Great Lakes Christmas Ale | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

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Great Lakes Christmas AleGreat Lakes Christmas Ale

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

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Reviews: 850 | Ratings: 2,969
Photo of Daniellobo
4.27/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice fruity Christmas ale with a surprising sweet balance.

Presentation: 12 oz capped brown bottle. Black design with white lettering and an image of toy train wagon carrying Christmas tree ornaments. Side narrative notes commitment to excellence, main characteristics, inspiration, and main ingredients. Neck label notes repeats funny festive sense. Notes freshness date (02/18/11), and Alc. by Vol. (7.5%) Served in a tulip glass.

A - Clear medium amber with a somewhat tamed bubbly head, moderate to low retention, some surface memory, minimal lacing.

S - Fruity and lightly medicinal nose. Honey, and ginger with a very shy cinnamon touch. Rather nice.

T - Flavor expands with dexterity the nose, nothing overwhelming but the range is rich. Same fruity sense, with the ginger and honey melding with the dash of spice. Touch of caramel malt and hint of resinous hops.

M - Medium body and medium-low carbonation, but actually the body matches the rhythm of the brew rather well. It works.

D - Great seasonal, if one digs the spicy ginger-honey and somewhat medicinal edge this is a very pleasing ale.

Notes: Hmm, maybe not worthy of the "under the shelve" limited quantities sense that I´ve seen in some places. But short of the hype this is a truly worthy Christmas ale with a great balance and sense of stimulation.

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Photo of neenerzig
4.28/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got a pint of this on tap at Becky's, a pub on East 18th Street near the CSU campus where I go to grad school. To celebrate our last day of classes on Wednesday, some of my classmates and myself went to Becky's for lunch and drinks between classes. First time I ever went to class with an alcohol buzz, and it wasn't intentional either. This is perhaps even slighly better on tap then out of the bottle. Mine had a nice foamy head about an inch thick before settling. Aromas of cinammon, ginger, a bit of hops, nutmeg, and honey are all present. This beer has a bitter yet sweet taste with flavors of malt, hops, cinnamon, a dash of honey, perhaps some caramel, and some other spices. Extremely well balanced taste. Has a nice creamy and crisp mouthfeel with light to moderate carbonation. Quite easy to drink indeed. A kick ass beer. Get some before it is gone until next year!


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Photo of C20Percent
4.29/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear, clean amber-orange with a white head of foam on top. Some bubbles going on in the body. Pretty but nothing crazy special here.

S: Big time honey and spice aroma. Nutmeg and cloves and cinnamon -- smells like Christmas cookies. Very solid aroma.

T: Taste just like it smells. The honey and spice really come through in the flavor. Not only that but it's surprisingly refreshing for a Christmas Ale. I do think this is the best honey brewed beer I've probably ever had. Highly recommended!

M: Impressive carbonation.Medium body. Some chewiness that really brings out the spice. Beer isn't especially smooth to me, but it doesn't cut that hard. And, again I really do appreciate the carbonation and the warmness of the brew.

O: Really enjoy this brew. Maybe the best Christmas Ale I've had. I great offering from GLBC!

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Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12oz. amber bottle with typical GLBC-looking label. Scores personal points for the railroad car with the Christmas tree decorations in it. The label also states that "For freshest taste, please enjoy by 5Feb03."

Appearance: Pours a very cloudy amber color. Billowing off-white head coats the glass. Lots of chunky yeasties are suspended in the beer.

Smell: Spicy...with cinnamon and ginger (as per the bottle) most noticeable. A bit of the honey used in the preparation is also evident.

Taste: Beers like this are the reason all of us need to try the GLBC beers before we die. A very flavorful, well-balanced beer. Despite the fact that there's a lot going on in the flavor, none of it is out-of-sync with the other flavors. There's the spicy input from the cinnamon and ginger, the sweetness of the honey on the tail-end, a malty sweetness that dances a duet with the slightest bittering from the hops. I can't believe this is 7.5% ABV.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and a creamy finish make for a great mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Man, this is one fine beer. I would love to try this on-tap. No alcohol taste, the delicate balance of spices, honey, malt, and hops, and the just barely present aftertaste make for a wonderful seasonal beer. I think this is my favorite seasonal. Get some if you can.

Kudos to fellow BA PhantomVoDoo for trading some of this to me.

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Photo of prototypic
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: It's a transparent, light copper-amber color. Head was a very thick two fingers, but disappeared pretty quickly. Lacing was average.

Smell: A little light on the nose. Smells predominantly malty. Herbal spices are notable (cinnamon and a little clove). Perhaps a slight banana aroma. Very, very light hop presence is noted.

