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: 3,067
Photo of BDIMike
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a fairly clear brown. Nice head that stayed throughout the entire beer.
Great aroma. Smells of cinnamon, nutmeg, gingerbread, and a whole bunch of spice.
The taste is very spicy too. All the Christmas flavors make an apperance, same as the smells above.
An okay mouthfeel. Could be a little heavier to match the taste.
Don't think about drinking more than two of these. Spices can get to you, along with the incredibly high alcohol content.

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Photo of pwoods
1.93/5  rDev -50.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

12oz. brown bottle, purchased from Party Source, poured into a pint. 1/22/08 best before date.

A: Pours a deep copper that is probably clearer than any other beers I've seen. Very small amount of very small bubbles lazily stroll to the top. average pour produced only 1/2 finger of off white head and didn't last very long.

S: Spicy cinnamon(like Big Red) is the first thing that hit me. Brown sugar, clove, nutmeg, and ginger bread also make an appearance. Not getting anything else but spices. Not terrible but not very complex, either.

T/M: Dominated by hot cinnamon and a cough syrup taste. Some clove and ginger try to make there way through but just don't manage. I don't even want to finish this. Body is medium heavy and carbonation is low.

D: Didn't drink much at all. Winter Warmer isn't my favorite style but I don't dislike it by any means... this one just didn't do it. It's very unfortunate, too, since GLBC is one of my favorite breweries.

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Photo of CDBeerDisappear
3.97/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Christmas Ale, we always look forward to this seasonal favorite. A lot of breweries have beers with Christmas names (like Santa’s Butt) but this beer really captures the flavors of the holiday. It’s brewed with honey and spiced with fresh ginger and cinnamon which gives it the great holiday aroma. Good mouth feel with good carbonation to release those spicy smells makes this a very drinkable beer.

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Photo of joe1510
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz Bottle
$10.99 6-Pack
Binny's Orland

Best Before 12/31/07

Let's see how the first Christmas beer of the season goes down. Great Lakes Christmas Ale pours a stunningly crystal clear copper. A one finger head formed as I poured but fell to a solid crown in no time. A good amount of carbonation streams to the surface keeping what head is there alive.

According to the bottle this has a combination of cinnamon, ginger, and honey. The cinnamon and ginger are definately there in the aroma and actually are the spotlight of this brew. There's some toasted malt in the background but it's only there as a backdrop for the spicing. I can't pull any honey out of the smell. It does smell like Christmas. As I was about finished with this review it dawned on me the aroma has a strong aroma of gingerbread. Don't know how that didn't register a little quicker.

The honey shows up in the flavor faintly. Toasted grains are the malt backbone. The spicing is, again, the highlight of this beer. Ginger, cinnamon, and honey glide over the maltiness in that order of intensity. A mouthful of gingerbread greets you and slightly fades toward the finish. The honey is mellow and ends things off nicely.

Medium bodied and coating on the swallow. This beer has a solid carbonation that keeps things moving but there is a (just short of) sticky quality on the finish that actually goes nicely with the body and spicing.

Tonight is downright cold and this is a good brew to enjoy as the holiday season quickly comes into view.

My first Christmas brew of the season and a good way to start things off. The aroma of this beer screams Christmas and it doesn't dissapoint.

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Photo of mashedpotatoes
4.85/5  rDev +24%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is truly an incredible beer. Definitely one of my new favorites. The balance is perfect. Beautiful copper color pour with a medium to thick head with perfect lacing. Smell is subtle but intriguing. Taste is very smooth, very clean yet a bit complex. The ginger doesn't come through until later. When finishing off your first bottle the cinnamon is much more pronounced at the bottom. The finish is incredible and really keeps you coming back for more. Highly, highly recommended. Seasonal availability Oct through Dec.

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Photo of hustlesworth
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- clear copper/iced tea colored brew with 1in of spongy pancake batter beige-gray head. settles to a very thin ring.

S- cinnamon, ginger burns the nose slightly. smells like french toast with a hint of vanilla, maybe from the honey. dig past the spice and theres some caramel malt and a woodsy hop aroma.

