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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

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: 851 | Ratings: 2,973
Photo of delta490
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- a red hued beer with a fizzier off-white head. Minimal retention and almost no lacing

S- rich fruit and spices

T- big spice flavor initially with honey sweetness on the finish

M-nice full body with a little bite on the tongue

O- an almost excellent winter beer.

 269 characters

Photo of joeseppy
4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear cranberry amber with half inch white head. Wispy on the top and spider webs down.

Aroma mainly of cinnamon powder and ginger snap. Smells deceivingly full bodied. Basically a full onslaught of holiday spice and sweet malt.

Tastes pretty darn close to a lot of pumpkin ales I've had this year. Cinnamon is the first spice to come to my mind. Candy spice drops and crystal ginger essence. I'd say its Christmasy alright.

Mouthfeel is of medium body and is actually refreshing. Nothing overbearing or heavy laden.

Again, this reminds me of a lot of the pumpkin beers yet the ginger, for me, gives this the edge to give this that christmas feel. Shared some this year with my BMC friends who all agreed this was a quality beer. Nothing is worse than weighing your friends and family down with heavy beers. GL Christmas ale is a great choice for yourself and to share during a festive time such as this.

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Photo of crc1935
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Had this beer from a growler that was poured from a keg in Erie, PA

Appearance - light amber/orange. Larger head than normal due to pouring from a growler to regular glass.

Smell - Sweet, nutty, and spicy.

Taste - Light honey and nutmeg taste balanced with slight bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Lightly carbonated to balance the taste. Very smooth ale.

Overall - This is an excellent Christmas Ale, though its legend seems to be elevated by scarcity. Still love the chase.

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Photo of Tucquan
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Had this on 2013-12-26 in Columbia, PA

A - Clear tawny-mahogany with a 1/2-finger light tan head that fades very quickly and leaves just a smidgen of lace.

S - Candied apples, cinnamon, cherry, pumpkin bread, ginger. Inviting aroma although not real strong.

T - There's a lot more bready malt than the smell would indicate. There also a shot of citrus and bitterness that wasn't evident in the smell. That being said, the cherry, candied apple, ginger and cinnamon make their presence known. It's a pleasing flavor that dries nicely and thankfully, isn't too sweet.

M - Medium body and light-medium carbonation. Syrupy but not cloying. There's a nice bit of resin that clings briefly. Leaves you wanting another sip.

O - This is a very enjoyable holiday ale. It's got some seasonal spicing but you still know you are drinking a good quality ale. I'll look for this again.

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Photo of BeerMeColorado
2.7/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Not sure why all the high scores.
Light amber. Crystal clear. Poor head retention.
Malt forward. Alcohol warmth comes through.
Decent mouthfeel.
Irish Spring soap?
Overall an average winter warmer for me.

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Photo of SportsandJorts
3.72/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: orangish color. good clarity. almost no head that quickly fades.

Smell: ginger, cinnamon and sweetness. fairly weak but smells pretty good

Taste: lots of ginger. cinnamon is weak and hidden underneath. not a lot of malt profile but some sweetness. not the strongest tasting beer especially for its strength

Mouthfeel: fairly light, ginger lingers behind.

Overall: i found the flavors to be nice in this one but it was just too weak in flavor and smell for me. a lot tastier that the other spiced winter warmers ive had

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Photo of MarkQ617
3.3/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Picked up a growler for our Christmas party, enjoyed out of a pint glass. The color was actually pretty nice, a good looking brownish amber with an off-white head. The flavor had the requisite spices, particularly cinnamon and nutmeg, but it was a bit weak for my liking.

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Photo of metter98
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear amber in color and has no visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high off white head that quickly died down, leaving a few bubbles on the surface and a thin collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Moderate aromas of spices are present in the nose—ginger and nutmeg seem to stand out in particular.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and seems a bit more complex with additional hints of cinnamon sticks and caramel malts.
M: It feels a bit mire than medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: I found this to be an interesting winter warmer that has some nice holiday spices and seems easier to drink compared to other beers in the style since it isn't that heavy in body.

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Photo of mvanaskie13
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured into a standard pint glass, color is transparent amber, lighter on the edges; head is tan, mixture of bubble sizes, good lacing and lingering top.

Smell is spice forward, nice blend of ginger, nutmeg and clove, hints of cinnamon; malt is present, light bread, biscuit and maybe some sweeter caramel, but light.

Taste is similar to the aroma, but a bit amplified: spices are popping but not overwhelming, good blend of clove, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and lighter cinnamon; malt is a good balance to the aroma, bread and biscuit hints of caramel - this beer does not taste anywhere near its strength as the spice covers the sweeter notes below.

Mouthfeel again mixes the spice and malt well, spices cover and dry out the strength of this beer making it very easily drinkable.

Overall, a very, very good winter/christmas ale; heavier spice doses work well in these ales compared to pumpkins because of the heavier malt flavors, a great brew.

