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 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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Photo of aggiearcher13
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Seems like a nice beer for tonight. Sitting next to the fire, addressing Christmas cards, and watching the hockey game.

A: I didn't pour it too gently, but only about a finger of head which disapeared pretty quickly. Copper colored.

S: Not as much spice as I was expecting, but I wasn't completely sure what to expect. Some ginger/honey with a little bit of hops on the finsih, maybe cascades.

T: Cinnamon and ginger. I like the balance of the spice. A little bit of caramel or toffee on the finish.

M: Smooth in the mouth, quite nice. Good body on it.

D: I could have 2 or 3 these no problem, but this is the only time of year I'd seek it out (quite appropriate I think).

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Photo of JDK
4.68/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured a slightly cloudy honey amber with a 2 finger head.
Nice carbonation giving this a very good mouthfeel. The lingering spices and citrus left a very pleasent taste on the back of the tongue for quite a while.
Love the taste. The blending of spice and hops really brings a nice flavor out. Could definately drink a few in a setting. (working on that tonight!)
The smell is very faint, good but light.
One of my favorite Christmas brews.

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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 Groomsy
3.89/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. "Best by" date of 03/09/2013.

This holiday beer pours a crystalline light amber and is topped by a quick-fading head of off-white foam. Scant lacing is left down the glass, and occasional carbonation bubbles come from the bottom of the glass.

Rich with holiday aromas, this beer is packed with smells of ginger, cinnamon, toffee, and caramel. I expected a bolder nose on this, but the smell leads naturally into the taste. There's not much hop aroma detectable, and no alcohol is present either. Mild, but well-done and balanced. About as sweet as expected for this kind of beer.

The taste is much bolder than the nose. Flavors of cinnamon and ginger erupt on the front of the tongue; this spiciness transitions into a toffee/caramel sweetness backed by a firm flavor of raw, toasted grain. The finish is an excellent blend of honey sweetness and earthy flavors from the Hallertau hops. This beer is hyped for a good reason, I think. This is a sweet but balanced version of the typical spiced winter warmer. Very well-done.

In the mouth, this beer is surprisingly non-heavy with a good carbonation kick. There is some dryness in the finish from the spice and alcohol warming. It goes down fairly smooth overall, though.

Great Lakes is an excellent brewery that produces consistently excellent beers; the Christmas Ale is no exception and is one reason that this brewery is famed. If you want a solid interpretation of the Winter Warmer that isn't overly spiced, check out the Christmas Ale. Take it as a post-dinner treat or fireside companion for the holidays.

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

12oz bottle into Swag Brewery pint glass. Celebrating MLK Jr. Day with brews and Xbox 360. This is leftover from the holiday season, so some flavors may be a bit faded.

Pours an almost crystal clear copper color with one finger cream colored head.

Nose is very strongly pumpkiny, giving off notes of ginger, cinammon, and perhaps nutmeg.

Taste is quite spicy, with the abovementioned smells coming through in the flavor with a significant amount of lingering bitterness. Rather sweet with a slight soap taste and slick finish.

Overall the spices in this are blended quite well but do not make for a very drinkable beer. After a few sips of this one I'm looking for someone to share it with.

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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 hustlemuscle
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Please note, this review is from an aged bottle. Drink by date of
01-08-05, consumed 07-30-05. Kept chilled.

Pours a very nice, crystal clear amber, with suspendies, but not cloudy. Still smells of cinnamon and spices, nutmeg, but much more subdued than a fresh bottle. The taste is equally subdued, in my opinion to the better. Still spicy, gingerbread cookie spices, christmas cookie spices, cinnamon and nutmeg, ginger. Easier on the toungue as well, smoother, and the hops come out, they were a little hidden in fresher bottles. I think it is easier to drink with a little maturity. Much smoother, a little less burn from the spices. Overall a very nice beer, even though the last thing I need to be in July is 'warmed!'

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Photo of scott
3.66/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Beautiful copper body with two finger head of tight, spritzy bubbles.
Smell was earthy/bready with very subtle hints of holiday spice.
Taste was an average, middle of the road malt character that I certainly didn't expect from one of my favorite breweries. There is a beautiful rendevous of energy with each sip, yet it gives way to a lackluster finish, making one think of which other beer they get to try when this one is finished.

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Photo of cudmud
3.4/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours from the bottle with a rich ruby color and a fawn colored head of one-half inch. The head produces a nice layer of lacing.

Smell: There is plenty going on with the aroma. I can detect ginger, nutmeg, orange, hops, and biscuits. Overall, the sents work well together.

Taste: Like the smell, there is a lot going on with the flavor of this beer. One can detect lots of spice and hops. The flavors blend together, which makes it hard to detect any individual falvors. The malt does get lost with all the other flavors.

Mouthfeel and Drinkability: This brew feels good in the mouth. I don't think I could drink more than two of these in one night.

