Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

Great Lakes Christmas Ale | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
88
very good
850 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Ohio, United States | website

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:
850
Ratings:
2,969
Avg:
3.91
pDev:
24.3%
 
 
Wants:
153
Gots:
707
For Trade:
9
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 850 | Ratings: 2,969
Photo of weller1js
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

appearance: light reddish orange with little foam and light ring of lacing.

smell: light cherry/fruity notes.

taste: clean beginning, with a cherry-like flavor blending with the emergence of the tangy hops, lingering with a bittersweet finish.

drinkability: uniquely sweet, well complimented by the hops, could be a bit too dynamic for the stomach, but drinkable all the same.

 379 characters

Photo of karst
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

The first GLBC brew that I don't care for.

Pours clear ruby with a creamy white 2" temporary head. No yeast sediments at the bottom of the bottle labeled best by Jan 24, 2006. Spicy aroma is inviting. The full body you expect in Great Lakes brews. I generally like ginger and honey but a little nutmeg and cinnamin go a long way. Favors suffer from a bitter finish of lingering spices and vienna malts that really turned me off this beer. I think the overall effect of the spices and malts is very unbalanced. Drinkability suffers as the result. Alcohol is well hidden. I still recommend trying it. Let your taste buds decide - Merry Christmas to all and to all a well crafted brew.

 686 characters

Photo of MacDomer
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a fairly clear burnt orange with golden highlights on the edges. Nice two finger head with a standard pour. Head quickly fades to leave little puddles of bright white froth surrounded by a thin ring which lasts for the duration of the beer. Little to no lacing.

S - A bit of foral hops, a hint of caramel, and some faint alcohol notes, but mostly just spices - allspice, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg - as well as natural honey. This is all gingerbread and honey.

T - Replica of the smell, really - caramel and spice. Maybe the slightest bit of vanilla and pear, but this again is really all about the spice. Finishes with some hop bitterness, but not much

M - Smooth, coats the mouth from the get-go. Low carbonation up front, but it seems that it builds up and you feel it much more on the back of the tongue on the way down. A bit slick.

D - I'm not the biggest fan of the style, but this one grew on me since the last time I had it almost a year ago. I'd drink about a 6 pack per winter, and that would be plenty for me. It does put you in the holiday mood with the flavor profile, I'll say that much.

 1,114 characters

Photo of ONUMello
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass
A: Tan colored with a thin head & a good amount of carbonation.
S: Malt and spices, though somewhat muted.
T: Again, malt and spices. It says it's brewed with cinnamon, ginger and honey, though none of those stand out in particular.
M: Medium-bodied & pleasant.
O: I know my fellow Clevelanders go ape-s*** over this beer, but to be honest it's one of my least-favorites of Great Lake's lineup. Certainly solid, but I would take an Edmund Fitzgerald any day over this.

 505 characters

Photo of brucer1
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured from 12 ounce bottle into pint glass. nice initial head then quickly faded, no lacing. warm colours throughout, moderate cabonation. sweet fruity aroma which translates into the taste. not a bad beer, but certainly not one of the better glbc's offering's. had a very good mouthfeel, was very appealing to me. moderate abv, so stay at home if you are going to drink more than a few.

 388 characters

Photo of psinderson
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass.

Appearance: Mostly clear amber with a thin white head.

Smell: Some vanilla with caramel aroma.

Taste: A definite vanilla taste with some caramel. Not too complex but just a bit too much vanilla.

Mouthfeel: A bit on the thin side.

Drinkability: Not too bad but the vanilla makes it more difficult to consume.

 360 characters

Photo of tykees88
3.54/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- amber red to brown. fluffy head. Decent lacing throughout.

S- Smells hoppy, malty. Then I smell cinnamon, some orange, clove, nutmeg. A potpourri of winter time dances through my nostrils. Truly amazing.

T- It tastes like it smells, but alas it's mild, and boozy. kills this beer for me.

M- Medium bodied as it should be. carbonated nicely.

O- not a four, the taste was what killed it for me. Maybe one of the most amazing sensations of any beer i've ever had was the smell.

 482 characters

Photo of tempest
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Alto Cinco and drank it along side a covered burrito with chicken. This beer was basically a big, smooth amber ale - light caramel and toffee - with spiced with pumpkin pie, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little ginger. Drinkable and festive, but I'm not blown away. The spices and malt are at least very well balanced.

 322 characters

Photo of Giggy
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Rich in flavor but not heavy. Alcohol content of 7.5% will keep you from drinking too many.

A: A very beautiful copper with an off-white head. Head disappears very fast.

S: A nice caramel smell mixed with cinnamon and honey.

T: Ginger comes through along with honey and cinnamon.

M: Carbonation tingle on the tongue but an easy swallow.

O: Slightly bitter finish, medium body.

