1. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale - Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Great Lakes Christmas AleGreat Lakes Christmas Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

1,965 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1965
Reviews: 767
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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers
Ratings: 1,965 | Reviews: 767 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of nhaberkorn
nhaberkorn

Wisconsin

4/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter glass.

A - Medium carmel color

N - Gingerbread cookie, cinnamon, slight resemblance of clove

T - Gingerbread, cinnamon, nutmeg, spice, and slight vanilla

M - Medium body, smooth

O - I'm not a huge fan of Christmas beers, but this one caught my attention. It smells and tastes like Christmas. I would say it tastes like a gingerbread ale with a cinnamon, nutmeg, and a hint of vanilla. It reminds me of a slightly weaker Christmas version of the Southern Tier Pumking...has a good aroma (albeit slightly more subtle) and has a unique taste (by the way, Pumking is my favorite pumpkin beer).

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2012 03:20:09 | More by nhaberkorn
Photo of steveh
steveh

Illinois

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

A trade with a co-worker has allowed me to try this one. Best by 3/22/13.

A -- Clear, deep copper-gold with a dense, long-lasting, off-white head.

S -- Man, I can smell alcohol and spices with the pour: Bready malts, peppery alcohol, cinnamon and ginger-like spices, some vague vegetal character back.

T -- Spice cookie/bread character up front, bready malts follow with hot alcohol in the finish. The ginger-cinnamon character lingers with doughy bread in the aftertaste.

M -- Mouthfeel is soft with a dry, crisp finish from alcohol. Body is medium.

O -- Overall, the spices are mildly interesting up front and certainly seasonal, but the hot alcohol character detracts from what flavor may eek through. It's a beer to sample one and probably not revisit in an evening. There's also something distracting to me in a beer that tastes like a ginger-snap. Not my style.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2012 21:52:31 | More by steveh
Photo of weonfire
weonfire

Illinois

4.11/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Golden/brown color. Off white- say...creme color head roughly finger and half. head dissipates in roughly 2-3 min. lacing sticks to high brew point.

S - Lots of spice. nutmeg, pumpkin, cinnamon and vanilla. Wow this smells nice. And certainly not overloaded or unblended like some christmas beers.

T - Real sweet. Nutmeg and pumpkin right away. Cinnamon and vanilla come thru at the end. very floral.

M - As thick as I'd want a beer with this amount of spice to have. Viscosity is high. taste the spice all the way down the throat.

O- If you don't like spicy beers- this isn't for you. i personally find it very well blended. love the spice. very easy on the nose. one of my favorite christmas beers thus far.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2012 19:06:54 | More by weonfire
Photo of justintcoons
justintcoons

Pennsylvania

2.93/5  rDev -26%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into a pilsner glass.

Appearance
Brownish amber with 2 fingers of off-white head. Excellent clarity and moderate-heavy carbonation.

Nose
Ginger, toast, caramel, cinnamon and blackberry.

Taste
Raw grains; some toasted, others drizzled with caramel. A lot of ginger spice. Some hints of cinnamon, orange zest and perhaps some blackberry. Something reminds me of cranberries as well?

Mouthfeel
Light-medium bodied, smooth and clean.

Overall
I don't care much for this Christmas offering. Pretty boring and somewhat over-spiced.

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2012 19:10:49 | More by justintcoons
Photo of AdamBear
AdamBear

Pennsylvania

3.45/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-translucent copper colored with a decent dark cream colored head. frothy with lacing

S-light scent of vanilla, ginger, and other christmas spices. i'm getting mostly vanilla though. okay scent, very malty. doesn't seem to have a high quality.

T-comes in tasting like cinnamon and ginger bread. very malty. somewhat bitter. not much of an after-taste. unique gimmicky taste with out much depth.

M-low creamy carbonation with a semi-dry finish

O-your non beer drinker friends might appreciate the novelty in this, maybe some girls would. its not terrible really. its okay to drink, it goes down easy, but its not a good beer. it focuses more on the holidays than beer, and we should never lose sight of whats most important. definitely doesn't drink like 7.5% though. it tastes more around 5%.

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2012 02:05:58 | More by AdamBear
Photo of superspak
superspak

Michigan

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

12 ounce bottle into signature pint glass, best before 2/22/2013. Pours lightly hazy copper amber color with a small 1 finger fairly dense off white head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Spotty minimal lacing on the glass. Aromas of caramel, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, toast, brown sugar, cherry, raisin, bread, and herbal spiciness. Very nice aromas with good strength and balance. Taste of caramel, bread, toast, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, honey, brown sugar, raisin, and herbal spiciness. Slight spicy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toast, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, clove, bread, and herbal spiciness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice malt/spice flavor balance with good complexity; zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a lightly creamy and slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with hardly any warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice spice amber ale! Well balanced with good flavor complexity; very smooth and easy to drink. Very enjoyable offering as expected.

