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Great Lakes Winter Ale - Great Lakes Brewery

Not Rated.
Great Lakes Winter AleGreat Lakes Winter Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
81
good

86 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 86
Reviews: 59
rAvg: 3.53
pDev: 14.73%
Wants: 0
Gots: 5 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewery visit their website
Ontario, Canada

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  6.20% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
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.

(Beer added by: pootz on 12-10-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 86 | Reviews: 59 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by cratez:
Photo of cratez
3.75/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out of a 750ml bottle into a Westmalle glass.

Appearance: very dark red. A white, bubbly head subsides promptly and lightly laces the glass while drinking.

Smell: cinnamon, ginger, apple cider, and nutmeg. I want to quaff this beer immediately.

Taste: not what I expected. Some malty tartness, cinnamon, cardamom, and a mildly bitter hop aftertaste. The malt dominates a little too much and the flavour is not as well balanced as it could be. But this is interesting and tasty enough.

Mouthfeel: crisp upfront with a smooth, creamy body and carbonated bite in the finish. The alcohol is well hidden.

Drinkability: I like winter warmers, and while this isn't as good as Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale, it's a damn fine beer. I will be buying more of this over the season.

cratez, Dec 11, 2008
More User Reviews:
Photo of Dalia
3.5/5  rDev -0.8%

Dalia, Dec 22, 2012
Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.4/5  rDev -3.7%
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.

JohnnyBarman, Jan 09, 2011
Photo of Swedes21
3.3/5  rDev -6.5%
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!

Swedes21, Jan 03, 2011
Photo of biboergosum
3.8/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at C'est What.

This beer appears a slightly cloudy medium reddish brown hue, with one finger of off-white soapy head, which leaves no lace. It smells of caramel malt, nutmeg, and light cloves. The taste is spicy nutmeg, ginger, and sweet bready malt. The carbonation is moderate, the body medium weight, fruity, and smooth, and it finishes soft, with some extra caramel and Christmas spice.

A decent holiday spiced ale, just as the cold air has returned.

biboergosum, Jan 30, 2010
Photo of Sammy
3.55/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reddish amber colour with nice head and lace. A full mouthfeel bready malty concoction, spices and citrus are quite the secondary. Fresh, I was the first on Ralph's tap and nice fruity drinking, fruity aftertaste refreshing.

Bottle at RPM Club seasonal party, near the brewery. Decent spiciness, mouthfeel bulked by caramel. A hlf pint is about right.

Sammy, Dec 12, 2006
Photo of Pisstank52
4.75/5  rDev +34.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bought a bottle at the LCBO in Ancaster , Ont. Love trying these winter ales available at the Liquor store eh! Found it to be spicy and a great winter ale eh! It's the first time I've tried the Winter Ale from Great Lakes Brewery and I can honestly tell you it won't be my last. Great taste and package , and and real crowd pleaser eh!

Pisstank52, Dec 02, 2009
Photo of CanuckRover
3.93/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Finally got around to popping this baby open. Attractive Christmas tree etching. Pours a dark orange red, clear. Not surprisingly, not much head, lacings are spotty.

Sweet, malty nose. Caramel, maple and a hint of cinnamon. Nice, but not that strong really.

Not at all what I was expecting. With all the ingredients listed I was expecting something much more flavourful with a bit of an edge. Instead i get a pretty quaffable, malty, smooth ale with a hint of spice. Nice ginger on first contact. Orange peel gives a sort of juiciness to the beer. Cinnimon is quite subdued. Star of the show is some really tasty, chewy malt, yummmm. What little bitterness there is has a fight on its hands with the mix of spices, hard to tell what comes out.

Very drinkable for the alcohol, no harshness at all. I really enjoy the malt character of these Great Lakes brews. I really enjoyed this one.

