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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: 2,816
Avg: 3.91
pDev: 24.3%
Wants: 156
Gots: 609 | 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: 2,816
Photo of BeerMeColorado
2.7/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Not sure why all the high scores.
Light amber. Crystal clear. Poor head retention.
Malt forward. Alcohol warmth comes through.
Decent mouthfeel.
Irish Spring soap?
Overall an average winter warmer for me.

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Photo of AlexFields
2.73/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Thanks to the guy at the BASC release who gave these for free to my friend Photekut (who then gave one for free to me).

Nice reddish amber color with a good sized and attractive head.

Nose is all christmas spices. Unfortunately, my christmas spice vocabulary is not quite up to snuff, and I'm not going to make a fool of myself by naming a bunch of random spices that I couldn't actually identify by smell. Suffice it to say this beer just smells like a ton of different wintry spices thrown together at random. Not that appealing.

Taste is similar to the nose but better. There's more of a balance to the spice flavors and less weird clash than in the nose. There's also a decent honey-sweet backbone that stops the beer from being totally overrun by the spices. Still, though, let's not kid ourselves, this beer is all about the spices, and if you don't love winter spices this isn't the beer for you. I get cinnamon and maybe nutmeg, but again, I don't know my winter spices well enough to name a bunch of specific ones.

Nice mouthfell, welll carbonated.

I don't generally care that much for winter warmers, and this one is no exception. Heavy on the spices, light on everything else. Drinkable, maybe even good if you're into this kind of thing, but I'm not really into this kind of thing.


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Photo of jdonley1180
2.75/5  rDev -29.7%

Ginger, and lots of it. If you used to like Great Lakes Christmas ale and think it just isn't what you remembered. Try Thirsty Dogs "Twelve Dogs of Christmas", it's the old GL Xmas ale recipe

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Photo of nouseforotacon
2.77/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Celebrating the birth of my 1st nephew, Mattéo Raphael, who was born today on Dec. 4, 2006.

Transparent, beautiful golden amber bottom with a thin and rapidly diminishing foam web of sticky film. Minimial lacing on top and on the edges of the glass.

Sweet, layered honey smell with malts and fruits. Hints of ginger and other spices, biscuity, with Christmas cookie-like notes. Nice nose.

Upfront biscuit/bread in flavor profile with a surprisingly good deal of hop bitterness. Burnt caramel. Sweet, honey stickiness. Spice profile is nowhere near as pronounced as I would've hoped. Lingering fruitiness.

Not quite sure how I feel about this one. Burnt and bitter, with only a tiny hint of sweetness or spiciness. Overall product is not so delightful, nor drinkable. Guess I'll have to celebrate this special season and day with something else.

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Photo of WakeandBake
2.8/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

a clear amber color pour with a small soapy offwhite head , little to no lacing left , medium carbonation . Aroma is a jumble of spices , cloves , ginger, cinnamon and maybe an artifical honey note .Flavor just seems off , sort of a spicy mess with lots of cloves, a little caramel, candy cane and rasins with a spruce type hop finish , medium body , slick mouthfeel , short finish almost metallic, with fruitcake flavored burps , I would say this is quite sessionable if one was to care for it more than I did . I love you guys at GLB but this one was just not for me

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Photo of Gouxman
2.81/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A beautiful amber color with an aroma of pine trees and nutmeg. This Christmas Ale is full of holiday spice. Flavors of cinnamon, baked apples, honey, ginger, and cloves combine to make a festive ale which encompasses all of the flavors and aromas you would associate with Christmas.

This is one of the top selling Christmas beers. I can see why people like this beer, but it's not for me. The holiday spice overpowers anything else found in this ale. I always try at least one each year, but it's not something I can sit and continually enjoy.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
2.83/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a clean copper color with a tan/ off white head. In the aroma, cinnamon and a sweetness. In the taste, cinnamon and mixed holiday spices. A smooth, yet sticky-sweet mouthfeel and a dry cinnamon aftertaste. Not bad, but cinnamon is a bit much. Easy to drink, but I don't think I could drink two.

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Photo of lester619
2.86/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Very dark brown mahogony with a huge light brown head. Pretty beer. Spices hit you hard early on. There is a big malty presance with a fair amount of herbal, cirtus hops. The spice is in control though. I try to keep an open mind with a beer like this. I don't like spiced beers as a rule. As this style goes it's one of the better ones. Cloves, cinamon, a ton of nutmeg, anise, I'm sure there are more that I can't identify right away. Very malty-sweet. I think they use honey or maybe brown sugar to help it along. It has a little bit of a herbal bitterness from the hops in the finish. I think that is why it is a little more balanced than some of the other examples. It helps to cut the spice a little and cleanse the pallet between sips. If I'm in the right mood one is somewhat enjoyable. I can't do a second. Would be pretty good beer if they left the spice out.

