1. Extreme Beer Fest tickets go on sale Sat, Sep 27 @ Noon EDT.
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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.
BA SCORE
89
very good

2,139 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,139
Reviews: 770
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 12.88%
Wants: 99
Gots: 198 | FT: 4
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:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 2,139 | Reviews: 770 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of GatorBeerNerd
4.18/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz single purchased for me at Jungle Jim's in Ohio by a friend during Thanksgiving. Poured into a standard pint glass. To be fair, the best by date on the bottle was for 1/26/09. I guess I got too many IPAs that I had to take car of first.

A: Pours a nice dark copper color with a large bubble frothy tan head that dissipates relatively quickly. It leaves nice lacing.

S: Not much of an aroma here. There is a sweet malt aroma with a bit of spiciness mixed in.

T: There is a bit of sweetness initially from the malt. There is a bit of spiciness from the ginger and cinnamon. The finish coats the mouth with sweetness from the honey. It is an interesting brew. Much more complex than the others in the style I have tried tonight.

M: A nice thick smooth mouthfeel. The spicing adds character as well.

D: It is an easy drinker since its balanced with spice and sweetness. The ABV although not that high is well hidden in the flavor.

GatorBeerNerd, Feb 24, 2009
Photo of beerphan
4.18/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle -> imperial pint
best by: 1.22.07

Pours a clear bright copper with a billowing dense head that leaves behind gobs and rings of lace. Minimal carbonation.

Nose: Cinammon, ginger, and malts.

Taste: Tons of sweet caramel malt, cinammon, honey and nutmeg. No alcohol presense with only a splash of bitterness this brew finishes spiced sweet.

Incredible full clean mouth.

Only have a few bottles today, but a few cases of this will be making the holiday rounds. Happy Holidaze, great lakes!

beerphan, Nov 11, 2006
Photo of adamette
4.18/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Live review. Served from a 12 oz. bottle. 2008 version. Poured into, what else, my Great Lakes Christmas Ale goblet (a glass of the month at Winking Lizard in Mentor in December last year).

A Basic amber with one inch head that took about 3 minutes to dissipate. I see some sediment floating around, something that I did not observe in the tap version which I had twice before today.

S Medium malt, minimal hops and some subtle spices.

T Nice medium malt and barley taste with definite spices of maybe coriander, cinnamon. This bottle is better than I remember the tap version being (both at the Brewery and at another restaurant in the Cleveland area). The taste is a very palatable, lightly hopped Winter Warmer Ale and exactly to style. Great brew which might appreciate with time.

M Warm and moderate overall. Some carbonation.

D Really quite good. I could have 3 or 4 of these.

Notes: Bottle is clearly superior to the tap version in my opinion. Maybe the beer needed a little time to perfect?

adamette, Apr 05, 2009
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.

bsp77, Nov 25, 2010
Photo of far333
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Orangey copper color with an oatmeal colored head that rises up to an inch high and then falls to a fine cap. Aroma is rich and inviting, of biscuity malt, sweet fruit and some cinnamon spice. Full and creamy mouthfeel, almost chewy. Pungent, spciy flavor of sweet malt and spice, cinnamon and a bit of clove and nutmeg, and a bit of spruce riding beneath. Hop presence is understated, nearly all in the finish and aftertaste. ABV is deceptively smooth.

far333, Apr 17, 2005
Photo of tastybeer
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Ruby-auburn color, crispy clear, warm and inviting. The orange/peach tinted white head is a tasty looking mix of large and fine bubbles. Big at first and then quickly becomes a thin sheet with a frothy ring. Lace is spotty and shifting.

S: Delicious holiday smells all over. Thyme, pine, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, honey, sugar, candied lemon, cardamom, sage, doughy bread... Lots of smells (perhaps some by association) come to mind. All ties together surprisingly well too. Delicate and soft.

T: Taste is perfect for the season. Spicy, flavorful, easy on the palate, and super smooth.

