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:
3,063
Avg:
3.91
pDev:
13.04%
 
 
Wants:
154
Gots:
778
For Trade:
10
User Reviews
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Reviews: 879 | Ratings: 3,063
Photo of Chuckdiesel24
4.37/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I'd assume this doesn't get as high marks just because people have gravitated toward big stouts and IPAs. This used to be the most sought after beer in Ohio, when in season, and it's still great to me. It's a dark amber with a decent head. But the taste is unique, and at least at the time was pretty original. Honey really balances out the spice. Always great to drink at Xmas!

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

Slightly coppery amber, clear glossy body with a few speck of bubbles within. Medium sized crown of beige foam lofts up with a good puff of creamyness. Lacing trickles across the glass with some splattered patchy blobs and strings.

Whoa, what a nice medley of warming spices on the nose. Cinnamon most definately is dashed about mixing with a warm honey and caramel drizzled soft biscuity, bready core. Softer ginger, cocoa, pumpkin, spearmint tea, and notes to some barleywine-esque hoppy warmth make for great depth. A very nice nose...softly spiced, warm, and inviting. Like a warm kitchen baking pies and cookies during the Holidays.

Taste is just as nice with a solid malted bready, pie dough, light pastryish center that is warmingly set in caramel brushed with honey. Super softly spiced with cinnamon, pumpkin, apricot, ginger snap cookie dough, and cocoa. The cocoa and cinnamon make a nice little finishing return as it really holds a warm tone the whole way thru.

Beautifully balanced, soft, warm, and a creamy smooth body that is closing in on pretty full. Mainly due to its warming core that doesn't seem 7.5% at all. More like 9 or even 11% seems fitting as it mirrors a wonderful blend of Belgian dark tripel meets Old ale.

Great Lakes makes some super solid brews and this is no different from many other yummy treats from them that normally find a rotational spot in my fridge. As Winter Warmers go, there's a many other breweries out there that should take a lesson from the palate of Great Lakes. Cuz most others make OK to good, but this is outstandingly solid.

Special note: serve fairly warm - 50 to 55 degrees to even room temp. It's well worth the wait.

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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 JackStraw22
4.36/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Yum. This is a beer to drink with some Christmas cookies and presents. The beer pours a crystal clear, amber orange with a beautiful foamy white head. The overriding taste here is gingerbread. This tastes more like a beer flavored gingerbread cookie than the other way around. But it's oh so good, not too sweet, just a little hop kick to balance it out. I'll be sorry when the holidays are over and I can't get these any more, better stock up. Only downside is the aroma, just not much there. But the taste more than makes up for it.

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Photo of ctylinebeer
4.36/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip. Poured down the center with little to no tilt needed

L - Red-amber color with a crystal clear hue. One finger of head

S - Nutty malt similar to an amber ale. Hints of holiday spice coming through

T - Nutty medium dark malt with well rounded holiday spice to the finish. Tastes like Christmas, but not too much Christmas

F - Light in body. Clean and crisp all the way through. Approachable for anyone's palate

O - Very nice Christmas beer. Very different from other seasonals in that it is sessionable and has the right amount of spice. Honey not so prevalent, but a very nice beer

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
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 OompaMentor
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle poured into pint glass. Nice amber color with creamy head; good lacings. Spices and honey greet the nose, hint of fruit. Medium feel that gently coats the palate. Modest bitters from spices on front are balanced with the honey that softens the feel. Very nice winter beer! Please find a way to distribute to Georgia!

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Photo of irishmoss
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great seasonal ale that is winter, that is Christmas. Nice and fresh, just arrived today. It was served a little cold, so I got another one to allow it to come down to temperature.

Nice dark copper copper with a great light tan head that clings to the sides of the glass leaving excellent lacing. It smells of cinnamon and ginger, with hints of all spice. The tastes were similar with roasted barley and a little sweetness. The spiceyness or the higher alcohol content were not overpowering. I really like this one and look forward to it every year.

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Photo of TheHoppiest
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Although I've had this beer dozens of times, I haven't actually taken the time to review it, so I thought I'd do so before Christmas passes too far into the past.

Poured from a 2009 vintage bottle, so we'll see how well it cellared. Pours a copper color with a soapy white head.

Smells sweet, slightly boost, with hints of ginger, honey, spice, and malt.

Malty, sweet, and spicy, this 2009 vintage seems to have mellowed from a typically tasting GL Christmas Ale for an an even smoother than usual experience. Honey, ginger, and floral notes present, with no hint of the wallop of alcohol that can sneak up on you with this brew. Very low bitterness to finish, this beer is going down way too easy!

