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

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 879 | Ratings: 3,067
Photo of El_Jay
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

They changed something about how they brew this beer about 3 or 4 years ago. It was changed for the worse.

Looking around at stores, it's hard to tell if the market agrees with me, or people just got burnt out. I'm leaning towards the former.

Back then, all area Christmas Ales were sold out within a few weeks. Now? Easy to find through January.

Back then, it was perfect. I would buy cases. Now? Maybe just a six-pack.

Just about everything about it stayed the same. It still definitely tastes pretty good. It looks and smells great. But the feel just kills it for me these days. What used to have a vague crispness to it- it is very syrupy now.

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Photo of r-m-kaylor
3.51/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Best before 28 January 2017 - a bit past its peak, but should be interesting. Poured two bottles into oversized Bordeaux wine glass a nice clear and bright reddish-brown with pale 1/4" head which does not dissipate. On the nose, bread, crackers and a whiff of honey. Mouthfeel is medium with slight bitterness up front and through the middle with a sweet after taste on the back. No heat, extremely drinkable.

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Photo of JustCamIt
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

An aggressive pour into a nonic glass for a clear amber hue with a minimal head. The aroma is of honey, malt, cinnamon and dried fruit. The taste is about the same as the aroma with a bit of hops in the mix. A medium feel rounds out a decent winter treat.

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Photo of cyclonece09
3.96/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a tulip. Pours light red with a large fluffy off white head. Smells of berries and wheat. Tastes of holiday spices, slight cranberry and cherry, with just a hint of banana. Beer is light bodied and easy drinking, good carbonation. Overall, a very good beer.

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Photo of Peterock27
4.14/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I bought this beer fresh but it got lost in the back of the fridge till today. Glad I opened it as bottle said enjoy by 1/27/17. It pours a nice Amber color with thin head of foam. Smells of nice winters spices. Taste is slightly sweet up front with a little spice as it goes down...neither of which is overpowering at all making his really enjoyable to drink. Almost like a toned down xocoveza. Mouthfeel is light with slight carbonation...goes down smooth. Overall I wish I would have had this fresher...will definitely seek out next winter.

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Photo of BeerAndGasMasks
3.91/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the growler, it pours a reddish amber with a minimal head. Some bubbles rise from the bottom, though. Some spice and malt in the nose. Some christmas spices in the mouth, along with the lovely malt body. Yum!

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Photo of dacrza1
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

DATE: January 13, 2017... OCCASION: Watching Avatar with the boys for the first time... special stuff... GLASSWARE: Mad Elf snifter... pours a dark amber body with a scarcity of bubbles... a thin ring of white encircles a small island of patchiness... at 7.5% ABV, expectedly short on head... cinnamon, nutmeg, apple, pear, rum, bright citrus (orange peel, lemon)... first sip is vibrant, warming, effervescent and driven to the tongue... a robust, full-bodied sipper that leaves a palatable aftertaste... cherry, apple, cinnamon, light nutmeg, light bread malts, and a sweetness that entices... a BIG flavored ale that warms and welcomes without weighting you down... doesn't compare or compete with more nuanced or developed seasonals...still, quite solid...

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Photo of Michael14
4.89/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I venture to say that this is one of the best beers I've ever had (slight bias, I'm from NE Ohio). I need to qualify this statement based on availability and seasonality. But....
Beautiful Amber color. Notes of cinnamon and nutmeg on the nose. Orange peel leads a fruit forward taste, but quickly fades to a pine like hopped flavor. The quintessential Christmas beer!

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

Bottle poured into pint glass. Nice amber color with creamy head; good lacings. Spices and honey greet the nose, hint of fruit. Medium feel that gently coats the palate. Modest bitters from spices on front are balanced with the honey that softens the feel. Very nice winter beer! Please find a way to distribute to Georgia!

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Photo of Antg8989
4.37/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Nice little bottle of holiday cheer right here. Aroma is creamy and fruity. Taste is a bit spicier than the nose indicates. Overall, it's worth a try.

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