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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

819 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 819
Hads: 2,820
Avg: 3.91
pDev: 24.3%
Wants: 157
Gots: 613 | 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: 2,820
Photo of LeftonJackman
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Christmas comes early in Cleveland, OH! Great Lakes Brewery taps it's first keg of its storied Christmas Ale in October and I was there for the festivities!

Perhaps it is part anticipation, but the Christmas Ale is a sight to behold. A deep, warm amber appearance is a perfect prelude to the warm, seasonal taste. The off-white head is about a finger and melts perfectly to lace.

Drawing deeply I get cinnamon, ginger and a perfect amount of honey. The honey is present but not overpowering. It smells like a warm draft on a bitter Cleveland winter's night.

The taste is a good follow to the nose. Spicy and moderately sweet thanks to the honey. Aptly named as Christmas Ale, this is a cool weather beer.

With only a slight bitterness it awakens the tongue and does not batter the back of the mouth. Chin-up and catch the hints of bitterness in the back of the throat.

Lovely drinkability, but beware the ABV. It is stronger than your average beer and is to be celebrated, not consumed.

There is a very good reason that this beer is a back-to-back Gold Medal Winner.

On-tap is the way to go.

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Photo of aforbes10
3.96/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have no idea where i got this, but i have a good idea where it is about to go! Pours as a shiny red beer with hints of brown. Smells like one of those off-brand colas you get from a 25cent machine. plummy and spicy with notes of nutmeg, maple, honey and cinnamon, but still in a kind of cheap soda way. Very tasty though. a veritable fruitcake of flavors...nutmeg is the most pronounced, with a lot of ginger as well and cinnamon....not over the top in flavor though...spices run thick but there's a nice malt backbone in it. Medium bodied and well balanced. One of the better spiced beers ive tried.

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

A: The body of this beer is beautiful, a very bright dark amber/reddish hue. However, the one finger white head that I got by pouring from about 6 inches above the glass disappeared almost instantly leaving only the faintest of rims around the glass and some speckled spots of head in the center.

S: This is definitely a winter warmer. Along with the rush of caramely malty aromas pouring from this glass was riding ginger, cinnamon, honey, and other spices that immediately bring the holidays to mind.

T: Ginger is very prominent in the flavor. There are other flavors playing second violin like cinnamon, malt, and other spices that I can't name specifically but again, remind me of the holidays.

M: Very smooth beer. It has a medium body with no carbonation.

D: This is a pretty good beer considering I drank it in July. It would be even better in the winter I bet.

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Photo of Imstillthegman
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to Sephiroth for the bottle...an extra in a trade.

Pours a clear copper color with a half-inch off-white head. Head quickly fades and leaves only a spot or two of lacing.

The aroma is intriguing, yet a bit of a turn-off at the same time. Not sure which way I am going here. Sweet malts, dark fruits, spices and a faint honey smell. Bringing back memories of those weird herbal medicines my mother would mix up and try to get us to take.

The flavor is exactly as the label would have you believe. The spices make it different than just about any winter warmer I have had. The honey isn't easy to pick out, but it's there.

Slightly creamy, medium bodied beer. Spicy, herbal aftertaste. Glad I got to try it, but I don't think I would ever buy it.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.18/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle obtained via trade with Lewis13 from RB. Thanks for the opportunity... Best by Jan 19, 2006. Oops.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" beige head over the slightly cloudy coppery amber brew. Head fades at a moderate pace, with sporadic lasting lace. Aroma is dominated by sweet malts and spices. Taste is a muddy mixture of spice, grains, and piney hops. Mouthfeel is kind of thin, and this isn't something I would probably search out again. But as a one-time seasonal visitor, it's not too bad.

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Photo of flexabull
3.96/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This bottle came to Northern California courtesy of Sephiroth. Thanks again!

Pours a bright clear copper color, with a nice healthy white head.

Aromas are of alcohol, and stewed fruits. Smells bright, spicy, and pepper like.

Taste is of creamy malts up front. A bit of sweet honey and spicy undertones. Finish is crisp and bright. This is a complex and interesting tasting beer.

Mouthfeel is big and full.

