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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

810 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 810
Hads: 2,757
rAvg: 3.9
pDev: 12.05%
Wants: 148
Gots: 552 | 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
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Reviews: 810 | Hads: 2,757
Photo of dtivp
3.64/5  rDev -6.7%
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. (465 characters)

Photo of tviz33
3.67/5  rDev -5.9%
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. (723 characters)

Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.82/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottles purchased at Beers of the World in Rochester, NY.

A classic Christmas seasonal that people seem to go gaga over.

Pours a basically clear copper amber/brown, with a half inch head and a little bit of lacing.

Smells like cherries, cinnamon, sweet malt, and caramel.

The taste is similar. Much more restrained than the similarly adored Christmas beer, Mad Elf, from Troegs. Some light Maraschino cherry flavor, some slightly more tart cherry flavors, some caramel, brown sugar, cinnamon and other holiday spices. Not much hop flavor.

Medium bodied, slightly creamy mouthfeel, low carbonation, very drinkable.

Not my favorite style of beer, the winter warmer, but this is one of the better ones. (705 characters)

Photo of CHickman
3.4/5  rDev -12.8%
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. (1,279 characters)

Photo of macrosmatic
3.39/5  rDev -13.1%
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. (797 characters)

Photo of emyers
3.99/5  rDev +2.3%
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. (762 characters)

Photo of Bills453
4.01/5  rDev +2.8%
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. (511 characters)

Photo of circus_cat
2.54/5  rDev -34.9%
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. (336 characters)

Photo of MCain04
4.42/5  rDev +13.3%
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. (735 characters)

Photo of beergoot
4.92/5  rDev +26.2%
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... (714 characters)

Photo of FosterJM
3.25/5  rDev -16.7%
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. (878 characters)

Photo of RickS95
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
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. (1,226 characters)

Photo of malind
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
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. (392 characters)

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
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. (780 characters)

Photo of rlee1390
4.1/5  rDev +5.1%
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. (342 characters)

Photo of tigg924
4/5  rDev +2.6%
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. (424 characters)

Photo of Groomsy
3.89/5  rDev -0.3%
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. (1,599 characters)

Photo of Megahertz
4.11/5  rDev +5.4%
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. (517 characters)

Photo of sommersb
3.71/5  rDev -4.9%
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. (925 characters)

Photo of Darkmagus82
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a pint glass

Appearance – Served a orange-amber colored brew with a one finger white head. The head had a decent level of retention, slowly fading to give a medium level of lacing.

Smell – The aroma was a mix of honey and spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and coriander. Behind the sweet and spicy smells was a light biscuit aroma as well.

Taste – The taste begins a little on the malty side with a light cinnamon and coriander spice upfront. As the taste moves on the spices get stronger and are joined by a lighter honey and caramel sweetness. More towards the end a light nutty and alcohol taste join the flavor with an increasing in the sweeter flavors of the brew and in the end combined with the rest to leave a warming spiced flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer was a little on the medium side with a carbonation level that was just above average. The medium body was rather nice for the honey and malt flavors with the carbonation complementing the spice well.

Overall - A tasty Christmas style ale that was very drinkable. A nice spice, sweet and malt blend. Quite tasty. (1,132 characters)

Photo of nhaberkorn
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
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). (616 characters)

Photo of steveh
3.58/5  rDev -8.2%
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. (872 characters)

Photo of weonfire
4.14/5  rDev +6.2%
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. (719 characters)

Photo of justintcoons
2.96/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into a pilsner glass.

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

Ginger, toast, caramel, cinnamon and blackberry.

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?

Light-medium bodied, smooth and clean.

I don't care much for this Christmas offering. Pretty boring and somewhat over-spiced. (536 characters)

Photo of AdamBear
3.44/5  rDev -11.8%
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%. (797 characters)

Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 810 ratings.