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

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Great Lakes Burning River Pale AleGreat Lakes Burning River Pale Ale

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very good

2,810 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,810
Reviews: 996
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 105
Gots: 266 | 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: 2,810 | Reviews: 996 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of AmberMan22
4.3/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

So far everything I've tried from Great Lakes has been a winner. Let's hope to keep the tradition rolling.

Pours a slightly hazy macaroni orange (thank you crayola). Rocky read of vanilla creme, leaves scattered patches of lace.

Smells of bright, citrusy hops. Orange/Lemon zest, not too spicy. I need to read more into the different types of hops, but I can guess that centennial hops aren't part of this mixture -- which I feel is good.

Taste is immediately hoppy -- almost surprisingly so for an APA. Tastes closer to an IPA; certainly better than the Dogfish Head 60 Minute I tried recently.
Hoppy, a slight bitter taste, even a tinge of alcohol, which is surprising because it's only 6% ABV. A decent pale malt is evident.

It's especially evident because the mouthfeel is surprisingly thick. not quite chewy, but damn good. Wonderful carbonation plays it's supporting actor role, making this quite wonderful to taste.

Another winner from Great Lakes. 'Nuff said.

Photo of ben68cat
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

this is an excellent american pale ale!if you havent had anything from great lakes let me tell you you are missimg out,they put out great stuff!it pours a brownish,dark red,nice head to it.smells almost like an ipa.taste is some bitterness,hoppy,and drinks incredibly well!it is even better on tap! careful cause this one may make you want to drink them all night.

Photo of Amalak
4.6/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Another homerun for Great Lakes. I had out of a bottle. It was redish-brown. Very bubbly with a greatly bubbly head. Clear beer.

It has a beautiful floral, bitter taste. Very hoppy. Crisp. There's a vegetable taste to it. This is about as perfect a Pale Ale as I've had. Love it.

Photo of nc41
4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I'm usually an avid IPA guy, but this one impressed me. This brew is far better than Great Lakes IPA. Pours nice, hoppy nose great head and all that good stuff. A fantastic hoppy brew without the slamming bitterness, Flowery, aromatic without being sweet, not one bit of sweet. This is one really great brew, right there with the best PA's on the market, and nicely drinkable.

Photo of muttyd
3.43/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Hazy orange pour with a nice thick white head.

S - As expected, the aroma consists of piney/grassy/earth hops balanced off by a sweet bready malty aroma.

T - Sweet malt flavor upfront followed by a very hoppy bite. More reminiscent of an IPA than a pale ale. Finish is bitter and this beer leaves a slight chewy/sticky aftertaste.

M - Bubbly with a medium body. As mentioned before, sticky finish.

D - Very good beer. Will have to pick up a few more when I'm in the area.

Photo of Turbansurfer
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

a better than average APA and this breweries flagship beer.
A light red beer with a medium amount of hops. the beer is one that doesn't have the strongest body with a mild taste overall but- not that strong of a start or finish but a good middle of the tongue taste.

The beer is just very drinkable, can be a bit thick for an APA at times.

I have found that this beer ages well in the bottle and the flavor has gotten a bit more complex when I have forgotten about it for a few months.

The brewery itself is very impressive. Very environmentally conscience, gorgeous building on a brick street in downtown Cleveland. Food much better than average in a 200 year old building that Elliot Ness got shot in. (That's what you get for trying to stop me from my daily intake).

Photo of StarlightSeraph
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, crystal clear, golden orange, with tons of bubbles and two fingers of slightly off-white head. The head subsided slowly, and left tons of lacing. This is what a pale ale should look like.

Smell: A surprising amount of bready malt, mixed with grassy and citrusy hops. Nice smelling.

Taste: Definitely maltier than I expected from a pale ale...but very enjoyable. There is a strong taste of the bready/honey malt right away, which fades into grassy hops. This is a very full-flavored pale ale, and one of the more balanced ones I've ever had. Very enjoyable.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is a little prickly, but the feel is nice and creamy. Almost a little bit too heavy for a pale ale, but very nice.

Drinkability: I really enjoyed this. I usually like hoppier pale ales, but this was incredibly balanced and full flavored. Definitely wouldn't mind having a couple of these. Another excellent brew from Great Lakes.

