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:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 879 | Ratings: 3,067
Photo of lastmango
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured a nice ruby amber color with a two finger white head. Minimal lacing. Mild nose of cherry, malt and spices. Moderate malt flavor with cinnamon and clove. Slight hop bitterness on the end. Moderate body and carbonation. Overall, a nice holiday brew.

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Photo of Rockjocknroll
3.84/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pretty clear amber with small head and lacing. Smells like Christmas with a tiny hop nose; great holiday spices on the nose and taste. Slightly hoppy and long caramel finish. Great warmer!

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

12 ounce bottle poured into a Becher glass.

a: Wonderful ruby/amber color. Clear with a shimmer. One finger bubbly white head dissipates quickly.

s: Roasted malts and mild caramel holds up cherries and bitters. Mild spices.

t: Taste follows the nose. Honeyed malts, mulling spices, bitters and fruit skin.

mf: Medium light body with good carbonation. A slight cherry tartness cuts through the sweetness.

o: This is the winter warmer. Nothing touches it for its balance and availability.

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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 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 MacMalt
3.84/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip glass. The color is a lovely rosy-red with a thin, milk-white head and thick lacing. It's a very attractive pour. The smell is mostly malt with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a trace of caramel. The taste is malty with caramel, cherry, cinnamon, and nutmeg. There is a slight bitterness at the finish. It's a nice, medium-bodied ale, with moderate carbonation, and the 7.5% ABV is just noticeable enough to give it a kick. Overall, it's a pleasant drinking ale; not overpowering but with a nice flavor. I'm not sure I would seek this one out but if offered, I'd gladly accept.

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Photo of puck1225
3.79/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On draft into a pint glass. Golden color with a this head but very nice lacing. It has a clean slightly sweet smell. The feel was very smooth with a somewhat spicy taste. Malty with a taste of ginger or maybe allspice. Very nice.

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Photo of mschrei
4.55/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Surprised by the sub4 rating on this. Poured into Solemn Oath snifter. Beautiful appearance-golden brown on edges, lighter hues in center, lots of particulates floating after the head rush dissipates. Spice on smell, spice on taste. Pouring takes some of the harsh edge off, but drinking it from the bottle is enjoyable to the taste buds too. Crisp with a warming feeling, really glad I got a sixer but hoping I can get some more.

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Photo of ctylinebeer
4.36/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip. Poured down the center with little to no tilt needed

L - Red-amber color with a crystal clear hue. One finger of head

S - Nutty malt similar to an amber ale. Hints of holiday spice coming through

T - Nutty medium dark malt with well rounded holiday spice to the finish. Tastes like Christmas, but not too much Christmas

F - Light in body. Clean and crisp all the way through. Approachable for anyone's palate

O - Very nice Christmas beer. Very different from other seasonals in that it is sessionable and has the right amount of spice. Honey not so prevalent, but a very nice beer

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.07/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pouring a semi-murky copper color, this has two fingers worth of off-white colored head. Retention isn't fantastic, and there isn't much lacing left on the glass.

Did someone say cinnamon? This beer's aroma doesn't dick around with it, that's for sure. Ginger also makes an appearance, as does a touch of hoppiness. In addition, some caramel malts also pop up - not much honey though. I'm not sure how this really stands out from the legions of cinnamon-spice bombs out there...

Taste-wise, I get more honey here than the nose suggested [I'd just like to add that I think honey is an awesome adjunct for beer, in moderation], especially to finish it off. Also, the initial flavor hit of cinnamon and ginger is subdued next to the aroma. Some fruity traces appear near the mid-taste. Actually, it seems a little boozy for 7.5% - just a little. Nothing really pops here.

Quite nimble on the palate for a semi-big winter warmer, thanks to the subtle astringent sensation brought by the honey. Still, it offers a full, sticky mouthfeel otherwise. Carbonation is just right.'s okay. No more, no less. The honey notes are my favorite part of this, helping to break up the cinnamon meets caramel monotony this offers otherwise. Yeah...monotonous is a good word to describe this beer. I would not buy this one again.