Serving type: bottle

12-09-2012 05:58:39 | More by superspak
Photo of mattbk
mattbk

New York

4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Clear, honey brown, slightly amber, appears fairly carbonated.
Smell - That familiar Great Lakes rich malt aroma. The ginger and cinammon make an appearance here. Maybe also some nutmeg. Not much hop aroma.
Taste - The taste much heavier on spice than the aroma. The honey is coming through more here. More cinammon too. The beer is sweet, almost cloying, but not in a bad way. That rich malt taste is right behind the honey and spice up front. It is a balanced beer, definitely a good holiday beer. Not extremely sessionable, but 2 or 3 could go down fairly well.
Mouthfeel - Fairly full mouthfeel. Again, makes for a good winter warmer. Not as much carbonation as I was expecting.
Overall - A very good christmas beer - there aren't many made that are able to balance the spices with the beer base well, but Great Lakes does it again.

Serving type: bottle

12-09-2012 01:36:22 | More by mattbk
Photo of JohnnyHopps
JohnnyHopps

Indiana

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

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, the beer was an exaggerated gold color with a modest white head. The ale left a thin lacing on the glass, giving reminders of your drinking progress. When sipping a winter warmer, this is a plus. The holiday aroma peaked my interest, with scents one might expect from a holiday beer including cinnamon, pine, ginger, and a hint of cookie. In the taste, one gets sweet and spicy cinnamon and honey a little later. The thickness of the ale allows this one to linger for a while. The staying power becomes nicer when one experiences the pleasant warming sensation toward the end. This is a nice warming seasonal with a pleasant aftertaste. I believe I could enjoy this one again in the future.

Serving type: on-tap

12-09-2012 00:31:48 | More by JohnnyHopps
Photo of IronLover
IronLover

Pennsylvania

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

Light copper orange in color with excellent clarity. Poured with a short white foam that quickly reduced to a wispy cap. Delicate aromas of cinnamon, ginger, honey and caramel malt. Medium bodied with an oily feel up front, a tangy feel at the finish, and subdued carbonation. Spicy flavors across the roof of the mouth with sweet dark fruit, honey and caramel malts over the tongue. Finishes cleanly with a subtle hop bitterness. Great balance of spicy, sweet and bitter in my opinion. This was an awesome easy drinking winter warmer!

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2012 23:31:33 | More by IronLover
Photo of wvsabbath
wvsabbath

West Virginia

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

Serving Type - Bottle

Appearance - Copper tan/brown, nice 2 inch creamy head and tons of lacing.

Smell - Cherry, apples, spices, some malts. Cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, brown sugar.

Taste - Sweet bite of honey/fruit/brown sugar/molassess at first sip. Loads of sweet fruits like apple, plum, grape and rasin. Spices add many flavors and work well with the malts. The finsish brings alot of cinnamon along with some heat from the alcohol.

Mouthfeel - Lots of sweet fruits, spices and malts coat tounge. Palate gets more of the same with alot of cinnamon and some booze. Aftertaste is spiced, malty and a little dry.

Overall - A soild winter warmer, alot of sweetness and spices. Easy to drink and enjoy. Balanced well, each aspect works together to create a smooth, sweet and pleasent drink. One of the best of the style, worth a drink for sure.

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2012 03:03:59 | More by wvsabbath
Photo of StonedTrippin
StonedTrippin

Colorado

3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

my twin brother's absolute favorite beer. youd never suspect its 7.5% abv either. the pour is a light and clear sopper color with a moderate red hue, and a lazy but lasting off white head, foamy, roughly half an inch high. the nose is cinnamon and ginger are evident, as is a richer malty sweet body. the flavor isnt sweet though, and that is this beer's best feature. its spiced, but its dry, its malty, but its crisp, its fruity, but its hoppy. there is a lot of strange contradictions happening here, but all work magically. spice up front, malty candied fruit through the middle, and spruced up groggy booze in the finish. this is yummy as anything thats out this time of year. there is an airy body, feeling much lighter than it must actually be, and a mellow but adequate co2 infusion. one of the best great lakes beers going, and certeinly one of the better winter brews available on the east coast. this is the dope show.

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2012 04:18:12 | More by StonedTrippin
Photo of bum732
bum732

Maryland

3.45/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

S: Bold honey, touch of spiciness, slightly malty.

L: Light red, little creamy head that dissipates slightly.

T: Fairly clean honey-like malt with a touch of cinnamon. Low bitterness, smooth honey maltiness with a touch of heat. Fairly sweet, clean finish. Some ginger in the finish but fairly subtle.

M: Medium low carbonation, medium mouthfeel. Touch of alcohol heat. Smooth.

