Great Lakes Christmas Ale | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

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Great Lakes Christmas AleGreat Lakes Christmas Ale

Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Ohio, United States | website

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: 850 | Ratings: 2,969
Photo of BEERchitect
3.61/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A medium to full bodied amber ale-like beer with lots of flavors added. Malty without feeling heavy or cloying. A well-woven cherry flavor and aroma melds into the malts. Lightly hopped for balance but little for flavor or aroma, just enough for an extra layer of flavors. Spicy with nutmeg, cinemon, and ginger; without the granular texture that is usually present in bottle conditioned beers. Very smooth and slick to the mouth. Warmingly alcoholic toward the end. Alcohols and cherry flavor resembles cough drops or Vicks 44, but lightly noticed. Lots of peach flavors follow through in the aftertaste. A real good offering by Great Lakes.

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Photo of PHBoiler
3.61/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pure ruby red color, which is festive and beautiful. I get some spices on the nose. Not a big aroma at all. I get some orange, cinnamon spice, and a bit of pie spice in the body. It's really a bit flat for me. Mouthfeel is normal for this style. Overall, I don't think I'd go for this beer even during the holidays. It feel short in the base beer for me, so the minimal spices just didn't elevate it enough.

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Photo of Act25
3.61/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Christmas Ale - Freshness date of today.
A: Nothing special in the mahogany, amber body, not much head retention or lace. Average.

S: Nothing in the smell surprises. A sweet, malty caramel body with some dark, faint fruit.

T: Follows the smell, but more densely flavor packed. More malt over hops, and none of the spice or honey is heavy handed. A bit of cherry and peach on the mid- to finish. Better as it warms, but frankly, a little too cherry-cola, Dr Pepper, OHIO to my decidedly coastal palate.

Good balance. I'd rather a winter ale sticks its neck out further.

MF: well crafted like everything this brewer does, and you can feel it in the body and the finish.

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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 akorsak
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a trade with DuqTroops.

A: The ale is a deep amber, almost brown color with a white wisp of head that has not retained or laced.

S: The aroma is spicy with honey sweetness and nutmeg.

T: The ale has a great deal of strong spices. First is the ginger, providing a slightly sweet but very drying flavor. The ginger is quickly followed by cinnamon, honey and nutmeg. The final flavor to pop up is a strong cardamon.

M: The spices are plentiful and strong, creating the best winter warmer I've had this season.

D: The spices are strong, good for a cold winter night (not the 50 degree nights we've been having thus far in December). I may even mull a bottle and see if the heat brings out more spices.

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Photo of hustlesworth
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- clear copper/iced tea colored brew with 1in of spongy pancake batter beige-gray head. settles to a very thin ring.

S- cinnamon, ginger burns the nose slightly. smells like french toast with a hint of vanilla, maybe from the honey. dig past the spice and theres some caramel malt and a woodsy hop aroma.

T- a complex ale due to the added spices. cinnamon dominates, alcohol, ginger snap cookie, burnt pancake, slight mocha-coffee in the malt, aromatic wood, thanksgiving desserts. at the end, astringent bitter hops mingle with the spicy sweetness but fade quickly.

MF- slightly syrupy, coating, mid to low carbonation, honey and spices feel cloying, but would probably go great with a similar flavored dessert like pumpkin pie or apple fritter.

D- a nice treat for the holidays, but i prefer to stick to the basics. a find all the various spices unnecessary and i get tired of them quickly. after i finish one of these, i want something thats just :water>grain>yeast>hops:

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Photo of SaltofOH
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Bottle BB 3/5/16. 10 oz DFH Tulip.

Appearance: pours a burnished red with golden glints. Fairly high carbonation. Just under 1 finger khaki head turns to a couple of islands of thin skim. Had good lacing last time I had it on draft, but nada from this bottle.

Smell: strong ale ester aromatics, clover honey, and ginger. Very sweet and ale-y.

