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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

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

2,530 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,530
Reviews: 982
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 11.08%
Wants: 93
Gots: 156 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 07-06-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,530 | Reviews: 982 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of cavedave

New York

4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a reddish amber topped by thin whisps of off-white foam which settle to sparse islands and a thin ring.

It is a light-medium strength bouquet of mild grain, floral hop, and a sweet fruitiness reminiscent of raspberry that gives it a wonderful aroma. Could be one of those surprises, a bold taste not predicted by a subtle nose.

Ah, I love a taste that is so well blended of such balanced flavors it becomes something that stands apart. This is a refreshing blend of subtle malt tones that sit back to balance a mild yet clean and potent hop profile. The finish is a sneak attack of citrus bitter, then piney, then herbal bitter, done in an underwhelming way that allows complexity to what is a refreshing session beer of highest order. Will need to do a side by side with Dales, SN, others, with friends.

Nice low carb., light resinous mouthfeel, promotes a good finish. As it warmed it got the slightest bit of a metallic feel. This did not detract from enjoyment.

Drinkability for this is very good, another fantastic brew from Great Lakes. So glad we get this here now.

Impression: Good brew, will get this again.

Serving type: bottle

12-06-2009 22:08:52 | More by cavedave
Photo of zimm421


4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a nice dark amber color with a nice light-tan colored head that dissipates at an average rate leaving some lacing on the glass

S - Citrus smell from the cascade hops stand out as well as a slight sweet scent

T - Starts off with a nice sweetness and good fruitiness from the malts, but again, the hops really stand out, adding a nice citrus flavor

M - A good dry beer, with a decent amount of carbonation

D - Fairly easy to drink, good tasting and and goes down well

A good beer, something that is good to sit down, drink, relax and enjoy.

Serving type: bottle

12-06-2009 03:38:37 | More by zimm421
Photo of Viggo

Ontario (Canada)

3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle, purchases in Buffalo.

Pours a clear amber orange, some copper, thin white head forms, quickly settles down to a medium sized ring around the glass, a few lace spots stick, looks alright.

Smell is nice, big citrus aroma, orange peel, some lemons, nice sweet malt character, caramel and biscuits, grapefruit, floral, a bit of fruit, pineapple, really nice hop character.

Taste is similar, heavy on the malts for a pale, caramel and biscuit jump out, quite sweet, some nice fruitiness, apricots, strawberries, grapefruit and orange peel hopping, nice floral, balanced bitterness, a bit peppery going down.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with light to medium carbonation. I like my pales a bit hoppier but this is still damn nice and almost perfectly balanced.

Serving type: bottle

12-02-2009 01:37:51 | More by Viggo
Photo of billab914


3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-30-2009 23:46:09 | More by billab914
Photo of msubulldog25


4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured to a pint glass. Thanks to trep for the extra!

Short blurb on the side label about the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire (hence the name), found above the 'Please Enjoy By: 11/26/09' request...opening on 11/27/09, so fingers crossed it survived one more day :)

A: Lovely copper-orange, clear as can be with a myriad of streaming bubbles rising throughout. An initial 1+ finger head of lumpy/creamy ivory fizzles to a short lid, broken and clingy at the edges. Good lace, sticky in places.

S: Interesting - a flowery perfume, an aromatic fruit (sweet lemon/citrus and concord grape(???)). Spiced bread. A light finishing evergreen/cedar bough.

T: Starts with a welcoming dry/cracker-y pale malt, honeyed sweetness, green grass and hay. Cascade hops (a NW staple) shine with a bright spice, a hint of pine and a concluding lemon twist.

M: Medium body, crisp carbonation offers a nice prickle. Seems to build and thicken as the spicy hop oils settle on the tongue.

D: Haven't had all that many Pale Ales of late, but this one ranked among the best for enjoyability. A big flavor profile and wonderful balance, intriguing aroma and beauty to the eye. None garnered a score better than a '4' from me, but all were close enough to more, such that the whole does equal more than the individual parts. A very nice, highly-recommendable ale.

Serving type: bottle

11-28-2009 15:38:33 | More by msubulldog25
Photo of beerwolf77


3.93/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into my pint glass the beer is a yellow golden orange. The white head makes it about a half inch before settling to leave a tiny amount of lace.

