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

Not Rated.
Great Lakes Burning River Pale AleGreat Lakes Burning River Pale Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,012 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,012
Hads: 3,062
Avg: 3.99
pDev: 19.3%
Wants: 135
Gots: 492 | FT: 3
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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 07-06-2001

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,012 | Hads: 3,062
Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, best by 5/20/2012. Pours slightly hazy golden amber color with a fairly dense 1 finger off white head with good retention that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Some spotty lacing on the glass. Aromas of grapefruit, orange, caramel, apricot, pine, herbal, biscuit, honey, floral, and grass. Very nice and well balanced aromas with good strength. Taste of grapefruit, biscuit, pine, floral, honey, orange, caramel, and herbal spiciness. Good amount of spicy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of grapefruit, orange, pine, biscuit, and herbal spiciness on the finish for a good bit. Great malt flavor balance with bitterness. Medium carbonation and body; with a fairly creamy and smooth mouthfeel. Alcohol is well hidden with only a slight warming after the finish. Overall this is a very excellent and balanced pale ale that is highly enjoyable and flavorful.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

You have to love Great Lakes, when they make a beer this well balanced and drinkable. I raise one to them. It pours a copper amber with a slightly tan head very nice head retention. The aroma is chalk full of hops that create varying aromas such as citrus tones and pine cones. The flavor brings a lot of hop bitterness to the back of the tongue, very crisp clean finish. The malt just kind of surrounds the palate with warmth and of course the alcohol brings a nice tingling sensation. Awesome brew that I would partake in at any given opportunity. Us West Virginians are thankful to have access to such a fine brewer. Amazingly drinkable, could be one of my favorite pale ales of all time.

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Photo of chinchill
3.36/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

12 oz bottle.

Pours with an over sized foamy head that won't allow me to gently pour the entire 12 oz bottle into into a 18 oz mug. The foamy head lingers on and on, with some settling that leaves it looking like a fitting topping for a vanilla float. The aroma is more earthy, English hop than I prefer but also has an attractive malt aroma that is bolder and darker than expected. The taste follows, with the darker malts coming out in the finish and aftertaste.

O: nice but should revisit with a fresher bottle.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Lovely, hazy golden hue, with a flush, full chalky-white head, thick, but slowly diminishing. Aroma: citrus and straw, a quintessential pale ale smell here, fre. sh, flowery, herbal, even , full of hoppiness, without being too-much-so, i.e., edging into IPA territory, sweet and sour (citric) at once.
Taste: Ah! Let's say it again, loud and proud, AHHH!!!! Bold fruitiness first embodies this palate, peach and apricot, nectarine, orange, with a great hoppiness, too, but so much here is ably matched by the malt, and the sweetness adequately captures any bitter, so that there is no clash, no struggle, no fight for superiority here, no sword-clash for dominance, just a perfectly balanced pale ale. Taste is full and fruity throughout, dominated by peach and apricot, but ever-so delicious and delectably downable all the way.
Definitely a rival for Sierra Nevada PA, certainly a contender along the same style, but, did I ever enjoy this sample! Mmmmm, mmm,,nmnnn!

And seperate cheers to tavernjef for sneaking it across the WI border for me!

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Photo of jwc215
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Freshness date of 06/28/07:

Pours orangish gold with thin white head that descends to barely a cover.

The smell is of light citric fruits with caramel in the back.

The taste is floral and citric - grapefruit/lemon/orange. Sweet caramel blends in well. Bittersweet fruitiness hangs on well into the aftertaste.

Medium to full-bodied. Nice carbonation level makes this very smooth. Refreshingly dry.

A friend brought this back from Ohio. Wish it were available around here. A hoppy, yet sufficiently balanced deliciously smooth pale ale.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.04/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Served on-tap at Great Lakes Brewing in Cleveland, OH

A: Pours a crystal clear pale amber in color with some moderate to heavy amounts of visible carbonation and some golden yellow highlights. The beer has a finger tall off-white head that quickly reduces to a medium patch of very thin film and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light aromas of caramel malts with some moderate aromas of floral and citrus/orange rind hops.

