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

809 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 809
Hads: 2,752
rAvg: 3.9
pDev: 12.05%
Wants: 147
Gots: 546 | 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: 809 | Hads: 2,752
Photo of sopor
3.17/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Deep coppery brew with just a little of rising bubbles helping to keep the offwhite head sticking around. Cinnamon rolls and butter and honey and some other spices I can't quite make out make a potent smell. Delicate malts under lots of cinnamon and spice and everythng nice. Butter and sweet crytsal/candy-like malt. A bit too sweet for me. Not likely to grab this again, but if offered on Christmas, I'd definitely have another. (430 characters)

Photo of ppoitras
3.18/5  rDev -18.5%
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. (524 characters)

Photo of JDV
3.18/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to miketd for this nice beer
Pours a clear copper with a fluffy beige head. Smells spiced, and similar to those in a pumpkin beer. I'm not able to pick out cinnamon or ginger specifically, but it is nice. Taste is much of the same spiced flavors. Some nutmeg as well, I believe. Some slight alcohol present, or perhaps its the tartness I'm sensing. Very nice seasonal that I enjoyed more as it warmed. (408 characters)

Photo of Chaz
3.19/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours golden-amber in color, with excellent clarity, and topped with a rocky medium tan head. Nice lacing all around the edge of the glass. So far, so good.

Nose is fruity and rather nondescript. I know there's honey in this but there are no honey notes (and I know that it ferments pretty clean) and there are no real spice notes to speak of. Lighter notes of lemon rind and cherry, but very light. Much more of a malt-lover's beer, this one, and not much hop presence.

Sweet and broadly, almost treacly-sweet on the first sip, this one covers the tongue and palate and has just a touch of brisk carbonation. There's almost a creamy sensation, but this one is lightly-carbonated, and rather viscous.

Spice kicks in a little as it warms --some nutmeg and ginger, and maybe some green pepper? It is very subtle as far as spicing goes, and the bittering aspect of the hops is likewise quite minimal.

Perhaps a little on the stronger style for a winter warmer, but it is an American ale so that's par for the course! Not an outstanding beer, but it's nonetheless a solid one for the style.

Note: I paired this one with a little pineapple upside-down cake. Not bad! (1,166 characters)

Photo of russwbeck
3.2/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Deep orange and amber color without much head at all. A thin ring remains around the outside of the glass and lace nicely. Bubbles race to the top.

S: Spicy, big malty aroma featuring caramel, esters, and gingerbread. Very sweet overall, it seems that the spices are only taking a backseat so far.

T: The taste starts out alright, but then sort of drops off. Spices up front, the caramel malts come out right after. After the malts there's really nothing left. Sort of amazing how the flavor just disappears, but I can't say I like it all that much.

MF: Light body with a lower amount of carbonation than I thought. Crisp finish without any aftertaste.

O: This was probably lost on me. Really unimpressed from a beer I'd heard good things about. Might have been a bit too old. (783 characters)

Photo of herman77
3.23/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A: Clear golden, orange with a soapy off white head. Okay lacing.

S: Not much of a nose, what's there is light spice, mainly cinnamon, a bit of malt sweetness and honey.

T: A bit of bready malt and honey to start. Lots of honey actually, then the spice comes next. Sweet cinnamon and a bit of nutmeg. The ginger really comes through. Finishes sweet candy like, vanilla and a bit of alcohol.

M: Medium body, moderate carbonation. Pretty slick mouthfeel.

D: Not so much my thing. Never really had a true winter warmer before and I think I'm not gonna be that big of a fan. One is enough, its just the whole spice thing in beer I'm not too down with. A little is fine, but when I can really taste it, not so much. I do like Winter Warmers more than Pumpkin beers so far though. (778 characters)

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.23/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a crystal clear, orange-amber body with a full, foamy white head.

Smell: Lozenge-like aroma of spiced gingerbread, cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey with some faroff hints of caramel malt.

Taste: Brief caramel malt flavor and sweetness before the full-on flavor of spices kick in with candied ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The honey emerges on the drying finish with the ginger tea taste carrying over into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: An alright holiday beer, but I couldn't help but get gingered pretty quickly. (576 characters)

Photo of plaztikjezuz
3.25/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

pours a rich copper, light carbonation, maybe due to temp at pour?

hops are not very present, spices mainly cinnamon and malt come out very well. the taste is very malty with a slight spice, not much bitterness.

spices come out more cinnamon and ginger, malt more aperent, alcohol. cinnamon and ginger very prevelent in the flavor bitterness is not aperent, minerally.

i did not taste the honey or smell it but its on the label. (453 characters)

Photo of PDXHops
3.25/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Ryan011235 for this 12 oz bottle, poured into a Duvel tulip.