Drinkability is good. This is a different twist for me on the Winter Warmer style. But this is an enjoyable and interesting beer. Would love to try this again this coming winter.

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Photo of chadspivey
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this from Sephiroth in a trade. Thanks for the opportunity.

A: pours a light copper color with a small off-white head.

S: cinnamon, honey, spices, and alcohol.

T: tastes like Christmas. Sweet cinnamon, honey and ginger, along with other spices. This is a desert beer. Has a lot in common with a pumpkin ale.

M: medium bodied. The spices slightly sting the tongue. Really nice mouthfeel.

D: considering how sweet this beer is, I’d say it still goes down rather smooth. I wouldn’t drink more than 2 or three of these though.

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Photo of RedHaze
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thnaks to jhammerly for the bottle.

Pours a clear copper, with a white one finger head that recedes quickly to a thin soapy cap and ring, leaving behind a thin webbing of lace.

Smell; mildly spicy with a bit of cinnamon and others that I can't place, as well as little bit of honey. There's a hint of citric hops, and some cherries.

Taste; honey and cinnamon really jump out at me on the first few sips, and then a bit of ginger comes forward. Sweet malts follow the spices, with no real hop presence to offset the sweetness, and there's absolutely no alcohol present in the flavor at all. After a while this starts to become a bit sweet for me..

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and a touch syrupy with a low carbonation, and a good drinkability.

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Photo of granite
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A---It poured copper with thin white head.

S---Cinnamon and toasted malt.

T---It was very dry and slightly astringent. Very little malt flavor. Some warming alcohol and it finished all spices.

M---Thin-medium bodied.

D---Now this is a great winter warmer. Nice use of spice and just enough alcohol to balance.

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Photo of terrabyte
3.47/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a light copper-tan color.

Smells like Christmas spices. All of them.

Flavor consists of ridiculous amounts of coriander or clove, gingerbread cookies, and sweet molasses. Luckily this beer is labeled correctly, and one shouldn't be surprised by it. A unique Winter Warmer that is worth a try.

Mouthful has a below average carbonation. It is slightly thick, slick and syrupy.

Drinkability is a bit low due to its flavor combination. I purchased this at Woodman's at a discount ($6 for a 6-pack). I'm not sure if it really was on discount, but it seemed worth the current price, especially since I was looking for something different. And I found it! However, I'd probably hold off on having this again in the future except with desserts. And by desserts I mean Christmas desserts that consist of either: Gingerbread cookies or Pumpkin Pie. Don't forget the whip cream.

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Photo of Phatz
3.98/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to Akorsak for this generous gift. You are a real friend. I took the week off reviewing to recover from a cold. What a great way to get going again.

Appearance: Pours a clear copper color with a small ivory head that fades quickly into a collar. Little lacing.

Smell: The aroma is a very pleasant gentle scents of cherry cinnamon caramel and a sticky bun malt attribute.

Taste: It has a bit of a flavor that I consider artificial red. It is a cherry like flavor with a malt backbone. Ginger and honey and orange clove and cinnamon powder a light doughy flavor that is full of typical Winter Warmer flavors.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and a bit slick through the center but the spices keep it lively on the cheeks. The body is a bit lighter than many Winter Warmers but it works well with this beer.

Drinkability: This is a very drinkable beer. Its lighter body and the friendly flavor make it quite easy to quaff. The alcohol really does not show much through the spices also adding to its easy drinking.

Thanks again Adam

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of montageman
3.27/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Well, this is my first "winter warmer".

Poured into a pint glass. Color has a slight red tinge with a little head that leaves some lacing. Looks nice/festive & very clear. Smells spicy - a little clove, some vanilla, cinnamon, and a slight hint of orange. Tasts sweet and malty up front, like a cookie, but finishes sour - maybe it's the orange? Mouthfeel is thin, but is functional in this case. Definitely a sipping and/or dessert beer - I would not crack another one tonight. Recommended.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Best by date of January 2007, Sampled January 2007
This beer sits a brilliantly clear, dark, amber to burnt copper color when held up to the light, otherwise it sits a dark amber brown color. The beer is initially topped by a three-finger thick, tan colored head that is frothy and leaves some layered lacing on the sides of the glass. The aroma is fruity up front, but then begins to take on a spice cake sort of character that drives a spicy sweetness. The spices are not so dominant that you can easily pick out the specifics; I get hints of cinnamon, ginger, perhaps some nutmeg, all spice, and clove and some spicy cardamom like notes. Underneath this is a fruit character that makes me think of cherries, and raisins.

