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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

2,893 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,893
Reviews: 1,020
rAvg: 3.95
pDev: 11.14%
Wants: 113
Gots: 347 | FT: 4
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,893 | Reviews: 1,020
Photo of biophiliadude
4/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

Photo of matty
2/5  rDev -49.4%
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.

Photo of BillyBoysPie
4.15/5  rDev +5.1%
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.

Photo of armock
4/5  rDev +1.3%
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

Photo of jhoban19
3.9/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

Photo of cudmud
4.21/5  rDev +6.6%
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.

Photo of bobsy
4.8/5  rDev +21.5%
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.

Photo of Metalmonk
4.35/5  rDev +10.1%
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!]

Photo of Gavage
4.23/5  rDev +7.1%
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.

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.

Photo of psyphin
4.65/5  rDev +17.7%
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.

Photo of trbergman
3.98/5  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.

Photo of Marcrates
4.35/5  rDev +10.1%
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.

Photo of Tee76
3.92/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Golden cooper color with a beautiful head to it.That reduces to a thin lace

Fruity aroma with a strong smell of hops.

Very dry tasting beer with a fruity, hoppy almost biscuity flavor to it.Not to much of an after taste, but once again a very dry beer.

Dry but smooth mouth feel. For a pale ale this has a full bodied feel to it, most pale ales are on the lighter side, other pale ales should take note of this one.

Drinkability is high.It's easy to sit back and enjoy a few of these.This is what pale ale should taste like!

Photo of Petrislav
3.97/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle poured into pint glass.

A: Perfectly amber color, high clarity, 1 finger tan head, massive bubbles!

S: Fruity hops, weed like skunk

T: Mouthfull of cascading hops, grassy finish with grapefruit peel

M: Bitter! Medium bodied

A tasty hophead brew, smells fantastic

Photo of dpodratsky3
4.03/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First beer tried out of my nice Great Lakes sampling sent by Auslander. Excellent trade and thanks big time to him.

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Excellent clarity with a pure amber color. Has a big bubbly head that falls pretty quickly.

S: Smells a little mild actually, but with a very pungent, "dank" hop aroma. Has a floral hint to it as well.

T: Hops! Not overly bitter, but a distinctive bite to it. It doesn't taste like a plethora of varieties, but more like one or two powerful ones. Like the smell there is a floral aspect here too. There might be a little malt balance, but not much at all, hops are the star. Bitterness lingers in the back of your mouth for a long time.

M: Pretty light and relatively thin. The hops and nice carbonation create a dry bite-y-ness.

D: An easy drinking beer if you like hops. A little powerful for my liking in a mere pale ale, but all in all good.

Notes: Great Lakes continues to impress me with each beer I drink. While not as good as Eliot Ness, in my opinion, it is a tasty hoppy brew.

Photo of Brad007
3.83/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice golden copper color with a one-finger head into my fluted glass.

Aroma is full of floral hops with a decent amount of biscuity malt underneath. Seems about right.

Taste is full of grassy hops upfront with a good transition into biscuity malt with a good texture to it. Just a tad buttery. Otherwise, has a decent feel to it.

Mouithfeel is full of lingering grassy hops and biscuit malt. Carbonation feels right. Leaves a decent taste in my mouth.

Definitely a good example. Not the best but still quite drinkable. Worth a shot.

Photo of portia99
3.95/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle received in trade from brokenleadedcask. Thanks! Poured into a Portsmouth goblet.

A - Pours a nice, clear amber orange with a tight, 1 finger creamy white head that lasts. Fades away down to a thin collar...some sparse lacing as the beer empties from the glass.

S - Smells of dark caramel - surprising given the light color. Some herbal, earthy and a touch of fruity, citrusy hops. Some doughy, bready malt in the aroma.

T - Well balanced. Good malty backbone - very solid. Good breadiness and some sweetness to set the foundation. Not overly bitter, but bitter enough. Some fruity undertones in the background along with a touch of smokiness (just a touch).

M - Mouthfeel is of medium body. Plenty of carbonation keeps things lively. The subtle smokey flavor sits on the palate into and beyond the swallow. Interesting and a bit unique for this style.

