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Great Lakes Winter Ale - Great Lakes Brewery

Not Rated.
Great Lakes Winter AleGreat Lakes Winter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
81
good

99 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 99
Reviews: 61
rAvg: 3.54
pDev: 14.12%
Wants: 1
Gots: 9 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewery visit their website
Ontario, Canada

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  6.20% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: pootz on 12-10-2006

Inspired by the long, cold and seemingly endless Canadian winter, our 6.2% alcohol Winter Ale is a true winter warmer. Handcrafted with specialty hops and malts, combined with generous amounts of cinnamon, honey, ginger and orange peel, this unique beer is brimming with flavour.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 99 | Reviews: 61
Photo of DenisKolkin
3.8/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle served cold into a standard pint glass. Purchased for approximately $6 CDN from the local LCBO. It's snowing outside so this seems appropriate today.

Appearance - the beer pours a semi transparent brown beer with Amber hues. A small half finger of head is poured, which disspates quickly leaving behind only a small wisp of foam. Visible carbonation is hard to tell due to the murkiness.

Smell - butterscotch, toffee and a few other Christmas like spices, maybe a pinch of cinnamon. Some dark fruit like plums in the undertones. Nothing overwhelming but certainly a nice bouquet that I expect will be a malt bomb. Slightly reminiscent of a malty english pale ale with some spices.

Taste - starts mild with a bit of butterscotch but sweetness is really reigned in. Then comes a sort of dry spice, again sort of all spice and cinnamon mixture that tastes dry.

Mouthfeel - well carbonated, moderately thin body for the style and a dry finish. The spicy mixture with the dryness leaves a zippy feeling on the tongue.

Overall - pretty good stuff, and one of the most drinkable winter warmers I've had. I find this style doesn't lend itself to drinking any more than a bottle, but this one from Great Lakes, if it came in a smaller package, I could see myself drinking a couple in a sitting.

Photo of mick303
3.58/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber bottle into stemmed glass. Colour is a medium chestnut brown with fairly good lacing and retention.

S- has some cinnamon spice to it, dry caramel malt, dry orange citrus, ginger has a light influence, but altogether it makes an appetizing warming holiday spice over a fairly neutral malt base.

T- starts with a mainly malty flavour then eventually. Some of the spice kicks in on the palate with ginger dominating. A hint of cinnamon but at the start it is very caramel heavy then as some of the earth hops come the ginger really is the single note.

M- moderate body, light carbonation and a bit of a watery feel initially before the finish, which is a bit drawn out and dominated by the spices. Some of the honey gives a cidery feel.

A lot of promise on this but altogether it fails to deliver a complete package, good melange of spice notes on the aroma then the flavour while tasty is muddled and the mouthfeel doesn't compensate to make an outstanding winter ale. I would seek other examples of the style, but if the recipe was tweeted I would try this again.

Photo of leaddog
4/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours a deep copper with two fingers of foamy beige head.

Smell - Cinnamon, ginger, honey, orange peel, malts, slight leafy hops.

Taste - Warm winter spices (cinnamon, ginger, clove) with a touch of honey sweetness. Good malt and hop balance.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

Overall - A cohesive blend of classic winter spices and flavours. Well balanced and a tasty treat.

Photo of Kremlock
4/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Deep copper and hues of amber in colour. Pours a nice thick (1/2 inch) head that is off white. sort of Irish cream diluted with some milk. There is a bit of a haze and the beer lacing continues through the end.

S: Spicy notes of cinnamon, cloves, ginger right off with loads of bread and caramel. Smells like creme brule and has a bit of alcohol in the background.

T: Ginger and cinnamon come threw very well with some ginger in the back. Hints of oranges mingle with the bready and toffee flavours.

M: Med-low body, has good carbonation, dry finish with a lasting bitterness.

