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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

810 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 810
Hads: 2,756
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: 2,756
Photo of barczar
3.66/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear copper color with a dense inch talk cream head that lingers. The floaties throughout the brew detract from the appearance.

Aroma is led by sweet caramel malt and cinnamon, with ginger and a hint of pine at the finish.

Flavor is dominated by cloying malt sweetness throughout, giving a cola impression when coupled with the spice profile. Ginger leads the holiday spice parade, with more subtle cinnamon and honey leading to a slightly bitter finish.

Body is moderately heavy with a moderate amount of carbonation, ending with a slight amount of alcohol warmth.

A bit too sweet and ginger forward for my taste, but it's a christmas beer, and definitely not the worst I've had. (693 characters)

Photo of ZAP
4.67/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Now this is what Christmas Ae should taste like....beautifull work with the spicing....cinamin and ginger on the nose along with almost a pumkin pie like smell.....copper in color...super clean and clear looking (and this is an ale?)...Is medium bodied...a tich of sweetness, but not overdone...at first it felt like a "bock" in the mouth and I guess it still does...some sweet maltiness, and that great spice flavor..that pumkin pie subtle flavor is there on the taste buds too...I've had spice beers that went too far...this is about perfect...what a treat...I love this Brewery...One of my top 2 along with Stone.

*.I rate the drinkability high for a seasonal sipping beer....not for as if you'd want to drink 12 of these in a sitting...rather if you gave me my choice of several holiday beers I'd rather drink this one than most.. (837 characters)

Photo of Brenden
3.73/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Notes seem pretty old, but they're plenty legible...

The color is a golden amber. The head pours nicely and retains well, leaving some spotty lacing.
This one's got what I expect in a winter warmer: a nice, firm malt backing with gentle caramel and toffee notes and light, subtle spices underneath.
Cinnamon comes out a little more strongly than it does on the nose, and the result is positive. Otherwise, that caramel / toffee malt backbone. Fairly standard stuff.
The body is medium, and carbonation is moderate.
This is a strong, tasty winter warmer and a good example of the style. (586 characters)

Photo of Dogbrick
3.68/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found on draught at the Grid Iron Brewpub. As with most beers this has more character from the tap. Poured a rich dark orange/red with a foamy light beige head. Pleasantly spiced aroma. Flavor of spices (ginger and cinnamon) with some malt made it a nice winter warmer. Slight hops finish. Good to have at this time of year. (324 characters)

Photo of sweemzander
4.12/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into an imperial pint. Best by 1-13-10 printed on the bottle.

(A)- Pours a slightly reddish but clear copper color that produced a good off-white fluffy head that left some lacing behind as it slowly dissipated.

(S)- A spicy gingerbread aroma with a cinnamon & nutmeg cranberry thing going on. Finishes with just a tiny kiss of pine needle. Man, this almost literally christmas day in a bottle!

(T)- Almost as exact as the smell dictated, except with a much bigger bitter hop presence. Finishes dry.

(M)- A good carbonation level & balance. A great body with a flavor profile that really puts your tastebuds in the mood for the holiday season.

(D)- Definitely of the the better christmas oriented beers I have had.. This one actually tastes like the season & is good too! Remember this one when celebrating the holidays! (849 characters)

Photo of drpimento
3.35/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

hmmm. The bottle I'm having seems to be way different than the descrptions that most others describe. Mine has: some head and lace; dark, very hazy brown color; aroma of lots of malt, a bit of hops, bare hints of spices. Flavor is very dry malt, not much fruityiness, hardly any spice, dark fruits. Ok beer, nothing special. A bit rich for a session beer. ok finish. (366 characters)

Photo of OWSLEY069
2.83/5  rDev -27.4%
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. (300 characters)

Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.82/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottles purchased at Beers of the World in Rochester, NY.

A classic Christmas seasonal that people seem to go gaga over.

Pours a basically clear copper amber/brown, with a half inch head and a little bit of lacing.

Smells like cherries, cinnamon, sweet malt, and caramel.

The taste is similar. Much more restrained than the similarly adored Christmas beer, Mad Elf, from Troegs. Some light Maraschino cherry flavor, some slightly more tart cherry flavors, some caramel, brown sugar, cinnamon and other holiday spices. Not much hop flavor.

Medium bodied, slightly creamy mouthfeel, low carbonation, very drinkable.

Not my favorite style of beer, the winter warmer, but this is one of the better ones. (705 characters)

Photo of Darkmagus82
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a pint glass

Appearance – Served a orange-amber colored brew with a one finger white head. The head had a decent level of retention, slowly fading to give a medium level of lacing.