Taste: less sweet arrival than you might expect. Bitterness strikes right away, of a woody, spicy character. Full, malty mid palate reminds me of GL Oktoberfest. As it finishes, the bitterness is mild, with lots of lingering spice and a bit of alcohol. This is the first time I have ever tasted alcohol on this beer; though I was serving it quite a bit warmer than I usually have it. The spices and hop charade are not playing nice together at the end, leaving a slightly unpleasant medicinal note.

Mouthfeel: solidly mid weight with less carbonation than the appearance suggests. Slick on the finish.

Overall: I have had this beer many times, and several times this season. This is the first time I have ever felt the spice aspect overpowering, and the first time I have tasted alcohol. This beer is a perennial classic; in many ways it's a 7.5% abv amber with spices, but the term "amber ale"
is so reviled, no one would dare call it that. An awesome beer, but this bottle didn't live up.

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Photo of MagyarPuska
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: got this beer on tap and it came with a small cap of foam that didn't stick around very long. Lacing was weak but stayed at the top around the edges.

Smell: Ginger and spices. Malty as well.

Taste: Tastes like it smells with a malty aftertaste. A slight alcohol tingle to accompany the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Pretty heavy. Light carbonation.

Drinkability: Due to the heavy weight of the beer and very strong spice flavoring I wouldnt be able to put up with more than one of these. A tall pint was a little overpowering.

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Photo of utopiajane
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This pours a burn orange or brick orange and has golden hues. A stream of bubbles make their way to the center of the glass to meet a creamy head of tinged off white foam. Good retention and great lacing on this one. There is a hefty amount of yeast or sediment floating around in this one and to call it hazed would be to undermine the substantial particles that are floating in this glass.

The nose is rich with malt. Caramel, bread, nuts, and a fain dusting of cocoa powder. There is a fresh light citrus and the scent of raw honey. There is a faint cinnamon and nutmeg and if you really dive deep the very faint scent of fresh ginger.

Taste is rich and malty. Thick, chewy and nutty. The citrus keeps it moving and the chocolate is as mellow as the spices. The honey adds a bit of sticky quality to the mouthfeel but the beer does not get terribly sweet. It finishes not quite dry and with a mellow and subdued aftertaste .

This one had a full malt mouthfeel. A grainy texture of caramel and nuts. The honey and the fruit could have been more powerful but they laid out restrained and somewhat flat. The spices were too faint in the drink to make a difference in the taste. It drank a bit heavy and slow. It needed something to contrast the nutty bready flavor and give it a lift on the palate.

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Photo of jwinship83
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle with a best by date of 2/12/10 on the back. drank from a ruination pint glass.

A- this one pours out a clear amber colored body with a small quickly fading beige colored head. the head leaves behind small spots of lacing. a stead stream of carbonation can be seen racing to the top of my glass.

S- bready and fruity malts. cherries and raisins. lots of spices, ginger and cinnamon are the most pronounced. cloves and nutmeg also. very christmas like.

T- the taste is very spicy. the malts take a distant back seat to cinnamon and nutmeg. strong notes of ginger as well. a little too heavy on cinnamon for my liking but it does capture the essence of a kitchen at christmas.

M- medium to full bodied with a nice low level of carbonation. a small warming from the alcohol.

D- christmas in a glass. this beer is a little heavy on the spices for me, but its exactly what one would expect a christmas beer to be like. im not sure i understand the cult like following this beer has. one is plenty in a sitting and possibly a year.

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Photo of dmamiano
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a fairly dark copper with a nice head and decent lacing.
Smells of bready malts, spices. Kind of reminds me of grandmas house as she makes christmas dinner.
Taste is fairly nice, mildly spiced like I like it. Nice maltiness with no big hop characteristics.
Not a favorite style, but pretty good.

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Photo of Grundle20
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours amber in color with a ample eggshell white head. There is good retention to the head along with some respectable lacing.

There's a warm alcohol presence. The scent presents notes of nutmeg, orange, butterscotch and a figgy sweetness. A little dolled up for my liking but good none the less.

Taste and Mouthfeel:
The orange and the fig sweetness come through in the taste. The beer drinks smooth with a medium body with little hop bitterness. The finish is rather candy and fruit like and leaves you with a candy sweet aftertaste.

