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

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Reviews: 879 | Ratings: 3,063
Photo of kinger
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2006 edition, hit the shelves late October. I missed this one last year, when I finally went looking it was already off the shelves. That being said I grabbed a single as soon as I spotted it, having heard mixed reviews I wanted to try one before I parted with $10 for a sixer. All in all this is a pleasant spicy warmer of a brew, I did expect something a little thicker and more powerful. Aroma is mild and well balanced with honey and clover mixed with a nice touch of ginger, not powerful but very mellow. Color is a dark copper with an amber-red hue, nice big head that dissipates leaving lots of lacing. Light on the palate with a cool dry finish the mouthfeel isn't as heavy as I wanted but it works. Flavor is medium bodied with an initial burst of honey leading way to the subtle spices. Malty and spicy it's definately not overdone as can happen all to easily with this style. Good Drink, plan on taking some home to the family for the holiday.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.14/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. A bit of head that fades to the edges. Copper in color and clear.

s. Spices and honey are apparent. Some malt adds to the mix.

t. A nice complex brew here. Some nice caramel malt. Hints of pine from the hops (possibly spruce as well?). Some spice (cinnamon and nutmeg namely) in the background, and the honey only adds to a lingering sweet finish, otherwise balanced out by the bitterness.

m. Medium bodied crisp and refreshing. A challange to my palate and a dry semi sweet finish.

d. This is a most excellent winter warmer. Complex and warming indeed. A winner. What I have come to expect from this brewery.

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Photo of treyrab
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Just picked some up tonight and poured into my pint glass...

A: This pours a very clear red copper with a small head initially. That head however dissipates quickly into nothing, not even a ring. Oh well...let's see how it tastes

S: This one smells pretty spicy. A lot of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (Whether these were used in the brewing is another story, but it smells like them!).

T: The taste is caramel caramel caramel. An initial taste of caramel followed by some spice, particularly cinnamon and nutmeg. The hop presence is in there only slightly, it is really not that noticeable in this Christmas ale.

Overall this is beer drinks extremely light for the alcohol. You could have told me that this beer was 4% ABV and I would have believed it. The alcohol is not noticeable one bit. The carbonation is slightly low on this one as well.

This is a good beer, not one of the best Great Lakes, but a good beer nonetheless

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Photo of zsk
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This is from a nearly one year old sample.

Poured a reddish amber with a nice one inch head.

Smell was of cinnamon and ginger. I've had this fresh on tap. The ginger is stronger now. Nutmeg too.

Taste is of MALT, cinnamon and honey. Ginger lays back. Hops are here, but way back.

This feels smooth and crisp at the same time.

I can drink these any time. It was tough to hold on to these till late summer. So complex.

Great beer!

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Photo of garcia2a
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Just had that last of the lot from the holidays. This beer poured a nice ruby-coppery brown and clear. Very little carbonation that left a lacey, thin head.

The bouquet was resplendent for the season. There was spruce, nutmeg, allspice, chocolate malt and very fine citrus and corriander. Even the smell was warming.

This translated well to the taste, as I picked up the spices first and on the backtaste I got the spruce and citrus. Nice and complex, but more importantly on an 80 degree PA day, warming!

The malt left the body on the big side, but the mouthfeel was excellent, leaving this a very drinkable beer.

Also, excellent graphic of a prewar Lionel 512 gondola, I have mine filled with small gifts when I run my standard gauge under the tree!!!

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Photo of JonathanL7890
3.72/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Many thanks to nrbw23 for this brew.

Poured a 2 finger head into a pint glass.
Color is brown.
Aroma is spruce, piney.
Taste is very smooth, well banlanced. I get the spruce in the taste also. A very malty brew. Lightly hopped.
Drinkability is good but I don't see myself drinking more than a couple.
Another great beerfrom Great Lakes.

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Photo of jeonseh
3.48/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

from a Bottle poured into a tulip pint glass.

A - An amber color that is rather clear and lets a good bit of light through it. As the light shines through, sees rays of golden light and a good bit of carbonation trailing up through it. Really no head at all developed and no lacing.

S - Smells a lot like cinnamon and spice and everything nice. Actually smells a bit like a cider as well and not as much like beer. Also not much of a nose is available.

