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 Barnoloid
3.98/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A real winter warmer here, and an annual favorite. Bottle pour - kicks up a nice off white head with clinging lace. Deep copper/orange in color with a slight unfiltered look. The nose is ginger, orange peel and christmas candles. Taste wise, the nose sits true, with a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon and a dollop of honey - maybe a tad more here than previous years, which have had a little more heat. Quite a heavy mouthfeel, which has a thick throat covering sensation which seems to come from the honey. This is a satisfying festive ale with pronounced spices.

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Photo of Tsar_Riga
3.81/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A - Nice brownish orange color, with a light head. Fades fairly quickly. Decent lacing.

S - Sour notes, along with spices and a caramel maltiness.

T - Following the nose, with a sour fruit note suggesting cherries or cranberries, and a sweet malt backbone of caramel and yeasty bread. Spice comes in light, slightly peppery, ginger and cardamom.

M - Easy drinker, perhaps a bit too light for the style.

O - My only problem is the sour elements almost eclipse the spice and sweet malts. Rather than complimenting the bread and spice, it tugs against it, leaving me wishing I could dial down this element.

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Photo of WhiteHillsStore
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an amber color with an off-white head that fizzes away rather quickly. The smell is full of sweet aromas such as vanilla and sugar. The taste was not as sweet as I thought with some of the vanilla and caramel but then balances with some spice that makes it much more drinkable. There was a bit of a creamy aftertaste which was very nice as well.

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Photo of Buzaglod
2.86/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

I've enjoyed the GL xmas ale in this past however this year I was disappointed. It overall felt very heavy, too dark and was not as enjoyable to drink as it has been in previous years

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Photo of mtomlins
3.84/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A nice, pleasing Xmas ale, but a little too much nutmeg/clove for my taste. Otherwise, a very pretty beer with a pleasing nose (holiday appropriate!) and is relatively easy drinking.

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Photo of avalon07
3.59/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a yellowish color and a hazy texture. There was an inch of foamy head that lasted an average amount of time. Sparse lacing.

S: Hints of honey and malt in the aroma along with some spices.

T: Tasted of a heavy malt presence, light spices (cinnamon, especially), and honey. A decent enough flavor, but one that seems slightly thin in spots.

M: A good amount of carbonation with an almost herbal finish. Medium-bodied.

O: A pretty good beer. Easy to drink, but not an overwhelming beer.

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Photo of humuloner22
4.06/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is one of the better offerings from Great Lakes that I have had.

Aroma: This one is odd, it almost has a wine like aroma not much in regard to the spices that you will get from the flavor.

Color: Reddish brown hue.

Taste: More sweet and malt driven nice amount of holiday spices. Cinnamon, clove, cardamom are among the flavors I can detect.

Overall: Solid Christmas beer. Nice amount of Christmas flavor going on here.

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Photo of SitkaSteve
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Wow, I'd never thought I'd ever get to try this. A buddy of mine got this in a trade.
Bottom right corner reads "Please enjoy by 02/20/15."
This was poured into a tulip.
The appearance was a hazy bronzed brown color with a light carbonation seen rising to fill a one finger white foamy head that dissipated fairly quickly. Light stringy lacing stuck finely to the sides of the glass.
The smell, hot damn, wow. Well, it had a nice sweet cherry to light spruce and combined with a super nice sweet honey.
The taste takes those previously mentioned flavors to combine and make lip smacking sticky tasting. I like it. A nice sweet honey aftertaste leads to a sweet wet finish.
The mouthfeel was about a light to medium on the body with a fairly decent sessionable aspect to it. The carbonation seemed fairly appropriate for the style and for me, slightly smooth and honey sticky.
Overall, hot damn, wow and holy crap! This is probably one of my favorite winter warmers I've ever had. I wish I could get this on a regular basis.

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Photo of Roguer
3.76/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Clear dark amber brew, topped with a light, cream-colored head. Poor retention and almost no lacing. Almost completely transparent.

Spices (especially cinnamon) dominate the aroma, with sweet notes of honey and brown sugar behind. A bit of vanilla. In a blind smell test, it would be easy to convince people this is a pumpkin ale.

Flavor is more complete and nuanced than the aroma, but cinnamon still dominates from start to finish. Lots of caramel malt and brown sugar lend a body to complement the spice. I don't get the ginger, and I really only detected honey in the aroma, although it could easily be blending in with the sweet malt body.

Very easy to drink. Nice and smooth, with a warm finish. Dry, spicy finish of cinnamon and nutmeg, yet cloying and sticky. Very lively with moderate sting.

