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Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale - Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Great Lakes Burning River Pale AleGreat Lakes Burning River Pale Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

2,328 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2328
Reviews: 976
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 11.06%

Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co. visit their website
Ohio, United States

Style | ABV
American Pale Ale (APA) |  6.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 07-06-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,328 | Reviews: 976 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Bone53


4.01/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a snifter at around 45°F

Appearance: Pale amber color with a two finger off white/light beige head. A very good looking beer

Smell: Sweet, toasted, bready malts with undertones of citrus hops.

Taste: Same as smell. Wish there was a little more hops to balance out the malts

Mouthfeel: Light medium body; Smooth, dinkable, and refreshing

Overall: For me, this is one of those beers that I enjoyed more when I was first getting into crafts. Now it's too malty and not enough hops for my liking. More like an EPA. However, it's still tasty and easy to go down. Great Lakes is very reasonably priced in my area so that's what's going to keep me coming back to this beer.

Serving type: on-tap

04-24-2014 02:17:26 | More by Bone53
Photo of Ozzylizard


4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoy by 5/19/14 at 45 degrees into imperial pint
Aroma of generic tropical fruits
Head average (4 cm), off white, creamy with rocks, slowly diminishing
Lacing weak with incomplete rings and stalactites
Body light orange, clear
Flavor begins with a citrusy bitterness, more like the interior white membrane than the zest. No alcohol, no malt, no diacetyl. When the flavor ends, just the bitterness remains.
Palate light to medium, watery, lively carbonation

This was the first beer I had at my first beerfest and it scared me – all that hop flavor! Now, in the age of IPAs, DIPAs, triple IPAs, etc. it seems kind of weak. But it’s still a good pale ale that I pick up occasionally.

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2014 14:25:38 | More by Ozzylizard
Photo of Suds


4.19/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This ale is a beautiful light amber color with a puffy, but solid, white head. Nice lace. The smell is spicy with hops, but has a soft undercurrent of pale malt. Nice. The taste is clean and slightly sweet from malt. A little biscuit and a little fruit.... then the hops kick in, flavorful, juicy, bitter hops. They give a nice backbone to the beer. Full in body, with medium carbonation. This one is a treat...a solid, clean, and very drinkable east coast pale ale.

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2014 20:46:54 | More by Suds
Photo of humuloner22

North Carolina

3/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Okay, that is about all I can say about this one. I guess I am just not that impressed with this brewery. I have had some damn good beers lately and this one fell way short for me. Its an APA according to the label so one would imagine that it had a hop forward presence but like the lager it had a massive amount of malt, now I agree that malt helps to balance some beers but this one had too much, much like the lager it got better as I drank it, but I am still not a huge fan of this brewery, which based on what I have heard from friends and reviews is confounding.

Appearance: Reddish gold, typical for an APA. Not a huge amount of head and the best by date had not been reached, but I wonder if these have been killed somewhere along the way. I bought a mixed sixpack at a grocery store while on a trip, and I have kept them cold, but none of them have been all that wonderful. Although once again they are pretty beers.

Smell: Faint hops, some cloying malt component there.

Taste: Not cloying, but a lot of malt, which I don't care for. I want hops and this one is weak on that. Its just worthy of the high praise, but this is my opinion. And once again, I may have gotten a bad batch. But after drinking a lot of APA's and IPA's this one is just okay.

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2014 16:48:25 | More by humuloner22
Photo of patpbr


4.16/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A deep orange pour with a long lasting two finger head. The noise is mostly citrus with subtle grass and malt characters. Taste is well mixed with tropical, citrus and malt notes. It near a medium body with a crisp bitter finish. An overall solid pale ale that is always a good choice.

Serving type: bottle

04-08-2014 00:17:44 | More by patpbr
Photo of bubseymour


3.55/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

PIcked up a single sampler bottle while in Chambersburg PA at "Good to Go".

