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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.
BA SCORE
88
very good

810 Reviews
THE BROS
-
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 GClarkage
4.09/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

01/30/06- Received in trade with Irishsnake.

Presentation- 12oz bottle, best by date imprinted on the label. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Cherry in color, or a real deep dark amber. Medium sized 1/2 inch semi creamy head. Very light lacing left behind.

Smell- The first thing that hit me was a cherry and light chocolate scent. Then came the cinnimon and maybe a few other spices. Cherry was the predominant scent for me though.

Taste- Lots of things going on here. Spices up the ying tang, but they meld together so nicely. Cinnimon, honey, ginger, clove, nutmeg, throw in the kitchen sink and you have a pretty damn tasty beer. Nice dark malt background, maybe a real light hoppy fix, but nothing even worth mentioning.

Mouthfeel- Lightly creamy, lower carbonation.

Drinkability- This one is a winner. I can see drinking lots of these if they were available here. Another good cold weather beer, even though the abv isn't huge. I'm liking this one lots. (984 characters)

Photo of tdm168
3.42/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to jtd1969 for sharing this one with me.

Pours a deep amber with a quarter of an inch of off white head that has little retention. The nose is sweet with mild notes of honey, faint cinnamon, and fainter ginger. The flavor opens up with some faint honey and then moves into a candy-like, sugary sweetness. The finish has notes of cinnamon and very faint ginger. The flavor profile overall is rather light and laid back. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, smooth, and moderately carbonated.

This isn't a bad beer, but it's uninteresting. There's is nothing that sets it apart from any of the other winter warmers that are also brewed with cinnamon, ginger, and honey. It was nice to try once, but I wouldn't have it again. (726 characters)

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.7/5  rDev -5.1%
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. (1,390 characters)

Photo of BARFLYB
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a small snifter during a blizzard. Not yet available in eastern PA, thanks Matt for getting this.

Christmas looks like a fusion of sunset orange, burnt, rusted penny with a slight hazy appearance. Looks kinda thick out the bottle, a elevated pour started off producing no activity, than all of a sudden, BOOM, a big mound of tannish/beige foam, no stickage no lace, just streaks.

The smell is also a fusion of spices from the kitchen with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, which I personally can't stand in my beers, eeek. I won't subtract for that though. No sign of any hops but there is a sweet malty scent.

A Winter Warmer with alot of spices, this kind of reminded me of drinking different flavored iced teas for some reason. I just get a iced tea vibe from this. A mix between cinnamon, ginger and tea pouches. Luckily the ginger is subdued. A small bite of bread at the end of churrrch and no hops to speak of.

This manages to come off real spicy without the long and sometimes overbearing aftertaste that come with the style. This comes and goes like a flash with a iced tea finish, I'm serious. It's medium bodied but feels and goes down lighter than that. Carb is smoooth with no bite at the end of the tounge.

This is good, a nicely spiced ale with the ABV somewhere in the middle. While I can only take a single serving of winter warmers in my experience, I could see myself drinking a few of these because of the light aftertaste. Well balanced and mad drinkable. (1,501 characters)

Photo of billab914
4.17/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a 6 pack of this when I was back in Buffalo for the holiday. I didn't even know Great Lakes distributed to the area and I was very surprised to see it in the local grocery store.

Poured from a 12 bottle into a tulip glass. Poured a dark amber somewhat reddish color with thick white head settled to a small ring that clung to the side of the glass.

Aroma has a lot of spices in it, mostly cinnamon and ginger. Taste also has a lot of spices, cinnamon seems to be the most present but not dominating. Medium bodied and moderate carbonation. Drinkability is pretty good for a spiced beer, I usually can't drink much of these but this one is pretty easy to drink.

Spices are nicely done in this one, they are not so overpowering I can't have more then one. Very good holiday beer and I will be buying this again whenever I go home for the holidays. (859 characters)

Photo of smakawhat
3.38/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured on tap at Jose Andres' America Eats Tavern into a pilsner style glass.

No foam or head presented. Clear dark orange body with some slow rising carbonation coming up. Since there is only the body to describe there's not much else to say.

Nose is pretty muted. There's faint dry malt, and some mild nutmeg. But really it's a pretty closed nose.