 382 characters

Photo of RedHaze
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thnaks to jhammerly for the bottle.

Pours a clear copper, with a white one finger head that recedes quickly to a thin soapy cap and ring, leaving behind a thin webbing of lace.

Smell; mildly spicy with a bit of cinnamon and others that I can't place, as well as little bit of honey. There's a hint of citric hops, and some cherries.

Taste; honey and cinnamon really jump out at me on the first few sips, and then a bit of ginger comes forward. Sweet malts follow the spices, with no real hop presence to offset the sweetness, and there's absolutely no alcohol present in the flavor at all. After a while this starts to become a bit sweet for me..

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and a touch syrupy with a low carbonation, and a good drinkability.

 753 characters

Photo of bahumutx
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a very clear copper color with a nice creamy white head.

Smell: Malt, Cinnamon and hints of honey.

Taste: Sweet malt and cinnamon starts of this beer. It then ends with a honey and slight pine. Slight alcohol warming is also present. As the beer warms the cinnamon becomes more pronounced but not overpowering and nutmeg flavor also shows up. Hard to pick out all of the different spice flavors.

Mouthfeel: Thin to Medium Mouthfeel. Thin around the edges of my tongue.

Drinkability: I could have a few of these in a sitting.

Another decent brew from Great Lakes Brewing. I would probably have another of these but not my favorite of this style.

 726 characters

Photo of tmcelvain
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Fairly strong flavors of nutmeg and cinnamon in this brew. Small, quickly disapating, lacy head over a crimson body make this a bold beer in the glass. The body displays a malty base for the spiced flavor, which finishes with a slightly bitter, but well balanced hop edge. Cannot drink many of these before the spices just take over. A solid Christmas Alle - slightly above average for the style, but not one I wold squirrel away to drink throughout the year. Perfect for your tree trimming party. Watch out - I was alos surprised to learn the alcohol content on this one.

 572 characters

Photo of tpd975
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a nice amber hue with a nice creamy head. Pretty good retention with nice streaks of lace.

S: Fairly simple. Lots of caramel malt with hints of toffee, and cinnamon.

T: Nice malt profile here. The caramel and toffee do come through. The cinnamon really stands out as well. The finish has a nice dash of floral hops.

M: Medium in body, pretty smooth.

D: Not my favorite Winter Warmer, but like everything Great Lakes does... it's pretty darn tasty.

 460 characters

Photo of KickInTheChalice
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale pours a transparent burnt copper brown color with a small off-white cap that quiets down to a thin film as the glass wears on. Some visible carbonation rises from the bottom of the glass to support the head.

The aroma is full of sweetness and wintery spices. Honey biscuit malt sweetness and butterscotch dominate. Nutmeg is the primary spice, with cinnamon and all spice adding some kick.

The flavor largely follows the aroma, which is large expected given the straight forward nature of the style. Sweet up front, the butterscotch and toffee flavors really shine through, with a lighter, biscuity malt character and some honey in the background. The spices come through in the middle, again dominated by the nutmeg and cinnamon. The end has some ginger flavor and some spicy hop notes, which dries out the feel a little bit, as well as a strange medicinal alcohol flavor I don't really care for. The light carbonation and light body make this a mellow sipper, but it is a bit light-bodied for my taste.

I understand the pride and passion that comes from Ohioans over this beer, but the strange notes at the end drop this from truly enjoyable to more or less replaceable.

 1,249 characters

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.52/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

One of the best midwest holiday ales. Looks dark brown/red/copper. Aroma is very much like Christmas: some beer, pine, gravy, mashed potatoes, yams, ham, cranberry, cinammon mesh.

Taste, you pick up some of those things, who knows, maybe a little pumpkin and coriander. A few of the things in Anchor Christmas probably, but more pronounced in this offering.

Drinkability suffers a little, too sweet and just too much like food in a blender to keep chugging these along. Heavy.

 479 characters

Photo of aracauna
3.52/5  rDev -10%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Not dark enough for mahogany, the red isn't backed up enough by the brown for that. The head is wimpy. The aroma reminded me of black cherries, sweet but without the sourness. Nice but really big malt along with the mild spicing makes it seem a bit cake-like. The black cherries carry through into the flavor. Nice beer but not outstanding.

 340 characters

Photo of pootz
3.52/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle:

Poured a clear copper ale in the glass with a 2 finger sticky rockey cap. Well carbonated.

Aromas of spices, nutty malts and NW hops

Passable malt presence, prickly mouth feel, medium bodied with a spicey-hoppy dry character.

The frontside dumps some nut-like malts on the tongue only to have them quickly snached away into an astringent earthy taste by the spices ( ginger, nutmeg cinnamon) and the spicey NW hops...palate is clean crisp, astringent some fruit phenols from the ale yeast...finishes dry and slightly bitter from all the sharp spice and hop tones and just at the last second, some bready Christmas pudding sweetness appears.

