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Great Lakes Christmas Ale | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

very good
850 Reviews
no score
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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

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 850 | Ratings: 2,969
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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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

Appearance: Amber, ok head.

Smell: Dark fruit-cherry is mostly what I get.

Taste: Bready, spicy with cinnamon. Sweet, mild gingerbread flavor.

Drinkability: Some interesting flavors, alcohol is hidden.

Picked up a few winter warmers in a mixed 6 pack. I don't usually drink many of this style but want to try some. First up is Great Lakes' offering. It smells like an old ale with dark fruit, but the taste sticks to bready and winter-y spices. Pretty decent, I liked it better than the Bell's Xmas that I followed this with.

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Photo of jdklks
3.49/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is a deep copper with a small, light tan head. smell is of cinnamon, honey, sweet dark malts, and cloves. not strong enough, nothing impressive.

Taste is big on the cinammon up front, dissolving into a rather bland blend of ginger and honey in the middle and a slightly burnt alcoholic sweetness in the finish and aftertaste. A decent winter warmer, but nothing too impressive. Perhaps this one is a little past its prime.

Full-bodied and decently carbonated. Drinkability is okay, but i wouldn't want another.

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Photo of Mistofminn
3.49/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Got this bottle from auroracrisis. Thanks again Ben.

Pours a vibrant red brown color, with a off-white/tan head that shrinks to a small ring around the outside edge of the glass. Doesn't leave much lacing.

The nose is sweet and malty, and thats about it. If anything, this smells kind of watered down.

The taste is similar, in that it's slightly watered down, but there is a light spice character in the finish. Possibly nutmeg and cinnamon. Sweet malts and light spice, that about rounds it out.

Mouthfeel is light to medium. It might be slightly overcarbonated, but maybe thats intended. I'm not always a fan of the sharp carbonation bite when you swallow, it works in some brews and doesn't in others. I'm torn on this one...so I'll give it an average score.

Drinkability is ok. I think I've been pretty harsh in my review, this isn't actually a bad brew, and it's easy drinking.

Overall, not my favorite winter warmer, but a decent one. I haven't had many Great Lakes brews, but I feel this woulnd't be my favorite one by a long shot. Thanks for the chance Ben!

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Photo of maedhros09
3.49/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Look: Rich golden amber with average off white head that dissipates entirely
Smell: christmas spice (nutmeg? allspice?), bready, alcohol
Taste: Rich and malty, sweet but not excessive, spice, mineral, moderate bitterness that seems unrelated to hops.
Feel: full bodied with nice fine carbonation. carbonation, like the head, dissipates with time.

Overall: I didn't like this one very much, but it's hard to put my finger on exactly why. Partly the bitterness and partly the booziness, I guess. I can see how some people like this, but I could barely finish it.

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Photo of jeonseh
3.48/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

from a Bottle poured into a tulip pint glass.

A - An amber color that is rather clear and lets a good bit of light through it. As the light shines through, sees rays of golden light and a good bit of carbonation trailing up through it. Really no head at all developed and no lacing.

S - Smells a lot like cinnamon and spice and everything nice. Actually smells a bit like a cider as well and not as much like beer. Also not much of a nose is available.

T - Rather sweet beer that has a big hit of cinnamon spiciness to it. Yet the surprising thing is that this is not at all overpowering as it blends in very well. Also a bit of sweet red delicious apple taste to it as well. Actually reminds me a bit of a fall beer more than a Christmas ale. Seems to have a bit of a bitterness that comes through in the end and adds some complexity to the spice flavors that come thru at first.

MF - A light bodied beer with a good amount of carbonation. Rather easy to drink as it is smooth but also a bit watery. A hint of the alcohol comes thru and has a nice astringent quality to it.

D - Overall a pretty good and non challengin winter warmer. It has a nice spice characteristic but it is not at all too spicy. This would be a good beer to drink during Christmas and could easy drink a couple of them around the holidays. However, as I said above, the beer reminds me more of a fall beer than a Christmas one.

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Photo of devilben02
3.48/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours from the bottle with a beautiful, clear, pure amber color and a modest and fleeting off-white head. The aroma is spicy and somewhat fruity, with a traditional mulling spice combination being contrasted against notes sweet orange peel and honey-dipped bread (a challah, if you will). The flavor likewise features a forward use of cinnamon and ginger, but the rich bready malts provide a "soft" base from which the assertive spices emerge. The spicing isn't overly aggressive, but it definitely in front and deftly hides the 7.5% alcohol content. The fine, prickly carbonation emphasizes these spicy characteristics but hides the sweetness a bit, which is unfortunate. Overall, this is a lovely holiday beer, but I don't know that I'd want it more year-round.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
3.48/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Plunges foamy, clear cranberry into a goblet

There is an off smell to this beer that fails to encourage good thoughts. Cloves and touch of urine along with honey and ginger.

