Christmas Ale
Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Christmas AleChristmas Ale
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Winter Warmer
Ranked #6
Ranked #9,856
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: 938 | Ratings: 3,273 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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vette2006c5r from Minnesota

4.18/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Christmas Ale pours a darker amber color, with a small, fizzy head. Aroma is filled with honey and cinnamon. Flavor is packed full of honey, cinnamon and ginger notes. Good body and feel. Overall, lots of nice warm flavors, sweeter, but a great spiced winter ale

Mar 03, 2021
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clausthaler from Massachusetts

4.46/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I think spiced beers suck but this is very very good and I will attempt to get more, I am in Massachusetts and was lucky to get this as a TYB in a trade. Bottle dated best by 2/15/21

Feb 20, 2021
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guckymeister from Ohio

4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This is ~the~ Christmas beer amongst my circle. Quite honestly this can't be beat with a cinnamon-sugar rim.

It is great plain as well, but I really have to be in the mood for it. If I am also in the mood for a stout, I could drink this and be happy.

Has a cult following.

Jan 22, 2021
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Breviewer from North Carolina

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

Since it's 32 outside, figured I'd try my wife's favorite overall and holiday beer.
2/16/21 date on a bottle kept at 45 degrees.
Look: Slow-poured to a fairly transparent, amber/copper color with an 1/8" head and 2-3 light streams of rising bubbles.
Smell: A subtle aroma of fruit, honey, and spices.
Flavor: Definitely moves across the palette in waves between honey and fruity notes with hints of spices and a touch of sharpness from the ginger in the back half, then finishes again with the syrupy and fruity tones that last along with just a touch of a smoky, roasted in the aftertaste.
Feel: Extremely smooth, almost syrupy.

Overall: Solid selection for the cold winter days, as it definitely evokes a sense of a wintery, holiday flavor. Quite pleasing and balanced.

Jan 10, 2021
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PathofChaos from Maryland

4.49/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Crystal-clear, orange blossom honey with a wispy toupee of light khaki bubbles. Exhibits slippery, webbed lacing with enduring retention.

Cloves and orange peel melted in molasses and given a quick dash of ginger powder.

A crisp, easy goin’ medium with a tight trickle of carbonation and a minor, baking spice heat in the linger.

An edgeless, powdery cinnamon and rustic ginger root drift atop a glassy river of wildflower honey. Beneath that reflective surface, you’ll find smooth, smoked toffee, dry gingerbread, and even a bit of nutmeg hiding deep below. Mildly sweet.

The combination of ale malts and ginger emulate a pleasingly mild gingerbread. A tame balance of festive spices and malty sweets.

Jan 04, 2021
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firesidewithphil from Illinois

3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Great Lakes brings the honey to the Christmas Ale party. This offering mimics mead and has just a touch of cinnamon. Not a Winter warmer but a very good and sweet ale during the winter time.

IG: @firesidewithphil

Jan 03, 2021
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mikeg67 from New Jersey

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

12 oz bottle. Pours red with tall, long lasting, fluffy off-white head and lively carbonation. Aroma is of caramel malt, red fruit, spices some cacao and piney hops. Body is medium and crisp. Taste is of herbal hops, caramel malt, spices and red fruit. Finish is long and spicy. Nice brew.

Dec 23, 2020
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ANIMOUL from Vermont

4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A really great beer... however, drank over a year past its "drink by date." Damn NY beer store! Nice amber color. Great cherry flavor upfront but - likely due to age - a weird aftertaste. Suspect a lot better fresher.

Dec 22, 2020
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milkshakebeersucks from Maryland

3.64/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Clear reddish brown appearance with a small off white head and decent lacing. Aroma of ripe berries, honey, cinnamon and other winter spices. Toffee, brown sugar and the recurring spice notes account for much of the taste while contributions from the hops seem rather muted with the exception of a little pine in the background. Lingering, medium-bodied mouthfeel. Not bad but one is enough unless you're enjoying it in front of a crackling fireplace.

Dec 16, 2020
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teromous from Virginia

2.88/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From the right side of the label: "2/15/21 17109BE"

Appearance: It has a dark sun tea brown and gold colored body with good clarity. The head is short and slightly off-white with a creamy smoothness that fades to a slick of bubbles and a creamy ring. Low retention and no lacing.

Aroma: There isn't much to smell aside from a very faint aroma of burnt cooking herbs.

Taste: Up front there is a slightly tart character that is nondescript. Towards the middle it has an herbal hop character with a hint of earthy pine and mint with a bit of burnt caramel flavor. The aftertaste is this odd mint-like earthy character that isn't quite like mint but that's the closest it approximates.

Mouthfeel: It's a pretty bitter beer, leaning forward of medium. It has a medium body as well.

Overall: It's a drinkable beer but the flavors don't really settle well together. It mostly has a bitter herb-like flavor that dominates with a bit of burnt caramel in the background. The label does state that this is made with "fresh honey, cinnamon, and ginger flavors." These characters don't show up as actual discernable spices that a person would recognize from regular cooking, but it's possible that they contribute to some of the odd herbal character. The beer is worth drinking if you have it but it's not really a Winter Warmer I'd recommend or drink again.

Nov 14, 2020
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Shelbs90 from Montana

5/5  rDev +25.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

i’ve had a lot of christmas ales and this is the best one i’ve ever had. it’s great with the rim job(cinnamon/sugar on rim). it’s phenomenal or it’s great by itself. i look forward to this every year

Nov 11, 2020
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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 North Dakota

4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours a clear, dark orange/copper color with an amber hue. A moderate white head. SRM of 15 (3.75)

Aroma: Strong aromas of molasses, syrup, honey, and melted fruit. Quite a mix of molasses, honey, and syrup. (4.25)

Flavor: Flavor follows with smokey molasses and syrup. Some cherry and melted cherry notes. Some honey whiskey. Possibly slight smokiness. Definitely evolves into a delicious sweet gingerbread cookie and spice flavor. The smokiness almost evolves into a peppermint or toothpaste note. In a good way. Finishes with a cookie sweetness. (4.50)

Feel: Light to medium bodied. Low carbonation and drinks sort of nectar-like. (3.50

Compared to Bell's Christmas Ale 11/29/20: Pours a lighter color. More molasses, syrup, honey flavor. Also more cherry. Less caramel and cookie. Less spicy. Less malty.

Overall: Not quite the Winter Warmer I was expecting based on my 2019 review. It has a definite molasses, syrup, honey flavor. Maybe the cinnamon and honey dissolve into molasses and honey whiskey. Some cherry too. It sort of evolves into a cherry or gingerbread cookie sweetness. A definite molasses note which defines this beer from others, but while not being too sweet. Also possibly some hints of peppermint which is quite nice and unique. Overall, some gingerbread, peppermint, and honey whiskey flavors which are unique. Finishes quite balanced and delicious. (2020 Rating: 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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klarcbarr3 from Michigan

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
Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 3273 ratings