Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

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

819 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 819
Hads: 2,811
Avg: 3.91
pDev: 13.04%
Wants: 157
Gots: 605 | 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: 819 | Hads: 2,811
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.

 949 characters

Photo of Cheld
4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance- A light red colour, nice for the season. Very clear, with a small head that dissipated quickly, leaving minimal lacing.

Smell- Spices, as expected with the style- cinnamon, clove, ginger, and nutmeg. But unlike many other seasonal beers where the spices dominate, these are still pretty mild.

Taste- Like the smell, the spices are clearly there, but not overpowering. A nice reprieve from the spice blasts I'm used to in holiday beers. Instead it has a nice well rounded malt flavour, with more hops apparent than I'm used to in winter beers.

Mouthfeel- Medium bodied and crisp.

Overall- My favourite of the style, and a very enjoyable beer. That said, its lacking a character that really makes it stand out above the crowd. So for me, enjoyable, but not stellar.

On a different note, it is good to see this beer in Upstate NY, as it has typically been a very hard beer to find here.

 943 characters

Photo of jimmah120
3.43/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

12oz bottle with a best by date of 03/18/14. poured into pint glass.

small head, mostly clear, orange-amber color, not very dark. smell is light: wheat, gingerbread, spice, maybe some hops. crisp, clean, honey-sweet and malty at first, aftertaste has some christmas flavor (clove, ginger, frosting). feel is a slick medium, alcohol is hid very well.

Doesn't do much to stand out... a rare miss from Great Lakes Brewing co.

 424 characters

Photo of jwc215
3.62/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Best before 03/01/14:

Pours a beautiful copper with an off-white head. Some lacing sticks.

The smell is of Christmas spices - cinnamon and ginger - with caramel and a touch of honey.

The taste is of cinnamon, ginger, honey, some pine and caramel. It has a semi-sweet, spicy finish.

It hits full-bodied. Warm going down.

This is a malty, spicy winter ale. A little too spiced for me, but it's still a nice winter sipper.

 424 characters

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

Actually got ripped the **** off on a 6 pack of this at Bella vino's in Farmington Hills but I've put that bit on a place review. Served in a snifter.

A: Pours a clear copper color with a short beige head that dissipates in a short time frame and leaves a small ring of lacing.

S: Smells of wheat, caramel, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, malts, yeast, spices

T: Tastes fairly sweet, wheat, dark fruits, cinnamon, spices, malts, kind of bland actually, I mean it/s smooth and refreshing. But there's no.. oompf, It's sort of run of the mill.

M: Mediumd bodied with medium amounts of carbonation, it's good but not amazing.

O: Overall, it was good but it didn't give me the jingles, herp.

 691 characters

Photo of andrewjraab
3.81/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A. Copper brown with an off white head that quickly dissipates.

S. Nutmeg, cinnamon spice, vanilla, caramel, malts, ginger.

T. Ginger snaps cookies, cinnamon, warming alcohol, medium bodies. Dry bitter aftertaste. The gingers sits on the palate.

O. Really a solid winter Christmas ale. Nice layers of spice with some alcohol backbone to warm ur soul.

 355 characters

Photo of tillmac62
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a clear medium amber. Nice head and lacing that diminishes in about 2 minutes. Nose is mostly malt sweetness against a hint of soft spice. Medium bodied with a nice slick feel and well carbonated. The taste is slightly sweet with only a suggestion of spice, creating a nice balance of flavor that is subdued when compared to ST 2Xmas, which accentuates spice flavor. A nice crisp finish that brings the carbonation and spices (ginger and cinnamon) a bit more forward. If you want sweet with a hint of spice, then this beer is for you. If you prefer spice flavor, go with Southern Tier 2Xmas. Both are expertly crafted brews that achieve their respective flavor profiles.

 676 characters

Photo of BeerLovinBuckwildUnicorn
4.43/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Full Disclosure: This is absolutely my favorite beer. Perhaps because I had such a wonderful time being introduced to 'Christmas Crack' by amazing people. Perhaps it's because I no longer reside in an area where it's available, or perhaps it's because it's a great fucken beer.. I dunno.

A: Depending on the year it has varied from medium copper to dark amber

S: Slightly metalliac, hints of clove & pine

T: DEEELIIISH!!! Christmas in a bottle (or out of a tap if yer lucky). Hints of clove,orange, carmel. The spice is well balanced with a sweet finish.