Pours see-thru reddish amber with a finger of cream-colored head that disappears fairly quickly. Decent lacing, though.

Smells chiefly of sweet maltiness and powdered cinammon and ginger.

A stinging combo of ginger and hops hit the tongue right away, yield to some honeyish sweetness and cinammon for a moment, then return to rough up the palate a little bit at the swallow. Stale powdered cinammon lingers in the finish. Medium-thick body with moderate carbonation.

Overall impression: The spices are a little strong for my taste, but certainly worth a try. (634 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 BeerImmediately
3.25/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into white-wine-style glass in the mid-40's.

Pours with a very short off-white head over a very clear, copper body with a touch of carbonation flowing up.

Aromas come off with an unexpected citrus rhind twist, along with plenty of alcohol.

Flavors are markedly different - body is not as thick as expected from the aroma, and flavors that come thru lead with bitter ginger, and just a kiss of cinnamon and honey.

Mouthfeel is quite dry, and with a bit of a cloying paste, it brings the drinkability down to a slow level. (540 characters)

Photo of Spidey13
3.26/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I drank this beer on Christmas day, which seemed appropriate. Poured into a snifter. The beer is very pretty; clear and the color of the amber honey I see every year at the KY State Fair. Very small, off-white head which faded very quickly. It smells a bit like honey, malt, and Christmas spices. The mouthfell is medium-thick. Tastes of honey and malt, with a pop of hop bitterness in the mid-back of the tongue. It gets a bit cloyingly sweet toward the end of the bottle, so you really can't drink more than one. It was fun to try, but I probably won't be buying it next year. (578 characters)

Photo of movingtrain
3.26/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2009 Batch--12 ounce bottle poured into a GLBC Christmas Ale glass.

Pours an amber-red with very little head at all. Thin white lacing sticks to the sides of the glass.

The aroma reminds me of hard cinnamon candy from Christmas time. Also smells of cherries, brown sugar, bread...and, I'm not sure why, but I am kind of reminded of cough syrup here...not necessarily a good thing...but that might change in the flavor.

Taste is a chalky malty sweetness...with a nice alcohol burn going down. Very bready, and some light spice sticking around on the tongue. I am getting hints of that cherry cough syrup flavor here...what is that spice?

Overall, this beer is good...but I feel like it's been better in the past. I'm not sure if Great Lakes changes the recipe each year. I remember loving the 2007 batch of this beer...and the 2006, as well. This one doesn't feel the same...perhaps needs to mature some in the bottle...though the expiration date for this one is in January. Interesting, as I've had this years past the expiration and it has seemed to improve. I hope that holds true for this batch, as well. (1,112 characters)

Photo of mentor
3.26/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a one finger tan head over a crystal clear copper liquid. Smells gentle chocolate, some ginger and coriander. Comes across as a brown ale.

Tastes wet sweet with lotsa brown ale character. Chocolate and nutty with a delicious gingerbread cookie character. Fuzzy hop character, cinnamon, and sweet coriander flavor. Drying finish from herbal aromatics and cleaning alcohol. Aftertaste is dry with ginger. Md-light body and moderate carbonation. Not alot here, but still enjoyable. (485 characters)

Photo of brown2cu
3.27/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a honey like color with a half finger head that completely disappears after about a minute. Completely nonplussed.

S: Smells like a spice rack winter warmer; cinnamon, ginger, honey, and nutmeg are all prevalent.

T: Cloyingly sweet with a slight spiciness to it as well. As this beer warms a whiskey-esque taste comes into play as well, however, nothing remarkable as well.

M: Medium bodied with active carbonation; gets syrupy and flat after it warms.

O: Worth a try but falls short on what I normally expect from great lakes. (540 characters)

Photo of boomer31
3.27/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Been looking for this beer for about 2 years. When I found out GL was shipping to MN I was excited for this beer above the rest (except maybe blackout stout)

A - Transparent gold with an off right head. No stick on the glass and the head disappears quickly.

S - Smell of a big spice...I get ginger and a hint of cinnimon at the end. I can't put my finger on what it is but there is a spice that is very in your face.

T - More spice, again I can't put my finger on it. Lots of cinnimon and lots of spice. Reminds me of mulled wine

M - Light bodied and high carb.

D - If you like spicy this is a good winter warmer. I just so happen to not be a big fan.

Huge spice and long aftertaste. If you like spice, you'll like this (727 characters)

Photo of montageman
3.27/5  rDev -16.2%
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. (494 characters)

Photo of Popkas
3.28/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Clear amber color with a finger head that held for some time finally dissipating into a thin ring.

S: Getting some spice, ginger and honey.

T: Taste is an interesting blend that I can't nail down. Certainly ginger and honey, but something else. Maybe clove. Bit of a metallic after taste.