Not bad, but not my favorite holiday ale. Spices are pretty subtle, would've liked the malt to be a little more complex and bring more to the table.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2012 02:28:08 | More by bum732
Photo of C20Percent
C20Percent

Virginia

4.3/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear, clean amber-orange with a white head of foam on top. Some bubbles going on in the body. Pretty but nothing crazy special here.

S: Big time honey and spice aroma. Nutmeg and cloves and cinnamon -- smells like Christmas cookies. Very solid aroma.

T: Taste just like it smells. The honey and spice really come through in the flavor. Not only that but it's surprisingly refreshing for a Christmas Ale. I do think this is the best honey brewed beer I've probably ever had. Highly recommended!

M: Impressive carbonation.Medium body. Some chewiness that really brings out the spice. Beer isn't especially smooth to me, but it doesn't cut that hard. And, again I really do appreciate the carbonation and the warmness of the brew.

O: Really enjoy this brew. Maybe the best Christmas Ale I've had. I great offering from GLBC!

Serving type: bottle

12-02-2012 18:36:13 | More by C20Percent
Photo of spokeydonkey
spokeydonkey

New York

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

A - Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Duvel tulip. A rich amber beer with a slight off-white head. Steady stream of tiny bubbles.

S - Orange, honey, cinnamon and vanilla in the aroma. Some maltiness behind that. Not quite as much going on here as I'd like from a christmas ale.

T - Starts off malty, but not too sweet. A lot of cinnamon following that which lends it a bit of dryness and astringency. Finishes very dry with firm bitterness (probably accentuated by the dryness and astringency). Some alcohol heat peeking through as well, probably accentuated by the dryness.

M - Medium bodied beer. A mild lingering astringency at the finish.

O - A very nice Christmas beer, that's definitely on the dry side of the style. If it were balanced a bit sweeter with a little less astringency, it would be easier to drink, but it's one of my go-to Christmas beers when I can get it.

Serving type: bottle

11-28-2012 03:04:53 | More by spokeydonkey
Photo of patpbr
patpbr

Ohio

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

The Great Lakes Christmas Ale poured a copper color with a sturdy head. Cinnamon and general spice fill the nose. A thick/ creamy brew that is full of holiday spice. I notice the honey and would say the ginger enhances any bitterness. Finishes with a refreshing feel.

Serving type: bottle

11-27-2012 23:00:14 | More by patpbr
Photo of jtierney89
jtierney89

New Jersey

3.5/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear copper color with off white head. Smells of molasses, fodder, cardamon touch of honey.

Creamy mouthfeel with honey that soothes. Lots of sweet malt, butter toffee, caramel, unfermented sugars add a sweetness, honey plays off the rest of the malt flavors beautifully creating a soothing SIP. Holiday spice lingers in the background creating a balance along with a mild English hop bitterness. A crescendo of holiday cheer.

Serving type: bottle

11-27-2012 03:08:25 | More by jtierney89
Photo of thecheapies
thecheapies

Pennsylvania

3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Great Lakes Christmas.

Coppery color. No rising bubbles. Tall pour inhibited the head formation, but a thick ring is long-lasting. 3.0

Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, maraschino cherry, light vanilla, and toasted malts. 4.0

Hearty flavor with loaded spiciness. Layers of cinnamon and coriander with light vanilla and nutmeg notes. Warming alcohol is a tasting note, as well. Backend hops offer some leafy green essences. Fusel bite is still agreeable. 4.0

Medium body with some fullness. Carb is lacking. Booze is right there with you. 3.0

Tasty December staple. Recommended. 4.0

Serving type: on-tap

11-26-2012 02:18:17 | More by thecheapies
Photo of scottyb88
scottyb88

Maryland

4.08/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2012 bottle.
A- pours a brownish orange color with a creamy head and decent lacing

S-orange peel, honey, nutmeg, and a little brown sugar

T-the aroma flavors are prominent in the taste, but not one ingredient over powers anything else; there's a sweet, almost candied pecan flavor that lingers, which blends nice with the honey

M-nice, medium to full body and creamy mouthfeel; a lingering dryness from the hops

O-I feel like I've had a better version of this beer in years past, but it's a decent offering. The alcohol is well hidden and it's not too sweet

Serving type: bottle

11-26-2012 00:29:36 | More by scottyb88
Photo of 4thelvofbeer
4thelvofbeer

Virginia

4.4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I think this beer deserves a bit of a better rating than (currently) an 88. As far as Christmas Ales go, this one is pretty damn good. I am a huge fan of Great Lakes beers and this one does not disappoint!

Normally when you think Christmas Ales, the taste of overpowering spice comes to mind, but this beer is smooth and taste really nice from start to finish. You can definitely taste the spices, but to an overpowering level. Subtle hints of honey round this beer out nicely!