The taste is lightly sweet up front, with a definitely spicy middle. A ginger-like peppery character rests solidly in the middle of this brew, actually it tends to linger a bit in the finish along with a cinnamon character. This beer is quite light and drinkable, in fact it drinks much easier than even 7.5%. I really like the spice levels in this beer, it is quite noticeable, but not so dominating that it is distracting. Fruity notes provide a nice balance to the spices; notes of cherries, green raisins, sweet Muscat, and even a light orange note reminiscent what one would find in some dessert wines. In the end this is quite drinkable and even enjoyable.

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Photo of k3n
2.35/5  rDev -39.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Bottle traded from tangfoot (thanks!), dated freshest by 1/19/07. Got in under the wire.

A: Really nice coppery-orange color. Not much head or carbonation.

S: Slightly malty smell, mostly sweet, reminds me of spiced apple cider.

T: In a word: Sweet. IMO, too sweet. The malty sweetness runs right into the gingery, honey sweetness. There's a bit of acidity at the end, but is then overwhelmed by the cloying honey.

M: Mouthfeel is light to begin with, but that sticky honey taste/feeling hangs around too long at the end.

D: Not impressed with the drinkability of this one, and I tend to favor winter warmers. Seems like there's not enough balance to this one.

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Photo of gmfessen
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, beer is a golden-amber color with a thick creme colored head that leaves small webs of lacing. The smell is of amber/crystal malt with hops coming through as grapefruit and pine. The taste is similar to the nose, with a pretty hoppy finish for the style. Alcohol is well hidden. This is a very drinkable beer, goes down smooth. A must try beer.

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Photo of cooncat
3.38/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Serving from a 12 oz. bottle, with a best by date of 1/27/07, so my sample was in date (review on 1/11/07).

On a vigorous pour into a 16 oz. glass, I got a small, creamy head, which was not particularly long lasting. The nose is light and hoppy, with just a hint of spice ... perhaps anise or cloves? The color is a very nice deep copper. I've been drinking this offering from Great Lakes for many years, and it seems to vary in quality from year to year. Its always best on tap at their brewpub in Cleveland. This year's offering isn't quite as good as some past years. Nevertheless, it is well balanced, and offers a clean and refreshing taste, clear to the bottom of the glass, which finishes more on a sweet/malty note. The 7.5% abv is not evident while drinking, so be advised that this is not a beer to guzzle. Enjoy a few with friends. Since it's a seasonal, it will soon be disappearing from store shelves. If you happen to find some, check the date on lower right side of the label.


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Photo of warriorsoul
4.09/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to robertdoesbeer for this one...
Pours a bright copper color with less than 1/2 inch of eggshell colored head...a dusting sticks around, leaving some attractive clouds in my beer...very little lacing.
Semi-sweet in the aroma with a hefty dose of spice...cinnamon, allspice, clove and honey.
Flavors are abundant here...honey up front with a nice ratio of ginger, cinnamon and a light dusting of fruity hops.
Not overly sweet, as expected...finishes with some honey, but not cloyingly so. Mouthfeel is above average and the carbonation if great...easy to throw back a few of these this time of year.
Another solid beer from Great Lakes...never get tired of their offerings.