CanuckRover, Mar 29, 2008
Photo of randallpink
4/5  rDev +13.3%

randallpink, Dec 02, 2013
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a deep orangey color ale with a nice foamy head with OK retention but no lacing. Aroma of caramel malt with light spice mix is weaker then anticipated. Taste is a mix between some nice caramel malt with some notes of cloves and ginger. Body is thinner then expected with some medium carbonation. I was expecting a bit more character from this one but enjoyable nonetheless.

Phyl21ca, Jan 03, 2008
Photo of TheSevenDuffs
2.75/5  rDev -22.1%
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.

TheSevenDuffs, Dec 11, 2010
Photo of irishkyle21
3.63/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Starts with a thick head, good retention and lacing. Has a clear dark red color. The eyes are happy.

The first thing I smell are spices, then fruits, doughy malt and a good dosage of hops.

Tastes of dried fruits, spices, good malt and hop balance. All in all I enjoyed this offering from Great Lakes and will wait to see how my other two bottles do. Now I just have to figure out what the hell am I going to do with six of these crappy glasses.

irishkyle21, Dec 05, 2007
Photo of mrnobody
4/5  rDev +13.3%
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.

mrnobody, Dec 08, 2010
Photo of ritzkiss
3.43/5  rDev -2.8%
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.

ritzkiss, Dec 26, 2010
Photo of spinrsx
3.45/5  rDev -2.3%
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.

spinrsx, Nov 17, 2011
Photo of RedAleMan
3.75/5  rDev +6.2%

RedAleMan, Dec 05, 2011
Photo of liamt07
3.53/5  rDev 0%
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.

liamt07, Dec 10, 2010
Photo of batmanbach
3.5/5  rDev -0.8%

batmanbach, May 07, 2012
Photo of ludachris
3.7/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep orangey brown with a cream coloured head that has minimal retention. Smell of spices and a little bit of cinnamon. Nice malty taste with hints of cinnamon and ginger. I think the orange peel adds a little bit of fruitiness to it. I was expecting a beer a little more complex in flavour after reading the label on the back, but I still really enjoyed this. Very smooth and easy to drink.

ludachris, Nov 27, 2008
Photo of SebD
3.63/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

SebD, Dec 13, 2012
Photo of thehyperduck
3.65/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

thehyperduck, Dec 06, 2011
Photo of kinguy
2/5  rDev -43.3%

kinguy, Sep 08, 2014
Photo of Voonder
4.2/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours nut-brown colour with white foamy head which dissapeared pretty quickly. Smell - spices hit nose right away, ginger, citrus, coriander, then malts become noticeable. Very comlex smell. Nice! Taste - spices again - cinnamon, ginger bread, some toffe perhaps. It is the winter warmer as it should be - complex, spicy, boozy. Carbonation is just right. Drinkability - good.
Very nice brew. Thanks to both bobsy and Viggo for this, one wouldn't be enough anyway;)

Voonder, Dec 26, 2008
Photo of CrazyMike
3.93/5  rDev +11.3%
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.

CrazyMike, Jan 09, 2011
Photo of grub
3.13/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle, corked and caged with a white champagne wrapper on top. purchased in november 2007 as part of a gift pack with two glasses.

pours a nice red colour with just a wisp of dense white head. no lace.

aroma is nice. lots of christmas spice - cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, maybe a hint of clove. slightly floral and a bit perfume-like - one of the traits that i'm not especially fond of in pumpkin/christmas brews. hint of alcohol. multi-grain bread.

taste is ok. medium-low bitterness. lots of spice. floral. slightly soapy and perfumey. bit of alcohol. bit of multi-grain bread hidden behind the wash of spices. not quite my thing.

mouthfeel is ok. medium carbonation level. medium body. lingering and slightly clingy mouthfeel from the spice that isn't entirely pleasant.

drinkability is ok. this one has far to much spice for me, but seems ok otherwise. if you like these sorts of strongly spicy christmas and/or pumpkin type brews, feel free to ignore my rating.

grub, Nov 29, 2007
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Great Lakes Winter Ale from Great Lakes Brewery
81 out of 100 based on 86 ratings.