O: I love this Winter Warmer. It has the spiciness you'd expect, the bread/caramel/toffee flavours to balance it and it has loads of hops for a nice bitter end. This is perfect for our weather.

Photo of SebD
3.65/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: It has a nice merky amber color to it. It has a nice thick light beige head that dies down slowly and leaves nice lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of bready malts, honey, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and oranges.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has some sweet honey, some caramel, bready malts, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and some light oranges.

Mouthfeel: It has a low/medium carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with decent flavors and aromas.

Photo of Digimaika2
3.53/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(4.0) A: Attractive clear burnt amber coloured with a puffy cappuccino foam head. Good retention and very good lacing down the glass.

(3.5) S: Tangerine, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon/pumpkin, burnt caramel, grassy, and generally quite floral. A bit of a soapy aroma but not a negative, rather more reminiscent of those floral qualities.

(3.5) T: Gingerbread, cinnamon, pumpkin, caramel, nutmeg, and some citrus qualities that are more subdued than aroma indicated. The gingerbread taste is quite dominant and appealing, yet a bit overpowering in my opinion. Detecting some hefeweizen-like qualities with cloves and fresh grasses coming through. Tasty.

(3.5) M: Medium bodied with medium-low carbonation. Slick and semi-oily with a fairly clean texture.

(3.5) D: A good offering from Great Lakes but not quite my cup of tea. The gingerbread/cinnamon taste was very good at first sip but became a bit too dominant for my liking. A bit one dimensional overall.

Photo of jrenihan
3.53/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Beer has a dark toffee colour and a moderately sized off-white head.

Tonnes of spices in the nose. Clove foremost, followed by cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Bready malt is behind the spice.

Like the nose, the taste is full of spice. Cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg. Very pronounced. Orange peel is notable in the background, along with the bready malt flavours. It is a "warmer" all right, with all of the spices.

Moderate carbonation, medium bodied. The spice gives the beer a bit of a tingle. Pretty smooth.

Overall, not bad, but not totally my thing. The serving size is far too big. No reason to stick this in a 750ml bottle. Regular size would be more than fine. This beer is pretty good, but there is no way I will finish it.

Photo of TheHammer
3.17/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: A finger and a half of head that retained quite well, but lacked in lace. The body is a cloudy brown with a couple red notes and quite a lot of fine sediment.

Smell: Cinnamon and orange peel are the dominant scents with a touch of sweet malt in the background. Warming helped quite a bit, but there's just not enough bang.

Taste: Starts with a mixed cinnamon and sugary malt taste that reminds me of cinnamon snap cookies. Then it tends to lose some of the sweetness a has a little musty yeast note that is accented by some citrus and ginger and ending with a slight spice note.

Mouthfeel: It has some musty notes that don't quite sit right with me, but the cinnamon gingerbread after taste is quite nice. The carbonation also seems to handle the somewhat jumbled flavour shifting.

Drinkability: It's designed to be a single one of winter drinker, and that's exactly what it does. Medium bodied and a little dry, but could serve as a desert beer.

Final Thoughts: I've yet to encounter a Winter Warmer that has really wowed me. Certainly this is a nice seasonal one off, but there's nothing here that would make me seek it out again. Worth one shot if anything.

Photo of Foddz
2.76/5  rDev -22%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a slightly earthier tone than reddish-copper, with two fingers worth of mixed-size beige bubbles capping it nicely. Head persists for a little while before forming a soapy film on top, leaving some lacing around the glass. More carbonation can be seen rising to the top from within.

S: Sweet ginger, honey, caramel. Maybe a bit of cinnamon or nutmeg as well. There's some bready malt present as well. I want to say there's a faint hint of orange peel in the mix as well. It comes across as a bit of a jumble.

T: The taste is a bit more on target. Biscuity malts are a little more forward, with the ginger and cinnamon spice taking a back seat as compared to the nose. Caramel rounds out the middle. A little more balanced with the citrus/orange zest a bit more at play towards the back end. Overall quite sweet and not much hops to balance things out. Aftertaste is a lingering ginger/nutmeg/orange peel combination. Still a bit of a jumble but better than the nose.

