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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 879 | Ratings: 3,063
Photo of BMoney575
3.11/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sampled on 12-11-07
Best before 1-22-08

Pours a golden amber color with bubbles that slowly rise to the surface. The head fades to a thin film, leaving clingy lacing.

Smell is lots of cinnamon and nutmeg, not unlike a pumpkin ale. Maybe a little rum-soaked fruit, if you look for it.

Taste is very much like the smell. Tons of cinnamon, with a subtle fruity twinge. Reminds me of gingerbread.

Mouthfeel is decent, thin, but sticky.

Drinkability is not very good, very one dimensional flavor.

Overall, a cinnamon beer. It overpowers every other flavor, and takes away any variety whatsoever.

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Photo of AgentZero
3.12/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

A - Clear deep red amber color, very dark. Nice two finger foamy head with quick dissipation and no lacing left. Nice looking right out of the bottle.

S - So much nutmeg it almost hurts. Nutmeg and cinnamon, with a nice malt back. Very sweet and rich smelling, does remind me of the holidays.

T - Deep sweet cinnamon and nutmeg and ginger spice taste. Too much to handle, so thick it feels like I can chew it. Little bit of subtle hops in the finish, but the nutmeg and cinnamon is just too overpowering, was hoping for something more subtle.

M - Smooth, surprisingly little aftertaste for something so sweet. Nice carbonation bite that subtly blends in with the taste.

D - Way too sweetly rich. Had trouble getting through the first one, the nutmeg and cinnamon spice are so overpowering it almost feels like it's burning my mouth. This might go good with some food, I'm thinking Chinese or some cheeses to help buffer the taste buds, but on it's own it's just too much for me.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.12/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a Gale Sayers shaker pint glass.

It took some reaching (literally), but I netted the last bottle from Fresh Market. Victory! It pours a clear copper topped by a finger of white foam. The nose comprises black cherry, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, green apple, red grapes, and graham crackers. The taste holds notes of orange peel (and plenty of it), pumpkin shell, ginger, nutmeg, wheat, grass, rye bread, and a touch of cocoa powder. A strong bitterness pervades the finish, which follows a poor mixing of the various flavors. Something's amiss here. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a slightly drying finish. Overall, I did not enjoy this very much at all, save for the smell. Things just didn't come together for me here.

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Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.14/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance -- Pours a bright brassy orange with two fingers of sudsy beige head. IPA?

Smell -- Honey malt, ginger, allspice, cinnamon stick, mild floral hops. Quite delightful.

Taste -- Wow, incredibly sweet. Honey, sugar plum, candied ginger, allspice, cinnamon, gentle floral hops. Drying green tea-like tannic finish. Lingering flavor of candied ginger.

Mouthfeel -- Medium in body with moderate frothy carbonation. Tannins in the finish akin to well-steeped green tea. A bit distracting, frankly.

Drinkability -- Ho Ho Ho... Quite Christmas-y, also quite cloying. Nice spicing, really like the ginger, but man, why so sweet? Maybe I'll leave the other five for Santa...

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Photo of quasimoto
3.15/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a nice deep dark copper color wiyth a slightly off white head.

S - Strong in spices and hops. There is a background of malt in there but it is hidden.

T - The smells are melded into a flavor with the malts coming out a little stronger.

M - It is crisp and dry, leaves no residue on the tongue. Rather pleasing.

D - For festivites and dealing with families this an all day beer. I enjoy it.

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Photo of sopor
3.17/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Deep coppery brew with just a little of rising bubbles helping to keep the offwhite head sticking around. Cinnamon rolls and butter and honey and some other spices I can't quite make out make a potent smell. Delicate malts under lots of cinnamon and spice and everythng nice. Butter and sweet crytsal/candy-like malt. A bit too sweet for me. Not likely to grab this again, but if offered on Christmas, I'd definitely have another.

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Photo of 98green
3.17/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

On tap late in a session. Look is a pretty deep red. Smell is light cranberry. Taste is nice Christmas whatever that is. I get that this is the go to name for Christmas ale. It gets the job done I guess.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.18/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle obtained via trade with Lewis13 from RB. Thanks for the opportunity... Best by Jan 19, 2006. Oops.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" beige head over the slightly cloudy coppery amber brew. Head fades at a moderate pace, with sporadic lasting lace. Aroma is dominated by sweet malts and spices. Taste is a muddy mixture of spice, grains, and piney hops. Mouthfeel is kind of thin, and this isn't something I would probably search out again. But as a one-time seasonal visitor, it's not too bad.

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Photo of JDV
3.18/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to miketd for this nice beer
Pours a clear copper with a fluffy beige head. Smells spiced, and similar to those in a pumpkin beer. I'm not able to pick out cinnamon or ginger specifically, but it is nice. Taste is much of the same spiced flavors. Some nutmeg as well, I believe. Some slight alcohol present, or perhaps its the tartness I'm sensing. Very nice seasonal that I enjoyed more as it warmed.