M: The spice ignites the front while the carmel, malt smooths out the back. Overall happiness.

Overall: See Disclosure. Pairs wonderfully with Thanksgiving turkey, football chili or Jameson neat.

 756 characters

Photo of utopiajane
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This pours a burn orange or brick orange and has golden hues. A stream of bubbles make their way to the center of the glass to meet a creamy head of tinged off white foam. Good retention and great lacing on this one. There is a hefty amount of yeast or sediment floating around in this one and to call it hazed would be to undermine the substantial particles that are floating in this glass.

The nose is rich with malt. Caramel, bread, nuts, and a fain dusting of cocoa powder. There is a fresh light citrus and the scent of raw honey. There is a faint cinnamon and nutmeg and if you really dive deep the very faint scent of fresh ginger.

Taste is rich and malty. Thick, chewy and nutty. The citrus keeps it moving and the chocolate is as mellow as the spices. The honey adds a bit of sticky quality to the mouthfeel but the beer does not get terribly sweet. It finishes not quite dry and with a mellow and subdued aftertaste .

This one had a full malt mouthfeel. A grainy texture of caramel and nuts. The honey and the fruit could have been more powerful but they laid out restrained and somewhat flat. The spices were too faint in the drink to make a difference in the taste. It drank a bit heavy and slow. It needed something to contrast the nutty bready flavor and give it a lift on the palate.

 1,303 characters

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

This beer holds almost a filtered look as the Amber color is Crystal clear with limited bubbling in the body. The head was light and airy as it fluttered away quickly.

The scent is light and spicy with some strong nutmeg but underlining cinnamon. There's a lot of malt fruitcake and roasted nuts.

The flavor is on par with the aroma as the nutmeg holds a prevalent face. The cinnamon and spice is evident but laid back. The malt is slightly caramel not too sweet but the fruit cake and toasted nut is very tasty

The feel is not thick but not thin either with a nice ease but a nicer fullness.

I had the 2012 and was nit as I.pressed but 2013 was full of flavor and much better.

 681 characters

Photo of Fergyx825
2.41/5  rDev -38.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 1 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Appearance: a brownish red beer, with some head on the pour. It sticks around for a bit around the edges of the beer and on the surface of the beer. This matches the description of a winter warmer.

Smell: at first you can smell the spices in this beer, they smell rich and thick. Cinnamon and nutmeg, and then you can smell the light hops of the beer, and some maltyness in it.

Taste: the rich spicy flavor is evident, the beer is spicy like fire sauce. Its very high in alcohol content. This is not enjoyable whatsoever.

Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation, and a medium thickness beer. These match each well.

Overall: This looks good, smells good, but it tastes terrible. I was looking forward to this too.

 708 characters

Photo of PHBoiler
3.61/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pure ruby red color, which is festive and beautiful. I get some spices on the nose. Not a big aroma at all. I get some orange, cinnamon spice, and a bit of pie spice in the body. It's really a bit flat for me. Mouthfeel is normal for this style. Overall, I don't think I'd go for this beer even during the holidays. It feel short in the base beer for me, so the minimal spices just didn't elevate it enough.

 407 characters

Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Picked this up in Totowa yesterday, being told that that was enjoyable and a good seasonal beer. While I didn't know what to expect with this, I can honestly say that I've never had anything like this before. This was certainly spicy but not to a large extent and because the alcohol was quite recessed, those notes shone through quite nicely. This was a bit light in hue for a Winter Warmer but certainly full and worth savoring, after the adjusting to the slightly unusual notes in this beer!

The pour to this was a light hazelnut with a moderate amount of head that quickly dissipated and some lacing that slid down the edges of my pint glass after every sip. Loads of ginger in the nose and more of a gingerbread in the taste, reinforced by cinnamon, nutmeg, a bit of lemon pepper, and other wintry spices. Some graham cracker in this too but this never felt too thick or chewy - the mouthfeel was quite nice and pretty balanced, with just a hair too much carbonation. A bit of lemon zest and ginger lingered in the aftertaste, leading me to want to take another sip to subdue it just a bit.

The alcohol was present but because the spice was so pronounced, I felt that it did more of the warming than the booze did. By the end of the bottle, the strength of this could be felt but not to the point where I wouldn't have another one of these. Two would be just about it though, as this would not be a beer to chug in large quantities. If you're decorating a gingerbread house or having a plate of cookies around the fire, grab this beer and enjoy. It's a good choice for this time of the year and not like anything else on the shelf, all while staying stylistically and seasonally true to form.

