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

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Reviews: 879 | Ratings: 3,067
Photo of tayner
3.71/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle.

It poured a very gorgeous amber color with a nice large, very sticky, bone colored head that lasted quite some time.

Smelled of brown sugar and spices, mainly i smelled the ginger. very sweet smelling, label says honey.

Taste was a heavy sweet malty beer, with a bit of midpalate spice of ginger and what the label calls cinnamon. not sure i could distinguish the cinnamon, but i could tell there was something there. A lightly drying hop finish, but the beer was overall pretty sweet.

Sticky and medium mouthfeel with just enough carbonation to make it drinkable.

The 7.5% is hidden very well. this is one i could drink a few of on a night and be very happy. I might have to hunt down a sixer every winter :)

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Photo of veritas88
3.71/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 5

A: Poured into a stein, probably inappropriate, I know, but it's all I had. Poured a pretty reddish copper color, not much head.

S: Smells great. I get lots of vanilla, honey, and spices, as well as some bread-y malts.

T: Not nearly as good as the smell. Finishes great, with just a touch of bitterness and lots of spice. I don't taste much of the honey, not nearly as much as I smell it.

M: Pretty average mouthfeel. Not creamy, not too thin, not too carbonated, not flat. Just sorta average.

D: I enjoy drinking this, but it could be dangerous. I don't taste much alcohol, but it's pretty high and it's already warming me up. It would be one I could get carried away with if I didn't watch it.

Overall, a good beer. One of the best smelling beers I've tried yet, just too bad the flavor isn't as good.

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Photo of sommersb
3.71/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 12-18-2012
Freshness: Best by 02-20-2013
Packaging: 12 oz. brown bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Globe glass
Purchased: 6-pack from Greenwood Spirits, Bowling Green KY

Appearance: Two fingers of off-white head sit on the copper-colored, clear beer. Both lacing and head retention are very good.

Smell: Spices in the forefront, such as ginger, plus floral and pine from the hops. Also has aromas of dark fruits like cherry and raspberry. Lastly there's a little of an unpleasant vegetable smell.

Taste: Spices are again of note, with ginger and cinnamon. Fairly malty and sweet, with a balance present from earthy hops.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation seems in the high range on a medium body. Finishes with some earthy hop bitterness and spice flavors. Some alcohol warming is noted.

Overall: All in all a good Christmas ale, although I'd prefer some more malt character. As it is, it seems more like an herbed/spiced beer.

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Photo of TX-Badger
3.71/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a nice dark copper/red color with off-white head. Spice, cinnamon, ginger, and caramel malt on the nose; follows onto the palate. Finishes with more spice. Good winter beer.

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Photo of russpowell
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bumping up the taste score after having a few more bottles, the spice mix started really working for me

Pours a amber with cream color head. Good lacing & average head retention

S: Holiday spice & faint metallic notes

T: Follows the nose, hints of brown sugar, plus a bit of cranberry up front. Hints of gingerbread as this warms, plenty of spice & a touch of herbal & woody spice sneaking through the back door. Finishes with some hop bitterness, but mostly gingerbread & spice, would probably work great as a mulled be type of libation

MF: Medium bodied, fairly firm carbonation

Drinks easy for the style, I am bit saturated with this style of beer right now, fairly typical of the style. Expected more from these guys...

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Photo of MuenchenerKindl
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle to a pint glass. The liquid is gold with suspended yeast and low carbonation. The head is small off white and left little lace.

The Smell sweet holiday spice and caramel

The taste follows, Nice caramel, and spice is ok but maybe a little too much spice in the after taste.

The mouthfeel is good. Medium body and the low carbonation does not pull it down here.

The drinkability is ok, The beer is nice but the lingering spice in the after taste hangs on too long. Prosit. MK

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Photo of fx20736
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bought a single bottle from Beers of the World on 11/22/13. Sell by date is 01/31/14.

Poured from bottle into a pint glass, served at cellar temp.

appearance: medium-dark amber with a rocky shortbread head of sticky foam.Nice lacing.

aroma: Caramel malt, ginger, maybe some honey. Nice.

mouthfeel: just ok.

taste: Brown sugar sweetness, spices like ginger, cloves and coriander and a slight chocolatey finish. Honey makes an appearance at end also.

notes: Like every beer drink from Great Lakes, I detect cocoa at the end. The difference is, it works for this beer just like it works for Eddy Fitz. This beer is better than Sam Adams Winter Lager, however I don't like it well enough to buy again. Still I wouldn't turn it down if it were offered.

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Photo of mendonjoebeer
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12 oz bottles into chalice glasses, for myself and 2 buddies. All liked the looks- nice red/brown/orange color.small head stayed long time

Good christmas type smells- cinnamon,sugar,malts,little ginger

Taste is similar to smell, but here is where the 3 of us differ. I taste too sweet for me to fully enjoy, my buddies disagree and like more than I. Too malty for me?