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Photo of Chaz
3.19/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours golden-amber in color, with excellent clarity, and topped with a rocky medium tan head. Nice lacing all around the edge of the glass. So far, so good.

Nose is fruity and rather nondescript. I know there's honey in this but there are no honey notes (and I know that it ferments pretty clean) and there are no real spice notes to speak of. Lighter notes of lemon rind and cherry, but very light. Much more of a malt-lover's beer, this one, and not much hop presence.

Sweet and broadly, almost treacly-sweet on the first sip, this one covers the tongue and palate and has just a touch of brisk carbonation. There's almost a creamy sensation, but this one is lightly-carbonated, and rather viscous.

Spice kicks in a little as it warms --some nutmeg and ginger, and maybe some green pepper? It is very subtle as far as spicing goes, and the bittering aspect of the hops is likewise quite minimal.

Perhaps a little on the stronger style for a winter warmer, but it is an American ale so that's par for the course! Not an outstanding beer, but it's nonetheless a solid one for the style.

Note: I paired this one with a little pineapple upside-down cake. Not bad!

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Photo of MNAle
3.2/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Golden amber, lightly carbonated. 1 inch slightly off-white head receding to a foamy cap. Spicy aroma, ginger, with a mix of perhaps floral-ish notes. Smooth feel. Taste follows the aroma, with the ginger / spice dominating, but to me it just tastes a bit odd; I can't pin it down. No bittering to speak of, with the ginger lingering into the finish and aftertaste. There is no sense of alcohol warmth, either. Overall, disappointing.

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Photo of russwbeck
3.2/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Deep orange and amber color without much head at all. A thin ring remains around the outside of the glass and lace nicely. Bubbles race to the top.

S: Spicy, big malty aroma featuring caramel, esters, and gingerbread. Very sweet overall, it seems that the spices are only taking a backseat so far.

T: The taste starts out alright, but then sort of drops off. Spices up front, the caramel malts come out right after. After the malts there's really nothing left. Sort of amazing how the flavor just disappears, but I can't say I like it all that much.

MF: Light body with a lower amount of carbonation than I thought. Crisp finish without any aftertaste.

O: This was probably lost on me. Really unimpressed from a beer I'd heard good things about. Might have been a bit too old.

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Photo of foglemgs
3.2/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

This offering from Great Lakes has a fairly high (7.5%) ABV that they try - pretty successfully - to mask with spicy flavors. However, there's a sweetness to this beer that I'm not a fan of, but the overall flavor isn't too bad. There are other, better, Christmas beers out there.

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Photo of waterski
3.22/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle. 2016 vintage. Colors is light copper even amber in the light. Nose of cloves, cinnamon, figs, and light honey. First taste reminds me of light Belgian ale with hints of dried fruit and holiday spices. I often wondered where the leftover fruit cakes landed. I think this beer would pair well with Christmas baked treats. Slightly chilled at 55 degrees seems to provide the most robust flavor. No milk with my cookies this Christmas season.

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Photo of herman77
3.23/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A: Clear golden, orange with a soapy off white head. Okay lacing.

S: Not much of a nose, what's there is light spice, mainly cinnamon, a bit of malt sweetness and honey.

T: A bit of bready malt and honey to start. Lots of honey actually, then the spice comes next. Sweet cinnamon and a bit of nutmeg. The ginger really comes through. Finishes sweet candy like, vanilla and a bit of alcohol.

M: Medium body, moderate carbonation. Pretty slick mouthfeel.

D: Not so much my thing. Never really had a true winter warmer before and I think I'm not gonna be that big of a fan. One is enough, its just the whole spice thing in beer I'm not too down with. A little is fine, but when I can really taste it, not so much. I do like Winter Warmers more than Pumpkin beers so far though.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.23/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a crystal clear, orange-amber body with a full, foamy white head.

Smell: Lozenge-like aroma of spiced gingerbread, cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey with some faroff hints of caramel malt.

Taste: Brief caramel malt flavor and sweetness before the full-on flavor of spices kick in with candied ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The honey emerges on the drying finish with the ginger tea taste carrying over into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: An alright holiday beer, but I couldn't help but get gingered pretty quickly.

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Photo of plaztikjezuz
3.25/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

pours a rich copper, light carbonation, maybe due to temp at pour?

hops are not very present, spices mainly cinnamon and malt come out very well. the taste is very malty with a slight spice, not much bitterness.

spices come out more cinnamon and ginger, malt more aperent, alcohol. cinnamon and ginger very prevelent in the flavor bitterness is not aperent, minerally.

i did not taste the honey or smell it but its on the label.

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Photo of PDXHops
3.25/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Ryan011235 for this 12 oz bottle, poured into a Duvel tulip.

Pours see-thru reddish amber with a finger of cream-colored head that disappears fairly quickly. Decent lacing, though.

Smells chiefly of sweet maltiness and powdered cinammon and ginger.