M: A little thin with a sharp prickling of carbonation. A little bit of stickiness from the sweetness. Not terrible but doesn't seem well suited to the rest of the beer.

O: I want to like this beer. It has a lot of interesting elements that just don't come together in a really cohesive fashion. Some entropy is at play as the whole doesn't quite add up to the sum of its parts, at least in my mind.

Photo of korguy123
3.85/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 Release in a 750ml bottle.

A- Muddy brown with deep ruby highlights. Three finger soapy off white head. Thin cap is all that's left after several minutes. Lacing is excellent webbing all over the glass.

S- Huge ginger, honey and very dry cinnamon. Slight orange, very subdued under the ginger.

T- Like drinking ginger snaps covered in cinnamon. Definitely getting the sweetness from the honey but not getting the orange peel. This is an excellent winter beer (if you don't have a problem with ginger and cinnamon)

M- Medium bodied, dry lingering aftertaste.

O- I can really see where they were heading with this one. The spices don't offend me, they are a tad over powering but you quickly get used to it.

Photo of thehyperduck
3.67/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This year's edition, from a 750 mL quart-sized bottle.

Pours a translucent deep-toned amber-bronze colour, topped with a little more than two fingers' worth of rich, silky light beige-coloured head. Good retention; it sticks around for a good while and leaves behind lots of sticky lacing streaks on the glass. Honestly, the first thing I thought of when I sniffed this stuff was potpourri; it's a very floral, fruity, spicy aroma. Gingerbread is very prominent, with hints of clove and cinnamon as well. The fruity notes lean toward mild orange citrus, with some underlying caramel or butterscotch malty sweetness. Enjoyable aroma for sure.

Mostly bready malts - gingerbready, to be specific - and more spice on the palate; lots of ginger and cinnamon but also notes of allspice and nutmeg. Floral, herbal hops interact nicely with the orange peel, and provide enough bitterness to balance the caramel malt sweetness. Fairly robust aftertaste that includes light malt sweetness, allspice and some dryness; the dryness lasts longest. Not obnoxiously spicy, but more than enough to remind you that this is an American-style warmer rather than a UK one. Medium-bodied but still pretty satisfying, with moderate carbonation levels. Very smooth, and easy to drink at a touch over 6%.

This can be summed up with four words: reasonably enjoyable, but overpriced. Not overspiced, which is a plus in my books, but pretty straightforward and uninteresting, which is definitely not a plus for the style in my eyes. Put it in a regular-sized bomber and charge a few bucks less and I might get this again, but otherwise this is a one and done for me. A good effort like most beers from this brewery, but kind of forgettable.

Photo of Kartoffeln
3.45/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 edition.

A: Pours a clear, dark mahogany with a big, pillowy head of dense, creamy, light tan foam. Fair retention, sinking to a thick foamy ring and leaving frothy lacing.

S: Caramel malts with a whiff of biscuitiness and butterscotch are almost overwhelmed by huge amounts of fruit and spice aromas. Cinnamon and ginger dominate amidst weaker notes of clementines, black cherries, candied and dark fruits, and orange zest. Undertones of honey and yeast throughout, and no discernible hops.

T: Cinnamon and ginger mingle with bready caramel malts, honey, nutmeg, and orange zest. Faint candied pear, cloves, yeast, and dry floral hops in the finish. Potently spicy in itself, but actually subdued and lacking complexity compared to the nose.

M: Medium mouthfeel with mild, creamy-smooth carbonation and just a touch of stickiness. The finish is actually rather dry as the floral hop bitterness easily outlasts the mild spice aftertaste, but the ale is still far from balanced on the whole.