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Photo of mattbk
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Clear, honey brown, slightly amber, appears fairly carbonated.
Smell - That familiar Great Lakes rich malt aroma. The ginger and cinammon make an appearance here. Maybe also some nutmeg. Not much hop aroma.
Taste - The taste much heavier on spice than the aroma. The honey is coming through more here. More cinammon too. The beer is sweet, almost cloying, but not in a bad way. That rich malt taste is right behind the honey and spice up front. It is a balanced beer, definitely a good holiday beer. Not extremely sessionable, but 2 or 3 could go down fairly well.
Mouthfeel - Fairly full mouthfeel. Again, makes for a good winter warmer. Not as much carbonation as I was expecting.
Overall - A very good christmas beer - there aren't many made that are able to balance the spices with the beer base well, but Great Lakes does it again.

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Photo of OttoBomb
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a Dogfish Head signature glass (March 3, 2010). "For freshest taste, please enjoy by: 01/16/2010" is printed on the label. I guess I'm drinking this a bit late. This was part of a mixed six pack of Christmas seasonal brews picked up at Armanetti Wine Shoppe and Beverage Mart in Chicago.

Eyes: Pours a dark copper with some red hues. A very fluffy finger and a half off-white head. Moderate lacing.

Nose: Spicey, sweet with some hops. Quite an interesting introduction to the beer. Smells a bit funky, but it works.

Tongue: Very malty sweet. Accents of cinnamon, honey and caramel. A very good balance of flavors, with none overwhelming the profile. The 7.5% ABV does rear it's head a bit in the aftertaste.

Mouth: Very creamy, rich and smooth.

Libation: Winter Warmers are a very tough style to balance, but Great Lakes has done a very good job here. No one spice asserts itself to much, and the 7.5% ABV does a great job in the warming department without announcing itself too prominently. The mouthfeel is almost perfect, very drinkable.

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Photo of mariposafan
1.76/5  rDev -55%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

The pour gives maybe a half inch of loose head over a coppery body. The head dissipates fairly quickly with just a little lacing persisting.

The smell is where I knew this wasn't going to meet my expectations. Where I was hoping for gingerbread and malts I got sweetness and hops. Lots of hops. If there were spices there they're completely drowned out by the hops.

Taste is much the same as the smell, though there are some winter spices evident in very small quantities. Some alcohol is present as well. Mostly, though, there are those hops. If I'd wanted hops I'd have bought an IPA or APA. The bitterness starts fairly gently but increases as I drink more of it. Now, 45 minutes later, I've still got some of that damned bitterness on my tongue.

The mouthfeel was rather thin with prickly carbonation, but not bad.

The experience of drinking this was akin to ordering a hamburger and biting into a veggie burger. It might be fine in its own right but it wasn't what I was expecting at all and it was nothing like I'd expect from the description of the style.

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Photo of BZero007
2.66/5  rDev -32%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Picked up this bottle at Rodmans in DC. 2010 Bottling had in December.

Poured a crystal clear amber color with an ever so slightly off white head. The brew looks great and leaves lace through out the glass. Smell is a bit off putting as a clovey aroma takes over the brew in a bad way. The taste reminded me for some reason of candy canes with an ever so suddle hint of bitterness in the background. The spice was around and mixing with this candy cane flavor and did not sit well with me. Mouth feel was good and carbonation was good for the target profile. I would have to say I will pass on this brew the next year.

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Photo of mattgreger
4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The pour on this brew was pretty good. It had a nice deep redish/orange color to it. Not much of a head, but did leave a bit of lacing as the glass was emptied.

Aroma is what to be expected in a Christmas Brew, nice spicy, ginger and cinnamon punch at the forefront, and I nice hint of honey in the end keeping it smooth and not overbearing to smell.

There is reason this is a brew that is sought after so much during the holidays. This brew has a great toasty, malt flavor that carries the spices through the brew. The spices give the brew a nice sweetiness and its followed by a nice, hardy punch of honey. As you finish the brew, there are nice hints of cinnamon and nutmeg that give it the wonderful winter flavors.

The mouthful is also great. It has a nice carbonation, followed up with an nice light body. The brew goes down easy, and has a nice simple, yet complex texture to it, that gives it the nice winter warmer feeling you expect from this kind of brew.

This is a great drink, wonderfully flavored, and a great pick for a nice cold winter night. The nice 7.5% ABV isn't overbearing, but gives you the nice warm, fuzziness you look for in such a brew, with out taking you out. This is a great winter warmer, and a wonderful representation of the style. No suprise its a Great Lakes Brew.

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Photo of wailingwench
3.3/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Eye Candy: Dark amber with a off white colored carbonated bubbly head that quickly disappears. Transparent amber in the light, no lacing to speak of. Poured nicely, 2 finger bubbly head. Retained its edges for a min or so, died soon after, appears flat and lifeless. Thin lines of rising carbonation.

