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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

2,319 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2319
Reviews: 975
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: 2,319 | Reviews: 975 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of zakery


1.45/5  rDev -63.6%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

I'll start with the easy stuff: A white fluffy head pillows on top of a good looking crystal-clear amber brew with low visible carbonation.

Now to the tough part: Let me begin with a little bit of background. In Sweden, there exists a kind of tobacco called "wet snuff". It is Kentucky tobacco that's been matured and ground into tiny particles. This is then moistened and stuffed into small round boxes. When using it you grab some and squeeze it into a loosely compacted mass that you stuff under you upper lip. It also comes in portion sizes in something that looks like a tiny tea-bag. We used to joke about how it would make the most awful drink if one brewed a tea from these portion bags.

Now on with the rest of the review. This beer tastes _exactly_ like one would imagine a tea made from this wet snuff would taste like. I'm not talking subtle over or under tones here... smack bang exactly like the snuff. Both in smell and taste. I do recognize the quality of the beer, and I would generally enjoy a highly hopped beer like this. If I'd never tried the snuff it would've been fine I think. I tried to persist through the bottle, but it was just too much. The more I drank, the more it reminded me of the tobacco. The aftertase of the beer is exactly like when you accidentally swallow some of the snuff. Too bad... I had high hopes for this beer as I love other Great Lakes brews.

Serving type: bottle

09-21-2002 14:46:44 | More by zakery
Photo of matty


2/5  rDev -49.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Light gold colored beer with a rapidly fading head.Aroma is pine.Taste is grapefruit,pine and hops.This is just another one of those beers that have Pinesol written all over it.I was always under the impression that pine was a scent not a flavor.This is not good to drink but I'm sure it does a hell of a job cleaning floors.

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2009 06:01:47 | More by matty
Photo of BeerImmediately


2.17/5  rDev -45.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

12 oz bottle into thin-walled glass at 40 degrees. Dated as best before 9/21/09. (Had two, just to double-check my initial impressions).

Good looking 2F, white head which took a while to fade to film. Amber-orange in color with plenty of visible carbonation.

Smell is a bit of a disappointment - really had to pull it out. No hoppy character. Some bland vegetables - squash and cooked zuchini.

Did not enjoy the taste either - cooked corn water, with a hint of citrus hop trying desperately to pull through. Finished with a bit of the euro pale lager skunk.

Mouthfeel was ok - little bitter bite, not as smooth as most APA's I've had, hence the score. Sour film left on tongue.

With an unmemorable smell, poor taste and rough MF, overall drinkability landed in the basement.

Have no idea how this beer won a Gold Medal or so many rave reviews - maybe I hit a "bad batch"

Serving type: bottle

07-30-2009 02:06:59 | More by BeerImmediately
Photo of Afterburner


2.55/5  rDev -35.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Appearance: Nice copper color, with moderate off-white head. Prominent lacework.

Smell: Typical ale fruityness, with strong banana notes. Faint hints of malt. Also a very faint sour sulfur smell, making me wonder if the beer might be skunked (given that it was mailed to me). And, of course, a strong hop character.

Taste: Well, it doesn't taste skunked. However, there's not much here to write home about. Like Lagunita's IPA, there's nothing here but hops. Hops hit you at the start, they stay with you mid-palate, and they're there at the finish. No malt whatsoever to balance out the hop character. It's like drinking hop tea.

Mouthfeel: Sprightly, spritzy.

Drinkability: Couldn't drink more than one of these. I like hops, but I also like other characteristics as well.

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2004 02:03:10 | More by Afterburner
Photo of steve8robin


2.6/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

GL Extra in a trade:

A: Medium copper color with a small white head that quickly fades.

S: Smells hoppy and grassy. Slight malts on the backend. Not too good.

T: Grassy upfront with a medium hop presence. Grapefruit in the middle. Not one for me.

M: Refreshing, but does not leave much on the palate.

D: A hint too hoppy for me.

All in all, this is a hoppy / grapefruit bitterness type brew. Not for me. If you like hops and dry flavor, then try this one. Otherwise, not worth your time.

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2010 06:39:37 | More by steve8robin
Photo of n2185

North Carolina

2.6/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bottle into a tulip.

A: Lovely transparent honey-orange with about 2 fingers of frothy white head. Head retention as good and clings to the side of the glass nicely.

S: Some bready/wheat-like aromas here with only a bit of piney hop aroma.

T: A bit bland. Bready flavors first and foremost with the hops kicking in on the finish. Some pine flavors and a lot of bitterness of the aftertaste.

M: Medium body with some nice smooth creaminees and a bit of carbonation bite at the end.

D: Goes down pretty easily, but the residual bitterness keeps me from wanting many more. Overall not a very impressive pale ale.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2011 21:05:18 | More by n2185
Photo of Steasy66


2.63/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle Poured into a pint glass
A- Golden with off-white head.
S-Ligth malt, grassy hops
T-Very light malt, dank hops, strange finish that is almost smokey and soapy at the same time.
M-High carbonation, light body

Not sure if I got a bad batch or something, but this stuff has a bizarre aftertaste.