D: It's hard not to be disappointed by the mild palate with such a robust nose, and it's hard to drink the whole bottle in one go, but it's not all that bad. Think of it a mulled ale counterpart to mulled wine; it's spicy, satisfying, and warming, but lacks any nuance or complexity.

Photo of peensteen
3.78/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear copper/red colour, ring of tan head, good retention and lacing left behind. Smell is full of cinnamon and malt, bready with citrus notes, most notably orange, faint nutty scents come off of this as well. Taste is fairly malty, bready with cinnamon, lots of spice, light herbal flavours, fairly hoppy, moderate bitterness throughout. Medium carbonation, medium body, good feel. This is a pretty good brew however putting this in a 750ml bottle is completley unnecessary, a smaller serving would be more than adequate.

Photo of spinrsx
3.45/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

650ml Bottle

Appearance - The beer pours a amber colour with an average size fizzy off-white coloured head. There is an average amount of carbonation and there is some fair lacing on the sides of the glass. The head lasted for 5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Caramel, oranges, all spice, hops

Taste & Mouth - The beer has an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, hops, and all spice. There is also fair amount of citrus juice and zest flavour. It ends with a malty slightly sweet aftertaste with a touch of spiciness.

Overall – Another decent beer from great lakes but I'm afraid this one wasn't quite worth the 7$ price tag. It's just a little to thin and weak tasting, I was expecting something bolder.

Photo of marty21
3.88/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear amber with 3 fingers worth of off white head. Settles to a nice cap and thick lacing covers the entire glass.

S: Orange peel, cinnamon, caramel and some spices for the aroma.

T: Caramel malt with some spices and floral hops. Finishes with some bread.

M: Medium carbonation with a medium body.

D: I enjoyed this one. The spices and aren't too overpowering but they aren't weak which is perfect. A 750ml bottle is no problem with this beer. The taste doesn't get tiring at all.

Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.45/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Re-review for the 2010 edition.

Poured into a nonic glass. Dark amber-ruby, a thick white head, with a bit of lacing. The head sticks around for most of the sample, leaving behind a thin, but sturdy ring,.

Smell is quite strong: malt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, orange peel and caramel. Not bad, certainly more noticable than some of the winter brews I've had thus far.

With other Great Lakes brews, the flavors have been to thin, too boring, too washed out. In this case, I felt that, if anything, there was too much flavor. Man, was this spicy. Huge flavor punches of cinnamon, ginger, clove, pepper, orange peel, with bready malts only reaching the surface every so often. Flavorful, but difficult to finish. Reminds me of making mulled wine, and drinking a cup near the end of the pot, which has spent more time with the cloves and spice bag and is thus just too strong. Still good, but too strong...

Mouthfeel is decent, reasonably carbonated, slightly creamy.

This year's edition feels like an improvement upon the former, with bolder flavors and a better mouthfeel. However, I think the spices have been jacked up to a more-than-reasonable level, making this bit difficult to drink. Still, I have to give credit where it's due. This is by far Great Lakes' best wide-release brew, and worthy of a pickup on a cold winter day. Just be sure to share it; a tall bottle is a bit much.

Photo of CrazyMike
3.93/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Amber brown appearance with decent head. Smells heavily of malt, picked up some orange and spices.

Taste is very malty and lots of cinnamon. Slight orange taste to it. Bitter and spicy. Dark bodied with moderate carbonation. Aftertaste is malty and sweet.

Overall, very unique dark beer. Definatly something you would drink in the winter. Curious to try other beers from Great Lakes now.

Photo of Swedes21
3.35/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a chilled glass

Appearance - beer pours a dark brown/amber in colour. The head is fairly thick in appearance, off white. It's about one finger in height and has some good staying power. It was hard to tell the carbonation levels.

Smell - I can pick up some orange, orange zest, very good balance of spice and hops.

Taste - I found the primary taste was orange followed by spices and then a slight bitter hop finish. I would not say this was as balanced as i hope, but a very nice tasting beer.

