Great Lakes Christmas Ale | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

very good
3,071 Ratings
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 Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 3,071 |  Reviews: 880
Photo of micropale
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.08/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I'm surprised at the B+ rating after trying this one. For a Christmas ale, this really rocks compared to most of the beers out there. Poured from a bottle to my snifter.

A: Ruby red/copper color and a nice pinky head that doesn't go down. Great lacing. Very nice festive color and look for this beer!

S: Lots of ginger, juniper, cinnamon spice, and some nice sugary malt to round it out. Nice.

T: Very sweet and spicy ale with large notes of ginger, juniper, real tasting honey, caramel and malt. Very nice christmas ale that fits the seasons spices and vibe nicely.

M: Great Lakes excels in this category. Very creamy and great carbonation, sweet and slick on the palate.

D: Impressive easy to drink holiday brew. Excellent.

 732 characters

Photo of pirmannt1
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of PopnLoads
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of NHhomebrewguy
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of damndirtyape
4.33/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Single bottle served in a tulip. I know the glass recommendation is tumbler/nonic for this beer, but I'm now more sure it's wrong. GLBC has the beer shown in snifter, and after drinking it once in a tumbler I can say that a snifter or Tulip is really the way to go with this beer.

The beer poured a 1/4" thick foam that died down to a nice thin foam across the top. Nice lacing on the sides of the glass as you drank it down - which I didn't notice so much in the tumbler. A nice copper orange color, with plenty of little bubbles moving up through the beer. The foam is a very light tan fine bubble foam, a little bit of a sparkle to it as you hold it up to the light.

Smell - I only got ginger with the tumbler but with this I get a hint of ginger and a nicely strong cinnamon. No hops or malt really in the smell.

Taste - quite nice. A sweet ginger flavor up front, followed by the cinnamon and then a slightly bitter finish followed by nice malty aftertaste. Really a great beer for sipping and savoring slowly.

Mouthfeel - because of the tulip I think its holding onto the carbonation more - so spicy on the tongue but otherwise nothing really special to me.

Drinkability - I could easily have another. I think I will. A nice holiday treat and I'm glad I was able to get a six pack while in Cleveland earlier this month because I cannot find it now in Dayton.

 1,371 characters

Photo of Winston3737
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

Mmm mmm good. Surprisingly on tap in April, this seasonal brew still had plenty of snap and talked back with some serious gusto. The look is great with a dark red amber hue, adequate head retention and some fair lacing. Lots of spice in the nose and taste, though to be honest, the flavors are all quite subtle and understated. The alcohol doesn't show through, perhaps because of the spice overlay, and this is very drinkable, but for the high ABV. GLBC just keeps on keeping on.

 480 characters

Photo of thebouch01
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of HollyHops
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of M1A2
4/5  rDev +2.3%

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.

 430 characters

Photo of hockeyfighter19
4.28/5  rDev +9.5%

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

12 oz. bottle into a 12 oz. Samuel Smith nonic.

Appearance: A mild copper color with good slightly off-white lace and nice retention.

Smell: A good balance of smoke, dark malts, sweetness from the honey and ginger, along with a good punch of spice from the ginger, and back-end cinnamon, with some vanilla, and also a good amount of earthiness, which may contribute to the smokiness I'm getting.

Taste: Thankfully the balance here makes this not overly sweet, which is sometimes a problem, or one that I've known, with beers brewed with honey. The spices are evident, and though maybe a bit too evident, I think that's the point. The ginger adds some spiciness, almost balancing with the hops, the cinnamon a bit of spice also but milder, and the honey is evident there for the sweetness that balances all the spice. But there's still a notion of hop bitterness coming through. Make no mistake: there's evident sweetness, and some folks may not like that. But I wouldn't call it a "sweet" beer. That said, this doesn't masquerade as a Christmas brew that starts with a base and adds a few spices -- this sucker sets out to make a statement for what a Christmas beer can and should be, and for that, Great Lakes needs a pat on the back.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a great balance of creaminess with the carbonation, a lot of bubbles happening without a feeling of over-spritziness.