Taste is mild bread dough, mixing with not clove spices. Sweetness comes on the aftertaste more so, even some fruity cherry sensations. Mouthfeel has some sticky like quality but it's also a bit wet, carbonation seems a little fizzy but tolerable.

Overall, not sure how much this was opened up on the pour, but it seems like I am preferring Great Lakes out of the bottle than on tap based on my experience. (761 characters)

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

Appearance: pours a golden color with not much lacing and no head.

Smell: The spice smell is prevalent in a good way.

Taste: Sweet and malty balanced just right.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied feels good going down.

Drinkability: The best Christmas ale and very easy to drink all night just don't plan on driving home. (319 characters)

Photo of yourefragile
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark, clear copper color with a thin beige head supported by small bubbles of carbonation. Not much retention with a moderate amount of streaks of lacing. Aroma is mild and as expected, has a spicy, sweet "holiday" medley of flavors. Initially honey sweet and nutmegy with some other various spices. Flavor is less spicy or sweet than expected, with a strong malt body and a finish balanced with honey sweetness and grainy, cinnamon dryness. Full bodied (almost syrup like at time) with mild, fine carbonation. A very pleasant winter warmer, but a little too mild and boring to be as interesting as some of the Anchor holiday beers. (640 characters)

Photo of tempest
3.53/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Alto Cinco and drank it along side a covered burrito with chicken. This beer was basically a big, smooth amber ale - light caramel and toffee - with spiced with pumpkin pie, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little ginger. Drinkable and festive, but I'm not blown away. The spices and malt are at least very well balanced. (322 characters)

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.14/5  rDev +6.2%
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. (663 characters)

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.3/5  rDev +10.3%
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. (430 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 biegaman
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Antique copper kettle with vivid - and very pretty - overtones of auburn; it is both spotlessly clear and eloquently coloured. Even lightly tipping the glass will cause the bubbles, which flutter like snowflakes, to actively stagger back on course upwards. Its filmy layer of head looks anemically thin but actually has a fair retention and can be very responsive to swirling.

The aroma has the unmistakable distinctness of honey and a sweetness that overcoats the fine hop presence as well as a bulky chunk of malt. Those malts, which seem a lot more dominant in this sample, have a very British makeup to them. They smell of ever so finely toasted bread and offer hints of butterscotch, walnuts, toffee, and crisply baked cookies.

The spices may be subtle and delicate but they are not entirely indistinct. A sort of 'right off the baker's spice rack' general brown spice character can be both smelled and tasted. The label gives its secret away as being cinnamon and ginger, but I would also buy into nutmeg and/or cardamom. The flavour bears much resemblance to gingerbread and/or spiced Christmas cake.

The malts, never to be forgotten, provide a good, ample dousing of caramel, maple and nuts. Something is reminding me of candy apples and apple turnovers. The honey is very forward and overrules most of the spice with notes of sticky sweet nectar and the wholesome taste of strained liquid honey.

Most impressive, perhaps, is that absolutely none of the 7.5% alcohol is noticed. This certainly drinks as easy as any standard strength pint. The honey and spices make the beer taste mulled and pacify the bitterness right out of the beer, causing it to drink with an almost sugar-coated sweetness. The balance of spices and the integration of honey works wonderfully with these toasty, toffee coated malts.

It seems regardless of how many of these I buy, I always end up wishing I had another bottle. Granted, I'd make that same statement of anything by Great Lakes Brewing but I really do consider their Christmas Ale to be a fantastic seasonal offering. It is a savory, warming, and easy drinking ale perfectly suited for the holiday season - I better buy even more next year! (2,192 characters)

Photo of rhoadsrage
2.88/5  rDev -26.2%
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. (855 characters)

Photo of plaid75
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a medium amber hue with a one finger foamy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a sweet malt aroma complimented by cinammon and honey.

The taste was a nicely spiced solid grain experience. Elements of spicy cinammon and sweet honey complimented the toaty biscuit flavor.

The mouthfeel was full.

Overall a nice and potent winter warmer. Would like to get my hands on some more. (426 characters)

Photo of akorsak
3.6/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a trade with DuqTroops.

A: The ale is a deep amber, almost brown color with a white wisp of head that has not retained or laced.

S: The aroma is spicy with honey sweetness and nutmeg.

