Great Lakes Christmas Ale | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

BA SCORE
88
very good
876 Reviews
Great Lakes Christmas AleGreat Lakes Christmas Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Ohio, United States
greatlakesbrewing.com

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by OldFrothingSlosh on 11-16-2002

BEER STATS
Reviews:
876
Ratings:
3,056
Avg:
3.91
pDev:
13.04%
 
 
Wants:
155
Gots:
772
For Trade:
10
User Reviews
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Reviews: 876 | Ratings: 3,056
Photo of McNealc31
4.9/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is the beer that first turned me on to holiday spiced ales. It's elusive, you've got to pick it up when you see it because it likely won't be back. It smells of honey and spice and pours a deep orange, almost copper. It tastes of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, with a subtle honey finish. And at 7.5% ABV, it's holiday cheer in a bottle! Without a doubt, one of my favorite beers and I can't wait until next holiday season for it.

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Photo of Icedogs
4.9/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

My favorite Christmas/holiday/winter seasonal of them all, by far. I crave this beer, I stalk it. Yes, I am quite biased in favor of Great Lakes Brewing Company because one of my best friends worked there for nine years and I've spent many a fine afternoon/evening at the place. But my preference for GLBC beer is primarily because the beers are almost always outstanding. Cheers!

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Photo of Michael14
4.89/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I venture to say that this is one of the best beers I've ever had (slight bias, I'm from NE Ohio). I need to qualify this statement based on availability and seasonality. But....
Beautiful Amber color. Notes of cinnamon and nutmeg on the nose. Orange peel leads a fruit forward taste, but quickly fades to a pine like hopped flavor. The quintessential Christmas beer!

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Photo of mashedpotatoes
4.85/5  rDev +24%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is truly an incredible beer. Definitely one of my new favorites. The balance is perfect. Beautiful copper color pour with a medium to thick head with perfect lacing. Smell is subtle but intriguing. Taste is very smooth, very clean yet a bit complex. The ginger doesn't come through until later. When finishing off your first bottle the cinnamon is much more pronounced at the bottom. The finish is incredible and really keeps you coming back for more. Highly, highly recommended. Seasonal availability Oct through Dec.

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Photo of Redfoot19
4.83/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is one of my favorite beers, and might be the best Christmas one I have had. Poured from a 12 oz bottle: Copper in color, rich smell of spices+honey, and a smooth, flavorful finish. Very drinkable and highly recommend.

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Photo of bcray
4.82/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this one on tap at Jakes in Ashland Ohio. This is by far my favorite offering from GL though I enjoy many of their other beers.

The spices really sit upfront without being overbearing. The balance of this brew is darn near perfection. Very drinkable considering it has a slightly higher ABV.

I wish it were Christmas all year long! Also delicious in bottle.

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Photo of pschul4
4.8/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- Pours a nice ruby red with a 1/4" off white head that dissipates quickly

S- Christmas cookies forsure. Honey and cinnamon and dark malts. So enticing

T- Wow, just like the scent except more intense. Lots of honey and cinnamon and nice malts wrap everything up. Perfection

M- Super smooth, works perfectly with the rest of the beer

O- Best example of a winter warmer out there. Seek out at all costs

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Photo of jkwuc89
4.8/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I have sampled several Christmas ales and Great Lakes easily bests them all.

The appearance in the glass tempts the drinker with what's to come.

The warm aroma of Christmas spices greets the drinker. This carries over to the wonderful but not overpowering taste of Christmas spices when this ale reaches your palette.

This is definitely a winter warmer not only with the feel in one's mouth but also with it's ABV. This is not a session beer. It is an ale that should be enjoyed slowly.

I have found this on tap at the Winking Lizard near Columbus and Average Joe's in Dublin, OH.

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Photo of sublimesipping
4.8/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap and quaffed at Bado's in the Iron City on boxing day. I have had this beer a number of times before, and it has always been at the top of my christmas ale list. The pints tonight absolutely knocked my socks off as well as knocked me on my a--. Very clean lines at this here establishment and the keg seemed very fresh as well so ratings are given as such. Apearance absolutley beautiful reddish mahagony color with good billowy head and eferesence. wonderful notes of the usual spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, etc but this beer was extremely well balanced with great harmony of flavors- excellent body and high, high drinkability. Great Lakes has always been one of the top notch midwestern brewers; these pints confirmed their rep in my mind and palate as well as reiniforced my view of this beer as the creme of their rotation. Drink it while you can and happy holidays.