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Photo of Buzaglod
2.86/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

I've enjoyed the GL xmas ale in this past however this year I was disappointed. It overall felt very heavy, too dark and was not as enjoyable to drink as it has been in previous years

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Photo of DarthVorador
2.86/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Not a fan of this one at all! It smells & tastes like something from Sam Adams, but worse. Great Lakes is one of my favorite breweries, but I think they dropped the ball on this one!

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Photo of rhoadsrage
2.88/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer a nice deep orangish-brown body that is crystal clear and a nice thin off-white head sits on top. It has a strong carbonation of tiny bubbles.

S- The smells of graham crackers and toasted malt with a hint of biscuit malt and a slight spice smell that is a bit off.

T- The slight sweetness of toasted malt is mixed with a taste of cinnamon and ginger that taste chemical together. The finish has a slight ginger hint. The hop spiciness is very faint at the finish and the alcohol doesn't really come through much.

M- Nice medium mouthfeel with some fizzy making it feel more full. No alcohol warmth or astringency.

D- This beer has a good base beer but the cinnamon and ginger are not good spices to pair. Even when the spices are good quality they have a chemical taste and smell to them.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
2.88/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a light ruby color ale with a medium light brown foamy head with a quite excellent retention. Aroma of light spices, honey with some bitter hops. Taste is lighter then expected with the honey being immediately recognizable. Bitter taste at the end is also quite enjoyable. I would have hope for a bit more malt and more character for a ‘’Christmas’’ special type beer.

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Photo of nick76
2.9/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

The aroma is malty and almost fruit like but has a hint of honey and mixed spices. The appearance is amber with an average head. The flavor is like the aroma and not that pleasant but not that bad. The palate is smooth but thin. Overall not as special as I wanted. Thank you Depak.

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Photo of jangotaurus
2.93/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: Slightly darker brown in color, my sample only had the slightest detectable head.

Smell: Slightly spicy aroma of nutmeg and sweetness.

Taste: Light body, smooth mouth feel. Very sweet malty honey flavors. Strong Nutmeg flavor. I found this beer to be too sweet on its own, and combined with the spiciness it was a bit off putting. It would make a decent desert beer and would probably compliment some pumpkin pie quite well.

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Photo of magictacosinus
2.94/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Alright, time to get back to reviews. Thanks, Todd! Poured out of a 12oz bottle into a wine tulip glass. Freshness date is "1/18/14." Consumed on "1/25/14." Shouldn't be too much of an issue.

Pours an amber golden color with a decent white fizzy head that whittles down to a tiny, thinned ring over the course of consumption. It may be the glass or the age on this, but lacing is minimal as are any noticeable legs. It is, nevertheless, quite viscous, especially for what seems to be an apparent run-of-the-mill winter warmer.

Smells extremely sweet - notes of honey, butterscotch, and toffee are all up in this, with the spices pushed way to the back. It's difficult to find them, but eventually they come around: ginger peel, cinnamon, brown sugar, as well as apples and bananas. Very sugary and not very spicy or zesty from the spices this was brewed with. The alcohol, alas, is well hidden. It's a different take on the style, but perhaps one that would appeal to fans of sweeter seasonal ales.

The flavor is the same story, with, as far as I can tell, far more muted spices on the palate completely taken over by the sugary malty profile. Honeyed, alongside sweet notes of toffee and butterscotch that last on the palate for a good long while. Finishes slightly fruity, as well as mildly spicy from the ginger and cinnamon, but the honeyed profile of the beer is victorious - as is the sweetness. Slight oxidized notes of sherry are definitely present. Isn't too much of a chore to drink, although it definitely gets more syrupy the more it warms up. The alcohol comes around over time, which only increases the sweetness. As a result, it's a bit difficult to finish.

As much I have been happy with Great Lakes in the past, I feel like as much as I should have probably had this a bit fresher, I don't think this would have been any less sweeter in the end. The ingredients are thankfully well presented, but the amount of residual sugars I had to wade through to get to them did not make it wholly worthwhile. Nevertheless, I'll happily give this a re-review when it comes out this year if I'm able to get my hands on a fresh bottle.

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Photo of justintcoons
2.96/5  rDev -24.3%
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.

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Photo of hero27
2.97/5  rDev -24%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Translucent, dark amber color. A thin head which leaves minimal lacing due to the oily consistency of this brew. Subtle aromas of ginger and honey.. Sweet honey flavor combined with spices. Somewhat clumsy..seems like ingredients are just thrown together, if that makes any sense. I'm not sure I agree with the combination of honey and spices like this..just seems like they mixed a honey beer and a spicy beer together by accident. I couldn't really pick up individual flavors, so it left me with a spicy honey aftertaste. Medium bodied, oily mouthfeel. Fairly drinkable, but this holiday offering from GL didn't really impress me all that much. I'll look forward to Anchor OSA for my spicy holiday fix.