 1,700 characters

Photo of brewtus
3.98/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours copper brownish orange with a singe finger white head. Smell is tons of nutmeg, heaps of ginger, plenty of honey, malty, bready. Tastes as promised , very fresh ginger, smooth honey, nutmeg, cinnamon, sweet brown sugar. Carbonation is nice. Overall I like this beer, I don't think it's the greatest Christmas ale out there. If you're not aware, people go a lite overboard for this, but hey I'm all about supporting a great Ohio brewery. A little sweet for me, but a very enjoyable seasonal .

 497 characters

Photo of THFCBeerBQ
3.82/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bought a 6-pack of 12oz bottles at my local Wegman’s supermarket. Drink by date of 3/20/14 stamped on label. (More than three months from now so this is pretty fresh)

Poured semi-vigorously into a pint glass.

A-Light brown in color. Super filtered with a fair amount of visible carbonation. Quarter-inch head present with some lacing. (good, not great)

S- Sweet smell, predominantly gingerbread, cinnamon and other holiday spice. While it’s more of a sweet, caramel, malty nose there is a faint floral hop aroma present as well. I often find that Great Lakes’ brews are light on aroma but BIG on taste, let’s hope this is the same.

T- Sweet caramel flavor hits your palette first and carries all the way through this brew. Spice comes into play pretty early with gingerbread and nutmeg. The swallow releases a faint ginger and honey, hop flavor before leading into a slightly toasted aftertaste that’s lightly sprinkled with cinnamon.

M- Light-to-medium mouthfeel with textbook carbonation.

O- I never thought honey and ginger would go with cinnamon and holiday spice and I am still not overly convinced. This is a pretty good brew because Great Lakes is a pretty good brewery but I am not sure how many of these I would have back-to-back. I think this flavor combination would wear out on me sooner rather than later. Still, I am glad I gave this one a go.


 1,385 characters

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

Its that time of year, and I was reminded of my annual treat of Great Lakes Christmas Ale. As craft beer continues to grow, the shelves are packed with winter/Christmas varieties, but this particular continues to be an all time favorite. This beer has a wonderful balance, with just enough fruit/cherry without it being over powering.
The aftertaste has a light wheat, and the overall taste is a great representation of what a Christmas Ale should taste like. Delicious

 469 characters

Photo of Kendo
3.98/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Poured from the bottle into a Corsendonk Christmas glass. Body is clear reddish-brown with no head whatsoever.

S: Not much of a nose; mild malt with a touch of fruit and spice.

T: Nice, but nothing earth-shattering. Brown bread, fruit (think cherries or berries) and a hint of spice (both cinnamon & ginger come to mind at different times). Finishes with a bit of lingering sweetness, though it's not cloying at all. The 7.5% ABV is well-hidden, though felt in the belly as warmth.

M: Medium in heft, a wee bit sticky.

O: Good stuff. An easy-to-drink winter warmer. Reminds me subtly of gingerbread cookies.

 614 characters

Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle purchased at the brewpub, poured into a bulbed Great Lakes Pint glass (also purchased at the brewpub). Liquid portion comes out a nice amber that kind of totes between a hearty orange and autumn brown. Nice orange cremcicle colored head that's frothly looking with mostly small bubbles. Crazy good clarity on this beer, can see right through it.

This isn't a strong Christmas beer in the nose, but it still smells good. I like it that way, some breweries will over due it with the spices. Like caramel and toffee malts sprinkled with more cinnamon than nutmeg, then drizzled with some slightly milky honey. Some spicy hops to follow at the end.

Taste is on par with the smell. Lots of spiciness and the cinnamon seems stronger in the flavor than the smell. Got some natural sweet and somewhat bitter breadiness followed by some earthy hops. Christmas spiciness is the dominant feature here though, cinnamon, nutmeg, ect, then followed by a creamy honey glaze.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, clean crisp nice balance from the hops, slight bite from the alcohol. Clean and a gentle bitterness at the final feel; slightly spicy and even a little creamy. Pretty drinkable, one bottle is enough for me and I'd only drink it around the holidays, hits the spot when looking for a nice Christmas Ale.