First this review is caviated with the fact that the best by date (that I noticed after I began to drink it), was 6 months old. With that said the beer had a stale hop profile. Really can't say too much more except I hope to grab a fresh bottle sometime while in VA or PA, and re-review as other Great Lakes beers I've sampled have been outstanding so far. Not the brewers fault I'm guessing.

Serving type: bottle

03-26-2014 22:44:49 | More by bubseymour
Photo of Ohiolager


4.11/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Burning River 6pk bottles $8.99(OH)

12 oz brown bottle poured into a pint glass. freshest taste date clearly marked.

pours a beautiful pale amber color. makes an amazing three finger thick head, peach white in color. it stays around for awhile. giving way to amazing lacing. like spider webs clinging inside my glass. it smells almost like an IPA. citrus, a cascade of hops, fruit smells like grapefruit, and subtle hints of pine. ( is this an APA an EPA or an IPA?)

the taste is like the smell but much more amazing. i taste a cascade of hops, followed by fruits like grapefruit, and it finishes dry and piney like an IPA. and a little bitter but not too much and it fits the finish. This is not an IPA, it is and american pale ale. that leans more towards the english side. and i like it.

the mouth feel is medium to heavy body. less heavy more medium. feels nice and crisp. refreshing and a tad bit bitter and dry at finish.

overall i love this beer. i have had this brew probably more than any other craft brew. it was the 2nd craft brew i ever drank. gold medal winner for a reason. great american pale ale that leans more towards the english side in my opinion. add some more hops and abv and you got an IPA. solid brew.

Serving type: bottle

03-19-2014 05:40:27 | More by Ohiolager
Photo of Grugalug

New York

3.08/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass.

A- Pours a pale golden and slightly copper color. A nice and fluffy two finger head that dissipates somewhat quickly. Lots of lacing and bubbles are visibly rising to the surface. Looks really appetizing.

S- Citrus is most present, and is largely grapefruit. Some floral notes are evident as well. Somewhat surprisingly, there is actually a noticeable malt presence as well. Just a very slight pine and resin smell. Good but not as aromatic as I was expecting.

T- Not much citrus here as the the more piney characteristics take over. The malt is also still present but is very subtle. A nice amount of strong hop presence, but certainly not overtly bitter. Again it's decent but I'm underwhelmed.

M- Incredibly drinkable. I found the body to be rather thin, but it was largely because of the surprising lack of carbonation. It was definitely carbonated, but almost seemed flat. This might be an opinion-based thing but not my cup of tea (or beer I suppose).

O- I had high expectations going in. Also, it seems to be a really beloved beer, and I seriously doubt that this many people are wrong. I just chalk it up to a difference in opinion. Personally, just not my thing. I recommend this based solely on how much love it gets from most people. However, I probably won't be picking this up again.

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2014 05:21:33 | More by Grugalug
Photo of scotorum


3.76/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Drank a sixpack of this over two days. Unfortunately I did not get the bottling date but I doubt if it had much age on it.

Poured from the 12 oz. bottle into a plastic cup, only vessel available.

a: Clear copper with a finger tall white head which receded slowly to even surface foam and patchy lacing.

s: Mild pine.

t: Sharp pine hops forward over what seemed like a rather muted malt base. Bitterness did not linger much.

m: Medium.

o: A hop-dominated American style pale ale. Tasty enough apparently thanks mostly to the hops. Not as balanced as I would have liked.

Serving type: bottle

02-21-2014 03:24:27 | More by scotorum
Photo of delta490


3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A- poured a clear amber with about one finger of creamy white head. Minimal retention but it clings to the circumference and leaves nice lacing

S- pretty malty (caramel, bread) with some light hints of hops

T- mild caramel malt flavor with some also mild hops flavors. It seemed underwhelming at first but got more robust as the beer warmed.

M- nice thickness on the palate

O- a very good Pale Ale, leaning more towards the English style.

Serving type: bottle

02-19-2014 22:01:20 | More by delta490
Photo of tmm313


4.84/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A- Almost perfect amber color. Crystal clear. Only poured about a 1/2 finger of head with aggressive pour, but had awesome lacing and trailing.