Has nice rich feel

My buddies each had 2 more through the night. 1 was enough for me as there we too many other great choices available.

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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 Rifugium
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First had: on tap at Pinocchio's, Media, PA

Tasty! Poured clear copper-orange with a nice off-white head. Obvious spice in the nose, and some honey sweetness. Crisp and slightly fruity to the taste, nutty with a strong honey sensation immediately following, and later flavors of nutmeg, ginger, and light cinnamon, when the honey mellows. A slight hop bite riding in with the alcohol. Nicely balanced, medium mouthfeel, and a pleasant drink overall.

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Photo of micromaniac129
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

This beer has a murky orange brown color. More towards th brown side.
The head formed was tall and beige in color with a dense body that was pocked with large bubbles.
A pretty good amount of lacingf was left behind.
The aroma was of sweet malts. Slight roasted malts intermingled nicely with the sweet malts. Hints of bitter chocolate were noted too.
Taste was like the nose wih a sweeter malt taste that had some underlying roastedness.
A little bit of cococa came through too.
There is a fairly large alcohol presence that puckers the tongue and probably takes away from the taste.
Overall I liked it. Good flavor but too much alcohol presence.

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Photo of MaxBrewell
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Clear copper color with ample head and carbonation bubbles releasing; minimal lacing.

S - Cinnamon and sweet malts dominate the nose. Honey and ginger don't come through.

T - Cinnamon present up front and malty sweetness in the finish. Nothing special, but a nice Winter Warmer.

M - A little thin, but nicely carbonated.

D - At 7.5% the ABV is well hidden and it is a nice example of the style. A nice beer to ring in the New Year!

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

Best by date of January 2007, Sampled January 2007
This beer sits a brilliantly clear, dark, amber to burnt copper color when held up to the light, otherwise it sits a dark amber brown color. The beer is initially topped by a three-finger thick, tan colored head that is frothy and leaves some layered lacing on the sides of the glass. The aroma is fruity up front, but then begins to take on a spice cake sort of character that drives a spicy sweetness. The spices are not so dominant that you can easily pick out the specifics; I get hints of cinnamon, ginger, perhaps some nutmeg, all spice, and clove and some spicy cardamom like notes. Underneath this is a fruit character that makes me think of cherries, and raisins.

The taste is lightly sweet up front, with a definitely spicy middle. A ginger-like peppery character rests solidly in the middle of this brew, actually it tends to linger a bit in the finish along with a cinnamon character. This beer is quite light and drinkable, in fact it drinks much easier than even 7.5%. I really like the spice levels in this beer, it is quite noticeable, but not so dominating that it is distracting. Fruity notes provide a nice balance to the spices; notes of cherries, green raisins, sweet Muscat, and even a light orange note reminiscent what one would find in some dessert wines. In the end this is quite drinkable and even enjoyable.

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

Living in the Cleveland area, I'm almost duty-bound to absolutely love this beer. Pretty much every person I know here freaks out around late October when the Great Lakes Brewing Company announces the street date for this perennial favorite.

But I'm a different breed of cat -- different, not one of the crowd. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm a follower like the rest. For crying out loud, Budweiser is one of my favorite go-to beers. This Christmas Ale, like most Christmas ales out there, just puts waaay too much shit in there. Honey? OK, I dig honey in my beer. Cinnamon? Uh...OK, sure. Ginger? What the hell is this? A mai tai?

I guess the faults of this beer really do come down to personal preference. I need to be able to drink at least four beers without feeling like I've already eaten an entire meal.

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Photo of afksports
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I opened Great Lakes' Christmas Ale about half a year past it's "enjoy by" date of 12/25/2010, but to be honest I think with the style not being overly hopped, and the alcohol at 7.5%, I could keep it pretty well. What I found inside the bottle was a drinkable beer that certainly has its strong points, while still falling a little short of one I'd want again.

It poured a copper to red hue with minimal lacing but a lovely deep appearance, in a weird way almost bright. It smells of yeast, ginger honey and spice, with the minimal hop presence due to both style and age. Definitely a winter warmer. The taste follows with the spice, and gives a mid-palate sweetness that's not unwelcome for the style, but also not my thing.

It's very nearly full-bodied, and would certainly be warming in winter months, but ultimately I'm not impressed enough to seek this one out over other local winter warmers, or even over Sam Adams'. Good, but not better than good.

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Photo of kinger
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2006 edition, hit the shelves late October. I missed this one last year, when I finally went looking it was already off the shelves. That being said I grabbed a single as soon as I spotted it, having heard mixed reviews I wanted to try one before I parted with $10 for a sixer. All in all this is a pleasant spicy warmer of a brew, I did expect something a little thicker and more powerful. Aroma is mild and well balanced with honey and clover mixed with a nice touch of ginger, not powerful but very mellow. Color is a dark copper with an amber-red hue, nice big head that dissipates leaving lots of lacing. Light on the palate with a cool dry finish the mouthfeel isn't as heavy as I wanted but it works. Flavor is medium bodied with an initial burst of honey leading way to the subtle spices. Malty and spicy it's definately not overdone as can happen all to easily with this style. Good Drink, plan on taking some home to the family for the holiday.