The Nose Knows: Sweet sugar cookies, rich honey, candied sweet fruit. The sweetness is almost overdone, borders on cloying.

Tongueland: Thick honey and candied ginger dance a jig on the tongue with Ruldolph throwing in a dash of cinnamon at the end. Dusty and dusty middle, touch of paper and tobacco. Transitions to a palate coating sweetness lingering till the plum faires dance.

Bender Factor: At 7.5, this brew can do some damage. The sweetness is best paired with a contrasting dish rich in nature ie chicken wellington.

ETC: like drinking a beehive without getting stung on the tongue. I would love to see some orange zest or a touch of hemlock hops at the end to cleanse the palate. All in all, one dimensional, but worth a try.

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

I poured this beer from a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass.

It is a dark copper color with a one finger light tan head.

It has a pleasant malty smell with hints of honey.

It tastes pretty good, not as good as I expected from the aroma though.

The mouthfeels is okay, but a little disappointing.

Overall it is a very drinkable beer.

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Photo of sgoodship
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Here is the 2009 Christmas Ale. Man, has it been a year already!

The nose is jam packed with sweet honey. Unbelievable. Seems like more than last year to me. Malt and hops fall to the power of honey - no question about this beer's focus.

It's color is an amazing deep honey copper that glows - more handsome than I remember. It has a soft half finger off-white head. Some big spotty lacing. The head remains throughout but drops to a dusting and a ring.

The flavor is strong in honey too. You definitely get some Christmas spice but more noticeable is the uplifting and invigorating infusion of ginger. The finish is dry with a good hop bitterness. The aftertaste is malty and sour with a hint of the honey and caramel sweetness. It's not as sickly sweet as I think last years was a wee bit.

The mouth is on the full side of medium. It feels silky smooth and round in the mouth. The low end of medium carbonation prevents it from being too heavy and syrupy.

Always a favorite of mine at Christmas but beware. These sneak up on you and before you know it... game over. I'm a big fan of Great Lakes and this is a seasonal beer in the true sense. Enjoy!

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

Appearance: Amber in color. Little to no head on this one with just as little lacing.

Smell: Heavy malt smell with hints of pine and cinnamon.

Taste: At first it was very malty till it warmed up a bit then you could really taste the pine and a slight presence of cinnamon.

Notes: It was nice to be able to get this on tap at the Winking Lizard in Akron Ohio. A great brew.

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Photo of 321jeff
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle consumed on Christmas Day 2010... fitting.

Pours a light amber with golden edges and a couple fingers of barely off white head. Head fades to a thin layer, leaving some nice lacing on the glass. Lots of carbonation bubbles can be seen floating to the top.

Aroma is a rather sweet mix of honey and some dark fruits and some bread mixed in there. Some Christmas spices appear as well. The aroma is by no means overpowering.

Taste is all malt and quite sweet. Fresh bread is prevalent but there is an underlying fruity sweetness that is a challenge to pin down. Seems like it could almost be black cherry or something similar. I also pick up on just the slightest alcohol bite in the finish.

Mouthfeel is medium and somewhat creamy. Very smooth overall with a moderate amount of very fine carbonation. Highly drinkable for 7.5% and it's fairly unique and enjoyable.

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Photo of beerdown77
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I look forward to this beer because of its specific focus on Christmas.

It pours brown, almost red. It has really nice head. I taste honey, ginger and cinnamon. It's transparency almost reminds me of a lager. I will say, although it does not taste boozy for being a higher ABV, this is a one bottler. I cannot see my self wanting more than 12oz of this taste. I would prefer this beer to be more hoppy.

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Photo of BeerMeColorado
2.7/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Not sure why all the high scores.
Light amber. Crystal clear. Poor head retention.
Malt forward. Alcohol warmth comes through.
Decent mouthfeel.
Irish Spring soap?
Overall an average winter warmer for me.

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Photo of fattyre
3.82/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a slightly hazy slightly dark brownish red color with a moderate tan head. The mouthfeel is moderate. The smell is spice mostly ginger and cinnamon. The taste is strong ginger and spice in front with mild malty cinnamony finish. A good spicy holiday season ale with a very deceptive alcohol content.

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

Crystal clear copper colored ale with 2 finger bubbly head which goes away rather quickly.
I pick up the honey first and can also detect the ginger.
Honey sweetness followed by the ginger and cinnamon. There's also a touch of hops coming through.
Medium bodied mouth coating ale. It's very smooth with a touch of crispness up front, leaves a spicy aftertaste.
A good holiday beer for sure. It's spicy and sweet and aside from a quickly receeding head it looks great.

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Photo of abents
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a copper color you can see through, light tan head that seems to die out quickly. Smells of cinnamon and caramel sweetness very Christmas-like. Tastes like cinnamon, nutmeg, pretty mild notes nothing too overpowering. Very balanced and mild. Seemed to be a little under carbonated to me, but it was a decent beer, definitely not my favorite Christmas brew.

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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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