Christmas Ale
Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Christmas AleChristmas Ale
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Winter Warmer
Ranked #6
Ranked #8,041
3.97 | pDev: 12.59%
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Ohio, United States
Very Good
Christmas AleChristmas Ale
Notes: Do not open ‘til Christmas? Whoever coined that phrase obviously hasn’t tasted Christmas Ale’s fresh honey, cinnamon, and ginger flavors.

A Yuletide’s worth of holiday spices and sweet honey to keep you a-wassailing all season long.

World Beer Championships 6-Time Medal Winner Since 1999 (Gold, Silver)
Reviews: 926 | Ratings: 3,247 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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mynie from Maryland

4.37/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Racer's Cafe.

How the hell have I never had this? I can't even recall ever seeing it on a shelf!

It's billed as a brown ale, but I'm rating it as a warmer. It's a clear, filtered pour, ruby in color with a fine offwhite head.

The aroma is mild and malty with some spice complexities. Quite inviting.

It tastes quite similar to an average iteration of Anchor's Christmas ale, only a bit more burny and aggressively sweet (in a good way). Raisins and gingerbread start things off, moving into a middle of candi sugar and biscuits, all nicely balanced by a warm, boozy back end.

A warming, tasty treat.

Jan 18, 2020
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jkblr from Indiana

3.86/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle enjoy by 02/17/20 poured into becher glass at fridge temp 7.5% ABV 30 IBU. The beer pours bright dark copper tinted amber with off white head. The head recedes to a pencil thin ring and leaves no lacing. The aroma is sweetish caramel malt with mild spice and honey. The taste is semisweet caramel and honey with hints of cinnamon and ginger. Minimal bitterness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with average carbonation and a dry finish. Overall, very good. Nice use of spice and honey which complement each other here.

Jan 02, 2020
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defunksta from Illinois

4.32/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours a clear, orange/copper color with a slight amber color. Minimal head. SRM of 15-16. (3.75).

Aroma: Strong aromas of caramel, toffee, molasses with delicious gingerbread and nutmeg spices. Smooth and delicious smelling. (4.25)

Flavor: Caramel, toffee, gingerbread, syrup. Delicately drizzled with chocolate. Then delicious spices of gingerbread, nutmeg, cinnamon. Finishes only slightly sweet and nails the balance of flavors and sweetness perfectly. (4.75)

Feel: Medium-bodied. Flat and heavy. Under-carbonated. A syrupy sweetness lingers on the palate. (3.25)

Overall: A perfect balance of Christmas gingerbread flavors and spices. The flavors are delicately crafted and perfect. The body is lacking and flavor however. The flavors rescue it though. An absolute delicious and spiced flavor Christmas beer. This one might be my favorite Winter-Warmer of all time. (Final Rating: 4.32)

Jan 01, 2020
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matcris from Arizona

4.02/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

LOOKS: Red, clear, with a finger of eggshell head. Loads of tiny bubbles; nice lacing.
AROMA: Spices and cinnamon is about the best I can say. Nothing distinct really jumps out for me.
TASTE: Ok, lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, and anise. Caramel and lots of bread crust.Leaves an almost herbal aftertaste.
FEEL: Well carbonated, medium full body, slightly sticky and drier on the finish.
OA: Not my cup of tea, but, well made.

Dec 22, 2019
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OSURoss from New Jersey

4.76/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is my all time favorite beer. The range of flavors coupled with the scent have made this an extraordinary beer. The flavor is everything evocative of Christmas in every regard.

Dec 14, 2019
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detgfrsh from Texas

4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 12oz bottle marked best by 1/28/20. Amber color with a finger of dense cream-colored head. Smells of honey and candied fruit. Medium feel. A mix of flavors: toasted malt, honey, piney hops, and cloves. Finishes with some lingering warmth. An interesting beer and good example of the style.

Dec 03, 2019
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jrc1093 from Connecticut

3.91/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Best before 1/7/20

Pours a beautifully deep clear burnt orange-amber body with a slight, frothy off-white head; poor retention quickly yields a lasting frothy collar, paper-thin islands of cap, and sparse strands of medium lacing around the glass.

Aroma opens in a weightless vacuum of vanilla-tinged tree sap, serving as a soft prelude to a dominant caramel malt with rounded honey accents; sticky evergreen with touches of ginger and orange zest develop over time; trending towards syrupy sweet, but with a snappy crispness evening the bouquet out nicely.