T: Upfront there are light to moderate flavors of pale and caramel malts with just a touch of sweetness. The malts are followed by light to moderate flavors of floral and citrus/orange rind hops which impart a light bitterness which lingers for a short amount of time.

M: Medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Light amounts of crispness upfront.

O: This is an easy drinking beer that pairs up well with the food served in the brewpub at Great Lakes - I think this beer would go with just about anything. Easy to drink and refreshing, enough hops to be interesting but still enjoyable and not overly bitter. This is just about sessionable (just a touch high on the ABV to really be a session beer).

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Photo of drabmuh
3.78/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A beer named after an ecological disaster. I suppose that is one way to own your identity. Still a burning river is probably most people in MI would like to forget.

Beer served on draft at a local beer bar. Beer is clear with only a slight haze. Carbonation is low and lacing is high. Head is thin and broken, made up of a single layer of tiny white bubbles.

Tiny aroma of malt and citrus hops, smells fine.

Mild hop flavor and a slight bitterness at the back. High malt character and a slight aftertaste, nothing too bad. This is an OK APA, not great just OK.

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Photo of stakem
3.37/5  rDev -15.5%
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.

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Photo of tdm168
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a bright orangish-copper with a quarter of an inch of creamy, white head that fades to a thin lacing after a few seconds. The nose light; malty, bready, citrusy with some grapefruit notes. The flavor is lightly malty and toasty up front with smoothly, bitter, piny hop finish. The mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with a crisp, smooth finish.

This is a solid beer. It's balanced, flavorful, and refreshing. It's easy to drink though a little too carbonated for my liking. I would definitely have this again.

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Photo of WesWes
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a gold color with a thick frothy white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a well balanced aroma of pale malts and floral hops. The taste is good as well. It has a smooth breadlike malt taste that boasts of pale and bisquit malts along with a nice selection of floral hops. The bisquit malts blend well with the hops. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium/full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a solid APA. I'm always a fan of the bisquit malts. The hop selection also adds a nice balanced flavor.

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Photo of billab914
3.97/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz into my Perfect pint Glass. Poured a nice amber color with a foamy white head that dissipates into a fine film that clings to the edges.

Aroma shows notes of some nice citrus from the Cascade hops and a sweet fruitiness from the malts. Taste is hoppy with some sweet fruity flavors that are very good. Nice mouthfeel and drinkability.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle provided by hudsonphotog.

Pours light orange with a white head. The aroma is very malty, possibly Vienna malt. You also get some piney hops. The flavor is piney hops with a strong caramel malt backbone. Not too complex but a good APA. Medium mouthfeel and carbonation.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.65/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I sometimes wonder what takes me so long in reviewing a beer. By ticking this one, I will have reviewed 10 of the 12 most-reviewed APAs and it is not like this one is some obscure offering that I had to trade for. Hell, in college at Pitt, I would often use this beer as a Saturday (ahem!) morning warm-up prior to tailgating and home games. Speaking of Pittsburgh: Number of rivers in Pittsburgh = 3. Number of rivers in Pittsburgh that have caught fire = 0.

From the bottle: "What do you do when your river catches fire from excessive pollution? Clean it up and throw a hoppin' party! Our annual Burning River Fest is the premier environmental education and music festival celebrating clean water and other eco-initiatives across the Great Lakes region."; "World Champion Gold Medal Winner World Beer Championships"; "Named after the 1969 burning of the Cuyahoga River, our American Pale Ale combines a citrusy Cascade hops flavor with a fruity assertiveness."; "In keeping with the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516, this beer is traditionally brewed from all natural ingredients: barley, hops, yeast and water. No chemicals or preservatives are used."

Man and boy, I would just love to take some potshots at Kleveland (backwards "K") in this review, but I frankly love GLBC and their beers! In August 2008, I hit it just right to attend their Brewer's Dinner and their Brewery Tour on consecutive nights. Their brewers know me, their reps know me, I wear a couple of their wristbands, so how can I diss them now? OK, not now, but I reserve the right to hate on Kleveland at will.