Serving type: bottle

03-02-2012 09:53:04 | More by Steasy66
Photo of Murrdogg


2.7/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this on tap at the GLBC brewery itself

A: medium-dark golden, small head

S: Strong hop smell. slight pine-y/wood in the back

T: Bitter, hoppy taste. This was not for me. The hops were deep, some citrus-y, some sweet, but was a bit overpowering for my taste. Finished even more bitter than it began

M: Somehow light, which was surprising with the robust hop presence. but much too hoppy for me

D: I was able to finish it, but the residual hop presence in the mouth along with the bitter aftertaste would keep me from ordering another one. This would probably be good with some strong dishes, heat or spice. I laughed, as it almost tasted like a decadent burning river..

Serving type: on-tap

02-15-2011 18:06:10 | More by Murrdogg
Photo of AwYeh


2.75/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle poured into combo weizen/pint glass; best by 4/14/11.

A: Pours a clear golden-amber, tons of carb bubbles flowing up through to support two fingers of foamy white head.

S: Lots of grassy and earthy hops; smells much like a pilsener, with an additional hint of caramel malts in the back.

T: More grassy, earthy hops here, but I'm not really liking the way they mesh with the slightly sweet malts. This feels a bit like a cheap conversion of a pils into an ale without really paying attention to the way the different flavors would mesh; my least favorite tasting GLBC beer to date.

M: Light/medium-bodied with moderate+ carbonation; pretty bubbly without many other characteristics- not particularly smooth, or sticky, etc.

O: Even while GLBC is one of my favorite breweries, I can't say that this is one I'll be picking up again; rather unbalanced, and not particularly tasty. There are much better offerings out there within the APA style.

Serving type: bottle

03-20-2011 09:02:47 | More by AwYeh
Photo of Dukeofearl


2.9/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

$1.79 for a 12 ounce bottle at Merchant Fine Wine in Dearborn Heights, MI, early April 2008.

Pours a golden hue with a very nice frothy head.

A very aromatic beer. That's a good thing. But the aromas are another matter- most of what I get is very medicinal (cough drops?) and metallic. Otherwise, herbal hops are a decent component.

The flavor hides most of the off-notes of the aroma, and this becomes a decent version of the style. Overall muted compared to the West Coast versions I have had.

Clean and refreshing mouthfeel that is ruined by the aroma.

At the end of the bottle, overall my feeling was "no thanks, not interested".

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2008 20:56:45 | More by Dukeofearl
Photo of tigg924


2.9/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: 3/4 inch head, gold-orange in color, clear, medium carbonation

Smell: pale malt, citrus hops, and grass

Taste: caramel start, a strange bitter middle with citrus hops at the end

Mouthfeel: moderate carbonation, medium-bodied, sweet start with a big bitter middle spike that gets less bitter towards the end

Overall: An OK APA that I was a bit disappointed with. The bitter spike in the middle muted a lot of the other flavors. I like Great Lakes beers, but this one did not sit as well with me as others have.

Serving type: bottle

09-06-2012 18:04:53 | More by tigg924
Photo of OWSLEY069


2.93/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a clean orange-ish/ yellow color with a white head. Aromas of a small dryness and a small citrus/ grapefruty hop. In the taste, a dry maltiness, small hops, and somewhat earthy. A smooth, small bitterness in the mouthfeel, with a dry, small hop aftertaste. Not huge in aroma, and decent taste. Somewhat refreshing and and easy drinking.

Serving type: bottle

11-17-2007 22:20:06 | More by OWSLEY069
Photo of Erdinger2003


2.98/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I had to pour the beer very hard to get any head and the head left in no time leaving every little behind. The color is absolutely clear and light. You can see right through it very easily. The smell is very nice and hoppy. The taste is a bit off, like it's a little old, but the bottle says best before 2/26/07. It's an ok taste, but it is just off. The mouthfeel is a bit watery and hard. I don't think I would try this again.

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2007 10:58:48 | More by Erdinger2003
Photo of mayor55


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

Dark amber color with thick head . Poured in to a pint glass. Head over 1" thick. Leaves good rings on glass. very average, one dimensional flavor. burnt malty nose, weak on the hops. My first sampling of Great Lakes. Very average beer. Harsh bitter aftertaste.

Serving type: bottle

05-26-2008 21:31:29 | More by mayor55
Photo of alcstradamus


3/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Light golden color with a nice finger of head that recedes quickly. Smell is weak, mainly caramel malt and straw. Taste is slightly better, although that just brings it up to average. Overall, I don't think this beer really has anything going for it. Not much in the way of hops, and the malt profile is nothing special to make up for it.

Serving type: bottle

08-29-2009 04:57:36 | More by alcstradamus
Photo of babaracas


3/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a clear amber with quick fading two finger white head; spotty lace left behind. Smell: toffee, biscuit, grainy, spicy with just a touch of citrus peel. Taste: toffee, just a little nutty, spicy, grainy, a little lemon peel. Medium sweetness fades to a grainy, spicy finish. Not a bad beer, but stylistically this is a miss for me.