S- Huge citrus up front. Orange and grapefruit with fresh hop, caramel, subtle floral, tropical fruit and pine rounding it out. Smells amazing.

T- Absolutely delicious. Sweet orange and grapefruit up front, followed by big caramel, pine, slight earthy spice, and some nice bready notes. Subtle pine and orange rind on the finish. Not super complex, but the big flavors are blended almost perfectly. Wonderful, wonderful balance. I could drink this every day.

M- I was enjoying the flavor so much, I almost missed judging the mouthfeel. Medium light body. Creamy and slick on the tongue. Slightly drying with a nice aftertaste.

O- I hereby declare this the greatest Pale Ale on the planet! It was one of those "there you are, I've been looking for you" moments we're all striving for. THE most perfect session beer I have ever found!

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2014 22:16:23 | More by tmm313
Photo of ischoz


3.74/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Great pale ale. It has some bite to it. This a good beer to start your journey into craft beer. If you are looking for the bridge from the big three, give this a try. Its not too aggressive and it tastes clean and smooth. Another great offering from Great lakes.

This is the beer that pulled me away from not only the big brands, but also the lower end craft beers. I have not had it for a few months, I've moved onto IPAs but I'm sure I will visit this again in the future.


Serving type: bottle

02-01-2014 02:56:07 | More by ischoz
Photo of 1000lbgrizzly


3.76/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Perfectly clear burnt orange, soapy off-white head that has lasting lacing. Not much carbonation to my surprise.

S: Good hop aromas, mostly pine resin with some undertones of citrus. Hop forward, but not overwhelming.

T: Not a hop bomb, which I appreciate. Bitter, but not lasting, with good balance of pine and citrus. Good amount of malts to balance.

M: Crisp and refreshing, fluid, medium body. Just peachy.

O: Like I previously stated, not a hop-bomb, to my preference. Flavorful, enjoyable, but I'm still looking for a pale ale that will knock my socks off.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2014 07:07:16 | More by 1000lbgrizzly
Photo of steveh


3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Another beer in payment for services rendered. I drank this pretty often back when it first came out -- even enjoyed it at the GL pub in Cleveland, surprised I've never reviewed it. Haven't had it in some time, but it's just in time for a hop-fix.

IIRC, this was one of the first beers that was really an IPA disguised as an APA.

Best before 03/12/14 on the label.

A -- Clear, deep amber-gold with a firm, long-lasting, off white head.

S -- Mellow piny notes up front with biscuit malts back and some earthiness and mild fruit esters mixed in. I sort of wish there were bigger fruit esters in the nose, but this still fits the style bill.

T -- Good blend of piny, spicy hops and biscuit malts with the same underlying earthiness, but the hops win the balance battle in the finish and aftertaste -- resiny bitterness lingering with spiciness through the aftertaste.

M -- Mouthfeel is soft and smooth with a dry finish and medium body.

O -- There's a mild lingering vegetal character in this beer that I often get in many GL beers -- I've been led to understand that it's the house yeast character. It blends well with the mix of flavors in an APA like this, and why I'll give more points to the Burning River than any of GL's lagers.

OTOH, this beer takes me back in time to those first days of micro-brewing when no one was trying to out-do each other for palate-burning hop craziness. However, a couple in a row builds up the resin-burn a little more than I like and becomes palate-fatiguing. This beer hides its ABV and quenches a hop-craving quite well.

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2014 21:33:51 | More by steveh
Photo of stakem


3.36/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into pint. The brew appears a clear copper color with a slight off-white cap. Some stringy lace sticks to the wall of the glass.

The aromas is strikingly similar to a strong tea than beer.Ffaintly herbal and a little mineral filled. Some slight fruity alcohol emits as it is swirled.

The flavor is also tea-like and astringent like strong tea with a bitterness that creeps in slightly herbal. A bready grain backing is also present to contrast.

This is a light bodied brew with a moderate amount of carbonation. It is an ok offering but I really dont think I would revisit this.

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2014 19:50:06 | More by stakem
Photo of dar482

New York

4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The beer comes in a dark reddish clear amber color with a fluffy white head.