3.07/5: Not the finest work from this (very good) brewery

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Photo of ajm5108
4.34/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep amber with moderate head. Cinnamon all over the aroma, along with some cardamom, spicey phenols and amber hops. The cinnamon is definitely the major note on the tongue, and the honey really comes out as well. The malt profile isn't very hefty or bready, just enough to anchor the spice. It segues into a clove spice at the end, less sweet and a little huskier. Finishes very clean. Overall I enjoyed it, but there is definitely a lot of the cinammon. It isn't a subtle beer, and I like a sprinkle of cinammon on plenty of refreshments, but this beer comes tad close to going overboard with it, even if for me it stayed on the good side.

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Photo of oldn00b
3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Rich amber color with foamy white head that fades immediately.

Malt notes and spices come through big, clove and cinnamon especially.

A bit on the light side for a winter warmer. Rich malt notes and spice are huge. Really, comes across like a spiced Marzen to me (even if that's completely wrong, that's how it feels and tastes).

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Photo of maedhros09
3.49/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Look: Rich golden amber with average off white head that dissipates entirely
Smell: christmas spice (nutmeg? allspice?), bready, alcohol
Taste: Rich and malty, sweet but not excessive, spice, mineral, moderate bitterness that seems unrelated to hops.
Feel: full bodied with nice fine carbonation. carbonation, like the head, dissipates with time.

Overall: I didn't like this one very much, but it's hard to put my finger on exactly why. Partly the bitterness and partly the booziness, I guess. I can see how some people like this, but I could barely finish it.

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Photo of exposd
3.94/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a light amber/deep red color into a pint glass with nice head and slight lacing down the glass as you drink this Christmas style winter warmer. This was the first Christmas beer I ever tasted and I used to think it was a lot better than I do now, unless they changed the recipe majorly since I've last had it. It's a great classic Christmas style ale, but in my opinion it has just a little bit too much ginger flavor which I've never tasted so strong in any other holiday ale. Still a very good brew and the honey and cinnamon flavors do wonders when paired together in this Cleveland, Ohio brew. A great starting point for holiday craft beer and a solid winter warmer for sure. But there are much better holiday beers in Ohio that I like better such as Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs or Fat Heads Holly Jolly.

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Photo of Wiffler27
4.4/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

pours a mahogany color with a solid white head.

smell is sweet yet subdued. almost like gingerbread.

taste is sweet and mellow. i don't taste too much spice, which is nice. i don't like spices muddling up my beer. finishes dry and with spices.

overall this is pretty good, i imagine this is better as it warms. a nice sipper, i like this.

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

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip glass. 2015 version.

A - Dark, clear ruby red with a one finger head that dissapears quickly.

S - Bready malts. Some gingerbread and mild spice.

T - Follows the nose. Warming indeed.

M - Carbonation medium, well situated for the style. The mouthfeel is full, but not heavy. Does get a touch sticky as it warms.

O - An enjoyable xmas ale. Does not overdo it in the spice category. A malt forward winter sipper.

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

Dark honey color and light head. Great aroma of spice and malts waft up from the glass. Taste is layered and smooth, highly drinkable. Let it warm a bit to catch notes of honey and spices over a solid malt backbone. It's a beer with hints of spice, not an alcoholic spice cake. Nice for a warm up to dinner or while baking on a cold and drab afternoon. Not normally a fan of spiced beer, but we'll make an exception for this one.

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Photo of hophead723
4.41/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I got just one of these to see just how good it is. Great Lakes is top notch stuff, and they have yet to disappoint. I put it in the freezer and it cooled down to probably 32°F, but when I poured it I let it warm up until I could really taste everything it had to offer. Poured into a tulip glass.

Look: Mahogany-orange amber color, off white almost tan head, with lacing that drags all the way down the glass.

Smell: Like gingerbread and fruitcake! It really does smell like fruitcake and candied ginger. Reminds me of freshly baked gingerbread cookies.