Best by 4/25/11.

Serving type: bottle

03-13-2011 06:13:55 | More by babaracas
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 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 terrabyte


3.13/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

IThis poured a clear, pale brown color with a whitish, foamy head.

A citrus smell with a strong grapefruit presence.

Tasted like carbonated grapefruit juice. Plenty of pine hops, giving it that pleasant bitter aftertaste. I wish there was more in this beer to balance it out. Carbonated grapefruit juice.

Overall, this seemed a bit one dimensional.
Also, whenever I have this much grapefruit and pine in a beer, it's usually labeled an IPA.

Serving type: bottle

10-12-2006 21:27:45 | More by terrabyte
Photo of alleykatking


3.13/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had on tap the other night. Review from phone notes.

A- Poured a nice clear deep copper/amber color. Nice one finger white head comes and falls down to just wisps in my glass. Some spotting lacing is on the sides of the glass the entire beer.

S- Pale malts bring out most of the aroma right off the bat. There is also a light bitter and citrus hops in the back end of the nose. Light hints of sweet caramel come and go with this beer.

T- Taste is a little off for me with the APA. The citrus and pale malts crash together right on the front end of this beer. It is balanced for the most part. Sweet caramel malts come in the middle leaving a nice pine like bitter hop bite in the ending. Also light alcohol is in the tail end of this beer.

M- Medium mouthfeel. Carbonation is good for the style. Bitter hops and light malts stay on the palate long after the sip has been made. Alcohol and bitter hops stay in the aftertaste for a while as well. Kind of drying in the mouth.

D- This is a drinkable APA for sure. My only problem is I don't think it is as good as everyone makes it out to be. There are many other APA's that I would rather drink. I would recommend this though to someone who wants to try to step into the world of hops.

Serving type: on-tap

12-21-2009 03:08:10 | More by alleykatking
Photo of ZenAgnostic


3.13/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into a wine glass. Back label stamped 05/27/11.

Appearance - Big white head with great retention. slightly hazy pale copper body.

Smell - Musky hop. Urine.

Taste - Moderate hop. Honey sweet malt. No off flavors.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied.

Overall Drinkability - Decent if completely forgettable middle-of-the-road pale ale.

Serving type: bottle

09-18-2011 17:24:37 | More by ZenAgnostic
Photo of ffejherb


3.15/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle into pint glass. Best by date: 9/12/07 (a little late).

A - Clear amber body with two-finger head that quickly shrunk to a thin, whispy rim that held on to the end. Very modest carbonation.

S - Hops are predominantly citrus with grapefruit being at the forefront. There is also some sweet caramel and bready malts present, but the nose is primarily citrus.

T - Sweet initial flavor with a lightly bitter finish that lingers for quite a while for a pale ale. Nothing spectacular. Mostly sweet malts and grapefruit.

M - Light body with modest carbonation and a creamy, though a tad watery, texture. Finish is a bit metallic and bitter.

D - Decent pale ale with a pretty long-lasting bitterness for the style. Just a bit watery on the palate, possibly due to the date being two months past its prime. Not overly complex - mostly caramel and bready malts with citrus hops. Still, it's tasty and drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

11-30-2007 02:30:36 | More by ffejherb
Photo of dpnelson1978


3.15/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle into glass pint.

$9.99 / 6-pk.

A: Bright amber body topped with a big tight head of great retention that leaves behind moderate lacing and a thick creamy cover.

S: Subdued floral hop character and light caramel notes. Solid, but nothing special.

T: Bready malt backbone with a noticeable hop bitterness throughout. Resinous on the back end with a building bitter aftertaste.

M: Medium body and moderate carbonation. Not particularly crisp.

D: Light, highly sessionable brew, but pretty typical for the style. Nice neutral beer for any occasion.

O: This one will please the masses, but doesn't really stick out in my mind.

Serving type: bottle

09-12-2010 01:20:17 | More by dpnelson1978
Photo of claytri


3.15/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The beer poured golden with an off white head. The aroma was light malt with some fruitiness, and hops. The taste is a little bit of malt up front, a small rush of fruit, and then a big hit of hops leaving a bitter aftertaste. The feel is light and dry. A bit over hopped for my taste, I could do with more of the malt and fruit. A pretty typical hoppy pale ale.

Serving type: on-tap

06-07-2012 18:08:34 | More by claytri
Photo of bort11


3.18/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to DuqTroops for this one.

12 oz bottle poured into an Imperial pint glass. Not a whole lot of head here, only about a half inch at the most. Quickly recedes to a thin film. Color is a clear copper.
Smell is faintly sweet with a hint of bitterness in the back. Taste is predominantly malty and sweet up front, and the hops finishes out to give it some balance.
Mouthfeel is on the lighter side, which really adds to the drinkability. Goes down very smooth, I could session this easily

Serving type: bottle

04-20-2007 02:18:16 | More by bort11
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Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,319 ratings.