D - Interesting beer...smooth and easy drinking. Nice APA. Not overly hoppy, but quite flavorful and balanced. Not the best APA I've ever had, but a really good one. Glad to have the chance to try this, and would happily have another.

Photo of GodOfBeer
4.42/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appears to be an orange yellow with a decent sized white head, some lacing.

Smells of nice floral hops, mandarin oranges, very interesting!

Tastes of toasted grains mandarin oranges with a perfect bitter and floral hop finish, sort of reminds me of DFH 60 but a lot more complex.

A carbonated mouthfeel and very drinkable, possibly one of the best Pale Ale's I've had, I'll have to try this again for sure.

Photo of alkemy
4.7/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is the American Pale Ale that is my measuring stick for all other beers of this style. The pour is a copper amber with an off white head that always sticks to the glass. Big floral hops with some pine and hints of vanilla and grapefruit for me. Hops are boss when it comes to taste. Not overpowering like a DIPA or even an IPA, but this is the focal point. You get some caramel breadiness mixed in, but this has a great dry finish. I could go on and on about this beer, but in my opinion, it's the best I've had of the style.

Photo of Vonerichs
4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Honey color with a light white head. The head dissipates quickly and no lacing left behind.

The smell has a very pleasant hop profile of citrus and floral hops. There's a light bready malt follow up.

This is a very hoppy PA. The floral hops are showcased and backed by a buttery flavor. It's a smoothe combination.

It's thick and creamy in the mouth. Lightly bitter aftertate. Good drinkability.

Photo of chicagobeerriot
3.68/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours gold with a moderate, downy head and no veil to speak of. The smell is classic cascade floral and pine, with just a hint of light vanilla underneath. The mouthfeel is crisp and light with lively carbonation. The taste is very hop forward for the style, venturing toward, if not crossing, the border between APA and IPA. The floral and pine flavors take the lead and fade while the strong bitter flavors come to the fore. The malt backbone suggested by the vanilla smell makes only a cameo appearance. A very nice APA, but, given the lack of balance, only hop lovers need apply.

Photo of PerzentRizen
3.85/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A big thanks to Auslander for this beer! One great extra! Poured into a Piraat tulip at 45 degrees this beer has a toasted caramel color and lightly off white head that reduces to thin lacing.

The aroma has cascade hops and caramalt in the nose with plenty of grainyness. Green apple, cherries, and faint hint of grapefruit round this pale ale nicely.

The taste is dry, florally hoppy, grainy and a light biscuity flavor is present. The hops are not overwhelming but are omnipresent. The hops are the first and last thing to enter the mouth upon sips.

Mouthfeel is medium to lightly robust for the style. I for one like the fullness and would like to see less watery pale ales like this.

Drinkablity is high. With only 6% abv, lightly hoppy, and a nice mouthfeel you can easily enjoy one or five of these in a night.

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.5/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass.

3.5 A: Clear medium orange color. One finger of frothy head with less than average retention (but it does leave a small 1/8 inch layer) and moderate lacing.

3.5 S: Nose is full of crystal malt and a touch of graininess. Some herbal and citrus hops.

3.5 T: Good, but run-of-the-mill. Moderately bitter hop backbone with caramel for the malts. Not a whole lot, but some lemony hop flavor.

3.5 M: Medium body, but slightly lighter than I like. Somewhat creamy, but not enough. Good carbonation.

3.5 D: This is the first GL brew that didn't floor me. It's a quality beer and would never be pissed about drinking it, but there are so many better APAs out there that I'll give this one a pass most of the time.

Photo of ClevoPiwo
4.4/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a really pretty beer! It pours a rich deep amber color with a big frothy white head that leaves lacing all the way down the glass. The color is also very crisp and clear.

The smell is huge with hops! Floral and citrus notes assault the nose, but there is also a nice malt character in the background if you smell for it. A very complex and pleasant bouquet of aromas.

The taste is just as big as the smell - way more hops than many IPAs I've had, but not done in poor taste. The body is nice and full with a good complimentary malt body and character balancing well with the arsenal of hops. The hops definitely take the forefront of the taste and leave a floral bitterness long into the aftertaste.

One of my favorite by GL!

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Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,893 ratings.