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Photo of joeblackasnite
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

clear amber color with only a slight off-white collar of foam. Lots of cinnamon and sweet malt aroma up front, slight earthy note fron hops I suspect. Spicy gingersnap kick with sweet caramel malt right behind pulled together by a nice hop bill. finishes clean with lingering honey tones lingering. nice and fresh, alcohol is not overwhelming. Nice beer. Don't know if i woant more than one or two before I moved on to something else.

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Photo of chinchill
3.69/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle served in a goblet.

Body is deep amber-copper with excellent clarity. Head has poor retention.

Smells and tastes like a spicy brown ale. The spice mix says "winter holidays" and, while obvious and too strong for some ales, is not so powerful as to mask the solid caramel and medium roast malts used in this ale. Acceptably sweet.

Medium body with medium-light carbonation.

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Photo of zimm421
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A - Dark copper colored with a thick, foamy, white head that dissolves slowly, with some remaining the entire time. Leaves little lacing.

S - Ginger, with a little bit of honey scents. Not a lot that stands out here

T - A lot of taste, hard to pick out a lot of specific tastes, but there are certainly ginger and honey, following the nose.

M - Thick and creamy with some good carbonation.

D - Not difficult to drink at all, but definitely something that would go better with a meal, rather than on it's own.

A good Holiday beer, but definitely not the best holiday drink I had this year.

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Photo of Reaper16
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

served on-tap @ Black Rock, Chicago, IL, into a pint glass

Pours a very clear amber color. A nice 1.5 finger head the color of buttermilk (it could be whiter than that; the lighting is odd in this bar).

The aroma is not a blast of spices like Anchor's winter warmer. It's mostly an amber malt, breadcrusts type malt-forward smell...that's had a Christmas tree car air freshener dipped into it for a few seconds. Fruitcake spices, cinnamon stick, etc.

Upon first sip I know that this is one of my favorite Christmas ales. Not because it's an incredible beer but because the spices don't come first. This is an amber ale, folks. It's bready and malty with a touch of honey. The spices are just accent marks that make the malt flavors more accentuated.

The mouthfeel is a bit thin for me. I had no idea this was 7.5% ABV because of how loose and wet the mouthfeel is (no alcohol burn either). Overall this is a darn solid winter warmer. It doesn't fatigue the palate, so I could absolutely have a couple of these in a sitting.

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Photo of PaulyB83
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a tulip glass. Best by 04/08/14

A- Pours a reddish brown with nice clarity. Medium slightly off-white head.

S- Much like a pumpkin ale without that pumpkin mellowness. Getting mostly cinnamon and some malty sweetness.

T- Similar to nose majority of cinnamon and light bitterness. Nice sweet malt aftertaste.

M- Surprisingly a bit thin for a 7.5%.

O- This beer is okay, kinda a bit spice beer fatigue with this one coming right after pumpkin beer season. I prefer the way pumpkin helps spiced beers and I can tell it;s missing in a beer like this. Could have used more of a ginger and honey presence.

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Photo of MsRif
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on-tap at Pinocchio's in Media, PA. Poured a clear golden color with a thin white head that retained well. Minimal lacing. Had an aroma of HONEY, cinnamon and sweet malts. The honey is even more prominent in the taste. The spices are certainly there as well, but wow...I have never so clearly tasted honey in a beer before. Certainly smooth and enjoyable.

Medium in body with pretty high carbonation. I finished this one pretty quickly because it was so smooth. I've had better Christmas Ales...but this one is still quite good.

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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 Shrews629
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Very nice clear amber with burnt orange and yellow highlights around the bottom. Slight off white head was thick and full of small bubbles. Great bit of retention and plenty of lacing for me to enjoy.

Smell - Smells of ginger bread cookies and cinnamon. Brown sugar and touches of honey. I even picked up hints of sweet molasses.

Taste - Really picking up the ginger and cinnamon with the first couple of sips. The cinnamon comes on stronger as the beer glides across the tongue to the throat. Hints of alcohol start to pick up as I drink. Only traces of honey in the taste. This beer is really sweet!!!!

Mouthfeel - Medium to medium/thin mouthfeel that was mostly dry. The alcohol bite stands out and gives it not quite as smooth a finish as I like. Very warming however.

Drinkability - This brew is a pretty good "warmer." Definitely captures the Christmas feel. May be a bit too sweet for me to enjoy all night, but would be acceptable in small doses.

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Photo of Dogbrick
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found on draught at the Grid Iron Brewpub. As with most beers this has more character from the tap. Poured a rich dark orange/red with a foamy light beige head. Pleasantly spiced aroma. Flavor of spices (ginger and cinnamon) with some malt made it a nice winter warmer. Slight hops finish. Good to have at this time of year.

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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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