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 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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Photo of lastmango
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured a nice ruby amber color with a two finger white head. Minimal lacing. Mild nose of cherry, malt and spices. Moderate malt flavor with cinnamon and clove. Slight hop bitterness on the end. Moderate body and carbonation. Overall, a nice holiday brew.

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Photo of Rockjocknroll
3.84/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pretty clear amber with small head and lacing. Smells like Christmas with a tiny hop nose; great holiday spices on the nose and taste. Slightly hoppy and long caramel finish. Great warmer!

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

12 ounce bottle poured into a Becher glass.

a: Wonderful ruby/amber color. Clear with a shimmer. One finger bubbly white head dissipates quickly.

s: Roasted malts and mild caramel holds up cherries and bitters. Mild spices.

t: Taste follows the nose. Honeyed malts, mulling spices, bitters and fruit skin.

mf: Medium light body with good carbonation. A slight cherry tartness cuts through the sweetness.

o: This is the winter warmer. Nothing touches it for its balance and availability.

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Photo of SaltofOH
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Bottle BB 3/5/16. 10 oz DFH Tulip.

Appearance: pours a burnished red with golden glints. Fairly high carbonation. Just under 1 finger khaki head turns to a couple of islands of thin skim. Had good lacing last time I had it on draft, but nada from this bottle.

Smell: strong ale ester aromatics, clover honey, and ginger. Very sweet and ale-y.

Taste: less sweet arrival than you might expect. Bitterness strikes right away, of a woody, spicy character. Full, malty mid palate reminds me of GL Oktoberfest. As it finishes, the bitterness is mild, with lots of lingering spice and a bit of alcohol. This is the first time I have ever tasted alcohol on this beer; though I was serving it quite a bit warmer than I usually have it. The spices and hop charade are not playing nice together at the end, leaving a slightly unpleasant medicinal note.

Mouthfeel: solidly mid weight with less carbonation than the appearance suggests. Slick on the finish.

Overall: I have had this beer many times, and several times this season. This is the first time I have ever felt the spice aspect overpowering, and the first time I have tasted alcohol. This beer is a perennial classic; in many ways it's a 7.5% abv amber with spices, but the term "amber ale"
is so reviled, no one would dare call it that. An awesome beer, but this bottle didn't live up.

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Photo of 98green
3.17/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

On tap late in a session. Look is a pretty deep red. Smell is light cranberry. Taste is nice Christmas whatever that is. I get that this is the go to name for Christmas ale. It gets the job done I guess.

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Photo of MacMalt
3.84/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip glass. The color is a lovely rosy-red with a thin, milk-white head and thick lacing. It's a very attractive pour. The smell is mostly malt with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a trace of caramel. The taste is malty with caramel, cherry, cinnamon, and nutmeg. There is a slight bitterness at the finish. It's a nice, medium-bodied ale, with moderate carbonation, and the 7.5% ABV is just noticeable enough to give it a kick. Overall, it's a pleasant drinking ale; not overpowering but with a nice flavor. I'm not sure I would seek this one out but if offered, I'd gladly accept.

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Photo of puck1225
3.79/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On draft into a pint glass. Golden color with a this head but very nice lacing. It has a clean slightly sweet smell. The feel was very smooth with a somewhat spicy taste. Malty with a taste of ginger or maybe allspice. Very nice.

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Photo of mschrei
4.55/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Surprised by the sub4 rating on this. Poured into Solemn Oath snifter. Beautiful appearance-golden brown on edges, lighter hues in center, lots of particulates floating after the head rush dissipates. Spice on smell, spice on taste. Pouring takes some of the harsh edge off, but drinking it from the bottle is enjoyable to the taste buds too. Crisp with a warming feeling, really glad I got a sixer but hoping I can get some more.

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Photo of ctylinebeer
4.36/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip. Poured down the center with little to no tilt needed

L - Red-amber color with a crystal clear hue. One finger of head

S - Nutty malt similar to an amber ale. Hints of holiday spice coming through

T - Nutty medium dark malt with well rounded holiday spice to the finish. Tastes like Christmas, but not too much Christmas

F - Light in body. Clean and crisp all the way through. Approachable for anyone's palate

O - Very nice Christmas beer. Very different from other seasonals in that it is sessionable and has the right amount of spice. Honey not so prevalent, but a very nice beer

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.07/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pouring a semi-murky copper color, this has two fingers worth of off-white colored head. Retention isn't fantastic, and there isn't much lacing left on the glass.

Did someone say cinnamon? This beer's aroma doesn't dick around with it, that's for sure. Ginger also makes an appearance, as does a touch of hoppiness. In addition, some caramel malts also pop up - not much honey though. I'm not sure how this really stands out from the legions of cinnamon-spice bombs out there...

Taste-wise, I get more honey here than the nose suggested [I'd just like to add that I think honey is an awesome adjunct for beer, in moderation], especially to finish it off. Also, the initial flavor hit of cinnamon and ginger is subdued next to the aroma. Some fruity traces appear near the mid-taste. Actually, it seems a little boozy for 7.5% - just a little. Nothing really pops here.

Quite nimble on the palate for a semi-big winter warmer, thanks to the subtle astringent sensation brought by the honey. Still, it offers a full, sticky mouthfeel otherwise. Carbonation is just right.'s okay. No more, no less. The honey notes are my favorite part of this, helping to break up the cinnamon meets caramel monotony this offers otherwise. Yeah...monotonous is a good word to describe this beer. I would not buy this one again.

3.07/5: Not the finest work from this (very good) brewery

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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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