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Photo of Tronix
4.8/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Rich Copper Color.

Decent head that dissipates quickly.

Aroma is just what you would expect from a Holiday Seasonal. Honey, nutmeg.. maybe a little cinnamon.

Very nice bite to this beer. It is one my favorites. Mix this with a Blackout Stout or Guinness for a traditional Black Christmas and you have a beer that's all around tough to beat.

From the feel of just one I continue to believe that Great Lakes understates their ABV by almost 1%. But the taste is very smooth considering the ABV.

GL is one of the best brewers in a top to bottom lineup comparison and This one is their Crown Jewel.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.72/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance - creates a large 3 finger creamy tan head on the pour, very dense on top. Golden orange color with some visible carbonation. A good looking beer.

Aroma - first impression of fruit and cinnamon, very spicy and sweet. Mmmmm....

Taste - nice malty base, but the cinnamon and spice flavors hit the taste buds full force. Some alcohol notes are present, though short-lived. A pretty solid hop presence follows, with just a barely detectable trace of ginger. Smooth aftertaste, a pleasing blend of hops and spices.

Mouthfeel - Solid body, coating the mouth with a bit of a drapy feel, but not overly done.

Drinkability - As it warms, the alcohol presence comes out more, but it can be difficult to have any left by the time it gets to room temperature! A wonderful beer for relaxing with in the evening.

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Photo of JDK
4.68/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured a slightly cloudy honey amber with a 2 finger head.
Nice carbonation giving this a very good mouthfeel. The lingering spices and citrus left a very pleasent taste on the back of the tongue for quite a while.
Love the taste. The blending of spice and hops really brings a nice flavor out. Could definately drink a few in a setting. (working on that tonight!)
The smell is very faint, good but light.
One of my favorite Christmas brews.

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Photo of ZAP
4.67/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Now this is what Christmas Ae should taste like....beautifull work with the spicing....cinamin and ginger on the nose along with almost a pumkin pie like smell.....copper in color...super clean and clear looking (and this is an ale?)...Is medium bodied...a tich of sweetness, but not overdone...at first it felt like a "bock" in the mouth and I guess it still does...some sweet maltiness, and that great spice flavor..that pumkin pie subtle flavor is there on the taste buds too...I've had spice beers that went too far...this is about perfect...what a treat...I love this Brewery...One of my top 2 along with Stone.

*.I rate the drinkability high for a seasonal sipping beer....not for as if you'd want to drink 12 of these in a sitting...rather if you gave me my choice of several holiday beers I'd rather drink this one than most..

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Photo of smerrell
4.66/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've loved this beer for a long time - crisp, clean, and full of flavor. Hops take a back seat to the ginger, and the cinnamon is present but subtle. The color is deep amber, and the finish is dry.

This beer gets better as it warms - Love it.

appearance: translucent red/amber

Smell: faint traces of holiday spices

Taste: spicy ginger, alcohol is present (and pleasant)

Mouthfeel: dry

overall: this beer & Troegs Mad Elf = Christmas

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Photo of pauleyh
4.65/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A Great All Around Seasonal With All Kinds Of Blends And Spices. The Appearance shows a white head. with beautiful copper colored color. very nice thick foam when poured in a 16 ounce thick beer glass. it aroma amazes me ginger cinnamon it's sweet taste is fulfilling. it goes down smooth very lip smackable. the thing about such a high end beer like this that a casual drinker should be careful of is it's 7.5 alc vol content. this is a beer you wanna take sips of and to enjoy it.

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Photo of ValpoExpo
4.64/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A winter classic from Northeast Ohio. You have to be VERY careful with GLBC's Christmas Ale because it will knock you on your butt in no time. It truly is the perfect sweet honey, alcohol infused taste of Christmastime. November 1 (the release date of Christmas Ale) is a holiday in itself for Northeast Ohioans.

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Photo of XenonX
4.63/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served in a Bottom's-Up cup at Progressive Field.

