Great Lakes Christmas Ale | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

BA SCORE
88
very good
3,067 Ratings
Great Lakes Christmas AleGreat Lakes Christmas Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Ohio, United States
greatlakesbrewing.com

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

BEER STATS
Ratings:
3,067
Reviews:
879
Avg:
3.91
pDev:
13.04%
 
 
Wants:
154
Gots:
778
For Trade:
10
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,067 |  Reviews: 879
Photo of woodychandler
4.6/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Hmmm. Curious that no review exists for this one when I am nearly positive that I wrote one back in 2007. Y'see, between June 2006 and August 2008, I visited all 50 U.S. states & most of the CANadian provinces as a part of the Woody Him Forward tour, staying with fellow BAs as well as Couchsurfing in its infancy and then chronicling the exbeeriences both here and elsewhere. In August 2007, I was in Kleveland and GLBC held a second Tuesday of the month Beer School as well as a third Wednesday of the month Beer Dinner which just happened to be on back-to-back nights that year and I partook of both! It happened that they were brewing that year's batch of Christmas Ale and the air was redolent with ginger and cinnamon. While on a tour, one of the assistant brewers was pulling a basket filled with huge cinnamon sticks and what looked like balls of soap ala soap on a rope, but were actually balls of ginger (!) out of the boil kettle as we passed by. One woman exclaimed when she realized what it was and asked what was to be done with the spent materials. When she was told that it would be consigned to the garbage, she nearly cried. Some, not all of it, was set aside for her and she took it home, dried it out, shaved it down, added lavender and made potpourri sachets for her family, friends, the brewery and everyone in attendance that evening. Mine was mailed to me along with a Christmas card that November. I know that I wrote about this in reviewing that year's iteration. Very curious.

From the bottle: "Do not open 'til Christmas? Whoever coined that phrase obviously hasn't tasted Christmas Ale's fresh honey, cinnamon, and ginger flavors."

I Pop!ped the cap with great anticipation and gave the bottle a hard pour in greater anticipation of what was to come. I got two-plus fingers of dense, tawny head with great retention. Nose smelled beautifully of the cinnamon and ginger and I was transported back nine years to the day when that sachet arrived. Color was Deep Amber/Light Copper to Copper (SRM = > 13, < 17) with NE-quality clarity. Mouthfeel was medium-to-full, not quite creamy, but close. The taste was spicy, but tempered by the sweetness of the honey, which was eminently noticeable in the mouth and on the tongue. Finish was semi-dry, again with the spices being tempered by the honey. This is an entirely mellow drink, not at all indicative of its ABV, and kind of tea-like. I am always put in mind of one of Celestial Seasonings' blends when I drink this beer. Sadly, Christmas comes but once a year ...

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Photo of millerbuffoon
4/5  rDev +2.3%

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 ZEB89
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of Huhzubendah
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by Dreadnaught33. Thanks Jonathan!

A: This beer appears a slightly hazy shade of orange, with an eighth inch of head that falls away after a few moments, leaving some decent lacing upon the glass.

S: The aroma is very potent, with a huge bouquet of spices, including cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

T: The taste is full of Christmas spices, with hints of alcohol when you delve past the dominant spice scents. I would like the beer to be a bit more robust, and / or have a more substantial malt bill, better supporting the myriad of pleasant spices used in this creation.

M: Thin in body, with moderate carbonation.

D: A nice choice if you're in the mood for a spiced Christmas brew.

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

Photo of Zaphog
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of paulish
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of InspectorBob
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of atlbravsrno1
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.96/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Copper amber with a very nice caramel tone thicket of head, lacing forms a thck collar that continues to leave intersipping full rings. Aroma: Malty slightly toasted nuts but the spicing steals the show very festive, with cinnamon and tones of nutmeg some slightly floral hopping going on as well a bit one sided but who cares Great Lakes can do no wrong. Taste: Fluffy layer of creaminess blended with the spicy tones of ginger and a rich honey finish, and alcohol is very well hidden didn't know that this one was 7.5 % they are usually pretty conservative with their alcohol level at the GLBC, but hey 'tis the season, right? Mouthfeel: Medium body a bit sticky but not cloying in any way smooth mild carbonation, can't complain. Drinkability: On draft much more drinkable but the bottle just seems to concentrate the cinnamon and ginger spices just a bit much one though is a good experience to be had go out and find some while the Christmas beers are still here.

 980 characters

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

Photo of JAHMUR
3/5  rDev -23.3%

Photo of BeerForMuscle
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%

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

I love a beer that actual tastes like the description. There's no lip service with this beer! The warmer the Great Lakes Xmas gets, the more the aroma and favors become. This is not a session ale, so careful with consumption...pace yourself.

Drink it up to make the Holiday Season a true event. Enjoy!

 302 characters

Photo of AlexFields
2.73/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Thanks to the guy at the BASC release who gave these for free to my friend Photekut (who then gave one for free to me).

Nice reddish amber color with a good sized and attractive head.

Nose is all christmas spices. Unfortunately, my christmas spice vocabulary is not quite up to snuff, and I'm not going to make a fool of myself by naming a bunch of random spices that I couldn't actually identify by smell. Suffice it to say this beer just smells like a ton of different wintry spices thrown together at random. Not that appealing.

Taste is similar to the nose but better. There's more of a balance to the spice flavors and less weird clash than in the nose. There's also a decent honey-sweet backbone that stops the beer from being totally overrun by the spices. Still, though, let's not kid ourselves, this beer is all about the spices, and if you don't love winter spices this isn't the beer for you. I get cinnamon and maybe nutmeg, but again, I don't know my winter spices well enough to name a bunch of specific ones.

Nice mouthfell, welll carbonated.

I don't generally care that much for winter warmers, and this one is no exception. Heavy on the spices, light on everything else. Drinkable, maybe even good if you're into this kind of thing, but I'm not really into this kind of thing.

5.7/10

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Photo of tdm168
3.42/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to jtd1969 for sharing this one with me.

Pours a deep amber with a quarter of an inch of off white head that has little retention. The nose is sweet with mild notes of honey, faint cinnamon, and fainter ginger. The flavor opens up with some faint honey and then moves into a candy-like, sugary sweetness. The finish has notes of cinnamon and very faint ginger. The flavor profile overall is rather light and laid back. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, smooth, and moderately carbonated.

This isn't a bad beer, but it's uninteresting. There's is nothing that sets it apart from any of the other winter warmers that are also brewed with cinnamon, ginger, and honey. It was nice to try once, but I wouldn't have it again.

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

Appearance: pours a golden color with not much lacing and no head.

Smell: The spice smell is prevalent in a good way.

Taste: Sweet and malty balanced just right.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied feels good going down.

Drinkability: The best Christmas ale and very easy to drink all night just don't plan on driving home.

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Photo of rolltide8425
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%

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

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 smakawhat
3.38/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured on tap at Jose Andres' America Eats Tavern into a pilsner style glass.

No foam or head presented. Clear dark orange body with some slow rising carbonation coming up. Since there is only the body to describe there's not much else to say.

Nose is pretty muted. There's faint dry malt, and some mild nutmeg. But really it's a pretty closed nose.

Taste is mild bread dough, mixing with not clove spices. Sweetness comes on the aftertaste more so, even some fruity cherry sensations. Mouthfeel has some sticky like quality but it's also a bit wet, carbonation seems a little fizzy but tolerable.

Overall, not sure how much this was opened up on the pour, but it seems like I am preferring Great Lakes out of the bottle than on tap based on my experience.

 761 characters

Photo of imperialking
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%

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

 365 characters

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.

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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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