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

Great Lakes Burning River Pale AleGreat Lakes Burning River Pale Ale

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

2,320 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2320
Reviews: 975
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 11.06%

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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,320 | Reviews: 975 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of AmitC


4.05/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Enjoy by date crossed - 3/3/13

Excellent pour. Just a tad thicker than one finger thick off white colored head. A lot of bubbles rising up vigorously. Excellent lacing on the sides. Very clear pale golden color. Looks really phenomenal.

Aroma is a tad bit moderate in strength. Very similar to its elder brother Commodore Perry. A bit rustic, off beat wild weed aroma. A good amount of malt notes.

Flavor is very much the same but with a jest. A nicely balanced flavor that gives a hint of hops but is not bitter. A little bit of orange peel and grape fruit mix towards the end. Finish is very slightly bitter with a lot of dryness.

Mouth feel is light medium. Very easy, smooth and sessionable touch. High on carbonation and effervescence.

Style Rate: 4.25
Personal Rate: 4

Serving type: bottle

03-19-2013 02:14:38 | More by AmitC
Photo of dbrauneis

North Carolina

4.03/5  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).

Serving type: on-tap

03-06-2013 12:33:05 | More by dbrauneis
Photo of JG-90

New Jersey

3.55/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

bottle into glass

A - Clear light copper color. Yields an impressive large foamy head with nice retention and heavy lacing

S - Pale malts, stale bread, a little bit of floral, and less fruit (can tell right away it won't be a "west coast" pale ale)

T - big malt start, then funk, followed by a hint of pineapple and grapefruit, then floral, with a wet-biscuit finish. A little malty for me, but is balanced very nicely

M - Medium body for a Pale Ale with medium-high carbonation.

O - I always go for hoppier beers, but this malt forward APA was a pleasant surprise, very solid beer

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2013 21:51:18 | More by JG-90
Photo of JPlo


3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark golden color. Hazy clarity. Head lasts above average with great lacing.

Feel: medium bodied, with moderate carbonation and a finish that's long and slightly wet.

Aroma/taste: Hops are floral with slightly citrusy and herbal. Malts a carmelly, grainy, little nutty.

Overall, nice hop with a mild/smooth, tangy malt finish.

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2013 18:50:22 | More by JPlo
Photo of falloutsnow


3.65/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

From: Binny's, Champaign, IL
Date: Best by 1/13/2013
Glass: Standard US pint

Great Lakes' APA is a well-balanced take on the style, with interesting orange citrus scents and flavors being prominent alongside a grainy, cracker-like malt contribution. Neither side ever overpowers the other, though the bitterness threatens to in the closing moments of each sip. A pleasantly balanced APA with some unique characters to it. I'd pick this up again if in the mood.

Pours a 2cm high head of off-white colored bubbles, which has above-average retention, gradually settling to a fairly thick cap atop the body of the beer. Lacing is also above average, leaving thick washes of lace along the entire perimeter of the glass. Body is a fairly bright copper-orange color, with light brining out brighter and paler orange and yellow hues. Carbonation is visible through the transparent body, and while numerous, does not seem aggressively active.

Aroma is of orange rind, very mild citrus, lightly floral, with sweet pale malts. Definitely going against the trend of ever-hoppier and more fruity APAs, this one sticks closer to the 80s-90s APA roots with noticeable malt and hop notes, both of which never go to extremes. Perhaps somewhat anachronistic considering the insane flavors that can be coaxed from APAs today, the balance is still appreciated,

Front of palate is at first juicy and sweet, like fresh orange juice, then quickly becomes crackery or biscuit-like and sweet, as from pale malts. Mid-palate is cracker-like with notable orange rind flavor and hop bitterness that still does not manage to overpower the malt component. At times, I'm reminded of a hoppy, sweetened iced tea (with a twist of orange) effect going on. Back of palate is substantially more bitter than mid, with bitterness being about 75% of the flavor, the remaining being of citrus fruit esters and cracker-like malt flavors. Aftertaste of hop bitterness with orange rind and light malt sweetness.

Beer is medium-bodied, with carbonation of medium intensity. The result is never fizzy, just managing to effervesce slightly and gently foam the beer upon the palate. The mouthfeel is therefore somewhat foamy, slightly creamy, and generally smooth. Closes out dry, bitter, and slightly sticky.