T: The ale has a great deal of strong spices. First is the ginger, providing a slightly sweet but very drying flavor. The ginger is quickly followed by cinnamon, honey and nutmeg. The final flavor to pop up is a strong cardamon.

M: The spices are plentiful and strong, creating the best winter warmer I've had this season.

D: The spices are strong, good for a cold winter night (not the 50 degree nights we've been having thus far in December). I may even mull a bottle and see if the heat brings out more spices. (717 characters)

Photo of Wasatch
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
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. (416 characters)

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.2/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured a light amber colour with some visible carbonation. A light white head formed and actually stuck around.

S - Some warm spice on the nose but overall not an overwhelmingly strong nose. Can also smell sweetness and caramel.

T - Lots of spice! Nice cinnamon notes (the perfect amount) with some ginger. Can definitely taste the honey too, especially in the aftertaste. Sweet and smooth!

M - Medium body. A little bit chewy, which was nice for a Christmas Ale.

D - A very drinkable beer. The cinnamon flavour is excellent. (535 characters)

Photo of Rhettroactive
3.45/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From 12oz bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 11/12/11
*From notes

A: A darker, golden color. Huh...there's a part of me that would like to see my Xmas ale with a reddish hue...or maybe green. A good pour yields a tight 2.25 finger head and above average lacing.

S: Cinnamon and the traditional holiday warming spices.

T: It kinda tastes like I'm chewing on a piece of Big Red. It's pretty cinnamony, with a generous dose of mulling spice to boot.

M: The texture's decent, but this time of the year I'd like a bit more weight. It's a bit thin, especially for the ABV and style.

O: Great Lakes doesn't disappoint with their Christmas Ale. If you're looking for a well spiced winter warmer, this is for you. I don't foresee me knocking back many of these, but if I was gonna reach for something spiced, this would certainly suffice. (832 characters)

Photo of WoodBrew
4.32/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I love a beer that actual tastes like the description. There's no lip service with this beer! The warmer the Great Lakes Xmas gets, the more the aroma and favors become. This is not a session ale, so careful with consumption...pace yourself.

Drink it up to make the Holiday Season a true event. Enjoy! (302 characters)

Photo of aasher
3.7/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had been told I had to try this by a buddy from Cleveland so I picked up the only single I saw while visiting Chicago for the day. It pours a light auburn in color and is very translucent. It has the lightest of white heads and is light bodied. The smell is blase. It nothing more than what I'd call carmel malts and light spices. The flavor is an improvement. It has good sweetness and is kind of spicy. I think it may have nutmeg and cinnamon. Each sip tastes better than the last, and sweeter. I like it. It's light and drinks crisp. I could easily go through a six pack of this and you'd never know that it's 7.5%. (620 characters)

Photo of AlexFields
2.73/5  rDev -30%
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.

5.7/10 (1,306 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 Viggo
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a standard bottle, its a nice light reddish colour with generous whitish head. It smells of malt and spice. The taste is richly malty as well, with some spicy notes. The mouthfeel is nice and smooth, just slides down your throat. I give this beer a high drinkability score, easily a beer you could sit down with when its cold and play poker. Excellent beer, very recommended. (387 characters)

Photo of Bighuge
4.35/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy scarlet red in color. Thin creamy, yet bubbly, tan head. This beer smells like Christmas: Cinamon, spice and everything nice. The beer tastes like Christmas joy as well. The cinamon is the main player of the spices, but the orange contributions are notable and enjoyable as well. Nice little biscuity malt backbone and some alcohol notes to give a little umph to this beer. Carbonated nicely. Medium body. One of the more enjoyable spiced winter offerings I have come across. Thank you PhantomVoodoo for the sample.

I have now sampled 6 Great Lakes beverages. I can't comment on their consistency as I don't have consistent access to them, but the quality of the brews I've had is extremely high. One of the best in the US in my opinion. I've doled out 4.5s to the Elliot Ness, Burning River and Dortmuder Gold. I've rated the Edmund Fitzgerald a 4.6, the X-mas ale a 4.4 and the Loctender Lager a 4.25. My new top 3 would include K-ZOO, Stone and Great Lakes.

I'd love to see what they could do with a Barleywine, Imperial Stout or IPA. (1,048 characters)

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