Photo of jmdrpi
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cool label with a best before date marked as 3/21/10, so I'm drinking a couple of weeks late. My own fault though, as I bought the variety case right before this date. Had all 4 different beers back then, but didn't get a chance to review until these last few bottles.

A - slightly hazy amber orange color. a vigorus pour into a pint glass produces a nice inch thick white head. nice lacing, and a thin head remains thoroughout consumption

S - citrus, hops, sugar

T - as expected, hops up front. spicy finish

M - tingle of carbonation in the back of mouth. lighter body, clean taste

D- still drinking good, even if past the date

Photo of curasowa
3.55/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a medium amber color with one finger of head that fades slowly with nice lacing. Smells nicely of citrus and flowery hops and a faint background metallic note. Nice body up front with lots of sharp bitterness. The body thins out towards the end and the bitterness becomes more pronounced with a mild metallic taste. The finish is slightly harsh and lingering. Drinkability is good despite the slightly unbalanced hop profile. This beer has a west-coast style vibe going on to me, but I have to say that I like it.

Photo of hosehead83
4.43/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a standard pint glass
Bright copper in color, with a decent two-inch head of foam
Aroma-Pleasant, citrussy hops
Taste-Citrus notes,bitter hops and a biscuity, malt backbone that provides a nice balance. Hoppy edge with a fruity, biscuit quality that makes for a tasty refreshing pale ale. Very nice and full of character.

Photo of SykDoc
3.68/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. It pours a clear orange color. A 1/8 inch grayish white head forms and quickly reduces to minimal lacing.

The aroma is a blend of citrus/pine hops and some additional floral components. Some sweet caramel malts in the background.

The taste is decent too with the expected culprits of pine/citrus hops although more of the earthy notes. Again the caramel malt sweetness pops up in the middle.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a nice level of carbonation. It has a leather-like texture that makes it smooth with a clean finish.

Overall, this is a decent beer that is easy to drink but does not stand out as some of the other IPAs.

Photo of Ryan011235
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter on 3/15/10

Best before 5/2/10

Moderately deep amber-hued, Burning River is essentially brightly colored with but a slight hazy sheen - hardly cloudy, though. The color is rather consistent; not much in the way of highlights. The pour left about 1 ½ fingers of foam which, after several minutes, dissipates to a thin patch of bubbles across the top; such is retention. Lacing is decent at the start & holds up pretty well throughout.

The nose is very good, if just a bit unassuming. Lots of subtle nuances create an aroma that is densely fortified. Hops are featured without being brash, offering plenty of floral & citrus notes - grapefruit, lemon zest, orange peel & ripe tangerine. The hops intertwine with earthy aromas of lemongrass & fresh-cut hay; indeed, it conjures the image of a fresh-aired prairie. Seated in the back is just a touch of sweetness; more so than biscuit, I'd say it's a hint of sugar cookie.

Burning River tastes good, too; it follows the nuances of the aroma (though proportioned differently), as well as the aroma's even-handed approach. This is certainly not a beer geared toward the bold or extreme, which is by no means a fault. It tastes far more floral than it smells, with mild citrus undertones weaving their way throughout. A restrained bitterness picks up in the middle & carries on to the finish. It retains much of the earthy & grassy notes with a modest spiciness most apparent before the beer starts to warm. The malts are a tad more appreciable to taste with a bit of sweetness & a pervasive toastiness.

Just on the lighter side of medium bodied with reasonably low carbonation. Said carbonation offers just enough prickliness to support the flavors & let them shine. As mentioned earlier, there is some bitterness that makes its way to the finish & lingers for a few moments.

Very good drinkability. I've long been a fan of Burning River. One bad thing about being comfortably within the Great lakes distribution area is that I often take their beers for granted & pass them up in favor of something shinier, so to speak. In any case, this is very good beer. Recommended.

Photo of TonyReaves
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a perfect head- two fingers' worth rising right to the top of my shaker pint. Love when that happens.

Smells piney with a hint of sweet crystal malt.

Taste is hoppy straight through. There's a fruitiness at the front from both the malt and the hops. As it goes down, there are great buttery/toasty flavors. Ends with a satisfying hop bite. Haven't had a bad beer yet from this brewery.