T- a complex ale due to the added spices. cinnamon dominates, alcohol, ginger snap cookie, burnt pancake, slight mocha-coffee in the malt, aromatic wood, thanksgiving desserts. at the end, astringent bitter hops mingle with the spicy sweetness but fade quickly.

MF- slightly syrupy, coating, mid to low carbonation, honey and spices feel cloying, but would probably go great with a similar flavored dessert like pumpkin pie or apple fritter.

D- a nice treat for the holidays, but i prefer to stick to the basics. a find all the various spices unnecessary and i get tired of them quickly. after i finish one of these, i want something thats just :water>grain>yeast>hops:

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Photo of csmiley
3.78/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured a medium brown color with a little red. Nice touch for a Christmas Ale. About an inch of head that was average.

S - First smell is of malt and Christmas spice. Too hard to narrow down every single spice used (maybe I should have read the label before I reviewed it). Seems to have a slight roasted smell in the background mixed with alcohol.

T - Sweet flavor comes through first. Maybe a combonation of the Christmas spice and malt. Hop bitterness is more pronounced in the flavor. The abv is mostly covered by other flavors. This makes for a good balance of flavors.

M - All the flavors make this a medium bodied beer which is a good effort considering the alcohol content. Carbonation was just right.

D - This is pretty good beer that I normally end up buying more than once during the season.

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Photo of letsgopens
3.89/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed on-tap at Buffalo Wild Wings in Downtown Youngstown, this winter warmer pours a very nice mahogany copper with a good looking, frothy, white head that holds well and leaves a nice lace ring.

The aroma is malty and sweet with a decent amount of spice and just a hint of hops. Fairly malty and somewhat uneventful but still pleasant.

Very sweet with more malt and lots of spice and fruit: orange and cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom. Moderate hops for the style. One curious characteristic is a noticeable metallic flavor; not unappetizing but curious. Of course there's a very significant amount of alcohol warmth. For its fairly average ABV, this selection will certainly keep you toasty on a chilly winter evening.

Starchy and smooth but with a bit of sharpness and plenty of warmth in the finish. Moderate carbonation really ups the spice on the tongue. Another well crafted beer from Great Lakes. Oh, and watching the Steelers stomp the Ravens on Monday Night Football doesn’t hurt the experience either.

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Photo of PittBeerGirl
3.63/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Medium red/brown body that looks similar to a dark red ale. Foamy white head that has great retention at 1/2 finger. Body is transparent.

S- Nose is light and dominated by cinnamon and honey. Ginger and other warn spices are noted in the background along with a slight hoppiness.

T- Initial taste is very brassy and metallic. Cinnamon and other spices are noticeable in the background but the honey almost disappears. Finish is quite clean and a slight metallic bitterness lingers on the palate.

M- Medium carbonation and medium weight body. Nice and easy to swallow but nothing remarkable.

D- This gets a 4.0 from me for two reasons. 1. It was easy to finish in a short amount of time and I probably could have consumed more of it. 2. I would have never guessed the ABV was so high because there is no hint of that anywhere in the smell/taste/mouthfeel. Other than that-this is an above average winter warmer that I will probably have again before the season is over but it was nothing that impressed me too much.

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Photo of nvsblman
4.6/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Crystal clear golden brown with about a finger of white head. Aroma is of ginger, honey, and a little cinnamon. Nicely sweet, not at all too sweet. The flavor shows about the same balance as the aroma. The ginger stand out a bit more than the other flavors and lingers a little longer, but the sweetness of the honey and the spiciness of the cinnamon provide a nice balance. Medium bodied with a bit of creaminess. This would be great to have around during the holiday season.

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Photo of LeftonJackman
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Christmas comes early in Cleveland, OH! Great Lakes Brewery taps it's first keg of its storied Christmas Ale in October and I was there for the festivities!

Perhaps it is part anticipation, but the Christmas Ale is a sight to behold. A deep, warm amber appearance is a perfect prelude to the warm, seasonal taste. The off-white head is about a finger and melts perfectly to lace.

Drawing deeply I get cinnamon, ginger and a perfect amount of honey. The honey is present but not overpowering. It smells like a warm draft on a bitter Cleveland winter's night.