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2013 04:49:41 | More by falloutsnow
Photo of socon67

New York

4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Orange\amber pour with a frothy white foam. Lacing is decent on this one.

S - Scents of citrus and some sharp hop bitterness. Some mild spicy notes as well.

T - Pale malts and a tartness of oranges. The bitterness from a blend of hops is consistent but never overwhelming. Crsipness presents a very fresh taste.

M - Light feel but the body of this beer feels like a pretty robust pale ale. Bitter bite stays with you. Slight carbonation.

O - Having tried a few Great Lakes beers from a sampler pack, I'm really liking the products they produce. This is one of the better american pale ales that doesn't come off too dry, or masquerade as an IPA.

Serving type: bottle

01-06-2013 19:48:42 | More by socon67
Photo of zrbeer1579


4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Somewhat dark copper-amber color with a one and a half finger white head

Aroma: Malt breadiness, citrus and floral hops

Taste: Semi-sweet bready malt upfront with a slight caramel. Citrus piney hops with some floral.

Mouthfeel: Median bodied and carbonation. A pleasant bready-hop (light) bitter finish.

Overall: Even though this pale is malt dominated, the hops still make a nice present. There is actually a nice balance between the two. This is a good malt forward pale ale.

Serving type: bottle

12-26-2012 03:26:26 | More by zrbeer1579
Photo of ColForbinBC

New Jersey

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

12oz bottle poured into a pint

The body sits a clean orange in color with tons of visible carbonation. A creamy ecru colored cap rises two fingers and falls slowly. Sheets of lace coat the glass.

Sweet biscuity malt bill up front with floral hops underneath. A touch of white grapefruit, earth, and pine lay low.

Sweet caramel malt hits first, followed by oily hops. Pine resin and grassy notes throughout. The finish is mildly bitter, balancing out the sweetness of the malt. Some white grapefruit and melon notes.

On the lighter side of medium with even carbonation. Smooth and lush.

This is a nice little APA. A tad too sweet, but contrasted well with some building bitterness.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2012 22:22:35 | More by ColForbinBC
Photo of ColdWaffles


3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a standard pint. Haven't tried this before and I'm looking forward to seeing what Great Lakes does for a standard pale ale.

Appearance: Looks like a decent pale ale. A clean looking clear gold-orange ale with a slightly "more than off-"white head. Decent head, didn't stick around too well, but lined the glass well enough.

Smell: Picked up a tiny bit of malt and about an equal amount of hop. Not much though.

Taste: A little less fantastic than I'd have expected from Great Lakes. Certainly not "bad," but it didn't knock me off my rocker either. Well balanced hop/malt levels with a slight citrus level on the end. Hops and citrus linger a little in the mouth.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, carbonation how I like it for the style, easy to drink.

This plays it pretty safe, which sadly means the drop-off to something cheaper in the region wouldn't be big. Anyway, if this was more competitively priced for me in my area in terms of bottled beer, I'd probably pick it 4 or so out of 10 times for an American Pale Ale. That's not a bad ratio, I figure, but it wouldn't demand my attention. Would certainly look at this on draft.

Given the ABV and how easy this drinks I feel like I could session this though, so that's kind of cool. That figures into the higher overall.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2012 05:04:13 | More by ColdWaffles
Photo of MadCat

New Jersey

4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: A nice brown color, with a short tan head that dissipates quickly, leaving little lacing

Smell: Some caramel malt sweetness, with hoppy notes

Taste: Starts off with sweet caramel malts with biscuit notes, transitioning to piney citrus hops

Mouthfeel: Medium body, full carbonation good mouthfeel

Overall: A pretty good brew, but maltier than is standard for the style. Highly enjoyable

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2012 00:53:38 | More by MadCat
Photo of mfnmbvp


3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle. bottle says to "enjoy by 12/21/2012" which is a different date than the Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold I just drank. I have had this beer before, and I remember it being quite good, so my expectations are high.

A - Nice dark orange copper color. This color is almost identical to that of a penny. Clear as day, you can see right through this beer. No real head on mine, just some white fizzing and some bubbles. Other than that, it is pretty clean looking.

S - Even for being so near the end of it's life, you can still smell the hops. As the beer warms, the bready biscuit smells are more enhanced. This is one of the only beers I can honestly say smell like biscuits to me after warming for a few minutes.

T - The bready malts are pretty dominant, and the hop profile is strong with this beer. This beer is very well balanced.

