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

very good
1,021 Reviews
For Trade:

Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Ohio, United States | website

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 07-06-2001

User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,021 | Ratings: 3,134
Photo of bnuttz
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark golden color with a generous frothy light tan head. Smell is cascades all the way, very appealing. Some caramel malts can be detected in the nose as well. Taste is initially bitter. The malt backbone is there, definitely caramel flavors, maybe some toffee. The hops are the standout of this brew however. For being hopped soley by cascades this one has a nice flavor. Citrusy, mainly grapefruit and lemon, but not overpowering. The sweet malts balance this brew well. Mouthfeel is great for a pale ale, medium body, but not too thick as to limit the drinkability. A very nice pale ale, definitely in my top tier.

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Photo of RBorsato
3.58/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Hazy dark gold with a decent beige head and slow decent carbonation. Hoppy-bitter aroma and flavor with an almost English style malt-hop balance. Medium bodied and light creaminess.

Fairly average for style (leans English malty) but cool name and label (Named after the infamous 1969 burning of the Cuyahoga River).

Per GL website:
- An assertively hopped American Pale Ale with citrusy and piney cascades.
- 45 IBUs.
- 1993 GABF - Silver

Enjoy By: 05/16/04
Tasted: 03/29/05

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Photo of beveragecaptain
3.76/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer has a nice, clear amber appearance with a creamy head. The aroma seems a little off, like a cheap lager, but with hops that cover up most of the bad smell. There's also another aroma that's like fruitloops cereal. Pine hop flavor, but balanced. This beer is on the big side for a pale ale. Pretty good, but most of GLBC's beers are more than pretty good.

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Photo of longarm
4.16/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours clear amber but carbonation is a little thin.

Hop aroma is dominant and flowery, almost perfume-like. It's driving me nuts that I can't pin down the smell that this resembles, but all I
can think of is gardenias or some other kind of sweet flower. Very nice.

Flavor has an initial hit of bitterness, followed by a little malty sweetness. Grapefruit-esque hop flavor appears at the finish.

A little cloying, but the sweetness is balanced well with the hop bitterness. It coats well and each sip demands another.

An exceptionally drinkable beer resulting in a beer that's greater than the sum of its parts.

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Photo of assurbanipaul
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear bright amber with a thin yet persistent tan head. Aroma is sweetly hopped, citrusy and grapefruity, with a background of light pale malt.

Taste is more on the malty side, sweetish pale malts with the hoppy bitterness fading to the back. Light citrus, oranges, grapefruit with sugar and a slice of buttered toast. I'm getting a faint trace of smoke, not the dark peaty kind but the light campfire-y brand. Still with enough juicy hops to pull it back in the end.

Mouthfeel is medium, drinkability is high. Establishes a very good balance, very much ignored in many of the pale ale style, me likey. Much thanks to AKSmokedPorter for sharing.

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Photo of meathookjones
3.88/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amber with a decent sized light tan head. Some scattered lacing around the glass as the head stays afloat. A bit of citric hops jump out first with the smell before the sweetness of the malt comes in. Nice balanced smell but nothing too spectacular. Citric hop bitterness combines with a caramel sweetness in the flavor. Notes of biscuit, pine and earthy hop under tones could be noticed. Slightly bitter after taste with a touch of grapefruit. Mouthfeel is medium and a tad rough on the tongue with its hops. Solidly drinkable as it is good and flavorfull. I could have a few.

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Photo of BobLuvBeer
4.77/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Hazy amber color, with fizzy head that contains lots of small bubbles. Heavy flora hop aroma, even from a distance, the sent of cascade hop shines through. Medium body, which is full of hop. Starts very floral, then moves to a nice bitterness and then the bitterness slowly fades away. A very well overall hopped session beer.

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Photo of gimmehead
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reddish copper, thin eggshell colored head. Smells of citrus hops and sweet toffee malts. Taste is initially citric hops, followed by a candy like sweetness, regressing to a lingering, bitter resinous finish. Medium body and slightly slick finish. Great session beer.

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Photo of BeerFink
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This ale cascades from the bottle a hazy reddish orange with a healthy white head. The aroma is a beautiful hoppy blend of citrous, fruits, and flowers, married to a clean maltiness. Up front, the hops bite sharply. The initial kick is smoothed by well blended malts, leading to a finish of lemon-like bitterness and the slightlest presence of alcohol. A nice medium mouthfeel is about perfect for this style. Good carbonation adds to the sharp and refreshing hops flavor. Chalk up another solid brew for GLBC.