Taste: Nice and spicy. Cinnamon, pumpkin, ginger, and a slight clove presence are a nice combo. Caramel-toffee malts provide a nice, sweet taste. Hops are noticeable, but it's far from bitter. Slight yeasty or bread-like taste on the tail.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Light bodied leaning toward medium. Carbonation is excellent. 7.5% is perfect for this one. Goes down very smooth and very drinkable. Overall, it's a very good Christmas ale. Certainly recommended.

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Photo of ledemie
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

S: nice and malty no spices to smell,

V: nice Garnet color little bit of a head, nice and clear.

M: nice and smooth good medium to full body, reminded me of a Biere de Garde

T: mellow maltiness and I can see the honey, but cannot taste it.

D; I wish they had this one all year long a very nice winter warmer, I said that before but it reminded me of a Jenlain Ambre ( Biere de Garde)

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Photo of OldSchoolGamer
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

With the warmer months ahead, I decided to crack open my last Christmas Ale of the season. Lets see if it live up to the hype.

A: Pours a nice golden-amber. Kinda hazy with a nice, creamy head. Lacing is pretty good.

S/T: The aroma is both sweet and spicy. Definetly pick up the ginger and cinnamon in the aroma. Taste is even more robust, while maintaining an excellent balance of flavors. Upfront, you get a nice mix of cinnamon and ginger, with the ginger being slightly more dominant. The spice transitions over to a nice sweet, toasty and slightly nutty malt aftertaste. Finish is pretty clean with only a trace of spice and sweetness lingering. Honey is there, but remains as a supporting role to the spice and malt. Easily one of the best Christmas Ales.

M/D: Mouthfeel is medium bodied. It is very creamy in the mouth, but finishes nice and clean, begging for another sip. Drinkability is outstanding. I drank three of these in under and hour the first day this beer came out.

Its amazing how Great Lakes managed to make such a full-flavored and robust beer so drinkable. This is always a regular in the fridge during the holiday months. Stock up early next year, as this beers goes quick. One of Great Lakes best.

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Photo of crc1935
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Had this beer from a growler that was poured from a keg in Erie, PA

Appearance - light amber/orange. Larger head than normal due to pouring from a growler to regular glass.

Smell - Sweet, nutty, and spicy.

Taste - Light honey and nutmeg taste balanced with slight bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Lightly carbonated to balance the taste. Very smooth ale.

Overall - This is an excellent Christmas Ale, though its legend seems to be elevated by scarcity. Still love the chase.

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Photo of dorianmarley
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer flies off the shelves in Ohio, and is difficult to come by after its initial first weeks of release. The store I went to predicts to sell out of its 30 cases in the first week.

The appearance is dark gold, with some brown and red. Frothy head, with nice lacing.

Nose is cinnamon and ginger, with some great malt action.

Taste is mild for a spiced beer; held down firmly by caramel malt. Cinnamon and ginger never overwhelm. Also has some great breadiness and a toasty biscuit finish.

Mouthfeel is smooth and refreshing; unusual for a spiced beer, but still has all the alcohol warmth and spice that you would want from a winter warmer.

Overall, my opinion is skewed. In Ohio, Christmas Ale season is looked forward to by fervent and casual beer fans alike. It is a symbol for the pockets of warmth to be found during a cold, Ohio winter; as universal as a hot cocoa or spiced apple cider. That said, this beer's flavor is engaging without being overwhelming, spiced but pleasantly malted, which helps explain why people cannot get enough.

My one complaint is this beer's early release. I am drinking this on Halloween. Except for the few I have stowed away, Christmas Ale will be tough to find around Christmas time. And this beer always tastes better with some snow on the ground.

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Photo of MarkLinton1
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

One of my favorite Holiday brews. Beautiful copper color with thin white head with nice clingy lacing. Wonderful Winter Warmer with lots of subtle flavors. Ginger, raisin, cinnamon, honey and sweet bread malts. A very slight taste of hops in the finish. I foresee a few 6 packs of this beer in my fridge over the holidays.

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Photo of Arbitrator
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Chilled bottle into a glass. I believe it's 2010 vintage; the bottle date is best by 12/28/10, and I think Great Lakes uses a 3-month window.

Many thanks to boatshoes for this beer.

A: Pours a clear, coppery brown body with one finger of off-white head. It leaves a thin film on top of the beer, with a nice collar at the edge.

S: Candied ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon, right up front. I hate ginger, but oddly enough, the aroma works really well for me.

T: It's dominated by candied ginger, as the nose suggests, and the finish evokes comparisons to cardamom and cinnamon. I find myself wondering how to pick apart the rest of the beer when these flavors are so strongly dominant. As it warms, I'm able to pick out honey and raisins, which are nicely expressive without turning the beer into a cloying sugar bomb. Good balance between spices and fruits.

