nice orange golden color. Great foamy 2 finger off white almost cream colored head.

Smell - I love the smell of this beer. Smells like caramel malts and some delicious holiday spices. Nutmeg?

Taste - taste is a very nice mixture of holiday spices. I can't stand the over poweringly sweet Christmas beers. This one is not that and tastes very good.

Mouthfeel - good

Overall - a great offering from Great Lakes. One of my favorite winter time seasonals around.

Serving type: bottle

02-07-2013 23:40:16 | More by Bills453
Photo of circus_cat


2.54/5  rDev -35.9%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

If you charge that insane amount for a beer, people are going to be disappointed when it doesn't taste really special. Some ginger, cinnamon, and grassiness. Pretty good, but again--when Dogfish Head charges me $10 for a 12 oz, I'm annoyed at the cash register but pleased when I see how worth it it is. This just annoyed me all around.

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2013 20:51:10 | More by circus_cat
Photo of MCain04


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

Bottle 12/12, drinking about 6 weeks fresh. Poured into a Spiegelau glass. $13/6pack

Appearance: Clear golden orange color, 1-2 fingers of off-white head. Mild lacing, decent retention.

Smell: How a Christmas ale should smell. Spicy, cinnamon, roasty malts, nutty. Very nice.

Taste: Follows along with the smell profile. Really nice spice profile carrying through onto the taste. Really liking this. Not too hoppy or bitter. No heat or alcohol present.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, moderate carbonation, average finish.

Overall: Really enjoyed this. One of the best Christmas Ales I've had. Better than Goose Island's Christmas ale, in my opinion, and less expensive. Next to blackout stout, probably my favorite offering from Great Lakes.

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2013 18:01:18 | More by MCain04
Photo of beergoot


4.93/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I lucked into a bottle at my friend's house, yet this review is based off a on-tap serving at a bar 30-45 minutes later...

Dark, honey-amber color with a creamy white head. The aroma was full of holiday spices; gingerbread; cinnamon. The taste strongly followed the aroma with a nice, balancing bitterness. Body came across as in character; smooth, crisp, with a semi-dry finish.

This was equivalent of sipping a warm, nicely spiced liquid holiday cookie. The malts and spice flavors (from whatever the source) just came across so nicely balanced and complex without smacking you in the face with overly strong flavors. This is by far one my best holiday ales I've had in a long, long time. Highly recommended...

Serving type: on-tap

01-22-2013 16:34:37 | More by beergoot
Photo of FosterJM


3.25/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

1701st Review on BA
Bottle to Great Lakes Snifter

2012 bottling
Thanks to ErikKoppin for this one

App- Okay so I was thinking a winter warmer would be darker. Along the lines of a porter or something dark, when is this now the color of pure orange honey? No bubbles and head. No cling either. Fairly clear in the glass.

Smell- Well I see the winter warmer, but this was way to honey forward for me. A bit of spice, a bit of creamy malts and some spices. Nice aromatics but don't see the fuss on this one.

Taste- This also like the nose was a bit too honey forward for me. I was so stoked to see this in the box but this was a mad elf for me. A lot of hype but all the honey and spices dont do it for me.

Mouth- A semi medium body with a fairly still carbonation level. Residual honey and spices.

Drink- I wanted to like this one more but sadly I couldn't get into it.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2013 23:09:32 | More by FosterJM
Photo of RickS95


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

A great looking, rich, winter brew with a coppery orange pour. A bit clearer than I care for, but still has a nice rich look to it. The head has IPA written all over it with it's light yellow color and craterous head followed by thick sticky lace.

The smells are fairly laid back, though my beer may have been too cold. Cinnamon and honey are there, though subdued with ginger being the most dominant of the three and even then it's only a mild smell. Slight hop presence in the nose.

The flavor is the opposite of the nose with the ingredients makes a bolder statement. Cinnamon is clearly accounted for, as is the ginger and honey. I'm not a fan of either ginger in general or honey in beer, and while I don't really care for it here, it goes give the beer a nice spicy-sweet flavor profile.

Lots of spice and enough sweet for balance. So much going on I can't tell if there is any noticeable hoppiness at all. There's some bitter in the finish, but God only knows what it's from. Good alcohol burn going down, and it really sticks with you for a while.

Overall, it's a true winter warmer. Lots of seasonal ingredients, good alcohol feel, the flavors work well together and there is balance in both the taste and feel.

Serving type: bottle

01-08-2013 03:41:56 | More by RickS95
Photo of malind

3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a Stela Artois glass

A - Amber/Caramel in color. Poured transparent. Small head which disappeared fairly quickly.