Appearence: A very dark amber with a beautiful finger thick head.
Smell: difficult to tell with the other smells related to being at a ballpark
Taste: Had a slight malty and bready taste complete with some toffee and cinnamon and nutmeg tossed in for good measure
Mouthfeel: Meduim and creamy with some flirts of carbonation.

To be honest I cannot very well describe this beer having had it at an Indians game in a Bottom's-Up cup to boot! It was part of the whole experience and will always remind me of going to a ball game.

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Photo of kristenrae8
4.62/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I really loved this beer. From first sip.

Poured from bottle to snifter/beer goblet

Apperaance: Medium Amber/ 1/4 inch cream colored head - faint lacing.

Smell: Ginger/Spice/Cinnamon/Winterwonderland/ Honey. This is not a sugary beer, it's sweet with the spices. I'm amazed by the balance. I had two in a row because I was so impressed.

Taste: Perfect. Spicy, sweet, malt/hop balance.

Mouth Feel: Not over carbonated - not under cabonated.

Overall: This is the best winter warmer I've had this season. I'm kinda sad that even if I start stock piling now- the shelf life is only good til the first part of March This will be my go-to winter warmer next year, once the temps are below 32 or as available.

Pairings: Good with carbs - all winter warmers are good with something savory in my honest opinion. It's the charm of the winter warmer.

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Photo of jwhawkins81
4.62/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tastes of 11/2/10 with a best by date of 02/02/11

Aroma - Spice and sweet notes dominate the nose. Particularly cinnamon.

Appearance - Golden red with a quickly dissipating white head but an OK level of carbonation.

Taste - Cinnamon sweet and smooth at 55 degrees or warmer. I really recommend drinking this beer at cellar temperatures. Overall the flavor profile is heavy on spice and sweetness with hints of ginger.

Notes - The best Christmas Beer I've ever had but it really beats you over the head with all that spice and sweet flavor.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.6/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Hmmm. Curious that no review exists for this one when I am nearly positive that I wrote one back in 2007. Y'see, between June 2006 and August 2008, I visited all 50 U.S. states & most of the CANadian provinces as a part of the Woody Him Forward tour, staying with fellow BAs as well as Couchsurfing in its infancy and then chronicling the exbeeriences both here and elsewhere. In August 2007, I was in Kleveland and GLBC held a second Tuesday of the month Beer School as well as a third Wednesday of the month Beer Dinner which just happened to be on back-to-back nights that year and I partook of both! It happened that they were brewing that year's batch of Christmas Ale and the air was redolent with ginger and cinnamon. While on a tour, one of the assistant brewers was pulling a basket filled with huge cinnamon sticks and what looked like balls of soap ala soap on a rope, but were actually balls of ginger (!) out of the boil kettle as we passed by. One woman exclaimed when she realized what it was and asked what was to be done with the spent materials. When she was told that it would be consigned to the garbage, she nearly cried. Some, not all of it, was set aside for her and she took it home, dried it out, shaved it down, added lavender and made potpourri sachets for her family, friends, the brewery and everyone in attendance that evening. Mine was mailed to me along with a Christmas card that November. I know that I wrote about this in reviewing that year's iteration. Very curious.

From the bottle: "Do not open 'til Christmas? Whoever coined that phrase obviously hasn't tasted Christmas Ale's fresh honey, cinnamon, and ginger flavors."

I Pop!ped the cap with great anticipation and gave the bottle a hard pour in greater anticipation of what was to come. I got two-plus fingers of dense, tawny head with great retention. Nose smelled beautifully of the cinnamon and ginger and I was transported back nine years to the day when that sachet arrived. Color was Deep Amber/Light Copper to Copper (SRM = > 13, < 17) with NE-quality clarity. Mouthfeel was medium-to-full, not quite creamy, but close. The taste was spicy, but tempered by the sweetness of the honey, which was eminently noticeable in the mouth and on the tongue. Finish was semi-dry, again with the spices being tempered by the honey. This is an entirely mellow drink, not at all indicative of its ABV, and kind of tea-like. I am always put in mind of one of Celestial Seasonings' blends when I drink this beer. Sadly, Christmas comes but once a year ...