Carbonation is a little low, which I like here. Dry finish makes each sip as good as the last- I wish I had more than one bottle left.

Photo of jpro
4.43/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Just became available in NC, so picked up a couple of sixers when I was up there last weekend (still no Great Lakes in South Kacky). Cracked one during the first night of the NCAA tournament...

Pours a mix of light amber / straw gold, with a minimal egg shell head; lots of good lacing, though - the bottom third of my glass is one nice, snowy sheet! Aroma is dominated by caramel malt sweetness; there are hints of pine and citrus with a little earthiness, too. The hops become more apparent in the taste - nice citrus / tropical fruit with a touch of woodsy bitterness; bready and sweet malts are there. Mouthfeel is light to medium-bodied and carbonation is fairly high, but not overly zingy. A very drinkable brew - I think this may become one of my go-to pale ales (too bad I have to drive about 3 hours to get some) - great stuff!

Photo of drumrboy22
3.78/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz. bottle into an Avery chalice. Beer was a clear orange color, with a one-finger, white head. Lively carbonation and moderate lacing.

Aroma was piney hops, fresh grains, biscuit and light citrus.

Taste was moderate hops, honey and bread. Clean and crisp.

Nice session beer. Tasty and easy drinking.

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.23/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a Sierra Nevada imperial pint. 6.0% ABV, Serve at 45 degrees F, Best before 02/23/10.

A - The brilliantly clear honey-golden beer is topped by a massive, slightly off-white head. Great retention and thick, clumpy lace all over the three-finger space.

S - The cascade hops really come out with a bright floral bouquet that's green and luscious. A pine hint cant be found as well as a slight grassy-mulch nose and a light fruitiness. Pilsner and caramel malts comprise a fairly beefy backbone.

T - Unfortunately as I suspected, the hops come forwards a bit more in the grassy, mulch-like category to strain my palate. The strong pilsner-like caramel malt backbone is there but fleeting as the finish ends bitter, a touch citrusy, and a bit mulchy.

M - The smooth, soft entry is replaced by a really dry and slow-burning bitter, grassy hop finish with a long finish.

D - I've had this before and can't say the age has been bad to it but I will say I'd love to give a fresh bottle a review. Not one of my favorite pale ales. Not a favorite Great Lakes for that matter.

Photo of jlindros
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got another Great Lakes to try thanks this time to thebouch01.

A: Poured into my SA Perfect Pint glass with a nice 1.5 finger rising thick fluffy head that fades slowly and leaves a little lacing. Its a brilliantly clear amber orange color with many bubbles rising from the etch at the bottom of the glass.

N: Nose of a light pale ale. Some light malts, a little toasty malt aroma, some fruity hops a little bit of pale hops, and slight yeastiness. Very light straw grassy hop aroma as well.

T: Starts with a crisp light ale flavor, with some light malts and a little toasty flavor. A slight creaminess too. This is accompanied by some nice pale hops. A slight spicy hop, a little earthy hop, and some grassy hops. A slight yeasty flavor to go with all that too, towards the end. A nice almost British real ale bitterness to it, but American spicy hops.

M: A decent body, a little lighter than medium, and good carbonation.

F: Semi bitter, it gets a little more bitter on the finish. Also pretty dry. The lingering grassy and earthy hop flavors seem to really come out at the end when the other flavors are gone. More of that bitter English real ale character, but lighter on the ale and spicier on the hop. A nice light pale ale overall, drinkable, has a nice hop character. A solid APA. I could see drinking quite a few of these if I could get them around here. If I could complain about anything, it would be the slight yeasty aroma and flavor.

Photo of steve8robin
2.6/5  rDev -34.3%
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.

Photo of Bung
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. Dark gold pour with a nice cap of white bubbles.
Aroma is mostly piney hops with some floral accent.
Taste. Very resiny. Piney hops abound that mellow into more citrus throug the finish. A solid level of hop bitterness throughout.
Easy to drink with the bitterness kept under control, but enough to be very refreshing. Body is stickier than it would lead on.
A great example of the style, another solid Great Lakes Brew.

Photo of Scrapss
4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a wonderful pale ale. Nice color, hoppy but not overboard, and a nice finish.

Appearance is a nice medium copper/golden hue, with adequate head.

