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:
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Reviews: 879 | Ratings: 3,067
Photo of Phatz
3.98/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to Akorsak for this generous gift. You are a real friend. I took the week off reviewing to recover from a cold. What a great way to get going again.

Appearance: Pours a clear copper color with a small ivory head that fades quickly into a collar. Little lacing.

Smell: The aroma is a very pleasant gentle scents of cherry cinnamon caramel and a sticky bun malt attribute.

Taste: It has a bit of a flavor that I consider artificial red. It is a cherry like flavor with a malt backbone. Ginger and honey and orange clove and cinnamon powder a light doughy flavor that is full of typical Winter Warmer flavors.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and a bit slick through the center but the spices keep it lively on the cheeks. The body is a bit lighter than many Winter Warmers but it works well with this beer.

Drinkability: This is a very drinkable beer. Its lighter body and the friendly flavor make it quite easy to quaff. The alcohol really does not show much through the spices also adding to its easy drinking.

Thanks again Adam

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of montageman
3.27/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Well, this is my first "winter warmer".

Poured into a pint glass. Color has a slight red tinge with a little head that leaves some lacing. Looks nice/festive & very clear. Smells spicy - a little clove, some vanilla, cinnamon, and a slight hint of orange. Tasts sweet and malty up front, like a cookie, but finishes sour - maybe it's the orange? Mouthfeel is thin, but is functional in this case. Definitely a sipping and/or dessert beer - I would not crack another one tonight. Recommended.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Best by date of January 2007, Sampled January 2007
This beer sits a brilliantly clear, dark, amber to burnt copper color when held up to the light, otherwise it sits a dark amber brown color. The beer is initially topped by a three-finger thick, tan colored head that is frothy and leaves some layered lacing on the sides of the glass. The aroma is fruity up front, but then begins to take on a spice cake sort of character that drives a spicy sweetness. The spices are not so dominant that you can easily pick out the specifics; I get hints of cinnamon, ginger, perhaps some nutmeg, all spice, and clove and some spicy cardamom like notes. Underneath this is a fruit character that makes me think of cherries, and raisins.

The taste is lightly sweet up front, with a definitely spicy middle. A ginger-like peppery character rests solidly in the middle of this brew, actually it tends to linger a bit in the finish along with a cinnamon character. This beer is quite light and drinkable, in fact it drinks much easier than even 7.5%. I really like the spice levels in this beer, it is quite noticeable, but not so dominating that it is distracting. Fruity notes provide a nice balance to the spices; notes of cherries, green raisins, sweet Muscat, and even a light orange note reminiscent what one would find in some dessert wines. In the end this is quite drinkable and even enjoyable.

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Photo of k3n
2.35/5  rDev -39.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Bottle traded from tangfoot (thanks!), dated freshest by 1/19/07. Got in under the wire.

A: Really nice coppery-orange color. Not much head or carbonation.

S: Slightly malty smell, mostly sweet, reminds me of spiced apple cider.

T: In a word: Sweet. IMO, too sweet. The malty sweetness runs right into the gingery, honey sweetness. There's a bit of acidity at the end, but is then overwhelmed by the cloying honey.

M: Mouthfeel is light to begin with, but that sticky honey taste/feeling hangs around too long at the end.

D: Not impressed with the drinkability of this one, and I tend to favor winter warmers. Seems like there's not enough balance to this one.

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Photo of gmfessen
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, beer is a golden-amber color with a thick creme colored head that leaves small webs of lacing. The smell is of amber/crystal malt with hops coming through as grapefruit and pine. The taste is similar to the nose, with a pretty hoppy finish for the style. Alcohol is well hidden. This is a very drinkable beer, goes down smooth. A must try beer.

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Photo of cooncat
3.38/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Serving from a 12 oz. bottle, with a best by date of 1/27/07, so my sample was in date (review on 1/11/07).

On a vigorous pour into a 16 oz. glass, I got a small, creamy head, which was not particularly long lasting. The nose is light and hoppy, with just a hint of spice ... perhaps anise or cloves? The color is a very nice deep copper. I've been drinking this offering from Great Lakes for many years, and it seems to vary in quality from year to year. Its always best on tap at their brewpub in Cleveland. This year's offering isn't quite as good as some past years. Nevertheless, it is well balanced, and offers a clean and refreshing taste, clear to the bottom of the glass, which finishes more on a sweet/malty note. The 7.5% abv is not evident while drinking, so be advised that this is not a beer to guzzle. Enjoy a few with friends. Since it's a seasonal, it will soon be disappearing from store shelves. If you happen to find some, check the date on lower right side of the label.


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Photo of warriorsoul
4.09/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to robertdoesbeer for this one...
Pours a bright copper color with less than 1/2 inch of eggshell colored head...a dusting sticks around, leaving some attractive clouds in my beer...very little lacing.
Semi-sweet in the aroma with a hefty dose of spice...cinnamon, allspice, clove and honey.
Flavors are abundant here...honey up front with a nice ratio of ginger, cinnamon and a light dusting of fruity hops.
Not overly sweet, as expected...finishes with some honey, but not cloyingly so. Mouthfeel is above average and the carbonation if great...easy to throw back a few of these this time of year.
Another solid beer from Great Lakes...never get tired of their offerings.