T - Rather sweet beer that has a big hit of cinnamon spiciness to it. Yet the surprising thing is that this is not at all overpowering as it blends in very well. Also a bit of sweet red delicious apple taste to it as well. Actually reminds me a bit of a fall beer more than a Christmas ale. Seems to have a bit of a bitterness that comes through in the end and adds some complexity to the spice flavors that come thru at first.

MF - A light bodied beer with a good amount of carbonation. Rather easy to drink as it is smooth but also a bit watery. A hint of the alcohol comes thru and has a nice astringent quality to it.

D - Overall a pretty good and non challengin winter warmer. It has a nice spice characteristic but it is not at all too spicy. This would be a good beer to drink during Christmas and could easy drink a couple of them around the holidays. However, as I said above, the beer reminds me more of a fall beer than a Christmas one.

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Photo of tayner
3.71/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle.

It poured a very gorgeous amber color with a nice large, very sticky, bone colored head that lasted quite some time.

Smelled of brown sugar and spices, mainly i smelled the ginger. very sweet smelling, label says honey.

Taste was a heavy sweet malty beer, with a bit of midpalate spice of ginger and what the label calls cinnamon. not sure i could distinguish the cinnamon, but i could tell there was something there. A lightly drying hop finish, but the beer was overall pretty sweet.

Sticky and medium mouthfeel with just enough carbonation to make it drinkable.

The 7.5% is hidden very well. this is one i could drink a few of on a night and be very happy. I might have to hunt down a sixer every winter :)

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Photo of nrbw23
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- A nice clear copper color with a nice amount of head. Left a really nice lacing also.

S- I could pick up a lot here. Very nice picked up spices such as nutmeg, gingerbread and cinnamon. Also some yeast type aroma and honey. Maybe even a little citrus in there also.

T- Wow starts out a little spicy and then balances out really nice and finishes nice and smooth with a honey taste.

M- Body medium and low in carbonation. Feels great though and goes down incredibly smooth.

D- Very drinkable and is great for the season even though I'm finishing off mine a little late.

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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 Deuane
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Clear copper with a medium off white head. Leaves minimal lacing.

S-Subdued, apple-like scent with notes of ginger, nutmeg...kinda like sniffing mulled cider.

T-Subtle and full flavoured. The nice balance of malts and the spice make for a very pleasant brew. I really find this to be one of the best of the Christmas beers out there.

M-Light body with decent carbonation. This is certainly not a heavy X-mas brew...but it seems that it could have just a bit more bidy to make it complete.

D-Totally. As stated before this os one of my favs of the season. Nothing is overdone and the flavours meld very nicely.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.62/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I can't believe I've never reviewed this beer. I've been drinking it for a while now. Pours a clear ruby/brown in color. There is no remaining head that lasts after the pour. There is some definite ginger in the nose, and it's nice. Taste is much the same. Mouthfeel is medium in body and lively on the tongue. Very good, seasonal, sessionable brew.

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Photo of donteatpoop
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've revisited this brew after my initial tasting left me unappreciative. I'm not sure if I had a bad batch that year or if I simply hadn't yet evolved into as much an appreciator of diversity in beer; but either way I badly misjudged this exceptional brew.

I like this beer so much that I intend on sending it to a few out of state friends for the holiday; a stark contrast to my original rating of this beer (which was a D+).

The beer is a deep mahogony color with a cap of creamy head that retains well and leaves some delicate lacing along the side of the glass.

The nose is strong ginger and cinnamon, an underlying sweet malt presence makes itself known as well.

The hops, though a bit overpowered olfactoraly, are very much present in the taste. The initial taste the tongue picks up is that of a piney hop which is soon balanced by a sweet malt; the ginger and cinnamon are picked up in the final wash as the beer goes down the throat and lingers behind a bit.

This is every bit the excellent beer that so many have told me it was. I am thankful that I was persueded to give this a second go.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear copper amber with a nice off white head. Nose is subdued, but distinct. I get apples and carob. But mostly the apple shows. Flavor is nice and earthy and well balanced. Good level of malts and almost a touch of spice to it that just elevates things a wee bit. Feel is good on both liquid and carbonation. This is so easy to drink. It could possibly be the easiest drinking winter warmer I had this year, most in part due to some very brown ale characteristics in the mix. If I had more of these I wouldn't mind at all.

