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Great Lakes Christmas Ale | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

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859 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: 859 | Ratings: 3,005
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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Photo of weller1js
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

appearance: light reddish orange with little foam and light ring of lacing.

smell: light cherry/fruity notes.

taste: clean beginning, with a cherry-like flavor blending with the emergence of the tangy hops, lingering with a bittersweet finish.

drinkability: uniquely sweet, well complimented by the hops, could be a bit too dynamic for the stomach, but drinkable all the same.

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Photo of karst
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

The first GLBC brew that I don't care for.

Pours clear ruby with a creamy white 2" temporary head. No yeast sediments at the bottom of the bottle labeled best by Jan 24, 2006. Spicy aroma is inviting. The full body you expect in Great Lakes brews. I generally like ginger and honey but a little nutmeg and cinnamin go a long way. Favors suffer from a bitter finish of lingering spices and vienna malts that really turned me off this beer. I think the overall effect of the spices and malts is very unbalanced. Drinkability suffers as the result. Alcohol is well hidden. I still recommend trying it. Let your taste buds decide - Merry Christmas to all and to all a well crafted brew.

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

A - Pours a fairly clear burnt orange with golden highlights on the edges. Nice two finger head with a standard pour. Head quickly fades to leave little puddles of bright white froth surrounded by a thin ring which lasts for the duration of the beer. Little to no lacing.

S - A bit of foral hops, a hint of caramel, and some faint alcohol notes, but mostly just spices - allspice, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg - as well as natural honey. This is all gingerbread and honey.

T - Replica of the smell, really - caramel and spice. Maybe the slightest bit of vanilla and pear, but this again is really all about the spice. Finishes with some hop bitterness, but not much

M - Smooth, coats the mouth from the get-go. Low carbonation up front, but it seems that it builds up and you feel it much more on the back of the tongue on the way down. A bit slick.

D - I'm not the biggest fan of the style, but this one grew on me since the last time I had it almost a year ago. I'd drink about a 6 pack per winter, and that would be plenty for me. It does put you in the holiday mood with the flavor profile, I'll say that much.

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

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass
A: Tan colored with a thin head & a good amount of carbonation.
S: Malt and spices, though somewhat muted.
T: Again, malt and spices. It says it's brewed with cinnamon, ginger and honey, though none of those stand out in particular.
M: Medium-bodied & pleasant.
O: I know my fellow Clevelanders go ape-s*** over this beer, but to be honest it's one of my least-favorites of Great Lake's lineup. Certainly solid, but I would take an Edmund Fitzgerald any day over this.

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Photo of brucer1
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured from 12 ounce bottle into pint glass. nice initial head then quickly faded, no lacing. warm colours throughout, moderate cabonation. sweet fruity aroma which translates into the taste. not a bad beer, but certainly not one of the better glbc's offering's. had a very good mouthfeel, was very appealing to me. moderate abv, so stay at home if you are going to drink more than a few.

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

12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass.

Appearance: Mostly clear amber with a thin white head.

Smell: Some vanilla with caramel aroma.

Taste: A definite vanilla taste with some caramel. Not too complex but just a bit too much vanilla.

Mouthfeel: A bit on the thin side.

Drinkability: Not too bad but the vanilla makes it more difficult to consume.

 360 characters

Photo of tykees88
3.54/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- amber red to brown. fluffy head. Decent lacing throughout.

S- Smells hoppy, malty. Then I smell cinnamon, some orange, clove, nutmeg. A potpourri of winter time dances through my nostrils. Truly amazing.

T- It tastes like it smells, but alas it's mild, and boozy. kills this beer for me.

M- Medium bodied as it should be. carbonated nicely.

O- not a four, the taste was what killed it for me. Maybe one of the most amazing sensations of any beer i've ever had was the smell.

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Photo of tempest
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Alto Cinco and drank it along side a covered burrito with chicken. This beer was basically a big, smooth amber ale - light caramel and toffee - with spiced with pumpkin pie, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little ginger. Drinkable and festive, but I'm not blown away. The spices and malt are at least very well balanced.

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Photo of Giggy
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Rich in flavor but not heavy. Alcohol content of 7.5% will keep you from drinking too many.

A: A very beautiful copper with an off-white head. Head disappears very fast.

S: A nice caramel smell mixed with cinnamon and honey.

T: Ginger comes through along with honey and cinnamon.

M: Carbonation tingle on the tongue but an easy swallow.

O: Slightly bitter finish, medium body.

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Photo of RedHaze
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thnaks to jhammerly for the bottle.

Pours a clear copper, with a white one finger head that recedes quickly to a thin soapy cap and ring, leaving behind a thin webbing of lace.

Smell; mildly spicy with a bit of cinnamon and others that I can't place, as well as little bit of honey. There's a hint of citric hops, and some cherries.

Taste; honey and cinnamon really jump out at me on the first few sips, and then a bit of ginger comes forward. Sweet malts follow the spices, with no real hop presence to offset the sweetness, and there's absolutely no alcohol present in the flavor at all. After a while this starts to become a bit sweet for me..