I got a lovely two fingers of eggshell-white head with good retention off of my pour. Color was a classic shade of deep-amber with NE-quality clarity and should be the standard for Lovibond in the style. Nose reminded me of just how fresh this was, courtesy of Sunday's visit to The Fridge. The grapefruit scent cut right through my burgeoning sinus headache and made my eyes pop. Mouthfeel was medium and the taste was about as perfectly balanced between hops and malt as I have experienced for a while. You listening, Lazy Magnolia, with your overly hopped Deep South P.A.? Finish was semi-dry as compared to AIPAs which are my go-to, but perhaps dry when compared to others in the style. I am not a style maven, but I know what I like. I like this beer. My name is Woody Chandler and I approve this message.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.52/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From which this pint glass holds from yonder bottle of goodness comes the appearance of a clear amber/orange color nectar. Antique offwhite head with decent lacing and some solid ice cream cone retention.

Smell is a dominant flavor of toasted grain. Toasted rye or whole wheat bread. Literally this beer smells like toast from the toaster, I want to BUTTER it it smells so good.

That grainy toasty taste comes through in a not overbearing way, with excellent body. It feels as it coats your palate everywhere as the toast aromas finish, and then this mellow aromatic hop flavor comes out that isn't bitter at all. The afterfinish goes on pleasantly for what feels like forever, superior clean finish, and I don't know how but their is a whisp... a hint... of cocoa on the aftertaste, how they did this just blows my mind. This is one of the best mouthfeel/finishing beers I've ever had.

Drinkability is just flat out high.

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.27/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a Lancaster Brewing pint glass.

A- A pretty, amber/orange mix with a ever rising fluffy semi thick white head. It settled after a few leaving a loose skim. Some bubbles loose bubbles barely sticking to the glass I would not call it a lace.

S- Getting citrus hops plus floral scents with some caramel from the malt. Nicely hopped for a american pale, the best scent from one in recent memory.

T- I first get a nice dose of hops giving off citrus with grapefruit, orange, plus floral tastes. A very nicely hopped APA. Some sweetness from malts with a nice balance. Some bitterness afterwards which is nice.

M&D- The feel is light to medium with a good amount of carb livining things up a bit. Very impressive. I get hops than some sweetness than some bitterness, nothing over the hill. Hmmm, only 6%, sign me up.

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Photo of Gavage
4.23/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearane: light orange in color with a 1" head that lasts a while. Some moderate lacing develops.

Smell: caramel sweetness and some citrus tones are mild overall.

Taste: caramel, orange citrus, some lemon zest, and sweet red apple in the background. Bitterness levels are moderate, and there is a bit of graininess to this beer.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied. Crisp to start, less crisp and a bit dry late.

Drinkability: another great session ale from Great Lakes. This beer is refreshing and well balanced.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.23/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this up at Beers of the World on a recent family vacation, I should have picked up more!
Pours a clear deep copper/amber color with a bubbly beige head that impales itself to the glass all the way down. Smells of citrus, light sweet fruit, slight mineral. Taste is smooth citrus with a fruity burnt sugar malt sweetness. Great balance! Twinge of hops, bit of malt leaves a hop bite at the end of every sip. Crisp carbonation, sticky, resinous mouthfeel, medium body with a semi dry finish. Great session ale here.

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Photo of tempest
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Cleveland-Hopkins airport

Nice, there's a touch of cocoa in the malt that really sets this pale ale apart nicely. Otherwise, the hops provide a great, piney hops bite. Overall this is a nice change of pace from SNPA wannabe's with the slightly dark grains and more rounded yet more harsh hops in use. It may not be crisp, but it's mighty tasty.

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Photo of yourefragile
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12 oz bottle poured into a nonic.

A: Crisp, clear amber with a finger of dense white, head that is fairly retentive, leaving a thin white film and thin webs of sticky lacing.
S: Biscuity, caramel maltiness backed up by a floral, hoppy smell. This time its not quite as hoppy as I remember from previous samples.
T: Lighter body with very strong carbonation and hop bitterness results in a creamy, full mouthfeel. Finish is dry and hoppy. Body is well balanced between strong malty, biscuit like flavor, but most surprising for this APA is this very strong citrus hop bite. This is my favorite glbc beer and also one the biggest, most flavorful apa's I've had.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.08/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Appears burnt orange in color with a lingering soapy white head which provides ample amount of lacing.