The aroma is malty with a mix of apples and oranges. Some grapefruit and pine can be picked out as well.

The flavor is very clean. Smooth malt goes hand in hand with piney hops and grapefruit. Very nice balance of the two.

Medium to light body. Loads of carbonation.

Overall very easy drinking. A sessionable beer for sure.

Serving type: bottle

11-28-2009 01:23:21 | More by beerwolf77
Photo of Ineedabeerhere

Rhode Island

4.18/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on 10/17, from notes. Thanks Chris!

Pours with a wonderful clarity. Orangey-bronze color, 1.5 finger head fades to a film leaving abstract lacing.

Smell is subtle overall, slight herbal hoppiness. Gentle notes of grapefruit. Taste follows this but is in a very great balance. Low bitterness, toasty malt sweetness and light caramel. Very well balanced with herbal hops.

Not too thin of a mouthfeel like some pale ales suffer from. This is substantial and still has great drinkability. I would definitely love to session this if it were my local. I haven't had a Great Lakes that I don't like yet!

Serving type: bottle

11-26-2009 05:14:09 | More by Ineedabeerhere
Photo of semihobo


3.38/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Crystal clear, orange body. Compact cap of off-white head with poor retention, moderate lacing.

Pale malts on the smell with a touch of baker's yeast sourness. Minimal hop spice.

Hops come through on the taste, hops are bitter rather than flavorful but are at least balanced out. Finish is just right, neither too dry nor too sweet. Simple and good, although still a hint of sour. Not bad, not great.

Full, chewy mouthfeel. Subdued carbonation.

Simple but fundamentally good. Many other bottles of this that I've consumed did not have the touch of funk that I experienced here. Sessionable.

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2009 03:56:57 | More by semihobo
Photo of PDXHops

South Carolina

4.43/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle, courtesy of Ryan011235.

Pours a light and bright see-thru honey color with vigorous visual carbonation. 2 fingers of thick white head with good lacing.

Nice lively bouquet of grapefruit, tangerine and pineapple with a touch of pine and light maltiness. In the mouth, I pick up additional fruitiness of peach and tart apple. Tingly and tangy. Although it's "only" a pale ale, the hoppiness in this brew puts many east coast IPAs I've been tasting to shame. Biscuity malt comes into play mid-swallow, and the finish is crisp and dry with some lingering pine. Medium body with plentiful carbonation.

Overall impression: Top notch, lively and enjoyable APA. Would love to have access to this all the time.

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2009 20:25:54 | More by PDXHops
Photo of nkersten


4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Golden orange hue with a creamy white head on a gentle pour. Bubbles remain around edge after head disappears.
S- Lots of light fruity malt and an equal amount of tropical fruit/pineapple hop aroma.
T- Good fruity hop flavor balanced by a not too sweet, light malt. Not too sweet, not too bitter, very balanced brew, excellent APA flavor.
M- Light to medium body with moderate carbonation.
D- Exactly what I expect from an APA. Easy to drink, lots of flavor, good session beer. If you can find this (pretty easy to do) try it out.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2009 03:43:22 | More by nkersten
Photo of BigMike


3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a clear broze color with some dark orange highlights.
Almost a two finger head with nice lacing and a good head retention.

Smell is pretty hoppy. Almost ipa like. Pine and a touch of floral also. Slight amount of malt.

Flavor is lighter then the aroma. Pretty hoppy overall for a pale ale
with a nice malt presence to balance things.

Mouthfeel is above average. Smooth and light and pretty easy to drink.

Drinkability is good. I could drink a few of these. Overall i would say this is an average to slightly above average pale ale. nothing thats too special but not bad.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2009 01:04:30 | More by BigMike
Photo of Kadonny


4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a tap into a nonic pint glass at TJs.

A: A clear medium orange color with a one finger white head. Ring lacing lingers.

S: Floral and grassy hops with some bready sweet malt smells.

T: Earthy piney hops with grassy and floral flavors coupled with a nice bready malty sweet flavor. Hops bittnerness overtakes for the finish and leaves a slightly metallic hops finish that lingers. This is not a huge beer, it is very crisp and clean.