M - Very nice sticky resinous mouthfeel from the hop presence, but it isn't very thick or full-bodied, slightly on the clear watery side, but to me that only ensures it's purity. This beer is extremely tasty nonetheless.

Overall, this is one of my favorite Great Lakes beers, the Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster Imperial IPA is probably their best brew, but this one isn't bad either. Great Lakes doesn't make a bad beer out there as far as I'm concerned.

Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale ---4/5.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2012 02:36:34 | More by mfnmbvp
Photo of CloudStrife

New York

3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a tulip. Freshest by 12/25/12.

A: Pours a clear amber with a 1 finger white head. Some visible carbonation in the body. Head takes a minute or two to dissipate leaving some splotches of lacing.

S: A bready malt with hops in the background. Has a fruity citrus like hop aroma. Might not be as aromatic now that its nearing its shelf life.

T: Well balanced blend of a real biscuity malt and bittering hops. I really like the backbone on this one which is the malt that lingers far into the after taste.

M: Medium bodied with ample carbonation. Has a clean finish and is pretty refreshing.

Overall another solid brew from Great Lakes that really rounds out there mix pack. Isnt overly hopping to the point of scaring anyone away but still has enough to satisfy a hop craving.

Serving type: bottle

12-09-2012 21:20:48 | More by CloudStrife
Photo of champ103


3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear amber/copper color. A one finger white head forms, and recedes to a ring that sticks throughout. Light lace is left behind.
S: Plenty of hops in the nose. Citrus, floral, pine, and grassy hops. Grapefruit bitterness. Though balanced with some honey sweetness.
T: Again, very balanced. Hops are up front. Citrus, pine and grapefruit. Bread and biscuit malts with a honey sweetness. Simple, but nice.
M/D: A medium body and carbonation. A bit thin for me though. Easy and enjoyable to drink. Just like a good pale ale, something I can come back to again and again.

A very simple, but nice example of a pale ale. Well done, something I enjoy and would recommend.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2012 22:52:11 | More by champ103
Photo of 57md


4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance is a standard copper with a half finger of head. The nose is pleasantly hoppy. There is a definite hoppiness in the flavor profile, but it is not as strong as the nose would suggest. Rather, this APA is malt forward, but still delivers with a crisp, dry and bitter finish.

A very good example of a sadly overlooked style.

Serving type: on-tap

11-06-2012 06:30:58 | More by 57md
Photo of Naters333


4.33/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my pint glass.
A- Nice two finger head, with an amber color. Had great lacing.

S-The smell I get the most is of the malts. Nice bread aroma, with almost a deep wheat bread smell.

T-This beer has a very clean, crisp taste. Just what I want out of a Pale Ale. Really taste the slight bitterness with great malt flavors. I do get some of the hops with a slight citrus flavor.

M-This beer taste has a great mouthful. Like I said I get a little bit of the citrus, but really enjoy the bread aftertaste I get with this beer.

O-Overall this is one of my favorite Pale Ales. Very easy to drink.

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2012 06:31:26 | More by Naters333
Photo of Bitter_Echo


3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark copper brown, with white, moderate head and moderate lacing. Light and muted floral hop notes, not much malt, and breadiness (stuffy nose partly, so not sure). Taste nice, semi-dry, with nice carbonation and flavor. A nicely balanced Ale. Not too hoppy, but still there too! I'd buy a six too.

Serving type: bottle

10-26-2012 20:45:17 | More by Bitter_Echo
Photo of Samp01

New Jersey

4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle courtesy of Mike67. A crystal clear orange amber with a medium beige lasting head on the pour. Aroma of caramel malt, yeast, bready with some mild citrus fruity notes. Taste same as aroma with good citrus floral hops bitter notes. Palate is a good medium body, crisp mouth feel and good carbonation. Finish is a combination of caramel malt citrus fruity notes, yeast with some good citrus floral hops for balance. Overall a very good, crisp refreshing and all-round solid brew. Nice

Serving type: bottle

10-24-2012 18:44:41 | More by Samp01
Photo of woodychandler


4.68/5  rDev +17.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-24-2012 00:37:21 | More by woodychandler
Photo of Vixie


3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice clear copper color with a bit of an off white head.

Smell is mainly malt and yeast.

Fairly hoppy for a pale ale. There are pine and citrus notes, and a bit of floral as well. Leaves a bit of bitterness on the tongue that lingers for a bit.