Taste shows semi-sweet caramel malt with a burnt pine backing upfront, steadily allowing charry cinnamon, grapefruit zest, spicy ginger, honey, and citrus fruit esters to assert in spots across the profile into the finish.

Mouthfeel brings a crisp, easy medium body supported with moderate carbonation; lightly syrupy mid-palate, transitioning into a dry finish with a creamy edge and minor bitterness developing into the swallow.

In what at times can feel like a multitude of disparate elements struggling to find their place, everything eventually comes together with a harmony all its own. Malty and bitter; piney and sweet; honeyed and dry; they all find their way together in a winter warmer that remains perfectly unfocused and consistently intriguing; the kind of eclectic nature I enjoying a holiday ale.

Dec 01, 2019
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beerookie from Ohio

2.46/5  rDev -38%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Imagine a nice smelling cologne,... sprayed up your nose. Christmas ales should invoke a feeling of sitting by a fire and sipping something special. I love a lot of Great Lakes beers but this beer is just way too far over the top. It tastes like licking a Christmas candle. If they cut the spices in half and added some character it would be a huge improvement.

Nov 26, 2019
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mngermanshepherd from Minnesota

4.53/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark amber colour with a thick head. Taste is where it's at - has cinnamon, honey and some notes of ginger, goes down creamy and smooth. Very good and on-par with Bell's!

Nov 25, 2019
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EnderFett11 from Virginia

4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a beer mug, producing a large amount of light tan head. Took a few minutes to fade, leaving a hazy amber color. Smells mildly of honey. Taste is okay while cold, but gets better as it warms. Primarily honey with notes of clove and citrus, but not much cinnamon flavor. Light-medium body with moderate carbonation. Pretty flavorful beer that is perfect if you're in the mood for it.

Nov 22, 2019
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MercInc from Wisconsin

4.48/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a stout goblet at 45 degrees. Nice reddish amber color. The head is off white and stayed around for about. 5 minutes, leaving a light ring around the edge of the glass. Spice notes here. A good balance. Not too sweet, with enough hops for a clean finish. I'll pick some more for the rest of the season.

Nov 20, 2019
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4.19/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I love a good winter warmer, but there are so few of them. However, Great Lakes Christmas Ale is leaps and bounds better than most of the competition. It is a matter of subtlety over dashing spices. So many winter beers reflect an artificial cinnamon spicy in your face gift shop sneezy patina of elevated fear and loathing. Great Lakes Christmas Ale still tastes like a fine American Ale. There is a palpable honey presence, and a smattering of cinnamon and cloves.. but nothing that turns into the potpourri death trap holiday warsh of illicit colognes inferior brewers maddeningly create to celebrate our collective renewal. This is a refined, understated transformation of a classic American ale that will sooth and aid your mind as you mull the year past. It does justice to the holiday season, and rewards the palate with a rich, contemplative reward that sets a positive mood toward the approaching new year. Great Lakes Christmas Ale is as important to my holiday as the tree, the gifts, the friendships, and the renewal. I shall not willingly experience any forthcoming end of year without this brew.

Nov 06, 2019
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4.55/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Absolutely amazing. Today is the first day these are in stores this winter season and I went straight to the grocery store after work to get it. Great amber color. The smell of cinnamon and a smidge of honey is perfectly balanced. And the taste has a near perfect balance of spices, bitterness, etc. The only thing that would make this the best beer ever to me(besides Weihenstephaner Vitus) would be to make the taste of honey slightly more intense.

Oct 28, 2019
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daliandragon from Maryland

3.74/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Picked this up on a whim at Whole Foods last week. Not much for head and the nose is vaguely spicy but little more. The promised cinnamon and honey make themselves apparant early. There is a late tartness that could be credited to the ginger. Although I don't love the flavor, the late ginger kick does keep this from becoming oversweet, which is often a downfall of winter warmers. Interesting, I would definitely try it again, in season.

Apr 27, 2019
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DaveyCream from Ohio

4.41/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very good Christmas ale. The key with this beer is the mixture of spices. You are able to smell and taste the cinnamon. They balance it out well to avoid making it too sweet. Always have a ton of these around the holidays and have to pace myself with them so I do not get sick of them too early.

Mar 24, 2019
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arizcards from Arizona

3.85/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Picked up a single from TW Arrowhead 11-13-18 for $2.99. Best by 2-11-19; consumed 3-6-19...whoops but cold stored since purchase.