The taste is a good follow to the nose. Spicy and moderately sweet thanks to the honey. Aptly named as Christmas Ale, this is a cool weather beer.

With only a slight bitterness it awakens the tongue and does not batter the back of the mouth. Chin-up and catch the hints of bitterness in the back of the throat.

Lovely drinkability, but beware the ABV. It is stronger than your average beer and is to be celebrated, not consumed.

There is a very good reason that this beer is a back-to-back Gold Medal Winner.

On-tap is the way to go.

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Photo of aforbes10
3.96/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have no idea where i got this, but i have a good idea where it is about to go! Pours as a shiny red beer with hints of brown. Smells like one of those off-brand colas you get from a 25cent machine. plummy and spicy with notes of nutmeg, maple, honey and cinnamon, but still in a kind of cheap soda way. Very tasty though. a veritable fruitcake of flavors...nutmeg is the most pronounced, with a lot of ginger as well and cinnamon....not over the top in flavor though...spices run thick but there's a nice malt backbone in it. Medium bodied and well balanced. One of the better spiced beers ive tried.

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

A: The body of this beer is beautiful, a very bright dark amber/reddish hue. However, the one finger white head that I got by pouring from about 6 inches above the glass disappeared almost instantly leaving only the faintest of rims around the glass and some speckled spots of head in the center.

S: This is definitely a winter warmer. Along with the rush of caramely malty aromas pouring from this glass was riding ginger, cinnamon, honey, and other spices that immediately bring the holidays to mind.

T: Ginger is very prominent in the flavor. There are other flavors playing second violin like cinnamon, malt, and other spices that I can't name specifically but again, remind me of the holidays.

M: Very smooth beer. It has a medium body with no carbonation.

D: This is a pretty good beer considering I drank it in July. It would be even better in the winter I bet.

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Photo of Imstillthegman
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to Sephiroth for the extra in a trade.

Pours a clear copper color with a half-inch off-white head. Head quickly fades and leaves only a spot or two of lacing.

The aroma is intriguing, yet a bit of a turn-off at the same time. Not sure which way I am going here. Sweet malts, dark fruits, spices and a faint honey smell. Bringing back memories of those weird herbal medicines my mother would mix up and try to get us to take.

The flavor is exactly as the label would have you believe. The spices make it different than just about any winter warmer I have had. The honey isn't easy to pick out, but it's there.

Slightly creamy, medium bodied beer. Spicy, herbal aftertaste. Glad I got to try it, but I don't think I would ever buy it.

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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 flexabull
3.96/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This bottle came to Northern California courtesy of Sephiroth. Thanks again!

Pours a bright clear copper color, with a nice healthy white head.

Aromas are of alcohol, and stewed fruits. Smells bright, spicy, and pepper like.

Taste is of creamy malts up front. A bit of sweet honey and spicy undertones. Finish is crisp and bright. This is a complex and interesting tasting beer.

Mouthfeel is big and full.

Drinkability is good. This is a different twist for me on the Winter Warmer style. But this is an enjoyable and interesting beer. Would love to try this again this coming winter.

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

Got this from Sephiroth in a trade. Thanks for the opportunity.

A: pours a light copper color with a small off-white head.

S: cinnamon, honey, spices, and alcohol.

T: tastes like Christmas. Sweet cinnamon, honey and ginger, along with other spices. This is a desert beer. Has a lot in common with a pumpkin ale.

M: medium bodied. The spices slightly sting the tongue. Really nice mouthfeel.

D: considering how sweet this beer is, I’d say it still goes down rather smooth. I wouldn’t drink more than 2 or three of these though.

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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 granite
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A---It poured copper with thin white head.

S---Cinnamon and toasted malt.

T---It was very dry and slightly astringent. Very little malt flavor. Some warming alcohol and it finished all spices.

M---Thin-medium bodied.

D---Now this is a great winter warmer. Nice use of spice and just enough alcohol to balance.

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Photo of terrabyte
3.47/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a light copper-tan color.

Smells like Christmas spices. All of them.

Flavor consists of ridiculous amounts of coriander or clove, gingerbread cookies, and sweet molasses. Luckily this beer is labeled correctly, and one shouldn't be surprised by it. A unique Winter Warmer that is worth a try.