Nice full feel for the style, very solid.

While I am not a fan of overly hoppy beers, this is one of the most flavorful pale ales I have had. Usually this style feels a bit watered down and very subtle, this one is much more in your face, it actually has a lot of flavor and a solid feel. If you are looking for a pale ale that stands out from the crowd, give this one a try.

Serving type: bottle

10-16-2012 23:42:02 | More by Vixie
Photo of BeerKangaroo


4.13/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a variety pack on my trip out to Michigan:

Best by December 5:

Into my pint glass:

A: orange/brown colored body that left a nice one finger lumpy yet foamy white head that lasted for a good minute before gently dieing into the body. Beautiful speckled, spider web lacing braced itself all around the glass pretty much all of the way to the top of the glass (I was totally amazed).

S: citrus and hops up front with pretty much nothing else even indicating it existed in this brew, not overbearing but really showing strength.

T: bitter with the hops and ctirus showing its strength once again.

M: medium with nothing harsh on the tongue, standard and good.

O: I'm almost thinking this was a borderline IPA with the spiciness, hops and citrus that came out very strong in this beer. No worries, I still really liked it and would have it again.

Serving type: bottle

10-15-2012 17:41:50 | More by BeerKangaroo
Photo of pjmitch


4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have had the opportunity to purchase this pale ale a number of times in the last few years. I really enjoyed a couple of pints last weekend at Yardhouse in Glenview, IL . Give it a try if you like an easily drinkable but flavorful ale. I was a Bass Ale guy for my take-home brand but the new product they make in New York does not taste like the original pale ale from England. I'm looking for a replacement...any recommendations?

Serving type: on-tap

10-10-2012 02:53:08 | More by pjmitch
Photo of dhannes


4.68/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottled into a standard pint glass.

A=Medium yellow, with prominent 3 finger head. Slight cloudiness.

S=Citrus...orange and lemon.

T=Nice mix of sweet and bitter...reminds me a bit of a Vienna Lager--bitter presence, yet sweet...strong flavor.

M=Perfect body and light carbonation...very drinkable.

O=Another great beer from Great Lakes. I continue to believe that they have the best offering of micros in the U.S.

Serving type: bottle

10-06-2012 21:38:08 | More by dhannes
Photo of BGDrock

Ontario (Canada)

3.43/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: chill haze; strong amber colour leaning towards orange; head fades quickly

Aroma: grassy, slightly sweet hops; just a bit tropical; something herbal

Taste & Mouthfeel: resin bitterness is strong and balanced by some caramel malt, but builds to overwhelm the the tastebuds with a very long lasting finish; rough and intense; cutting; pine flavour

Overall: very one dimensional flavour, if strong and vibrant

Serving type: bottle

09-30-2012 17:03:55 | More by BGDrock
Photo of Alextricity


4.05/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a dark amber color with about a three finger head that eventually falls to one finger and lasts a long while. Patchy lacing.

Smell: A really great light hop and malt aroma. Nothing extraordinary or unique, but pleasant.

Taste/Feel: Almost an IPA, but remains an APA. There's a good bit of hops initially, but the finish is an incredibly tasty bread-like malt flavor that puts this one over the top of most APA's I've had. To me, this is a nearly perfect balance of malts and hops. I even get occasional traces of grapefruit and tea in some sips. Alcohol can also be tasted and smelled, but it's not overpowering. The feel of this one is great. It's about medium bodied, and the carbonation is just right.

Hops mostly in the smell and at the beginning of each sip, but then the carbonation tingles your tongue and you get the bready flavors at the end. A great example of the style -- definitely recommended.

Serving type: bottle

09-21-2012 18:21:38 | More by Alextricity
Photo of tigg924


2.9/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: 3/4 inch head, gold-orange in color, clear, medium carbonation

Smell: pale malt, citrus hops, and grass

Taste: caramel start, a strange bitter middle with citrus hops at the end

Mouthfeel: moderate carbonation, medium-bodied, sweet start with a big bitter middle spike that gets less bitter towards the end

Overall: An OK APA that I was a bit disappointed with. The bitter spike in the middle muted a lot of the other flavors. I like Great Lakes beers, but this one did not sit as well with me as others have.

Serving type: bottle

09-06-2012 18:04:53 | More by tigg924
Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 2,320 ratings.