M: Very light feel to it. Almost light bodied but softly thickened with honey syrup. Oddly, I kind of like the syrupy-ness. Carbonation levels are perfect. Interesting and enjoyable.

O: Good stuff.

tastybeer, Nov 12, 2012
Photo of GilGarp
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Mitchell's Fish Market in Beachwood, Ohio.

Served cold in a pint glass, it has a radiant copper-orange color with near-perfect clarity and creamy head. The head has pretty good retention and leaves very nice lacing on the glass.

Aroma is full of "holiday" spices, as I like to call them. Cinnamon, clove, maybe some ginger.

Flavor is really just about spot-on for the winter warmer style. It has a great caramel/toffee backbone with layers of those same spices I picked up in the aroma.

Medium body and lowish carbonation seem just about right for the style. The alcohol is evident but not distracting. Drinkability is limited, as most of this style are, just because the palate can only handle so much spicey/boozy goodness.

Overall this seems like the quintessential winter warmer. Maybe (likely) because I grew up in Cleveland but still a very special seasonal from Great Lakes.

GilGarp, Dec 28, 2009
Photo of mtnbikerpa
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this brew last weekend at the Burning River Fest put on by Great Lakes Brewing.

It was served in a plastic cup with over flowing head. Deep copper color. Strong scents of clove and other cookies spices. Very full of flavor. It aged well. Mouthfeel was nice and smooth. Very easy to drink a couple of these.

mtnbikerpa, Jul 26, 2010
Photo of AwYeh
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a slightly hazy golden amber color, with one finger of white head.

S: Honey and spices are present in the aroma, though not as strong as I was expecting.

T: Fantastic; this beer is perfectly spiced, with cinnamon and ginger complementing the honey excellently. Ginger is so intense I got the sensation that I was in between pieces of sushi after I had swallowed the first gulp. This beer may be just as enjoyable at room temperature as it is chilled, thanks to these spices.

M: No flaws here; beer is sweet but not sticky, perfectly carbonated and goes down smooth.

D: Despite somewhat high ABV, it would be easy to put a few of these away in a row.

If you're fortunate enough to be in an area where you can actually find this around Christmas, stock up and enjoy it all season long.

AwYeh, Dec 21, 2010
Photo of Urbancaver
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- Poured very crisply with a small amount of head. For some reason I expected this to be darker but its a reddish amber

Aroma- Mostly just cinnamon and honey. The spices are mostly lost to the smell

Taste- very tasty combination of spices. The hoppiness is a bit strong but the spice blend pairs well.

Mouthfeel- A bit bitter (I plan on buying another bottle or two to try in a few months)

Drinkability- The alcohol is barely detectable... this beer really truely tastes like christmas to me!

Urbancaver, Dec 04, 2009
Photo of webmanspidey
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into Chimay chalice. This is translucent, and a pink/peach color. Smell is sweet and fruity with hints of berries, pomegranate, honey, and cinnamon. Taste is well balanced and drinkable with a slightly bitter finish. The spices are definitely present but not as intense as in the smell. Great drinkability for the ABV. Nearly no alcohol presence.

I haven't been too big of a fan of this style in the past but this one's pretty good.

webmanspidey, Dec 19, 2009
Photo of truthbrew
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased in Dayton, Ohio in November, enjoyed today. Hint of spices originally, but when poured they were explosive. Good name, the smell did remind me of Christmas-time. I was most stuned by the crystal clear copper color, quite magnificant. Beer was extremely balanced. My wife thought it to be a bit too "complex" for her liking. Overall a great beer, which I will get again.

truthbrew, Mar 10, 2004
Photo of challenja
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served On Tap at the Black Squirrel in Adams Morgan DC.

A: A Nice orange red glow with a head that dissipates quickly to no existence at all. A look of really well aged and expensive bourbon.

S: Now here is the stinker, not that it smell that bad but its not as powerful as most Christmas Ales. There is cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, breaded malt, and wild cherry. It could be that for a badly washed glass deadened the smells. Really good powerwashers are needed like in upscale beer joints.