M: Medium to light mouthfeel that is crisp and dry. No traces of alcohol.

D: High, a nice drinkable pale ale.

Overall another quality beer from Great Lakes. This pale ale is real hoppy but crisp and drinkable. This is a beer you can sit and drink and really enjoy in an evening. Great stuff.

Serving type: on-tap

11-17-2009 15:23:57 | More by Kadonny
Photo of biophiliadude


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

Bottle to a pint.

A: Amber to syrup, bubbly head, lacing.

S: hops, flowers. Bitter aroma

T: Fruit banana, apple. Slightly bitter with caramel on the tongue.

F: Much smoother than i expected. Has a small hop bite and leaves bitters on the tongue

D: Not as bitter as some pale ales, absences of such highlights the caramel aftertaste which gives the beer that unfermented sugary feel that is very delicious.

Serving type: bottle

11-17-2009 06:34:05 | More by biophiliadude
Photo of matty


2/5  rDev -49.6%
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 BillyBoysPie


4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a bottle into a pint glass.

Transparent pale brown with orange highlights. Inch and a half head that subsides to about a quarter inch. Nice lacing.

Nice balance between pine and gentle orange and meyer lemon on the edge of the drink.

Great balance! Nice bitter pine notes with orange rind. A touch of sage, which adds nice depth to the beer. The malt is present but well hidden. It could come out in a warmer serving, but there's a bit of light caramel - with maybe a hint of vanilla.

Great balance between the bitterness and carbonation. A really refreshing beverage - great pairing with chicken. I'll also support a year round serving of this beer - many pale ales are summer choices, but this would go great with a stew or even the thanksgiving turkey (though I'd prefer a French Pinot Noir or a Beaujolais).

Great example of the APA style.

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2009 23:59:05 | More by BillyBoysPie
Photo of armock

New York

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

A - Poured a copper color with a tan head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is of hops on a solid caramel malt backbone

T - Follows the nose caramel malt upfront then a bitter hop finish

M - This beer has a medium body with medium carbonation to it

D - This is a very good easy to drink pale it reminds me of Pine Belt Pale Ale from Southern Star worth trying sometime if you can get it

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2009 19:58:38 | More by armock
Photo of jhoban19


3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip.

A: reddish-copper color with a thick foamy head and strong lacing.

S: aroma of pine and freshly polished leather shoes (in a good way). nice floral background.

T: mild taste, many subtle flavors of pine and citrus but nothing jumps out at you until the strong bitter hops after taste, which I find enjoyable, kicks in.

M: Initial mouthfeel is full bodied for the first few sips, once the head subsided I found it to be a bit thin.

D: a nice APA. I enjoyed this offering from Great Lakes. I found it to be a solid representation of the style and it certainly holds its own against some of the best in the category.

Serving type: bottle

11-06-2009 05:40:04 | More by jhoban19
Photo of cudmud


4.28/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: This beer has a nice amber color and is crystal clear. In contrast to the wonderful color, my sample has no head and lacing.

Smell: The smell of this beer is awesome. Lots of pungent hop and cookie-like malt aromas.

Taste: Starts sweet and finishes with the bitter hop attributes. The flavors are balanced and a delight to taste.

Mouthfeel: This beer has a good level of carbonation and dances accross the my mouth.

Drinkability: Very good. You can drink this all night.

Serving type: bottle

10-30-2009 00:26:57 | More by cudmud
Photo of bobsy

Ontario (Canada)

4.83/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Burning River pours a rich, deep gold, with a finger of smooth white head. As with all beers from this brewery, retention and lacing is fantastic. The aroma shouts out balance. While there's a large dose of grapefruit, its more than adequately counted by a deep biscuit malt base. Floral and leafy notes elevate things to the next level.

The flavour is relatively simple, but proves that sometimes all you need to do to be exceptional is do simple very well. Sweet grapefruit and tangerine hops add a rich vibrancy to a caramel and biscuit base. Slightly sweet, with a moderate bitterness and a dry, lightly warming finish. I think one of the factors that really pushes Great Lakes over the top is their slightly fuller than normal mouthfeel. A lot of pale ales err towards medium-light, but this one is firmly medium and this certainly helps to bulk up the flavour.