Smell – The aroma was a mix of honey and spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and coriander. Behind the sweet and spicy smells was a light biscuit aroma as well.

Taste – The taste begins a little on the malty side with a light cinnamon and coriander spice upfront. As the taste moves on the spices get stronger and are joined by a lighter honey and caramel sweetness. More towards the end a light nutty and alcohol taste join the flavor with an increasing in the sweeter flavors of the brew and in the end combined with the rest to leave a warming spiced flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer was a little on the medium side with a carbonation level that was just above average. The medium body was rather nice for the honey and malt flavors with the carbonation complementing the spice well.

Overall - A tasty Christmas style ale that was very drinkable. A nice spice, sweet and malt blend. Quite tasty. (1,132 characters)

Photo of AgentZero
3.12/5  rDev -20%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

A - Clear deep red amber color, very dark. Nice two finger foamy head with quick dissipation and no lacing left. Nice looking right out of the bottle.

S - So much nutmeg it almost hurts. Nutmeg and cinnamon, with a nice malt back. Very sweet and rich smelling, does remind me of the holidays.

T - Deep sweet cinnamon and nutmeg and ginger spice taste. Too much to handle, so thick it feels like I can chew it. Little bit of subtle hops in the finish, but the nutmeg and cinnamon is just too overpowering, was hoping for something more subtle.

M - Smooth, surprisingly little aftertaste for something so sweet. Nice carbonation bite that subtly blends in with the taste.

D - Way too sweetly rich. Had trouble getting through the first one, the nutmeg and cinnamon spice are so overpowering it almost feels like it's burning my mouth. This might go good with some food, I'm thinking Chinese or some cheeses to help buffer the taste buds, but on it's own it's just too much for me. (982 characters)

Photo of tavernjef
4.37/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Slightly coppery amber, clear glossy body with a few speck of bubbles within. Medium sized crown of beige foam lofts up with a good puff of creamyness. Lacing trickles across the glass with some splattered patchy blobs and strings.

Whoa, what a nice medley of warming spices on the nose. Cinnamon most definately is dashed about mixing with a warm honey and caramel drizzled soft biscuity, bready core. Softer ginger, cocoa, pumpkin, spearmint tea, and notes to some barleywine-esque hoppy warmth make for great depth. A very nice nose...softly spiced, warm, and inviting. Like a warm kitchen baking pies and cookies during the Holidays.

Taste is just as nice with a solid malted bready, pie dough, light pastryish center that is warmingly set in caramel brushed with honey. Super softly spiced with cinnamon, pumpkin, apricot, ginger snap cookie dough, and cocoa. The cocoa and cinnamon make a nice little finishing return as it really holds a warm tone the whole way thru.

Beautifully balanced, soft, warm, and a creamy smooth body that is closing in on pretty full. Mainly due to its warming core that doesn't seem 7.5% at all. More like 9 or even 11% seems fitting as it mirrors a wonderful blend of Belgian dark tripel meets Old ale.

Great Lakes makes some super solid brews and this is no different from many other yummy treats from them that normally find a rotational spot in my fridge. As Winter Warmers go, there's a many other breweries out there that should take a lesson from the palate of Great Lakes. Cuz most others make OK to good, but this is outstandingly solid.

Special note: serve fairly warm - 50 to 55 degrees to even room temp. It's well worth the wait. (1,682 characters)

Photo of maximum12
1.9/5  rDev -51.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

I guess I am going to have to give up.

I just don't like Christmas Ales. But this is the spiciest, & least drinkable, of the bunch.

This is the third one I've tried to put down, & I'm not going to be able to finish it. For me spices like this belong in a pie, cake, or salad, not in my liquid libations.

Nothing personal. I just can't handle it. (351 characters)

Photo of tigg924
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: orange-brown in color, 1/4 inch head, clear, medium carbonation

Smell: toasted malt, dark fruit, brown sugar, and ginger

Taste: toasted malt, dark fruit, brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger

Mouthfeel: medium bodied, high carbonation, sweet

Overall:A very good holiday. Nice combination of cinnamon and ginger. Both leave a nice spicy tingle afterwards. I would pick this up again if I could get it around here. (424 characters)

Photo of gford217
3.98/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle courtesy of Tifore..

Pours a deep amber that shows through clear in the light. The head is frothy, beige and shows excellent retention and lacing.

Aroma is seriously spicy with lots of cinnamon, ginger and allspice. Light caramel malts and chocolate in the background.

Taste is sweeter with the caramel malts and chocolate up front. The spices are still present but more subtle and more prevalent in the finish. Mainly some cinnamon and nutmeg.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied, dry and slightly spicy.