Mouthful has a below average carbonation. It is slightly thick, slick and syrupy.

Drinkability is a bit low due to its flavor combination. I purchased this at Woodman's at a discount ($6 for a 6-pack). I'm not sure if it really was on discount, but it seemed worth the current price, especially since I was looking for something different. And I found it! However, I'd probably hold off on having this again in the future except with desserts. And by desserts I mean Christmas desserts that consist of either: Gingerbread cookies or Pumpkin Pie. Don't forget the whip cream.

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Photo of Phatz
3.98/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to Akorsak for this generous gift. You are a real friend. I took the week off reviewing to recover from a cold. What a great way to get going again.

Appearance: Pours a clear copper color with a small ivory head that fades quickly into a collar. Little lacing.

Smell: The aroma is a very pleasant gentle scents of cherry cinnamon caramel and a sticky bun malt attribute.

Taste: It has a bit of a flavor that I consider artificial red. It is a cherry like flavor with a malt backbone. Ginger and honey and orange clove and cinnamon powder a light doughy flavor that is full of typical Winter Warmer flavors.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and a bit slick through the center but the spices keep it lively on the cheeks. The body is a bit lighter than many Winter Warmers but it works well with this beer.

Drinkability: This is a very drinkable beer. Its lighter body and the friendly flavor make it quite easy to quaff. The alcohol really does not show much through the spices also adding to its easy drinking.

Thanks again Adam

Hope this is helpful.

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

Well, this is my first "winter warmer".

Poured into a pint glass. Color has a slight red tinge with a little head that leaves some lacing. Looks nice/festive & very clear. Smells spicy - a little clove, some vanilla, cinnamon, and a slight hint of orange. Tasts sweet and malty up front, like a cookie, but finishes sour - maybe it's the orange? Mouthfeel is thin, but is functional in this case. Definitely a sipping and/or dessert beer - I would not crack another one tonight. Recommended.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Best by date of January 2007, Sampled January 2007
This beer sits a brilliantly clear, dark, amber to burnt copper color when held up to the light, otherwise it sits a dark amber brown color. The beer is initially topped by a three-finger thick, tan colored head that is frothy and leaves some layered lacing on the sides of the glass. The aroma is fruity up front, but then begins to take on a spice cake sort of character that drives a spicy sweetness. The spices are not so dominant that you can easily pick out the specifics; I get hints of cinnamon, ginger, perhaps some nutmeg, all spice, and clove and some spicy cardamom like notes. Underneath this is a fruit character that makes me think of cherries, and raisins.

The taste is lightly sweet up front, with a definitely spicy middle. A ginger-like peppery character rests solidly in the middle of this brew, actually it tends to linger a bit in the finish along with a cinnamon character. This beer is quite light and drinkable, in fact it drinks much easier than even 7.5%. I really like the spice levels in this beer, it is quite noticeable, but not so dominating that it is distracting. Fruity notes provide a nice balance to the spices; notes of cherries, green raisins, sweet Muscat, and even a light orange note reminiscent what one would find in some dessert wines. In the end this is quite drinkable and even enjoyable.

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Photo of k3n
2.35/5  rDev -39.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Bottle traded from tangfoot (thanks!), dated freshest by 1/19/07. Got in under the wire.

A: Really nice coppery-orange color. Not much head or carbonation.

S: Slightly malty smell, mostly sweet, reminds me of spiced apple cider.

T: In a word: Sweet. IMO, too sweet. The malty sweetness runs right into the gingery, honey sweetness. There's a bit of acidity at the end, but is then overwhelmed by the cloying honey.

M: Mouthfeel is light to begin with, but that sticky honey taste/feeling hangs around too long at the end.

D: Not impressed with the drinkability of this one, and I tend to favor winter warmers. Seems like there's not enough balance to this one.

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Photo of gmfessen
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, beer is a golden-amber color with a thick creme colored head that leaves small webs of lacing. The smell is of amber/crystal malt with hops coming through as grapefruit and pine. The taste is similar to the nose, with a pretty hoppy finish for the style. Alcohol is well hidden. This is a very drinkable beer, goes down smooth. A must try beer.

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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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