A nice warmer for cold weather...I could learn to like this one..not over spiced but certainly the spice and hops rides above the malts in this one.

 812 characters

Photo of Star80
3.52/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle has a date of Dec. 30, 2004. I'm not sure if that was when it was brewed or if it is best before that date. Seems a little early if that is the case. I wouldn't really bother cellaring this beer, but then who knows? Anyway, pours a reddish copper color with a nice beige head, which quickly dissipated. Has a pretty strong ginger and cinnamon smell and quite a spicy taste followed by honey, and a little bitter snap aftertaste. The mouthfeel is decent. Hmm, now the hard part. I'm not big into spiced beers though I am slowly acquiring a taste for things like coriander or even ginger in my beer. Pretty strong so I can't see drinking lots of these. I just wish it had a slightly bigger hop and malt presence to balance the honey and spices.

 749 characters

Photo of fscottkey
3.51/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: [4.00] Amber to red color. Has a 1/4 finger white cap (even with a hard pour). The bottle lists the ABV (7.5%) and the best by date 1/25/15.

S: [3.00] I get spices and some Belgian yeast smells.

T: [3.50] I still feel like there is a Belgian yeast taste up front. After that it opens up into a sweet middle. The finish has some mild spices. The overall taste is pleasant - no hint of hop bittering.

M: [4.00] I like the mouth feel. It is really rich and robust with no sense of over carbonation.

O: [3.75] This is a nice beer. It tastes more like a spiced lager to me. The taste is sweet and nice. Very rich malty backbone. There is a low hop level (none detectable). I would drink another - but if I am buying I would get something different.

 763 characters

Photo of jtierney89
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear copper color with off white head. Smells of molasses, fodder, cardamon touch of honey.

Creamy mouthfeel with honey that soothes. Lots of sweet malt, butter toffee, caramel, unfermented sugars add a sweetness, honey plays off the rest of the malt flavors beautifully creating a soothing SIP. Holiday spice lingers in the background creating a balance along with a mild English hop bitterness. A crescendo of holiday cheer.

 428 characters

Photo of SiepJones
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served from a growler

Pours a dark amber with about and inch of head. Scents of sweet malt, and spices. The flavor consists of a strong malty body, some honey and lots of nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove. The clove is very strong on the finish. Slick body with light amount of carbonation. Drinkable beer with not too high of an ABV however one is enough for me. The mixture of spices is good but does not agree with my palate.

 423 characters

Photo of granite
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A---It poured copper with thin white head.

S---Cinnamon and toasted malt.

T---It was very dry and slightly astringent. Very little malt flavor. Some warming alcohol and it finished all spices.

M---Thin-medium bodied.

D---Now this is a great winter warmer. Nice use of spice and just enough alcohol to balance.

 355 characters

Photo of putnam
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hazel orange colored liquid. Scarce topping. Aromas of marshmallows, Juicy Fruit and mulled orange juice. Abundantly nutty. Creamy texture yields to charcoal and graphite flavored tannins. The effect is dry despite candied citrus peel and sweet brown spice flavors. These latter elements ride a hot wave of alcoholic fumes.

Best before 2/14/06

 346 characters

Photo of Hatch
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz pry-off brown bottle.

Pours a dark reddish copper, off-white head about one finger thick, nice lacing.

Smells of ginger, some hops, hints of cinnamon, spice, malty.

Some mild mat bite up front followed by what I noted as ginger. Almost reminds you of gingerbread. That's about the only spice I picked up on. Decent amount of bitterness from the hops. You can pick up on the alcohol, but for the most part it's pretty well hidden; has a nice warming effect. In my opinion it wasn't as complex as I thought it would be; pretty one-dimensional.

Medium-bodied brew, crispiness from the carbonation.

Probably not a beer you'd want to have more than one of due to the amount of spiciness and higher ABV, so I'd reccomend drinking one as a dessert or maybe to compliment something like a honey glazed ham.

Notes: Wasn't too impressed with this brew, but then again I'm not a fan of the style. I wish I could have found more than one spice in the beer, but for what it's worth, it's not bad for the style. Something to try, but I probably won't try it again.

 1,061 characters

Photo of masterbruewer
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a medium copper color with light carbonation. Half-inch thick offwhite head. Solid lacing.

The first smells were of malt followed by hints of spice.

The tastes were faint. Faint malt flavor, faint hops flavor and faint spice flavor. It's not bad, but it's not great either. As it warms the spice flavors come out. In all its a very balance presentation of hops, malt and spice.

Mouthfeel is smooth with a slight carbonation bite.

Very smooth and drinkable.

 476 characters

Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 850 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Quick Navigation

    Open the Quick Navigation

  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe