Christmas Ale | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

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Christmas AleChristmas Ale
BA SCORE
3.95/5
Very Good
3,178 Ratings
Christmas AleChristmas 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:
Do not open ‘til Christmas? Whoever coined that phrase obviously hasn’t tasted Christmas Ale’s fresh honey, cinnamon, and ginger flavors.

A Yuletide’s worth of holiday spices and sweet honey to keep you a-wassailing all season long.

World Beer Championships 6-Time Medal Winner Since 1999 (Gold, Silver)

Added by OldFrothingSlosh on 11-16-2002

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#10,440
Reviews:
904
Ratings:
3,178
pDev:
12.91%
 
 
Wants:
163
Gots:
834
Trade:
10
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,178 |  Reviews: 904
Photo of ProudBeerSnob
3.93/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a chalice. Thick tan-ish head topping a beautiful copper color. Aroma hints of what's to come- fruity and spicy. Very good mouthfeel, not too overewhelmig, due to good balance.
Winter warmers are not my personal fave, but this is a decent, much better than the last one I had- Harpoon's.

I would probably pick up another one next year when I'm in Cleveland (in-laws) especially seeing as how I hear that they run out of this one.

Cheers!

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Photo of merlin48
4.13/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Served into a tulip glass, this pours a clear amber body with active carbonation very noticeable. Enormous, beige tinted head is pillowy and drapes the glass with chains of lace.
Aroma is heavy with sharp spices, lots of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Caramel malt is underneath, with a pronounced note of honey.
The mouthfeel is incredible. The high carbonation seems to detonate the spice array into a unique sensation of exploding tingliness. Medium body.
Taste begins dry and spicy, with some hops bitterness. Alcohol warming is quickly noticed. The malt character emerges in the middle, as room temperature is approached, and adds an ideal balance to the hop and spice bitterness. Finish is well balanced and pleasant.
Nicely complex, challenging at times, and enjoyable from start to finish. A very nice winter warmer, with an incredibly silky and playful mouthfeel. Thanks to orbitalr0x for this Great Lakes brew.

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Photo of trumick
4.37/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a light amber color with a thin head that leaves nice lacing all around.

Scent is of sweet, biscuity malts, and spices like nutmeg and ginger.

The taste really stands out in this one. There's lightly sweet malts with some fruity notes, light hop flavor, spiciness is not overwhelming at all. The cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger are all well balanced within the sweetness of the malt, and the ever so slightly bitter hops. The finish is lightly sweet, dry and spicy. The abv. is nicely hidden in the mix of malty spiceness. The taste is exceptional.

Mouthfeel is smooth, light to medium bodied with the perfect amount of light carbination for this beer.

Drinkability is good. This is a beer that tastes soo good the abv is dangerous. I could easily put several away without realizing that fact until it's cab callin time.

Nice, nice beer from GLB. I will buy it again before they are gone till next year.

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

This beer poured a clear amber/honey color with a fluffy off white head. The smell was fantastic. Sweet malts and spice. Reminds of the spice blend for pumpkin pies. The taste is a little on the sweet side. The spice flavor is not too involved and is balanced with enough hops to round it all out into an good tasting drinkable brew. The mouthfeel was pretty good. Enough carbonation, slightly thick and syrupy but not too bad. Well worth a try.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.35/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A lovely clear amber red color with a nice fluffy white head. Small bubbles run up the side of the glass. Quite a interesting nose...citrusy hop tones collide with cinammon and sweet honey. Nice and complex.

First sip is an incredible mix of spiceness, I pick out cinammon, a nice ginger bite along with cirtusy hop notes and a sweet caramel malt background. Almost a subtle cherry / floral taste comes through as well. A very tasty winter brew if I do say so myself....extremely unique.

Mouthfeel is nearly perfect, smooth and creamy with good body. Easy to drink and nice on a cold night. This is a great holiday brew and I recommend to anyone looking for something different!

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Photo of ken3c
4.37/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Crystal clear honey color. Thin head resolves to a ring of foam and laces a little.

Aroma has a malt sense with various spices. I think I can smell anise, nutmeg, and maybe spruce. Maybe a hint of clove. This smells wonderfull.

Very sweet and somewhat balances by a piney bitterness. The spices add interest. The aftertaste is still sweet. There is a sense of diacetyl but it blends well. Very little sense of alcohol.