S - Ginger, spice, hint of spruce

T - Spruce, earthy, hint of alcohol on the finish

M - Light, low carbonation, slight tingle of alcohol

O - A solid winter beer. One of my annual Christmas go-to beers. Not a lot of malt taste - almost a spiced beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2013 03:17:06 | More by malind
Photo of GarthDanielson

North Carolina

3.95/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a tumbler pint, the beer is a bright, lightly carbonated, copper coloring with a filmy, sparse, thin, white head coating the surface. Aromas of cinnamon spiced honey sweetness, both rich and smooth. Some roasty, bready notes in the background, also. Flavors are rich and sweet, on a very smooth, robust body. Almost creamy feel in mouth. The honey creates a semisweet, solid backbone with spiced and fruit highlights. The spice profiles of nutmeg, cinnamon, and all-spice are very subtle, and blended very well. This is what fruitcake is supposed to taste like, instead of candied evil and garbage. Lightly spiced aftertaste, with the honey giving off some tropical fruit esthers, also. Smooth, clean finish. Very tasty brew, and extremely easy to drink.

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2013 00:59:50 | More by GarthDanielson
Photo of rlee1390


4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Clear yellow-orange, not much carbonation, one finger head.

S-Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, some caramel.

T-Balance of spices cinnamon, some nutmeg, tad bit of caramel and malt. Great balance.

M-Light to medium bodied, not much carbonation.

O-What a spicy Christmas Ale should be. Had with OSA '12 and 2XMAS and this was the clear winner.

Serving type: bottle

12-30-2012 00:03:08 | More by rlee1390
Photo of tigg924


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

Appearance: orange-brown in color, 1/4 inch head, clear, medium carbonation

Smell: toasted malt, dark fruit, brown sugar, and ginger

Taste: toasted malt, dark fruit, brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger

Mouthfeel: medium bodied, high carbonation, sweet

Overall:A very good holiday. Nice combination of cinnamon and ginger. Both leave a nice spicy tingle afterwards. I would pick this up again if I could get it around here.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2012 15:11:42 | More by tigg924
Photo of Groomsy


3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. "Best by" date of 03/09/2013.

This holiday beer pours a crystalline light amber and is topped by a quick-fading head of off-white foam. Scant lacing is left down the glass, and occasional carbonation bubbles come from the bottom of the glass.

Rich with holiday aromas, this beer is packed with smells of ginger, cinnamon, toffee, and caramel. I expected a bolder nose on this, but the smell leads naturally into the taste. There's not much hop aroma detectable, and no alcohol is present either. Mild, but well-done and balanced. About as sweet as expected for this kind of beer.

The taste is much bolder than the nose. Flavors of cinnamon and ginger erupt on the front of the tongue; this spiciness transitions into a toffee/caramel sweetness backed by a firm flavor of raw, toasted grain. The finish is an excellent blend of honey sweetness and earthy flavors from the Hallertau hops. This beer is hyped for a good reason, I think. This is a sweet but balanced version of the typical spiced winter warmer. Very well-done.

In the mouth, this beer is surprisingly non-heavy with a good carbonation kick. There is some dryness in the finish from the spice and alcohol warming. It goes down fairly smooth overall, though.

Great Lakes is an excellent brewery that produces consistently excellent beers; the Christmas Ale is no exception and is one reason that this brewery is famed. If you want a solid interpretation of the Winter Warmer that isn't overly spiced, check out the Christmas Ale. Take it as a post-dinner treat or fireside companion for the holidays.

Serving type: bottle

12-21-2012 01:23:35 | More by Groomsy
Photo of Megahertz


4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz into a New Belgium globe.

A - Brilliantly clear bright red with a moderately large, white head. Very pretty.

S - Mulling spices, citrus zest & gingerbread cookie-like sweetness.

T - Malt-forward with restrained spicing; cinnamon & ginger apparent but not overdone or hot. Honey and spices give the impression of a ginger snap with icing. No major hop components.

M - Heavy body with brisk carbonation that helps cleanse the otherwise sweet palate.

O - A sweet, cookie-like interpretation of a holiday ale.

Serving type: bottle

12-20-2012 22:56:11 | More by Megahertz
Photo of sommersb


3.7/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 12-18-2012
Freshness: Best by 02-20-2013
Packaging: 12 oz. brown bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Globe glass
Purchased: 6-pack from Greenwood Spirits, Bowling Green KY

Appearance: Two fingers of off-white head sit on the copper-colored, clear beer. Both lacing and head retention are very good.

Smell: Spices in the forefront, such as ginger, plus floral and pine from the hops. Also has aromas of dark fruits like cherry and raspberry. Lastly there's a little of an unpleasant vegetable smell.

Taste: Spices are again of note, with ginger and cinnamon. Fairly malty and sweet, with a balance present from earthy hops.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation seems in the high range on a medium body. Finishes with some earthy hop bitterness and spice flavors. Some alcohol warming is noted.

Overall: All in all a good Christmas ale, although I'd prefer some more malt character. As it is, it seems more like an herbed/spiced beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2012 05:24:53 | More by sommersb
Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 1,972 ratings.