 1,309 characters

Photo of dbrauneis
3.98/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear medium amber in color with moderate amounts of active visible carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass and a faint amount of copper highlights. The beer has a finger tall creamy foamy light beige head that slowly reduces to a large patch of thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer with a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of caramelized and toasted malts with slightly stronger aromas of ginger, vanilla, and nutmeg.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of caramelized and lightly toasted malts with a touch of sugar cookie sweetness. There is a nice combination of spices which follow that includes ginger, vanilla, and nutmeg.

M: Medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation.

O: Overall the flavor of this beer reminds me of a combination of gingerbread and sugar cookies - one of the better Christmas beers that I have tried. Easy to drink and enjoyable with very well hidden alcohol.

 1,022 characters

Photo of micromaniac129
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

This beer has a murky orange brown color. More towards th brown side.
The head formed was tall and beige in color with a dense body that was pocked with large bubbles.
A pretty good amount of lacingf was left behind.
The aroma was of sweet malts. Slight roasted malts intermingled nicely with the sweet malts. Hints of bitter chocolate were noted too.
Taste was like the nose wih a sweeter malt taste that had some underlying roastedness.
A little bit of cococa came through too.
There is a fairly large alcohol presence that puckers the tongue and probably takes away from the taste.
Overall I liked it. Good flavor but too much alcohol presence.

 647 characters

Photo of sarbast
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

My favorite beer! The appearance is cinnamon, as is the aroma, as is the taste. It is not as sweet as many of the other spiced/winter warmers. There is a smokiness to this, not overly so. Frankly, I could drink this all day. Wonderful taste, lighter than anticipated, but packs a wallop.

 287 characters

Photo of fx20736
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bought a single bottle from Beers of the World on 11/22/13. Sell by date is 01/31/14.

Poured from bottle into a pint glass, served at cellar temp.

appearance: medium-dark amber with a rocky shortbread head of sticky foam.Nice lacing.

aroma: Caramel malt, ginger, maybe some honey. Nice.

mouthfeel: just ok.

taste: Brown sugar sweetness, spices like ginger, cloves and coriander and a slight chocolatey finish. Honey makes an appearance at end also.

notes: Like every beer drink from Great Lakes, I detect cocoa at the end. The difference is, it works for this beer just like it works for Eddy Fitz. This beer is better than Sam Adams Winter Lager, however I don't like it well enough to buy again. Still I wouldn't turn it down if it were offered.

 753 characters

Photo of DeFaz
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a ruby color with great clarity and a medium head. Some lacing sticks to the glass. The color is pretty.

Smell: This is one of the best smelling beers I've encountered. Malt, bold but not overpowering cinnamon, and other spices including nutmeg. Sweet smelling but not too sweet.

Taste: As winter warmers go, this is probably the best tasting one I've had. The spices aren't over the top, but the main spices here, cinnamon and nutmeg, allow for a fairly sweet beer with just touch a spice, complimenting the malt nicely. This is sweeter than most, but again, it is nicely balanced, and the ABV is concealed.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with carbonation on the lower end of the spectrum. For being fairly sweet it manages to avoid being sticky and leaves a pleasant aftertaste.

Overall: This is a fantastic beer to enjoy during winter months and tastes like Christmas. The price keeps going up each year (this year it's $11.99/six pack where I live) but it's worth splurging. It's a simple beer but one that is well constructed.

 1,047 characters

Photo of MilkMan126
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Looks great. Red amber color with a small head that dissipates. Would look great next to your mom's Christians decorations.

Smell is excellent. Ginger cookies with brown sugar and icing. Spices come through aggressively.

I taste ginger and other spices. Cinnamon and vanilla are present. Nice biscuit malt flavor underneath reminds you it's a beer after all. It provides a nice warming sensation. Bitey carbonation adds to the effect. Let it warm a little before drinking to get all the flavors - it gains a nice balance but the spices will still hold up more than anything. Medium to full body.

Complex but not too spicy, which I appreciate. It warms the spirit and reminds me of Christmas comfort. People rave about this winter delicacy in Columbus, Ohio. I can see, smell, and taste why.

 794 characters

Photo of granger
4.37/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The pour has nearly no head and the beer is mildly carbonated. The color is a thick amber while the smell has faint traces of honey and stronger hints cinnamon and other spices. You'll be able to taste the spices, and the drinkability is excellent for a 7.5 ABV beer. This ale sets the bar by which all other winter beers should be measured.

 341 characters

Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 819 ratings.