Smooth and lightly carbonated. Medium to full bodied.

Very drinkable. Dangerous.

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

Presentation: For freshest taste, please enjoy by 1/08/05 clearly printed on the bottle. Nicely done.

Appearance: Pours clear brick red with a tan to ivory sticky white head.

Smell: Ginger, cloves, honey, and carmel sweetness come billowing out of the glass. The spices dominate but there is a sweet background to it. Overall, very inviting.

Taste: Predominate flavors of ginger and cloves throughout the sip. Some hop bitterness creeps up on subsequent sips. A nice honey presence arises as the beer warms up.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied leaning towards thicker. Definite complex body to it with the carbonation providing a crunchy mouthfeel to it.

Drinkability: Not too over the top for me. I could make this one a session pretty easily. The spices are present but not dominate.

Another winner from GLBC.

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Photo of benmiliron
3.02/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Paid $6.99 for a six pack. (2 of which I left at Ellbert's house, providing the review below this one.)

Looks nice and amber-red-orange. Nearly killians in color, but slightly more orange. Smell is mostly ginger and floral, nearly potpourri, but not enough that it's bad. I quite liked the smell. The taste however is clearly over the top ginger, GINGER! The brew could've used half as much and been much better. There are lingering tastes behind the hops but you have to search for them.

There are definitely better xmas brews out there.

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Photo of Ellbert
4.46/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Red/amber color with a small white head. There was some lace on the glass but nothing too great.

Smell: Malty but spicy. Sweet but tangy. Spices like cinnamon come through in the aroma very nice.

Taste: Very malty with a good mix of spices. You can taste cinnamon sugar in here. Hops have a nice after taste in this brew.

Mouthfeel: Nice and rich, perfect for a winter warmer.

A great winter warmer brew. I will be drinking a lot of this brew during the winter.

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Photo of Viggo
4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a standard bottle, its a nice light reddish colour with generous whitish head. It smells of malt and spice. The taste is richly malty as well, with some spicy notes. The mouthfeel is nice and smooth, just slides down your throat. I give this beer a high drinkability score, easily a beer you could sit down with when its cold and play poker. Excellent beer, very recommended.

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Photo of andyo
3.9/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had this eber on tap at "Bob's Bar" in Clintonville last night with my good buddy Shane.

This beer was very interesting to me. It poured a rich amber/brown color, and gave off a heavy, sweet smell. There was virtually no head on this beer at all.

My initial taste pretty much hit me hard. This is definately not a weak beer in taste! The malts are very pronounced, combined with cinnaman, honey and clove. The flavors are very sharp...if that makes since, and finishes with a bite. I really didn't care for the first sip, but this beer seemed to get better and better. Mouthfeel was thick and sticky.

A really nice, obscure christmas ale, and at $3 a pint at Bob's, I'll be enjoying this one again.

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Photo of DrunkenPanther
4.06/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer actually poured a lot lighter in color than I thought. It wasnt as attractive as Id have hoped. I was a bit nervous that the flavor would follow suit. Luckily it didnt.
The smell was very warm and inviting. The cinimmon was very present. It also was very full of a malt scent. Very nice.
The tastes bursts at first with cinimmon. Much like the aroma, it is follwed by another burst of malt. A light malt though and not something heavy that just sits.
Some x-mas beers are hard to get through. This one was surprisingly easy to get through, so I had a second. I didnt grow tired of the spices. It was very nice to drink.
I had this at the Brewery's Pub from a small batch made for July, I was told that they may tweak it a bit for this x-mas (Color was one thing they mentioned).

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

Thanks go to beergeek279 and cupbeerman for bringing a growler of this to Michigan for Trbeer and I to enjoy.

Pours out to a clear, dark caramel, forming a small head with OK retention and lacing (which is pretty typical for a growlerized brew). Carbonation is mild to moderate. Aroma has dominant notes of ginger and nutmeg...tim says cardamom and I can also appreciate that. Taste is an echo of aroma, with a moderate malt sweetness, some amber malt husk, and mild caramel and tobacco lingering in the wake of some herbal and spice bitterness. Mouthfeel is smooth with a medium body.

Like the bottled version, this is nice in that it's not too overwhelming. The spices play second fiddle to the beer itself while accentuating the malts and hops. A good representative of the style.