Taste: Just the right amount of sweetness underneath a warm ginger flavor that is present no matter how cold the beer is. Multi-layered complexity in the malt profile, but it all coalesces into one beautiful harmonious whole like a choir of Christmas carolers. There is a superb lingering of Wildflower honey that comes in at the end of each gulp.

Feel: Medium body, crisp. I realized that the body can be described so simply because it is flawlessly executed. This is Great Lakes' forte.

Overall: Pure gold. This is definitely the best Christmas beer I have had this year! All the other one's I've had are like pumpkin beers; I like the idea of them but they are rarely made well enough to match the expectation. But this one is excellent and a must try for sure.

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Photo of RMR
4.58/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

One of better Christmas Ales I have had. Very smooth well balanced spice..... normally can only drink 1 Christmas style Ale.... but for this ale, kept going back for more.

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Photo of thegodfather2701
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a golden color with almost no head. Smells very malty with a hint of spice. Tastes on the sweet side with malt really shining. It has some honey and spice but not very complex at all. It tastes good just a little too sweet for me. It has a good mouthfeel and definitely not over carbonated. Overall this is a good beer, but not my favorite Christmas seasonal.

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Photo of Billolick
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, w/ enjoy by dating - fresh sample

Pours hazed medium almond, med khaki head, lasting and leaving typical, respectable lace.

Nose is of holiday spices, cinnamon, mulled apples, toast and the rest

Tasty holiday brew...more of the same from above on the palate, fresh and fruity take on the style

Tasty and dangerously easy drinking...worth a try

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

This is still good, but not as good as I remember it. A few years back this was rare and awaited. Now it fills the big box grocery stores, and I fear the quality has suffered a bit. I used to rave about this and really love the flavor, but now I taste some astringent ginger flavors that I don't recall. The spicy nutmeg honey is still there, but this seems just a tad off and sour vs. the smooth richness and warmth of previous releases. I am willing to think I got a weird batch (or I am having a taste malfunction!) and get another six or try on draft. I will revise if my opinion changes. Can it be different than previous years, or is it just my imagination?

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Photo of hopsputin
4.01/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

a: its a dark amber color with some dark orange notes. lots of little floaties in there as well. 2 finger rocky off-white head

s: brown sugar, fig, roasted malt, oak, sweet cherries, something almost like a bitter cocoa powder, some clove and nutmeg. a little bit of that sweet honey at the end

t: roasted malt upfront, honey and brown sugar, plums, sweet cherries. there is a herbal bitterness in here as well that sits right in the middle of the flavor. there is a dry crackery malt presence in here as well that takes over the back end of the taste. ends with just a bit of honey. there is a bit of an alcohol tinge in here as well.

m: medium mouthfeel, with a nice carbonation level for a winter warmer - it helps to give some body to the beer

o: this is a nice beer to be drinking in the cold weather. its sweet, a bit roasty, and has a nice balance with the spices. my one flaw with it is just a bit too much alcohol flavor in here. other than that, quite enjoyable

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Photo of sjccmd
4.27/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Apricot, honey and spices. Caramel with some spicy herbal hops. Sweet but not particularly strong smelling. Some dark fruits, cinnamon.

Clear amber/copper. Off-white head with ok retention and lacing.

Toasted bread and apricots upfront in the flavor. Pleasantly sweet without being cloying. Gingerbread cookies and pie crust. Finish is dry with some balancing hop bitterness.

Medium body with medium low carbonation. Mouthfilling without being sticky. Fairly clean finish with residual spices and sweet malts.

Clean and easy drinking for the style. Satisfying amount of spices and malt without being cloying.

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Photo of Tripel_Threat
4.19/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

My favorite winter warmer so far. Poured from bottle to pilsner, producing two fingers of white head. Liquid is crystal clear garnet. Aroma is sweet, warm, mellow honey and spice, ginger, and sweet bread malt. Taste follows with the honey taking second place to sweet and spiced malty goodness, with a warming pinch of ginger on the gulp. Finishes clean and warm.

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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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