Christmas Ale
Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Christmas AleChristmas Ale
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Winter Warmer
Ranked #6
Ranked #9,941
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: 943 | Ratings: 3,287 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Kiiz

4.41/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L: dark amber with off white head that doesn’t last long. Lacing is very mild only a few dots. Idk why anyone bothers with looks everyone has google images.

S: Christmas spices, honey and sorghum sweetness. A touch of booze. Overall moderate automaticity.

T: Reminds me of a Christmas version of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Honey backbone with a clove pine and orange peel follow up. Also a hint of sugared citrus fruit pops in and out of the flavor profile. If you’re still reading it’s fricken amazing.

F: Medium body with a touch of creaminess. Moderate-heavy carbonation. Orange peel sweetness/bitterness lingers. I prefer a heavier and creamier winter warmer but it’s a solid feel.

O: I read somewhere Clevelanders call this liquid crack, and I couldn’t agree more. Not many good things come out of Ohio but this beer is a stark exception. A must try during the November-January months (May-July for you Southern Hemisphere folk).

Nov 21, 2021
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Profundobaso from New York

4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Look - poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tasting glass. Light copper in color, clear, and not much head and/or lacing. Might be due to the tasting glass though.

Smell - toasted malts, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg), and a lot of honey. very inviting.

Taste - malt forward in flavor, with a nice blend of spice and slightly sweet flavors from the honey in between. light ginger taste as well. finish is still aromatic malts, but on the cleaner end.

Feel - medium bodied, above average carbonation, and on the more potent side at 7.5% ABV. some warmness in the finish that hints at this, but very drinkable otherwise.

Overall - this is my all time favorite beer of the style. the spices and honey add just the right touch of complexity to this beer, and it is drinkable, boozy (enough), and just damn tasty.

Nov 10, 2021
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BigIronH from Michigan

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

Pours a translucent amber with a finger of white foam reducing to a cap. Nose is bread, honey, cinnamon, ginger, grass, and toasted malt. Taste follows suit with a blending of flavors as the spices meld together nicely, and the honey really takes over on the finish. Feel is velvety but crisp. Good beer. Glad I got to try it

Oct 23, 2021
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feloniousmonk from Minnesota

3.99/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great Lakes Christmas Ale, An Ale with Spices and Honey. 7.5 % ABV. 30 IBU. Great Lakes Brewing, Cleveland, Ohio.

Clear, amber-hued, short-lived off-white head.

Aroma: little bit fruity (cherry-apple), little bit spicy, little bit tart. Big ginger. Interesting. Bread-y malt flavors come through, too.

In the mouth: Here we go: ginger-y, fruit-y, and honey-sweet. Nicely spice. Medium bodied. Not hard to drink at all. In fact, it is a good beer, and you can drink it. Feels a little warm and slightly boozy, but not by much. I'm going to finish this bottle easily, and I wouldn't not reject (though I do not have) another.

Oct 04, 2021
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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
Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 3287 ratings