This is a top notch winter warmer with a spice-heavy nose that moderates in the taste with more sweetness. Well balanced and drinkable. (653 characters)

Photo of TX-Badger
3.71/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a nice dark copper/red color with off-white head. Spice, cinnamon, ginger, and caramel malt on the nose; follows onto the palate. Finishes with more spice. Good winter beer. (179 characters)

Photo of warnerry
4.18/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

best by 1/26/11 consumed 1/15/11

A - Pours a beautiful translucent copper with slow rising carbonation and 1.5 fingers of head that dissipates pretty quickly.

S - Mostly caramel malts and cinnamon, with some ginger and cloves coming through.

T - Very nice caramel malts, with a good amount of spicing (cinnamon, some ginger). Spicing doesn't dominate but instead fills out the taste. Also some subtle hops to balance the malts.

M - Fantastic mouthfeel, medium, slightly sticky, really coats the palate.

D - Highly drinkable; one of my favorite winter warmers. (565 characters)

Photo of illidurit
3.83/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear golden amber color with an attractive off-white head of 2 fingers. Retention is decent, and there's some nice lacing.

Very spicy nose, with cinnamon and clove and ginger on top of a sweet malt base.

Taste is quite malty with a tinge of honey, and drowned in spices like ginger and nutmeg. Finish is medicinal, which clashes with the sweetness.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin for a winter warmer. Carbonation is good and the alcohol is undetectable.

Pretty easy drinking here, with no cloying or out of place flavors or notice of booze. (546 characters)

Photo of francisweizen
3.65/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This brew poured out a nice dark crimson colour with a small white head of foam. The aromas were heavily spiced, and consisted of coriander, orange peel(?), perhaps curacao, and more. The malt was in there was well, but where were the hops? The taste was spicy and very malty, almost Belgian-like in character, but noticeable different than most Belgian ales. The mouthfeel was a bit thin in the mouth and the drinkability was decent.

Good. (443 characters)

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

Presentation: Standard 12 ounce brown glass bottle. Dark label that has a black background with white lettering. The picture on the main label is that of a green colored model railway car full of Copper colored Christmas Tree Baubles. The brewery blurb goes on to explain that “Its copper color and flavorful taste is derived from cinnamon, ginger and honey”. Recommended Serving Temperature of 45°F, as well as an advertised strength of 7.5%. Enjoy By Date is Dec. 23 03.

Appearance: Amber copper body with some dark tangerine hints. A thin but very uniform dirty-white head forms easily and with the aid of the odd gentle swirl it remains throughout the drink. Some lacing, but it nearly always sinks and slides back down into the Glass out of harms way. Carbonation appears to be average but well attenuated.

Nose: The nose is well rounded and very fruity indeed. Reminds me of cinnamon toffee, mixed with a hint of ginger. Powdery feel in the nasal passage at times.

Taste: Smooth introduction to the beer, aided by the conditioning. Malts with an immediate cinnamon punch. Some spicy ginger comes through in the finish, whilst the middle obviously benefits immensely from the sweet honey. Spicy with a light citric tingle on the tongue in the finish. Very Nice!

Mouthfeel: The finely attenuated carbonation creates a talcum smooth feel, which is a great background for the finely balanced cinnamon and ginger, whilst the honey lends a rich silky feel to malts

Drinkability: I wish I had another one to finish the night with. The 7.5% is nowhere to be seen at all, but the rich full-bodied flavorsome quality of this Christmas Ale is quite literally all over this beer, front to back, top to bottom.

Overall: This would be a very fitting beer to sit down with after a filling Christmas Dinner. Tasty solid brew that has just the right amount of cinnamon and ginger to balance a honey infused malty body.

Four Brews from Great Lakes, all received 4+ marks. Accomplished.

A belated Merry Xmas to BigHuge for the Great Lakes brews. Cheers! (2,068 characters)

Photo of gtermi
4.07/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer has a very nice dark goden orang color with a very thin white head.

S: Man this beer has the best nose of any winter warmer I have ever smelled in my life. There is so much spice, some clove, nutmeg and cinnamon.

T: Man this taste is amazing. I am getting a lot of cinnamon and some other spices. This is just a very great taste.

M: The beer is pretty crisp and even can feel the tingling on you r tongue.

