Great Lakes Christmas Ale | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

BA SCORE
88
very good
879 Reviews
Great Lakes Christmas AleGreat Lakes Christmas Ale
BEER INFO

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

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
879
Ratings:
3,067
Avg:
3.91
pDev:
13.04%
 
 
Wants:
154
Gots:
778
For Trade:
10
User Reviews
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Reviews: 879 | Ratings: 3,067
Photo of Slatetank
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

look 4 smell-4 taste-4 mouthfeel-4 Overall-4I had this on tap at Tj's during the 7th Anniversary celebration.

A deep copper with good clarity and small beige head w/ tiny tiny beading, crystal clear and semi-good retention and lace. The nose is very spicy with cinnamon, mildly sweet notes w/ subtle woody nutmeg and a dash of ginger along with a mild fruit note from the yeast ester. The feel is tinged w/ spice and slight woody texture w/ semi dry finish and mellow spice.

The taste gives a mild vanilla quality with caramel malt and fruit w/ subtle cinnamon, ginger and slight orange note w/ a festive nutmeg accent-pretty solid flavors with spicing not going too far to be considered flavorful. The drinkability is good, a quality christmas beer, w/ decent smooth yeast and spice cohesion. Lots of nicely toasted malts - a winter warmer, good for the season and fits the style well.

Re-review 12/11/14 enjoyed on tap at Brass Rail Deli, served chilled in a pint.
The color is golden amber like honey with thick haze and thin white head with fine bead and lace ring sticks with decent head retention. The smell has lots of spice with sweet malt odor and a light ginger and spiced quality that is earthy with mild honey-ginger tea like smell. The feel is thick yet not cloying with medium carbonation and moderately spiced body with light sweetness, low bitterness and semi-dry finish with light alcohol in the feel.

The taste of ginger is prominent with fresh honey-malt backing and light cinnamon mid palate with slight warming spiciness with subtle caramel in the malt with a good amount of hop & ginger continuing into the flavor after the initial sips with a mild alcohol flavor as it warms w/ nice earthy quality w/ no cinnamon candy flavor just nice fresh spice and honey into a mostly dry finish. This is a very tasty festive ale with spice that is sufficient to match the honey which is a nice compliment & is very drinkable for the strength. I would recommend this to anyone who likes ginger or honey in beer

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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 womencantsail
3.78/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks for the bottle, Jeff!

Pours a clear copper color with a finger of off-white head. Lots of cinnamon and ginger aromas, especially ginger. There is a nice bit of sweet malt and bread going on as well. The flavor has plenty of bready malt sweetness as well as some toffee. The ginger is fairly assertive, maybe a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg in there as well. Medium body with low to medium carbonation.

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Photo of mdfb79
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 12/30/11 notes. Had on tap at The Big Hunt in Washington, DC. Served in a pint glass.

a - Pours a deep amber color with one inch of white head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of gingerbread, spices, bready malts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and toasted malts. Lots of cinnamon and ginger, smells great to me.

t - Tastes of cinnamon, gingerbread, nutmeg, spices, bready malts, toasted malts, light toffee. More cinnamon than the nose, and a tiny step again. Really liking this.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation. Pretty smooth and creamy.

o - Overal I thought this was a great Winter Warmer. Lots of cinnamon and gingerbread in the nose and taste which I love, and exactly what I was expecting. Would certainly buy it again.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.12/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a Gale Sayers shaker pint glass.

It took some reaching (literally), but I netted the last bottle from Fresh Market. Victory! It pours a clear copper topped by a finger of white foam. The nose comprises black cherry, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, green apple, red grapes, and graham crackers. The taste holds notes of orange peel (and plenty of it), pumpkin shell, ginger, nutmeg, wheat, grass, rye bread, and a touch of cocoa powder. A strong bitterness pervades the finish, which follows a poor mixing of the various flavors. Something's amiss here. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a slightly drying finish. Overall, I did not enjoy this very much at all, save for the smell. Things just didn't come together for me here.

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

Bottle shared by Dreadnaught33. Thanks Jonathan!

A: This beer appears a slightly hazy shade of orange, with an eighth inch of head that falls away after a few moments, leaving some decent lacing upon the glass.

S: The aroma is very potent, with a huge bouquet of spices, including cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

T: The taste is full of Christmas spices, with hints of alcohol when you delve past the dominant spice scents. I would like the beer to be a bit more robust, and / or have a more substantial malt bill, better supporting the myriad of pleasant spices used in this creation.

M: Thin in body, with moderate carbonation.

D: A nice choice if you're in the mood for a spiced Christmas brew.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.96/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Copper amber with a very nice caramel tone thicket of head, lacing forms a thck collar that continues to leave intersipping full rings. Aroma: Malty slightly toasted nuts but the spicing steals the show very festive, with cinnamon and tones of nutmeg some slightly floral hopping going on as well a bit one sided but who cares Great Lakes can do no wrong. Taste: Fluffy layer of creaminess blended with the spicy tones of ginger and a rich honey finish, and alcohol is very well hidden didn't know that this one was 7.5 % they are usually pretty conservative with their alcohol level at the GLBC, but hey 'tis the season, right? Mouthfeel: Medium body a bit sticky but not cloying in any way smooth mild carbonation, can't complain. Drinkability: On draft much more drinkable but the bottle just seems to concentrate the cinnamon and ginger spices just a bit much one though is a good experience to be had go out and find some while the Christmas beers are still here.

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Photo of AlexFields
2.73/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Thanks to the guy at the BASC release who gave these for free to my friend Photekut (who then gave one for free to me).

Nice reddish amber color with a good sized and attractive head.

Nose is all christmas spices. Unfortunately, my christmas spice vocabulary is not quite up to snuff, and I'm not going to make a fool of myself by naming a bunch of random spices that I couldn't actually identify by smell. Suffice it to say this beer just smells like a ton of different wintry spices thrown together at random. Not that appealing.

Taste is similar to the nose but better. There's more of a balance to the spice flavors and less weird clash than in the nose. There's also a decent honey-sweet backbone that stops the beer from being totally overrun by the spices. Still, though, let's not kid ourselves, this beer is all about the spices, and if you don't love winter spices this isn't the beer for you. I get cinnamon and maybe nutmeg, but again, I don't know my winter spices well enough to name a bunch of specific ones.

Nice mouthfell, welll carbonated.

I don't generally care that much for winter warmers, and this one is no exception. Heavy on the spices, light on everything else. Drinkable, maybe even good if you're into this kind of thing, but I'm not really into this kind of thing.

5.7/10

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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 tdm168
3.42/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to jtd1969 for sharing this one with me.

Pours a deep amber with a quarter of an inch of off white head that has little retention. The nose is sweet with mild notes of honey, faint cinnamon, and fainter ginger. The flavor opens up with some faint honey and then moves into a candy-like, sugary sweetness. The finish has notes of cinnamon and very faint ginger. The flavor profile overall is rather light and laid back. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, smooth, and moderately carbonated.

This isn't a bad beer, but it's uninteresting. There's is nothing that sets it apart from any of the other winter warmers that are also brewed with cinnamon, ginger, and honey. It was nice to try once, but I wouldn't have it again.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear copper amber with a nice off white head. Nose is subdued, but distinct. I get apples and carob. But mostly the apple shows. Flavor is nice and earthy and well balanced. Good level of malts and almost a touch of spice to it that just elevates things a wee bit. Feel is good on both liquid and carbonation. This is so easy to drink. It could possibly be the easiest drinking winter warmer I had this year, most in part due to some very brown ale characteristics in the mix. If I had more of these I wouldn't mind at all.

But alas. This is the end of the Great Lakes brews I have. Soon I will return to Brooklyn (I am in Pittsburgh right now), and they will be out of reach.

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

Appearance: pours a golden color with not much lacing and no head.

Smell: The spice smell is prevalent in a good way.

Taste: Sweet and malty balanced just right.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied feels good going down.

Drinkability: The best Christmas ale and very easy to drink all night just don't plan on driving home.

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

Poured on tap at Jose Andres' America Eats Tavern into a pilsner style glass.

No foam or head presented. Clear dark orange body with some slow rising carbonation coming up. Since there is only the body to describe there's not much else to say.

Nose is pretty muted. There's faint dry malt, and some mild nutmeg. But really it's a pretty closed nose.

Taste is mild bread dough, mixing with not clove spices. Sweetness comes on the aftertaste more so, even some fruity cherry sensations. Mouthfeel has some sticky like quality but it's also a bit wet, carbonation seems a little fizzy but tolerable.

Overall, not sure how much this was opened up on the pour, but it seems like I am preferring Great Lakes out of the bottle than on tap based on my experience.

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Photo of Billolick
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, w/ enjoy by dating - fresh sample

Pours hazed medium almond, med khaki head, lasting and leaving typical, respectable lace.

Nose is of holiday spices, cinnamon, mulled apples, toast and the rest

Tasty holiday brew...more of the same from above on the palate, fresh and fruity take on the style

Tasty and dangerously easy drinking...worth a try

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Photo of jwc215
3.62/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Best before 03/01/14:

Pours a beautiful copper with an off-white head. Some lacing sticks.

The smell is of Christmas spices - cinnamon and ginger - with caramel and a touch of honey.

The taste is of cinnamon, ginger, honey, some pine and caramel. It has a semi-sweet, spicy finish.

It hits full-bodied. Warm going down.

This is a malty, spicy winter ale. A little too spiced for me, but it's still a nice winter sipper.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a tumbler pint, the beer is a bright, lightly carbonated, copper coloring with a filmy, sparse, thin, white head coating the surface. Aromas of cinnamon spiced honey sweetness, both rich and smooth. Some roasty, bready notes in the background, also. Flavors are rich and sweet, on a very smooth, robust body. Almost creamy feel in mouth. The honey creates a semisweet, solid backbone with spiced and fruit highlights. The spice profiles of nutmeg, cinnamon, and all-spice are very subtle, and blended very well. This is what fruitcake is supposed to taste like, instead of candied evil and garbage. Lightly spiced aftertaste, with the honey giving off some tropical fruit esthers, also. Smooth, clean finish. Very tasty brew, and extremely easy to drink.

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

01/30/06- Received in trade with Irishsnake.

Presentation- 12oz bottle, best by date imprinted on the label. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Cherry in color, or a real deep dark amber. Medium sized 1/2 inch semi creamy head. Very light lacing left behind.

Smell- The first thing that hit me was a cherry and light chocolate scent. Then came the cinnimon and maybe a few other spices. Cherry was the predominant scent for me though.

Taste- Lots of things going on here. Spices up the ying tang, but they meld together so nicely. Cinnimon, honey, ginger, clove, nutmeg, throw in the kitchen sink and you have a pretty damn tasty beer. Nice dark malt background, maybe a real light hoppy fix, but nothing even worth mentioning.

Mouthfeel- Lightly creamy, lower carbonation.

Drinkability- This one is a winner. I can see drinking lots of these if they were available here. Another good cold weather beer, even though the abv isn't huge. I'm liking this one lots.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.72/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was in a DC beer store recently and picked this up. The clerk informed me that they were under a strict ONE BOTTLE limit on this beer. I had no idea it was this popular, doesn't appear to be anything special oh well.

Beer is red / amber with a mild haze, broken white head of small bubble, some lacing, moderate carbonation. Looks fine.

Aroma...Hello! super strong, some alcohol, lots of spice, cloves and nutmeg come forward, malt, yeast, esters and bread. Interesting.

I guess I need to recalibrate what I think a winter warmer is...Beer is light and has some grainy acidity at the end of the palate. The forward is mildly sweet with some cinnamon and nutmeg spice in the middle. As far as I can tell, nothing special. Drinkability is fine but I'm failing to see what the huge draw for this beer is. No interesting yeast character, no odd hop profile, just an herbed ale. Am I missing something?

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

I had been told I had to try this by a buddy from Cleveland so I picked up the only single I saw while visiting Chicago for the day. It pours a light auburn in color and is very translucent. It has the lightest of white heads and is light bodied. The smell is blase. It nothing more than what I'd call carmel malts and light spices. The flavor is an improvement. It has good sweetness and is kind of spicy. I think it may have nutmeg and cinnamon. Each sip tastes better than the last, and sweeter. I like it. It's light and drinks crisp. I could easily go through a six pack of this and you'd never know that it's 7.5%.

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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 GreesyFizeek
3.82/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottles purchased at Beers of the World in Rochester, NY.

A classic Christmas seasonal that people seem to go gaga over.

Pours a basically clear copper amber/brown, with a half inch head and a little bit of lacing.

Smells like cherries, cinnamon, sweet malt, and caramel.

The taste is similar. Much more restrained than the similarly adored Christmas beer, Mad Elf, from Troegs. Some light Maraschino cherry flavor, some slightly more tart cherry flavors, some caramel, brown sugar, cinnamon and other holiday spices. Not much hop flavor.

Medium bodied, slightly creamy mouthfeel, low carbonation, very drinkable.

Not my favorite style of beer, the winter warmer, but this is one of the better ones.

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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 tempest
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Alto Cinco and drank it along side a covered burrito with chicken. This beer was basically a big, smooth amber ale - light caramel and toffee - with spiced with pumpkin pie, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little ginger. Drinkable and festive, but I'm not blown away. The spices and malt are at least very well balanced.

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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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