T: Nutmeg ripe cherry pumpkin spice honey light cinnamon tast, subtle mid-western hops, and a light bready backbone. Subtle sweetness that entices the palate to have another!

M: Nice lingering medium carbonation that is passionate between the gums. I like how it lingers on the palate and entices the tongue.

O: A real winner in terms of a winter Christmas ale. I rank it third only behind the Mad Elf and Fireside Chat. Sorry Anderson Valley Winter Solstice.

challenja, Jan 21, 2012
Photo of pasdachuri
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark copper colored with a thick, foamy, white head that dissolves slowly, with some remaining the entire time. Leaves little lacing.

Pleasantly light aroma steeped in ginger & honey with hints of floral hops rounding it out. Light spice notes. Not picking out much malts.

Spicy ginger with cinnamon and a nice hop bitterness on the finish with a light malt foundation. Very nicely spiced.

Solid mouthfeel in this one. Medium bodied with a refreshing effervescence.

Overall, one of the lighter, more flavorful Christmas brews that I've had.

pasdachuri, Feb 04, 2010
Photo of smitty1080
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Northeast Ohio is dropping below freezing, but as long as the x-mas ale comes out at the same time I don't mind the cold weather so much.

Pours out golden copper with a creamy head. Smells like Christmas in a glass, hence the name. All warming aromas of honey, cinnamon, and ginger. The taste adds on to the aroma with malty tones and a slight warming from the ABV. I think I know what will accompany my turkey this Thanksgiving.

smitty1080, Nov 15, 2003
Photo of garuda
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Clear deep copper, white head that retains well with little lacing.

S/T - It's like Christmas in a glass. Graham cracker, ginger snaps, sweet bready malts with low hop bitterness, just enough to balance out the finish.

M - Medium body, carbonation is a little higher than I would have liked.

O - I'm not really a fan of the style overall, but this gets it right.

garuda, Nov 24, 2011
Photo of mvanaskie13
4.14/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

mvanaskie13, Dec 22, 2013
Photo of merlin48
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Served into a tulip glass, this pours a clear amber body with active carbonation very noticeable. Enormous, beige tinted head is pillowy and drapes the glass with chains of lace.
Aroma is heavy with sharp spices, lots of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Caramel malt is underneath, with a pronounced note of honey.
The mouthfeel is incredible. The high carbonation seems to detonate the spice array into a unique sensation of exploding tingliness. Medium body.
Taste begins dry and spicy, with some hops bitterness. Alcohol warming is quickly noticed. The malt character emerges in the middle, as room temperature is approached, and adds an ideal balance to the hop and spice bitterness. Finish is well balanced and pleasant.
Nicely complex, challenging at times, and enjoyable from start to finish. A very nice winter warmer, with an incredibly silky and playful mouthfeel. Thanks to orbitalr0x for this Great Lakes brew.

merlin48, Dec 11, 2004
Photo of oracle
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle in a traditional english pint glass.

Pours a nice dark red color with a nice lacing of white head.

Armoma is mostly mild hops and some spice, noticably cinimon.

Beer drinks quite easily, with a noticable but not overwhelming hop bite and smoot malt finish. Lives up to the style by warming the insides beautifully.

Very nice.

oracle, Jan 04, 2005
Photo of dstc
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear copper with a huge light ran head. Head falls fairly slow. Nice sticky lace.

Aroma is of malts flavored lightly with cinnamon. Small hint of clove as well.

Very nice spiced malt taste that is backed by floral hops. Spices go great with the slight boozy quality.

Rather full and smooth in the mouth. Mild carbonation and a slight bite.