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Photo of scruffwhor
4.37/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a nice medium amber. Small bubbles and very faint lacing. A head thats only a finger and a half in width. But maintains all through my drinking experience. For some reason, a Christmas beer has to be more cloudy to be festive. The aroma is very festive indeed. Plenty of X-mas spices like some nutmeg and cinnaon and anise all mixed together very well with a toasty malt profile. The taste is a little more clear on whats really driving the beer's flavors. Lots of nutmeg adn a few hints of chammomile. Don't forget the cinnamon. All of these spices are blanaced with a light Pacific hop presence and a medium toasty alt stance. Great Holiday beer, certainly has the best drinkablility of all the winter warmers. Doesn't bog you down with Holiday spices and aromas.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice orange amber with a decent head that fades pretty quickly. Smellis honey up front wit some spice on the finish (coriander?, Fennel seed? Caraway?). The taste is an explosion of honey- enough to make this really be more of a Braggot in style, and more of the same spice on the nose. The honey is delicious- not just sweet, but very floral wildflower honey. Mouthfeel is surpisingly dry and refreshing. Quite drinkable.

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Photo of geexploitation
4.14/5  rDev +5.9%
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.

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Photo of pootz
3.52/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3


Poured a clear copper ale in the glass with a 2 finger sticky rockey cap. Well carbonated.

Aromas of spices, nutty malts and NW hops

Passable malt presence, prickly mouth feel, medium bodied with a spicey-hoppy dry character.

The frontside dumps some nut-like malts on the tongue only to have them quickly snached away into an astringent earthy taste by the spices ( ginger, nutmeg cinnamon) and the spicey NW hops...palate is clean crisp, astringent some fruit phenols from the ale yeast...finishes dry and slightly bitter from all the sharp spice and hop tones and just at the last second, some bready Christmas pudding sweetness appears.

A nice warmer for cold weather...I could learn to like this one..not over spiced but certainly the spice and hops rides above the malts in this one.

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Photo of Wasatch
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to BuckEyeNation for this one.

Pours a clear copper color, a quick fizzy head, nice carbonation, not much lacing afterwards. The nose is of sweet malts, ginger, and honey. The taste follows the nose, quite different Winter Warmer than other's I've had, nice sweet/honey taste, clean finish. Light-Medium body. Very drinkable, would be fooled about the 7.5% ABV though, tasty. Would recommend at least once.

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Photo of foureyedgeek
3.86/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured in to a pint glass.

An absolutely clear brown, red highlights. Tall fingers of head fall to a foamy cap. Light lacing.

Smell is sweet, of honey and kind of bready, with hints of spice, especially cinammon

Taste is also very malty, a lot diversity in the spice is present, though its not overwhelming. It seems the highlight of this beer is the honey-malt combination, with the spices being secondary. A note of alcohol and a slight bitter finish as you swallow.

Mouthfeel is good, a medium body and a light carbonation, as well as a slight warming make it a tasty, easy drinker.

This is a good winter warmer, that doesn't overdo the spices but rather, lets them stand as a compliment to the beer. A good winter warmer from a great brewer.

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Photo of mcallister
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A lively, vibrant, shiney elixr. A caramel/nutmeg brown with a small off white head that fades moderately and has good retention.

I've been drinking this beer for years now and am finally reveiwing it. I will say that this beer on draught walk all over the GL Christmas out of bottle. However the bottle is also very good but in my opinion would probably score a quarter point lower overall in a review. A bottle review of this is inevitable.

Full of Christmasy joy in the nose. Cinnamon and nutmeg galore, Very clean smelling, this beer just tastes and smells "clean". Hints of brown sugar, caramel, and very light floral hop aromas.

By far my favorite winter warmer made of the spiced variety. Again very clean and delicous tasting and again, what every spiced Christmas beer should be. (Not necassarily:)). Mouth full of cinnamon, and freshly grated nutmeg, ever so slight bit of ginger, and other spices.

Mouth is full and rich, sweet on the mid palate but ends dry. For a Chirstmas spiced beer (not my favorite style) this beer is highly drinkable and highly delicious.

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Photo of Frozensoul327
3.38/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Brownish honey color with a short lived head of white foam. Lots of lace, and a medium low level of carbonation.

S: Spices and bready malts. Some sweet notes of dried fruit.

T: Not bad. Rich malt, a sweet yet not over the top honey appeal, with notes of nutmeg and roasted earth.

M: Slightly smooth, but otherwise nominal, with little carbonation on the palate.

D: Not bad. I'm not usually one for the winter warmer style, but I could have a few of these and not complain. Good example of the style.

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