Smell is lightly floral. Sweet malt also there.

This beer has a very good balanced flavor, leaning to the hop edge. Caramel and biscuity with a solid citrus hop lending notes of orange sherbert as well as pine.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and finishes semi dry.

Drinkable? Very.. Sessionable, definately. Sure does go down easy hard to have just one.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.47/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up in West Virginia while I was on vacation there. A great session beer that I wish I could find locally, It pours dark golden with a thin head that sticks around and creates some decent lacing. The smellis lovely, with beautifully balanced earthy hops and a light malt background. Some cherry fruitiness at the finish. The taste is a beautiful example of a pale ale. Relativeley lightbodied, but with a nice fruity and bitter flavor throughout. Cherries and orange zest and earthy hops make this a delightful quaffer. Nicely balanced and crisp but full mouthfeel make this one great to have in the fridge often.

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Photo of Zorro
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled through the efforts of Murrayswine and UTBIF.

Pours a clear deep amber to almost copper colored ale with a tall tan head.

Smell is quite malt and spicy in the first sniff. Lots of malt scent and bready grain smells. Very spicy from the hops chosen for this beer. Individual aromas of caramel and nuts with a little bread dough and vanilla.

Taste is quite malty at the beginning with a trace of smoke and starts out a lot like a Scottish ale. Quickly the hops kick in and add a nice complex bitterness to this brew. Faint lemons in the hops but mostly I taste smoke, malt and drying bitterness. A very tasty APA that isn't just a SNPA clone. Spicy after taste that is cleaned up by a woody bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel is very good and surprisingly full.

Drinkability is among the best. A damn tasty beer that isn't extreme in any respect. What makes this beer is a lot of great qualities extremely well executed. A malty spicy and smoky pale ale that doesn't get tiresome at all in your mouth. A superior APA in all respects.

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Photo of biegaman
3.97/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Burning River isn't all that fiery. In fact, it's actually a fairly dull and commonplace shade of gold. That's not to say it isn't kindled with just a smudge of amber but don't let the name or label put any pictures in your head. Its complexion is glossy, its clarity immaculate and its head bubbly and adhesive - this doesn't need any glitzy highlighting to look good.

This is supposedly an English pale ale but it's brimming with pungent, piny American North-West hops (Cascades, to be specific). And it gives you a little sample of everything the cones are capable of being: sprucey and piny, fresh and minty, herbal and earthy, zestful and spicy, candied and citrusy. One beer - a dozen different smells.

What ends up making the cut is the mintyness, the citrus and the herbal character. It tastes like a fresh, ripely picked hop cone that was drowned in pineapple and bitter grapefruit juice before being crushed together with fresh mint leaves. If Great Lakes Brewing ever decides to make a salad dressing flavoured like this I'll be sure to buy it.

The malts are tasted but even more so sensed. They are toasty and sweet with a sugary honeycomb flavour and trace nuttiness. The hops are felt too, even for a considerable period after the swallow, as they release their resoundingly bitter resins. Neither hops nor malt seem to dominate; having the presence of both in the same beer is appreciated.

If anyone is looking for a tasty, easily quaffed and highly rewarding pale ale then I might just point them in the direction of Cleveland, Ohio. There are pale ales out there just as good (even better) but there aren't many breweries who turn up as high a number of quality beers as Great Lakes. They either make good beer or they make great beer.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured in to a Leffe tulip glass

A - Poured a somewhat cloudy amber colour with a half finger of creamy white head.

S - Citrus hops up front that are well balanced with sweet caramel malts.

T - A good balance of bitter citrus hops and sweet bready, caramel malts. Bitterness lingers on the finish.

M - Light to medium body, moderate carbonation.

D - A very good pale ale. Not a single complaint about this one. Another great GL beer.

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Photo of Wasatch
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to JAYW for this brew.

Pours a nice clean/clear golden orange color, nice carbonation, nice creamy one-finger head, with some nice sticky lacing to follow. The nose is hoppy, malty, slight piny, and lots of caramel. The taste is a good balance of hops and malts, with lots of caramel. The finish is very dry and bitter. Medium body. Drinkable, this is a nice Pale Ale, glad to have a chance to try it.

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Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 1,012 ratings.