O: This is a very good beer. One of the best winter warmers I have ever had. Its an all around great beer and there isnt a part of it that lacks. (569 characters)

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

Caramel-orange hued under a sandy film that quickly fades and relocates to the outermost edges.
Nose full of spiced caramel and piney hops. Cinnamon rolls appear as it warms.
The malt base is laid with hard toffee. Quickly the spicing grabs control. Lots of ginger. Lots of ginger. Lightly burnt and caramelized. Cinnamon too, to a lesser extent. Plenty of orange-rind, which is odd, since they don't use any. My problem here is with the honey. It builds in the middle, creating a faux-sweetness that segues into an vapid, lightly astringent, medicinal finish as it melds with the alcoholic vapors. There is a sense of poorly made (and even more poorly sweetened) green tea. Pine-sap hops close the deal, and partially right the wrongs.
Medium-bodied with sparce carbonation.
Brew this without the honey, then lets talk.
This is the absolute last Great Lakes brew I'd pull off the shelf.

And why the hell is the best before date on this Dec 23?
*rating 3.4

Now six months and a week past its expiration date.
This has changed slightly, but those changes have a dramatic effect on my opinion. This is full of maple syrup spiked with nutmeg and ginger. The maltiness now seems more complete and foundational. Plenty of caramel. Spicing is still aggressive, bordering on excessive. But, now, it works. Astringency is gone. Light piney herb hop bitters. Alcohol is cloaked too.
I like this a lot more than I did. It's still probably the last on my list of Great Lakes products. But that also pertains to a general dislike of overtly spiced beers. Of that particular style, this is a good bet, and my numbers have been adjusted accordingly.

As a caveat, I don't think I'd age this too much longer, as some peeks of oxidation are making themselves known. It seems about as good as it will get now, and will probably begin to fall apart after 1 year. Maybe not, though. (1,888 characters)

Photo of jera1350
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Coppery in color with a fizzy tan head that immediately reduces to a thin ring around the glass. Not much in the way of lace.

Has a gummi worm scent to it. Lightly sour with notes of holiday spices, nutmeg, brown sugar and the like. The faint smell of spruce as well.

Getting the same spices as in the nose. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom. Plenty of gingerbread flavor as well. Getting some cedar/pine notes on the end. Really a nice blend of flavors that comes out somewhere between gingerbread and spiced sugar cookie. Quite enjoyable as it continues to warm.

Mostly soft carbonation and smooth. About medium bodied.

I think this makes a really nice winter warmer and an even better beer to bring to a holiday party. Two of these would be more than enough for me as the alcohol is a bit warm and the flavor keeps drinkability down a hair. Really enjoying this one and may be my favorite one of the style. (906 characters)

Photo of whartontallboy
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a clear orange copper with a big, sticky off-white head that left a good deal of lace and remained until I took my last sips.

Smell is malty, but with a gingerbread spiciness, some cinnamon, orange, and clove to round things out. Nice for a winter warmer.

Flavor is on-point: not too spice-driven, but the ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg flavors really accentuate the overall quality of the underlying malty brew. The honey doesn't come through too loudly, but it's there. Mouthfeel is a well-carbonated medium.

Overall: I picked up all the Great Lakes I could on my last swing through Kentucky, and I still haven't had one that was less than fantastic. Good beers, and this one is an especially subtly-done winter warmer. (740 characters)

Photo of blackie
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

delete of a review from 2006 of a bottle provided by the dirtman, and a re-review of a bottle courtesy of the cousin in Ohio

a: the low white head soon receds to a thin ring, the beer itself a medium copper in color

s: spicy nose full of ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon with a full caramel malt and honey back, cinnamon roll and holiday spice cookies, spices not overdone and in good balance with the malt, hops mild

m: carbonation on the lighter side of medium with a smooth, medium body

t: begins with a blend of ginger and nutmeg with a dusting of cinnamon, caramel and honey provide complexity and support with a pleasant level of sweetness, concludes with a moderate bitterness and lingering spice

d: no problems here, a warming beer well paired with thanksgiving dinner

yesterday I was sold on a sixer of Thirsty Dog's Christmas Ale on the info that it was the more potent, original version of this recipe - this seems to be true, though there looks to be a better balance in the GL version

expiration date 1/29/10...old scores were 4/3.5/3/4/3.5

2013 bottle consumed 12.14.2013 - same attractive copper red in color with a nice, tight head. appreciate the nose - scents of ginger and cinnamon ride an amber malt base with a smidge of honey sweetness. the flavor is nice - cinnamon and ginger hit on moderately sweet amber malts midpoint, with a lingering spicy dryness and benign leafy hops - a little bitter. holiday sugar cookies and all that. i think i'd rather have a maltier finish than the dry bitterness, but that's my only real gripe. a good beer that i'll take a single of yearly, when available - and a nice reminder of cleveland for the holidays.

old scores 4, 4.5, 3.5, 4, 4 (1,700 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)

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