M: This has a surprisingly light body for a 7.5% beer. Carbonation is medium. It's lightly sweet. The spices (particularly ginger) linger into the aftertaste.

D: Very drinkable, though I wouldn't hasten to call it quaffable. Good stuff. I hear they're not bottling it anymore (?), which is disappointing.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice orange amber with a decent head that fades pretty quickly. Smellis honey up front wit some spice on the finish (coriander?, Fennel seed? Caraway?). The taste is an explosion of honey- enough to make this really be more of a Braggot in style, and more of the same spice on the nose. The honey is delicious- not just sweet, but very floral wildflower honey. Mouthfeel is surpisingly dry and refreshing. Quite drinkable.

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Photo of ABOWMan
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

What's not to like. Three fingers of creamy white head, and a nose full of aroma. Hints of vanilla, spice? and honey in addition to hops makes you want to take a sip. When you do, you'll get a mouth full of flavor with lasting impact after you swallow.The appearance is slightly cloudy and the color is a nice amber, almost like honey.

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Photo of rlshep
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Aroma is cinnamon and ginger.

Pours one finger white head that dissipates quickly. Very little lacing Light amber color. Very clear.

Cinnamon and ginger in really good balance. Bready malts. Light caramel finish. Bitterness is medium high. No hop character.

Mouthfeel is low and finishes dry. Alcohol present but not overwhelming.

Truly a beer greater than the some of its parts. Dryness from honey makes this dangerously drinkable. All elements of the beer are very well balanced.

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Photo of OSUbrewman
4.31/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: A deep golden amber with little or know head, however, there was some lacing which was a pleasant surprise

Smell: Full of Christmas cheer, this brew overwhelms you with hints of vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger

Taste: Smooth and warm, honey and cinnamon dominate the taste. Little to no omnipresent alcohol "burn", which was nice for a change for a beer of this ABV.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and Warm

Drinkability: Extremely drinkable, which can be hazardous with a beer of this strength.

Overall: An outstanding brew from my favorite brewery. I look forward to this beer every year and it never disappoints! This year, replace your bourbon egg nog with a truly fantastic brew, Great Lakes Christmas Ale!

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Photo of jeffmonarch
4.31/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle in a pint glass.

A - Light copper color with little head. What head there is dissappears quickly.

S - Sweet and spicy.

T - Sweet with a spicy zing. Good carbonation. This beer has a mix of many spices that keep your tastebuds spinning.

M - Great! This beer fills your mouth and continuously attacks your mouth with flavor.

D - Good. I can sit back and enjoy a couple of these very easily.

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Photo of jpro
4.31/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Sixer from Salud Beer Shop. 12oz poured into a snifter...

A: Rosy copper; one-finger, off-white head; no lace; no retention; unique color.

S: Toasted malt; gingerbread; light cinnamon notes; not overly spiced, though; brown sugar.

T: Cake; honey roasted malt nuttiness; brown sugar; light nutmeg and allspice; cinnamon; again, not overly done with the spice; not much alcohol.

M: Medium feel; moderate carbonation with a little zing; not heavy at all.

O: A great Christmas beer - one of the best; quite drinkable, too.

*from notes 01.08.14

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Photo of tectactoe
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours an orange and amber hybrid color with a ton of red hues and a pretty exceptional amount of clarity all around. Small white head fades quick and doesn't leave much lacing at all.

The nose.... what to say about the nose. Full of a basket of toasted malts and spices - most prominent being cinnamon, but also included are nutmeg and maybe some ginger. There's really so much going on and it's executed with a careful hand; there's really something to be admired in the aroma profile.

The taste hits with an incredibly unique and well-executed balance of sweet and spicy malt - sweetness in the form of caramel, toffee, and butter, and spicy in the form of cinnamon and nutmeg. Very nutty, and with the spices, it resembles a warm pecan pie.

Yeast is noticeable in the background, provides a nice bready and buttery aftertaste (think Christmas sugar cookie). Honey is hard to detect, but is noticeable at the tail end as the beer starts to warm up a little bit. Medium body, not too sticky on the mouth, low to medium carbonation.

This beer tastes like Christmas in a bottle. The fact that it's a holiday release makes it all the more alluring and I feel like a little kid on Christmas when I finally get my hands on some.

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Photo of WoodBrew
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I love a beer that actual tastes like the description. There's no lip service with this beer! The warmer the Great Lakes Xmas gets, the more the aroma and favors become. This is not a session ale, so careful with consumption...pace yourself.