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and a touch syrupy with a low carbonation, and a good drinkability.

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Photo of bahumutx
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a very clear copper color with a nice creamy white head.

Smell: Malt, Cinnamon and hints of honey.

Taste: Sweet malt and cinnamon starts of this beer. It then ends with a honey and slight pine. Slight alcohol warming is also present. As the beer warms the cinnamon becomes more pronounced but not overpowering and nutmeg flavor also shows up. Hard to pick out all of the different spice flavors.

Mouthfeel: Thin to Medium Mouthfeel. Thin around the edges of my tongue.

Drinkability: I could have a few of these in a sitting.

Another decent brew from Great Lakes Brewing. I would probably have another of these but not my favorite of this style.

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Photo of tmcelvain
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Fairly strong flavors of nutmeg and cinnamon in this brew. Small, quickly disapating, lacy head over a crimson body make this a bold beer in the glass. The body displays a malty base for the spiced flavor, which finishes with a slightly bitter, but well balanced hop edge. Cannot drink many of these before the spices just take over. A solid Christmas Alle - slightly above average for the style, but not one I wold squirrel away to drink throughout the year. Perfect for your tree trimming party. Watch out - I was alos surprised to learn the alcohol content on this one.

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Photo of tpd975
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a nice amber hue with a nice creamy head. Pretty good retention with nice streaks of lace.

S: Fairly simple. Lots of caramel malt with hints of toffee, and cinnamon.

T: Nice malt profile here. The caramel and toffee do come through. The cinnamon really stands out as well. The finish has a nice dash of floral hops.

M: Medium in body, pretty smooth.

D: Not my favorite Winter Warmer, but like everything Great Lakes does... it's pretty darn tasty.

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale pours a transparent burnt copper brown color with a small off-white cap that quiets down to a thin film as the glass wears on. Some visible carbonation rises from the bottom of the glass to support the head.

The aroma is full of sweetness and wintery spices. Honey biscuit malt sweetness and butterscotch dominate. Nutmeg is the primary spice, with cinnamon and all spice adding some kick.

The flavor largely follows the aroma, which is large expected given the straight forward nature of the style. Sweet up front, the butterscotch and toffee flavors really shine through, with a lighter, biscuity malt character and some honey in the background. The spices come through in the middle, again dominated by the nutmeg and cinnamon. The end has some ginger flavor and some spicy hop notes, which dries out the feel a little bit, as well as a strange medicinal alcohol flavor I don't really care for. The light carbonation and light body make this a mellow sipper, but it is a bit light-bodied for my taste.

I understand the pride and passion that comes from Ohioans over this beer, but the strange notes at the end drop this from truly enjoyable to more or less replaceable.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.52/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

One of the best midwest holiday ales. Looks dark brown/red/copper. Aroma is very much like Christmas: some beer, pine, gravy, mashed potatoes, yams, ham, cranberry, cinammon mesh.

Taste, you pick up some of those things, who knows, maybe a little pumpkin and coriander. A few of the things in Anchor Christmas probably, but more pronounced in this offering.

Drinkability suffers a little, too sweet and just too much like food in a blender to keep chugging these along. Heavy.

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Photo of aracauna
3.52/5  rDev -10%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Not dark enough for mahogany, the red isn't backed up enough by the brown for that. The head is wimpy. The aroma reminded me of black cherries, sweet but without the sourness. Nice but really big malt along with the mild spicing makes it seem a bit cake-like. The black cherries carry through into the flavor. Nice beer but not outstanding.

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Photo of pootz
3.52/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3


Poured a clear copper ale in the glass with a 2 finger sticky rockey cap. Well carbonated.

Aromas of spices, nutty malts and NW hops

Passable malt presence, prickly mouth feel, medium bodied with a spicey-hoppy dry character.

The frontside dumps some nut-like malts on the tongue only to have them quickly snached away into an astringent earthy taste by the spices ( ginger, nutmeg cinnamon) and the spicey NW hops...palate is clean crisp, astringent some fruit phenols from the ale yeast...finishes dry and slightly bitter from all the sharp spice and hop tones and just at the last second, some bready Christmas pudding sweetness appears.

A nice warmer for cold weather...I could learn to like this one..not over spiced but certainly the spice and hops rides above the malts in this one.

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Photo of Star80
3.52/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle has a date of Dec. 30, 2004. I'm not sure if that was when it was brewed or if it is best before that date. Seems a little early if that is the case. I wouldn't really bother cellaring this beer, but then who knows? Anyway, pours a reddish copper color with a nice beige head, which quickly dissipated. Has a pretty strong ginger and cinnamon smell and quite a spicy taste followed by honey, and a little bitter snap aftertaste. The mouthfeel is decent. Hmm, now the hard part. I'm not big into spiced beers though I am slowly acquiring a taste for things like coriander or even ginger in my beer. Pretty strong so I can't see drinking lots of these. I just wish it had a slightly bigger hop and malt presence to balance the honey and spices.

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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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Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
3.91 out of 5 based on 3,005 ratings.
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