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Photo of merlin48
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Named after one of the USA's most embarrasing environmental events, when the Cuyahoga River caught on fire in 1969. This is one of the more drinkable APAs I've sampled. It pours a hazy, honey amber body with a small offwhite head that retains well and leaves some curtains of lace. Aroma is very enticing, with citrusy grapefruit and orangepeel, some pine cone, and a solid caramel malt background. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation. Very smooth. Taste is well balanced, with lots of citrusy hops and bready caramel malt sweetness. Very smooth, with a slightly bitter citrusrind finish and aftertaste. This is more drinkable than my go-to American Pale Ale, SNPA. Smoother and better balanced. Very nice!

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Photo of karst
4.57/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ten days after its clearly printed "please by date" I poured the beer named after Cleveland's burning Cuyohoga River into a fine Corsendonk tulip shaped stemware glass (rinsed with unfinished Dirt Cheap pilsner from yesterdays AM tasting) I knew that the Great Lakes Brewing Co. was going to be a treat. The hops and aromas will magnify in this kind of glass. The beer rinse would insure my best chance to see the head capabilities. Absolute clear copper and head for a cover shot with a nose of sweet citrus hops, herbs, toasted malts and baked bread (not overly biscuit yeast aroma or taste). A Pale Ale taste that rises above the crowd and is as unique as the Sierra. One of the reasons why Europeans are flying to N. America for beer tasting vacations. I would love this cask conditioned and brewery fresh.

I keep reaching for the empty glass wanting more, alas it was sold out my last trip to Granite City Corral Liquors ( where this unpasteurized beer is kept in a chiller ) and I had to settle for a GL Dortmunder Gold which was more yeasty but still pleasing.

I am a body freek and like this medium full body. This beer taste is great (from 45° F to Room temp) in inspite of being old. Worth the trip across Missouri to locate this Champ APA this being said after trying about half of the Other APA rated 4.0+ overall. Burning River is most worthy of being in these good brew's company

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Photo of brewQ
3.63/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It has been a while since I had a Burning River.
Used to get a lot a few years ago when I lived in Ohio.

A deep "orange" color with a wispy head.
The aroma was zest, fruity and floral- awakening some memories.

The body was solid but didn't match my recall for fullness.
A very drinkable Pale Ale- always well made...

It's funny how how you can't always match your memoires and expectations, though.

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Photo of frazbri
4.55/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours deep gold, crystal clear body with a creamy offwhite head. Good lacing. Aromas of lemon zest, grapefruit, and spruce. Flavors of citrus hoppiness, sweet malt and backed by solid bitterness. Medium body and carbonation.

This is a great pale ale that doesn't go over the top. It's the kind of beer that makes me thirst for more. Great Lakes is a brewer that never disappoints.

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4.27/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Smells very much like sourdough bread, with a hint of my biggest vice (hops).
This has a golden color, a thin but nicely lacing head, and a decent amount of suspended sediment, which I enjoy.
Starts off with a bit of a bready flavor which I believe may come from the beer being slightly old. The hops and lively carbonation wash away this notion before it even becomes a concern. Quite hoppy for an APA. This is superbly drinkable stuff. An "ahhh...hits the spot" type of beer. Bubbly and refreshing on the tongue without ever getting dumbed down. Just plain solid.

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Photo of Tballz420
4.18/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This brew has a slightly hazy copper body, with a cream foam head that leaves behind a nice lace trail. It has a bitter hop aroma, with citrus tones along for the ride. Light sweet malts up front, punctuated by nice bitter hop tones. Bits of fruit as well. Full bodied. This here is a damn good PA.

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Photo of twelvsies
4.44/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

In Pittsburgh visiting the parents for the holidays I was glad to be able to pick up some Great Lakes, which I can't get in Massachussetts. I haven't had these since maybe high school, and I am rediscovering their greatness. Appears a light and clear orange color, very pale and bubbly with little head to speak of. Smell is a real treat; strong citrus hop scent followed by any fruit you care to conjure up while you're taking your whiff. Pears, apircots, apples, grapefruit... the whole damn fruit basket. Nice fruity malt flavor for sure. Enough already. The taste is also strong citrussy bitter hops, but that's not the entire picture, as in some beers. The point of this beer wasn't to make is overly hoppy, but to balance that flavor with a ripe sweetness of fruity malts. Grassy too. Great complex flavors, all over the place. Mouthfeel is excellent. Almost feels/tastes like a less intense barleywine in terms of thickness and syrupiness. Great smooth and sticky juicy feeling. A real treat to drink. I'm gonna miss this beer when I head back east.