But alas. This is the end of the Great Lakes brews I have. Soon I will return to Brooklyn (I am in Pittsburgh right now), and they will be out of reach.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle with freshness date.

Pretty copper color, not a ton of head but good lacing from what is there.

Smells like cinnamon and ginger.

VERY spicy. Not hot, just tons of christmas spice. Dominated by connamon and ginger like the smell, but a little bit of honey comes through.

I can really only drink one of these at a time. It's a very interesting beer and worth a try, just not my thing.

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Photo of PEBKAC
4.27/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

JohnGalt1 comes through with long-awaited seasonal for my slurping pleasure. My first Great Lakes brew.

I rode around town today trying to stock up for the beer apocalypse, with 50mph gusts going up-hill in first gear, on one of the deadliest boulevards in the country. I honestly almost feel like boiling this one first, but I'll reserve that idea for another time.

The beer pours out pure copper, about 10 degrees off my prescription, I can read the monitor just fine through these beer goggles. No head to speak of, but the bubbles underneath speak for themselves. The smell coming off this glass is engaging. Let's focus on that.

It almost smells like a heather ale. Spices are very soft & floral. Something like lavender, gale, & an oddly soothing mix of caramel & pine oil. A faint trace of alcohol lifts off the top. Slightly muted overall in scent, but much better then so many over the top winter spiced beers that are more like over-saturated potpourri then anything else. Comparable to the medicinal smell of Fantome Strange Ghost in my opinion, just not as intense.

Taste has a light nutmeg character upfront, with an intense pumpernickel sweetness. It moves into an extra toasty(but not roasted) crust, & brings along a mild lettuce-like bitterness to close things out.

Dry & a little low on carbonation, it still flows really easy. Low in the hop department almost always equal in me having another. There's a reason it's available in six packs. :) Alcohol really is all to quiet. Why did I only get one?! :P

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Photo of chiefydawg
4.24/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

One of the several holiday beers I anticipate every year. Now I am documenting (for myself at least) justu why.

Dull copper colored with lazy fizz and a weak head. I would penalize this more if this wasn't consistent, and other holiday brews didn't look that way. Makes it look more potent. Grrr baby.

Whoa, there it is - that spiciness I look for in a winter warmer! Nutmeg, alcohol, gingerbread man, cinnamon... This makes me feel like I'm bouts to be getting warmed up this winter evening.

The taste follows suit, keeping the spice, lending some mild honey stickiness and more alcohol for some kick. Not much hop here, but it's a little too crowded for our favorite herb. The spices and alcohol offset the sweetness very nicely.

It's heavy and sweet like I like, and well-balanced as I've mentioned. I also said I didn't mind the flatness, but I would have enjoyed this if it had a little pop to it. It's like a prized beer that has sat in a growler too long, but I just opened the bottle.

An always welcome way to keep the cold and slush from becoming a downer, I will always cherish my GLCA. Because of the heaviness, alcohol, and spices, they force moderation, but that's the nature of this Great beast.

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Photo of HopDerek
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Christmas Ale snifter.

Pours a nice clear ruby red color with amber hues with a thin white head, ok retention touch of lacing. Smells are sweet, lots of honey and cinnamon and other Christmas spices, cherries, berry with a hint of hops and a good malt sweetness. Taste is sweet, like a gingerbread cookie with some fruitiness of cherries and winter berries with a twist of honey, touch of alcohol in the finish. Good carbonation with medium body. Good mix of sweetness and spices and a little candy-like. This is nice beer to enjoy for the holidays, easy to drink and flavorful.

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Photo of bobhits
2.69/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

This is a really nice looking beer. It's got a nice head that though a bit airy to the touch (instead of more a creamy head) lasts well and leaves a nice lace. The amber color is rich and nice as well.

Maybe it's because the bottle said it had honey in it, but that's the smell that first came to mind. There are some spices and hops that seem to mix together to create a second smell but the the honey smell really stood out.