This is pretty tasty, although I generally don't run out to buy spiced beers. It's easy to drink, sweet, and pretty interesting.

A brew like this highlights the fact that during the Fall, people don't like pumpkin; they like pumpkin spice. This beer has almost the exact same flavor profile as most pumpkin beers, albeit with a much smoother and sweeter malt base (and obviously, no pumpkin).

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Photo of Brutaltruth
3.94/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This fine winter warmer enjoyed from a growler poured in a Delirium snifter pours a bright reddish amber with a thick slowly dissipating white head that leaves GREAT lacing. Nose of cinnamon, nutmeg, light clove, rich caramel malts, dark cherries, and some light astringent alcohol. Flavors are caramel malts to the front, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg to the sides and back with a light vanilla flavor and cherry taste to the back. Nutmeg and cinnamon resides on the aftertaste heavier this year than in the past, but still a very nice Christmas ale for the holidays. Good carbonation. The ale finishes wet and coating with a light bittering from nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon.


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Photo of KTCamm
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12/9...pours bright copper red, little foam that settles out. Hearty mulled spice nose, ginger bread, cherries, toffee. Taste is a sweet malt, fruity, juicy, clove bitter, flat soda close. Honey sweetness more than anything. One and done.

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Photo of cjgiant
3.79/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Review 12/16 on tap:
Amazingly clear, pretty metallic-rust-tinged copper. Nice rim head with sparse lacing.

Nose is of the holidays, a tree with the potpourri of holiday baking scents.

Taste is more bitter than I expect. Seems quite well crafted with the ginger and cinnamon playing a decent role. The bitterness is piney, and just a tad much for my palate for this style.

Refereshingly medium light, catbonation helping. Bit more dry than I'd like.

Just doesn't work for me. Appreciate the quality, but I can do without it.

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Photo of HopBomb515
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear Amber with reddish hues and a small khaki head that faded to nothing and didn't leave any lacing. I didn't see it mentioned but mine had some noticeable sediment floating. Aromas of honey, caramel, cherry, nutmeg and cinnamon. Taste hits up front with caramel and light cherry flavor, nutmeg and cinnamon spices hit mid palate and it finishes with an earthy hop bite woven with some honey, cherry and spice notes. Thin end of medium body, sharp carbonation. Bit of spice laden finish that lingers and tastes, off. Overall one of the better Christmas ales I've had, it could use a touch less spice and a clean up on the finish.

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Photo of DarthVorador
2.86/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Not a fan of this one at all! It smells & tastes like something from Sam Adams, but worse. Great Lakes is one of my favorite breweries, but I think they dropped the ball on this one!

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

Did a Holiday beer tasting with the wife. You can smell the spices on this one. Doesn't really smell like a winter warmer to me. The taste is sweet and chewy. A little too sweet for my taste. My wife loves it though. Almost buttery sweetness if that makes sense.

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Photo of fscottkey
3.51/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: [4.00] Amber to red color. Has a 1/4 finger white cap (even with a hard pour). The bottle lists the ABV (7.5%) and the best by date 1/25/15.

S: [3.00] I get spices and some Belgian yeast smells.

T: [3.50] I still feel like there is a Belgian yeast taste up front. After that it opens up into a sweet middle. The finish has some mild spices. The overall taste is pleasant - no hint of hop bittering.

M: [4.00] I like the mouth feel. It is really rich and robust with no sense of over carbonation.

O: [3.75] This is a nice beer. It tastes more like a spiced lager to me. The taste is sweet and nice. Very rich malty backbone. There is a low hop level (none detectable). I would drink another - but if I am buying I would get something different.

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Photo of BeerHistoryGuy
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%

I don't have the ability to pour it as I am on the road, so I can only comment on the taste.

This is one of my favorite winter/Christmas beers. There is a nice hint of spices, cinnamon and ginger come through, along with a nice honey taste. It's not nearly as sweet as some holiday beers, but it balances well with the overall taste of the Ale -- along with the aforementioned spices -- that truly make this a balanced beer.

I love this beer. It is a Christmas treat, like a not-too-sweet spiced cake, that's perfect for kicking back, watching some TV, and just relaxing.

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Photo of HattedClassic
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

The beer pours a white foamy head that dissipates very quickly. The beer itself is a very clear copper with a slightly reddish tinge. The beer color also has a bit of honey gold mixed with the red.

The beer smell is very sweet with strong honey notes. The honey note dominate the smell with a little bit of cinnamon and ginger coming out to give it something extra. The overall smell is a very sweet beer with spices. the spices do not seem to be very prominent.

The beer taste is exceptionally indulgent. The beer has very strong honey notes such that it dominates the palate. The taste notes has a few other notes such as a cinnamon note and very, very light ginger note that is almost unnoticeable.