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Photo of scruffwhor
4.37/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a nice medium amber. Small bubbles and very faint lacing. A head thats only a finger and a half in width. But maintains all through my drinking experience. For some reason, a Christmas beer has to be more cloudy to be festive. The aroma is very festive indeed. Plenty of X-mas spices like some nutmeg and cinnaon and anise all mixed together very well with a toasty malt profile. The taste is a little more clear on whats really driving the beer's flavors. Lots of nutmeg adn a few hints of chammomile. Don't forget the cinnamon. All of these spices are blanaced with a light Pacific hop presence and a medium toasty alt stance. Great Holiday beer, certainly has the best drinkablility of all the winter warmers. Doesn't bog you down with Holiday spices and aromas.

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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 geexploitation
4.14/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, bright ruby amber with virtually no head or lacing. Nice, subtle spicing on the nose. It seems there is some orangey spice in there -- maybe they used orange peel. The overall impression is one of sweet spiciness, kind of like a rich fruitcake. It's a good nose for the style. On the palate, brisk carbonation at first, then warm orangey spices and sweet malts. The palate is well balanced and not cringingly spiced. Mouthfeel is quite nice, with a thick body and plenty of carbonation to scrub the palate. Overall, this is an excellent winter warmer. Not as subtle as it could be, but not out of whack either. Warming and substantial, this is a very good interpretation of the style.

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Photo of pootz
3.52/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3


Poured a clear copper ale in the glass with a 2 finger sticky rockey cap. Well carbonated.

Aromas of spices, nutty malts and NW hops

Passable malt presence, prickly mouth feel, medium bodied with a spicey-hoppy dry character.

The frontside dumps some nut-like malts on the tongue only to have them quickly snached away into an astringent earthy taste by the spices ( ginger, nutmeg cinnamon) and the spicey NW hops...palate is clean crisp, astringent some fruit phenols from the ale yeast...finishes dry and slightly bitter from all the sharp spice and hop tones and just at the last second, some bready Christmas pudding sweetness appears.

A nice warmer for cold weather...I could learn to like this one..not over spiced but certainly the spice and hops rides above the malts in this one.

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Photo of Wasatch
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to BuckEyeNation for this one.

Pours a clear copper color, a quick fizzy head, nice carbonation, not much lacing afterwards. The nose is of sweet malts, ginger, and honey. The taste follows the nose, quite different Winter Warmer than other's I've had, nice sweet/honey taste, clean finish. Light-Medium body. Very drinkable, would be fooled about the 7.5% ABV though, tasty. Would recommend at least once.

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Photo of foureyedgeek
3.86/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured in to a pint glass.

An absolutely clear brown, red highlights. Tall fingers of head fall to a foamy cap. Light lacing.

Smell is sweet, of honey and kind of bready, with hints of spice, especially cinammon

Taste is also very malty, a lot diversity in the spice is present, though its not overwhelming. It seems the highlight of this beer is the honey-malt combination, with the spices being secondary. A note of alcohol and a slight bitter finish as you swallow.

Mouthfeel is good, a medium body and a light carbonation, as well as a slight warming make it a tasty, easy drinker.

This is a good winter warmer, that doesn't overdo the spices but rather, lets them stand as a compliment to the beer. A good winter warmer from a great brewer.

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Photo of mcallister
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A lively, vibrant, shiney elixr. A caramel/nutmeg brown with a small off white head that fades moderately and has good retention.

I've been drinking this beer for years now and am finally reveiwing it. I will say that this beer on draught walk all over the GL Christmas out of bottle. However the bottle is also very good but in my opinion would probably score a quarter point lower overall in a review. A bottle review of this is inevitable.

Full of Christmasy joy in the nose. Cinnamon and nutmeg galore, Very clean smelling, this beer just tastes and smells "clean". Hints of brown sugar, caramel, and very light floral hop aromas.

By far my favorite winter warmer made of the spiced variety. Again very clean and delicous tasting and again, what every spiced Christmas beer should be. (Not necassarily:)). Mouth full of cinnamon, and freshly grated nutmeg, ever so slight bit of ginger, and other spices.

Mouth is full and rich, sweet on the mid palate but ends dry. For a Chirstmas spiced beer (not my favorite style) this beer is highly drinkable and highly delicious.

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Photo of Frozensoul327
3.38/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Brownish honey color with a short lived head of white foam. Lots of lace, and a medium low level of carbonation.

S: Spices and bready malts. Some sweet notes of dried fruit.

T: Not bad. Rich malt, a sweet yet not over the top honey appeal, with notes of nutmeg and roasted earth.

M: Slightly smooth, but otherwise nominal, with little carbonation on the palate.

D: Not bad. I'm not usually one for the winter warmer style, but I could have a few of these and not complain. Good example of the style.

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Photo of Jredner
3.77/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Courtesy of Crizay.

The aroma holds a melange of spices, but cinnamon is the most noticeable and the defining spice, aroma wise. Definitely has a Christmasy smell to it.

