Great Lakes Christmas Ale | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

very good
879 Reviews
Great Lakes Christmas AleGreat Lakes Christmas Ale

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

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

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 879 | Ratings: 3,067
Photo of GuyFawkes
4.21/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

"Best by 2/7/16"; drank 11/21/15 @ the Yarchives.

Poured from the bottle into a glass.

Semi-opaque dull orange appearance.

A rough pour yielded a HUGE off-white head; a curtain of lace.

Allspice, cream & faint mango notes in the nose.

Medium mouthfeel.

Cream & cinnamon flavors up front; spiced apple notes on the finish. A nicely balanced sweet, spiced ale. I'd have another.

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Photo of Texter
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Great mouth feel had a smooth creaminess, they don't go overboard with the spices like some Christmas Beers. Overall all and excellent beer.

Poured out of a bottle into a pint glass and given time to warm up a bit.

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Photo of Chuckdiesel24
4.37/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I'd assume this doesn't get as high marks just because people have gravitated toward big stouts and IPAs. This used to be the most sought after beer in Ohio, when in season, and it's still great to me. It's a dark amber with a decent head. But the taste is unique, and at least at the time was pretty original. Honey really balances out the spice. Always great to drink at Xmas!

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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 MNAle
3.2/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Golden amber, lightly carbonated. 1 inch slightly off-white head receding to a foamy cap. Spicy aroma, ginger, with a mix of perhaps floral-ish notes. Smooth feel. Taste follows the aroma, with the ginger / spice dominating, but to me it just tastes a bit odd; I can't pin it down. No bittering to speak of, with the ginger lingering into the finish and aftertaste. There is no sense of alcohol warmth, either. Overall, disappointing.

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Photo of Cylinsier
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz

Pours a clear maple amber, white lacing retains indefinitely.

Smells of biscuit, honey, maple, and brown sugar.

Flavor is of biscuit, honey, brown sugar, toffee, and a slightly fruity finish. Some spice.

Medium to full body with stinging carbonation on the roof of the mouth.

A solid flavorful winter warmer that is lower on spice and a bit richer than most in the style. For that is my favorite so far in this style, a style which I'm not usually fond of. If that sounds like you, definitely seek this out as a decent Christmas treat.

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Photo of Jraiona
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a growler into a Nonic

A- Clear amber with a full frothy head with moderate retention and wonderful lacing

S- The aromas of malt, caramel, and spice are very up front with a subtle bready note

T- The flavor of malt is quite prominent with a honey like sweetness with is nicely rounded out by a spicy bitterness

F- Lively on the tongue with moderate carbonation.

O- Complex and nicely balanced.

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Photo of Jonnystorm777
4.27/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 4.5

Wow, this beer is a Christmas delight. I opened the bottle to a surprisingly delightful aroma. The smell of Pine, gingerbread and cinnamon punched me right in the schnozz! Pours tenderly at a 50 degree angle and leaves an enticing bold 1/2 inch head. The rush of this beer ran smooth and crashed into my uvula with endless delight. It has a really full and baritone taste and feels more like a bark cider than an Ale. Santa should be proud to drink this and deliver presents. It really packs a punch.

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Photo of Tone
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear, copper color. 2/3 inch head of an off-white color. Good retention and decent lacing. Smells of sweet malt, caramel malt, earthiness, slight yeast, slight alcohol, and spices. Fits the style of a Winter Warmer. Mouth feel is smooth and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of strong caramel malt, sweet malt, slight yeast, earthy malt, grass, and slight alcohol. Overall, mostly spice and earthiness, good blend, but not to my personal taste.

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Photo of CheeseMonger75
5/5  rDev +27.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The best Christmas Beer on the market. So refreshing and beautifully crafted it's hard to compare others when this one is so far above the rest. This is the best beer Great Lakes brewing produces and they nail it again and again. A robust blend of holiday spices, caramel malts, juniper, hints of clove and slightly hopped to give this beer it's uniqueness.

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Photo of orcrist_cleaver
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Crystal clear. Gingerbread brown with amber highlights. Weak head and no lacing, so this btl at least poured a bit flat. I find the label artwork minimalistic and amazing, so I think that must count for something here.

S: I'm enveloped by a flowery, honeysuckle sweetness. Hmm...must be the copious amount of honey; orange blossom honey maybe. Ginger follows suit with a hint of cinnamon--atomic fireball--heat. A warmer it is.

M: It's soft but chewy like a hot biscuit. Maybe a little low on carb, but the spices contribute a certain dryness.

T: Picked up a malted nutty flavor that initially reminds me of a marzen. The sweetness of the honey quickly follows, and is strong, remaining on the palate for the remainder of the session. However, I also pick up a bit of dark treacle, which is a tad bitter, and when combined with the chitrus contribution from the hops provides an alter dimensional sweetness. A drying ginger comes into play along with roasted malt. Overall, it's like an old-fashioned spiced ginger cookie with gads of orange-honey icing. It's one of the few beers I'll actually buy a full six pack of, but it's very enjoyable cozied up under twinkling Christmas lights watching a holiday classic. In other words, it's a fantastic seasonal, but rather okay otherwise.