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Photo of jvajda
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Nice orange tone and small head.
Smell: Lightly bitter hop notes.
Taste: I immediately thought Harpoon IPA. A very nicely balanced IPA that wont kill your taste buds but tastes great. It tastes a little more English that the Harpoon IPA. I matures very pleasently as it warms and lacks a super salty finish other IPA seem to have.
Mouthfeel: Smooth and welcoming.
Drinkability: A fine IPA for some serious session drinking.

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Photo of clvand0
3.9/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a very cloudy amber color with a medium head that doesn't stay around too long, but leaves a little lacing on the glass. The aroma is wheaty and yeasty and has some citrus in there too. This one is moderately hoppy up front but has a nice caramel malt back to it. Has a floral hop flavor. Finish is dry, but nice. Well made.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured light golden amber with a noticeable haze. The head was yellow, frothy, and stood tall to lace the glass as it fell and as the beer was consumed.

The aroma was fruity and malty with muted citrus and a caramel note in the background.

The flavor was fruity with more muted citrus and caramel maltiness. The bittering was substantial enough to balance the malt, but not overdone.

The finish was just dry with lasting citrus bittering into the aftertaste. The body was medium.

12 ounce bottle. If anything the hop flavor and hop aroma could be more prominent to make this beer truly shine.

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Photo of RedDiamond
3.9/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It’s a bold move to name a beer after one of the most notoriously polluted bodies of water in history, but I can’t help but appreciate the irony. It’s all the more ironic for the clarity of the brew and the clean lines defining its taste. Burning River has a clean, breathy nose with a subtle malt fragrance. The body is clear and golden; the head is deft and off-white.

Perhaps the most standout feature of this pale ale is it’s sublime, glassy mouthfeel. It’s unusually full and smooth, allowing for the delivery of the taste in a manner that enhances drinkability. The character is evenly tempered with skilled balance and a satisfying bitter finish.

This is a highly companionable beer you could drink any day or any time of year. Special thanks to cmaruschak.

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Photo of ken3c
4.39/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very bright copper color. Half inch head full of irregular bubbles reduces to a ring with a big island of foam. Lacing is evident but sparce.

Grapefruit is my first impression of the aroma. There is some bready malt smell and a slight piney hop aroma.

There is a sweetness up front and a bold flowery hops taste in back. The aftertaste reminds me of a good pink grapefruit. Very yummy.

Smooth. Light to medium carbonation. Medium body.

When I'm in the mood for a pale ale, this is usually the one I crave. It's very good.

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Photo of mattcrill
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thank goodness we have such an awesome brewery like GLBC right in our backyard. I feel lucky to have them and looking forward to another fine style from them.

Appearance: Pours clear with deep copper color with carmel/yellow edges. A white rocky head caps this fantastic beer.

Smell: A citrus presence with some bitterness provided by the wheaty and bread-like background.

Taste: Hops up front with a malty backbone. A crisp, bitter, and dry finish. There are some shadows of alcohol as the beer warms up. Finely crafted and a great taste!

Mouthfeel: Medium and crispy. Just the way the write it up in the style guides. There is a definite carbonation presence but not overwhelming.

Drinkability and overall: Thumbs up! What a great beer. I'm a stout/porter guy and I could drink this forever. Good stuff.

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Photo of nomad
3.9/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

An orange-toned copper beer, it pours a fair head that meanders away leaving some lace.

Smells of a calm balance between crystal and bready malts and citric hop scents, most notably lemons on a sharp herbal background. Flavor continues the balance with a cushion of malt playing nicely with the Cascade hops. On the malt, the blend of pale, crystal, and biscuit creates a deep and soothing core. As for the hops, though their citric and earthy flavors are pleasing at their initial peak, I find that they finish with a little too much lemony and herbal twang. Is there only Cascade in this beer, no Goldings of some sort? Surprising.

A judiciously balanced pale ale, I'm just not fond of the finish though the rest is wonderful session material.

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Photo of GreenWBush
4.72/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This beer is a beauty from the tap.

While I was rather unamused by this beer the first time around, on-tap this beer captivates me.

Sturdy in its strength, but not overwhelming for a session GLBC's Burning River is to me the perfect everyday beer. Its malty, creamy for its style, but still hop-burp inducingly citric.

The bitterness here is high, the flavor, even more pronounced. Maybe the first beer I could see fitting a malt and a hop-head.

It has dropped SNPA from its personal place as best 'all around' Pale. I want this put on at my house.

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Photo of BrewMaster
4.27/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle. Creative and well done label made the experience that much better.

The color is an orange amber with a clean lacy head on top. Aroma is hoppy with a crip malt aroma and some raisin or seed scents mixed in.

The taste is hoppy and dry on the palate. A bit of almond or walnut skin with a very smooth ending. An excellent example of the style and a great 2 row flavor sits in the mouth.

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Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 1,021 ratings.