Great Lakes have yet to let me down, and this streak continues. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that they may well be my favourite brewery at this moment in time. To be so consistently excellent over such a diverse array of styles is simply staggering. Burning River Pale Ale is probably one of the best, if not the best, beers I've had in this category. Its drinkability is through the roof, and this is the sort of brew that I'd love to have a permanent supply of should I ever have the fortune to be stranded on a desert island and not be stuck in cold and snowy Toronto.

Serving type: bottle

10-23-2009 15:19:01 | More by bobsy
Photo of Metalmonk

North Carolina

4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Quintessential APA looks. Rich coppery color with a slight hop-haze; thinnish but creamy head that leaves behind a few splotches of lace and never totally goes away.

Aroma skips the caramel and goes right to the toffee. Loads of that in here, more so than hops, which are present but very polite. Almost one-dimensional, but the toffee element is so impressive that I kept sniffing and sniffing and almost forgot to drink. Almost.

Fear not, hop enthusiasts, the flavor delivers. While clearly no tongue-ripper, bristly pine and tangy fruit sweetness are here in measured but prominent doses. Flavor actually does a reverse from the aroma, as the hops are front-and-center while the malt acts as backup. But it's balanced, and hardly one-sided. Toffee is still there, but the malt has a largely brisk, crispy kind of zing to it.

Creamy as all get-out, yet with a healthy carbonation nip. An airy light-to-medium body, but hardly wimpy.

Freaking excellent. One of the most enjoyable, balanced, well-made APAs I've ever had, and an important reminder that this style should never be overlooked or forgotten amongst all the bigger, hoppier entries in the IPA and double IPA part of this world. (I'm just as guilty of occasionally forgetting that as anyone.) Too bad I can't get this regularly, this would be the ultimate daily/go-to beer choice. Get some!

[Thanks to kels for this freebie!]

Serving type: bottle

10-19-2009 22:40:14 | More by Metalmonk
Photo of Gavage

New Jersey

4.28/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

10-16-2009 15:35:58 | More by Gavage
Photo of biegaman

Ontario (Canada)

3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-11-2009 00:08:36 | More by biegaman
Photo of psyphin


4.68/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Bright copper orange with a fluffy white head with nice lacing.

S - Toasty malt breadiness and oodles of citric american hops.

T - Chewy malt middle mixes very well with the hop combination in this beer. One of the best balanced examples of a true APA and not an ipa light.

M - Perfect carbonation with a medium body.

D - Superbly sessionable pale ale that I come back to time after time.

Serving type: on-tap

10-07-2009 21:17:17 | More by psyphin
Photo of trbergman


4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a tulip.

A - Clear, bright orange with a half-inch of sticky white head.

S - Sweet caramel and toffee malt with a noticeable, but not overwhelming, citrusy hop presence.

T - Sharp flavor of orange zest and hop bitterness at first overpower the malt, but then some toffee flavor comes through in the middle and meshes well with a lingering bitterness in the finish.

M - Light-medium body, fine carbonation.

D - Quite good. Interesting enough to warrant extended sipping, and light enough to make that possible.

Serving type: bottle

10-02-2009 02:41:39 | More by trbergman
Photo of Marcrates


4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a golden brown with a nice sized, bubbly head that sticks to the glass.

S - Sharp, fruity smell, with a hint of the hops to come...I'm smelling grapefruit and possibly some vanilla?

T - What a great tasting pale ale! This definitely has a strong hops bite to it, but it i balanced and not overwhelming. The after taste levels out with a nice, bread like taste.

M - Not to heavy, not too light. A very balanced feel.

D - This is very drinkable and enjoyable. Unless you despise tasting hops, this one goes down smooth and leaves you ready for another glass.

Overall - I'm very glad I decided to grab this beer from the local Kroger here in the Cincinnati area. I've heard some good things about the Great Lakes Brewing company, and this certainly didn't disappoint. This is a great example of an APA, and should be on everyone's list if you havn't tried it.

Serving type: bottle

09-30-2009 02:14:28 | More by Marcrates
Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,530 ratings.