Tastes like Christmas smells: Spruce, honey, sweet malt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Oddity in smell lingers faintly. Truckloads of ginger on the finish.

Dry, crisp, carbonation is average

Drinks fine, but I'm finding it's more to get to something I enjoy more, rather than a desire to really get into this beer.

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Photo of PBRstreetgang
3.48/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours a copper hue, very clear. A creamy off white head of two fingers has excellent retention, and leaves some nice patchy lacing. Some noble hops and pale malt in the nose, but mostly ginger, cinnamon, annd some indistinct holiday spices. The sweet toasted malt flavor melds ginger and faint pine into the taste, and the bittering hops cleanse the palate leaving a dry aftertaste, with some residual honey. Appropriatly spiced, but leans towards the bitter side. The spice and pine flavors become cloying, even with good carbonation and a medium body. A harsh finish detracts greatly from the drinkability.

 608 characters

Photo of iadler
3.47/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle into a Founder Snifter. Best by 2/22/12.

A- Pours a translucent amber with a two finger head that dissipates quickly. Minimal lacing is left behind.

S- Caramel and bready malt, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla.

T- Sweetness upfront with Caramel and bready malt with some subtle spices including cinnamon, ginger, orange peel and vanilla.

M- Low to medium carbonation and a lighter body. Finishes slightly bitter. Pretty watered down.

O- A decent spiced forward beer, but nothing memorable. After having this the last couple years, I much prefer Anchor, which is much easier to get than this beer. Not really sure what all the hype is about with this one.

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Photo of terrabyte
3.47/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a light copper-tan color.

Smells like Christmas spices. All of them.

Flavor consists of ridiculous amounts of coriander or clove, gingerbread cookies, and sweet molasses. Luckily this beer is labeled correctly, and one shouldn't be surprised by it. A unique Winter Warmer that is worth a try.

Mouthful has a below average carbonation. It is slightly thick, slick and syrupy.

Drinkability is a bit low due to its flavor combination. I purchased this at Woodman's at a discount ($6 for a 6-pack). I'm not sure if it really was on discount, but it seemed worth the current price, especially since I was looking for something different. And I found it! However, I'd probably hold off on having this again in the future except with desserts. And by desserts I mean Christmas desserts that consist of either: Gingerbread cookies or Pumpkin Pie. Don't forget the whip cream.

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Photo of rrwiltse
3.47/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

7.5%??? Deceptive for sure! For a 'winter warmer' style, this is awfully light.
The first thing that struck me was the ginger aroma--not overwhelming, but just present and pleasant. Hints of the ginger and some cinnamon cross the tongue, but honey lingers. The spices are not too overpowering like many brewers end up with. Balanced and quaffable, not a case buy, but worth a six.

 381 characters

Photo of ChicagoShoop
3.46/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Snifter

A- Cloudy Copper color that looked almost like an iced tea

S-Large Sweet Spices, hints of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon. I Don't get as much honey as i would have liked for a Christmas ale but still small hints of it. About a finger worth of off white head that seems to dissipate rather quickly

T- Very sweet at first with the spices lingering on the back end. Cinnamon would be the most predominate spice I could taste. Lingering clove, nutmeg also. I get a very small bit of honey near the end

M- Medium bodied with low carb.

O- I heard that previous years were not that good so I was wanting to try this years for myself. I enjoyed it for about half of the bottle but I would not say this would be my go to for a Christmas ale. Would I drink 1 or 2 of this in a sitting, sure. But, I would not see myself drinking a 6 pack of this in a night. Ill stick with a big stout for the winter.


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Photo of Rhettroactive
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From 12oz bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 11/12/11
*From notes

A: A darker, golden color. Huh...there's a part of me that would like to see my Xmas ale with a reddish hue...or maybe green. A good pour yields a tight 2.25 finger head and above average lacing.

S: Cinnamon and the traditional holiday warming spices.

T: It kinda tastes like I'm chewing on a piece of Big Red. It's pretty cinnamony, with a generous dose of mulling spice to boot.

M: The texture's decent, but this time of the year I'd like a bit more weight. It's a bit thin, especially for the ABV and style.

O: Great Lakes doesn't disappoint with their Christmas Ale. If you're looking for a well spiced winter warmer, this is for you. I don't foresee me knocking back many of these, but if I was gonna reach for something spiced, this would certainly suffice.

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Photo of Imstillthegman
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to Sephiroth for the bottle...an extra in a trade.

Pours a clear copper color with a half-inch off-white head. Head quickly fades and leaves only a spot or two of lacing.

The aroma is intriguing, yet a bit of a turn-off at the same time. Not sure which way I am going here. Sweet malts, dark fruits, spices and a faint honey smell. Bringing back memories of those weird herbal medicines my mother would mix up and try to get us to take.