The aroma has a brown toasted breadiness, some nuttiness, and a bit of orange peel citrus.

The flavor follows with that toasted bread and with tons nuttiness. The finish is pretty dry, some hops showing through of grass and earthiness. A clean lager finish.

A well made beer with that beautiful toasty malt.

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2014 07:37:15 | More by dar482
Photo of NeedBeerHere


3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours out a nice amber in color with a half finger white head with retention of about 15 seconds. Smell is quite malt forward with caramel and a slight bit of hops in the nose but it is very slight. Taste is also pretty malt forward with not much hops at first but they come through as it goes down the throat. This as actually a pretty well balanced APA as far as taste. Mouthfeel is thicker than I would have expected with nice carbonation. Overall I'm pretty surprised that I liked this beer so much. It really is very balanced.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2013 03:45:10 | More by NeedBeerHere
Photo of JJKBeerLvr


3.73/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into pint glass.

Appearance: Bright amber, with nice thick and light colored head. The head lasted a very long time, and left a nice coating on the inside of the glass.

Smell: Pleasant, with a nice hops bitterness in the aroma. There is some sweet and citrus aromas, but the hops dominate.

Taste: A nice mix of hops and citrus flavors, that make for an interesting and complex Pale Ale. There is a nice after-taste, that lasts for a while but not too long.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and crisp, with a medium body.

Overall: This is an interesting and complex Pale Ale.

Serving type: bottle

12-09-2013 20:56:12 | More by JJKBeerLvr
Photo of DeFaz


4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This beer has been around a long time, but it's reputation has changed a bit as folks have expected more and more hoppiness in their beers and as folks are drinking more IPAs. The beer hasn't changed, but it may not across as hoppy as it once did. For me though, I appreciate the biscuit flavor from the malt and how the malt and hops are both bold. This is an incredibly balanced APA.

The beer has a great color--very nice clarity--and the lacing and head retention are above average. The beer finishes fairly dry, but the thickness is spot on and the carbonation is just right. The beer is easily drinkable.

I'd put this one right next to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale as the two classic APAs that still shine but that unfortunately seem to be forgotten more and more.

Serving type: bottle

12-05-2013 03:11:20 | More by DeFaz
Photo of MNishCT77

District of Columbia

3.84/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle purchased at Whole Foods on P St., NW D.C., unknown bottling date best buy date of 2/1/14l, poured into a DFH quasi-chalice, drank several on 12/4/13 over a few hours while homebrewing.

A: 3/3 - ambe-brown coloration, impressive clarity (likely filtered but can both see and read through), initial soapy white head dissipates into 1/2 finger glass lacing, moderate alcohol legs --> close to perfect appearing APA, methinks

S: 8/12 - muted citrus and grapefruit notes from Cascade shine through; as the beer warms, the malt character really comes across for me (C60-ish) with some warm biscuit qualities (Marris Otter as base malt?)

T: 14/20 - on the anterior tongue, there is a mild bitterness that quickly gives way, in the middle of the mouth, to some grassy and earthy qualities start to emerge; as the flavors develop in the mouth, the malt character shines through and is accentuated - toasted barley and muted figs; little-to-no alcohol presence; aftertaste is a pleasant maltiness that sits on the tongue for only a few seconds

M: 3/5 - moderate body with little-to-no hop resins, the alcohol is present; don't taste much alcohol; adequate carbonation --> overall high drinkability

O: 8/10 - have historically not been a fan of Cascade due to its bleachy and excessively grassy qualities when used in excess, especially as a component of dry hopping; this beer, however, uses Cascade for balancing, but, for me, it's the malt balance that really shines through; a very good APA but, to be honest, has been pushed aside by some of the aromatic pale ales with novel hops being made by lots of other American breweries

TOTAL = 38/50

Serving type: bottle

12-05-2013 02:34:41 | More by MNishCT77
Photo of kojevergas


3.21/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with fun label art and branded silver pry-off pressure cap acquired at Zipp's Liquor in Minneapolis, MN for $1.79 and served into a weissbier glass. Expectations are high given the brewery. Reviewed live. "A handcrafted pale ale." 6.0% ABV confirmed. Enjoy by: 11/13/13. Reviewed as a pale

Served cold - straight from the fridge. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a four finger wide head of white colour and nice even consistency. Decent thickness, creaminess and frothiness. Retention is good - about 5-6 minutes. Even lacing coats the sides of the glass as the head recedes.