The mouthfeel is pretty heavy bodied and thick for a winter warmer. The carbonation is minimal but feels appropriate.

Overall, the beer feels like a lower ABV version of Mad Elf, which isn't necessarily bad. The sweetness definitely makes me think of Christmas and the honey is pretty good. However, I can't really see drinking more than one of these a day. Despite this, I think that this is still a pretty good beer worth getting. I can certainly see what Great Lakes was going for (a beer reminiscent of red Christmas ornaments) and they definitely succeeded. I would definitely recommend getting a six-pack of this. I wouldn't recommend finishing it in one session.

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Photo of 57md
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Copper color. Bready and malty nose. The seasonal spices merge well with the malt base. The finish has a touch of sweet honey and the potent essence of cinnamon.

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Photo of ChicagoGuy
4/5  rDev +2.3%

At fridge temps, it's refreshing with a nice bitterness and very subtle spice vibe in the background. As it warms up a little, it really opens up - the bitterness all but disappears, and a nice gingerbread spice flavor takes center stage. It's a tasty, interesting sipper.

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Photo of Treyliff
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Enjoy by 3/1/15, 12oz bottle poured into a pint glass

A- pours a bright and clear amber color with a small creamy white head that retains long after the pour, remaining creamy on top and leaving behind some short lasting lace

S- lots of ginger aroma up front, quickly followed by graham cracker and pie crust. Hints of cinnamon kick in with toasted bread, dried fruit and a sweet honey aroma to close it out

T- spicing of ginger and cinnamon kick in up front, notes of berry fruit, medicinal & herbal notes and piney hops. Caramel/toffee malty sweetness with toasted notes of bread crust and graham cracker. Honey sweetness as it nears the finish with more fresh ginger on the linger

M- medium body and carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel and a chewy, slightly warming finish

O- a top 3 winter warmer that is packed with flavor, while remaining remarkable drinkable

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Photo of Stevedore
3.99/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, drink by 2/5/2015. Poured into a snifter 12/2/2014.

A- Clear, dark caramel-brown body, one finger white head with low retention time. Eventually becomes a thick collar with a thin film forming on top. Not much lacing. [3.75]

S- Christmas spices, as advertised. Cloves. Ginger. Toffee, caramel sweetness rounds it out. Yeasty minerals. Clean aroma. [4]

F- Cloves, ginger, yeast, herbs, a bit of sage. Balanced out by a nice toffee backbone that provides a nice sweetness to the beer. Finish is herbal and mineral in character. Not particularly bitter. Nice balance of malt and spices, here. [4]

M- Medium bodied, on the thinner side which is just about right. A nice drinking beer, especially for a cooler night. Definitely will keep ya warm. No heat, but very easy to drink. [4]

O- Tasty winter warmer that doesn't overdo the spices. It does everything it needs to do and then some without overdoing it. I expect that of just about every GLBC beer I open, and they have never disappointed. [4]

Final score: 3.99

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Photo of MANix73
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%

I did a side-by-side this weekend with Thirst Dog's 12 Dogs of Christmas. GLBC was lighter in color, lighter on spices & hoppier. If you prefer hoppier, this is the Christmas Ale for you. I prefer the spice & therefore the 12 Dogs. Both are great holiday ales!

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Photo of Ozzylizard
3.31/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Bottle dated 3/1/15 at 45 degrees into shaker
Aroma subdued, no hint of ginger, slightly sweet odor, probably vestiges of the honey
Head average (3 cm, aggressive pour), off white, frothy with large bubbles, rapidly diminishing to 2 mm ring and partial layer
Lacing – virtually none
Body medium orange, clear
Flavor begins sweet but not cloying, muddled spices with none standing out or even identifiable; no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl
Palate medium, syrupy, soft carbonation

Appearance 3.5, Aroma 3, Flavor 3.5, Palate 3.25, Overall 3.25

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Photo of nicholas2121
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great Lakes Christmas Ale brewed by Great Lakes Brewing Co., with an ABV 7.50% This brew pours out a light brown color with a nice white head. This is a filtered brew you can see right though it. The smell is rich with spices and grains. You also pick on some sweetness in the smell. The taste is bold with flavor, you pick up on the sweetness in this brew. You also pick up on the spies in this brew. The mouthfeel is nice, bold and clean. This brew has a nice balance to it for having an ABV of 7.50%, you can not tell the high ABV. There is nothing overpowering in this brew. Great Lakes Brewing Co, did a nice job with this one. I would buy this brew again. Thank You Great Lakes Brewing Co.

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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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