M: Medium and smooth.

D: Not sure what it is, but not finding it terribly drinkable. (380 characters)

Photo of TwelveOunces
3.28/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 Oz bottle in a tulip

A- Clear dark Autumn orange with a small quarter finger head that dissipates quickly.
S- Very interesting smelling beer. Bizarre ginger up front followed by a tiny amount of cinnamon. Some alcohol. I cant really get a good Idea on how the malt/hop smell is because the ginger just overpowers the rest of the beer. Im not crazy about this much ginger.
T- This is a spicy beer, the cinnamon certainly gives this one a nice kick. Cloves, honey and cinnamon are all apparent in the taste but just like the smell, I think its too heavily dominated by ginger. A very sweet beer by the way.
M- Medium bodied and good amounts of carbonation, higher in alcohol then your average brew so it warms the tummy. Interesting texture that hits somewhere in between creamy, gooey and smooth.
O- My first winter warmer so yeah, Im pretty disappointed. I feel like this is a pretty decent beer and that this just isn't my style. I will probably try again next year and hope my taste buds have had a change of heart. (1,021 characters)

Photo of ThirstyBird
3.28/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a clear amber color with a light tan head that falls to a ring and stays - nice lacing. Smells of sweet malt, honey and spice. Definitely nutmeg, maybe some cinnamon and ginger. Taste is the above flavors blended. It all ends with a dry crispness. The mouthfeel is nice, smooth carbonation, medium body. Overall I like the mouthfeel and it looks decent but I don't really love it. (386 characters)

Photo of beachbum1975
3.29/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a beautiful, lightly hazed coppery red with a huge, aggressive frothy head with excellent, light mocha lacing.

Smells of muted cinnamon, nutmeg, lightly toasted malts and a trace of pumpkin.

Light to medium bodied with medium flavor. Tastes much like the nose, only richer. Cinnamon and malts dance around with an aftertaste of an all-spice/pumpkin blend.

Crispy, mildly dry mouthfeel with ample carbonation throughout.

Drinkable, but nothing I'd go out of my way for. (478 characters)

Photo of yesyouam
3.29/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Great Lakes Christmas Ale is a crystal clear amber ale with a soft, waxy, yellowish head that leaves nice lacing on the glass. It has a light aroma with hints of spice and candy. It's medium bodied and a little sharp. The finish is a little metallic and gritty. It's quite sweet and well spiced. It almost tastes like a candy cane. There's a little caramel and some juniper bitterness that lingers after the swallow. This is very clearly a Christmas Ale. The balance is pretty good but it's too sweet to have more than one. (523 characters)

Photo of wailingwench
3.3/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Eye Candy: Dark amber with a off white colored carbonated bubbly head that quickly disappears. Transparent amber in the light, no lacing to speak of. Poured nicely, 2 finger bubbly head. Retained its edges for a min or so, died soon after, appears flat and lifeless. Thin lines of rising carbonation.

The Nose Knows: Sweet sugar cookies, rich honey, candied sweet fruit. The sweetness is almost overdone, borders on cloying.

Tongueland: Thick honey and candied ginger dance a jig on the tongue with Ruldolph throwing in a dash of cinnamon at the end. Dusty and dusty middle, touch of paper and tobacco. Transitions to a palate coating sweetness lingering till the plum faires dance.

Bender Factor: At 7.5, this brew can do some damage. The sweetness is best paired with a contrasting dish rich in nature ie chicken wellington.

ETC: like drinking a beehive without getting stung on the tongue. I would love to see some orange zest or a touch of hemlock hops at the end to cleanse the palate. All in all, one dimensional, but worth a try. (1,041 characters)

Photo of MarkQ617
3.3/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Picked up a growler for our Christmas party, enjoyed out of a pint glass. The color was actually pretty nice, a good looking brownish amber with an off-white head. The flavor had the requisite spices, particularly cinnamon and nutmeg, but it was a bit weak for my liking. (271 characters)

Photo of mpyle
3.3/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

App - Pale amber color, brilliantly clear. Pours a decent sized whitish head, but coarsely bubbled and without great retention.

Aroma - a bit malty, some cinnamon/mint types of spice, alcohol

Flav - A bit minty/mediciny, and with a strong cinnamon flavor. A good, sharp bitterness cuts off the sweet spiciness, and leaves a drier yet still cinammony finish.

MF - Medium to medium-full body, and moderate carbonation. Perhaps a tiny bit of alcohol warming. Spices impact the mouthfeel negatively - not quite astringent, but heading in that direction.

D'ability - spices are too overwhelming to be a very drinkable beer for me. Probably not out of line for a holiday beer, but the best ones are more subtle in the spiciness. (727 characters)

Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 809 ratings.