A stinging combo of ginger and hops hit the tongue right away, yield to some honeyish sweetness and cinammon for a moment, then return to rough up the palate a little bit at the swallow. Stale powdered cinammon lingers in the finish. Medium-thick body with moderate carbonation.

Overall impression: The spices are a little strong for my taste, but certainly worth a try.

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Photo of FosterJM
3.25/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

1701st Review on BA
Bottle to Great Lakes Snifter

2012 bottling
Thanks to ErikKoppin for this one

App- Okay so I was thinking a winter warmer would be darker. Along the lines of a porter or something dark, when is this now the color of pure orange honey? No bubbles and head. No cling either. Fairly clear in the glass.

Smell- Well I see the winter warmer, but this was way to honey forward for me. A bit of spice, a bit of creamy malts and some spices. Nice aromatics but don't see the fuss on this one.

Taste- This also like the nose was a bit too honey forward for me. I was so stoked to see this in the box but this was a mad elf for me. A lot of hype but all the honey and spices dont do it for me.

Mouth- A semi medium body with a fairly still carbonation level. Residual honey and spices.

Drink- I wanted to like this one more but sadly I couldn't get into it.

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Photo of BeerImmediately
3.25/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into white-wine-style glass in the mid-40's.

Pours with a very short off-white head over a very clear, copper body with a touch of carbonation flowing up.

Aromas come off with an unexpected citrus rhind twist, along with plenty of alcohol.

Flavors are markedly different - body is not as thick as expected from the aroma, and flavors that come thru lead with bitter ginger, and just a kiss of cinnamon and honey.

Mouthfeel is quite dry, and with a bit of a cloying paste, it brings the drinkability down to a slow level.

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Photo of Spidey13
3.26/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I drank this beer on Christmas day, which seemed appropriate. Poured into a snifter. The beer is very pretty; clear and the color of the amber honey I see every year at the KY State Fair. Very small, off-white head which faded very quickly. It smells a bit like honey, malt, and Christmas spices. The mouthfell is medium-thick. Tastes of honey and malt, with a pop of hop bitterness in the mid-back of the tongue. It gets a bit cloyingly sweet toward the end of the bottle, so you really can't drink more than one. It was fun to try, but I probably won't be buying it next year.

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Photo of movingtrain
3.26/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2009 Batch--12 ounce bottle poured into a GLBC Christmas Ale glass.

Pours an amber-red with very little head at all. Thin white lacing sticks to the sides of the glass.

The aroma reminds me of hard cinnamon candy from Christmas time. Also smells of cherries, brown sugar, bread...and, I'm not sure why, but I am kind of reminded of cough syrup here...not necessarily a good thing...but that might change in the flavor.

Taste is a chalky malty sweetness...with a nice alcohol burn going down. Very bready, and some light spice sticking around on the tongue. I am getting hints of that cherry cough syrup flavor here...what is that spice?

Overall, this beer is good...but I feel like it's been better in the past. I'm not sure if Great Lakes changes the recipe each year. I remember loving the 2007 batch of this beer...and the 2006, as well. This one doesn't feel the same...perhaps needs to mature some in the bottle...though the expiration date for this one is in January. Interesting, as I've had this years past the expiration and it has seemed to improve. I hope that holds true for this batch, as well.

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Photo of mentor
3.26/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a one finger tan head over a crystal clear copper liquid. Smells gentle chocolate, some ginger and coriander. Comes across as a brown ale.

Tastes wet sweet with lotsa brown ale character. Chocolate and nutty with a delicious gingerbread cookie character. Fuzzy hop character, cinnamon, and sweet coriander flavor. Drying finish from herbal aromatics and cleaning alcohol. Aftertaste is dry with ginger. Md-light body and moderate carbonation. Not alot here, but still enjoyable.

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Photo of brown2cu
3.27/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a honey like color with a half finger head that completely disappears after about a minute. Completely nonplussed.

S: Smells like a spice rack winter warmer; cinnamon, ginger, honey, and nutmeg are all prevalent.

T: Cloyingly sweet with a slight spiciness to it as well. As this beer warms a whiskey-esque taste comes into play as well, however, nothing remarkable as well.

M: Medium bodied with active carbonation; gets syrupy and flat after it warms.

O: Worth a try but falls short on what I normally expect from great lakes.

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Photo of boomer31
3.27/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Been looking for this beer for about 2 years. When I found out GL was shipping to MN I was excited for this beer above the rest (except maybe blackout stout)

A - Transparent gold with an off right head. No stick on the glass and the head disappears quickly.

S - Smell of a big spice...I get ginger and a hint of cinnimon at the end. I can't put my finger on what it is but there is a spice that is very in your face.

T - More spice, again I can't put my finger on it. Lots of cinnimon and lots of spice. Reminds me of mulled wine

M - Light bodied and high carb.

D - If you like spicy this is a good winter warmer. I just so happen to not be a big fan.

Huge spice and long aftertaste. If you like spice, you'll like this

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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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