Drink it up to make the Holiday Season a true event. Enjoy!

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - A nice crisp amber with a touch of head.

S - Honey, cinnamon, hops, and spices.

T - Wow it's like it tastes... red. Must be the honey and the mead playing together. Slight cinnamon and a mild hop profile makes it good,

M - Very medium bodied. Liked it.

D - Yes and I will enjoy the last five. Very pleasant offering from Great Lakes!

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Photo of KeefD
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this at the Great Lakes bar in the Cleveland Airport. Review from notes: 22oz pour. Dark amber with orange highlights, nice fluffy off-white head that left little lacing, probably from the frosted glass. Spicy, malty aroma with hints of maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Flavor was malty sweet, nice amount of spices, again with the cinnamon and nutmeg, along with a bit of orange peel for good measure. A nice piney hop flavor shows up here and there. Citrusy flavors make an appearance but get pushed out of the way by the spices. Smooth and creamy mouthfeel, very delicious Christmas Ale. One of the best Winter Warmers I've tried.

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Photo of GRPunk
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a tulip glass.

A- It poured a deep amber/copper with a 1-1/2 finger head and light carbonation.

S- Nice spices blended with sweet malts and light hop tones. The ginger and honey aromas were very apparent.

T- Noticeable honey and spice, even in the finish. There was sitll a lot of malt flavor with some lighter hop tones.

M- Very solid feel. Medium-light caronation with a little hop bite.

D- Great taste makes for an easy drinker even at a solid 7.5% ABV.

Overall- This is a new Christmas favorite. It's renewed my faith in winter warmers (of which I've recently had a hard time finding something with a good balance of flavors). It was a nice combination of malts and spices which are definitely noticeable, but not overdone.

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Photo of thegodfather1076
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was served out of a 12oz. bottle dispensed into a glass....

Initial review is on the GLBCA 2010 Edition.

Presentation- Great artwork and label in the GLB style.

Appearance - GLBCA is a copperish orange color ale with an off white one finger heard that leaves a nice lacing down the entire glass.

Smell - GLBCA has a wonderful smell. This offering is packed with Christmas spices and they def come through in the smell. Nutmeg, Honey, Cinnamon, Ginger are all apparent in the smell.

Taste - A very tasty beer that is heavily spiced with traces of nutmeg, honey, cinnamon, ginger throughout. A slightly malty flavor provides a good ale taste that balances out the heavy spices.

Mouthfeel - Definitly a full bodied offering that is smooth but slightly heavy in the mouth.

Drinkability - A true winter warmer with a fairly high alcohol content. GLBCA is very drinkable because of the flavor but if more than 3 of these are consumed you will definitly start to feel it!!!!

Being from Akron, OH I really enjoy GLBCA but has become so hard to find in this area that I have had to turn to other offerings at times. I would highly recommend as far as the actual beer goes.

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Photo of trbergman
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a tulip.

A - Ruby orange with one inch of sticky off-white head. Good sheets of lace.

S - According to the label, Great Lakes uses honey, ginger, and cinnamon in this beer, and all are evident in the nose. Honey is definitely the strongest, with ginger close behind. There's also a hint of toast and some fruity/floral aromas.

T - Good malt backbone, with a bit of toasted bread. The malt is not obtrusive and allows the spicing to shine. At the same time, the spices are not overdone. No real hop flavor, and minimal hop bitterness. Very well balanced.

M - Medium body, peppery carbonation.

D - I wish all winter warmers were this good. Although the spices are the main feature here, they're still restrained enough to maintain a high quaffability. Alcohol is well hidden. All the same, I'm not sure I could drink more than one or two in a sitting.

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Photo of SitkaSteve
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Wow, I'd never thought I'd ever get to try this. A buddy of mine got this in a trade.
Bottom right corner reads "Please enjoy by 02/20/15."
This was poured into a tulip.
The appearance was a hazy bronzed brown color with a light carbonation seen rising to fill a one finger white foamy head that dissipated fairly quickly. Light stringy lacing stuck finely to the sides of the glass.
The smell, hot damn, wow. Well, it had a nice sweet cherry to light spruce and combined with a super nice sweet honey.
The taste takes those previously mentioned flavors to combine and make lip smacking sticky tasting. I like it. A nice sweet honey aftertaste leads to a sweet wet finish.
The mouthfeel was about a light to medium on the body with a fairly decent sessionable aspect to it. The carbonation seemed fairly appropriate for the style and for me, slightly smooth and honey sticky.
Overall, hot damn, wow and holy crap! This is probably one of my favorite winter warmers I've ever had. I wish I could get this on a regular basis.

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