Drinkability: One of the best domestic Christmas ales out there, quite honestly. Balances being somewhat of a sessional with a ton of Christmas cheer, ineffably, kind of, in a bottle. Another winner from, in my opinion, one of the best.

 1,629 characters

Photo of deadonhisfeet
3.87/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Light amber coppery color with a slight greenish tint. Very lightly carbonated. Nose promises cookies and nutmeg. Nice rich malty flavor. You get nice flavors of gingerbread, honey and cinnamon. I thought this beer would be really sweet, but it's very well-hopped and finds a good balance. Mouthfeel is a bit firm, but not too syrupy.

This beer is very popular around here and flies out of the store when it's available. I'm glad I managed to score some.

 455 characters

Photo of dcbeers
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of leinie13
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of MN_Beerticker
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%

Photo of boszormeny
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of Raime
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Pours a very clear amber with a very thing off white head resting on top. Loads of carbonation bubbles continue to rise from the bottom. Very spotty lacing.

S - Sweet malt, slight cinnamon, slight nutmeg, small amounts of gingerbread.

T - Moderate sweet malt, slight toasted malt, small amounts of cinnamon, a perfect small to moderate amount of hoppyness. Finishes with a small amount of gingerbread. The flavors are perfectly balanced and not a single one overpowers the other.

M - Heavy body with moderate carbonation. Slightly creamy as well.

O - Overall, this was a solid, tasty offering from Great Lakes with a very fitting name. Would go perfectly with a well seasoned, well done steak. I'd have it again.

 720 characters

Photo of Booner818
5/5  rDev +27.9%

Photo of KAP1356
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Could have swore I reviewed this one. Apparently not! On draft at Fathead's at lunch on Friday November 18. Poured into a Nonic glass...

A - Presented a deeper copper color with a 1 finger beige head with slightly good retention. Some slight lace as well.

S - Lots of spices right off the bat. Ginger is taking the stage here with connamon, clove and some slight nutmeg. Some sweet, toasted malts in the background, but the spices really take the stage here.

T - Spices come out even more on the palate with ginger and clove standing out the most to me. Sweet, bready malts back it up as they tie the spices together well.

M - There is a slight burn here and there from the spices. Medium bodied with a soft, but continued carbonation.

O - Really a nice winter warmer. One of the better ones that I have had, but still relies on all the spices without much else to make it really pop.

 890 characters

Photo of erialbill
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of Spider889
4.53/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

This is my review of the beer on tap. Location from my notes was Winking Lizard, though I was able to find this on tap all over the city, despite the bottles being quite difficult to track down.

It was served in a GLBC signature glass. There was an airy 1 1/2 finger tall head. The frothy but light bubbles receded to a ring around the glass. The lace in this particular instance was excellent. There was at first a heavy blanket on the glass that faded into a cheesecloth print as the beer level subsided. Of course, the beer is a brilliant dark amber/ruby color that it quite clear. My initially reaction was to give this a 4.5 for appearance, but this is the best looking winter warmer I can recall.

After each sip you catch the beer receding down the glass and you can almost see the grains of cinnamon and brown sugar slowly melt down the glass.

The smell of rich spices abound. Cinnamon dominates with ginger, nutmeg, and sweet brown sugar notes as well. The only warmer I can recall with a more appealing aroma is the CBC Winter Warmer - which was a delight.

The flavor is packed with palate sensationalizing spices. Slightly sweet from a half ton of honey. Ginger comes forward and raw crystal brown sugar tones. Cinnamon fights to maintain control; all the while mild earthy hops present a moderately bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is dry, sticky, and bitter on the finish. There's an almost grainy pure spiciness as well.

Drinkability is wonderful. Craveable, actually. I am lamenting all year why I did not track down more of it while it was here. One of my favorites from GLBC, and certainly my favorite winter warmer out there.

 1,640 characters

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.

 409 characters

Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
3.91 out of 5 based on 3,071 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.

    Learn More
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.

    Learn More
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Learn More