Body colour is a clear translucent copper of average vibrance. No yeast particles are visible.

Overall, it's an appealing appearance and I'm eager to try it, but it's not unique or special. No egregious flaws.

Sm: Clean. Floral hops. Pale malts. Vague fruity hop character.

No yeast character or alcohol is detectable. A pleasant aroma of average strength.

T: Pale malt backbone is joined by a floral hop profile with hints of fruity hops.

Cohesive and enjoyable, but not gestalt, complex, subtle, or intricate.
Clean, without any real yeast character. No alcohol comes through.

Average depth, intensity, and duration of flavour.

Mf: Smooth, wet, well-carbonated, nicely thick, and medium-bodied. Suits the flavour profile well. Nice unobtrusive presence on the palate.

Not oily, astringent, harsh, gushed, hot, or boozy.

Dr: Drinkable, but I hoped for better from Great Lakes. It's a quaffable pale ale but offers nothing memorable. Will get lost amist the plethora of superior beers in the style. I might get it again if I'm in the mood for a pale ale, but I wouldn't recommend it to friends. Certainly not world-class, but well above average.

High C+

Serving type: bottle

12-02-2013 06:35:51 | More by kojevergas
Photo of granger


4.16/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Burning River is a pale ale that has a one finger head with average carbonation following the pour. It has a bronze color, slightly deeper than the Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold. This beer has a strong citrus and hoppy smell that is consistent with the taste. As you taste, the crisp bitterness of the hops will stick around. Recommended to anyone who enjoys pale ales.

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2013 01:29:13 | More by granger
Photo of Givemebeer


4.11/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a snifter... Realized the best by date was Oct 8... Oops

A: Amber and clear nice head and lacing

S: citrus tropical scent with some sweet malt aroma

T: follows the nose, deliciously tropical very well balanced by the malt

M: light-medium bodied

O: definitely my favorite APA. A must try for the style

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2013 01:10:47 | More by Givemebeer
Photo of MacQ32

South Carolina

4.21/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A - pours a light golden color with about a finger of offshore head. On retention, solid lacing.

S - Tons of great light fruity hips, apple, mango, grapefruit, orange. Mild bitterness and a wee bit of caramel sweetness.

T - Those light citrus flavors come through initially followed by a very mild hop bitterness. Finish and aftertaste is all sweet fruits. Great refreshing flavor

M - lighter bodied with prefect carbonation, ideal for the style.

O - good light citrus flavor, very drinkable. Nothing over the top but certainly enjoyable

Serving type: bottle

10-13-2013 23:17:25 | More by MacQ32
Photo of Slatetank


4.06/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I picked this up at Wegmans, enjoyed chilled from a pint glass.

The color is dark copper with off white head which leaves confetti lace and has great clarity with visible carbonation. Retention is good and bead is very fine. The smell is very fragrant of hops with a mild pine accent and very gentle fruity yeast scent. The feel is good with moderate bitterness and carbonation level with mild sweetness and light alcohol tinge with a mostly dry finish.

The flavor is a very good mix of malts with more of a German toasted perhaps vienna flavor with mild herbal and pine hop flavors following with some mild orange rind accents. The flavor of malt is pretty well balanced with the hops with a generally clean yeast taste very nice dry finish with no alcohol in the taste to speak of. Overall this is a different take on the pale style, with more german type munich toastiness and more herbal/noble type flavor than straight citrus, but it is very drinkable and well worth repeat tastes

Serving type: bottle

10-02-2013 00:46:09 | More by Slatetank
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Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,328 ratings.