Smell is a stongly hops and floral/citrus, I know there's hops in it at 10 paces!

Taste is fatastic, strong hops and a pleasantly balanced bitter notes, but not over the top: citrus and strong hops dominate on swallow and very little sweet malt flavors present. Good summer evening beer I'll bet.

Mouthfeel is what I'd expect from this, kinda dry and not very lingering.

Drinkability is fantastic, not so hoppy you want to stop but enough flavor and aftertaste to make drinking an enticing and interesting brew.

Photo of magine
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a mug.

Pours a clear light copper color with an off white head, has a big head with nice lace and decent head retention. Good looking brew.

Brew smells of citrus/floral hops, fruits, yeasts, malts.

This brew tastes balanced; not overly hopped - not in a bad way (not light by any means). Sweet citrus, nice hops and fruits. Nice crisp taste and dry finish.

This is a very drinkable brew; may not be a hopped up brew for hop heads, but there is enough there to keep a hop head happy. This brew is very sessionable, and is more approachable for some non hop heads. A good party brew - or any time for that matter. Very good.

Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.18/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours an effervescent copper that produces a beautiful full finger or two of creamy and thick head that perches atop my beer for the entire length of my consumption. The lacing that it leaves can hardly be called lacing, as it is more a solid wall of foam that is simply more concentrated where the beer sat between sips.

S/T: I find more and more that pale ales try to be IPAs, and as a result, they over-hop on the aroma and in the taste. Not so here. A good amount of citrus and grapefruit hops are nicely balanced by a bready and caramel malt backbone. The taste follows suit, bringing a very nice balance to this beer. There is just enough bitterness to snap you back to the reality that this really is a pale ale despite the balance. There is also a nice twinge of orange in there. I really enjoyed this.

M/D: Gotta be the creamiest pale ale that I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. The carbonation seems to blend right into the body of this brew, making for a great drinking experience.

The thing I like most about Burning River is the fact that it knows what it is. It excels at it, and doesn't try to be anything else. This is one helluva pale ale, and I might make this a go-to.

Photo of chillwinston
4.55/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a bottle this pours with little head but a fragrant aroma. Light amber color. Hops, citrus and pine (maybe from the Cascadian hops) are the dominate flavors, in that order. It also doesn't seem to impart the dry mouth feel that many pale ales do. Overall, one of my favorite pale ales.

Photo of Daniellobo
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice pale ale, very well rounded and pleasing.

Presentation: 12 oz brown bottle. Black design with white lettering and an image of the Ohio skyline over flames from the burning Cuyahoga River. Side narrative notes awards, naming reference, main brew description, adherence to Bavarian purity laws of 1516, and serving recommendation. Neck label notes historic context of the brew, river restoration, and brewery's annual environmental celebration around it. Notes freshness date (03/28/10), and Alc. by Vol. (6.0%) Served in a tulip glass.

A - Pale amber pour with a good head, fair retention and good lacing.

S - Grapefruit and lemony nose with a biscuity and malty hint.

T - Taste follows nicely with the grapefruit and citrus with a nice malt support, including a light sweet and bready note towards the finish.

M - Medium-light body with medium carbonation and a crisp and slightly dry finish.

D - Rather quaffable. Good casual ale.

Notes: Second brew I have from Great Lakes as they reach the DC area and sure enough their brews are good quality so far. This pale ale can be had with the best of them in the style, glad to include in the rotating selection of PAs. This is not my favorite style but it is one that is always iconic and important to have around to offer as a quality and quaffable entry point to craft brews, and a reliable option to have have in any case. Burning River sure is great on that front.

Photo of animalchin
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Has a nice dark (and I mean dark) copper body with a retaining head that becomes a layer of lacing that complements the lining of the glass the whole way though.

S - A lot of floral, almost herbal, hops in the nose with toasted biscuit aromas to follow. Sensing some light citrus as well.

T - Nice toasted hops that is followed with fresh bread or bran muffin. Kind of a kick in the ass actually for a pale ale. Excellent though.

M - Condensed and creamy deal that you can feel going on all the way down.

D - 6% ABV for an APA is reasonable - I think it only takes one to appreciate this fine work though. So much going on here. One hell of a brew.

Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,810 ratings.