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Photo of Murrdogg
4.6/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: a nice golden red with decent carbonation. a finger and a half's worth of head, with good bubbles. no lacing at first, as head settles, bubbles stay on glass. Creamy-to yellowy-white color head

Smell: crisp clean smell. sweet, floral-y. allspice is there, a touch of sweet cinnamon. maybe a little ginger

Taste: rich, strong taste at first. carbonation hits immediately, then spices. nutmeg and ginger are the first then a sweet slightly-hoppy cinnamon, and finishes with a semi-strong malt taste

Mouthfeel: carbonation and bubbles are obvious. richer and thicker than I figured it to be. Cant quite taste the alcohol, but the robustness of the taste pretty much assures you of its ABV strength

Drinkability: easy to drink. Perfect in the cold/wintry weather. It's sweet gingery / spiciness mixes well with chilly temperatures. It's ABV strength will quickly get the best of you if you are not careful (which can be a good thing if you want it to be)

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Photo of nvsblman
4.6/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Crystal clear golden brown with about a finger of white head. Aroma is of ginger, honey, and a little cinnamon. Nicely sweet, not at all too sweet. The flavor shows about the same balance as the aroma. The ginger stand out a bit more than the other flavors and lingers a little longer, but the sweetness of the honey and the spiciness of the cinnamon provide a nice balance. Medium bodied with a bit of creaminess. This would be great to have around during the holiday season.

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Photo of RMR
4.58/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

One of better Christmas Ales I have had. Very smooth well balanced spice..... normally can only drink 1 Christmas style Ale.... but for this ale, kept going back for more.

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Photo of Clowerweb
4.58/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a pint glass. Freshness date: 03/22/2012. Says "best served at 55 degrees F", but I am drinking it from the fridge. I'll sip slowly an edit the review if anything changes.

A: Brownish orange with bright amber highlights, nicely filtered, very clear. 2 fingers of slightly off-white head with respectable retention, but little lacing. Great looking beer, aside from the lacing (or rather the lack thereof), not much to complain about.

S: Honestly, it smells skunky with some piney and citrusy notes, but the nose is on the lighter side with this one, so I'm not picking up much here. Almost smells like an IPA or APA. Definitely detecting hops, but the skunk is a little off putting.

T: Tastes nothing like it smells. Has a very nice depth of flavor with pumpkin, cream, cinnamon, hops and definitely nutmeg. Almost tastes like a swig of eggnog with your pumpkin pie - appropriate for a Christmas ale. It starts and finishes basically the same, no flavor twists to speak of in the mid palate or finish, although the cinnamon and nutmeg spices tend to shine through a little more in the aftertaste. I'm really digging the flavor, it tastes wonderful.

M: Moderate carbonation, body is on the more full side of medium, feels a bit chewy after the finish, doesn't really stick around too much, however it does leave a little bit of carbonation tingle in the cheeks and a creamy coating on the back of the tongue.

O: Oh yeah, this is an amazing beer. This is one of those "warm up with your significant other by the fireplace on a cold winter's evening" kind of beers. You could totally session with this one too. Looks awesome, tastes AMAZING, and leaves little to complain about other than the strange skunky smell.

I've never been disappointed with anything Great Lakes has to offer, and they make me proud to be from Ohio. I'd like to go tour the brewery someday, it's less than 100 miles away. With such a solid lineup of world class brews, who could resist? If you see this somewhere, definitely pick it up, you will have no regrets. Re-buy factor: very high.

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Photo of EORS
4.57/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Finally finished my seasons' worth of Christmas Ale.

Appearance: light amber with a small to moderate amount of carbonation and a small off-white head. Previous years' brews have had more of a ruby hue to them.

Smell: Honey, cinnamon, and clove all dominate the nose

Taste: Christmas in a bottle. More spice, mellowed by honey and malt, with a hint of bitterness from the hops lingering at the finish. Alcohol cuts through in mid-swig, giving you that warming feeling.

Mouthfeel: Well bodied, and the lack of carbonation helps it go down. Not that it needs much help.

Overall: Full disclosure - when someone asks me to name my favorite beer, this is the one I name. It blends the spices and honey in with the rest of the ingredients so well, and there's absolutely nothing better on a cold winter evening. While this year's batch isn't as well balanced as some previous (I could barely taste any malt and I wonder if it's because they've changed their grain bill somewhat) it's still an amazing beer from a world-class brewery.

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Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
3.91 out of 5 based on 3,056 ratings.
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