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Photo of budgood1
4.55/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours out a very hazy copper colour. off white head and nice lace. aroma of piney and spucey hops, caramel maltiness and bits of chocolate candy. upon tasting... very nice sweet toffee, caramel, cocoa and maltiness...subtle spicy notes of cinnamon and maybe nutmeg...anise, molasses and black licorice, too. the alcohol comes across as peppery and there is piney hop bite to top it all off. the more sips i have of this the more impressed at the balance and delicate interplay the flavours have. the mouthfeel is full and smooth. full sticky sweet body. this is one amazing holiday offering. awesome!

brewed with cinnamon, ginger and honey.

cheers to zap and bighuge for getting this sensational seasonal into my hands!

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Photo of CortexBomb
4.12/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a nice deep coppery colour with a frothy head to go along with. Smell is very spice dominated, hints of cinnamon and ginger with an overall sweet tinge, appetizing!

Taste has a nice wave of fruityness and malts up front, and then gives way to a strong spicy back end. A touch of hops is also lurking, along with the bitterness, but they just add character without overwhelming. Quality all the way here.

Mouthfeel definitely has some body, while the drinkability is quite good, a nice winter seasonal by Great Lakes.

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Photo of truthbrew
4.18/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased in Dayton, Ohio in November, enjoyed today. Hint of spices originally, but when poured they were explosive. Good name, the smell did remind me of Christmas-time. I was most stuned by the crystal clear copper color, quite magnificant. Beer was extremely balanced. My wife thought it to be a bit too "complex" for her liking. Overall a great beer, which I will get again.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.72/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance - creates a large 3 finger creamy tan head on the pour, very dense on top. Golden orange color with some visible carbonation. A good looking beer.

Aroma - first impression of fruit and cinnamon, very spicy and sweet. Mmmmm....

Taste - nice malty base, but the cinnamon and spice flavors hit the taste buds full force. Some alcohol notes are present, though short-lived. A pretty solid hop presence follows, with just a barely detectable trace of ginger. Smooth aftertaste, a pleasing blend of hops and spices.

Mouthfeel - Solid body, coating the mouth with a bit of a drapy feel, but not overly done.

Drinkability - As it warms, the alcohol presence comes out more, but it can be difficult to have any left by the time it gets to room temperature! A wonderful beer for relaxing with in the evening.

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Photo of Winter
4.1/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear copper in color with a creamy light tan head. Spicy nose consists of ginger, honey, spices and malt. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied with a touch of crispness to it. Spices are detected in the flavor also. Cinnamon, ginger and honey all combine for a sweet malty front. At times I wish the honey was reduced a bit because it tends to add a bit of an off flavor. Hopping seems minimal. Alcohol can be detected in the finish. This is a very good Christmas spiced ale. Comparable in flavor to Lakefront's Holiday Spice, which is one of my favorites.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.35/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Standard 12 ounce brown glass bottle. Dark label that has a black background with white lettering. The picture on the main label is that of a green colored model railway car full of Copper colored Christmas Tree Baubles. The brewery blurb goes on to explain that “Its copper color and flavorful taste is derived from cinnamon, ginger and honey”. Recommended Serving Temperature of 45°F, as well as an advertised strength of 7.5%. Enjoy By Date is Dec. 23 03.

Appearance: Amber copper body with some dark tangerine hints. A thin but very uniform dirty-white head forms easily and with the aid of the odd gentle swirl it remains throughout the drink. Some lacing, but it nearly always sinks and slides back down into the Glass out of harms way. Carbonation appears to be average but well attenuated.

Nose: The nose is well rounded and very fruity indeed. Reminds me of cinnamon toffee, mixed with a hint of ginger. Powdery feel in the nasal passage at times.

Taste: Smooth introduction to the beer, aided by the conditioning. Malts with an immediate cinnamon punch. Some spicy ginger comes through in the finish, whilst the middle obviously benefits immensely from the sweet honey. Spicy with a light citric tingle on the tongue in the finish. Very Nice!

Mouthfeel: The finely attenuated carbonation creates a talcum smooth feel, which is a great background for the finely balanced cinnamon and ginger, whilst the honey lends a rich silky feel to malts

Drinkability: I wish I had another one to finish the night with. The 7.5% is nowhere to be seen at all, but the rich full-bodied flavorsome quality of this Christmas Ale is quite literally all over this beer, front to back, top to bottom.