Medium bodied, and very easy drinking.

A Cleveland favorite, this is easily one of the best Christmas brews around. Highly drinkable, the only concern is the alcohol content will catch up on you if you're not careful. When they say winter warmer, they're not kidding!

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Photo of mobyfann
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Paid $8.99 for a growler at The Party Source in Bellevue, KY...

The beer pours a clear amber colored based with a medium white head, decent head retention and lacing on the glass. The aroma is a balanced mix of aromatic hops, sweet malts, caramel and cinnamon/anise.

The taste is exceptionally smooth, moderate body, slightly chewy and sweet. It is a perfect mix of the aforementioned aroma ingredients and finishes clean. It is crisp and clean in the mouth and at 7.5%abv is a seasonal pleaser, even if Christmas was a month ago.

Final Thought: Freaking awesome on-tap or in growler... just a great example of Great Lakes' versatility as a top national brewer.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
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 Jraiona
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a growler into a Nonic

A- Clear amber with a full frothy head with moderate retention and wonderful lacing

S- The aromas of malt, caramel, and spice are very up front with a subtle bready note

T- The flavor of malt is quite prominent with a honey like sweetness with is nicely rounded out by a spicy bitterness

F- Lively on the tongue with moderate carbonation.

O- Complex and nicely balanced.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy scarlet red in color. Thin creamy, yet bubbly, tan head. This beer smells like Christmas: Cinamon, spice and everything nice. The beer tastes like Christmas joy as well. The cinamon is the main player of the spices, but the orange contributions are notable and enjoyable as well. Nice little biscuity malt backbone and some alcohol notes to give a little umph to this beer. Carbonated nicely. Medium body. One of the more enjoyable spiced winter offerings I have come across. Thank you PhantomVoodoo for the sample.

I have now sampled 6 Great Lakes beverages. I can't comment on their consistency as I don't have consistent access to them, but the quality of the brews I've had is extremely high. One of the best in the US in my opinion. I've doled out 4.5s to the Elliot Ness, Burning River and Dortmuder Gold. I've rated the Edmund Fitzgerald a 4.6, the X-mas ale a 4.4 and the Loctender Lager a 4.25. My new top 3 would include K-ZOO, Stone and Great Lakes.

I'd love to see what they could do with a Barleywine, Imperial Stout or IPA.

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Photo of MilkMan126
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Looks great. Red amber color with a small head that dissipates. Would look great next to your mom's Christians decorations.

Smell is excellent. Ginger cookies with brown sugar and icing. Spices come through aggressively.

I taste ginger and other spices. Cinnamon and vanilla are present. Nice biscuit malt flavor underneath reminds you it's a beer after all. It provides a nice warming sensation. Bitey carbonation adds to the effect. Let it warm a little before drinking to get all the flavors - it gains a nice balance but the spices will still hold up more than anything. Medium to full body.

Complex but not too spicy, which I appreciate. It warms the spirit and reminds me of Christmas comfort. People rave about this winter delicacy in Columbus, Ohio. I can see, smell, and taste why.

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Photo of chilidog
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
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 lstokes
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've never liked a winter warmer before, but this was... awesome? Had on tap at the UChicago pub, red-amber body with a light tan tan head and a light ginger-cider smell. It tastes like a cider-glazed spice cake, but not sweet like that makes it sound--like a beer, finishes bitter and dry with some earthy hops, the sweet and the spice mingle perfectly rather than tasting additive. I loved it--will be seeking out in bottles this winter!

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Photo of CircusBoy
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - A nice ruby reddish tan. Nice white head with good retention.

Smell - Aroma of ginger, spices and pine

Taste - The taste of the beer really brings out the ginger and spices. Really strong flavor that brings something different than other winter beers.

Drinkability - Because of the strong flavor it went down kind of slow. But you will still want another one when you're finished.

Overall - Great Lakes has done it again! One of my favorite breweries has produced another great beer. When I was at the store I overheard the manager telling a customer that they were flying off the shelves, so I grabbed the last 6 pack they had, and I understand why. I only hope they have more for Christmas Eve!!!

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Photo of mmciz
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

I was only planning to review beers from my adopted state of Arizona and maybe other frontier-type spots like Utah and New Mexico, but when a buddy sent me 12 bottles of this old favorite I couldn't resist...

A: Dark copper (light for the style) with a quarter inch of head.

S: Apricot and cinnamon. Surprising freshness considering the style and what time of the year it is now.

T: It's hard to ignore the nostalgia and be objective but I've always found this to be a Cleveland Christmas bottled. Malty but not really sweet, the cinnamon flavor is almost hot on the tongue like Big Red gum. There's some clove in there, too.