 949 characters

Photo of Cheld
4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance- A light red colour, nice for the season. Very clear, with a small head that dissipated quickly, leaving minimal lacing.

Smell- Spices, as expected with the style- cinnamon, clove, ginger, and nutmeg. But unlike many other seasonal beers where the spices dominate, these are still pretty mild.

Taste- Like the smell, the spices are clearly there, but not overpowering. A nice reprieve from the spice blasts I'm used to in holiday beers. Instead it has a nice well rounded malt flavour, with more hops apparent than I'm used to in winter beers.

Mouthfeel- Medium bodied and crisp.

Overall- My favourite of the style, and a very enjoyable beer. That said, its lacking a character that really makes it stand out above the crowd. So for me, enjoyable, but not stellar.

On a different note, it is good to see this beer in Upstate NY, as it has typically been a very hard beer to find here.

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Photo of jimmah120
3.43/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

12oz bottle with a best by date of 03/18/14. poured into pint glass.

small head, mostly clear, orange-amber color, not very dark. smell is light: wheat, gingerbread, spice, maybe some hops. crisp, clean, honey-sweet and malty at first, aftertaste has some christmas flavor (clove, ginger, frosting). feel is a slick medium, alcohol is hid very well.

Doesn't do much to stand out... a rare miss from Great Lakes Brewing co.

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Photo of jwc215
3.62/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Best before 03/01/14:

Pours a beautiful copper with an off-white head. Some lacing sticks.

The smell is of Christmas spices - cinnamon and ginger - with caramel and a touch of honey.

The taste is of cinnamon, ginger, honey, some pine and caramel. It has a semi-sweet, spicy finish.

It hits full-bodied. Warm going down.

This is a malty, spicy winter ale. A little too spiced for me, but it's still a nice winter sipper.

 424 characters

Photo of Mavigo
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Actually got ripped the **** off on a 6 pack of this at Bella vino's in Farmington Hills but I've put that bit on a place review. Served in a snifter.

A: Pours a clear copper color with a short beige head that dissipates in a short time frame and leaves a small ring of lacing.

S: Smells of wheat, caramel, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, malts, yeast, spices

T: Tastes fairly sweet, wheat, dark fruits, cinnamon, spices, malts, kind of bland actually, I mean it/s smooth and refreshing. But there's no.. oompf, It's sort of run of the mill.

M: Mediumd bodied with medium amounts of carbonation, it's good but not amazing.

O: Overall, it was good but it didn't give me the jingles, herp.

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

A. Copper brown with an off white head that quickly dissipates.

S. Nutmeg, cinnamon spice, vanilla, caramel, malts, ginger.

T. Ginger snaps cookies, cinnamon, warming alcohol, medium bodies. Dry bitter aftertaste. The gingers sits on the palate.

O. Really a solid winter Christmas ale. Nice layers of spice with some alcohol backbone to warm ur soul.

 355 characters

Photo of tillmac62
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a clear medium amber. Nice head and lacing that diminishes in about 2 minutes. Nose is mostly malt sweetness against a hint of soft spice. Medium bodied with a nice slick feel and well carbonated. The taste is slightly sweet with only a suggestion of spice, creating a nice balance of flavor that is subdued when compared to ST 2Xmas, which accentuates spice flavor. A nice crisp finish that brings the carbonation and spices (ginger and cinnamon) a bit more forward. If you want sweet with a hint of spice, then this beer is for you. If you prefer spice flavor, go with Southern Tier 2Xmas. Both are expertly crafted brews that achieve their respective flavor profiles.

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Photo of BeerLovinBuckwildUnicorn
4.43/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Full Disclosure: This is absolutely my favorite beer. Perhaps because I had such a wonderful time being introduced to 'Christmas Crack' by amazing people. Perhaps it's because I no longer reside in an area where it's available, or perhaps it's because it's a great fucken beer.. I dunno.

A: Depending on the year it has varied from medium copper to dark amber

S: Slightly metalliac, hints of clove & pine

T: DEEELIIISH!!! Christmas in a bottle (or out of a tap if yer lucky). Hints of clove,orange, carmel. The spice is well balanced with a sweet finish.

M: The spice ignites the front while the carmel, malt smooths out the back. Overall happiness.

Overall: See Disclosure. Pairs wonderfully with Thanksgiving turkey, football chili or Jameson neat.

 756 characters

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.

 1,303 characters

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

This beer holds almost a filtered look as the Amber color is Crystal clear with limited bubbling in the body. The head was light and airy as it fluttered away quickly.

The scent is light and spicy with some strong nutmeg but underlining cinnamon. There's a lot of malt fruitcake and roasted nuts.

The flavor is on par with the aroma as the nutmeg holds a prevalent face. The cinnamon and spice is evident but laid back. The malt is slightly caramel not too sweet but the fruit cake and toasted nut is very tasty

The feel is not thick but not thin either with a nice ease but a nicer fullness.

I had the 2012 and was nit as I.pressed but 2013 was full of flavor and much better.