The body is amber to light brown and holds a small wispy tan/white head.

Fore is spicy with again cinammon and other spice, ginger seems right. Has a smoothness to it in the mouthfeel I like, but is thin and a touch watery too. It’s liquid christmas treats and I’d like to try it mulled to be honest. Fruit cake, cookies, fig pudding....all in a glass.

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Photo of psinderson
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass.

Appearance: Mostly clear amber with a thin white head.

Smell: Some vanilla with caramel aroma.

Taste: A definite vanilla taste with some caramel. Not too complex but just a bit too much vanilla.

Mouthfeel: A bit on the thin side.

Drinkability: Not too bad but the vanilla makes it more difficult to consume.

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Photo of BeerBelcher
3.07/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

It seems like a great year for Christmas beers, I like Great Lakes BC beers quite a bit, so this seemed a natural to try.

The beer pours a copper red color. A pretty good head, with fairly week staying power. This beer leaves rather little lacing.

Aroma is slightly sweet and vaguely of cider and cinammon.

Taste is almost cidery...vaguely apple with cinammon notes. This is fairly well balanced with a maltiness that keeps this tasting like beer rather than cider. Not a lot of hop character to this. I can definitely imagine drinking it hot (I'm not).

Mouthfeel is a bit thick and sticky, the way that a cider would be. In terms of drinkability, I think I'd pass if offered another of these at the moment.

This is not one of my preferred Christmas beers.

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Photo of Grundle20
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours amber in color with a ample eggshell white head. There is good retention to the head along with some respectable lacing.

There's a warm alcohol presence. The scent presents notes of nutmeg, orange, butterscotch and a figgy sweetness. A little dolled up for my liking but good none the less.

Taste and Mouthfeel:
The orange and the fig sweetness come through in the taste. The beer drinks smooth with a medium body with little hop bitterness. The finish is rather candy and fruit like and leaves you with a candy sweet aftertaste.

It's a little too engineered in my opinion. There's not much "beer flavor" to speak of and a highish ABV doesn't help either.

Bottom Line:
It definitely says holiday beer but I found it to have a little too much added flavor, kind of like a liquid holiday desert without all the sweetness. Far from being my favorite Great Lakes Brewing product.

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Photo of akorsak
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a trade with DuqTroops.

A: The ale is a deep amber, almost brown color with a white wisp of head that has not retained or laced.

S: The aroma is spicy with honey sweetness and nutmeg.

T: The ale has a great deal of strong spices. First is the ginger, providing a slightly sweet but very drying flavor. The ginger is quickly followed by cinnamon, honey and nutmeg. The final flavor to pop up is a strong cardamon.

M: The spices are plentiful and strong, creating the best winter warmer I've had this season.

D: The spices are strong, good for a cold winter night (not the 50 degree nights we've been having thus far in December). I may even mull a bottle and see if the heat brings out more spices.

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Photo of macpapi
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Great Lakes Christmas Ale pours a medium brown/copper color. There is a slight and quickly dissipating white head and minimal lacing. Nice relatively clear color.

Smell is dominated by spices. Nutmeg, cinnamon and a bit of clove are all notable. There is also a candied, sugary aroma behind it all. Full and well-balanced pull.

Taste is full of cinnamon right up front. Malty and honey sweetness to go along with spice. Alcohol is barely a factor, though slightly notable. A nice hop finish as well. Very nice tasting beer.

In the mouth G.L. X-mas is full and tasty. The bitter pull at the back of the swallow is well-placed.

On the whole it is totally appropriate to say this is a fine seasonal beer. Everyone should have at least one to celebrate the holiday. Whether enjoyed while putting up the tree, wrapping or opening presents or simply enjoying the festivities this is a must drink in December. Very well-done and mildly potent. Great job by Great Lakes!!

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Photo of MuenchenerKindl
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle to a pint glass. The liquid is gold with suspended yeast and low carbonation. The head is small off white and left little lace.

The Smell sweet holiday spice and caramel

The taste follows, Nice caramel, and spice is ok but maybe a little too much spice in the after taste.

The mouthfeel is good. Medium body and the low carbonation does not pull it down here.

The drinkability is ok, The beer is nice but the lingering spice in the after taste hangs on too long. Prosit. MK

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Photo of schusterbauer
3.65/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

nocticably better on tap, but still a fine beer. less balanced from the bottle, with cinnamon and nutmeg taking a much more prominant place in the flavor profile. from the tap this is a very creamy and smooth beer, from the bottle it's a bit on the thin side.
all in all though, still a very nice winter brew. the honey, nutmeg, hops, and pine flavors make a very nice combination.

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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 ultralarry2006
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle. Leaves a one finger head that fades to just a foam ring at the edge, and not much lacing. Body is a clear copper.

Smell - spices such as ginger and cinnamon, and malt bread.

Taste - same as the smell. Sort of a maltbread gingerbread.

Mouthfeel - full, thick, and sort of "fluffy", like eating puffed rice cereal.

Drinkability - very good, but just over the upper limit of abv for good sessionability, so watch yourself when thinking about the next one after the next one.

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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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