M: Pretty thin for a WW but still plenty of body for my taste.

D: Ahhh.

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Photo of aaronh
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This slightly hazy copper colored ale pours with a beige head that fades quickly, but still leaves a faint lace on the glass. The aroma is faint and hard to pinpoint. Malt and a hint of spice is noticable, but not overpowering. The taste is malty with a touch of cinnamon and citrus, with little bitterness on the rather clean finish. A hint of alcohol sweetness lingers on the finish. The beer feels full on the tongue, with a touch of carbonation effervesence. A moderate ABV with the good, basic flavor profile makes this a very drinkable winter ale, as long as you don't need to go anwhere anytime soon. Another solid offering from Great Lakes.

This is even more enjoyable on tap! Better balance, smoother mouthfeel, and just oiverall better flavor (or perhaps it's just this year's edition.) On tap at Sapphire's in WashCo.

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Photo of ne0m00re
4.34/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Live review of "Christmas in a Bottle."
A: Poured a clear reddish amber with a nice cream head that faded to a nice collar, thin film, and a little lacing.
S: Cinnamon and clove, apple and pumpkin pie (which is probably a result of the honey based on the mead character), on top of a malty caramel. The hops (Fuggles, probably?) are a bit earthy and leafy and break through in the end. A nice "warm" welcoming beer.
T: The spices come off a little strong in clove with cinnamon in the back and linger through most of the beer, fading to a dry cinnamon with mead alcohol. Caramelized sugars dominate with leafy earthy hops and the recipe seems like it would be very similar to the Octoberfest if it wasn't for the spice (not a bad thing).
M: Slightly thicker with a frothy carbonation at first that lets go to a mildly sticky dark caramelized stickiness.
D: Pretty good. The residual sweetness is pretty intense after a couple, though.

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Photo of Back_in_the_Saddle
4.34/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

All of the years I had this when I lived in Michigan, its nice to revisit an old favorite sent from a friend.
This was poured into a pint glass.
The appearance was a sly burnt orange color with a one finger white foamy head that quickly dissipated. Barely any lacing formed around the glass but what was there were minor strings here and there.
The smell had a nice blend of honey, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, clove with some sweet grassy hops ending to surround my nose.
The taste was mainly sweet up front with a nice backup of the spice. Lingering honey sweet aftertaste slides into the finish.
The mouthfeel indicates that there is a nice spicy to sweet sort of dry feel having a light to medium body with a good almost semi-slick sort of feel sliding around my tongue. Even with the spices, there isn't much clingy-ness.
Overall, wonderful winter warmer that I would have again if I could get it again. And this one goes well with Christmas spiced cake.

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Photo of Hoptometrist
4.34/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served from the bottle into a nonic glass

A- Poured a very clear lighter amber color with a two finger soapy head

S- Huge aroma of cinnamon, ginger, citrus, and floral notes. This smells like Christmas at home

T- Big on the cinnamon, ginger, citrus and honey notes, great balance among those flavors. Sweet biscuit and cracker like malt flavors. Finishes on a nice bitter note

M- Smooth, pretty high carbonation, effervescent

O- This beer is the holiday season in a glass, a cornucopia of holiday flavors and spices. A beer I look forward to every winter. Very good out of the bottle, even better on tap.

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Photo of ajm5108
4.34/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep amber with moderate head. Cinnamon all over the aroma, along with some cardamom, spicey phenols and amber hops. The cinnamon is definitely the major note on the tongue, and the honey really comes out as well. The malt profile isn't very hefty or bready, just enough to anchor the spice. It segues into a clove spice at the end, less sweet and a little huskier. Finishes very clean. Overall I enjoyed it, but there is definitely a lot of the cinammon. It isn't a subtle beer, and I like a sprinkle of cinammon on plenty of refreshments, but this beer comes tad close to going overboard with it, even if for me it stayed on the good side.

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Photo of MacQ32
4.34/5  rDev +11%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - pours a golden color with a slight tint of amber, head is copper/ginger and 2 fingers tall. Decent retention, ok lacing.

S - Caramel and honey up front, with some cinnamon spice and brown sugar

T - Lots of cream caramel/honey with spiced cinnamon and ginger, maybe a hint of citrusy orange flavors as well. Possibly the best Christmas Ale I've had

M - Medium bodied or less, slightly sticky on the tongue, just the right amount of carbonation, quite drinkable but still has moderate warming characteristics.

O - New favorite Christmas beer!

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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.

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Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
3.91 out of 5 based on 3,063 ratings.
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