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Photo of Fergyx825
2.41/5  rDev -38.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 1 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Appearance: a brownish red beer, with some head on the pour. It sticks around for a bit around the edges of the beer and on the surface of the beer. This matches the description of a winter warmer.

Smell: at first you can smell the spices in this beer, they smell rich and thick. Cinnamon and nutmeg, and then you can smell the light hops of the beer, and some maltyness in it.

Taste: the rich spicy flavor is evident, the beer is spicy like fire sauce. Its very high in alcohol content. This is not enjoyable whatsoever.

Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation, and a medium thickness beer. These match each well.

Overall: This looks good, smells good, but it tastes terrible. I was looking forward to this too.

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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 JerzDevl2000
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Picked this up in Totowa yesterday, being told that that was enjoyable and a good seasonal beer. While I didn't know what to expect with this, I can honestly say that I've never had anything like this before. This was certainly spicy but not to a large extent and because the alcohol was quite recessed, those notes shone through quite nicely. This was a bit light in hue for a Winter Warmer but certainly full and worth savoring, after the adjusting to the slightly unusual notes in this beer!

The pour to this was a light hazelnut with a moderate amount of head that quickly dissipated and some lacing that slid down the edges of my pint glass after every sip. Loads of ginger in the nose and more of a gingerbread in the taste, reinforced by cinnamon, nutmeg, a bit of lemon pepper, and other wintry spices. Some graham cracker in this too but this never felt too thick or chewy - the mouthfeel was quite nice and pretty balanced, with just a hair too much carbonation. A bit of lemon zest and ginger lingered in the aftertaste, leading me to want to take another sip to subdue it just a bit.

The alcohol was present but because the spice was so pronounced, I felt that it did more of the warming than the booze did. By the end of the bottle, the strength of this could be felt but not to the point where I wouldn't have another one of these. Two would be just about it though, as this would not be a beer to chug in large quantities. If you're decorating a gingerbread house or having a plate of cookies around the fire, grab this beer and enjoy. It's a good choice for this time of the year and not like anything else on the shelf, all while staying stylistically and seasonally true to form.

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

Pours copper brownish orange with a singe finger white head. Smell is tons of nutmeg, heaps of ginger, plenty of honey, malty, bready. Tastes as promised , very fresh ginger, smooth honey, nutmeg, cinnamon, sweet brown sugar. Carbonation is nice. Overall I like this beer, I don't think it's the greatest Christmas ale out there. If you're not aware, people go a lite overboard for this, but hey I'm all about supporting a great Ohio brewery. A little sweet for me, but a very enjoyable seasonal .

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Photo of THFCBeerBQ
3.82/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bought a 6-pack of 12oz bottles at my local Wegman’s supermarket. Drink by date of 3/20/14 stamped on label. (More than three months from now so this is pretty fresh)

Poured semi-vigorously into a pint glass.

A-Light brown in color. Super filtered with a fair amount of visible carbonation. Quarter-inch head present with some lacing. (good, not great)

S- Sweet smell, predominantly gingerbread, cinnamon and other holiday spice. While it’s more of a sweet, caramel, malty nose there is a faint floral hop aroma present as well. I often find that Great Lakes’ brews are light on aroma but BIG on taste, let’s hope this is the same.

T- Sweet caramel flavor hits your palette first and carries all the way through this brew. Spice comes into play pretty early with gingerbread and nutmeg. The swallow releases a faint ginger and honey, hop flavor before leading into a slightly toasted aftertaste that’s lightly sprinkled with cinnamon.

M- Light-to-medium mouthfeel with textbook carbonation.

O- I never thought honey and ginger would go with cinnamon and holiday spice and I am still not overly convinced. This is a pretty good brew because Great Lakes is a pretty good brewery but I am not sure how many of these I would have back-to-back. I think this flavor combination would wear out on me sooner rather than later. Still, I am glad I gave this one a go.


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Photo of coldy
4.41/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Its that time of year, and I was reminded of my annual treat of Great Lakes Christmas Ale. As craft beer continues to grow, the shelves are packed with winter/Christmas varieties, but this particular continues to be an all time favorite. This beer has a wonderful balance, with just enough fruit/cherry without it being over powering.
The aftertaste has a light wheat, and the overall taste is a great representation of what a Christmas Ale should taste like. Delicious

 469 characters

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

A: Poured from the bottle into a Corsendonk Christmas glass. Body is clear reddish-brown with no head whatsoever.

S: Not much of a nose; mild malt with a touch of fruit and spice.

T: Nice, but nothing earth-shattering. Brown bread, fruit (think cherries or berries) and a hint of spice (both cinnamon & ginger come to mind at different times). Finishes with a bit of lingering sweetness, though it's not cloying at all. The 7.5% ABV is well-hidden, though felt in the belly as warmth.

M: Medium in heft, a wee bit sticky.

O: Good stuff. An easy-to-drink winter warmer. Reminds me subtly of gingerbread cookies.

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Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
3.91 out of 5 based on 2,973 ratings.
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