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Photo of ksimons
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-clear dark amber with a fingers worth of white head

S-caramel malt with honey and spices

T-similar to the smell with a caramel malt backbone, cocoa, spices, and honey

M-medium body and moderate carbonation

Overall an enjoyable Christmas beer though not spectacular

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Photo of MikeWard
4.01/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

six pack purchased from weis markets in pottsville, pa. consumed over the holidays. best by feb 2017, so plenty fresh.

looks great in the glass, reddish amber hue, crystal clear, good off white head which persists leaving excellent lacing.

aroma is primarily cinnamon and a bit of malt comes through. not really finding the honey and ginger on the nose.

taste is again mostly of the cinnamon, but a good sweetness comes through from the honey and malt. alcohol is 7.5, but is well hidden.

finish is a little above medium.

overall, good spiced beer for the holidays. personally i prefer straight winter warmers, but this one is enjoyable.

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Photo of foglemgs
3.2/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

This offering from Great Lakes has a fairly high (7.5%) ABV that they try - pretty successfully - to mask with spicy flavors. However, there's a sweetness to this beer that I'm not a fan of, but the overall flavor isn't too bad. There are other, better, Christmas beers out there.

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Photo of Jason
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz brown bottle, sample from the brewery.

Great clarity on this reddish amber hued brew, lacing does a great job sticking around. Ginger, than cinnamon in this honey malty sweet nose... some fruity esters in the back as well. Semi-chewy mouth feel in this full-ish bodied ale, smooth with some crispness. A hefty malt backbone, big enough to hold up against the spice and warming alcohol. Modest hopping which really works here, as the spicing and the malt battle it out. Perfectly balanced, this is pretty much what I look for in a spiced Winter Warmer.

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Photo of waterski
3.22/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle. 2016 vintage. Colors is light copper even amber in the light. Nose of cloves, cinnamon, figs, and light honey. First taste reminds me of light Belgian ale with hints of dried fruit and holiday spices. I often wondered where the leftover fruit cakes landed. I think this beer would pair well with Christmas baked treats. Slightly chilled at 55 degrees seems to provide the most robust flavor. No milk with my cookies this Christmas season.

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Photo of MMOSNN
3.3/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Look - a clear deep orangish ruby with a small off-white head with little retention and basically no lacing.
Smell - not very strong, but you get some spiciness, sweet honey, and caramel and toasted bready malts.
Taste - pretty much follows the nose in that there's some vague spiciness, sweet notes but pretty undefined, and a slight malty backbone, but nothing really sticks.
Feel - low carbonation, medium body but bordering on the thinner side.
Overall, I don't know if I have a bad bottle, but this is very underwhelming. I'd like to try it again just to compare.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Mixture of brown, crimson and burnt copper. Aroma hits you in those Christmas feels. Cinnamon, cranberry, brown malt.

Taste gives all the holiday feels too, even with a little Pumpkin thrown in. Some spice rack. A little sweet. Still lots of brown malt. Tastes somewhat like they took a bunch of holiday food and put it in a juicer. For better or for worse

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Photo of Slack
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Dark copper to mahogany in color and clear. About a fingers worth of head with some lacing.

Sweet malt, some spice (cinnamon/clove), and honey on the nose.

Taste is definitely sweet and malty with that cinnamon and clove mixed in.

Mouthful is medium with the same carbonation.

Balanced and easy to drink with no discernible hops. Pairs well with a big slab of spice cake.

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Photo of Oswick
4.53/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

this is still one of my all time favorites. yes, i am from cleveland, so i may be biased. this beer hits you with the pleasant aroma of coriander, nutmeg and cinnamin. it explodes with flavor on your tongue and has a smooth finish. just brought a case back with me after my annual visit home.

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Photo of Thomas_Wikman
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Nice orange-amber color, a thin head that stays. Some spices and cherry in the fairly pleasant aroma. The taste is nutty, toasty, gingerbread, cherry, it is crisp with an aftertaste that is a bit too short.

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Photo of Phil-Fresh
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75


A: Light spices, mixed with honey (light sweetness), and some esters.

A: Amber with a light orange-red hue, totally clear with a moderate white fine head that has solid retention.

T: Light malt and faint honey flavor – surprisingly not overly sweet. The beer has a fair amount of “holiday” spices and a light bitterness on the finish.

M: Medium light bodied with moderate carbonation.

O: Pretty tasty winter warmer, but the spices, especially the cinnamon are a bit strong in the aroma and flavor – overall a solid effort.

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Photo of CNoj012
3.74/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This beer pours a hazy copper color with a one finger off white head. There is not much retention and spots of chunky lacing. Smell is cinnamon, nutmeg, gingerbread and caramel. Taste is the same. Feel is light with not much carbonation. Overall good, but not great. I should add this was served on draught with some cinnamon sugar around the rim of the glass, which was not requested and certainly unwelcome.

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Photo of stevoj
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle from my brother. Lots of gingerbread and fruitcake, cinnamon and nutmeg. Seems like a decent English ale underneath the spice, warming without the burn.

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Photo of Jacobob10
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, best by 03/05/16.

I've been wanting to try this beer for some time now but couldn't get my hands on it last year, so I was excited to find a single bottle this year. The color is somewhere between deep amber and red with a small off-white head. Not much lacing, but a small amount of retention. I was expecting a sharp, heavily-spiced aroma, but instead got smooth notes of ginger and cinnamon. These carry over to the flavor with an additional sweetness added to it. The ginger is more noticeable to me than anything else in the beer. It's a very smooth, medium-bodied finish. Not too heavy and not too spicy. I really enjoyed this one and would purchase again.

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Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
3.91 out of 5 based on 3,067 ratings.
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