The first taste is basically that of water and spices. I find it hard to not combine mouth feel and taste as they are the same here. The beer has this overpowering spice character with a bit of sweetness (honey) and some hops there that much like the smell seem to mix in well with the hops. With this I would expect something thicker to allow the flavor to linger and develop in the mouth but instead the beer is very watery and basically it just doesn't work for me. I want my beer to linger a bit longer and be somewhat sticky especially a winter style beer. This stuff even with the strong carbonation when you pour it doesn't really have it any of it left when you drink it.

It's watery and thus you can drink a lot of these and they go down really quickly.

That said I'm done with this when the 6 pack is done. This is the first beer from Great Lakes that I wasn't blown away by but hey you can't always be perfect. This beer however imo is average at best.

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Photo of BigBry
3.65/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was the Great Lakes seasonal available when I visited O'Shaughnessy's Public House while in Columbus.
Pint filled with a dark caramel color liquid with a short but strong head. Thin sheets of lace, nicely carbonated. Nice smells of spice and hops. Taste was good, with some spices, cinammon, clove, with the dark malt flavors. High alcohol is well hidden. Mouthfeel and drinkability were both OK, maybe a bit thin. I always like a well made local beer.

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Photo of littleshamrocks
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz brown bottle with the enjoy by date clearly printed on the label. Served in an imperial pint.

Pours a medium copper with golden highlights and about one finger of off-white head. Clarity is sparkling clear and the carbonation is lively. The head settles quickly leaving little lacing. Overall appearance is inviting. The nose is biscuity malts with hints of honey and spices. Taste is semi-sweet maltiness with definite gingerbread and cinnamon cookie similarities. Spicy goodness. Mouthfeel is medium+ bodied with a coarse texture and tons of carbonation. Finish is lightly chalky.

This is a full-on spicy winter warmer. The taste is very reminiscent of holiday goodies. All of the ingredients are in balance and blend very well together. This is probably the best winter warmer that I have tried thus far. The spices and the 7.5% abv will certainly warm you on a cold winter night.

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Photo of illidurit
3.83/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear golden amber color with an attractive off-white head of 2 fingers. Retention is decent, and there's some nice lacing.

Very spicy nose, with cinnamon and clove and ginger on top of a sweet malt base.

Taste is quite malty with a tinge of honey, and drowned in spices like ginger and nutmeg. Finish is medicinal, which clashes with the sweetness.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin for a winter warmer. Carbonation is good and the alcohol is undetectable.

Pretty easy drinking here, with no cloying or out of place flavors or notice of booze.

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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 xare
4.47/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured as a dark caramel color with excellent head. Laced very well and had outstanding carbonation.

Smelled like a mixture of winter spices, hops, and the alcohol is almost entirely hidden by the other aromas. Overall, excellent for a winter warmer.

Taste is outstanding as well - you can hit hints of clove, cinnamon, malts, and probably mace as well. The complexity of this beer comes from your ability to distinguish winter spices from one another but they all melded into a warm taste almost like a spiced cider but without any apple notes.

Mouthfeel and drinkability were both great for this beer, especially considering the high ABV and the spiciness of the beer. Overall, this is one of my favorite winter beers by far. I will definitely drink more of this and eagerly anticipate its release every winter.

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Photo of Hatch
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz pry-off brown bottle.

Pours a dark reddish copper, off-white head about one finger thick, nice lacing.

Smells of ginger, some hops, hints of cinnamon, spice, malty.

Some mild mat bite up front followed by what I noted as ginger. Almost reminds you of gingerbread. That's about the only spice I picked up on. Decent amount of bitterness from the hops. You can pick up on the alcohol, but for the most part it's pretty well hidden; has a nice warming effect. In my opinion it wasn't as complex as I thought it would be; pretty one-dimensional.

Medium-bodied brew, crispiness from the carbonation.

Probably not a beer you'd want to have more than one of due to the amount of spiciness and higher ABV, so I'd reccomend drinking one as a dessert or maybe to compliment something like a honey glazed ham.

Notes: Wasn't too impressed with this brew, but then again I'm not a fan of the style. I wish I could have found more than one spice in the beer, but for what it's worth, it's not bad for the style. Something to try, but I probably won't try it again.

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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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