Really good beer. I like this one a lot and wish I had bought more.

dstc, Feb 09, 2010
Photo of geexploitation
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, bright ruby amber with virtually no head or lacing. Nice, subtle spicing on the nose. It seems there is some orangey spice in there -- maybe they used orange peel. The overall impression is one of sweet spiciness, kind of like a rich fruitcake. It's a good nose for the style. On the palate, brisk carbonation at first, then warm orangey spices and sweet malts. The palate is well balanced and not cringingly spiced. Mouthfeel is quite nice, with a thick body and plenty of carbonation to scrub the palate. Overall, this is an excellent winter warmer. Not as subtle as it could be, but not out of whack either. Warming and substantial, this is a very good interpretation of the style.

geexploitation, Jan 01, 2007
Photo of kels
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've had this numerous times, and I'm just now taking the time to sit down and review. Poured from the bottle into a snifter as recommended by the brewer.

Appearance: Pours a lovely color of golden honey and ruby red with a fluffy off-white 2-finger head. The head quickly fades to a skim atop the beer with good lacing all throughout. The beer is not completely clear, but not hazy, either. Light carbonation can be seen.

Smell: Most GLBC beers have very little scent in my experience, so I'm surprised to find such a strong smell from this beer. I can clearly smell the cinnamon and honey along with the malts and the alcohol presence is also pretty notable in the scent.

Taste/Mouthfeel: The malts are clear and present in the first sip and their toastiness makes them take crunchy, if you can imagine that. The cinnamon is very present, and while past encounters with this beer have reminded me of red hot candies or big red gum, it's subtler now - maybe a difference in this year's batch? It isn't as much a hot cinnamon as a savory cinnamon. Flavors of honey add a nice balance. The alcohol is really only a factor in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is light and clear, with some spiciness to keep it interesting - more than just the cinnamon. Something strong like pepper or ginger or allspice.

Drinkability: Pretty high - the alcohol isn't overpowering, but it's present enough to keep this from being called a session beer.

Overall, I'm more impressed with this beer every time I have it. I've enjoyed it on tap, but I think the biggest factor in how well I've liked it is the glassware. This is my best experience with this beer yet, so maybe they're on to something when they recommend a snifter.

kels, Dec 24, 2008
Photo of BeerBuckeye
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a nice deep reddish amber color with 1.5 finger, off white head that dissipates pretty quickly. Lots of carbonation rising up from the bottom.

S - Very nice, good blend of honey, cinnamon, and cloves. Good bready malt base in there with touch of sugar cookie and buttercream. It's like smelling a holiday candle.

T - Quite a bit of ginger in the first sip, still a little bit of that cinnamon and clove hanging around, fades into that bready malt with just a bit of spice lingering. Very tasty

M - The mouthfeel is medium, the spice, or what I presume to be the cinnamon and honey, leaves the mouth fairly dry. Alcohol easily hidden.

Overall - It's a solid winter warmer, one of the very best

BeerBuckeye, Nov 03, 2011
Photo of Stinkypuss
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. A bit of head that fades to the edges. Copper in color and clear.

s. Spices and honey are apparent. Some malt adds to the mix.

t. A nice complex brew here. Some nice caramel malt. Hints of pine from the hops (possibly spruce as well?). Some spice (cinnamon and nutmeg namely) in the background, and the honey only adds to a lingering sweet finish, otherwise balanced out by the bitterness.

m. Medium bodied crisp and refreshing. A challange to my palate and a dry semi sweet finish.

d. This is a most excellent winter warmer. Complex and warming indeed. A winner. What I have come to expect from this brewery.

Stinkypuss, Sep 25, 2008
Photo of garymuchow
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Been waiting many years to get ahold of this. Happy for the opportunity.
Poured into SA glass where a very large head prevented adequate aroma seeking. Little more golden in color than I anticipated. Very clear. Attractive.
The mild and well blended spices with the malt make up the bulk of the aroma. Emphasis on the well-balanced. Kinda' bready malt in there too.
Flavor notes cinnamon right away, plus some nutmeg, but he former stood out, in a good way. Get that interesting aftertaste and dryness that comes from spiced beer. Tad of warmth. More hops than most for style, especially those with spices.
Lighter body, yet very smooth and soft.
I know I've repeated already, but the balancing of the spices make this a very drinkable beer. No problem with having another.

garymuchow, Dec 28, 2010
Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,139 ratings.