The flavor is exactly as the label would have you believe. The spices make it different than just about any winter warmer I have had. The honey isn't easy to pick out, but it's there.

Slightly creamy, medium bodied beer. Spicy, herbal aftertaste. Glad I got to try it, but I don't think I would ever buy it.

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Photo of m1ked
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Received, yet another bottle of beer for Christmas. A good sign or a bad sign? I'm not sure, but I don't want to read too much into it.

A- Pours a crystal clear coppery caramel color. A brief and actively dissipating white head, seriously it was 1.5 fingers, and it was gone in like 20 seconds. The occasional bubble to the top. After 2 minutes there is nothing on top.

S- Sweet caramel with some fruity esters, raisins, a brief whiff of hay and toast. The toffee + fruity esters dominate.

T- Initially I get sweet grain and biscuit, like Nilla wafers, slight fruity esters,raisins, some etoh heat. I tad bitterness at the end that lingers. A little penny metallic thing at the end too.

M- Wierd to me here, it seems thin with low carb, but also a little cloying after the swallow. The carb that is there seems like soda water sharp.

D- I am always happy to try something new, something seasonal- I was able to kill 2 birds with one stone here. I haven't had alot of this style, but not a big fan of this one. No doubt that this one has a higher ABV as the etoh heat is very present. I don't see myself seeking this one out again. I would definitely seek out a GL beer again though.

 1,188 characters

Photo of Hojaminbag
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle with freshness date.

Pretty copper color, not a ton of head but good lacing from what is there.

Smells like cinnamon and ginger.

VERY spicy. Not hot, just tons of christmas spice. Dominated by connamon and ginger like the smell, but a little bit of honey comes through.

I can really only drink one of these at a time. It's a very interesting beer and worth a try, just not my thing.

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Photo of Soneast
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a clear bronze color with a half inch thick, cream colored head that condenses to a bubbly layer, not leaving much lace on the glass.

The aroma is that of spices, namely ginger, cinnamon and some honey, overall quite a sweet character to include caramel and a mild floral hop presence.

The spices are toned down a bit in the flavor profile, which i think is good. Instead more of a malt character becomes evident, mostly a bready yeastiness and some toasty caramels. The ginger is very evident as well as a bit-o-cinnamon and other random spices. In fact the bread and cinnamon flavors really remind me of snickerdoodle when combined. The finish is somewhat sweet, although there is a certain degree of bitterness to keep it from becoming overly cloying. Still a tad too sweet for me, though.

The beer is medium bodied, with mild carbonation, giving a nice creamy consistency, with the trademark holiday flavor lingering on the palate long after the beer is finished. I found this to be a decent representation of the style with flavors quite reminiscent of snickerdoodle. The alcohol is well masked and the aroma brings to mind a delectable holiday dinner. That said, I would be hard pressed to drink more than one or two of these. Just a touch too sweet for my liking.

 1,279 characters

Photo of AdamBear
3.44/5  rDev -12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-translucent copper colored with a decent dark cream colored head. frothy with lacing

S-light scent of vanilla, ginger, and other christmas spices. i'm getting mostly vanilla though. okay scent, very malty. doesn't seem to have a high quality.

T-comes in tasting like cinnamon and ginger bread. very malty. somewhat bitter. not much of an after-taste. unique gimmicky taste with out much depth.

M-low creamy carbonation with a semi-dry finish

O-your non beer drinker friends might appreciate the novelty in this, maybe some girls would. its not terrible really. its okay to drink, it goes down easy, but its not a good beer. it focuses more on the holidays than beer, and we should never lose sight of whats most important. definitely doesn't drink like 7.5% though. it tastes more around 5%.

 797 characters

Photo of bum732
3.43/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

S: Bold honey, touch of spiciness, slightly malty.

L: Light red, little creamy head that dissipates slightly.

T: Fairly clean honey-like malt with a touch of cinnamon. Low bitterness, smooth honey maltiness with a touch of heat. Fairly sweet, clean finish. Some ginger in the finish but fairly subtle.

M: Medium low carbonation, medium mouthfeel. Touch of alcohol heat. Smooth.

Not bad, but not my favorite holiday ale. Spices are pretty subtle, would've liked the malt to be a little more complex and bring more to the table.

 530 characters

Photo of jimmah120
3.43/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

12oz bottle with a best by date of 03/18/14. poured into pint glass.

small head, mostly clear, orange-amber color, not very dark. smell is light: wheat, gingerbread, spice, maybe some hops. crisp, clean, honey-sweet and malty at first, aftertaste has some christmas flavor (clove, ginger, frosting). feel is a slick medium, alcohol is hid very well.

Doesn't do much to stand out... a rare miss from Great Lakes Brewing co.

 424 characters

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