Mouthfeel - The added level of carbonation brings more bitterness to the end. The beer has a full mouthfeel.

Drinkability - I found this to have too much contrast between the orange and spice mixture. Not a bad beer, just not something i will miss in the summer!

Photo of ritzkiss
3.43/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 750ml bottle, pours a dark brown with hints of reddish, a couple fingers of airy foam on top. Nose reveals some orange zest and a hint of ginger, some earthy peppercorn as well.

Odd take, seems quite a bit different than the cask I had last year, thus the new review. Orange zest, loads of peppercorn both black and white, hint of fresh grated ginger, hint of cinnamon, caramel, earth, touch of cocoa. Far too thin body, carbonation is a little too zippy, needs some bulk and richness. Not a traditional take but more a mulled wine with beer - very unique and tasty.

Photo of chaz410
3.52/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Body of this brew is very deep amber in color but still transparent. Has a nice froathy white head that last several minutes.
Smells of caramel malts, biscuit character and hints of cinnamon.
Taste is full of biscuity caramel malts, lots of bready tastes and some hints of cinnamon and allspice. Theres heavy caramel undertone and some hints of chocolate and roasted malts.
Very thick mouthfeel that's pleasantly smooth.
You can have several of these before being sick of the taste, it's a very nice winter warmer indeed!

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
2.78/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Dark brown with one finger of cream coloured head.

S - Heavily spiced. A lot of cinnamon and nutmeg. Not much else comes through as the spices really overpower the nose.

T - Follows the nose. Lots of cinnamon and nutmeg - they completely dominate the palate. Nothing else comes thorough at all. Very one dimensional.

M - Medium body, lightly carbonated.

D - Way too spiced. Difficult to drink.

Photo of liamt07
3.55/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from the LCBO, 650ml bomber into a couple pint glasses. Split with the girlfriend.

Appears a golden brown in the glass, some hints to darker reds and oranges throughout. Chunky and creamy head, a few fingers worth were yielded. Good retention, moderate lace. Loads of honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and big malt sweetness in the nose. Appetizing and warming in a sense, 'Christmas-y.' Spicy bouquet. Taste is comparably tame, still lots of sweet malt, with the spices, cinnamon among others. Body is disappointing, would've liked a thicker, fuller mouth and a longer finish. Easily drinkable however.

Photo of mrnobody
4/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle poured into a Duvel tulip.

A: Pours a clear reddish-brown with 3 fingers of off-white head which leaves ample sticky lacing.

S: Smells of orange, cinnamon, like a fruitcake!

T: As per the aroma, tastes of malt, fruit and spice. A late contribution from hops also but definitely not the focus here.

M: The mouthfeel is medium and a little sticky with good carbonation.

D: Very drinkable.

This is exactly what I expect from a winter warmer in the aroma and flavour departments: fruit and spice. Not the English approach of just making a malty ale with slightly higher ABV.

Photo of shamus
3.62/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

You can do better than this. Go and apprentice with some masters. Come back and make a great beer instead of a "yep that's not bad" one. Thin head. Smells very promising like a road trip with the three wise men along the spice road. Taste is not all that. Not horrid but a bit like someone decided to dip some incense sticks into the wort and see what happens.
Another dud from GLB.

Photo of kwjd
3.01/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

On tap at C'est What. I wasn't a huge fan of this last year because I thought the spices overpowered the beer, but I've since had several winter warmers that I've enjoyed so I thought maybe my palate has changed. Poured a reddish-brown colour with thin off-white head. Head sticks around, leaving little lacing. Smell is of cinnamon and nutmeg and I can't smell anything else since the spices overpower anything else in the beer. Flavour is a bit sweet, but I keep smelling the spices. I don't know if I would notice much of a difference between this and taking a bland lager and adding a ton of cinnamon to it.

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Great Lakes Winter Ale from Great Lakes Brewery
81 out of 100 based on 99 ratings.