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
89
very good

2,746 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,746
Reviews: 839
rAvg: 3.95
pDev: 13.16%
Wants: 144
Gots: 534 | FT: 6
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,746 | Reviews: 839
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.3/5  rDev +8.9%
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.

Photo of rhoadsrage
2.88/5  rDev -27.1%
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.

Photo of akorsak
3.6/5  rDev -8.9%
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.

Photo of biegaman
4.03/5  rDev +2%
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!

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.93/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

Photo of plaid75
4/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

Photo of Wasatch
3.85/5  rDev -2.5%
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.

Photo of Rhettroactive
3.45/5  rDev -12.7%
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.

Photo of ppoitras
3.18/5  rDev -19.5%
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.

Photo of WoodBrew
4.32/5  rDev +9.4%
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!

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.2/5  rDev +6.3%
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.

Photo of aasher
3.7/5  rDev -6.3%
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%.

Photo of AlexFields
2.73/5  rDev -30.9%
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

Photo of Viggo
4/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

Photo of Bighuge
4.35/5  rDev +10.1%
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.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.52/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

One of the best midwest holiday ales. Looks dark brown/red/copper. Aroma is very much like Christmas: some beer, pine, gravy, mashed potatoes, yams, ham, cranberry, cinammon mesh.

Taste, you pick up some of those things, who knows, maybe a little pumpkin and coriander. A few of the things in Anchor Christmas probably, but more pronounced in this offering.

Drinkability suffers a little, too sweet and just too much like food in a blender to keep chugging these along. Heavy.

Photo of scruffwhor
4.37/5  rDev +10.6%
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.

Photo of bluejacket74
4.03/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The bottle says it's best served before 1/22/07. Served in a pint glass, the beer pours a dark copper color with a nice off-white head and good lacing. It smells like cinammon, ginger, pine/floral hops, nutmeg and honey. The flavor is spicy, tasting like it smells. There's also some sweet malt and caramel in the taste. The mouthfeel is medium/full and a bit chewy. Even with the 7.5% ABV, this is a pretty drinkable beer. It goes down pretty easy. Overall, I think this is a pretty good beer. I wish Great Lakes would make this all year long.

Photo of spinrsx
4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle

Appearance - Clear copper colour with an average size fizzy beige coloured head. There is a low level of carbonation and there is some good lacing on the sides of the glass. The head lasted for a few minutes.

Smell - Malts, all-spice, dark fruits, hay

Taste & Mouth - The beer has an average amount of carbonation and I can taste raisins, malts, and a caramel flavour. There is also a bit of a cherry and honey sweetness mixed with lots of cinnamon and clove. It ends with a spicy yet sweet aftertaste.

Overall – The beer has an interesting taste that is somewhat different that I'm used to with winter seasonal beers. It's not something that I'd want a whole lot of but i enjoyed the taste and I'd pick this one up again next holiday season.

Photo of DrDemento456
4.32/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - A nice crisp amber with a touch of head.

S - Honey, cinnamon, hops, and spices.

T - Wow it's like it tastes... red. Must be the honey and the mead playing together. Slight cinnamon and a mild hop profile makes it good,

M - Very medium bodied. Liked it.

D - Yes and I will enjoy the last five. Very pleasant offering from Great Lakes!

Photo of jrallen34
2.61/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

I drank this from a 12 oz bottle into my Rochefort glass.

The beer pours a very bright yet dark clear amber with about 2 fingers of heading falling quickly. However, it leaves a nice soapy top on the beer and a lots of solid white lacing on the glass.

Can you say nutmeg? That's all you get at first sniff in this ale with a little mixture of spice. I'm trying to pick something else out but all you get is christmas but its a tad to much.

The taste is a huge let down in flavor from the aroma because you would expect huge flavors. But all you get right away is very light watery mouthfeel which is extremely off putting. As far as taste I almost just only taste water with a little nutmeg.

As far as drinkability you could crush a lot of these because its like, but I'm not sure why you'd want to.

Overall, from the hype I've heard this beer was a big let down in every sense. I would not encourage anyone to drink this.

Photo of dirtylou
4.03/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, 6 pack, sadhanna's

appearance: pours a beautiful and vivid clear copper, tinted ruby...slight foamy beige head, not a whole lot of lacing

smell: similar to the Lakefront Winter aromas...lots of cinnamon spice - smells like red hots, touch of nutmeg and other spices...loaded with honey, mild maltiness

taste: cinnamon red hots, thick and sweet honey, nutmeg and other festive spices, a fair amount of pine, fair amount of alcohol present, ginger, slight cherry, caramel, biscuit-esque

mouthfeel: medium bodied, cinnamon spice, touch of hop bitterness

drinkability: pretty drinkable

Photo of avalon07
3.59/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a yellowish color and a hazy texture. There was an inch of foamy head that lasted an average amount of time. Sparse lacing.

S: Hints of honey and malt in the aroma along with some spices.

T: Tasted of a heavy malt presence, light spices (cinnamon, especially), and honey. A decent enough flavor, but one that seems slightly thin in spots.

M: A good amount of carbonation with an almost herbal finish. Medium-bodied.

O: A pretty good beer. Easy to drink, but not an overwhelming beer.

Photo of xnicknj
3.88/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap at hawthornes in philly

Pours a deep copper color with some brighter reddish hues. A nice beige head rests on top, retaining for a while and leaving some patchy lacing on the glass.

Rich and malty in the nose with toffee and caramel. Some bready notes with cocoa and and sweetness. Light alcohol warmth.

Malty and rich up front with toffee. Some dark fruit notes with a touch of burnt sugar. Some pine and spruce-like spice. Burly backbone with bready and caramel tones. Decent amount of sweetness, but not overwhelming. Finishes a bit warm and chewy.

Fuller medium body, well carbonated, a little chewy and sticky on the tongue. A pretty tasty beer for the season, something I'd definitely have again.

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.73/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz tap-pour into a snifter at The Barley House in Algonquin, IL.

A - Served to me with a nice dense dollop of light tan foam on top of a clear ruby amber body. Decent retention with a little lace left.

S - The aroma opens with rich toasted malts and a hint of caramel with grassy, mulch-like hops and a spicy finish that's rather light.

T - The strong grassy hops blend well (thankfully) with the spice addition which don't have any stand-out characteristics. The beer finishes a toasty malt flavor.

M - Medium-bodied and robust in flavor with a dry finish. It's a bit over-carbonated as it has a sharp finish.

D - A good Christmas ale that works well as a sipper from the big snifter it's served in. The spiciness gets a tad cloying towards the end. Also, it seemed to be served just a bit cold as well.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,746 ratings.