Overall: This would be a very fitting beer to sit down with after a filling Christmas Dinner. Tasty solid brew that has just the right amount of cinnamon and ginger to balance a honey infused malty body.

Four Brews from Great Lakes, all received 4+ marks. Accomplished.

A belated Merry Xmas to BigHuge for the Great Lakes brews. Cheers!

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Photo of alexgash
4.27/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was lucky enough to find some of this over at Chicone's in Hudson, while I was home for the xolidays. Pours an orange-amber with an off-white head. Smells of sweet fruitcake malts, lots of spices (cinnamon, ginger, honey, orange?). Very interesting. Taste is rum/fruit cake sweetened malts, followed by the spice rack mentioned above. I'm not always crazy about overly spiced ales, but this one works very well. Finish is slightly bitter with lingering cinnamon and vanilla. Merry Christmas Great Lakes!
"and the people of Cleveland who've suffered for so many years..."
- Dave Berman (off of Silver Jew's The Natural Bridge)

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Photo of babyhobbes
3.61/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This poured with very little head but some lacing. It is a pleasing amber color. I smell some spice, notably cinnamon and ginger. The spiciness is not very strong in taste or smell. The taste is somewhat hoppy and bitter with a decent dose of ginger. This is a smooth beer in the mouth with a nice carbonation level.

I like this Christmas Ale but I wouldn't want to down several in one sitting.

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Photo of JackTheRipper
4.42/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ok, I reviewed this on tap, now I've got a few bottles and am drinking one as I write this.

Appearance: Nice color, deep coppery. Head was smallish, but there's a little bit of lacing.

Smell: Cinnamon, honey, a very faint musty smell in the nose.

Taste: The tap stuff was fives across the board, this is good, but not that good. There's a more distinct hoppiness in this version. The spiceyness isn't as pronounced. Still a great tasting beer, a bit more balanced than the tap stuff.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is just a touch too high, still a wonderfully full bodied feel to this. Warms very nicely, the alcohol is well masked in the taste, but once swallowed, seems to shine a bit brighter.

Drinkability: Very High. While I miss the absolute joy that was the tap version, this is an exceptional beer, IMHO. I bought a sixer of these and have not one regret when I think about the other five waiting for me. Highly recommended if you can find it.

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Photo of chilidog
4.35/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I finally got ahold of a couple of these for some of the GLBC limited offerings I have to search for out of town. Anyway, I'll gladly make thisone a yuletide tradition. It pours a burgundy, if not a dark cranberry color with a smaller than expected off-white head. The heads fades to a thin film although the carbonation is mild (no fizz) on this full bodied beer. Lace dose manage to dress the glass nicely. The aroma is spice and ginger. The taste is also packed with ginger, spice, cinnamon, caramel malt while backed by a slight alcohol hop. The 7.5abv. dose a nice winter warming job while not overpowering the mouth. A great beer with all or most holiday eat treats.

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Photo of xgrigorix
4.08/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Twelve ounce brown bottle. Best by date printed on label.

Glowing copper coloured, clear, with intense carbonation. Topped by a firm off white head that retains very well.

Fairly clean nose. Hints of cinnamon, ginger, & a touch of hops.

A rush of sweetness, followed by subtle spicing of ginger & cinnamon. A hint of hops dries it out just enough to keep it from becoming cloying. Didn't really pick up on the honey, but its still quite tasty. Brisk carbonation, medium/full bodied, & somewhat creamy. A nicely done beer just for the holidays.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.55/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear, burnished copper-brown topped by a large beige head that displays impressive persistance and leaves a small to moderate amount of lace in sheets when it eventually departs.

The nose is sweet and spicy and the flavor is malty sweet, accented nicely by honey and by abundant caramel/toffee notes. There's some spiciness (especially cinnamon), but it's not overdone.

The finish contains a moderate amount of bitterness and a trace of alcohol. The mouthfeel is exemplary; full and rich, very creamy. Mouthfilling with some mouthcoating as well. Drinkability is high.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale is my first beer from the best brewery in my home state of Ohio and my former residence (3 years) of Cleveland. I'm very impressed. I expected a good, solid Christmas beer and those expectations were met and exceeded by a long shot. I only got a single this year, but you can bet that I'll be getting more of this fine seasonal during my future trips home for the holidays. I would have no trouble at all drinking Christmas Ale year-round.

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Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 3.95 out of 5 with 3,178 ratings