It's a little too engineered in my opinion. There's not much "beer flavor" to speak of and a highish ABV doesn't help either.

Bottom Line:
It definitely says holiday beer but I found it to have a little too much added flavor, kind of like a liquid holiday desert without all the sweetness. Far from being my favorite Great Lakes Brewing product.

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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 DDCMember
3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

-12 oz. bottle poured into mug.

A: Copper to Amber. Very thick head.

S: Spices (Cinnamon, maybe some ginger), Honey, a hint of cherries.

T: Flavorful! Very well balanced. I can taste a little bit of cinnamon, honey, a little malty. No bite at all, which is surprising with a 7.5% ABV.

M: Medium body. Very thick head when poured but dies down quickly.

D: Very good! It's so well balanced that I could easily drink 4-5 of these, which could mean trouble.

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Photo of steveh
3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A trade with a co-worker has allowed me to try this one. Best by 3/22/13.

A -- Clear, deep copper-gold with a dense, long-lasting, off-white head.

S -- Man, I can smell alcohol and spices with the pour: Bready malts, peppery alcohol, cinnamon and ginger-like spices, some vague vegetal character back.

T -- Spice cookie/bread character up front, bready malts follow with hot alcohol in the finish. The ginger-cinnamon character lingers with doughy bread in the aftertaste.

M -- Mouthfeel is soft with a dry, crisp finish from alcohol. Body is medium.

O -- Overall, the spices are mildly interesting up front and certainly seasonal, but the hot alcohol character detracts from what flavor may eek through. It's a beer to sample one and probably not revisit in an evening. There's also something distracting to me in a beer that tastes like a ginger-snap. Not my style.

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Photo of kawilliams81
3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Half Acre tulip.

A- Cloudy, dark copper with a 2 finger tan head. Small layer of lacing remains.

S- Sweet candi sugar, and lots of spices (cinnamon, clove).

T- Almost a quick sweet citrus before the spices take over. Predominantly spice forward but nice balance.

M- Medium body and carbonation. Slight creaminess with a tingly finish.

O- Good winter warmer, but not waiting for it next year by any means.

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Photo of kbutler1
3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle. Poured into a tulip glass a clear copper color with a slight 1/2 finger off white head. Very spicy and herbal aroma in the nose, sort of a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and gingerbread. Medium mouthfeel. Roasty caramel flavor in the beginning mixes with the traditional Chistmas spices. Mellow aftertaste with on ly a slight bitterness in the end. Lots of Chistmas beers are similiar and this one is no exception. Is it great? No, but it is decent enough and I generally look forward to having it every winter.

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Photo of theHoff77
3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter.

A - A light red amber color. Doesn't get much of head unless you pour aggressively, and even then it doesn't keep long. Spotty lacing.

S - Seems almost entirely malty in smell. Nothing memorable.

T - Very mild flavors on this. Slight cinnamon, caramel, brown sugar, and malts.

M - Nothing aggressive about this beer, which makes it an easy drinker.

O - Pretty underwhelming given the hype. I was expecting bigger flavors and smells. The way I would describe it is Lagunitas Brown Sugga's little brother. Sadly, I spent more on this then Brown Sugga'. I decided not to review this until after my fourth over the course of the week, and my impression of it hasn't changed a bit even trying it in four types of glassware.

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Photo of 33nickadams
3.57/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Transparent copper amber hue that has a about a finger of head that dissolves rather quickly. Smells of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves- similar to pumpkin ales that I have tried. Interesting taste. Very balanced malty spicy sweetness with a slight earthy bitterness that follows. Mouthfeel has a medium body and well-carbonated. Overall, too similar to other pumpkin ales to set itself apart for me.

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Photo of stxSS07
3.57/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Best by 2/24/12 into a Killian's Pint

A- Pours a clear copper color with maybe a finger of off-white head that fizzles away pretty quickly. Not much lacing.

S- Sweet malts and maybe some honey? I definitely get the cinnamon and a bit of ginger. Really comes on strong on the back end.

T- Again, big sweetness followed by waves of cinnamon. I can really pick out the honey subtlety along with a bit of the ginger, but I have to work for it.