Beer poured a reddish brown with a decent white head that dissipated pretty quickly.

Nose has hints of ginger and cinnamon.

Taste is ginger forward with cinnamon in the mix. Finishes with a touch of sweetness but hopped enough to prevent cloying.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and fairly smooth.

Overall a nice spin on the holiday theme, good incorporation of spices!

Mar 07, 2019
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JimboBrews54 from Michigan

4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

If you’re looking to sip a beer by the fireside on a cold winter night, this beer is for you. It has a great amber color and light head that makes pouring it a pleasure to watch. When you bring the beer to your face you can definitely pick out the ginger and cinnamon, and that smell transfers into a really great taste that continues to deliver sip after sip. While the cinnamon and ginger flavors drive the drinking experience, it’s the crisp, full finish with honey undertones that is the real MVP. This beer is flavor packed and is definitely one to be enjoyed over a dinner or couch session, as the full flavor it delivers is something to be savored, not chugged.

Feb 17, 2019
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Dr_Gonzo from Kentucky

4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a tall clear pint glass. Appearance has a rich glowing amber, finger thick head, good retention and lacing. Moderate carbonation.

Aroma's most dominate notes are the holiday spices and cherries, along with cinnamon, ginger, toasted bread, nutmeg, honey, and sugar.

Taste isn't as prominent as the aroma, but the spices, nutmeg, and toasted bread are all upfront. Other aromatic notes are on the side. Slightly bitter, more so sweet. Feels smooth.

Feb 06, 2019
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izraelc from New York

4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A holiday favorite of mine. Pours a deep copper. Smells like holiday cheer. Spicy clove taste mixed with a fruity finish. I think ill pour one for Santa. Merry Christmas!

Dec 25, 2018
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beersampler6 from Michigan

3.69/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Fairly nice, definitely seasonal beer that feels like Christmas. Pours a lighter copper color with a little lingering head and spotty lacing. Smells of Christmas spices, malt and honey - maybe with a trace of herbal hops. Taste follows the nose, along with some caramel and vanilla. Smooth thin mild mouthfeel, good carbonation. A little overspiced, in my opinion, but still fairly enjoyable.

Dec 18, 2018
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OhioBeerFan from Ohio

4.19/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

L: Pours a nice copper with a light tan head.

S: Smells of holiday spices. Aromatics are half of the experience so make sure to use a nice glass. I used a simple pint glass.

T: Tastes of holiday spices, not subtle but not in your face.

F: Medium carbonation, medium body

O: This is one of the best Christmas Ales I've had. Many did not have a very good flavor profile. Its a Christmas ale, I want nutmeg cinnamon! This beer delivers that and then some. I highly recommend this beer for a quality, flavorful Christmas Ale. That 7.5% ABV should sell it on its own too :D.

Dec 09, 2018
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MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into glass. Best by date mentioned on label is '02/11/19'.
Clear, medium amber colored body. Not much of a head, just some fizziness upon pouring, which results in a very thin ring. No lacing.
Aroma is malty with spices of cinnamon.
Taste is honey sweet, with good level of malts and spices of ginger and cinnamon. Taste profile is much the same throughout.
Medium mouth feel. Okay carbonation.
From the appearance to the smells and flavors, this is qualifies as a very well done Christmas holiday beer. Probably should remain a seasonal beer because it so well fits the nuances of the dark winter holidays.

Dec 07, 2018
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dwillie733 from Pennsylvania

4.48/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Great Christmas ale. Good spices and great taste. Would buy again. Great lakes needs to produce this beet on a regular basis. Smell is good and aroma awesome.

Dec 02, 2018
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Fatheroftoomany from Pennsylvania

3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Smooth and festive. Doesn’t feel like 7.5% which is a good thing. Nice color and head when poured into a glass. Taste lingers in your mouth for a while. It’s a good aftertaste.

Dec 02, 2018
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rudiecantfail from Pennsylvania

4.02/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle poured into a tulip glass.

L---Clear, dark copper color. Head was minimal and had zero retention. Left some spotty lacing.

S---Strong cinnamon. Bready malts as well.

T---Cinnamon & ginger are prominent. Some cherry also. A little bit of booziness is smoothed over by the honey. A very nicely done combination of flavors.

F---A little syrupy. Not very well carbonated. No alcohol burn.

A big hit in the category that matters most, taste. A little hit & miss in the other categories. Still seems like a solid Christmas Ale.

Nov 30, 2018
Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 3247 ratings