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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.
BA SCORE
89
very good

2,650 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,650
Reviews: 989
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 99
Gots: 198 | 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: 2,650 | Reviews: 989 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of sabrills70
3.85/5  rDev -2.8%

Color is a copper orange with a medium frothy head, nice lace. Ever so slight haze. Smell is citrus hop with a good malt presence. Very good taste. Hoppy as a pale ale should be. This one has some citrus - cascade perhaps. Nice malt and hop finish. Good mouthfeel - not to thick. Clean and crisp. Drinkability is better than average, not one that can be glugged on a hot day, but one to drink while playing cards or watching football on the tube. A very good beer for the style.

sabrills70, Sep 21, 2003
Photo of granger10
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%

This one poured a nice copper color with a frothy head that lasted a long time. The flavor shows a lot of strong hoppiness to this beer. It's upfront flavor is a citrusy hoppiness that has a bite to it. But it soon gets a little restrained by the biscuity malt base that keeps this one from being an IPA and also gives it that added dimension that makes this such a good beer. The hops show throughout the body and finish of the beer. Finish also has some yeasty spicyness that combines well with the hops. A very good beer.

granger10, Sep 20, 2003
Photo of DrunkMcDermott
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%

Has a big grapefruity smell and taste, almost like a wheat beer. The hoppy taste sublty changes as my cup warms up, to a more bitter aspect like an IPA. Excellent appearance and head for this style. I sampled this at a homebrew party among a sea of Oktoberfest beers, so this is a refreshing and welcome change of pace.

DrunkMcDermott, Sep 15, 2003
Photo of putnam
4.5/5  rDev +13.6%

Before launching into a series of west coast beer I thought I'd set my palate on "hoppy." This helped.
Aromas of tanned, scorched biscuits and piney resins compete at the outset. The hop aromatics are bright, dandelion-floral with a trace of ruby grapefruit stitched into the baked red clay, wood and roasted starch bunting. Very clean.
On the palate it is tightly twisted with hard images of Nepalese tea, licorice, sour coffee, cardamon, grapefruit, parsley and root beer. Quite creamy in texture, the admirable mousse dukes it out with the tannins to a very long, potent, liberating finish. Baba Oreilly would be a good tune to play with this beer.
1. What's up with these SHORT "expiration" dates?? This is supposedly not to be consumed after exactly 6 weeks from now! And I just got it from the wholesaler!
2. I SWEAR this used to be labeled "IPA," and not simply "Pale Ale." Did this change about the time Commodore Perry IPA was introduced? Just wondering. I wonder if that peculiarly American phenomenon of "hop infaltion" is at work.

putnam, Sep 03, 2003
Photo of beergeek279
4.43/5  rDev +11.9%

Served in the 12 oz. bottle. The color was golden, with good head. The smell was very hoppy. The taste was very hoppy for a pale ale, with some hints of citrus. Mouthfeel was very smooth. As for drinkability, this is one I could definitely session on.

The Burning River is as good a pale ale as I've had, and every bit as good as Sierra Nevada. It pains a Pittsburgher to say this, but the Pale Ale is simply classic.

beergeek279, Aug 20, 2003
Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.28/5  rDev +8.1%

Poured a dull copper color with a active, crackling & fizzy head that settles down to a respectable level. Good lacing of the glass. The aromas come back again, reminding me of how much I enjoyed this beer when I first had it this past April. Hops all the way. Citrus and spice stand up and demand to be counted. The malty sweetness sits in a corner and pouts. Flavor is excellent. Distinctly sweet character up front until the hops arrive to steal the show, sitting upon you palate and abusing it like the schoolyard bully. Finishes with zing, too. Hops in the aftertaste. Good pucker factor. Another excellent beer from another excellent brewery.

Huge thanks to AKSmokedPorter for hauling this from Ohio to me.

OldFrothingSlosh, Aug 15, 2003
Photo of RonfromJersey
4.63/5  rDev +16.9%

Orangey-gold copper body, topped by frothy just-off-white head. Good lacing. The first burst of pine hit me when I popped the cap and poured at full arm's lenght. A closer sniff indicates a grove of grapefruit cleared in that pine forest. Heck of a nose for a pale ale. Imagining an IPA from these folks and my nose is burning like the river. A few healthy swigs reveal a resounding hop character, but not out of balance to leave the pale ale neighborhood. There is indeed a nice malt background the hops are being painted on. Nice hoppy aftertaste. Smooth and full thru the mouth and across the tongue. Oh, no, it's going too fast. Can't make it stop...

A great session beer for hopheads.