Overall, a great Christmas beer from a great brewery! Very nice

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2012 19:43:02 | More by 4thelvofbeer
Photo of Reaper16
Reaper16

Alabama

3.7/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

served on-tap @ Black Rock, Chicago, IL, into a pint glass

Pours a very clear amber color. A nice 1.5 finger head the color of buttermilk (it could be whiter than that; the lighting is odd in this bar).

The aroma is not a blast of spices like Anchor's winter warmer. It's mostly an amber malt, breadcrusts type malt-forward smell...that's had a Christmas tree car air freshener dipped into it for a few seconds. Fruitcake spices, cinnamon stick, etc.

Upon first sip I know that this is one of my favorite Christmas ales. Not because it's an incredible beer but because the spices don't come first. This is an amber ale, folks. It's bready and malty with a touch of honey. The spices are just accent marks that make the malt flavors more accentuated.

The mouthfeel is a bit thin for me. I had no idea this was 7.5% ABV because of how loose and wet the mouthfeel is (no alcohol burn either). Overall this is a darn solid winter warmer. It doesn't fatigue the palate, so I could absolutely have a couple of these in a sitting.

Serving type: on-tap

11-24-2012 16:53:16 | More by Reaper16
Photo of Giggy
Giggy

Michigan

3.53/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Rich in flavor but not heavy. Alcohol content of 7.5% will keep you from drinking too many.

A: A very beautiful copper with an off-white head. Head disappears very fast.

S: A nice caramel smell mixed with cinnamon and honey.

T: Ginger comes through along with honey and cinnamon.

M: Carbonation tingle on the tongue but an easy swallow.

O: Slightly bitter finish, medium body.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2012 00:00:25 | More by Giggy
Photo of SometimesIfart
SometimesIfart

Michigan

4/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Pours a very clear amber with a very thing off white head resting on top. Loads of carbonation bubbles continue to rise from the bottom. Very spotty lacing.

S - Sweet malt, slight cinnamon, slight nutmeg, small amounts of gingerbread.

T - Moderate sweet malt, slight toasted malt, small amounts of cinnamon, a perfect small to moderate amount of hoppyness. Finishes with a small amount of gingerbread. The flavors are perfectly balanced and not a single one overpowers the other.

M - Heavy body with moderate carbonation. Slightly creamy as well.

O - Overall, this was a solid, tasty offering from Great Lakes with a very fitting name. Would go perfectly with a well seasoned, well done steak. I'd have it again.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2012 04:31:39 | More by SometimesIfart
Photo of wedge
wedge

North Carolina

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

Brilliant, glowing copper color with a small, white head that is frothy around the edges. Sweet and spicy aromas...lots of ginger and a fair amount of cinnamon over some sticky bread. With the flavor, I think the cinnamon gains the upper hand, but the ginger is certainly still there. Sweet, dark fruit, honey, cherries, and some caramel malt. Smooth mouthfeel, a little better than medium bodied. I think I'll save my last bottle for Thanksgiving. I haven't decided if I should pick up another 6-pack to put away for Xmas or not. It's tasty and all, but I'm not sure what all the fuss is about.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2012 01:41:06 | More by wedge
Photo of Luigi
Luigi

North Carolina

4.5/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a rick clear copper color with a two to three finger (depending how aggressive you pour) off white head. Lacing stick all around the glass with each sip as the head retains as a thick blanket until the last drop.

The aroma is sweet but not over whelming. A perfect blend of honey, brown sugar, cinnamon. and ginger.

The taste reflects the aroma. Ginger bread, honey, cinnamon, hints of caramel, and a soft biscuit And toasted bread malt.

There is a light yet syrup texture on the palate. Mildly dry finish with lingering spice.

The Great Lakes Brewing company has yet to disappoint me. This brew is prefect to these cold fall and winter months and with a healthy ABV at 7.5%, it truly warms you up.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2012 17:42:01 | More by Luigi
Photo of theHoff77
theHoff77

Minnesota

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

Poured into a snifter.

A - A light red amber color. Doesn't get much of head unless you pour aggressively, and even then it doesn't keep long. Spotty lacing.

S - Seems almost entirely malty in smell. Nothing memorable.

T - Very mild flavors on this. Slight cinnamon, caramel, brown sugar, and malts.

M - Nothing aggressive about this beer, which makes it an easy drinker.

O - Pretty underwhelming given the hype. I was expecting bigger flavors and smells. The way I would describe it is Lagunitas Brown Sugga's little brother. Sadly, I spent more on this then Brown Sugga'. I decided not to review this until after my fourth over the course of the week, and my impression of it hasn't changed a bit even trying it in four types of glassware.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2012 02:35:56 | More by theHoff77
Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 1,965 ratings.