M- Pretty thin with high carbonation. I expected it to be thicker/fuller for a winter warmer.

O- This is a pretty one-note brew. I think I came into it with too high of expectations generated by this site. I really think that Lakefront Holiday Spice is still the king of winter warmers for me, but this isn't a bad brew by any means. Really drinkable with a deceiving ABV...perfect for the cold months.

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Photo of LanceW
3.56/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured very clear and crisp with a 2 inch head that quickly dissolved into the glass.

S: Smell was average. I would not consider it smelling good nor bad.

T: Starts off crisp with a nutty/malty middle. The finish ended kinda of bitter/hoppy.... however I am not complete sure about the end.

M: fuller body with sharp end flavor.

Drinkable: Enjoyed this beer and would drink it again. The middle/hardy body appeals to me.

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Photo of ferrari29
3.56/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into Mug

A - Beer poured with a one finger cream-colored foam; body had a copper look to it; plenty of carbonation with a head that held very well

S - Spices; malt backbone; moderate to above average scents of yeast; smelled some sweetness from honey

T - Sweet honey taste coupled with spicy tones washes down the hatch with a smooth crisp malty aftertaste

M - Creamy consistency and lingers your mouth for a bit, especially on the sides of the tongue; somewhat oily

D - Good winter ale; I thought it could stand to have a bit more of a spicy bite to it, but the honey is what stood out the most to me; I could have a few more, maybe next year!

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Photo of boatshoes
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a six of this to start the season. Had it a couple of times in the past before I was a real craft drinker. Thought it was worth another try now that I've had the chance to experience more of the beer world.

Appearance- Pours a translucent amber brown with a surprisingly little amount of head. Only about a half finger off a pretty aggressive pour. That being said, a decent amount of carbonation is visible bubbling up out of the brew. No lacing to speak of.

Smell- Malty and spicy. Lots of bready and biscuity notes float up out of this one. Additionally, it smells of a heavy dose of Christmas spices-cloves, coriander, cinnamon. Oddly, as the beer warms, I find it to take on one unsettling aroma in the background which I can't quite place. Smells almost like corn or an adjunct, though I know that cannot possibly be in there. Could this bottle be slightly skunked? I sure don't think so because I took it out of a fresh case at the grocery, but who knows I suppose.

Taste- Lots more spices and malt. Again, very biscuity with a strong malt backbone. Spices show though, particularly the cloves, with some more cinnamon. Not as complex as I would have initially thought from the nose.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Mouthfeel is good and substantial with a solid level of carbonation despite the minimal head. However, that one off scent that I can't quite place, plus a somewhat disappointingly palate don't really have me rushing for another.

Overall, this one was just okay. Not as good as I remember from the old days and not as enjoyable as the Ommegang Adoration which I recently had. I'll probably pass on this one next time and just get another sixer of Eddy Fitz or Eliot Ness.

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3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into Ommegang tulip. From notes.
A: A light colored off white head foams up to two fingers on the pour. Holding well and leaving a frothy layer of lace. The body is clear, but a nice and deep amber.
S: Sweet notes of malts and other spices used. The low to medium aroma is a bit weak when compared to the other intensity of the flavors.
T/M: I am finding a classic taste that runs throughout all Great Lakes brew and it is here as well. The malts to take the front seat and go for the ride on this one. Some spice on the body, with a smooth and honey like mouthfeel.
D: This is another of those classic Christmas must tries. A really great brew but in the swarm of seasonal offerings this one can get left in the dust. Still holding a good bit of ABV and not showing it, overall this one is a bit of a let down.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Acquired from pochman, courtesy of BA Secret Santa 2009 so a big "Thank You" goes out to him. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep golden brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malts, spices, honey and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts with spices like cinnamon, ginger & nutmeg followed by sweet flavors of caramel and fruit. The malt character is hearty and the hops presence is mild as you usually find in this type of beer. The after-taste is slightly spicy and slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Flavorful, goes down ok, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, it's a decent Christmas beer but there are others in the style that I would pick first.

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Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 850 ratings.
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