RonfromJersey, Aug 02, 2003
Photo of moulefrite
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%

I know this is a good beer, yet for me another overhopped, pine resin smelling beer, (very redolent of the sticky "bud" I've seen at local police anti-drug demonstrations) that wows then becomes boring. I don't find this sticky,cloying, almost sweet yet bitter, style of pale ale too overly amazing. To me this is more of an IPA tasting beer, and when I'm in the mood for a Pale Ale I don't want a darned IPA. Sorry Hop Heads-I don't mean to come off so bitter. Nice, yet not my favorite in the drinkability category.

moulefrite, Jul 30, 2003
Photo of GeoffRizzo
4.38/5  rDev +10.6%

Orange hue, thin, soapy head, decent lacing. Citrus and floral hops on the nose, some maltiness also. A definitive hops dominated body, crisp, fresh fruit flavoring, mainly grapefruit and orange peel, some malty backbone. Medium bodied, clean, tasty, world class as to be expected from the Great Lakes team.

GeoffRizzo, Jul 26, 2003
Photo of Winter
4/5  rDev +1%

Pours clear copper in color with a foamy white head. Aroma consists of grapefruit/citrusy hops. Medium to full-bodied. Mouthfeel has a nice creaminess to it that sharpens on the edges of the tongue. Burning River seems to reveal its flavor in two stages. The first has a nice malty and light fruitiness to it on the front. Then the beer takes an interesting twist. As indicative of the nose, the Cascade hops take over in the finish. Caramel and a piney bitterness conclude things. Flavor pushes the style of pale ale more towards that of an IPA. Intriguing beer for those who are fond of hops.

Winter, Jul 24, 2003
Photo of Shiredave
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%

Expiration date: Aug-29-03
Medium , golden color, tall, pocked, white head but no carbonation rising in the glass.
Citrusy, Cascade hop aroma with some clean, bready malt notes.
Light+ body up front, mild, biscuity flavors quickly give way to stronger, piney hop and rich grain flavors that slam into the back of my throat like a bug into a Zapper.
Lack of malt body and carbonation makes for a lack luster mouthfeel, at least for me.
Finish is a unique blend of light, fruity malt and tingling hop bitterness leaving a pleasent, not overpowering aftertaste.
A solid, hearty Pale Ale that I bet is even better on tap.

Shiredave, Jul 14, 2003
Photo of MJR
4.5/5  rDev +13.6%

Appearance: Pours a brilliantly clear copper with a light tan head that starts out huge and slowly shrinks to a thin cap. Good lacing on the side of the glass.

Smell: The aroma has a good dose of Cascade hops, with a floral character and a bit of grapefruit and pine needles. Underneath the hops, crackery and faintly caramelly malt provides a solid foundation.

Taste: Perfect balance between the malt and hops. Citrusy, floral hops sit atop a base of crackery, toasted malt. A touch of caramel is present too. The finish is a bit dry, but still retains a bit of sweetness. Fantastic!

Mouthfeel: Medium in body, with a smooth dryness on the finish.

Drinkability: Extremely good. This is a superbly balanced pale ale that could easily become a beer fridge staple if I had regular access. To be perfectly honest, I usually prefer my pale ales and IPA's to be over-the-top with the hops, but the balance here is just right.

Many thanks to 'Realale' for lugging this brew back from Michigan for me!

MJR, Jul 10, 2003
Photo of Realale
3.58/5  rDev -9.6%

Edited 01/23/06: I have sadly had to edit my previous review to reflect what seems to be a permanent change in this beer. My original review remains below, but both aroma and taste are now marked by out-of-balance grapefruit aromas and flavors. What was once incredibly well-balanced, has become yet another over C-hopped APA. I hope the malt returns one day, and the hops again begin complex and well-integrated.


Clear pure copper in color. Huge, very fine slightly off-white head settles slowly to a solid 1/4" cap, and leaves nice lacing.

Nose is slightly sweet crackery malt below very floral hops. There is a touch of spiciness as well. Simply an awesome, perfectly-balanced nose.

Medium weight in the mouth with a firm base of malt. Perfectly integrated hop flavor leads to a long, lingering well-balanced finish. Could be carbonated at a slightly lower rate to give an even silkier mouthfeel, but this is darn near perfect. Easily one of the best balanced, yet complex, beers I've had the pleasure of drinking. Outstanding.

Realale, Jul 08, 2003
Photo of jcalabre
3.55/5  rDev -10.4%

re-rate 30 Aug 2003: The finish on this bottle was much better than the one I previously drank. It was far more malty. The beer was better balanced and I enjoyed it more.

up front hops w/ a slightly sour finish. a nice American Pale Ale, but nothing spectacular

Originally sampled 10 November 2002. I am writing this review from my notes. Burning River is a nice example of an American Pale Ale. The upfront flavors are hoppy. This brew finishes with a slightly flavor. The color of the beer is golden/amber. This is a good session beer.

jcalabre, Jul 04, 2003
Photo of Jon
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%

This beer features a bubbly, concentrated off-white head which sits atop a clear bronze liquid. Nice lacing down the glass. Nose is a balanced mix of hops and malt, with more emphasis on the hops. This pale ale's taste is quite solid and fresh -- it's well-balanced with a strong hop presence followed up with what must be caramel malt holding everything into place. Feel is quite smooth overall, with just a touch of carbonation peeking through the surface. This is a very flavorful pale ale and is easy to drink. A very good effort from Great Lakes overall.