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Photo of Avagadro
2.98/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Copper in color with a thin white head. Little evidence of lacing.

S: Aroma is scarce, with little whiffs of pickled ginger coming through occasionally.

T: Mild cinnamon with heavy doses of ginger. Ginger overpowers all other flavor this beer has to offer. It tastes more like pickled ginger than anything, the type you get with your sushi.

M: Medium body with a slight oiliness and a touch of carbonation.

D: I decided to see what all the fuss was about, only to be let down. While it is a decent brew, this one is not worth going out of your way for.

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Photo of benmiliron
3.02/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Paid $6.99 for a six pack. (2 of which I left at Ellbert's house, providing the review below this one.)

Looks nice and amber-red-orange. Nearly killians in color, but slightly more orange. Smell is mostly ginger and floral, nearly potpourri, but not enough that it's bad. I quite liked the smell. The taste however is clearly over the top ginger, GINGER! The brew could've used half as much and been much better. There are lingering tastes behind the hops but you have to search for them.

There are definitely better xmas brews out there.

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Photo of bowersdm
3.02/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass

A - ruby/orange amber color. i can't quite describe it. it had a stiff 2cm off-white head.

S - nothing really. some spices and some alcohol.

T - faint malt taste with some spices (cinnamon, cloves, maybe nutmeg), a touch of hops. not much else. honey, maybe. something besides malt is providing a sweetness to the beer.

M - eh, fair.

D - Great Lakes let me down. I may give this a shot again next year, but I'll stick to SN Celebration Ale for my christmas beers.

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Photo of Crosling
3.06/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Chestnut color. Aroma has a bit of spice from the hops, grape vines, tree brances and caramel and biscuit like malt. Quite honestly, there isn’t much there in the aroma. The flavor is mild, with hints of caramel, cream corn, fruit and roast. This is ok.

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Photo of BeerBelcher
3.07/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

It seems like a great year for Christmas beers, I like Great Lakes BC beers quite a bit, so this seemed a natural to try.

The beer pours a copper red color. A pretty good head, with fairly week staying power. This beer leaves rather little lacing.

Aroma is slightly sweet and vaguely of cider and cinammon.

Taste is almost cidery...vaguely apple with cinammon notes. This is fairly well balanced with a maltiness that keeps this tasting like beer rather than cider. Not a lot of hop character to this. I can definitely imagine drinking it hot (I'm not).

Mouthfeel is a bit thick and sticky, the way that a cider would be. In terms of drinkability, I think I'd pass if offered another of these at the moment.

This is not one of my preferred Christmas beers.

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Photo of fvernon
3.1/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A surprise extra from Corbet - thanks! Poured at 55 degrees into a Portsmouth tulip from a bottle; January 2012 vintage. It pours a clear honey-copper with a short-lived but thick eggshell head, slowly dissolving into nothing but a small film hanging in the middle of the glass.

The aroma is really interesting - it starts as a sour cherry, then transitions into oak wood chips and rye bread. The initial sip is very interesting, and not at all what was expected from the aroma - thyme, clove, and cinnamon. It's basically a savory beer, but lacking in some sweet and spicy to offset the savory spices.

The mouthfeel is just about right, but I'm having trouble getting over the spice profile. Either a bit more honey or a stronger hop bitterness would really help me out here (or a good mix of the two).

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Photo of brianlg
3.1/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bought this in February, which is a little after the season, but I had to try it. 12 oz bottle pours a nice golden color with a 2 finger foamy head. The smell is very sweet, it smells like candy kind of. Also smells faintly citrusy and a little scent of alcohol. The taste is where this beer fell apart for me. It is way too sweet! I didn't taste my carbonation at all. It tastes like bitter honey, and a hint of caramel. Ech. This is not good! I love all of Great Lakes beers, but this didn'd do it for me. I hope this bottle was skunked.
Maybe my palate was off, maybe my bottle was bad. I will definitely try this fresh next holiday season, probably on tap from the brewery to make sure it's fresh. I will see if my opinion changes.

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Photo of BMoney575
3.11/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sampled on 12-11-07
Best before 1-22-08

Pours a golden amber color with bubbles that slowly rise to the surface. The head fades to a thin film, leaving clingy lacing.

Smell is lots of cinnamon and nutmeg, not unlike a pumpkin ale. Maybe a little rum-soaked fruit, if you look for it.

Taste is very much like the smell. Tons of cinnamon, with a subtle fruity twinge. Reminds me of gingerbread.

Mouthfeel is decent, thin, but sticky.

Drinkability is not very good, very one dimensional flavor.

Overall, a cinnamon beer. It overpowers every other flavor, and takes away any variety whatsoever.

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