Jon, Jun 18, 2003
Photo of steelreign
4.43/5  rDev +11.9%

This is what an American pale ale should be! Pours out a nice tawny yellow brown, followed by a bouquet of a aromatic hops in the off white head. At 65 IBU, this is a hop heads delight. The hops hammer you over the head at first taste, as the malt comes through ever so slightly in the finish. I was impressed with the aroma and taste particularly, as they were very closely connected. I could drink this all night, and if it weren't for the availability in my area, I would more often! A highly enjoyable summertime (or any other for that matter) brew that will appease any pale ale fan. Another victory for the GLBC!

steelreign, Jun 12, 2003
Photo of SheepNutz
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%

I had this fine brew in a 12oz. bottle poured into a pint glass. It comes out a light copper color that is only slightly hazy. There is 2 fingers of head that has pretty good retention and a slight bit of lacing. The smell is a rich hop aroma with some citrus. The taste surprised me because it tastes like an IPA, but is listed as a pale. Of course this isn't as hoppy as a ruination or a two-hearted, but ranks up there in IBUs. There are hints of citrus and pine with a good hops bite. This is super refreshing. The mouthfeel is fairly heavy and the drinkability is very nice. I would recommend this to a friend that thinks IPAs are a little too bitter.

SheepNutz, Jun 10, 2003
Photo of pezoids
4.5/5  rDev +13.6%

This beer pushes the pale ale envelope into the realm of an IPA. This is one great pale ale. When we were at the brewpub, they told us that their IPA had just ran out and was a big success. I would of loved to have tried it. This beer poured a deep golden color and was topped with a small cream-like head. Strong citrusy hop aroma with lemons leading the way. Taste was somewhat malty, dry grassy and bitter. Alcohol presence. A very flavorful and well hopped pale ale and overall an excellent beer.

pezoids, Jun 08, 2003
Photo of AudioGilz
3.98/5  rDev +0.5%

It's a deep copper color with a solid half inch head. The aroma allows for the conclusion that this is a pretty damn hoppy beer. Caramel malt pleasantly balances the assertive hops that provide a solid bitterness throughout and floral/crisp feelings. It's definitely more bitter than many other of the style I have tried. It's also very dry and crisp, great stuff here.

AudioGilz, Jun 06, 2003
Photo of Gusler
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%

A transpicuous deep amber color as it sets in my favorite glass, one I borrowed from St. James Gate some time during the Middle Ages.

Head is prodigious in size, creamy in structure, and a beauteous tan in color, as it erodes; the obviation by the lace is complete. The nose a mixture of sweet malt and some hop floral tones, crisp and fresh, a treat to this old schnozzle. Start is sweet and malt laden, the top I feel is middling, the finish smacking in its hop spiciness, moderately acidic, quite dry and long lasting aftertaste, and a fine drinking beer from a fine brewery.

Gusler, May 24, 2003
Photo of cretemixer
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%

Deep amber orange in color with a prodigious off-white head. After several minutes, I'm left with a solid layer and a clingy lace.
A citrusy hop aroma dominates with a sweet malt back.
Nice bitter taste. Almost more like an IPA than a pale. Grapefruit and caramel hinted malts. The bitterness gives way to a sweeter presence mid-glass. Finishes with a mild lingering bitter aftertaste.
A quality beer that is worth seeking out. Another fine Great Lakes brew.

cretemixer, May 20, 2003
Photo of AtLagerHeads
4.3/5  rDev +8.6%

GLBC rules - never a bad beer. This is an IPA look-alike in sheep's clothing. Kick-butt hopping, great look, and a fair nose. Lacing that sticks like glue all over the glass. I'm glad this one is shipped down state in bottles because is a real winner and Cleveland's too far away. Clear amber and off-white head. The taste is citrus at the start and finishes dry due to the great hopping. Super!

AtLagerHeads, Apr 06, 2003
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.45/5  rDev +12.4%

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.

WVbeergeek, Mar 03, 2003
Photo of jackndan
3.8/5  rDev -4%

Burning River: Very tasty beer, prominent malts and crisp tang o’ the hops. Reddish amber beer, thick head that lasted and lasted. Left some thick lace on the side of the glass. The aroma, unfortunately, not so much, kind of a dampish malt sack aroma. The taste, as previously noted, is extremely well balanced, and a very nice beer. Get out there, find this beer and buy it.

jackndan, Feb 15, 2003
Photo of allboutbierge
4.3/5  rDev +8.6%

The only beer of this style I have to compare it to is Yard's Philly Pale Ale. I believe this is significantly better (not to say Yard's is w/o charm).

Body is a deep copper with a slight red tint. Head is small and bright white. Aroma is attractive--floral with a citrus bite and tickle of pine. Flavor is much the same with a slight bite of grapefruit flavor. Very very drinkable. Medium-light body and light carbonation does not fill the stomach while flavor keeps the drinker yearning for another, and another, and quite possibily another.

allboutbierge, Feb 04, 2003
Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,650 ratings.